Monday, March 10. 2008
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More of the Divine Comedy from the people that brought us, Syosset, Herman Swaiko et al.
Please Lord, an end soon!
#1 no name on 2008-03-10 20:20
Given that a leave of absence for the ruling bishop in Alaska is clearly the correct procedure to insure a proper investigation into the alleged misconduct of this case, why has the Metropolitan not also been placed on a leave of absence pending the outcome of the investigation into the alleged financial misconduct of which he may be a part of?
#2 Marc Trolinger on 2008-03-10 20:38
My heartfelt thanks go out to Fr Michael Oleksa and to the anonymous hieromonk for their analyses of the bishop's arguments as reiterated in the insert from the parish bulletin of Holy Resurrection Cathedral, Kodiak.
I am grateful in part because I kept looking back trying to find where there was any mention of the composition of the investigative committee yet to be named. Now I know it was "not just me." There is no such mention! Perhaps Bishop Nikolai did receive informal word verbally or otherwise, but it is also indeed possible that he words are a product of his own projections. Given that the Abp Seraphim's letter doesn't say anything about the composition of the committee, and assuming for a moment, for the sake of argument, that Bishop Nikolai did not receive communication suggesting one, we are forced to wonder why he would raise this objection, and so forcefully at that. As I read his letter, this is a (one) key point in his refusal to comply with the Synod's order. It is not a trivial matter - an aside. Even if Bishop Nikolai did receive a communication indicating the proposed composition of a committee, why is it such a major point of contention with him? In point of fact, as the anonymous hieromonk points, out, Canon 6 of the 2nd Ecumenical Council does not require that an investigation into charges of a a "personal" (as opposed to "ecclesiastical" nature be investigated only by bishops. It is NOT a matter than "inferiors" have no right to sit in judgement on their "superiors."
I believe this canon bears even a little more elucidation. The canon very explicitly distinguishes between "personal" and "ecclesiastical" charges. It names fraud or other forms of maltreatment as examples of potential "personal" charges. In such cases, contrary to what Bishop Nikolai says, the canon very clearly states that that NO examination of the accuser is required. Anybody, of any religion, etc. may bring such charges. The canon emphasises that if a bishop has done an injustice, he must answer up. Ecclesiastical charges are naturally different. These would include things like heresy. What sense would it make for a heretic to charge an Orthodox bishop with heresy? Here it makes sense that such charges be heard by bishops, not because they are equals in class to the accused, but because as bishops, it is in their particular competency to deal with such matters.
Bishop Nikolai's open letter presents a case that seems pretty easy to pick apart even by non-experts. Perhaps those who are well studied not only in the letter of the canons, but in the entire canonical Tradition in its historical context will see things differently. Somehow, though, I don't expect that to happen. Furthermore, as Fr Michael Oleksa duly points out, the bulletin insert in Kodiak did far more harm than it did good. It sowed confusion and strife. Instead of being a basis for the parish community to come together to understand the situation, it fostered alienation because it so clearly (as evidenced by this report) favoured Bishop Nikolai's position. At the very least, it simply repeated irrelevant or mistreated citations from Scripture and the canons. It was also immediately apparent that while the insert purported to invite the faithful to read and reflect on the "relevant' passages, in fact the citations of the canons were worthlessly incomplete. Canons 34, 74, and 6 of which councils or collections? Are they all from the same council or collection? if I didn't know better, I'd expect they were, but I still wouldn't know the source. Therefore, as a tool directing the reader to sources of legitimate information, the insert failed miserably. Furthermore, by giving far more space to the passages cited by Bishop Nikolai, and no real information about what the Metropolitan had said, there is an acute imbalance created. Whatever the intent, this document did not serve as a tool for people to come to a "balanced" perspective. One must wonder, therefore, what the underlying intent was: was the insert intended to be a display of loyalty to Bishop Nikolai?
According to statements by a Kodiak journalist and, i believe other sources, Bishop Nikolai was scheduled to travel to Kodiak tomorrow. He often does go to the seminary during the first week of the Great Fast. if he does go, it is not likely to be a pleasant time for anyone. Of course, it is a fact of life "on the Rock" that weather plays a big role in travel plans. To quote from Fr Michael Oleksa, "may God have mercy on us all."
#3 Mark Harrison on 2008-03-10 20:49
In observing the deteriorating situation in Alaska, a place near and dear to my Orthodox soul, I cannot help but think, "How mystically convenient." this all is. If ever the Central Administration of the OCA needed something, or someone, to distract attention of the faithful from missing millions, charges of blackmail paid to silence indiscretions moral and otherwise and a whole litany of failures of oversight.. Nikolai of Alaska certainly fits the bill. Nikolai+ is truly a "Godsend(?) to the Guilty". Suddenly all the lies, corruption and mismanagement issues vaporize and all that is stage-center is Nikolai+.
While I would not defend Nikolai's+ arrogance and tyranny... I still cannot help but think this is all too convenient and timely to be accidental. And if "They" depose and defrock him as a sacrificial lamb... will that then be enough to have everyone just fold their tents and go away... while the real criminals, some, though retired and wearing miters, walk away. I hope not.
#4 Charles Swenson on 2008-03-10 21:15
I fear that the situation in alaska may defer the attention given to the terrible scandal that still haunts all of us. I pray for the end which would again allow attendence at liturgy to be worry-free, pleasant and satisfactory as was in the past. I hate the thought that OCA charity funds have been stolen. I wonder what Christ would say if He were amongst us today. God please help us. G.Curtis
#5 gabe curtis on 2008-03-10 21:49
... Unfortunately, we were sold a defective item by the past administration and will have a hard time returning it for a refund now six years later.
Nikolai is already trying to divide the clergy and people in Alaska into his "followers" and "traitors", of course with the expected "flowery" words and talk of integrity, forgiveness and good order. It's propaganda. All of it now.
Speaking of the actions of children, this is what a child does when he gets caught. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." They're not necessarily sorry they did something wrong but are sorry they got caught, or most likely are just saying whatever it takes to not be punished. It is not time for the synod to "punish" him, but more accurately for them to fix and rebuild a terrorized, demoralized and fearful Diocese. May God bless the Alaskans for enduring so many years under this darkness.
If you have met Vladyka Nikolai, you know he likes to "play the role" of (19th c.) bishop and does so quite well. He even has his own stage manager Isidore to be sure everyone follows the script accurately and swiftly (bowing, hand kissing, etc.). If you are not on cue, God help you. But for those who know his past, his personal life outside of his scheduled "public appearances", it is a very different and sad story. He does need our prayers -- but as a monk seeking our Lord, not as a bishop.
Let us pray that our synod does something right, and that the clergy and laity of Alaska will hold firm to their faith and convictions during what looks to be the beginning of a very difficult time.
#6 Anonymous on 2008-03-11 00:48
"One way to defend ones self in time of conflict is to change the subject."........ Nickolai sure is convenient isn't he?
#7 Anonymouse on 2008-03-11 04:48
Truly a test for Garclavs now. Can he really step up and be a "leader" and take care of the "Bully of Alaska" or will he be pummeled and subjected to abuse by +BT (retired)? Interesting times.... Bishop of Barrow might be the way to go or will he return to his mansion in Las Vegas?
#8 Anonymous on 2008-03-11 06:08
In my most ardent and prideful fits of reality searches I can only come to one conclusion;
This man has no monastic humility - none.
The realities described in the Canons are traditons followed by honorable men, not deceptive, deceitful creatures with evil motives or convocations.
I dont now, nor have I ever thought that our bishop was borne of evil only to sow the same; to the contrary... he is human and is created in the "image and likeness" as are we all.
What is different today... is his lack of humility... to a major and irrevocable fault.
He has taken his defect to a level of self-worship that nothing can penetrate for goodness sake.
"pride goeth before the fall"
As I use my God given instincts to analyze what environment is safe for my life and indeed my salvation I cant help but wonder how I got here?
I wonder how "he" got here? I am sure he never intended to be "evil ruler bishop of Alaska" one whose rule goes down in the history books - the same history book as St Herman albeit for the opposite reasons!
I listened with great awe to his homily in Anchorage on Sunday morning and I was overwhelmed by the sense that he cant turn back, that he is totally enraptured with his identity as he sees it - discounting any reality by anyone else.
I saw in his eyes a look I had never before seen.. one of a tired nearly dead old man... not unlike holocaust surviors.
Yet the words coming from his mouth bear no forgiveness or repentance, instead vaguely worded blame on the internet and media for their respective roles in transporting information.
Futile, weak and repetative words of a long gone dead legacy of a failed leader; I came to see Alaska's Castro on the steps of St Hermans work.
#9 Ted Panamarioff - Kodiak Alaska on 2008-03-11 06:13
The Metropolitan now has a golden opportunity before him to begin the healing. Publically, as an act of reconciliation, he should lift the suspensions of the clergy in Alaska along with rescinding the many excommunications of lay people levied by Nikolai. Will he do the right thing?
#10 Staupitz on 2008-03-11 07:33
It great to see some posts to this website where folks actually sign their name. It so annoying to see 75% of the posts are anonymous, no name, anon, etc. I can understand a priest who living may be at stake, but for the rest of us - what is there to fear except fear itself?
#11 Rich Kendall on 2008-03-11 08:49
Does anyone know the answer to this:
RSK made charges against + Gregory and the Kreta's to oust them from Alaska. The financial misappropriation charges proved to be false. Why did RSK do this and ruin Alaska?
#12 Any Mouse on 2008-03-11 09:51
While I rejoice that Bishop Nikolai is apparently being brought to some type of accountability and justice, I share the fear of many that this will distract and divert attention from the underlying problem that "created" a Nikolai in the first place. Truth and accountability for all in positions of leadership remains the first and most important priority. We can, and maybe should, remove all the bishops who are responsible for this crisis, but it will be to no lasting avail if the mentality and process that brought us to this point is not changed.
Just examine the language Metropolitan Herman uses when addressing the Alaskan crisis. His concern seems centered on the public relations disaster that has been created for the OCA by Nikolai and his contempt for Herman's and the Synod's authority. The victims of Nikolai's tyrannical reign continue to be given short shrift.
Metropolitan Herman and the Synod are not prepared to admit that they have continuously failed the Church by promoting, and until now, supporting Nikolai. They would prefer, just as in sex abuse cases, that this could all be "hushed up" and everyone proceed on their merry way. The suffering of the clergy and laity is not on their radar screen, since they have more important things to do and "bigger fish to fry."
Any relief that can be brought to the suffering souls in Alaska is welcome and overdo. But let's not kid ourselves that the removal of Nikolai solves anything, other than the elimination of one very bad apple.
#13 Anonymous on 2008-03-11 11:05
As an Orthodox Christian of the Diocese of Alaska I am appalled by iconoclasts masked as Orthodox criticizing the vestments and actions of the Liturgy, even the more ordered liturgical actions of Vladyka Nikolai. I have never heard this before from Orthodox. This is not Orthodox.
#14 Alexis on 2008-03-11 11:29
The OCA administration is hoping that the Alaska situation with deflect attention away from thier own lies and graft...don't let them off the hook people; first Nikolai and then the rest of the crooks! They ALL need to go! If this doesn't happen, the OCA cannot be saved. Remove the cancers...
Moses the Tlingit
#15 Moses on 2008-03-11 12:06
Perhaps there is another way of looking at things than thinking it too convenient.
Follow the money.
How much of this might not have happened if Bishop Nikolai had only sent the money that the diocese receives from the land grants, etc. Syosset thought it belonged to them, he thought it belonged to the diocese.
Just a thought.
#16 Evan on 2008-03-11 14:39
The church is a hospital for the weak NOT a museum for Saints. I have heard about the pettiness and pickiness of Bishop Nikolai. Everything to be set up perfectly on the finest china with the fanciest silverware. Bowing, scraping, serving from parishioners in remote native villages whom he is visiting i.e. gracing with his presence. Sounded like a super-star to me then -- sounds like a spoiled super-star to me even more now.
#17 Anonymous on 2008-03-11 16:50
Well, now, there's another county heard from! This is the first I (at least) have learned of such things.
#18 Monk James on 2008-03-11 17:26
I've been noticing the photos from "The Diocese of Alaska Archives" on the Alaskan homepage from the last few days. They've all been of +Nikolai looking very very pastoral. Except for the most recent one, he's with a parishioner and both he and the parishioner have a big big smile on their face. A few days ago it was a parishioner with an Icon. A couple of days ago it was a parishioner holding a baby. Today he's looking contemplative and writing some thing while sitting in his office. All seems to be very "Media Savvy" to me- he looks very very pastoral.
#19 Eric Pachomius on 2008-03-11 18:17
I understand your thought, but you are assuming too much here. I am not against proper order and offering our best to the Lord in regard to liturgical appointments (vessels, vestments, and the like). However, at what point do those thing in themselves become un-Christian?
Do you know that Bishop Nikolai has more than 40 sets of vestments? Then add a large collection of mitres to that. And don't forget dozens of panaghias. He could make his own commercial:
Vestments - at least $1500 each (x 40 = $60,000!!!)
Mitres - at least $1500 each
Panaghias - at least $400 each
Being a bishop of a poor diocese and living in such lavishness - SHAMEFUL
Don't you feel it's hypocritical for Nikolai to humiliate villagers for what he calls "shabby" churches when it is the best they have to offer, but he has such large collections of expensive things??? A bishop should have vestments, and mitres, and panaghias, and all those things necessary for a bishop -- but he has more than over-done it.
And as for services and rubrics, does God want someone humiliated and chastized because he forgot to incense something "x" number of times, or would it be more appropriate to kindly remind the clergy discreetly so as to instruct him? And even to be suspended for such mistakes??
Is it right for a bishop to forcefully shove his hand into your face for you to kiss it, or should he accept the gesture with humility if it is offered?
The iconoclast is one who does away with "icons" or other symbols/rituals because he rejects their true significance in the Church. I am not one. I too agree they are an important part of our Church.
But, I firmly identify those who commit IDOLATRY -- those who put more emphasis on the symbols and ritual to the point of being contrary to their meaning and Christian teaching. One simple thought to live by: "God comes first, fellow man comes second, everything else is an instrument."
I hope this helped your understanding of my previous comments. I think we think alike, but I am willing to call a spade a spade when I see one.
#20 Anonymous on 2008-03-11 18:20
I am not sure if the Metropolitan can do that until +Nikolai is actually suspended, perhaps even deposed. It is a possibility, at least. Given the current climate, he is wise to at least wait for Bishop Nikolai to be suspended. At that point, it would be nice for Fr Michael Oleksa and other priests to petition the Metropolitan on this.
#21 Mark Harrison on 2008-03-11 18:51
Anonymous, your hearsay is wrong. When travelling to our community, His Grace +Nikolai has been very gracious to my family. I have brought him sandwiches on paperplates at the Parish house when our Matushka was out of town. I have fed His Grace and all the clergy at my small house at least 3 different times when he has been here. He's seen my poor charcoal grill with the paint peeling off of it and the cover with rust spots. He has shown appreciation for everything that we have ever provided to him. His Grace has picked up his own plate and dished himself out from my kitchen stove every single time with no complaints. Many of you speak of your love for His Grace +Bishop Job. I can tell you that I feel the same for His Grace +Bishop Nikolai.
#22 Brenda Akelkok on 2008-03-11 18:55
Yes. The impression I get of Bishop Nikolai is one of a hubristic legalist. BUT, this is just what Herman needs... and, in fact, what all of the OCA needs at the moment (please, dear Alaskan faithful, hold out just a bit longer with BN). I'll explain why I think this is the case. Herman is a total fraud in so many ways it boggles the mind. He is a total fraud when it comes to his own following of canons (abandonment of his diocese, for one); following God's moral and U.S. criminal law ("Just fill in any numbers [in the treasury report], no one will know, or care."]; and of following the OCA statute (hiring Pros. Rose to report to him alone, firing Greg Nescott, thus interfering in the Pittsburgh diocese and on, and on, and on).
Now Herman dares to invoke the Statute that he mocks with his own actions?!
Bishop Nikolai cannot be ordered out of Alaska by any authority; ordering bishops to be put on leave, etc. is one thing; ordering them out of a state is very longstanding, cruel practice in the history of the OCA toward suddenly unpopular bishops (every heard of +Gregory (Afonsky?) , but this happens because little Herman makes up the rules as he goes when he gets angry and then expects everyone to bow to his sour little face. Notice that in Abp. Seraphim's letter relaying the information to Nikolai that is was specially pointed out that leaving the state is the exclusive command of Herman?
No. Nikolai should be encouraged to defy every single thing Herman tells him to do. Herman is in far greater violation of everything Nikolai is accused of.... and more, much more. Niklai should be encouraged by everyone who loves the American Orthodox Church to respond to every single of Herman's ham-handed invocations to obedience, canons, Statute, by saying to Herman: "You first, O Leader." I'll follow the statute when YOU follow the statute, I'll obey when YOU obey, and so on.
One can see the pipsqueak Herman's blood pressure rising in the tone of his every decree in this situation. "If you do not obey, you will be XYZ." "Only MY name is to be commemorated in the services in Alaska!" And so on. This is because, for the first time ever, Herman is confronted with someone JUST LIKE HIMSELF. A bishop, however, is one he can't push around as he has abused his putatve authority so many times in the past. Both are prideful, arrogant, mean-spirited, etc. The one thing Nikolai is not, however, is devious. He is open in his actions, and this is far better in a way than Herman's snake-like manipulations. Only when directly given the proverbial finger does Herman show that he cannot forgive, cannot turn the other cheek. Then, he bursts out with anger calling everyone against his duplicity under control of the devil... behavior exactly, precisely, like Nikolai's. The one other difference is that Nikolai is far more intelligent. So let us allow him to challenge Herman to obey his own regulations and see Herman wriggle.
Let us watch as these two vipers attack each other. This just might be the way to the exposure of much filth in Herman's own past, as both perpetrator and co-conspirator. As Herman glories in lording others' sins over them to keep them in fear, let Nikolai demand being actually charged with something and put on trial. Then he can return the attack of Herman in a fair fight. We shall see which one has more to fear in a canonical trial. And the moribund synod can do what they usually do... nothing (unless asking "How high?" if Herman tells them to jump). The Patriarchate of Moscow, or if they defer to Constantinople, the Ecumenical throne, can oversee this canonical duel (as is CANONICALLY prescribed if there is such a conflict in a local synod and those bishops are tied in knots).
Nikolai is a diocesan bishop, and Herman doesn't know/acknowledge the first thing about the integrity of such a position. To him, wearing white, ala Benedict XVI makes one a pope. But white is also the banner under which hateful cowards hide. Big white hats are the trademark of America's best-known terrorist organization originating in Pulaski Tennessee just after the Civil War.
Let the contest of anger and pride begin. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. Let us watch as Herman is forced to confront the much greater canonical, Statutory, and moral crimes he has been party to before throwing the first stone, which he has already picked up and is holding in throwing motion.
Please make no mistake, I am absolutely, positively, no supporter of Bishop Nikolai. From all evidence i've seen, he is a bane to the episcopacy, but his open challenge to Herman might be just what the Physician of souls and bodies ordered, in His inscrutable ways, to put both of them out of our misery.
#23 Pride cometh before a fall on 2008-03-11 19:07
Thanks for the opinion as to what is Orthodox, Alexis. I am impressed by your telepathic skills as well. Pretty amazing that you can peer into the hearts of people thousands of miles away and discern the raging iconoclast within. How do you do it? Here's what I think: a bishop who abuses and intimidates his flock disgraces the vestments he is honored to wear. If that is iconoclastic, so be it.
#24 Scott Walker on 2008-03-11 19:41
Alexis, one is not an iconodule if one worships the outward form and refuses the to love the one who give life. In fact, worship of the form is a heresy-a type of idolatry. If I kiss any bishop's hand simply because he is a bishop or, even worse, because he demands it, both I and the bishop are in error. If I kiss the bishop's hand because I love God and the Bishop walks in the footsteps of His Apostles, then I have done well.
Jesus harshest condemnations were levied against the Pharisees who cleaned the outside of the cup while the inside was full of dead men's bones and those who tithed mint and rue but neglected the weighter matters of the law.
If we perfectly perfom the rubics and the cannons without the love of God, we become like demons devouring each other seeking only our own vanity.
The ultimate downfall of Nikolai should bring no joy to anyone. We all must look to ourselves first of all, or it will continue to happen. St. Anthony said to blame no one else for anything but to look to our own sins. If we live a life of mutual forgiveness all will be well. That does not mean to be acquiese to wrong doing.
#25 Michael P Bauman on 2008-03-11 21:03
Because of his insubordination, it is clear that Bishop Nikolai should be deposed. It is plain and simple. He is not a feudal lord and the Diocese of Alaska in not his personal fiefdom. Did I miss something? When did the bishop stop being the servant of all, the servant of his people? If the people of God have to right to say axios, then they certainly have the right and indeed obligation to say unaxios! Enough of this craziness already! Bishop Nikolai proves he'd make a great Pharisee and as our Lord Jesus warned, "woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees."
#26 Andrew A. Lukashonak on 2008-03-11 21:17
I would appear Bishop Nikolai (IN ABSENTIA) is nostalgic for earlier incarnations of Russian peculiarities, like being in one place, yet being "In Exile". In his case, Alaska is both where he is and where he ain't. He is the one TRUE bishop, all his colleagues are uncanonical, unbiblical. Likewise his (former) laity. He recapitulates in his own person the weirdness of the Orthodox in the 20th century. The 21st has no need of this microcosm. Make him Bishop of the furthest uninhabited Aleutian island. No, Archbishop. Maybe Metropolitan. Let him enjoy his own company. Worse, make him be a..............Monk! With an abbot over him. Nikolai, Bishop of Tundra and All Permafrost. Axios.
#27 anon (and on and on and on...) on 2008-03-11 21:22
Many of us in the past few months have done things that were not considered Orthodox. The period of the Great Fast allows us a period of time to reflect on all those things. But I believe that criticism of the behavior of Nicholai is Orthodox because as Christians we should not accept behavior of this sort. Not believing in icons and not believing in Nicholai are not similar in any way. His attack on web communication shows his frustration with lack of control. Every parish and a large part of the secular world in Alaska had beome aware of his personality. But as long as we were not confronted with scores of stories and were kept in the dark about what he has done around the state to other Orthodox Christians, we made ourselves believe that we were somehow at fault, and deserving of getting punched in the teeth when we kissed his hand. He was counting on people not getting together to weigh the facts and join in one mind and heart. He would prefer that we not share our stories of how he has hurt people and complained about our churches. He prefers people like you that are obedient in spite of anything. His letters today show that he expected an uprising because he is ready with Canons to quote from, and with arguments to make it appear that he is being unjustly attacked. Only he understands how to interpret the Canons. He must have expected different charges because his arguments donít fit the circumstances. This is a man who needs not only our prayers but an intervention. Someone needs to help him enter a treatment facility himself because he is going to self destruct. Iím going to apologize now for making statements that could very well have been left unsaid. Please forgive me. But I believe with all my heart that these things need to be said because as an Orthodox Christian who loves his church and wants to share it with everyone in the world I donít want to be judged by the actions of Nicolai. I share your love for Nicholai and want him to understand that it is time to make amends. He has done many good things and was on his way to becoming a confessor but his ego has blown his plans apart. He needs to take that first step and admit that he is Ö. in trouble.
#28 Alaskan, looking for humility on 2008-03-11 23:16
You carry cynicism too far. The problem of +Nikolai has been festering for six years; it is real as the sexual harassment case of Archimandrite Isidore, the tonsuring of a convicted sex offender, and the wave of written protests from clergy, attest. This was not all conjured up by evil Syosset to distract from the scandal centered in Oyster Bay.
Actually the problems in Alaska resulting in the temporary (and eventually permanent) removal of the ruling bishop may redound to our benefit; the Holy Synod may function a little more responsibly without +Nikolai on board.
#29 Terry C. Peet on 2008-03-12 05:49
I believe I understand your fears and nervousness in response to some comments regarding Bishop Nicholai's penchant for elaborate vesture and matching ceremony. There is often a danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater in the process of reform (look at what happened in the Western Churches in the wake of the 16th century).
However, it strikes me that to label as "iconclasts" all those who observe and criticize His Grace's apparent fixation on externals, at the expense of pastoral concerns, is to miss the full meaning of Orthodoxy. "Right Glory" or "Right Worship" goes beyond Mitre, Sakkos, Omiphor, and strict adherance to the Typicon--it also includes ministering to the weak, unprotected, and dying.
St Herman evangelized the Kodiak area with precious little of the finery we so often associate with our Orthodox heritage.
I serve in brocade vestments, and I like them; but I hope they are not the definition of my faith, any more than the collected rubrics of the Abridged Typicon.
#30 Sdn Henry Shirley--St Herman of Alaska Chapel, West Bend, WI on 2008-03-12 07:02
Wait...I reread the post you responded to. Nope, still don't see any iconoclasm. Big word, iconoclasm, especially where it doesn't belong. Makes it into a great big bugaboo, if you know what I mean.
I, for one, agree that a service where everyone knows their rubrics well and carries them out with grace and precision is a very beautiful service. Of course it is. But a service where the celebrant has an idealized idea of the rubrics, and then barks at everyone the whole service for not living up to that ideal is not a service at all, it's abuse.
Rubrics need to be taught yes, and they need to become innate ways of expression. I think what we're saying here is that they need to be taught in love and humility, and that we must understand that rubrics are a way of glorifying God, not oneself. It seems to me (though this is conjecture since I have never met BN, though I know people who have) that BN uses the rubrics surrounding himself as a bishop in order to glorify himself and increase his power of authority over the people. When one is a bishop it is bad manners to publicly berate someone for not bowing low enough to oneself.
P.S. #3 Mark Harrison, I took only a few canon law classes with Fr. Alexander Rentel when I was in Seminary, but I agree fully with your interpretation of the canons. I'm going to conjecture that Fr. Alex would largely agree with you as well, but that's just guessing since his report will probably only be seen by the SOB.
Funny thing is, if BN had gone on vacation when first asked and let Syosset do their "investigation", BN might already have been reinstalled in Alaska. The more he fights the more he drives nails into his ecclesiastical coffin. Well, it at least gives us all a chance to see what conflict-averse MH is made of. I, for one, am glad that BN will be out before its time for us to elect a new Metropolitan. I strongly suspect that it was BN and He Who Shall Not be Named of the West who kept rational, logical, and capable Seraphim out of the white hat. Perhaps with both gone we can get back to having a real leader of the OCA.
#31 Anonymous on 2008-03-12 07:14
What's the big deal? This happens all the time in companies and organizations. This fellow has to leave due to his conduct and he doesn't wish to. Freeze the bank accounts; freeze any financial authority he has and get a court order to have him removed from his living quarters. He has a big mansion in Las Vegas to go to. Then, get Alaska back on track with solid people like Father Oleksa.
#32 Anonymous on 2008-03-12 07:57
It is good that the Metropolitan took action to protect the diocese of Alaska and its clergy. However, we in the lower 48 should not be distracted from the first issue--financial scandal--and should keep at it. The Metropolitan "listened and took action" based on letters received from clergy and laity. Perhaps, if the rest of us bombarded Syosset with letters that too will bring results. However, if I recall laity and clergy who are honorable were not heard when they sent letters.The Metropoitan somehow doesn't understand that the folks who write on this website are also honorable folks with integrity. This website has been our only road to being heard. The Metropolitan somehow should be forthcoming about the truth with the financial scandal and let the proceedings be made public. It seems that the chancellor for the OCA is being stretched a bit further in his duties. People who read this site should not judge someone if they do not use their real names or sign with anoymous.
#33 anoymous on 2008-03-12 08:10
Nikolai is not ordering his clergy to disobey Pope Herman but to disregard Pope Herman's uncanonical interference into his diocese since Nikolai is still the ruling hierarch UNTIL there is a meeting of the entire synod who follow the process to remove him. There is no such thing as a involuntary leave of absence and no statute of the OCA can run counter to the canons. No rule of the OCA is above the canons of the Church. Period.
Sorry Pope Herman, you have caused a schism in the Church. Another Pope, another schism.
#34 Anonymous on 2008-03-12 08:37
I guess what strikes me is the question of his authenticity. As in, does he really believe he is in the right? Is +Nikolai even aware that his argument doesn't really follow any logic? If he is truly in spiritual prelest, or is he actively and knowingly deceiving (or attempting to) the faithful. He continues to reference these phantom "investigations of committees" as well as Canons that clearly are not even yet applicable.
What frightens me the most is his actions after the accusations toward him. And I guess we should be thankful for that because he has highlighted his delusion more than any of his accusers have been able to.
An even scarier thought...
What if he did the smart thing and feigned remorse and humility from the start and begged for forgiveness. Perhaps in several months he would have been "rehabilitated" and back in the same situation as before. Along those lines, I must question how in the world Fr. Isador is still there. They sent him right back to the place where he developed his alcoholism (from what I understand) in the first place.
But alas, I'm getting ahead of myself. +Nikolai is still there and doing even much more damage (could it be possible) than he was two weeks ago, not to mention the allegations of the last five years.
When will this madness end?
#35 Josh Little on 2008-03-12 08:46
Bishop Nikolai, with all due respect, who is behaving like a rebellious adolescent now? Please, in the name of all that is good, stop tearing the Church apart.
#36 herman on 2008-03-12 10:23
Most of this stuff could stop if our churches had a policy that new people will go to our sobors on a rotating basis. The last Church I was a member of for twenty-five years, the priest had the same person go to everyone of these meetings, and she would always say, she was working on a report from the meeting. She would never have a written report, but she was selected the next time a meeting was held. It was a laughable, sad cycle that went on for years.
I pray daily for the OCA to rid us from this corruption, and return this once Beautiful Church to sanity.
St. James - Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
E - firstname.lastname@example.org
C - 816-853-8685
We must take good notes in this episcopal mudslinging. Our dual theological traditions teach us that we can know God by both knowing who He is ("catophatic theology") and who He is not ("apophatic theology").
We are learning in spades what we DO NOT want our future leaders to be (apophatic). Hopefully now we will establish solid policies and guidelines for the selection and accountability of future leaders, so that this kind of circus will be avoided going forward. Every shortcoming of the OCA's deformed formation is becoming apparent. If we learn from this and fix it, it will have been a cathartic experience. If we fail to rise up and take responsibility, the current events will have been simply a tragic comedy.
Clearly, MH has no credibility, nor does Syosset, nor does the Synod. Should we take volunteers for who wants to follow Nicholai? Are we going to keep looking for solutions from these whited sepulchers, or are fresh voices of the Holy Spirit going to get organized?
#38 Anon. on 2008-03-12 15:52
Until Herman is gone, the chaos will continue.
He must go!
#39 mp on 2008-03-12 17:10
hi Mark, did you spot the red herring?.......let me quote, "but no, we're not necessarily hard-up for cash"........can we say that Fr. Garclavs "spilled the beans", especially in light of the fact that +Nicholai has not given Syosset any money, and even managed to stop the land sales of the past........perhaps a new focus is necessary
#40 Guileless on 2008-03-12 19:21
I dont know that your prices for the above named items is even close to correct!
Years ago... my family bought a set of priests vestments - they were over $5,000...
My aunt hand embroidered many a set of bishops vestments - the cost to finish them was over $5,000 apiece!
I shudder to think that each set of brocade vestments might be in the range of $10,000 or more... each!
I have seen prices quoted for neck chains for pangias costing well over $1,000
No... I cant help but think that the money wasted on vanity could be better spent elsewhere.. especially in the poorest of all diocese... where most of our priests have to live a subsistence lifestyle.. their bishop is living it up in fancy vestments color coordinated with his chancellor.
#41 Ted Panamarioff - Kodiak Alaska on 2008-03-12 23:50
Sorry, you don't know the canons regarding this situation. + Herman has not acted "unilaterally." His action was WITH the consent of the entire Dynod of Bishops. Please note, + Nicolai wasn't "suspended," but this will probably happen now if not defrocked. He was asked to leave the diocese so an investigation could take place regarding allegations. + Nicolai has refused the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod. + Nicolai does not have some kind of power unto himself; then entire Holy Synod has asked him to leave because of the uproar of all the laity and clergy in Alaska. THIS DID NOT ORIGINATE IN SYOSSET!
#42 Any Moose on 2008-03-13 06:12
Last time I checked, MH was bishop of All America which includes Alaska. If he wants to investigate what is going on there he has every right to do so.
Asking for a leave of absence while an investigation takes place is normal and customary in the modern world, which is why it made it into the OCA statutes. This is even more critical when the allegations are of abuse. If the investigatee stays in the position, and further abuse is uncovered which occurred as the investigation is taking place, the whole OCA could be criminally liable for that abuse.
As for canons, I don't know of any canon which speaks for or against this practice, so calling it "uncanonical" is speculative. This is a practice which was developed for the good of the Church and Her members. All MH has been asking is for BN to allow him to investigate the charges - BN seems unwilling to let him do that, why? If you really want to bring up the word "uncanonical" I do believe disobeying the express orders of one's superior bishop is uncanonical. BN should obey MH, if he believes that what he is being asked to do is uncanonical, he can submit that report to the SOB, and then they could open an ecclesiastical court on MH if they believe BN has a strong enough case to show that MH actions were uncanonical or improper.
As it is, BN is looking more and more like one of those renegade "I'm more Orthodox than even ROCOR" "orthodox" bishops one finds parading around the internet in fancy clothes. He has already called MH uncanonical - what's next? Will he question MH ordination? The autocephaly of the OCA? I fear that BN is heading himself towards the creation of yet another Orthodox jurisdiction. True Orthodox Church of Alaska anyone?
In the end, I think it is more than a bit rich that BN is more than willing to order all the faithful of Alaska to be absolutely obedient to himself, yet as a monk, he can not muster one ounce of humble obedience to his own superior.
#43 Anonymous on 2008-03-13 07:36
Can we please refrain from catholic bashing and anti papal comments while we get our own house in order. We do not need to lower ourselves to such talk and language. On more than one occasion I have wished / dreamed that we had a bishop with universal jurisdiction for 24 - 48 hours who could clean up this mess overnight and then disappear. Sometimes the grass really is greener.
#44 Former Catholic Now Orthodox on 2008-03-13 09:35
At what point is interference in another Diocese approrpriate by your standard Anonymous?
At some point, harsh and overbearing rule needs to be stopped.
The when is certainly going to be gray, but the Bishop should be begging forgiveness from the Synod and everyone, not disobeying them.
#45 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-03-13 12:05
Thank you for your comment! I, too, have been annoyed by the reflexive bashing of the Pope and the Catholic Church that some indulge themselves in on this site. Faulty eccelsiology and crooked bishops can be found much closer to home than Rome, and both Benedict XVI and John Paul II are better icons of what a bishop should be than His lamentable Grace in Alaska.
#46 Scott Walker on 2008-03-13 16:22
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