Sunday, April 9. 2006
Is the Statute the real problem? Once again, we encourage you to sign your posts.
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It appears these financial irregularities have been going on for a very long time at the expense of the faithful.
How can we move ahead from this point unless those responsible are removed? The trust of the faithful has been shattered, our respect for the heirarchy is doubtful. Without trust and respect, moving forward will be like walking through mud with obstacles at every crossroad.
Personally, I am sadly disappointed by the nasty postings and silence of the Metropolitan. I would like this all to go away but, at the same time, I need an explanation of where the monies were diverted, and by whom.
By removal of these people, the slate can be wiped clean and only then can we move on.
#1 Tears of Sorrow on 2006-04-09 13:06
Of course Bishop Nikolai wants the lid to be put back on...if the investigation proceeds freely and completely it will not only unbury the deeply-hidden problems at Syosset and its environs, but charge into Alaska looking at the Indian Trust Land and the shenanigans by Syosset to get those funds to stave off near-bankruptcy!
It's time that the nest be cleaned out so that the Church can begin to function as a Christian organization instead of as an ecclesiastical mafia or fiefdom (or both).
#2 Priest Anthony on 2006-04-09 14:08
Most Reverend Bishops, forgive me! The Church is burning and the only thing that you bishops think about is proper church protocol? Aren't there countless souls to be saved; the aged who are forgotten and alone in nursing homes; marriages in need of mending; people who are in need of forgiveness and deliverance from sin; thirsty souls who are hungering for God, and all you think about is procedure, polity and protocol?
Can anyone look at Jesus in the face and tell Him that church protocol is more important than HIM? Can anyone look at Jesus lying dead in the grave on Good Friday, venerate His wounds and say that protocol is more important than HIM? After you receive the Eucharist and are speaking to God as He resides in you, can you honestly tell Him that proper protocol is more important than HIM?
We are told in confession to not hide any sin, otherwise we will have the greater sin and go away unforgiven. Should this investigation into the past let any detail go unviewed? We are told to address our spiritual ugliness and deformity. You instruct us that we must examine our consciences to prepare for a proper confession, so, how can you object to a thorough investigation of alleged past church mishandlement of money entrusted to you by the faithful?
Great Lent IS that very time when we are asked to take a hard look at the condition of our souls and ask God for forgiveness. Why then does it seem inappropriate for the Church to do the same during this time of the year? When is the correct time for the Church to look at herself and see if it is being faithful to the mandate given to her on the Day of Ascension? (Matthew 28:19) When is the correct time for the church to look at herself and see if it is being faithful to the Christ's commandment: "Whoever you do for one of these brothers of Mine, you do it for Me" ?(Matthew 25:40, 35-36) When is the correct time for the church to honestly ask Herself if She has been faithful to the Gospel?
"Now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Metropolitan Herman's letter to the faithful of the Orthodox Church in America finally begins to expose ALL of the church's weak areas that are in need of dire rebuilding. Unfortunately, many INNOCENT people have been hurt along the way, and some have even passed on without their full story from being told. So whether you wear the White Hat, one with a cross on it, just a plain one, or stand on boths sides of the icon screen, all of us will be held accountable before God on the day of Judgment. On the Day, one cannot hide behind church canons and protocol and use it to your advantage.
We have been put here at this particular time in history to work out our salvation and bring as many people into communion with the living God.
What will be the condition of His Bride when He comes again? Remember Christ asking Peter, "Do you love Me?" He says the same thing to each bishop by name reading this entry, "Do you love Me?" If you say, yes, then Christ asks you to "feed My Sheep."
Glory to God Who makes all things new!
Those attacking Metropolitan Herman for authorizing the investigation seem strangely desperate in their letters.
If there is no financial misconduct, then the investigation that he authorized will reveal this. If there is financial misconduct, then it is critical that we set our house in order or we face true catastrophe. It is really that simple.
This is not a divisive idea, nor does it "mar" the Lenten journey. If anything, the willingness of Metropolitan Herman to go forward with an investigation is an example for us Christians to be fearless in the pursuit of truth, whatever the consequences. What a great message for Pascha!
Thank you Archbishop Job, Mark Stokoe, and others for being steadfast in reminding us of this message.
#4 Terry Meyer on 2006-04-09 15:38
GLORY BE TO GOD: It appears from the action taken, (firing th
chancellor, authorizing audit of special funds, hiring Proskauer Rose Law Firm, changing locks etc. etc.) the correct effort is being made by His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman and the Administration to stop the cover-up and do a proper investigation. If evidence of malfeasance and/or misappropriations is found, then the evidence must be turned over to the proper civil authorities for prosecution and repayment. Defrocking can and must be left to the Synod of Bishops.
If evidence has been destroyed or not found, proper procedures must be put in place to prevent any future such accusations. All this can be done while the required additional personnel changes are being made. Transparency must be paramount.
It now appears that Bishop Job of Chicago, is not the "Luddite" as he was referred to by one of his fellow Bishops when he asked
Metropolitan Herman "are the allegations true or are they false." Shame! Shame!
The quicker this scandal is brought to its proper and transparent
conclusion, the sooner the OCA will become a stronger and healthier
Peter J. Sredich
#5 Peter J. Sredich on 2006-04-09 16:25
To Bishop Tikhon and Bishop Nikolai:
"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity. It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon which falls on the mountains of Zion. For the Lord has commanded the blessing, life for evermore!"
#6 Ben Kalemba on 2006-04-09 16:39
There is a great misconception by the laity that
bishops are elected to serve in their capacity
(over their flocks) for life. This is not true.
Each person and rank of cleric in the Orthodox
Churchhas their own "function" and when they cease to fulfill that function, they can and should bereplaced by the Church, the People of God, the laity.
A deacon is only a deacon as long as he serves in his capacity in the Church. A priest serves at the pleasure of his bishop.
However, what if the bishop or bishops no longer serve the People of God, the laity? Are they a separate and protected class only answerable to Christ? Of course not.
If a bishop or bishops have their own agenda(s) and do not serve the people, then they should be asked to retire or be deposed.
The current situation within the OCA demands just that. It is quite clear the Holy Synod has decided not to serve the people. Then the people should replace them. The canons of the Church are clear on this and this is not something foreign to Orthodoxy.
As the old Russian saying goes, "If a fish stinks, it begins at the head." It is time to replace those bishops who wish to continue secrecy and hiding the truth from the laity. They are elected by the "people" to serve the Church and when that fails, they must step down.
#7 George Williams on 2006-04-09 17:29
One thing is apparent. The Holy Synod has failed to protect its flock and address the financial mismanagement for many years. Just this year, they had two opportunities to take up the matter responsibly, but the status quo won over. Now, His Beatitude has broken through the log jam and removed one of the main players who was stiff-arming the audits. In rather mean-spirited responses from a couple of bishops, we're told Procedural Rule #63Dz2 was violated. This thinking is in accord with the stereotype the outside world holds of our Church and its hierarchy -- we're all about legalisms, dictatorial rights-for-life of those in power, and secret and corrupt enclaves that direct Church policy.
Finances have most likely been misappropriated, while individuals have been verbally abused online by a hierarch for years. Yet, nothing has been done, at least until His Beatitude fired the Chancellor. The Metropolitan noted that his recent actions are rooted in that canon law which requires him to do what's necessary to protect the Church and Her flock. This ought to trump the other lesser canonical protocols.
My prayers and support are behind +HERMAN. Let the investigations go forward and the chips fall where they may. I would hope that afterwards a sober look is taken at how bishops are selected for consecration. Something's clearly amiss. If, as some are threatening, +HERMAN is deposed and the status quo is reinstated (including the former Chancellor), the probability is high for a major backlash against the Synod.
#8 Richard Mason on 2006-04-09 20:05
Sadly, Bishop Nikolai too seems little concerned with the question: Are the allegations true?
This obfuscation is suspicious. It seems obvious that this call to good order is nothing but a self-serving call in the hopes of avoiding further scrutiny. I don't know about anyone else, but whenever I have encountered this kind of obfuscative behavior in a bureacracy, it is because the people involved have something to hide.
A vote of no confidence in the current crop of leaders is in order. Their dysfunctional systems, alliances and secrets are still very much in place. The departure of Fr. Bob Kondratick did not likely change any of that. These circumstances point to the need for administrative term limits, including Bishops? This would at least prevent weak and corrupt practices from becoming entrenched and perpetuated indefinitely, as seems to be the case right now.
#9 Name Withheld by Request on 2006-04-09 20:48
Mr. Williams wrote that bishops "they can and should be replaced by... the laity" if they no longer serve the laity.
There is nothing in the canonical tradition of the Church to support this. The laity do not consecrate and cannot "recall" bishops. Orthodox Christians are not Protestant congregationalists, and their clergy are not congregational hirelings. In cases of heresy or immorality, the canons provide canonical due process for the judgment and deposition of bishops and clergymen, and (lest we forget) the excommunication of laypeople -- but there's no mention in the canons of such deposition being subject to "the will of the laity" or laypeople pronouncing judgment and passing a verdict in such cases.
The saddest and most overlooked byproduct of this controversy is its revelation of how little so many know of Orthodox Christian theology, ecclesiology and canonical tradition, and how much some people apparently think the basis of the Church is "the sovereignty of the people" of a secular democratic political system.
#10 Gregory Orloff on 2006-04-09 21:08
Can you clarify for us any timelines:
What formal reports is the Holy Synod or OCA faithful waiting on?
Does any one know when the investigation by Proskauer Rose will be done? Are they supposed to have anything ready by the time that the Holy Synod meets in May?
Are there any other audits still being carried out or word on when these may be done?
#11 Patty Schellbach on 2006-04-09 22:48
Have you people read these letters? Metropolitan Herman is CLEARLY involved with all of the financial decisions made over the last 10 years! I would LOVE to look over the accounts of St. Tikhon's!
#12 Natasha on 2006-04-10 07:14
Mr. Orloff's comments on general ignorance of Orthodox Christian theology, ecclesiology, and canonical tradition are right on the mark!
However, he neglected to mention the error of those who imagine - or perhaps hope - that "the basis of the Church" is hierarchology, or the bishops' exercise of monarchical rule over a diocese. This notion, Scripturally untenable unless one is a fundamentalist or papist, is at least as dangerous as a hegemony of the "laity."
In Orthodox ecclesiology, bishops are ordained to serve within a particular/local Church. The entire Church is accountable, as one, to Jesus Christ, who is himself the head of the Body. This is why the Gospel book alone lies on the altar table, and not a Typikon, nor a collection of canons, and the reason the Gospel is held over the head of the bishop at his ordination in the Eucharistic liturgy (the confessions of faith, important as they are, though emerging much later in Tradition, are outside the context of the full assembly of Christians at the Eucharist).
No, principles extracted from secular democracy cannot be uncritically imposed upon the Church. But ecclesiology has not developed in a linear manner throughout history. The laity have an honorable vocation through the process of initiation, and are important members of the Body of Christ. If the Church is reduced to a hierarchical image in which the laity simply passively obey the rule of bishops, then the Body of Christ has been forcefully divided and disrupted by the imposition of historically conditioned ecclesiological fads from very particular epochs in history.
The current tension between the bishops of the Church shows that the process, though painful, is working - the laity are exercising their vocation by identifying a possible source of disease in the Body, and calling the attention of all the orders to remedy it as soon as possible (incidentally, why do so many refer to them as "hierarchs"? Hierarch, possibly invented by Pseudo-Dionysius, is a word that means something much different from episkopos, which at least has some New Testament foundation). As the deroulement of Christology has clearly evidenced, the clarification of truth is often a painful and difficult process. We should not be discouraged by such sharp disagreement! In fact, this is part of the normal process of ecclesial growth and maturation.
As a Body - a Body reduced neither to bishops nor laity alone, but a Body united by the Holy Spirit - we must work together to make sure that any disease is properly diagnosed (in other words, the truth revealed in the open), and the proper action prescribed, whether that be reconstructive surgery, or therapy with rehabilitation.
#13 M. Denysenko on 2006-04-10 07:38
Why? Who are you to stick your nose into the Church's accounts? Even if there was a misconduct, it does not mean that YOU or this website should be involved in resolving it.
#14 Joseph on 2006-04-10 07:48
Do the bishops of the West and Alaska understand that if they press their threats they would be forcing the OCA into an impossible choice? If they were to succeed at ousting +Herman and stopping the audit, how could the federal government not intervene? If they continue their course but don't succeed, it sounds like schism would be the result.I hope not.
Not too long ago we were hearing about the canonical requirement for the local authorities to ratify the election of the Patriarch of Jersusalem, even though those local authorities are non-Christian. In principle, does this not suggest that the canonical tradition includes reference to civil law, even when the civil authority is not Orthodox? If that is true, it would seem to me that the Metropolitan's actions are quite within bounds, at least on that particular point.
It strikes me that Vladyka HERMAN's actions might be better called extra-canonical, that is, they extend beyond what the canons could foresee, as opposed to violating the canons. Certainly the canons do not take into account U.S. laws regarding non-profit corporations. If the basis of the Metropoltian's actions is that he is saving the OCA by facing the reality of the laws of the land when no one else is willing to do so, well, what better leadership can we expect?
#15 Concerned Churchman on 2006-04-10 09:51
Agreeing with Fr. Anthony's statements in the second paragraph, I will add that I hope when my children are old enough to be aware of what's going on around them, that the leadership of the OCA will have cleaned up this miss and reconciled themselves.
Recent scandals of lesser scope (such as a single parish), have already gained the Devil victories in sending converts back to their former heterodoxy and causing confusion and despair among teens about what it really means to be an Orthodox Christian, and they ask themselves if they want to stay in the Church after they leave home.
#16 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2006-04-10 14:06
The audit for 2004 by Lambrides was to have been completed no later than March 31, 2006. That report has not been made public.
The audit for 2005 by Lambrides was to have been completed no later than a month after that, i.e April 30, 2006.
The OCA has given no timetable for the additional audits of all charitable contributions back to 2001.
The OCA has given no timetable for the Proskauer Rose investigation.
#17 Editor on 2006-04-10 14:46
It takes light to eliminate darkness.
Michael C Herrick
If not us, who? Are we not all called to be good stewards of all the blessings God has given us? Can a good steward sit back and ignore allegations that the mites of the widows and orphans are being misused? I think not.
#19 Editor on 2006-04-10 14:54
Are you that steward? Is Natasha that steward? Is Michael that steward? The Lord, being THE LORD, does not consider it necessary to get involved with the financial matters of the State, as is seen in Mt. 22:16-21, but leaves this up to the individuals involved immediately.
You, on the other hand, have created a weapon that tears the Church apart, under the false pretence of having to straighten out certain improprieties. Even if the goal is noble, it does not justify the means that have been in use.
Although I despise the way that Bishops Tikhon and Nikolai act (and, having great respect for the former, I am very surprised), I can understand them fighting the Metropolitan, but not you. The fact that some one might have sinned does not mean that anyone, who feels like it, is entitled with remitting these sins. The Church is not a democracy. You may not not criticize the Metropolitan or anyone else in the hierarchy the same way you woul criticize the US President or the governor of your state.
"I would LOVE to look over the accounts of St. Tikhon's!" Wow! And some one else would LOVE to have the microphone installed in the confessional. After all, don't we believe that any sin affects the WHOLE of humanity? Well, why have private confessions then? Let's just hear it all out in public and then tear the sinners apart! Or, better, let's install those microphones etc. to insure complete honesty!
#20 Joseph on 2006-04-10 17:25
The attitude and perspective revealed by the words of Bishop Nikolai is heartbreaking and chilling. He has very little empathy for a Conciliar Church.
Even before the results of what will be a long audited trail, Bishop Nikolai's words have revealed a violation of trust and good faith between a hierarch with the Faithful as a matter of principle. Whatever comes from the current investigation into financial mismanagement, the position that Bishop Nikolai has taken cannot be allowed to pass without a clearly articulated response in the form of structural reform that clearly defines public accountability and oversight for the Primate and the Holy Synod.
The Metropolitan Council and the rank and file diocesean leadership can no longer be treated with such blatant disregard and disrespect. Trust and good faith will no longer be given to empty pious words.
Still, we must continue to press on with our life of repentance and reconcilliation.
The Church is profoundly more than a collection of personalities abiding within it.
By God's Grace we will be redeemed and restored to the dignity of our common calling as a Conciliar Church in Christ.
Resolutely in Christ the Victor!
#21 A unworthy churchman from the OCA on 2006-04-10 19:11
Do you trust the people who caused the problem to resolve the problem? I don't think so.
#22 Thomas K on 2006-04-10 19:15
If these investigations and audits linger beyond the Spring Session of the Holy Synod, I don't know how effectively the Holy Synod will try to move forward to put its house in order.
However, once all audits and investigations are done, hopefully these auditing and law firms will more effectively move the church forward to where it needs to be than what the Bishops of the Synod seems willing to do in terms of what we have read so far.
The collective momentum and decisive actions for correction will probably be coming from the laws of America rather than from Bishops who can't seem to plan for a sound future for the OCA.
#23 Patty Schellbach on 2006-04-10 19:58
Viewing the current approach as extra-canonical makes sense. The Holy Spirit moves where He wills. It stands to reason that in the current age, the Spirit will be moving in ways not previously experienced by the Church of history. If the OCA Statute is broken, which it appears to be, and if the Canons have never addressed the life and law of these American lands, which they have not, then how are we to govern ourselves in love and faithfulness? If Metropolitan Herman breaks with the culture of concealment and begins leading a consensus building process based upon the divine synergy between hierarchy and conciliarity, then just maybe a constructive way forward can be found. However, if he loses his nerve or if he is consumed by ecclesial in-fighting, then we will likely have to fall back on an extra-All-American Council to gather as the early Church did in prayer to seek God's guidance in restructuring our life together.
#24 Name Withheld by Request on 2006-04-10 20:21
No one is trying to reduce the Church to its bishops alone. The Body of Christ needs all of her body parts, functioning in their place and according to the function God has given them, to be effective in the world. But just as the hand cannot perform the function of the eye, or the leg cannot perform the function of the ear, laypeople cannot perform the functions of bishops and clergymen -- or, worse yet, apart from them -- as delineated in the canonical tradition of the Church. Yet that is what some people are clamoring for today, with preposterous claims that the ministry of a bishop or presbyter relies on the "axios" or "anaxios" of the laity, or that "the canons" allow laity to recall, pass judgment and depose on bishops and presbyters. Maybe in the board rooms of corporate America, but not in the Church, folks.
I've seen too many "lay activists" at the parish level, vocal parishioners who "know better" than the bishop and the presbyters what's good for the Church and how to run her, but knew so little of her faith and her canons (which they swore they'd uphold -- how does one uphold what one doesn't know?) they had never heard of the prayer "O Heavenly King" before. Incredible. And it's not limited to one or two parishes. I've seen it time and time again growing up in the Church in America: laypeople pulling the strings of property and money to subvert the religious focus of the Church for their own ethnic, cultural, political or personal prestige ends. With that sort of anticlerical "lay activism," the Orthodox Church wouldn't remain orthodox for long. Maybe there should be a website about lay abuse of bishops and presbyters in the Church. I fear the Internet could not support all the bandwidth that would be required.
More lay participation in the Church requires a better laity: more catechized, less secularized and not antagonistic to the bishops and presbyters of the Church. Even the Belarusian and Ukrainian lay brotherhoods resisting Uniatism (Byzantine Rite Roman Catholicism) in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 16th century did not dare to operate without a bishop's blessing and charter -- when their own bishops deserted them for Uniatism, they sought and received blessings and charters from the bishops of Constantinople for their activism. And yet today, we have websites such as this, operating devoid of episcopal guidance and supervision. Without the quality control of bishops, who are the teachers and leaders in the Church, the threat of heresy, far more damaging than fiscal innuendo, is very real. Just look at what some people have written here for proof. There is so much unorthodoxy parading as Orthodoxy on the Internet these days, it makes one wonder: Is Byzantine Rite Protestantism our future?
#25 Gregory Orloff on 2006-04-11 06:15
Of course, (the Bishop of ) Alaska wishes to put the lid on things. They have managed to lose most of the land held by the Church.
I would advise these people to get facts straight before they write about anything. And please, don't ask how I might know anything. After working at Seminary, and being married to someone and having a life involved at the Chancery, I might say that if people want to put a lid on things to save their own skins, unlike my own tactful husband and Dn. Eric, I have very little tact. I will gladly use what I know to thwart people who are trying to stop these audits.
And please know, excommunication would be a small price to pay.
#26 Elena Andrusezko on 2006-04-11 11:51
I have a basic question: What led to the Metropolitan's decision to take this course of action without the consensus of his brother bishops? I think the answer to that question would say a lot about whether or not he is arrogating to himself papal powers. In any case, I hardly believe such a decision came out of the blue.
#27 Sine Nomine on 2006-04-11 15:48
Is it a case of hiding complicity, or is it a matter of personal image?
#28 Sine Nomine on 2006-04-11 16:06
At this difficult time for our beloved OCA let us all take a moment to consider what is happening.
Scandal . Accusations. Angry letters.Threats of schism. The Body of Christ is being torn apart. Satan is doing his work.
Let us all resolve to get to the bottom of the problem. If mistakes had been made, let them be rectified. If there has been wrongdoing, let there be repentance and forgiveness.
Inappropriate behavior must be dealt with firmly, but let us refrain from acting like a mob. In that here had been wrongdoing , we are like everyone else. But let us not deal with it like everyone else, but like the Orthodox Christians that we are.
And God protect us from lawyers.
Let us all pray for Metropolitan Herman. For Metropolitan Theodosius. For Protodeacon Eric Wheeler. For Fr. Robert Kondratick. For Bishop Tikhon. For Bishop Nikolai. And let us pray that all may be reconciled in Christ.
#29 Peter Von Berg on 2006-04-11 16:34
A prayer for our Orthodox friends from a Lutheran pastor:
Gracious Father, we pray for your holy catholic Church. Fill it with all truth and peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error direct it; where in anything it is amiss reform it; where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in need provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ, your Son our Savior. Amen
#30 Pr. Bill Pierce on 2006-04-12 07:25
Perhaps these investigative results so many of us are waiting for are not yet available because certain individuals are not coming forth with the information requested of them, and therefore, previously agreed upon time frames for it's completion cannot be met? This is just my own personal hunch.
I don't think it is fair for any of us to assume the Church is dragging their feet on this investigation nor are they trying to hide results.
When the results are available, I'm sure a statement will be made.
#31 Michael Geeza on 2006-04-12 18:28
Very well put Joseph. I totally agree with you.
#32 Mark Z. on 2006-04-12 18:41
Thomas, who is the problem? One man got fired. Was he the problem? I find it hard to believe that he was the problem. We have yet to be told who caused all of this.
#33 Michael Livosky on 2006-04-12 18:47
Joseph, demanding honesty and transparency from entities which ask us for our money is hardly the same as bugging the confessional. It seems to me that prudent stewardship requires that we know what is being done with the funds we make available. Once again, none of this had to happen; it is the natural result of a cuilture of clericalism (often decried by Father Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory) that has taken root in the Church, where reasonable and honest questions are shoved aside as being none of the laity's business. That may have flown in 18th century Russia, but it won't get off the ground here. Nor should it. The Church, as so many here have said, is not a democracy. Nor is it a dictatorship.
#34 Scott Walker on 2006-04-12 21:04
Don't be alarmed if the timetable isn't met. The establishment of a timetable is a shot in the dark, at best. While I'm sure His Beatitude was sincere, even a cursory review, outside of the "busy season" for accountants, would take a while to complete. I'm currently involved in a much larger (but similar) project for a public company, and the work has involved well over 400 consultants and accountants for the better part of three years! Not that there is similarity in size or scope, but rather it always consumes more resources than you estimate.
The "busy season" will end on Monday, April 17. I would expect to see progress after that date, with completion prior to the Synod's meeting in May.
#35 Marty Watt on 2006-04-12 21:18
The Bishops of the Church, or at least some of them, have decided to concern themselves with the distributions to the widows.
They have denied their Biblical mandate, and given up their preaching and praying, and are determined to wait tables.
Therefore, they should be criticized. They are not performing their episcopal function. They are acting as a deacon, not as a bishop. They are denying their own episcopal throne.
Had they not concerned themselves with administration and finances, and kept to preaching and praying, then I feel certain you would be correct. Their cry should have been "What is this to us? Let the Metropolitan Council deal with it." Just as the Apostles refused to wait tables, and selected men (and later, women) from among the faithful to take charge of that task.
#36 Marty Watt on 2006-04-12 21:31
Amen. And please include Archbishop Job.
#37 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2006-04-12 21:50
How much I agree with you!
#38 Anastasia on 2006-04-13 00:33
I was born and baptized Orthodox, with my grandfather and his brother serving as parish pastors in different cities. Our family was close, and I spent a considerable amount of time in a rectory as part of the clerical family. Later, I worked full-time within a lay ministry for an Orthodox Church in a different jurisdiction, before I was ever ordained myself. Through these experiences - several parishes in different places at different times, I can confirm the truth concerning a congregationalist tendency, and the rule of the laity, or more accurately, the Parish Council. My grandfather, essentially living in poverty, was torn to pieces, as were several priests in the parish in which I served, as was I, since I was associated with liturgical ministries. Yes - anticlericalism was and is alive and well!
However, to attribute this web site and the current situation to Protestant congregationalism is simplistic and amateurish. The people who originally formed the OCA were not Russian, but many of the priests assigned to shepherd them were Russian, and in some places, they ruthlessly attempted to Russify these people, demeaning their backgrounds, and behaving like bigots. Add to this the phenomenon of the depression and the rise of unions in the 20th century, and you see the ingredients for anticlericalism, untouched by "Protestantism." (what a vague and amateurish generalization!). The communist background of post-WWII immigrants contributed to this attitude in parishes of other jurisdictions. Thus, the situation is tremendously complex, and only a real study of all the dynamics that have led to the current ecclesiological crisis can lead to proposals for new, Orthodox action - of course, this assumes that the leaders will actually support theological education, instead of lambasting the seminaries, especially St. Vladimir's, at every opportunity.
Yes, some of the remarks here have been anticlerical, and outside of Orthodoxy. However, clericalism, which amounts to ecclesiastical abuse, is no better. If the "function" of the laity of the Church is simply to passively receive instruction and guidance from the bishops with no active participation - an appropriation of Vatican I ecclesiology - then the bishops are truly accountable to no one. The truth is that many Orthodox scholars, including Fr. Dmitru Staniloae, Fr. Nicholas Afanasiev, Metropolitan John Zizioulas, and most recently, Bishop Kallistos Ware have articulated an ecclesiology that is not identical with "hierarchology," in which bishops indeed govern as a part of the Body of Christ, and not outside and above it (ala Vatican I), with the laity providing a critically integral and active role, and the presbyterium actually functioning, and not silenced or ignored.
Yet their works, as well as those of Fr. Schmemann, have been dismissed as "modernistic," even though they much more accurately reflect the Orthodox patristic and Scriptural tradition. Instead, those who purport clericalism have removed the presbyters - 70 of whom openly implored the Holy Synod to act in the face of grave accusations - and the laity from the equation.
Friends, this is not an image of the church. If the laity had not spoken out on this issue, what kind of a church would this be? Does Orthodoxy demand a kind censorship rampant in the Russian Empire? Perhaps this web site requires an "imprimatur" from the Holy Synod? What of the freedom with which everyone is endowed? Perhaps St. Maximus Confessor should simply have obeyed his bishop.
And if some people on this web site have spoken inappropriately about others, what of His Grace, Bishop Tikhon, whose continued vicious and indecent assault on personalities and institutions is allowed? I suppose that the charism he received at ordination has exempted him from the blamelessness required of the Holy Scriptures (see 1 Tim. 3)? The fact that so many clergy have to post anonymously serves as the proof that the ecclesiology purported by the fundamentalists is seriously flawed, based on the false image of an epoch that was never golden.
For those who want the OCA to be the OCA, and not the Moscow Patriarchate, or some other incarnation: pay attention to Fr. Hopko's letter. This is a man who gave his own blood to the Church as a teacher (working incredible hours), and his observations are not solely based on his erudite background, but also on decades of service to and in this Church. He has read the Fathers, and knows how to synthesize patristic teaching, as opposed to haphazardly pasting together snippets from homilies or letters taken out of context. Painful as it is to read, he has hit the nail right on the head, and this applies not only to the OCA, but to all Orthodox on this continent. The Church as a whole needs to support this proposal to study and openly discuss these issues.
Ignoring them will amount to stifling the Holy Spirit, for which we all - bishops, priests, deacons, and people of God - will be held accountable.
With wishes for a blessed end of the Great Fast....
#39 Name Witheld by Request on 2006-04-13 05:23
A rather cute method of straying from the financial question. A microphone in the confessional? Let's get real.
This is strictly a matter about a financial problem and the problems created by it and if you will, the sin of it.
Please read Fr. Hopko's letter, dated March 19th, for further clarifications.
Michael C Herrick
The real problem is the lack of respect for Bishops Nikolai and Tikhon in the OCA, because of what they represent: Tradition.
Many people feel they are entitled to have a Church that looks how they want it to look rather then how God designed a Church to look. Bishops Nikolai and Tikhon are representative of God's design for bishops. Look how far we have come that we now malign Orthodox bishops. How tragic. May God have mercy on us all and forgive us for condemning and judging our hierarchs, who are the Beloved of God.
#41 Olympiada on 2006-04-14 06:59
Olympiada got it half-right. The problem is definitely respect.
But it is not our lack of respect for our Bishops, it is their utter lack of respect for our church and for us, their flock.
I can't speak of Nikolai. I know nothing of him. But Bishop Tikhon continues to disappoint me with his less-than-coherent diatribes, his stunning lack of charity, and his cold, callous treatment of fellow Christians. Perhaps his act would have worked 30 or 40 years ago, but not now. I pray for him, but only that he regains clariity and can find a way to act more like a Christian again.
How many citations can we all make where Jesus scolded the Pharisees for being so cotton-pickin' rule bound and legalistic instead of looking at the truth standing in front of them? I'm a whole lot less concerned about some canonical rule formed when the earth was still considered flat than I am about chancellors misusing our church funds for personal junk. But then, I'm just a convert and, sadly, a sinner.
#42 Marty Brown on 2006-04-14 19:19
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