Monday, February 11. 2008
You comments, thoughts, reflections, etc., are welcome. What do you think?
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Amen, amen, amen! i am a grandmother of four granddaughters. The eldest was chrismated into the Holy Orthodox Church. I am committed to doing all I can to hand her - and God willing, the other three - a holy church rather than an unholy mess. Thank you for your thoughtful reflection.
#1 Melissa McCutcheon on 2008-02-11 06:51
As a knee-jerk response, it sounds great! However:
I wonder if Dr Meyendorff would like to suggest what the ground rules would be for such a "re-election" process regarding how often such an extraordinary and only once-tried "tradition" would take place? What would be the criteria for such a "Vote of (no) confidence" in the life of the Church? At every AAC? At every Diocesan Assembly? When a stiuation dictates? Who decides the nature of such a confidence vote? Polling data? Age? Who confirms such a vote of the people? Does the bishop have any say? The Holy Synod?
It seems to me that 38 years of OCA church life is not much of a history as a Church to make such a move (albeit only a suggestion on Dr Meyendorf's part.) 38 years vs. a one-time attempt at using this method in the entire history of the Church does not give me a great deal of confidence in the Orthodoxy of such a suggestion.
We have a lousy Metropolitan who should step-aside. To me that is still the issue at hand.
#2 Anonymous on 2008-02-11 07:09
WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL NEWS! It is great to see one of the most distinguished minds of the OCA developing a strategy to resolve the long, on going nightmare - with historical presidence. Will the SOB show enough courage to move forward on this? Probably not.
#3 Anonymous on 2008-02-11 07:21
Yes, Dr. Meyendorff's suggestion may seem radical. But it also, at least to me, seems sound. "Radical" and "sound" are not necessarily mutually exclusive - after all, God's taking on of human flesh was both.
It is with a sense of dread that I have contemplated the idea of attending the 2008 AAC, and I have wondered how the people who will attend may feel as they walk into hall at the start of the conference. With Dr. Meyendorff's suggestion implemented, I suspect people will be able to enter that room with much less of a heavy burden upon their hearts.
Amen to Dr. Meyendorr's sound suggestion.
#4 Barry Kurth on 2008-02-11 07:40
This is the most effective, Spirit filled, well reasoned, approach in how the OCA, might go forward that has yet been presented. May God Bless this course of action.
#5 fr Andrew on 2008-02-11 08:07
You say the Metropolitan and Synod should submit their resignation (note: singular, not plural), effective at the 2008 AAC,
for their corporate and individual responsibility and gulit (paraphrased). Would they then be resigning as a Body or as individuals? Is it clear in this scenario that individuals would be resigning as individually responsible and guilty or would it be rather a way to save face and ensure re-election, enabling individual bishops to present a picture, if not to actually say: *It wasn't me, it was the Body*? Does this subtly make a way for bishops to get themselves (except for the Metropolitan of course who is the one who must assume the primary guilt for the Body) exonerated and re-elected? Also if noone is perchance re-elected, what then?
#6 Anon. on 2008-02-11 08:08
I welcome Paul Meyendorff’s proposal, though I am unsure it will succeed, if attempted. A secret ballot would almost certainly result in Bp. Nikolai’s forced retirement, but the OCA needs more than that. The Georgian model of the 20th century, in which all bishops resigned and retreated to respective monasteries and new bishops were consecrated, would offer a fresher start, except where would the OCA get its new bishops from? A very small pool of celibates? I suppose we could import a bishop or two from abroad, but that would be the last and cruelest cut of all to our autocephaly. I can think of a number of wonderful priests, who have posted on this site, but, alas, most are married. When the sole remaining criterion is celibacy, with advanced education and pastoral experience lacking, we are in deep doo-doo. Could we gerrymander our diocesan boundaries to be coterminous with those of the Antiochian Autonomous Archdiocese and invite their bishops to be bishops of the OCA dioceses eventually merging into one jurisdiction?
We need a clean swept house, but lacking that, I'll go with Paul Meyendorff's proposal.
#7 Terry C. Peet on 2008-02-11 08:29
At this point in time, this seems to be the only option left to the Church in order to avoid total chaos.
Of course, it doesn't seek to place blame save only in the most general way (it happened on his watch, so to speak) and that's good. There is probably blame enough to go round even among those who were not directly involved in any way. Ignorance has never been an excuse though it certainly can be considered a 'mitigating factor'.
Now we have to see if the leadership has the ability to 'bite the bullet' and go forward with this cleansing process for the good of the Church. Like an infection in the body of the Church that has gotten progressively worse, the time has come abandon the 'band-aide' approach and make deep and sweeping changes which, hopefully, will restore confidence among the faithful, clergy and lay alike. For the problem of the lack of confidence in Chruch leadership is now worse than the original problem which caused it.
Of course, this approach won't 'cure' the original problem, but it will help people believe that those now in charge will be honest and determined in their efforts to do so and that is at least a step in the right direction! For at this point, with the same leadership in charge even if everything were laid bare and all revealed, the chances are that many would still believe that there was a 'cover-up' in the works!
Again, I don't believe that such an act by the bishops constitutes a determinant of guilt or innocence nor do I believe that it is intended as such. From what I have read, it merely is an effort to put into place leaders whom the faithful believe will do what is necessary to re-establish order, harmony and unity in the Church and to get to the truth about what has happened in the past. As things now stand, it is obvious that unless this 'changing of the guard' takes place, all further efforts in this matter will be at best useless and at worst, counter-productive.
#8 Valerie Protopapas on 2008-02-11 08:42
I support Meyendorff's proposal completely. Not only would it restore trust & credibility within the OCA, it would also help restore the tarnished image of the OCA among the other Orthodox churches. I won't hold my breath however! These men have not put the good of the church ahead of themselves in the past. And I don't believe they will start now.
#9 Andrew A. Lukashonak on 2008-02-11 09:08
I am supportive of Dr. Meyendorff's proposal, with some caveats.
One question is whether the bases of representation for the various diocesan assemblies are different from the basis of representation for the All-American Council. Would a formal delegation of authority from the diocesan assemblies to their respective All-American Council delegations be needed?
Another question is that this proposal almost presupposes the maintenance of the current diocesan boundaries. A number of people, Fr. Philip Speranza in particular, have written about the difficulties posed by the current diocesan line-up. On the other hand, a resignation of the bishops could precede (and facilitate) the reorganization of the eparchies. Any reorganization of the eparchies, though, requires a searching consideration of the nature of the Orthodox Church in America; looking both at the relationship of the dioceses to each other, and the relationship of the dioceses to the office of the Primate.
Would it be necessary for the non-territorial bishops to resign?
Another question is who should preside at the council in the absence of local bishops. Would the closest analogy be the presence of the Patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria at Russian synods held during the time of the Nikonian reforms?
What Dr. Meyendorff's proposal does most valuably is to highlight the collective and individual responsibilities of bishops in synod. It seems to me that the serious decreases in financial support for anything that cycles through the offices of the Primate indicates there is a serious loss of confidence in the Primate. What better way for the Primate and the bishops to test whether they have the confidence of the Orthodox Church in America as a whole and in the constituent dioceses.
#10 Edmund Unneland on 2008-02-11 10:18
First, it is a breath of fresh air finally to hear openly from a prominent faculty member at one of our seminaries. I've heard both directly and indircectly that "of course, I/we/they can't say anything, but ..." At first I accepted this at face value and was relieved by the understanding of the situation and support for change that inevitably followed the "but." Over time, however, as the situation has stagnated and festered, I've wondered more and more about the "of course, we can't say anything." Yes, saying something puts the faculty in a very precarious situation, but the alternative of letting the mishandling of this mess metastisize into the complete undermining of the OCA as an institution hardly seems like a viable alternative.
So, first of all, bravo, Dr. Meyendorff for taking a public stand.
Bravo also for finding a balanced, constructive stand to take -- something that is becoming harder and harder as the "mutually assured destruction" scenario among those involved in creating this mess seems to be coming into play more and more each day.
I do worry about how this could actually work, however. It could, unfortunately, turn into a pro forma acknowledgement of mistakes, followed by a vote of confidence. To avoid this, at least two things need to happen:
1) All delegates need to be provided in the preconciliar study documents with an objective and complete [insofar as possible] accounting of what has transpired over the past 15 years or so, including the handling and non-handling by those now in charge. This cannot be simply the company line -- there is space for statements and explanations by +MH etc., but there must also be space for other voices. Ideally the report of the SIC would serve this purpose, but that seems unlikely to be completed in time [a terrible shame and missed opportunity if that proves to be the case] and it is not at all clear at this point that +MH or the Synod are committed to making the report public.
2) When the bishops perform their act of repentence, it cannot be simply a ceremonial asking for forgiveness. Each must give an accounting of his perspective on what has transpired. Some of these accounts will be defensive -- let the audience judge the sincerity. And there must be an opportunity for the bishops to be questioned by the assembly on points that remain unclear.
In other words, if Dr. Meyendorff's plan were enacted in an environment of openess and honesty, it could be an amazing step forward, perhaps the only way out of our current logjam. But were it to be executed in form only, as a public relations stunt, it would be worse than having done nothing.
Separately, I'm deeply distrustful of attempts to revise the Statute at this time. There are too many agendas floating out there and it is clear from careful reading of reports on this site over the past few years [how did we get to multiple YEARS on this matter?!?!] that there had for some time been a desire to ammend the statute to make accountability less likely. The Statute is flawed; I fear that the process of chaning it at this point in time would be even more flawed.
#11 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-02-11 10:43
“…….38 years vs. a one-time attempt at using this method in the entire history of the Church does not give me a great deal of confidence in the Orthodoxy of such a suggestion.”
“…...*It wasn't me, it was the Body*? Does this subtly make a way for bishops to get themselves (except for the Metropolitan of course who is the one who must assume the primary guilt for the Body) exonerated and re-elected? Also if no one is perchance re-elected, what then?”
“I welcome Paul Meyendorff’s proposal, though I am unsure it will succeed, if attempted.”
Sad to hear so much negativity from people who are not proposing anything better! I support this proposal and congratulate Paul Meyendorff for coming up with a good course of action. He ends his reflection with the thought that he would be ready and willing to discuss it further. Please, those of you who are in a position to take this one step further (small steps to a successful end), discuss this and plan the course of action to be taken next. Is it possible to print this reflection with a common form (printed on ocanews to show that we are all in one accord) that can be signed by parishioners of any parish? Where would the best place to send the completed form, perhaps to those who are planning the next AAC or to one of the seminaries? If this isn't workable, maybe others can come up with some good ideas.
#12 Hopefully on 2008-02-11 11:08
My reading of the history of the one time that Dr Meyendorff claims the Russian Church used such a method is not backed up by the historic facts. Met .Pitirim was not voted out by the Russian Council but rather was "fired" by Mr. Lvov the Oberprokurator for the Russian Provisional Government (who himself only held the office for a few months before he was fired for incompetence.) This was done prior to the Russian preconciliar council meeting, thus well before the actual Sobor and thus not a result of any retirement process at the Council.
I would welcome Dr Meyendorff's interpretation of the history of this period which led him to make such a historic basis as precedence for his suggestion.
#13 Anonymous on 2008-02-11 11:23
This is not just what should be done, but is essential to reestablish trust and integrity. No Godly, servant-bishop would fear such a re-election scenario. But the level of timidity and passivity in the OCA is disgusting. It makes one wonder two things: 1) Are we really Christians, even on the most basic level of desiring God above lies, being willing to admit our failures/sins, and having as our reason for being in the Church because of truth? (I'm not talking about being saints but are we at least like the thief on the right hand, admitting the reality of our condition and the facts of our culpability), and 2) Where are the true friends of those who need correction? "Whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." If I had a friend who was living a dual life, openly engaging in homosexual promiscuity at Washington D.C. parties while preaching and representing holiness at his D.C. church, if I were a true friend, I would at least speak with him. I would hope that I would lovingly correct him, tell him about the ever-present possibility of repentance to life, tell him God loves him in spite of his sin, but he must accept the consequences of his sin. In other words, evangelize him to the Gospel. (Don't we all need this from time to time?) The same goes if I had a friend who led a national Christian body but thwarted its correction, covered up its corruption, and sadly became himself the major obstacle to its restoration and growth in love. I would hope that a true friend would at least speak with him, reason with him, tell him to step down for the good of his soul and for the good of the Church he loves. The same goes for a leader who becomes autocratic, who punishes the innocent and promotes the guilty, and whose behavior becomes harmful to his own flock. Do these men have any true friends? Or do we think saving face in this life trumps the Dread Judgment Seat of Christ? Is "power" and position in this transitory life worth maintaining at the cost of eternal punishment? By the actions of several leaders --not just those entangled in sin, but much worse silent Bishops, enabling Chancellors, passive Deans and anonymous Priests-- this is the only conclusion one can make about the real Faith of The Orthodox Church in America.
Father Mark Hodges
St Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Mission
Thank you Dr. Meyendorff for taking a public stand and going out on a limb to try to help the floudering OCA. I hope and pray that your plea and suggestions are not ignored by the OCA Synod, the MC, and the Metropolitan like they ignored Fr. Thomas Hopko, the 70 senior priests, and the counteless other posts, articles, reflections, letters, and editorials by many, many other courageous priests.
While I appreciate Dr. Meyendorff's proposal and its prospects for real change, I also fear the precedent it may set for the future. Precedents are like meeting your Irish relatives for the first time. After you invite them once to come for a visit, they end up coming back every year whether you want them or not.
Let me restate what I and others have said before on this list: The problem we face is not procedural, it is spiritual; and its solution resides solely in the hearts of men. Specifically, the hearts of Metropolitan Herman and those who either actively participated or passively enabled the corruption that caused this scandal. They must repent, resign or be removed. Moreover, any clandestine homosexual subculture purported to exist among our leaders must be disbanded and disciplined along with those who knowingly enabled it by their silence and inaction.
Let us be clear on this point: It is not Mark Stokoe or Protodeacon Eric or Archbishop +JOB who are responsible for this scandal--thank God for their courage, in spite of their own short-comings, to stand up and expose it--but rather people like Metropolitan Herman who have allowed it to remain hidden, obstructed and unresolved for more than two years. White-washing the root-cause of our problems with reformed and new institutional policies masquerading as "real solutions" will not fly. Nothing short of a clean-slate of leaders will do--from Metropolitan Herman to the Holy Synod and on down.
And here is a not-so-prophetic prediction... that the All American Council is doomed to fail as long as Metropolitan Herman remains as primate. The Council will be seen as a cynical attempt to change while maintaining the status quo. There will be no energy, no inspiration and no sense of ownership over the proceedings. If, by Herman's continued intransigence, this is the way it must be we might as well invite Alice Woog back to give us her last benediction at the 2005 AAC, "You've been a wonderful audience!"
O Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance!
Wow, thank you Dr. Meyendorff,
I believe your input will be well respected and more faithful with your experience and clout may come to the "table" to help solve our present crisis.
I hope you will be joined by other able-bodied faithful to agree to this workable plan, or to come up with another workable plan, before the AAC to really help in the process of restoring trust.
As you commented, a diocese may re-vote their bishop in, so this means the good ones can stay!
I believe Catherine Tatusko had brought up a similar idea of a blanket resignation and others may have, too. But I remember I supported Catherine in her idea as I do you.
I hope your voice will willingly allow those senior clergy, experienced laity, and seminary professors to sit together, write together, or whatever, to come to a resolvable and agreed upon solution to restore trust.
(I would gladly pay for a think tank week for you all to just sit down -- I know there is a Pre-Conciliar Commission--and have many voices there-- before the AAC--and do what you all need to do to get workable and sound resolutions out there before the AAC! We may end up having about 5 workable plans presented at the AAC. This would take a lot of time to go through...)
I believe you are helping pave the way!!
Thank you for your courageous words. I believe they will give momentum to a workable solution.
#17 Patty Schellbach on 2008-02-11 12:20
Bravo Dr. Paul! Finally someone with some good common sense and the historical background to support his view. For far too long we have hear much and there has been no substantiation. The jig is up, move out SOB you are no longer holy!
#18 MP on 2008-02-11 12:23
Dr Meyendorff's suggestion may well work except for situations like those that exist here in Alaska. There are but a few who +Nikolai trusts and those are the ones who will be the delagates who will attend the AAC. The people here mostly cannot attend and thus would not be well represented if an ellection were to take place there instead of here. It is unthinkable for his grace to invite someone who he thinks might not be 100% supportive to got there if a vote might take place.
Even with all the explanations that have been given, I do not think a true picture of the level of oppression of this diocese has been painted. That is why some of us cannot sign these posts. For the faithful to have a voice here in Alaska, there has to be assurances from a bishop or a body of Bishops that demonstrate that they have the wherewithall to protect people from the repurcussions of a "vote gone bad" in +Nikolai's eyes.
If you knew you were going to be beaten for speaking and the person you had available to speak to lived with and had a "special" relationship with the one who might beat you, would you speak?
Alaska's people are crying out for help, from here, this looks like it could turn into a trap them rather than help them.
#19 Anonymous on 2008-02-11 12:27
Its very heartening to read the letter by Dr. Meyendorff because it’s the first we’ve heard from our seminaries, institutions which have a lot to lose as a result of this entire scandal. Not just monetarily, but from a credibility point of view. The seminary should be seen as having the same academic freedom as is seen in secular universities. They should be giving wisdom and guidance.
However good and refreshing I find it to hear from Fr. Paul, I am sorry to say I disagree with part of his process. I am all in favor of a mass resignation, but I, first off, do not feel any should be given a “second chance”. From the youngest to the oldest, they have lost all credibility and moral authority and will not gain that back even if Herman is gone. Herman is bad news, but he’s only the first amongst equals in more ways than one. The only bishop who deserves a second chance is the one who can’t wait to get his posterior out of that office: Job. The rest of them have not only been silent on this issue, which is bad enough, but in many cases complicit even when it comes down to their own faithful in their dioceses. Dmitri plays host to one of the most serious perps and did not permit people to discuss the scandal. Nikolai, well, we all know about Nikolai. Bad things happen to people when they discuss this or his part in it. Nikon shut off discussion at the diocesan assembly. He’s been very quiet otherwise. Tikhon has been a Gem, a true Gem. When you want an example of a man who should have never been made a bishop, he’s the man to look at. He’s the biggest single disappointment in the entire Synod with the exception of his mentor, Herman. Tikhon probably wouldn’t know how to use a backbone if he was delivered one with easy to follow instructions. Tikhon has been a puppet, a shill for Herman. Tikhon is a disappointment because we all think that a new group of bishops, some of them young and not jaded or corrupted is what the OCA needs to get out of this morass and move ahead. Well, Tikhon is young, but he’s not what we need in the least bit. A man who doesn’t take a move without approval from Herman. A man who’s willing to do some of the most hilarious bidding for Herman and the Synod like creating an ecclesiology of the internet, which is more appropriately called the electronic gag canon. Personally, I’m dying to see what he comes up with. With the writers strike, we need some good comedy these days. There’s a rogue priest in his diocese and he doesn’t deal with him. Tikhon sets is a bad example so he’s not totally useless. Oh, I forgot that Tikhon was also the mediator between Nikolai and Job where Job wound up getting on his knees and prostrating as he apologized to Nikolai. Great job mediating, there, Tikhon. You going to attack the writers strike as your next great achievement? How about Mideast peace? Then we got Benjamin, another great example of steadfastness for God. The only person that Herman has gone to visit long distance and the leader of the new SIC. He, also, doesn’t like talk about the scandal and wants us all to send in money so that things can go on just like they have been. Lastly, there’s Nathaniel, who’s been quiet by and large, but he ramrodded the trial down everyone’s throats, which for the sake of getting rid of Kondratick wasn’t SUCH a bad thing.
Now, these guys are no examples of what a bishop should be. They’ve shown themselves not to be committed to the Truth, but to each other. They’ve been picked and consecrated because they could be trusted to keep the gig going and keep it going they have. For all this, save Job, they need to be turned out on their keisters and told not to let the door hit them on the way out. A second chance? Not this time. They can repent all they can at a monastery of their choice as they should. But to be in a position of trust and the stewardship of this Church they’ve done enough and should not be given a second chance to screw us.
But the problem in Fr. Paul’s suggestion is that the people in this organization have a great degree of regionalism when it comes to wanting to clean this up. And for that reason it cannot work. What would happen is that each diocese would re-elect their bishop, no question, with maybe the exception of NY/NJ/DC, because THEY don’t like THEIR bishop for ANYTHING! No one else likes him either. But what’s going to happen is that the South is going to vote back their beloved, old Vladyka because he’s a great guy when all eyes are upon him. And New England is going to vote back their beloved Vladyka too, because he’s a really great guy when eyes are upon him and he doesn’t have to take a stand on any moral outrage. And the West is going to vote back Benjamin because they love their Vladyka and he’s a really cool and funny guy! And Eastern Pennsylvania is going to vote back their beloved Vladyka because he’s a great guy when he visits and he seems so cuddly. So, where do we end up? We end up with the same shameful, Godless bunch we had before sans Herman. And because of this regionalism none of them feels the need to do what’s really needed because they will have their diocesan sheep sing their praises as the sheep rag on the other bishops for not doing THEIR jobs!
Don’t believe me. Go back in the archives here and read stuff. You talk about Dmitri and people fall over themselves professing their love for him and if you say something about him will invite you over for a good ole smackdown. Same for EPA. Same for NE. Same for all of them except for NY/NJ/DC because nobody likes Herman period. And it goes the same for the priests. It doesn’t matter what a particular priest was involved in in this, he’s just a great guy and makes me feel good at Church so don’t even think about touching him.
So, what we have is a “this problem MUST be fixed” without finishing the second part of the sentence that is on people’s minds but never said: “but don’t touch my bishop or my priest, they’re just great guys”. People, unless you are going to put all the cards on the table and sort them out objectively we’re never going to get to the bottom of this problem. Period. Fr. Paul’s note is good in that he recognizes and pushes for what must be done and that is getting ‘em all out. He doesn’t go far enough in realizing that they’re a bad bunch and once out need to be kept out for good. They’ve had 2, almost 3 years, to do the right thing after it CAME TO LIGHT, God knows how long BEFORE that, and giving them a second chance reminds this writer of the definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
#20 Stonewall on 2008-02-11 12:32
I don't think you read what Dr. Meyendorff wrote, "...a number of bishops..." not just the one you question. Please also note, Dr. Meyendorff is quite an expert in Russian Church History.
#21 Anon-i-Moose on 2008-02-11 12:34
Not only that, but those viewed by the "assembled masses" might be re-confirmed in their offices; I am thinking, someone like +Job for instance. But, it would all be equal with respect to everyone's resignation being tendered; more or less a no-fault resignation. I like the spirit of this proposal; non-finger-pointing, and "we all are in this mess together."
#22 C.C. on 2008-02-11 13:45
As for the ethnic bishops, I believe they have certain procedures to follow according to their respective dioceses. When they joined the OCA they had specific agreements about their administration and governance. From what I have read it seems the Romanian Episcopate would likely be glad to be rid of Archbishop Nathaniel amid their current financial crisis, but it is not a matter for the OCA to impose a resignation. Just my two cents worth.
#23 Anonymous on 2008-02-11 13:55
You forgot Bp. Searphim; he also would be voted right back in.
Do you think this has anything to do with showing the Civil authorities that we mean business, that we're actually doing something, so they don't pursue and bring people to task who were on the Metropolitan Council all those years or in other ways in the Administration all those years? In other words, a quick fix to continue the cover-up, hoping to keep the secular authorities at bay? Peace to reestablish order at the expense of truth???
#24 Anon. on 2008-02-11 15:12
Where do bishops get the idea that they are appointed for life? Where do they get the idea that they are above the people and untouchable? Where do they get the idea that they are accountable to no one and deserve a pension? I believe the statutes need to be re-written and real over-sight and accountability is necessary. The SOB's cannot oversee themselves.
As far as a mass resignation and re-installing the "good ones," absolutely. This will re-store confidence in the hierarchs by the faithful. Where are new hierarchs to be found? There are some good celibates around, but why not turn to married bishops? We've seen the disaster that celibates bring, now let's get back to the early church practice where married bishops were common. The church only turned to celibates (monks) for expediency.
#25 Any Moose on 2008-02-11 15:21
I know Dr Meyendorff's credentials, and I did not misread his reflection, I simply do not see where he is making his conclusions based on historic fact. It simply does not appear to have come down the way he states. Thus, I am asking for HIS references on the matter.
#26 Anonymous on 2008-02-11 15:25
Bravo Prof. Meyendorff...
Maybe these "Monastic Princes" should go back and read some of the writings and history of Saint Nilus of Sora; he had much to say about the Monastic Aristocracy and it's preoccupation with shiny, sparkling baubles and POWER mongering. I can think of some others in this country with thier multi-million dollar monastic complexes that probably need to check out St. Nilus as well, you won't be sorry (or maybe you will?).
Saint Nilus pray for us!
Moses coming straight outta Isengard (Alaska)!
#27 Moses on 2008-02-11 15:33
You amaze me Stonewall. You have these long posts, yet I am compelled to read them. Some of the long posts by other contributors are tough for me to get through. But somehow, what you say does make a lot of sense to me and compels me to read on. Who WOULD be the first to vote their bishop down? That's a very difficult thing to do. And of course we know that you are right about Alaska, just judging by how things appear to be run up there.
#28 A Sad State of Affairs on 2008-02-11 15:38
Ask for May, settle for June.
Fr. Meyendorff has said what needed to be said, in no uncertain terms, and whether anything like it is implemented or not, his speaking up sets an example for everyone else.
Is it likely Fr. Meyendorff's proposal will come to pass? It doesn't look that way, but we do believe in miracles. But even if it doesn't happen, maybe the mere thought of this daring proposal will push the bishops a little closer to dealing with the most urgent problems-- Met. Herman and Bp. Nikolai. Even now it is not yet too late for the Synod to do its duty in removing these two from their midst. It will not give us the clean sweep we really do need, but it would be a start, a signal of true willingness to change direction in repentance.
Dear Hierarchs -- time is running out!
#29 Valentine on 2008-02-11 16:22
I agree there are some risks involved in adopting this proposal, but what do we have to lose at this point? It would be critical to insure a fair and secret vote considering the level of timidity and fear in the OCA.
Thank you Fr. Meyendorff for speaking up and offering this constructive proposal. One can only hope that other "leaders," both lay and clerical, will have the courage to speak up and support this, or some other, workable solution to end our current state of affairs (pun intended).
#30 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-02-11 16:28
Dr. Paul, I couldn't agree with you more (although the cynic in me wonders about the 'humility' involved):
"The Metropolitan and the entire Synod of Bishops need to submit their resignation, in humility acknowledging their individual and corporate responsibility and guilt for what has happened on their watch."
"These resignations are to be effective at the AAC, at which each bishop will stand for (re-)election by the clergy and lay representatives of his diocese"
--I'm sorry, but I cannot agree with you on this one. "*Each* bishop will stand..."? I think NOT! Some will be unable to because of their public (and continued?) breach of canons. Apparently, others oughtn't to be able to because of their lack of chastity, lust of power, or gee...what's that last one... hmmm....idle talk (i.e. rewriting history in speeches).
Also, "(re-) election by the clergy and lay representatives of his diocese" leaves the rest of us (the statistical majority, by the way) out of the picture completely: women. (I love the introduction to that famous book about St. Seraphim of Sarov where it is stated that throughout the years the women keep coming in pilgrimmage to his grave...neverending, always faithful, always women...).
I propose that at the beginning of the Church New Year (September 1, 2008) each parish in each diocese be given a special educational package to circulate within its membership in a structured fashion (prepared by the PCC)(I volunteer to help in any way I can to make this happen, btw. Mark can put you in touch with me).
This package would contain the history that necessitates this extra-ordinary AAC (funnily enough, not all parishes know about it), and a special "secret ballot" voting procedure that would allow the vote for/against the current bishop to resume his duties.
The voting could be done securely online, but paper copies might be best (I'm no expert on this). That way, no matter who the lay or clergy delegates are to the AAC, the PEOPLE would have spoken, not lackies/paid flunkies/blackmailed victims. The voting would take place three consecutive Sundays before the AAC itself. No proxy voting.
Resignations? Yes. Reinstatements? Not necessarily.
Bravo to you, Dr. Paul. Let us know if you suffer any repecussions from your boss about having submitted this most excellent proposal to a public, electronic (gasp!) forum.
#31 Larissa on 2008-02-11 17:04
“Now leaving from Gate 1, the Meyendorff Express to Accountability. All aboard!
Not so fast! Have we lost both our minds and our memories? Have we forgotten who we are dealing with? The wise doctor’s plan would be great if we were dealing with “regular people” with normal emotions, sensitivities, and consciences. But we are not.
The sad reality is that our Holy Synod will have to approve and resign itself to this “resign and (maybe) be rehired” plan. Friends, they are way above talking to us and way, way above listening to us, much less stooping to resign for our collective good. Beyond this...
Have we forgotten that these are men who, if the truth not been revealed, would be sleeping very soundly every night despite having successfully concealed the defrauding of widows, orphans, the government, each other, and their own flocks?
Have we forgotten how often they have found unity in THE LIE? Not just 15 years ago, but only a few weeks ago, in the middle of this fracas, when the jig was up and Zaccheaus-like repentance was called for, instead of climbing higher, they sank lower and issued new variations of previous lies—“we all hired P-R, we all fired Nescott, blah, blah, blah.”
Have we forgotten how they have taken us all for fools, who “won’t know” and “won’t care?”
Have we forgotten that on their watch, the Church failed to identify or nurture Her future leadership, so that we are left with slim pickin’s for successors?
Have we forgotten the many assemblies, committees and councils—even recently— whose members they have manipulated and mesmerized into fearful apathy? Have we forgotten how the heavy hands of our leaders sowed the seeds of this apathy near and far? Now they are protected and supported by a bountiful harvest of clergy and laymen who are well beyond being surprised or stirred-up by yet another outbreak of misbehavior and weirdness.
We desperately need some “regular people” to lead us! Regular people would not have put the Church through this serial trauma. Regular people would have told the truth and trusted in the mercy of God and His Church toward those who repent. Regular people, who had so shamefully misled 27,000 other regular people would now board the Meyendorff Express, but with a one-way ticket: no re-election, just a short trip to a permanent siding that regular people call retirement.
To be realistic, not negative: without regular people at the top, Dr. Meyendorff’s solution is a pipe-dream. The alternate plan is the same as it has always been: shut off the money. Regular, common sense people do not fund irregular actions that defy common sense!
#32 Anonymous on 2008-02-11 17:34
I agree. There are two types of OCA bishops from the time of the scandals: those who were directly involved and those who were enablers. My feeling is that the bishops most reponsible were those who were around for the time during which all the scandals happened - that means Nikolai on up in seniority. They were the ones who knew about things happening as they happened. A part of me feels sorry for the bishops Nikon on down who walked into this pool of filth. I mean really, if you're the new guy at work how likely are you to buck the system after a few months? They'd be out the door faster than Bishop Innocent now that Syosset has practice at it. Thank God Job finally had the strength, honesty and "what it takes to be a bishop" to stand up for what's right.
I could be going out on a limb here, but (even though we all know he doesn't want it) make Job Metropolitan with a relatively new Synod consisting of bishops Nikon on down and adding in the necessary new ones. They say a fish stinks from the head on down, so take off the head and everything near the head in order to rid us of this "stink".
#33 Anonymous on 2008-02-11 18:00
I agree with Stonewall: most, if not all, of the current Synod of Bishops (SOB) members will be reelected if each diocese votes separately.
I suggest that the entire ACC votes yes or no on each of the SOB members. After all, the problems were and are OCA-wide. Even the Alaskan problems affect the entire church because the SOB has not taken the appropriate action.
#34 Carl on 2008-02-11 18:13
If Dr. Meyendorff’s scenario is to be realized, wouldn’t the OCA need to come up with several candidates for potential bishoprics? Is it feasible in just seven months? (Electing married bishops would undoubtedly put the OCA in schism with other jurisdictions. It is too radical of an innovation to be introduced so suddenly, by such a small and young jurisdiction as ours, and, even worse, out of apparent desperation.)
I don’t understand the notion of corporate responsibility in the Church. Met. Herman is responsible because a lot of money went to Syosset and disappeared there under his watch. He silenced the whistle-blowers. Met. Herman may be obstructing the investigation into his role in the financial shenanigans, but he is still personally culpable by omission and should step down.
With regard to other bishops, there are many rumors but no proof of wrongdoings or improprieties. Their inaction and ineptitude in this crisis is disconcerting, but if people feel that this is why they should step down then what is the point of re-electing them?
I think that prior to his appointment, the potential locum tenens must express commitment to investigate sensible allegations of moral and/or canonical infractions by other bishops, first and foremost in Alaska. A system of checks and balances is indeed sorely needed. If misconduct is established then it would be suitable to seek appropriate measures. Without the knowledge of facts there is a danger of ousting the innocent and re-electing the guilty.
#35 Karina Ross on 2008-02-11 19:04
The proposal of Paul Meyendorff is, in my opinion, the first solid, concrete, grounded proposal for action we have yet heard, and I, for one would firmly support it.
Many times in my years at SVS I heard references to the All-Russian Council of 1917, whose efforts at serious reform were aborted by the Bolshevik Revolution. So much was on the table that people nowadays think "the Church would never do" including the restoration of the female diaconate and adoption of the Gregorian Calendar. It was widely recognised in that day that the status quo WAS NOT WORKING and changes were needed "for the good of the Church."
One person here has asked just how Professor Meyendorff's plan would work in practical terms and there are definitely specifics that would need to be carefully considered and worked out. I have no doubt that Professor Meyendorff, who has served on numerous commissions in the Church is well aware of the need for more specifics. He did state at the end that he would be willing to discuss his ideas further. His letter is an introduction to his proposal, not an entire roadmap.
I also have no doubt that Professor Meyendorff is well aware that the very bishops whom he sees as needing the most to resign their sees and face new elections are going to balk. Nobody, including Professor Meyendorff would be surprised to hear at least one bishop call for his immediate removal from the faculty at SVS and his excommunication to boot. It will be up to the rest of us to make it clear to the members of the preconciliar commission that we support this proposal.
Professor Meyendorff himself recognised that his proposal will seem "radical" to many. On the contrary, it is very grounded. It is grounded in the precedent of the 1917 All-Russian Council and it is grounded in a very realistic assessment of our current situation. Furthermore, it is concrete. He proposes not a vague, general, "the bishops must go" but a specific means of moving forward. I noticed one comment above suggesting that this proposal is too lenient - it gives bishops a chance to get back in. It does do that, but based on the confidence that their own dioceses have in their ability to spiritually, morally, and otherwise lead the flock of Christ. In that sense, the proposal is also grounded in sound judgement instead of (very understandable) emotional reactions. The episcopacy itself is not a polticially elected office. As Orthodox we believe that the election of a bishop has a divine quality to it. However, the insight of the 1917 All-Russian Council was that a bishop's tenure in a see is not an absolute God-given "divine right of kings" matter. Their solution, as Professor Meyendorff presents it, strikes a balance that preserves the theological truth that short of being deposed on canonical grounds, a bishop is bishop for life, while addressing the fact that bishops do not always 'work out' in their sees.
It might help to change the context for understanding this for a moment: Let us say that we were not talking about our current situation throughout the church, but about one or two bishops who were very good men, honest, true, saintly even, but absolutely inept as administrators and spiritual leaders. We have had such bishops in the past. This same process would have them removed from their sees as well, but it would also provide an avenue for them to continue to be respected for the gifts they did have, and to recognise that for whatever reason God willed to do see them elected as bishops, bishops they were. In short, Professor Meyendorff's proposal promotes reason not vengeance, and that is far from being "radical."
It seems to me that if there is one thing that unites all of us who visit this web-site, whether or not we post, it is frustration, anger to one degree or another, but above all, grief. It is my personal hope that the members of the pre-conciliar commission will not be bullied by the very ones who would fight to preserve their positions of power and would take a very serious look at this proposal, and invite Professor Meyendorff to elaborate further.
Sdn Mark Harrison
#36 Mark Harrison on 2008-02-11 19:39
Folks, let's not fool ourselves and waste time hoping the grand Wizard of Oz willingly steps aside through mere suggestion. The recommendations from Dr. Paul will be DOA on the Metropolitan's desk. The Synod as a whole will reject it and any meaningful reform. Anything of substance that jeopardizes the power and position of the Metropolitan and current members of the Synod will be ruled "out of order." The only means available to make the bishops step down is for the parish councils, well ahead of the AAC, across the country to form a Solidarity movement and vote for a Meyendorff motion to withhold assessments and all financial support from their respective diocesan administrations and Syosset until the Synod resigns. If the councils refuse to withhold, then it's up to the laity to take matters into their own hands and withhold. Every member of the Synod, without exception, has failed to uphold the responsibilities of his
office. The excuses of "I'm doing my best" or "I'm allowing the cover up and continuance of evil for the good of the Church" has to be brought to an end.
#37 Richard Mason on 2008-02-11 19:55
I think Fr. Paul has some great ideas.
Personally I would vote out Met h and most of the Bishops. And lets get rid of most of the people running the offices in various locations. We know who they are loyal to.
And the seminaries need new management from top to bottom espeically St. Tikhons and St. Hermans.
They need an educated person with his feet grounded to see just what is being taught at the seminaries and how it really relates to Orthodoxy. And how are the students being treated.
The oca needs a complete overhaul otherwise it will not survive.
We need a Met and Bishops who know first of all how to treat the clergy in their care. They clergy should not have to be afraid to speak out and not have to fear recrimination.
Secondly the Bishops should learn how to treat their flock. Love them and respect them. They need to be reminded they are not above anyone. Most saints were humble and suffered for their faith. I dont believe they behave properly when visiting parishes. They come in expensive robes walking around like they themselves are God. Things have to change and fast otherwise a lot of parishes are going to find other jurisdictations to affialite with.
#38 John Macenka on 2008-02-11 20:46
Quite thrilling to hear from the most pre-eminent orthodox christian the OCA has to offer..........Dr. Meyendorf's kindness and total christianity marks the beginning of a solution to the real lack of confidence the Holy Synod provokes .........This well-considered letter lays the groundwork for the future of the OCA. as it is currently configured, and may be configured in the future.........we should all convey our sincerest appreciation and gratitude for this effort, as it will be in the forefront of our thinking
#39 Guileless on 2008-02-11 21:10
Well, why do I suspect mixed motives from the good Doctor? Dr. Meyendorff has been a Syosset insider for going on two decades. He certainly has respect because of his good father, and his academic accomplishments, and that respect is certainly deserved... as far as it should go. However, the silence up until now from Dr. Paul and his colleagues at St. Vlads has been deafening. and suspicious. Why do I suspect that the St. Vlads crowd was compromised into silence by Fr. Bob, just as was the Synod and many leading clergy and lay people? Is it truly possible that all the theological watchdogs were so clueless while the pantry was raided?
Besides his participation in so many AACs, Dr. Paul was a member of the Administrative Task Force in 1993 (?) when most of these trust issues were the main agenda mandated by an AAC. Why did he not exert his leadership then? Why now, 14 years, later has the light finally gone on? Fear of losing it all? Is this a good motive for positive, spirit-inspired leadership?
I don't like being skeptical at this moment because hearing any word from the St. Vlads crowd cannot be bad, I guess, but if Dr. Paul now wants to participate in the dialogue for resolution, no, set the agenda no less, then he has some public repenting and confessing to accomplish first if he want to now lead and expect others to trust his 11th-hour recommendations. Respect must be earned. Credentials are meaningless.
Dr. Paul. Talk to us. Why did you ignore the lack of trust revelations from the early 90's? What did you do after that? Why did you not go to the mat for Deacon Eric Wheeler? What you are saying now could have been said then. Why have you been so silent for so long? C'mon Dr. Paul. It is time to fess up if you want our trust at this point. Making a bold pronouncement certainly is a savvy political move, I guess, but we would prefer to see consistent, substantive dialogue and behavior from you and others from St. Vlads if you now want to take up the leadership mantle. The OCA has been too much about making feel-good pronouncements and thin on follow-through. Chronic silence from St. Vlads all these years is not helping your credibility right now.
I look forward to your follow-up.
#40 Anon. on 2008-02-11 22:01
If I am not mistaken, Herman had a chance to confront his diocesan clergy and laity at their last Diocesan Assembly. And if I am not mistaken there was no action entertained calling for him to resign and this was while an online Vote of No Confidence was taking place.
The Metropolitan is the Archbishop of New York and Washington and the Metropolitan of All America and Canada. If the folks in NY/WA can't get rid of their own bishop, how does one think an idea plucked out of some fanciful reading of Russian Church history is going to solve our problem.
New York and Washington, STAND UP and rid yourself of your bishop. And if you can't or won't who are we to say he should go if we live in other diocese?
Come on folks, let's get serious about this. The only way Syosset got any reaction from the Church was when the money tap was cut off. You want to stick it to Herman, don't show up in Pittsburgh. Let Syosset pay the big penalty with the hotel for not meeting their room count. If you must go to Pittsburgh, don't stay at the AAC hotel. Stay at another hotel and deny them the room count.
By not meeting the room count, they will also have to pay for all meeting rooms and complimentary rooms and suites will be charged at full price. That will get a reaction.
Money talks and Herman listens.
If you are not planning on going to the AAC, DON'T pay the special AAC assessment. What leverage will they have if you don't go? The only leverage is to not seat you if you don't pay, but if you are not going, then deny them the hundreds of thousands of dollars they will raise from this special assessment. That will get a reaction.
There are ways to still get Syosset's attention and its called THE GREEN STUFF!!!
#41 A Former AAC PC Member on 2008-02-11 22:01
How will Dr Meyendorff's proposal get around OCA Statutes, Article 3, Section 12 Approval by the Hierarchy
"All resolutions adopted by the Council shall be examined by the bishops at the end of each session (morning, afternoon, or evening). No resolutions shall be valid unless approved by a vote of at least a majority of the bishops attending the Council. The approval of any particular resolution by the bishops shall be evidenced by a vote of the Holy Synod, reported to the presiding officer of the Council and transmitted to the Council at the beginning of the session that immediately follows. At the final session of the Council, a recess shall be taken for an appropriate period prior to the final adjournment in order that the bishops have an opportunity to act on the resolutions adopted at that session. In case of a tie in the vote of the Holy Synod, the Metropolitan or other presiding bishop shall cast an additional vote in order to break the tie. In case the Holy Synod shall disapprove any resolution adopted by the Council, it shall submit to the Council the reasons for such disapproval."
Reason for disapproval? "We are bishops. You are not. Thanks for being a great audience!"
#42 Over a barrel on 2008-02-11 22:05
Do We Really Need to Do Anything At All?
What are the prospects of "fixing" the OCA? It occurs to me that we would do well to first decide what the OCA -- indeed Orthodoxy -- is before we decide it is broken. Allow me to do a complete flip-flop and seriously propose the idea that there is nothing wrong with the OCA. The OCA exemplifies the purpose and true operation of Orthodoxy, and we are spun up because we are just looking at things wrongly.
Orthodoxy has been compared to a ship (off course) a corporatoin (incopetent) an oranized crime family (no respect fo the law) an exclusive club for rich men of questionable tastes in entertainment, or an army (not much of one). Now what if the truth was something much less exciting, but also much less susceptible to the vagaries of bad leadership?
I am beginning to see Orthodoxy as something not like other churches. Not a military organization like the Catholic Church, but something a lot more humble. Its just a machine designed to transport the ancient past of Christianity to the present moment. That's all. Almost like a train that can move anywhere, with stops at individual parishes. It is ancient, encrusted with icons, and only moves about the pace of a walk. Incense smoke curls up from censers, as well as steam from the boiler, and darker smoke from recent battle damage, a lot of probably self-inflicted.
A voice calls out "we have been traveling one-thousand nine-hudred and seventy-five years." "Where are you going? someone asks. "When will your journey end?" That provokes laughter, and the choir -- it is excellent due to all the practice it has had -- begins again and the train starts to move off, but not before a few people have rummaged around on board for some weapons, some maps, clues and little treasures. They will take these back to their own parishes and put them to work where they are most needed.
Orthodox Christians are like the French Resistence before D-Day. We get some sporadic help, but we're pretty much on our own. Aren't we all waiting for that great day of Liberation? We can do what we can, but it is going to take a world-overthrower to defeat the occupying enemy.
Orthodoxy is just the supply train for Christianity. It is up to us to do something with it. Right now we have been busy tyring to pull up the rails and pry off the wheels -- myself chief among them -- and oh how futile this has been anyway. All I have done is hurt myself and my family. Orthodoxy is neither more nor less efficient for my efforts. All this has been been but a puppet show put on by demons with the setting sun at their backs, casting shadows on the slab-sided boiler -- half players in these follies and half our own faces.
Now the crew is -- well, they have forgotten they are train engineers and mule skinners and believe themselves to be admirals and dashing cavalrymen and Popes and Tsars and who knows what else. They walk up and down the passageways and catwalks in the most ludicrous costumes imaginable. Like railway tycoons of the past, they have parties in their private cars -- The Rocky Horror Bishops Show. Fortunately you won't be invited. So try not to make eye contact and stay on the train only long enough to be refreshed and gather what you need for the battles in your own souls and around your own towns.
Just remember, they think they own the train, but they're only here for a brief watch, then they must answer to the Quartermaster.
The train comes to every parish. What we need is freely given. Giving money to bishops is like giving liquor and car keys to teenagers (as soneone else one said in another context). So the Metropolitan doesn't get a nice writeup in the local press about giving money to some charity. Are there no charities in your own backyard? No money. Or as little as possible. In fact, just pretend the hierarchy is iike some terrorist organization: somewhere out there, but unlikely to impact your life unless you're just really, really one of the unlucky ones. Ignore them. Your faith won't survive much contact with them. In that sense, they truly are a terror.
This whole scandal has inflicted untold spirtual damage to mysef and my family. I have a heavy responsbility to bear to my children and wife. I hope to be done with it now. I understand that the OCA can't be fixed, probably won't survive and some parishes will simply die out. But it doesn't matter. The train will still be out there, and when I am abandoned by visible hierarchs, God in his mercy will send me guidance through providential means.
There are Christians everywhere, friends. The best thing I have learned from all of this is that I can no longer afford to be too proud to stand next to them just because they aren't Orthodox. I guess that breaks some canon, too.
Orthodoxy isn't the most important thing in the world. And we aren't the only real Christians out there fighting the world, the flesh and the devil. And the OCA is not the only front, nor even the most important one.
#43 Timothy Capps, Esq. on 2008-02-11 22:45
Your Exactly Right On Spot, Both of you Stonewall and Sad State of Affairs, I was in attendence at the All American Council When Seraphim Actually Won the Vote to Be the Next Metropolitian, and Look at what Happened Herman Was Immediately Placed in His Position With Mr. Kondratic right at his Side.
The people in attendence didn't even know what hit us! We sang and sang for over an hour and then all of a sudden Seraphim won the vote.
Then they crowned Herman..
So Tell Me, What Difference will it Make? There are those who will Swear by the Innocence of All of Them who have been cheating the Children, the Innocent Widows and Russian Children, not including 911 victims and families. What makes you think that all of a sudden?
Fox 8 news gets a hold of this and causes an Embarrassment? Oh My! We can't have that can we? We Are the Church? I just want to know where were you when Deacon Wheeler Needed You 2 years ago when this first hit the Internet? Where Were you when Fr. John Hopko tried at the All American Council and He Asked for Help? Where were you when Mr. Nescott Needed A Helping Hand with his Integrity? When he rasied the questions and became a threat? Come on tell me So? Where were you when Mr. Stokoe Needed a helping hand and has spent tireless hours typing and gathering information from liable sources to Heal the People in the Church who are Suffering On this Incredible State and time in our Church History?
The list of questions goes on and on and tireless innocent people are suffering as I Write this Paragraph including my children and husband and family members all across the globe, Where does it stop!!! Oh, I have a suggestion lets just retire out the Current Administration and Give them a Pension so shh! they can rest in peace for there remaining lives.
Give Them A Pension!! Retire them Out! How about Visit them in Jail with the Bibles that Didn't Make it To The Russian Children and Distribute them. I think that's a Great Solution. Come on Where's you head? I'm going to pay for the retirement of these criminals in the Church who deserve more money! Gee, thats a great solution to our problem. This House of the Lord Should of Been Cleaned up Years ago. We are reaping what we sow, and sadly so sadly we still haven't heard a State of Address from Metropolitan Herman asking for Forgiveness or Somekind of Remorse for All of the Fallen Bishops and Himself... Until then, we will continue to rot. All of the termites have to be removed, the wood cleaned up and the splinters have to be worked out I don't see an end in sight or a new beginning just yet.
My only hope at this point is to have another day of prayer with all of us praying for the same understanding and unity, and that God will forgive those who repent, knowing and unknowing what they have done.
#44 Anonymous on 2008-02-11 22:47
While there may be room for questioning how the Russian resignations may have actually happened (who forced them?), this does not in any way affect the validity of Dr. Meyendorf's suggestion, at this time, in this situation, in the OCA. It is at least a positive suggestion. There may be other positive suggestions, but we have not heard them...
#45 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2008-02-11 22:55
I must say that as a general proposal, Dr Meyendorf's reflection is probably the best course of action placed on the table to date. Yes, a diocese may reinstate their bishop, but then that diocese holds responsibility before the whole OCA (no less God, Himself) for the good or bad that decision causes. Not the bishop, but the diocese that chose the status quo. A present, it would seem that the one thing totally lacking in your OCA is a sense of responsibility. Now AUTHORITY is another matter. You seem to have a surplus of that vested in a select few.
And to you hierarchs that Dr Meyendorf is asking to resign for the good of the Church. Do you really think that you are irreplaceable? When you remove you finger from a bucket of water, does, unlike in the case of the rest of us mere mortals, the water leave a void where your finger previously resided?
If, amongst the widowed and unmarried clergy of the OCA, there are not 9 to 12 humble, competent, dedicated priests willing to pick up the pieces of your Church and serve with honor and sacrifice, then perhaps it's time to reconsider the OCA's very existence as an autocephalous Church. You have had some 30 years to do this and have failed?
Trying to "Pressure" the current synod (granted there are a couple of reasonable bishops) to individually and collectively accept responsibility for their years of failure, change the way they do business, and become accountable for their actions is simply trying to put lipstick on a pig. The pig is still not going to look good enough to kiss, and it's going to get angry over the intrusion in its life and fight you at every turn.
Yes, there are load of details to be worked out in getting the OCA's ship of state on a proper and Christian course. But in the final analysis, isn't it worth the work and sacrifice by each and every one of you, including the newly retired bishops this action would create?
The OCA cannot remain as "The Incredible Shrinking Church" forever. These are exceptional times for you. Dr Meyendorf has proposed an exceptional course of action that exhibits great merit. It's worth pursuing.
#46 Overseas Observer on 2008-02-12 04:36
Yes, we must make sure we do our human part to have God dwelling among us & be a genuine witness to this for modern humanity. We do not need Church programs like church growth & stewardship, etc., we need truth!
Nehemiah prayed to God saying: Remember your words to your people: “If you return to me and practise my commandments, then, I shall gather you from the ends of the earth and bring you back to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my name.”
#47 Fr. Michael Mihalick on 2008-02-12 06:47
Why not pull a candidate for Metropolitan from elsewhere? This would bring in new blood who has no previous history in this sordid affair. This might be a crazy idea but I think Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev would be a wonderful candidate. He is a friend of the OCA and a true Bishop who is able to "correctly divide the Word of truth." The more I read about him and hear about his work, I think he would be a wonderful candidate. He is from our mother church , but educated in the West and has proven himself able to engage Orthodoxy in a western context. Just a thought.
#48 anon priest from DOS on 2008-02-12 06:49
Please see the well researched and written article by Ralph Gibbs in the Kodiak Daily Mirror for February 11 on the situation within the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska.
I would encourage folks to contact this newspaper or the Anchorage Daily News with their input to hopefully keep these issues alive to provide hope for the Orthodox of Alaska.
#49 Ralph Bennett on 2008-02-12 07:38
Truth be told, this PCC is saddled with an impossible job. From members of the Commission they know that the upcoming Council will have little chance go being productive (helping the OCA move forward) unless Herman retires. Trying to ignore the 2000# gorilla in the room is making their taunting task almost impossible.
They would like to open the Council with a Service of Reconciliation. That is wonderful, but who will lead it? Herman? What is the measure of his reconciliation with the Church, with even his brother bishops?
No, this Council is not only doomed for failure it is almost certain to do something even worse. Raise expectations, which may be unreasonable, only to have them crushed in a display of "circle the wagons" and protect your turf.
Unless Herman retires long before the AAC, and the clock is ticking on an effective time-table for his to step aside, the long defeat will most certainly continue.
#50 Hoping for the Best but Planning for the Worst on 2008-02-12 07:59
I'm not a member of the OCA, so I don't personally feel like it is my right to do what I'm about to suggest, but why hasn't anyone sent all the information on the decade long scandal, and now the scandal in Alaska to the national news media? It seems to me that having this story broken on CNN, or the NBC evening news would force the hand on all the bishops involved. I think what is happening is a tragedy and IMO as long as this remains an "inside" issue limited to the Church and a couple newspapers in Alaska, nothing will ever get solved. It took international news for Rome to address their issues and I fear that it will be the same with us. Again, I'm not in the OCA so I don't feel I have the right to forward this to CNN or other such news agencies, but if it was my jurisdiction I would. I've sent stories to news programs before (nothing to do with Church but news worthy none the less) and they've followed up on them and aired them. Certainly they'd do the same with this. But like I said, that's up to members of the OCA, but perhaps it is necessary. Just my opinion
#51 Anonymous on 2008-02-12 09:27
Dear Mr. #32: Anon:
You said it all when you stated, "Well, why do I suspect mixed motives from the good Doctor?" It's because your mind is "off-track." Are you Silver?
The teachers at St. Vlads and elsewhere stay out of the political fray in the OCA. Their job is to teach and educate. When asked by hierarchs or priests for educated opinions regarding the Orthodox church, they comment according to church teachings, but they do not take sides. Thus, the reasoning for "the good Doctor's" proposal.
You wish to accuse "the good Doctor" of many things including that he has "other motives." In fact, your accusations are laughable and just plain silly. "11th-hour recommendations?" Hardly.
I would hope that "the good Doctor" will ignore you, Mr. Silver or whoever, Mr. #32.
#52 Anony-Mouse on 2008-02-12 10:45
Thanks Overseas Observer! Truth never fails; and never falters. It is we who fail and falter, and through that failing and faltering we learn and grow and our perception and understanding of truth grows and matures! Those who want to stop the learning process [whatever the motivation], i.e. the learning and maturing that is taking place in the time of this scandal by applying *lipstick to the pig*, are just trying to graduate early without having done the work worthy of the credentials. What is the work? Seeking the whole truth, however painfully long it takes. What is the goal? Humility and repentance. What is
the reward? The Kingdom, i.e. righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. No pain, no gain as it has been said.
Thanks for your overseas unbiased and welcomed observations. Hopefully yours won't be the only, or the last.
#53 Karen Jermyn on 2008-02-12 10:56
I do believe that Bishop Hilarion was a priest at St. Catherine's in Moscow before becoming a bishop.
Maybe the editor can confirm that?
(editor's note: an online biography of the Bishop appears on his copyrighted website at
#54 Anonymous on 2008-02-12 12:06
Right on John! The OCA needs a thorough house cleaning. If what Dr. Meyendorff stated worked in the past, why not give it a try now. New blood, new ideas may generate some realy spirituality which the church has been void of ever since Herman took office. He was elected in Orlando and his legacy will be that of a bad cartoon character. Let's band together and start anew.
#55 MP on 2008-02-12 12:11
There's another way. The press. All of a sudden the current Chancellor says he's "concerned" about what's going on in Alaska. It's great that we have a chancellor who's so behind the curve that just now is he "concerned"! We were concerned years ago with the behavior of Nikolai. The past year has brought us tremendous shame and being liable financially because of him. We have a federal probe because of Nikolai. We harbor sexual predators of children. We have a bishop who beats his housemate and then let's him sleep off taking pills. We have a bishop who has a housemate that refers to him as "papa"? They must play house a lot up there! No one goes to church up there. He's excommunicating everyone but himself. And now, when the press looks bad, does our new chancellor with all the integrity his predecessor lacked have "concern". Father, its about time you saw that the time for concern was early last year, now its time for action!
Of course, this "concern" was only prompted because of the tremendous press which shows that we're spiritual lowlifes and have learned nothing from the RC sexual problems.
Why aren't any of the other jurisdictions saying anything? It's not like people who don't know much are going to differentiate. They see a bad Orthodox church, it don't matter if its Antiochian, Greek, or whatever, its the ORTHODOX that are bad!
Talking about the Chancellor reminds me! Where did Tassos go? We had a lot of unanswered questions for him. Fr. Michael, where art thou!?
#56 Anonymous on 2008-02-12 12:30
I believe that this is a wonderful solution for the whole of the OCA; however, here in Alaska, we are under the spell of +Nikolai and those that would or have spoken out against him live in fear of feeling the sting of his wand.
Many parish council members and St. Herman Seminary board members that have opposed how money was spent or voiced their opinion regarding frivolous loans have been replaced.
Parishioners who have served faithfully for many years have been pushed aside. The "old guard" is being replaced and our churches are being "purged".
Little old ladies are sat down and told that Iconostas which were paid with monies their families scrimped and saved for when they were little girls are being replaced. They are then ordered, "If you don't like it. Learn to like it," by his holiness himself.
So, in question to some of the comments, who would the parisioners of Alaska be comprised of? Our church was sustained for hundreds of years by readers who were taught by former readers who were taught by the Saints Innocent himself when he was a lowly priest by the name of Father John Veniaminov and our beloved Father Herman.
And so in these troubling times, in the words of St. Herman himself, I ask everyone within the OCA to, "For this reason I, the most humble servant of the local peoples and their nurse, stand before you with streaming tears and write my request of you to be a father and protector to us! We, of course, know no eloquence, but we say, with the halting tongue of children, wipe away the tears of defenseless orphans, cool the heat of sorrow in melting hearts, give us to know the meaning of consolation. "
#57 Tatiana Berestoff on 2008-02-12 13:31
There are 37 posts and out of all 37 posts only one person questions Dr. Paul Myendorf on where in the world he got his information. All the people like McCutcheon, Fr. Andrew, Peet, Protopapas, Luckashonak, Unneland, Valentine, Matovic, Anon-i-Moose, Hodges, Banescu, Shellbach, Stonewall, Tobin, Ross, Harrison, Mason, Stokoe and whoever else out there have jumped on the train of a lie that Myendorf has put forward. I hope he is not teaching this sort of nonsense at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. He would never get away with it at St. Tikhon’s. So for all of you named that have been trying to destroy the Hierarchical structure of the “Orthodox Church” I say, this is your moment, now prove me wrong! And this is an error in which we need not argue over because the facts are all out there. See over-procurator of Russia, a fellow by the name of V.N. Lvov appointed by the government for more information. Now it is interesting in that Lvov appoints a new synod that included both bishops and archpriests. Now the Russian Church both hierarchs, clergy and laity were furious and the story goes on. Some one spins the truth and all of you agree with it. Yes the same people who are going to tell us that Metropolitan knew about Kondratick and his sins and reappointed him anyway. I know better and when I have had questions, always I went to the oca.org for answers and I have been satisfied. So stop trying to frighten your brothers and sisters and begin to build up the church. The only person that can remove the Metropolitan or any of its members is the Holy Spirit and will do so I dare say through the Holy Synod.
(Editor's note: I would refer you to the following:
[Excerpt from RUSSIAN ORTHODOXY IN CRISIS AND REVOLUTION: THE CHURCH COUNCIL OF 1917-1918, A Dissertation presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Brandeis University, Department of Comparative History; Professor Gregory L. Freeze, Advisor, in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy by George T. Kosar, February 2004. Pages 31-36]
Searching for a New Authority: the Electoral Principle
The most sensational challenge to Episcopal authority was the campaign to purge unpopular bishops, especially those with reputed ties to Grigorii Rasputin. (20) The Provisional Government itself forced Metropolitan Pitirim of Petrograd, the highest-ranking prelate in the Church, to resign, but elsewhere bishops were removed at the instigation of clergy, laity, and local state authorities. In Moscow the clergy demanded the retirement of Metropolitan Makarii; the Synod duly confirmed his removal on 20 March, and Makarii formally retired on 1 April.(21) In other dioceses, “extraordinary” (chrezvychainye, ekstrennye) congresses of clergy and laity voted to dismiss local bishops, including Archbishop Aleksii of Vladimir, Archbishop Vasilii of Chernigov, and Bishop Varnava of Tobol’sk,(22) for purported links to Rasputin.
Reflecting the spirit of the times, diocesan assemblies of clergy and laity elected new prelates in a number of dioceses – Saratov, Chernigov, Khar’kov, Nizhnii Novgorod, Ekaterinburg, Tobol’sk, Tver, and Perm dioceses.(23) The most dramatic elections concerned the two ranking sees, Petrograd and Moscow. On 24 May, a diocesan assembly of approximately 1,500 representatives of the clergy and laity and met at the Kazan Cathedral in Petrograd and elected the popular suffragan bishop Veniamin.(24) On 21 June, delegates of clergy and laity gathered in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow and elected Tikhon, then the archbishop of Lithuania, as their new hierarch. By the year’s end Tikhon would ascend to the restored Patriarchal throne.(25)
Whatever the specific motives of Episcopal dismissals, the main impulse for their removal usually came from within the Church iself, although there were some cases where civil authorities took the initiative.(26) Such actions elicited open support from the leading theological journals. For example, the liberal Church critic V. Mozhaiskii, contemplating these extraordinary changes, praised the removals as vital to the Church’s renewal. Writing in a journal published by the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy, he concluded that the February Revolution gave the Church a two-fold mission: a “destructive” task to “discard … all that the old [regime] had created … exclusively in order to inhibit liberty,” and a “constructive” task to “introduce that which was lacking [during the old regime] for the full development of [Church} life.” He specifically urged an end to the “autocratic despotism” of the bishops.(27)
Priestly authority also came under attack. The breakdown of ecclesiastical institutions in 1917-18 makes it impossible to provide exact figures, but ecclesiastical publications report that many parishes expelled priests after February. In one district of Kiev diocese (Zhitomir), for example, peasants demanded the removal of more than 60 priests. In Saratov diocese, parishes had reportedly driven out 40 priests.(28)
As in the case of bishops, the parishes invoked the electoral principle and claimed the right to choose clergy, a prerogative of bishops since the late eighteenth century. In April and May, joint assemblies of clergy and laity convened to formulate agendas for Church reform and, officially sanctioned by the Holy Synod, recognized the need to stop spontaneous ousters of priests and channel popular energies toward more constructive ends. Thus an extraordinary congress of clergy and laity in Perm granted parishes the right to elect their own priests, deacons, and sacristans, but permitted the dismissal of clergy only after an official investigation and trial.(29) A diocesan congress in Odessa ordered a boycott of parishes that dismissed their priests without sufficient grounds.(30) Thus, diocesan assemblies attempted to regularize popular participation and curb excesses by allowing parishioners to elect new priests, but only to fill existing clerical vacancies, not to remove unpopular ones.
Thus, the February Revolution brought a “liberation” in both political and Church affairs. The “first sign” of reform, to use the words of a hopeful parish priest in Arkhangel’sk diocese, was the fact that government ministers, bishops, and consistories no longer wielded absolute authority.(31) Instead, assemblies of priests and laymen had now gained a major voice in Church affairs. But the revolution had also liberated the so-called ‘lower clergy” – deacons and sacristans. Proclaiming themselves to be the “spiritual proletariat” (dukhovnaia proletariia), the decried the financial straits(32) and lack of rights vis-a-vis their priestly superiors.(33) In 1917, however, these sacristans and deacons obtained full voting rights at the diocesan congresses and used their new influence to demand a larger share of parish income. But even some priests welcomed these changes. For instance, the priest M. Titov, anticipating what he called the first “free” diocesan congress in Ekaterinburg diocese, declared that “the electoral principle should become the fundamental principle of the free activity of the clergy,” with voting being conducted by secret ballot and all members of the clergy enjoying equal votes. Moreover, he continued, “the administrative institution of deans and ecclesiastical inspectors [should] be replaced by elected” officials. (34) Deacon Nikolai Budnikov of Polotsk diocese accurately summed up the spirit of popular participation when he observed that “the broad electoral principle … has already gained sympathy in Church life and is an [important] contemporary issue.(35) (36)
Although elections applied to all kinds of Church institutions and assemblies, many in the Church resisted the idea that these changes were tantamount to “democratization.” In this view, the electoral principle was not an end in itself, but only a means to achieve sobornost’, that it, the collective participation of hierarchs, clergy, and laity in Church Affairs. Archbishop Nikon (Rozhdestvenskii), a staunch conservative,(37) was highly critical of the electoral principle. “Nowadays everything is being decided by congresses [and] councils,” he complained, and questioned whether the “universal application of the electoral principle” could ensure “that those elected will be the best people.” He also took issue with the principle of equal franchise on the grounds that the morally upright people are a minority, and the morally deficient the majority. While the electoral principle may be appropriate for secular matters, it could be harmful in the Church. While in non-Church matters it may sometimes “be useful” to heed the intellectually or morally deficient, such people should not judge spiritual matters. (38) The priest A. Beliaev, writing in the diocesan journal of Kaluga diocese, likewise bemoaned the intrusion of secular political ideas into Church affairs, Beliaev contended that two separate view points were merging at parish, deanery, and diocesan assemblies of clergy and laity: “church sobornost’” and “state democracy” (gosudarstvennaia demokratichnost’). He insisted that these two ideas must be sharply distinguished to avoid doing “great harm” to Church affairs. Whereas a liberal author in Bogoslovski vestnik had castigated the bishops’ “autocratic despotism,” Beliaev argued that the Church as a divine institutions should incorporate the Apostle Paul’s conception of the Church as one body possessing parts with varying abilities. According to this view, the uneducated morally deficient people could destroy the Church by sheer force of numbers.(39)
Thus the electoral principle was widely viewed as an instrument for achieving sobornost’, not an end unto itself. The Tobol’sk extraordinary diocesan congress, convened in late May, declared that the electoral principle is a “living nerve of sobornost’” and that it “should be instituted throughout the entire Church structure from bottom to top.” Hence parishioners in Tobol’sk could elect their own priests, but only with confirmation by the local bishop.(40) This model of “checks and balances” appeared in many other dioceses as well.
#58 Anonymous on 2008-02-12 13:34
Strange how other Churches can prosecute the wrong doers, but the OCA remains silent. Perhaps the new Treasurer should enroll in such course, as well as other leaders of our Church.
Feb 12, 2:54 PM EST
Colleges Seek to Protect Church Tills
By KATHY MATHESON
Associated Press Writer
AP Photo/Bob Child
Buy AP Photo Reprints
Your Questions Answered
Ask AP: Running Backs and Nuclear Waste
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The globe-trotting priest from Connecticut drove
a Jaguar, shopped at Bergdorf Goodman and bought jewelry from Cartier,
all of it with money stolen from his church's coffers. By the time the
parish finance council caught on, he had embezzled $1.3 million.
Many U.S. churches have been victims of embezzlement over the years,
reflecting not just moral weakness on the part of the wrongdoers, but
lax financial controls. Often, church budgets are overseen by
volunteers or employees with little guidance or professional training.
see the following:
Chaplain (MAJ) Nicholas A. Czaruk
US Army Retired
#59 Chaplain (MAJ) Nicholas A. Czaruk, US Army Retired on 2008-02-12 14:45
Wow. Well done, Mr. Capps. Your train analogy may give me the analytical tools I need to be able to remain in the OCA without accusing myself of hypocrisy. You could have left out the Rocky Horror Bishop's Show reference, though. I immediately caught the visual, and it wasn't good. Let's do the timewarp again!
#60 Scott Walker on 2008-02-12 15:08
Any bishop from overseas needs to have a "vision" of Orthodoxy in America, NOT Orthodoxy under the MP or EP. + Hilarion, I don't believe has a vision suitable to enhance an autocephalous Orthodox Church in America.
#61 Anonymous on 2008-02-12 15:26
"Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it". Has 'anon priest' ever wondered how come Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom), of thrice-blessed memory, and of legendary patience and kindness, was driven to request of the 'mother church' the transfer of his auxiliary, Bishop Hilarion, out of the the Diocese of Sourozh?
Another anonymous priest
(editor's note: For only the second time on this website, I am ending a discussion. The virtues (or lack of same) of Bishop Hilarion are not an issue for us at this time in the OCA. There are many other venues if some wish to discuss this further. Let's move forward....)
#62 Anonymous on 2008-02-12 15:43
Re: the comment by Anonymous Priest from the DOS regarding Bp. Hilarion to come here to help us. While that is something interesting to consider and may or may not be a good thing, I have been receiving many private commuications which disturb me. Beause I am of Russian background there are those who assume I am the one who wrote in. Folks, there is more than one Russian background priest in the South. Albeit although we are rare, we do exist. I didn't send in the post. Furthermore, I have never been aonymous. It is not my style. Take your comments to me elsewhere.
#63 Fr.Kirrill Gvosdev on 2008-02-12 16:09
This is the problem with permitting 'anonymous' posts. I do not believe in not signing one's name to an opinion. If it is honestly held, then no one should be afraid to sign. If it is 'problematic' with 'higher-ups', considering how much hysteria there is in many posts about how those same 'higher-ups' are dishonest and therefore don't matter or should be 'removed' - and we've all seen it - I fail to see why anyone should care what they think. The fact is, either one has the courage of his convictions - or he doesn't. If he doesn't, he shouldn't have the opportunity to post anonymously and perhaps - as in this case - cause grief to another person who had nothing to do with the post!
I see little difference except in degree between those being condemned for their dishonesty in the OCA and those who lack the honesty to sign their names to their opinions. Both can - and have - caused damage to the Church and the Faithful.
#64 Valerie Protopapas on 2008-02-12 19:39
In relation to Dr. Meyendorff's proposal, I would say that hierarchal resignation is not unheard of even in recent history.
You may recall that during the Romanian Revolution, then Patriarch of Romania Theoctist resigned from office, and was later, perhaps a couple months, re-elected to that position by the Holy Synod of Romania. My understanding was he did this to remove any question that he was there because of direct intervention by the communist regime. A moving-on, a healing process -- perhaps the same motivation behind Dr. Meyendorff's proposal.
But as for my personal reflection on this, what Patriarch Theoctist did required a degree of humility and selflessness -- something we have rarely if ever seen in Herman, or most of the other OCA bishops for that matter.
#65 Anonymous on 2008-02-12 20:08
Nobody is "trying to destroy the hierarchical structure of the Orthodox Church". I see quite a few people trying to keep the hierarchs from destroying the hierarchical structure of the Orthodox Church through shameful behavior that undermines the authority of and the respect due to the hierarchical structure of the Orthodox Church. Many among us understand that God is not mocked, even if some in the hierarchical structure of the Orthodox Church have seemed to forget that. I hope you enjoyed the long citation provided by our host as much as I did.
#66 Scott Walker on 2008-02-12 22:08
In defense of the Fr. Kirrill, this anon priest from dos is not Russian and apparently does not know history. There was no hidden agenda in it at all. It was simply food for thought as a possibility to help turn the corner in this mess. Perhaps Bishop Hilarion would not be the best candidate.
#67 anon priest from dos on 2008-02-13 05:29
I second your motion. It's time for a total change, not just some people changing chairs. It's time for people of God to be responsible and we need to restore spirituality and integrity to the entire church.
After all of this time, Herman has exposed himself to be a liar and a manipulator. How can we keep him? How can be continue to pay his salary? How can we pretend to forget? It's time for change. We need to begin to plan now. We cannot allow him to continue his reign of terror.
#68 MP on 2008-02-13 09:15
"Why aren't any of the other jurisdictions saying anything? It's not like people who don't know much are going to differentiate. They see a bad Orthodox church, it don't matter if its Antiochian, Greek, or whatever, its the ORTHODOX that are bad!"
Perhaps they are working behind the scenes. Isn't Paul Sidebottom Antiochian? I can't imagine he would file his case without the blessing of his bishop. I'm not sure about the following: Didn't I read the firm representing him is is doing so without charge and that they are in some relationship with his local parish?
#69 Anonymous on 2008-02-13 13:34
"The only person that can remove the Metropolitan or any of its members is the Holy Spirit and will do so I dare say through the Holy Synod."
Isn't it interesting how the Holy Spirit moves the peasants (oh, sorry, the people) one way, and the Holy Synod another? (e.g. the AAC's of 1977 and 2002).
#70 Michael Strelka on 2008-02-13 14:38
A bishop being retired to a monastery? Like a fish being retired to dry land. Married bishops. Great idea. The alternative hasn't worked. When things don't work, the Church has abandoned them. Communion in the hand, exchanging the Peace in the liturgy, deaconesses....All fine ideas for their time, all gone. Expand the gene pool of the Episcopate or watch it die. Oh, look; it already is! When I see the talent of married priests being ignored in favor of celibates, it's breathtaking.
#71 nwlayman on 2008-02-13 14:59
First of all, there is good news in this post. For some time I've felt like Homer Simpson to Montgomery Burns, who famously could not deign to remember his (fictional) employee's name. In a certain sense, it is good to be addressed directly (even if it is from someone who chooses to contest wearing a mask like Mil Máscaras on Lucha Libre, though Sr. Arellano is probably a much nicer person than this character).
As to denying the hierarchical constitution of holy Orthodoxy, I plead not guilty. Simple: Dr. Meyendorff's proposal is for the bishops to offer their resignation. Since it would be a voluntary act on their part, the hierarchical principle is maintained. I rest my case.
#72 Edmund Unneland on 2008-02-13 19:08
How dare you say that both, the thieves and perverts have done the same damage to our church as the anonymous posters! You have no idea why these people are anonymous.
#73 Anonymous Faithful who has never stolen from the church! on 2008-02-13 19:57
I don't care why they - and you - are anonymous. Either one has the courage of his convictions or his convictions aren't worth posting. I don't recall St. John Chrysostom preaching from behind a curtain so that he couldn't be identified or St. Athanasius sending his opinions to the Council unsigned, do you? Both were willing to risk ALL to present their viewpoints. Why should we expect any less today?
#74 Valerie Protopapas on 2008-02-14 09:29
Thank you, Valerie, for judging and condemning all anonymous cowards. You are clearly both omniscient and sin-free. Keep up the good work.
#75 Anonymous on 2008-02-14 09:42
Tsk, tsk! And you had to remain anonymous to post that?
Tell me, Father, Mr., Mrs., Ms. 'Anonymous', what danger am I to you? What position do I hold that I could use to deprive you of your livelihood or ruin your life? What reason, therefore, did you have for remaining anonymous in this post?
I am all ears - or, in this case, eyes - awaiting your reply. Or perhaps, you are afraid to do so lest your arguments meet with the scorn they deserve from those who are not afraid to stand in the light.
#76 Valerie Protopapas on 2008-02-14 12:30
Dear Mr. Capps,
Orthodoxy is the most important thing in the world, because Orthodoxy is truth. Haven't our greatest examples and heros -- our bravest fellow resisters, to continue your analogy -- always been willing to die in order to tell this to the world? And that world includes those, non-Christians and heterodox alike, who are hungry for the truth we have. Does Orthodoxy make us good? No, only we can do that -- or, rather, only we can let God do that. But let us not discount the importance of the true faith because of unrighteousness in the episcopacy, or in ourselves.
Did any of us think that we Orthodox were the only ones who really loved Christ, who wanted to follow Him? Well, let us wake up from that illusion by all means. But, then, neither are those who take Christ's name the only ones who love truth and wish to know it. We should stand next to everyone who has such desires -- and probably each of us has much to learn from them.
But we do them no favor if we hide the light that is the true faith, which is one of the reasons the canons exist. Our forefathers taught that unity in faith must come before unity in prayer and in the Mysteries, and that right belief is a mark of the Church. Did they do this so we could be proud of ourselves? No! Was it because they thought themselves or the episcopacy to be full of righteousness? They weren't fools!
"The scribes and the Pharisees," as Christ said, "sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do."
More than this, though: why do you present Orthodoxy as coterminous with with the episcopate? The bishops are not the Church, any more than the apostles themselves were. There could be no Church without them, true, but that is not the same thing. What you've said of the train applies perfectly well to the phenomenon of apostolic succession. This takes place within the Church, but it is not the same thing as the Church, as Orthodoxy, as the Body of Christ. We are all a part of that -- unworthily.
Of course, there should be righteousness in the Church and in Her governance. We can read the Didache to see an image of that. It seems to me that there's nothing wrong in striving for this, as such -- but we are not all called to the task, nor are all those who are called to it called in the same way. This is a matter for prayer and counsel in the case of each of us.
In any event, whatever role you feel you have -- or don't have -- in the present troubles, I wish you every victory in building up the Church that is in your home.
#77 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-02-14 13:36
Can we just discuss the important topics here? I'm sure Herman, Nikolai, and others would enjoy seeing us waste our time and efforts squabbling over "Anonymous" versus "Signed", but I think this is a stupid arguement considering we've got sex offenders, perverts and thieves running around in our OCA.
If someone wants to sign their name, great. If not, I'd rather hear what they have to say than to never hear their point of view at all because they have whatever reason for not signing. This is not a legal forum, just an opinion forum.
#78 Amonymous on 2008-02-14 13:39
Gee, Valerie, cut some of these folks a little slack! I say this as one who has frequently challenged various anonymous keyboard warriors parroting the Syosset party line to grow a spine and use their names; what, after all, does a good parrot have to fear? I and apparently you have the good fortune to be part of a parish where the priest does not believe in rule through intimidation, but not everybody is so blessed. To accuse anonymous posters of causing the same harm to the Church as wicked men in places of power have done is simply over the top. Mr. ALL-CAPS crazed anonymous guy may be annoying, but he isn't really hurting anything except his point of view, and the suffering faithful who post anonymously out of fear deserve our compassion, not our condemnation.
#79 Scott Walker on 2008-02-14 15:07
Have you ever considered the possibility that you may not have a clue as to WHY some of us remain anonymous and that it might have nothing to do with your presuppositions? Give it a rest and stick to the issues. Those of us who choose to remain anonymous are known to Mark and we have explained our reasons to him. If our credibility was suspect, he would not post. I find some of you who are so sanctimonious in your attitudes about anonymous postings ought to be asking if this too is not symptomatic of a pretty sick culture of distrust within the OCA; perhaps taking the plank out of your eye might be a good first step. Lets fix things and stop focusing on the wrong subject. I am not persuaded by your harangues. Please give us who choose anonymity the benefit of the doubt. Judging on this matter is for God, not you.
#80 Anon. on 2008-02-14 16:25
I have never been accused of courage; indeed, I am the most timid of souls. I don't drive because from a young age, I have been very nervous in cars. I don't fly. Indeed, it wasn't until I was in my 50s that I realized how circumscribed my life has been by my fears; I have lived a half life and I see nothing that is going to change that.
As well, I have far too much of what C. S. Lewis called 'the spaniel' in me. I want to be loved or, at least, liked. I don't like controversy and rudeness devastates me. If I am moved to criticize I have always attempted to couch my language in such a way as to give as little offense as possible not because of any Christian virtues, but simply because I dread being disliked or criticized. From time to time, I have been angry enough to overcome this handicap when boldness was required, but far too often I will leave the field rather than engage in even a rhetorical battle.
*However*, with all of my faults - and they are grievous and many - the one thing I have NEVER done is send anything anonymously except gifts. Impoverished soul that I am - and I sadly admit to my lack of courage - I have never been so cowardly as to be unable to sign my name to an expressed opinion. Now that might not be much when considered in light of those who gave their lives for their convictions, but in my case, it is, at least, *something*.
If this represents hubris or, worse, prelest on my part, I ask forgiveness but I want you and others who take exception to my exception regarding anonymous posts that I am not some bold crusader frightened by no one and therefore unaware of the stresses and strains of those who have fears. No one knows better than I the crippling force of fear and yet, coward that I am, I will not speak anonymously. If I feel the need to opine, I do it under my own name and take the consequences that may accrue.
#81 Valerie Protopapas on 2008-02-15 08:46
Ok, everyone now knows how you feel about yourself.
Now, can you give it a rest and focus on the real issues at hand? All you are accomplishing is the muddying of the waters.
#82 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2008-02-15 12:44
I do not wish to condemn you or anyone because they sign or do not sign their names, however, I have said things on this forum about my church and if I were to sign my name, others would be impacted by that disclosure. I am not anonymous for my sake alone. Many people in this area know me and my family and they know our stand in this awful situation but they are adverse to my publishing anything on any forum concerning those feelings. Others may have other reasons and it is with sadness that I write anything at all. Perhaps you are right that I shouldn’t do so. Good-bye.
#83 Another mouth closed on 2008-02-15 13:03
Now you see, Fr. Squires has no trouble signing his name and good for him!
But the subject isn't 'muddying the waters' as you so objectively suggest, Fr. Squires. Rather it is pointing out that in attempting to address those whom we are told are *dishonest*, the field is left open for others to be dishonest in turn when they are not held to taking the responsibility of their viewpoints - and even more importantly, their accusations.
I can say anything about anyone and make any claim if I know that no one will hold me accountable. What sort of 'honesty' does this engender, I ask? Little or none unless anyone here wishes to opine that somehow those posting on this site are morally superior to those whom they accuse - and surely Father, you cannot believe that to be the case.
In law, a great deal is made not only about the evidence of guilt or lack thereof, but of how that evidence was acquired and if the rights of the accused were violated in its acquisition. I think that the 'rights of the accused' are as important as the 'rights of the accusers' and certainly, one of the basic rights of free men (not to mention Christians) is to be faced by their accusers openly in the light, as St. Paul proscribes. Surely, anonymity, especially in the present circumstances, is of the darkness rather than the light and therefore should have no place in a 'Christian' forum.
(editor's note: While it is helpful to revisit the question of anonymity every so often, there is little be gained by this constant restatement of known positions. Postings on this topic will not longer be published after those currently waiting to be posted, are. There is not doubt this topic will return in the months to come.)
#84 Valerie Protopapas on 2008-02-15 13:46
I condemn no one sir; that is not my provenance. I merely say that people have a right to know who accuses them or who testifies against them or, worst of all, who speculates regarding them. You would want that right surely if you were likewise accused.
I do not envy you the choice you must make; that is, openly speak your heart and mind and run the risk of offending others or remain silent or do as many have done, say your piece anonymously. It is a very difficult matter and made more difficult by some people's position within the Church. It is not for nothing that the martyr has come to mean both witness and sacrifice.
#85 Valerie Protopapas on 2008-02-15 15:09
I almost always agree with your posts, but this time I think, especially now with all that has transpired, that Valerie, whatever her motives, has a legitimate point. Too many people are posting anonymously out of fear and thereby empowering the forces of reaction and evil.
The number of anonymous posts seems to have grown, just like the crisis it is symptomatic of, with every passing day. Ironically, it is not limited to critics of our clerical regime, but its defenders as well! It is far past time to stand up and SHOUT your defiance and contempt and damn the consequences. Yes there may be retaliation and punitive petty punishment, but who cares. So what? Are we mice or men? This is not Russia, Iran, China or wherever. This is the land of "GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH!"
And of course "death" or "martyrdom" is not really an option no matter how devoutly Bishop Nickolai wishes it were so. Just a little courage and gumption is all that is required and miracles could actually happen.
Try it, you might like it!
#86 Anonymous on 2008-02-15 15:13
Thank you Mark!
#87 Anonymous on 2008-02-15 16:33
You are incorrect in saying that the ROEA has a financial crisis. In fact during our Annual Episcopate Congress last June, our CPA came and delivered a detailed report of our finances and stated not only are our finances "accurate and in good order", but the Romanian Episcopate's finances "are among the finest & most exemplary set of reports he has seen." Recently we just had our six month audit by the CPA's and were given yet another clean bill of financial health.
Far from wanting to get rid of him, we love and respect Archbishop NATHANIEL who's been a great archpastor for our Episcopate! God grant him Many Years!
#88 Subdeacon Robert Aaron on 2008-02-15 19:30
Subdeacon Robert Aaron:
You are told of only the most obvious good things. Money is not being embezzled, the books are according to proper financial procedures, and the like. Sounds great, but that's what we were told in the OCA for years. Do you know for sure how much money there is in the accounts and what it is being used for, or do you only know what is "officially" reported to you? How is it being managed? .....
My point was that these problems with our hierarchy extend throughout the synod. They all need to take a close look at themselves and how they operate because the "sheep" are not deaf and blind.
#89 Anonymous on 2008-02-15 20:59
Dr. Meyendorff's proposal is an excellent strawman, yet I see it as having a weakness that others have already noted: the likelihood that the delegates from each diocese will confirm their incumbent bishop, including Metropolitan +HERMAN. It is the actions and inactions of the hierarchs as members of the Synod that have caused and prolonged the various scandals that afflict the OCA. Thus, all of the delegates to the All-American Council should confirm or reject the continued "service" of each hierarch, not just the delegates from the hierarch's diocese.
I would also modify Dr. Meyendorff's proposal to require any hierarch not confirmed for continued service to (a) retire to a monastery in a diocese other than that in which the hierarch reigned, and (b) the retired hierarch submit to severe penance under strict obedience to the abbott until such time as the retired hierarch makes a full, public confession of his actions and inactions regarding the various scandals.
#90 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-02-16 08:35
A very promising proposal. It cures the present symptom temporarily. Only widening the pool of those deemed qualified to become bishops will forestall a swift recurrance.
The early 1900's implementations of Anesthesia, Antiseptics, Antibiotics and the Cesarian operation have erased pre-retirment age widower priests. Change the rules to retain the age-old characteristics of the pool of bishop candidates -- or win the Darwin Award.
#91 Harry Coin on 2008-02-17 10:16
Why are you Anonymous? Are you born with an ancestral shame?
The response is for you and all who are acting like you. I fell sorry for your pathetic notes. You are Nobody indeed, who throws some quick ideas and does not understand much of anything. My friend, you are an impatient one who has to learn to see the essence of these things. This is the Orthodox Church and not a wordly talkshow.
The letter is very thoughtful and powerful, and by making that reference to the Holy Synod of Russia in 1917, he made my day. You should read the letter of the Patriarch to the Reds. True lesson for eternity!
Maybe you do not understand, and fully appreciate, what is like having the breath of the Reds from Cheka in your face and dare to do what they did and died. Such a strong faith is gone forever under the bulldozers of the globalization.
Those bishops are the great martyrs of our times as well as those who died in the camps and jails. I agree that we do not have at the present time that stength, but we are not called and can not judge because they who commit sins against the Church will be judged at the right time. I would not trade their place and you should do the same if you love your soul.
However, you are reading in this letter a desperate appeal to recover the dignity and human verticality that was lost in the last 50 years of brainwashing by the think tanks of the consumerism and filled with goodies and the "getmore" syndrome. These words are coming from the bottom of his heart and it is unfair to insult him as much as I see in these responses.
I would like to mention that I love Archibishop Job's diligent and respectful approach to these matters and he will be in my heart. We better pray with our minds and hearts for these issues to be resolved and have patience, a lot more patience. The Metropolitan, the Chancellor or the other employees would not save me and you.
In conclusion, be yourself vertical from now on, love the parish priest and if you are a priest look at those who are the good examples. Go together shoulder to shoulder on the bright path of salvation because there is the response to your worries as well as being considerate to someone else's good work.
At the end, I would add a note that I do not reply to any response and do not wish to further debate with anyone.
#92 Dan Georgescu on 2008-02-18 21:12
All suggestions should be taken into consideration cause all come from concerned Orthodox Christians who love their Church.There are indeed many questions left unanswered,such as: Why was Kondratick allowed to serve a parish in Florida while under investigation? Why after being defrocked was not instructed to go to a Monastery for a certain period of time for prayer and fasting and repentance before being accepted back to the chalice? Why,since he has been removed from ALL clerical duties,does he still wear a cassock,and is still called "Father" by the people in a particular parish? Why hasnt the parish been chastised? Why pay the Kondraticks any money when they owe the Church money? Why hasnt there been an arrest for thft or embezellement by all those involved? These,and many other questions have yet to be answered. WHY?
#93 Anon on 2008-02-19 13:18
"Orthodoxy is the most important thing in the world, because Orthodoxy is truth."
I appreciate your thoughtful and well-spoken comments. I respectfully, and probably ignorantly, disagree with your quote above. Christ is the truth. Orthodoxy is the vehicle for transmitting that truth -- or not. An institutional culture of theft and perversion would call into question the bona fides of our little (and growing littler) branch of Orthodoxy.
Our church is directed by those we cannot respect, nor who care to earn it, nor who would know how to do so if they did. I see the future of the OCA as dwindling island parishes, clinging more tightly to the secure forms of things even as the spirit is forgotten. Utter powerlessness before authority is something that is just never going to catch on in America. If that's what Orthodoxy means, it will be forever excluded from the northern European / western gene pool -- it is just not in our DNA.
Unfortunately, I am more and more persuaded that this is the essence of Orthodoxy. Healthy humility manipulated to a point of abasement before faux-nobility. Is this website healthy? Honestly, in my opinion, with all due respect to Mark, no. It is pathological. But this is only so because there is no legitimate means of influencing the behavior of our hierarchy. We vent, we float ideas invariably condemned as uncanonical, and probably are, but might work, and, yes, we probably gossip some. But the one hope this website does provide is that someone who can do something -- none of us peasants, mind you -- just might get fed up enough to do so.
What does the OCA need? A complete change of leadership with the common mission to emerge from this humiliation as servants rather than pampered princes. Probably a married clergy to provide enough qualified candidates (uncanonical! -- better have bishops like these than get into serious dialogue with sister jurisdictions about the real world.) Since I don't expect this is very likely, I find it hard to take the OCA seriously. From this cascades a whole series of problems that are not being addressed because our shepherds do not love us, only our fleece. Is this Orthodoxy? Is it a bad apple here and there, or, people, when the whole organization seems to come out of a David Lynch script does it make you wonder if the OCA and its members have God's continued blessing?
#94 Timothy Capps on 2008-02-20 00:22
By the way, let me clarify. When I said this site was, in my opinion, pathological, I was speaking clinically, in the sense that it is a manifestation of underlying unhealthiness in the church as an institution. If anyone interpreted this as saying our fearless and devoted editor was a madman driven by grim pathologies, I apologize for the confusion.
(Editor's note: Thank you for the clarification. Besides, I do know where you live.......)
#95 Timothy Capps, Esq. on 2008-02-20 11:16
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