Thursday, March 13. 2008
Your comments on the continuing standoff in Alaska are welcome
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That's it Garklav's way ta go man! Take your time, why you people haven't gone into court to get a restraining order I don't know. By the time the Syosset wastoids get to Alaska, the museum will be on ebay, and the 'Alaskan lands" will be listed with a local broker, and he will be hocking parish chalices to buy more vestments! I really do not know who is worse at this point. The SOB's don't deserve to be in control of souls and assets. Unworthy! Unworthy! Thrice Unworthy!
#1 no name on 2008-03-13 06:13
This entire mess DID NOT originate in Syosset by Fr. Garklavs, Met. Herman nor the Holy Synod. The problems in Alaska were brought to light, to the attention of Met. Herman and the Holy Synod by the massive outcry of the laity and clergy of Alaska. It's not about Alaskan land money - this is a smokescreen by + Nicolai. What this is about is + Nicolai's abuse of his authority, abuse against the laity and clergy in Alaska and violations of Orthodox Canon Laws.
#2 Anonymous on 2008-03-13 06:18
Some posters have suggested that among the problems of this current crisis is that the bishops are too consumed with the canons or excessively attached to tradition. "If this is what it means to be Orthodox," one might ask, "what good is Orthodoxy?"
I have a different perspective: I believe that the OCA synod has not operated in a particularly Orthodox fashion, even externally. Of course, none of the synods in America do, in the sense that the Church is administratively divided -- more to the point, divided in her life. And it's so much easier to have an old boys club of bishops when there are only a few of them and they're geographically distant from most of their people.
But within the OCA in particular, much has not been arranged in accordance with Church tradition. One example is the novel power long exercised over other dioceses by the "Central Administration," a strange entity that is not even located in the vicinity of the primate's throne. Then there is the Metropolitan's refusal to live in this diocese -- a canonical requirement that is essential to the organic life of the Church. Then there are the non-territorial dioceses and dual festal calendars within dioceses, which (whatever good ends they were intended to serve) effect their own disunity.
Why did +Nikolai complain that the original investigating committee was to be composed of laity and lower clergy along with bishops? Perhaps it was in his imagination, but the tone of +Herman's response suggests that it was not. That, of course, would be completely contrary to Orthodox polity.
It is in any event not in dispute is that he is now being ordered to go on a "Leave of Absence," a concept unknown in the canons. Can a diocesan bishop be compelled -- without any charges formally brought against him -- to hand over his authority in his diocese? To leave his see? If no punishment or change in his status is taking place, why is he no longer to be commemorated in the services? What warrant is there in holy tradition for such a thing? A bishop must be obedient to his synod, but synods must be obedient to the tradition and canons that each member swore to uphold at his consecration. The fact of the matter is that +Nikolai is right about a crucial aspect of this affair.
What conceivable justification was there to take this tack? After all, a single instance of striking someone is sufficient to depose a bishop! And it would seem that there is much else. The character of several of the accusers is well-known to the members of the synod and does not require inquiry. Some of them are evidently quite fearless. Would it have been so hard to get the signed statements that the Church's perfectly sensible tradition calls for, and put two bishops on a plane, or even just on the phone, to summon +Nikolai formally? Would even 24 hours have been needed to do this?
Why wing it when it comes to this process? Does the synod know the canons so poorly, or do they not follow even their outward forms because they think that these don't matter? Have they any concept of the inner coherence of our tradition?
It's a microcosm of a larger problem. The OCA isn't too Orthodox or too bound to the canons; rather, too much that has taken place in it has not been Orthodox enough.
#3 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-13 07:09
Two comments about the posting of the parishioners' letter on the Alaska website....
1. It is obviously an attempt to discredit using slanderous public relations propaganda. Come on, we see through it.
2. It goes against Bp. Nikolai's own edict from the Open Letter of March 4. "When you do speak about controversial issues, speak only in terms of facts.....not opinions or speculations." The posting is clearly just opinion and speculation, but it is being presented as fact. Is this some sort of game?
#4 Jodie Captein on 2008-03-13 07:17
WHY IS THIS WEBSITE SO CONCERN? IT HAS NO POWER! IT BRINGS OUT THE HATE TOWARDS THE CHURCH AND ITS LEADERS? IS THIS WHAT THEY TEACH AT ST VLADS? WHY DOES THIS WEBSITE CONTINUE TO LET PEOPLE DEGRADE THEMSELVES TO LOWER LEVEL BY CALLING AND BASHING THE METROPOLITAN? IS THIS YOUR AGENDA STOKOE? JUST REMEMBER! WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND! I'M GLAD IM NOT YOUR FRIEND! MY FRIENDS ARE PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT THE CHURCH! AND YOUR NO FRIEND!
#5 Anonymous on 2008-03-13 07:54
I beg your pardon, but I believe that copping the "money" issue is wrong.
Our priest was taken out of our parish and put far away from us. He became a priest to minister and nourish the people of Port Lions, Ouzinkie and Larsen Bay and other villages. His love for God and the people of Kodiak is paramount in his heart and mind and by becoming a priest he felt this was the best way to serve God and the laity.
He made his living, supporting and nourishing his family as a fisherman before entering the Diocese. Is it so wrong to want to continue doing what he loves and knows? And I will selfishly add that it brings him home to us in the summer time and we are blessed with services and our able to share our fellowship with our priest, whom we love and who is passionate about his work with the Lord. He teaches us the Word of God; he brings us to church and teaches us the Orthodox way. There is nothing about our priest that even suggests that taking the summer off is for monetary value...it is for the mere fact that he and his family need to survive, just like all of us.
Again, I am deeply offended but what you have said. I believe that men and women enter into the service of the Lord in the Orthodox church are dedicated, compassionate and blessed with the love and understanding that a lot of us laity need to get closer to God. I don't think they are doing it to get their summers off. If that is the case, perhaps becoming a school teacher would have been a more appropriate choice.
#6 Irene on 2008-03-13 08:59
Where is our leadership ? How many days have passed since +Nikolai was given a leave of absence, and he is still in Alaska, in defiant disobedience to the Synod of Bishops ???? Does +Nikolai really need to be physically removed? Did it occur to the Synod that this might actually be necessary? Clearly it should have. +Nikolai's reaction/current stance is sad, even pathetic, but it is NOT surprising. So what is to be done now? We don't have the equivalent of the Pope's Swiss Guard to march in there and drag him out. The police, then? I really don't know what the procedure should be; but the bishops should ; and should implement it.
In other words; the bishops have to DO SOMETHING !! (Novel thought, that.) It's probably not an exageration to say the the man (Nikolai) is pathological. (I found his behavior very disconcerting when I observed him at the AAC in Florida. Surely the Synod, having been around him for years, knows his behavior and thinking and what it has brought about. They must realize that everything being said about him is true. Therefore, I would think that they would be adament about his leaving Alaska. )
The situation is mind bogglingly inane, absurd, and incomprehensible. All this week little more from Syosset than the usual -- silence, silence, and more silence, and then short news briefs with the same old platitudes and formulas. Met. Herman -- DO SOMETHING ! ! Remove +Nikolai and let the Diocese of Alaska get on with its life.
(This innaction is yet one more proof of +Herman's total ineffectualness as a leader. For this, and for many other reasons long under discussion, he needs to go, too.)
#7 AnonPriest(Arch.ofC.) on 2008-03-13 09:14
God Bless All!
Sadly, we are forced to continue our witness of what failed Episcopacy does to the Holy Church.
If I as a parish priest were to engage in extramarital sex my preaching and teaching against adultery would be without substance.
If I were to engage in a homosexual lifestyle anything I said against self- love and the everyday "porneo" embraced by this culture would be trumped by my actions and my preaching would be useless.
If I were to speak about the need to love mankind even as I cursed and condemned those who opposed me my job as a pastor would prove worthless in showing Christ.
If I were to speak about giving alms while allowing theft effecting my entire parish I would be nothing other than a man in costume, playing a part, but lacking the substance of Christ. Alas, this is the very condition of the Episcopacy today in the OCA.
You see that what I do gives meaning and substance to the things I say! When these two (Word and Work) are separated out we see only a hypocrite!
Although Met. Herman has a problem with Bp Nick he himself lacks the substance to deal with it. He who has lied, covered up sin, condemned whole dioceses, slandered his neighbor, bullied men to be silent, cannot effectively deal with anyone else's' sin. Without the works his words ring hollow. It is as they say in the Ozarks, "a pot callin' the kettle black." There is no moral authority of MH to deal effectively with BN. It is two men having fallen off the Ladder, one trying to climb on top of the other so that the other hits the ground first. Alas both die in that senerio! When it is Bishops who fall, they always drag others down with them, and they die too!
This divorce of pious Word and action can work for a national leader or a CEO of a fortune 500 company. Although there are limitations of particular actions even in the world, as we see with Mr. Spitzer. Yet, Bill Clinton could speak about the importance of the American family in the morning and spend some unsanctified time with Monica in the Oval Office that very afternoon!
Not though in the Church. The Church is the ONE place where the Word and flesh (action) must come together. The Episcopacy is the place that we must See the Word and the animation of the Flesh strive towards a perfect oneness.
The false theology that we have heard of late that seeks to make the Episcopacy peripheral to parish life (almost like an occasional appendage) is more at home amongst the protestants than here in Holy Orthodoxy. It is false to say what really matters is what is going on in my parish. What is going on in your parish is one in the same as what is going on in Syosset and Alaska. We are ONE Church and this part is not separated from that one! It is the actions of the Episcopacy that is tempting the laity ( even some of the priests) towards this congregational way of thinking! God forbid!! The Episcopacy is as central to what we do in the parish as the Eucharist itself. At least that is what Ignatius and Polycarp both teach and the Church has believed, confessed and died for!! The Episcopacy is Ontological to the Church not peripheral. Where you find the Holy Church there is always the Bishop and the Holy Eucharist and the people are gathered round about!! When the Bishop separates his actions from those of Christ he begs the people to flee from him and the Eucharist in despair!! The Episcopacy in separating out Word and Work demonstrate an anti Incarnational Theology. They show us an office that lacks the meaning intended by God for it. They are showing us a flesh not filled up with evidence of God's continuing incarnation!! That does not make the Office meaningless but their failing severely effects the entire body and each member of it! I am glad of what I see in the parish but I will never suggest to my people that what the Bishops do or don't do, doesn't really effect them. It does! The effect is both profound and mystical. I am tired of the effect that Metropolitan Herman is having in my parish and with my people. I am weary of the difficult job of shepherding souls made harder by my Metropolitan. I and my people are not looking for perfection rather repentance and actions showing forth that repentance. Repentance is expected in my life by God. I expected it from the people entrusted to my care and it is expected even from our Metropolitan.
A father cannot tell his children not to smoke while dragging on a cigarette. Neither can a spiritual Father call anyone to a chaste and decent life while not having embraced that very life in his public service in the Church. Herman's "litougia" (public service) is busted. He has separated out his faith and his practice and has lost all ability to do anything with the likes of a BN! Repentance is impossible while embracing and holding fast to sin.
The lenten letter of Herman asked for forgiveness "if I have sinned." Dear Vladyka Herman, you have, and we have seen it, and that is not confession! These are the specific things that you have done that are separating you from your flock. Other things are rumored but these are the things that are manifest! I offer them so that you might offer a real confession! Since your acts are public so also should be your confession. If there are consequences to your confession (penance) you should gladly accept this.
You sinned when you lied and said an investigation was done and there was nothing to the charges. Several times.
You bore false witness against Dn Eric Wheeler and others.
You continued with RSK as your chancellor even after you knew he was diverting money.
You demonstrated self love and self preservation to the extreme in your firewall mentality and your firing of an investigative committee.
You have attempted to immune yourself from the responsibilities of being the Treasurer even as monies were being diverted.
You have without any regret told my diocese and another that they were doing the work of the Devil and warned us of our coming judgement. How dare YOU to imagine that our opposition to your works as Metropolitan is de facto the work of Satan! You owe us your repentance!!
We are without a Metropolitan in substance. We have one who knows the right words but divorces his works. Theology without works is the theology of the demons! MH is only the form of the Metropolitan and lacks the substance of said office. There is a deficiency in our understanding of the Episcopacy that is tempting people away from the Church and the Eucharist given there.
In a nutshell: MH cannot do anything about BN because he does not Look or act like JC!
Until there is a crucifixion of these wrong works of MH the OCA will remain without the ability to deal with BN or any other fallen aspect of our pitiful humanity.
If any priest in their parish, had done in these last three years what MH has done in the OCA they would no longer be a priest. Alas this is the answer! Our hope is bound to our repentance!
Have mercy on Me O God, Have mercy on Me!
#8 fr Andrew on 2008-03-13 09:33
It looks to me that the so called bishop is trying to let the public look toward the Metropolitan, when all the trouble that started this is Archimandrite Isidore, and the abuse from the bishop. Those are the main problems of all of this and what the bishop is doing is trying to let the parishioners stray the other way so he could be off the spotlight. The native culture has always relyed on the subsistance and gathering of food for the winter months. I remember when the bishop came we had to change most of our traditional way's in the church. But we the natives never said a word about .
#9 anonynous on 2008-03-13 09:59
Did anyone not finish reading the ADN article? Why is Fr. Garklav's statement not causing an uproar amongst those who have fought so long and hard for honesty and integrity in church finances and leadership? I quote the ADN article and Fr Garklavs remarks:
"We've had some church problems and some internal problems that have unfortunately caused some issues, but no, we're not necessarily hard-up for cash," said Alexander Garklavs, chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America.
NOT NECESSARILY HARD UP FOR CASH??? Does that mean the OCA already has the cash needed to repay its 1.7 million dollar loan? Fr. Garklav's hedging denial implies that money IS in fact one of the motivations underlying Syosset's response to the situation in Alaska, The more Syosset acts like a secular corporation and less like a Church, the more cash will in fact play a pivotal role in its decision-making--not genuine love and concern for its clergy and faithful.
#10 Archpriest Stephen Soot on 2008-03-13 10:11
What a reason to look for to put priests down! It is not because of economic reasons... Priest subsist from Monday to Friday, but observe Sabbath on Saturday and Sunday. Whoever Anna is needs to travel to villages and see some actions. Bishop Nikolai doesn't really know his priests well. He lives in luxury but he should see how priests are treated in the villages... Quit trying to put words to others too!! Priests subsist because food doesn't come easily over the long winter months there are no Safeways or Carrs to shop for fresh produce. Like some are use to!!! Our priests are special because they know their people!
#11 Anglilli!!! on 2008-03-13 10:57
All of the reasons they can think of putting out there will not change the facts. The emperor has no clothes.
#12 anon on 2008-03-13 12:07
Be fair. Don't leave the impression that Nikolai's website is any more controlled by him as you control this one. You decide what goes up and what does not. It's your website just like his is his diocesan website.
And talk about control. Look at the oca website, they dropped the link to the website of the Diocese of Alaska. Talk about control!!!
(Editor's note: There is nothing unfair about pointing out the truth - which you, too, have done. However, I reject your attempts to reduce this site to theirs. The difference between the OCA site, and mine, and Nikolai's site, and mine, is that I publish comments pro and con; neither of them do. I report what Syosset said, what the Bishop said: neither of them do. Shall I go on? We all report on events in the OCA, but there is hardly an equivalence in that reporting. None of us perfect, but so far, only one site is reporting both sides. That would be OCANews.org.)
#13 Anonymous on 2008-03-13 12:29
I am noticing Nikolai's supporters (amongst the laity) in Alaska are begining to show up here...get ready, these people will continue to accuse the opposition of being "Angry and Bitter" and will continue to reduce the message of Christ to a complete prostration to those who abuse thier power and destory others spiritually...thereby completely disfiguring the message of the Mizrahi from Nazareth.
#14 Moses on 2008-03-13 14:07
Dear Fr. Andrew--
God bless you for taking the time to compose such a wonderful, thoughtful post.
Yes, +Nikolai needs to leave Alaska, but I can scarcely convey my disappointment and discouragement as I watch +Herman use this episode to once again deflect attention from himself. He really is a master at that, isn't he?
They both need to step down if the OCA is to survive. How in the world this is going to play out when the very same letter that was sent to +Nikolai could have every bit as justifiably been sent to +Herman himself, only God knows.
Again, thank you. It is very encouraging to read sane posts from sane priests in the OCA.
#15 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2008-03-13 14:15
Insanity prevails! Why didn't anyone call for a series of psychological tests on this guy before he was ordained & consecrated? Why wasn't a serious in depth background check done along with medical history? Why weren't co-workers and friends interviewed extensively? Like his predecessor Gula, none of this was done. ...
#16 Anonymous on 2008-03-13 14:23
I think you are being far too magnanimous - the one essential difference between your website and the others is that you report the TRUTH. Any information laced with half or blatant lies, has no credibility. You are the most credible source of information out there for the OCA debacles. Kudos!
#17 Rich on 2008-03-13 14:39
I really don't believe all of these people who voice their opinion and do not sign their names, what good is that?
If you believe someone and want to stand behind it, sign your name and take responsibility.
It's just amazing to me how here in the USA someone can be arrested and charged later. That's exactly what Herman does. He is abused his power. No wonder the Romanians are leaving, he is too much to endure.
This entire mess and destruction of the OCA is the fault of one person and one person alone HERMAN. He belongs in the Soviet Era, and that too collapsed!
#18 MP on 2008-03-13 14:56
Gracious! The most frightening thing about that post was the grammar.
#19 Anon. on 2008-03-13 15:21
During this period of Great Lent, it is heartbreaking to see what is going on in our Diocese here in Alaska. This should be a very spiritual time to cleanse ourselves so we can experience the joyful Pascha that will soon be before us.
There have been many postings that speculate what is happening here as well as from those who have had first hand knowledge of what it’s been like since +Bishop NIKOLAI came to Alaska.
We were all full of joy and hope when +Bishop NIKOLAI became our diocesan bishop. We know that all dioceses are not perfect and know that there are things that need to be done – Alaska being one of them. I will be the first to admit that +Bishop NIKOALI has done some good for the diocese. Unfortunately along the way to building what he felt “his” diocese should be like, he alienated many faithful and those who supported the church.
+Bishop NIKOLAI made many changes after he came to Alaska. As humans, it helps us to know why changes are being made, but he never gave any reason thereby creating conflict. Those in business know that it helps to gain support especially when an explanation accompanies the change. I know some individuals recommended to the Bishop that he needed to understand more about the people he is working with but he never took the time to learn – especially regarding the Alaska Native people who are a majority of the Orthodox faithful here in Alaska. He is nice to those that he can benefit from but some of them know, like the rest of us, that he can change on a dime if things don’t go his way. Heaven help you when that time comes!
+Bishop NIKOLAI was surprised to hear what the clergy had to say about him. This shows that he does not have a good spiritual relationship with the clergy where they can feel free to come forward with their concerns without fear, etc.
+Biship NIKOLAI states that he is not abusive and can’t imagine why this is being said of him. Abuse is not just physical. Abuse is also verbal - threatening, intimidation and the list goes on. Abuse is where someone feels they can NOT speak out about what they are going through to anyone, especially to their abuser.
+Bishop NIKOLAI also states that he is strict because things were being done loosely when he came to Alaska. People can be strict but it does NOT involve belittling, intimidation, and disrespect of the people to make them see your point of view.
A lot has been said about what a Bishop should be – humble, compassionate, a father to guide us, and one we can look up to and approach when needed… It saddens me to say that +Bishop NIKOLAI does not have any of those attributes.
The postings and letters that have been circulated are just a tip of the iceberg (no pun intended) of what has been happening here in Alaska. There are many, many, many more instances of what the bishop has done whereby if everybody were to get together to give an account of their own story, it would take a long time to tell.
It is interesting to see that +Bishop NIKOLAI has chosen not to listen to what is actually happening but rather change the story and point the finger elsewhere. Being put on a mandatory leave of absence is a normal procedure for any investigation. The OCA has stated that they have not prejudged him and want to investigate further before making any decisions.
+Bishop NIKOLAI’s open defiance of the Holy Synod is very troublesome and as a faithful of the Alaska Diocese, I hope that steps were taken to ensure that all financial transactions as well as all authority have been taken away from +Bishop NIKOLAI so that he doesn’t do any damage that will affect us in the future.
I was very offended to hear what “humble” Anna had to say about our beloved clergy doing this for financial reasons. Anyone and everyone who knows the Alaska Natives understand that subsistence is a part of their livelihood (this, too, was taken away by +Bishop NIKOLAI) and it is an important part of who they are and their culture. Our priests live in areas of Alaska where costs are very exorbitant. They have families to support as well as their parishes. They work very hard wherever they go to make that place their home and to serve the Orthodox Church and faithful.
It takes courage for the Alaska priests and faithful to come forward, as painful as it is, to bring to light what has been, and is currently, happening in our Diocese for the past seven years. With the current action being taken by the OCA, it shows the Alaska Orthodox faithful that their concerns are valid and are being addressed.
Let us hope that this is taken care of in a timely manner so that we here in Alaska can continue with our spiritual journey to Holy Pascha!
#20 Anonymous on 2008-03-13 15:46
Right on time, we have yet another rant about power from All Caps Shouting Guy. Really, fellow, who do you think you're persuading? Unhinged shouting only works against your point of view, assuming you have one. If this site annoys you so very much, do not come here. I'm sure your therapist would agree. If you are really trying to win people over to your point of view, whatever it is, ENOUGH WITH THE FREAKING SCREAMING!!! John Lennon did the primal scream thing much better in his song, "Mother". Check it out. Learn from a master.
#21 Scott Walker on 2008-03-13 16:07
One or two have asked, with umbrage, why members of the Holy Synod have not already appeared in person in Alaska to dispossess Bishop Nikolai by self-help methods. There are short and long answers to that question.
The short answer is because it isn't time and the bishops aren't the people to do it.
The long answer is that the Orthodox Church has never had an armed force and has always existed in a civil society which does have one. (And if it did, presumably it would be younger and more physical types than the episcopes.) So the Church has always been limited in the enforcement of its decrees to what the civil powers were willing to do about them. What might once have been accomplished by a quiet word with (or gift of money to) the Emperor or Grand Vizier now requires compliance with civil procedures in courts which are loathe to throw people or Personages out of their homes and offices at the preliminary stages of a legal dispute. Our laws also disfavor self-help evictions, especially if they cannot be accomplished without an actual breach of the peace or substantial threat thereof.
As to the critic of Mark's objectivity, I too have grumbled about the occasionally spun headline or artfully phrased allegation here. But Mark DOES give critics and representatives of opposing views an unusually fair chance to be heard on their own terms. I respect that.
I find the "resentful native clergy" explanation unconvincing to say the least. And that theory gives us NO idea whatsoever as to why board, donors, faculty, and volunteers have left or been kicked out of St. Herman's Seminary in truly staggering numbers in recent months. There is only one theory to explain that along with the throngs of scandalized clergy and faithful and the united decision of a Synod not noted for interventionist activism.
#22 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-03-13 17:20
Why would anyone pick on Herman in this matter?
How many Bishops would fail to heed the request of the entire Synod?
Don't put this one on Herman's hat.
#23 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-03-13 18:36
I have given alot of thought to reply to "Anna" and Brenda the two that were for Nikolai S. You have such concern... I bet you, as soon as he walked away or got home he and his "house mate" made fun of your food, your paper plates, YOUR HOUSE!!! I wouldn't be surprised. I was there once, all happy that I prepared food, fed him, and he was being "appreciative" thankful and all, and how relieved and happy I was. Just to learn later on they play "pretend", show you one face, a decieving one.... "humbling" thank yous, turn around and they make faces and later laugh about it. I have witnessed alot of that. I have even laughed with him,,,, even when I didn't want to, because I HAD to.... the priests, deacons, and anyone who knows him, traveled with him, I'm sure they agree. And Anna, that was so SAD of what you said about the priests. You hould have thought long and hard before you wrote.... it will haunt you maybe even get back at you in many folds, scary thought ah? Pray hard, and I will pray for you "Anna". I pray God forgives me for this but, I had to get it out of my chest, forgive me "Anna" and Brenda.
#24 Wiinga on 2008-03-13 18:40
I am certainly not able to stay with the entirety of your post, however, I have gathered the theme well and would say I nearly fully agree; except for a few nuances. I like to believe people are good, so I go too far to be kind usually. ....a qualification of my biases.
I see a Metropolitan who has been dreadfully slow or downright confused about practicing His Works, and responds to external pressures before the Teachings of Christ and his own heart.
A good example would be stopping the Ask a Question portion of the OCA website. The pressures to stop were from someone on the MC specifically. I can't think of a single reason why Christ would tell us to keep these matters secret.
In fact, all the non fair share related appeals collections and disbursements of the OCA should be easy to find on the OCA website, but they are buried or missing. This perhaps related more to competancy than failing in Thy Works.
The 'if' construct I read from his message wasn't if as in possibly, but if as in you. That is to say my interpretation wasn't if I have sinned, forgive me, but my interpretation was if I have sinned against you, forgive me. So, not if sinned, but if against you was my take (to be perfectly redundant).
I am quite certain Metropolitan Herman has reasoned he has failed miserably for the OCA, or what a great fool he would be... In reasoning his failure, his goal now can only be to make things right and save what's left of his skin.
I do not see the rebellion of Nikolai as a manifestation of Herman's failings. I see the rebellion of Nikolai as another awakening to Metropolitan Herman and all of us that men, even men that would be considered to be of high caliber are subject to great failings. The greatest lesson for all of us is that archpriests and Bishops a perfect lot are not.
Bishop Nikolai deserves nothing less than that which he gave to Lydia Black. No person has been able to substantiate any sound reason why she was ordered out of her home without notice.
The Bishop deserves a fair notice of eviction. I encourage the Synod of Bishops to lead by example and give Nikolai a legal notice which is kinder than he did to Ms. Black.
Here is a new word for the Bishop.
If he doesn't like it, he could start by unfiring Oleska.
#25 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-03-13 19:11
To "A humble Parishioner ANNA"
I am almost speechless with incredulity at your suggestions and conjectures regarding the motives of the clergy in ALaska for speaking out about the abusive behavior of suspended Bishop Nicolai!! It is a slap in the face not only to village priests but to the entire Native community and to anyone who lives in the Bush. It is painfully obvious that you have no connection with any of the Native population of the Alaskan Bush, no understanding of what "subsistence" means and no intention of finding out!! THe ignorant and racist tone of your letter requires a response.
Do you really think that holding church services is all priests DO?
Do you have any idea who pays the salaries of the priests? Do you have any idea of the financial and personal sacrifice made by priests and their families to provide any sort of normal or average schedule of services in Alaskan villages?? Not to mention pastoral counseling, education for children and catechumens, visiting the sick, quietly finding assistance for those in need, helping, encouraging. Most are paid with a portion of the tithes and donations of the parish--for some that means an income of $500.00 a month!! In my village gas costs $5.25 a gallon, heating oil is $4.60 a gallon, the store doesn't even have a gallon of milk (last time I saw one there it was $10.00) and electricity is $0.55 a kilowatt hour. People here as in any village live a "subsistence" (Webster's definition--providing the barest means of sustenance or livelihood) lifestyle, we fish and hunt and gather berries, eat chitons and sea urchin eggs... but some things do take actual money. Village parishioners, and the diosecan administration should be glad and grateful that there are priests resourceful enough to subsist, to take care of themselves and their families. This long explanation is one way of saying that these priests you accuse of being so mercenary actually count on the Lord to supply their needs. Whether that means a good crop of berries (ours have failed completely 2 years in a row because of unseasonably cold winters) and plentiful fish and game, or whether it means that they wait on the kindness of others for winter coats for their children.
How many full-time jobs are held by those in your family? In our village there are 11 full-time jobs, real jobs. There are 81 households, all of which gather the Lord's bounty, even those fortunate enough to have wages to purchase food regularly from a store. Why shouldn't a priest be able to earn and income and buy groceries, too? Or have enough time to fill his freezer and smokehouse?
With the personal and financial hardships entailed in serving a village parish, the very least the priests deserve is decent treatment on the part of the Bishop. THAT is what this whole "situation" IS about. These conjectures that the real issue is land, or economics are just smoke. You are not speaking from any personal knowledge at all; isn't that bearing false witness?? From your letter, full of "I would venture", "I think", "It was probably", "I'm guessing", in which you assume that "most priests" did "as the ones I'm familiar with", it is clear that you have very little familiarity with how life works in most of our state, especially in the villages, the first places our Orthodox faith took root on this continent. It was brought here by saints who took great care to live and understand the local lifestyle. (And who subsisted, by the way.) Being Orthodox did and does not mean ceasing to be Yupik or Alutiiq or Dena'ina.
This diocese has over 90 parishes and only 40-some priests. That means half of these parishes are having readers' services as the norm. Historically, Alaskan parishes may have only had a priest visit once a year, and readers performed an expanded range of duties including baptism and funerals. (People received prosphora when the priest came which would be treasured and carefully eaten a little at a time dipped in Holy Water, to make it last until the next year.) It is everyone's responsibility to ensure that there are services in the Lord's temple, not just the priest. A full-time priest is practically a luxury! It's wonderful and certainly to be ardently desired, but not the status quo in Alaska. Many priests serve several parishes, so the faithful have at least occasional opportunity for communion. Have you asked any of the parishioners whose priests gather subsistence or fish commerically if they MIND if their priest feeds his family?
With regard to needing a priest for the Apostles' Fast, or any other fast period--WHAT?? Fasting is strictly a private matter, no priest has to tell one to do it, and they certainly can't do it for anyone else. Scripture tells us not to put on long faces and wear sackcloth and ashes to gain attention for fasting...I guess I don't see the connection between a priest and fasting.
One last comment--I am well-acquainted with Kodiak Island and those who live there. I have never once heard anyone so much as mention the fact that the seat of the diocese moved from Sitka to Anchorage and not Kodiak as cause for the "situation" at hand. THey just don't care that much about it, I guess, as St. Herman's Seminary is there and the Bishop travels there monthly. The church there is designated as a Cathedral.
I hope you get out and rub elbows with more Orthodox believers from around the state and then read your letter again.
#26 Joyce Elvehjem on 2008-03-13 19:21
I'm confused. How does St. Vlad's figure into this website? I don't know about everyone else, but I am now officially sick and tired of St. Vlad's getting blamed for everything someone thinks is "wrong" in the Church. Don't forget that the OCA's canon lawyer is a professor at St. Vlad's. Or that Fr. Garklav's son is a recent graduate. If St. Vlad's had a conspiracy against MH or the bishops or the OCA they sure wouldn't need this site to express it.
I am a graduate of St. Vlad's I can I tell you right now that I most certainly do not hate MH or anyone of the other bishops. They have been ordained by Divine Grace and serve at the Table of Sacrifice and I respect that. That is why it pains me so much to see them take their grace and cast it in front of the swine of pride, lust of power, and greed. Our Tradition teaches that God's judgment comes harshly upon bishops, priests, and deacons who continue in sin. This is why we are asked to continually pray for them, so that they may have the strength to be found righteous on the Day of Judgment. The consequences of being found otherwise are dire.
This lent we should not only fast and pray for our own souls, but also for the souls of our bishops. Make penance on their behalf. I do not understand why MH and the other bishops are afraid confess their sins and ask forgiveness. I do not need them to tell me the gory details fit only for the sacrament of Confession, but ask us for forgiveness, and ask for us to fast, pray, and do penance on behalf of their souls. They're going to need it. ( -- for the record, Bishop Seraphim has already asked specifically for this in a recent homily I attended, I am unaware of the others asking for this, though I would be happy to be otherwise informed).
#27 Anonymous on 2008-03-13 20:11
bullsh*t mark! All you've reported on is nikolai recently. You obviously have an agenda because you've barely scraped the mud off the surface of the oca!! There lies so much more and a good percent is there in the Midwest. Remarkably, Job is revered as a saint because of this site. So dont say you report fairly!!
(Editor's note: Every attempt at reporting events has an agenda; otherwise you would not be asking the question "what's happening?". The key is whether that agenda is openly stated - as mine is - or other agendas are at work. I have stated my opinions openly and publicly in numerous editorials - so very little is hidden here. As for more dirt in the OCA: thanks, but we have enough to clean up at the moment. And as me pushing the idea that Archbishop Job being a saint; well, the only person laughing louder than me at that remark is the Archbishop himself, no doubt.)
#28 Anonymous on 2008-03-13 20:42
Mark, please do not publish my preceding comment about ALL CAPS GUY.
It was unkind, ungracious, and spiteful, and I repent of having pressed "send".
Please forgive me for getting personal in your worthy publication.
(Editor's note: Done.In this season of Lent, may God forgive us all.)
#29 Anonymous on 2008-03-13 20:47
I've posted several negative comments that have never shown up, so I don't know that we can believe that you post all the comments that come in to this site! You control the content just like all of the other sites do...allowing some dissent does not mean that you are fair.
(editor's note: I do not post things I know personally to be untrue or not factual; vicious personal attacks; or rumours without supporting evidence of some, or even any, kind. Sometimes I don't post because "good" comments get deleted amid the spam and hate mail. Since so many people send things anonymously, I have no way to contact them to tell them I made a very human boo-boo. Sometimes I don't post six difference anonymous posts all saying the same thing. That is what an editor is for, though....
I'll try to do better.)
#30 DOS priest on 2008-03-13 20:50
Whoever wrote supporting +Nicholai, does not have to struggle to support a family because they can not hold a job that pays them monthly income because they were ordered only to serve the church. "Anna" does not know how it feels to wonder where your next meal is going to come from during the winter months because you could not subsist. Stop being a puppet for someone who does not know how to step backand be obedient. If he, +Nicholai, has nothing to hide why is he being disobedient when he expected nothing less of his priests and matushki?
I continue to pray for all.
#31 grew up in rural alaska on 2008-03-13 20:53
I am so so sorry for all that have been hurt.
Several, including +Nikolai, his supporters, and even several of his detractors have suggested that he cannot be given a "Leave of Absence", mandatory or otherwise, because it is not prescribed in any canons.
The problem with this thinking is that the canons do not prescribe every possible decision that a Synod can make. We are governed by far more than canons. We are under the tradition of the Scriptures, the liturgical hymns, the writings of the fathers, the creeds, etc. The impulse to immediately reduce conflicts to canons, and to search for canons to promote or refute a position betrays a failure in vision.
While a Leave of Absence is not prescribed by any canons, neither is it prohibited. (The same could be said for a conference call that +Nikolai berates -- telephone conferences indeed are not prescribed by the canons; however, neither are telephone conferences prohibited). But +Nikolai took an oath, confirmed liturgically, to obey the decisions of his Synod. That decision does not violate any part of the tradition of the Church. It simply says step aside temporarily so an investigation into very serious charges can be done.
Finally, there are those who think that this disobedience will be the one thing that finishes +Nikolai. If that is the case, it would be ultimately pathetic and unfortunately not surprising. Even with all the pastoral abuse, the tonsuring of child molesters, the covering-up of the chancellor's violations, is it really only the disobedience that will unseat this man?
Is obedience really the only virtue? Or more accurately, is obedience the only virtue that matters?
Priest Christopher Wojcik
#33 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2008-03-14 08:01
Maybe the rational flock of +Nikolai should be allowed to vote on whether they want to retain their bishop or not. If I am not mistaken, Orthodoxy allows this procedure. Then this political battle would be taken out of the hands of the high and mighty who are raising dust and smoke with their accusations and counteraccusations. Let the members of the Church speak.
(Editor's note: I think that is just what the clergy and people of Alaska did. However, I am not familiar with the process you mention. Bishops have certainly been elected by the laity, clergy and fellow bishops in various manifestations of conciliarity. But I am not sure any have been removed by such a process... Any further information you could share would be interesting to many readers.)
#34 herman on 2008-03-14 08:20
Father Stephen is right: "The more Syosset acts like a secular corporation and less like a Church, the more cash will in fact play a pivotal role in its decision-making--not genuine love and concern for its clergy and faithful." Tragically, money is the only "force" which Syosset responded to in the Kondratick/Theodosius/Herman/Fester/Blum/Blackmail/ADM millions/silencing/"Are The Allegations True or False?"/cover-up scandal. When money is withheld, enough money and for long enough, the giant awakens. This should teach us about what our options are to effect Godly change.
Father Mark Hodges
St Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Mission
How true! How tragic. Our bishops are the "president" at every Liturgy, as witnessed by our antimens. They are an integral part of every parish --our leadership under Christ! If we can't correct corrupt leadership, or rather, if our leaders refuse to listen to correction, we are left without wholeness, without the "fullness" which we so often tell Protestants they are lacking. The Church is in crisis, and the next step, the one thing needful, is for Metropolitan HERMAN to resign.
Garklav was appointed by whom? Do you think they would allow someone into Syosset who is not with their program? He is just an extention of the OCA problem. There is no way a corrupt system is able to intervene and solve the problems in Alaska.
The layers of the onion have only begun to peel away.
When peope start speaking out openly and signing their real names, maybe things will begin to change. Even the letters from the Alaska clergy contain so much fear it just screams out between the lines.
I am told by a someone who knows that there is a canon that requires that bishops be able to recite from the heart all 150 Psalms. Maybe we should ask those bishops who are so concerned about the enforcement of the canons to recite the 150 Psalms and then we'd be glad to listen to them.
( Editor's note: While I love the idea, for many reasons, such demonstrates clearly the dangers of cherry picking canons from 2,000 years of tradition.)
#38 Michael P Bauman on 2008-03-14 09:40
Why has Fr Garklavs not yet gone to Alaska? He is the new Administrator or, in other words, the BISHOP! He needs to get on a plane, get to the cathedral, change the locks and take care of business. +Nikolia is nothing more than a suspended employee. If the synod is going to put +Nikolai on a leave of absence, they have to stick to their word and actually enforce their decision. All this waiting around just gives +Nikolai more time to manipulate and post garbage on his website. The longer the OCA drags their feet, the more he will continue to play his own deluded game of chicken. Why is it that our church continues to stuggle more and more with this sense of powerlessness? Pick up your guts and get on the plane!
If this situation gets mucked up, may God have mercy on what will become of what's left of the OCA.
#39 Lynn on 2008-03-14 11:25
Excuse me, but does your rudeness have any boundaries at all? May you find peace!
#40 Carpathia on 2008-03-14 12:37
"moose hunting" oh, come on!
#41 anonymous on 2008-03-14 13:51
I really don't believe all of these people who voice their opinion and do not sign their names, what good is that?
If you believe someone and want to stand behind it, sign your name and take responsibility.
Who is MP? Mary Poppins?
#42 Anonymous on 2008-03-14 13:54
No where do I see that Jesus was a coward. He knew when to speak up and even physically, as in the temple, make His case. Why are our bishops and Fr. Garklav acting so cowardly? If there is a problem with +Nicholai, they should confront him now. It would appear that Met. Herman, +Nicholai and Fr. Garklaw should all be replaced by men of honor, piety, love and courage.
+Nicholai appears to be the classic example of who Jesus meant when He said: “Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men.” (Matt 23:1-8) (Change rabbi to Vladyka!!)
The problems in the OCA have been going on for far too long. Fr. Garklav said that there is no money problem in the OCA. Perhaps we need to follow the example set by Jesus Christ and be more assertive. Jesus said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Pray, repent and fast, attend all the Lenten services and tithe to secular worthy cause to help the poor.
#43 Lizzie on 2008-03-14 14:33
Did I miss something? I saw a posting on Orthodox Forum about how the Romanians made a statement with the Romanian Patriarchate recognizing historical issues, such as persecutiuon of the Romanian church in America, but it didn't say anything about leaving. Just the usual church pleasantries. Even if they did, who cares? What are we doing to get OUR house in order? We have too big a mess to clean up to worry about gossip about others.
#44 Anonymous on 2008-03-14 14:41
Dear editor, you made the point I was trying to make. The fact of the matter is that if the canons for ordination at any level were fully and strictly enforced, we'd have many fewer priests and bishops. A recent Athonite elder, Paisios, is quoted as saying that without the commandments we are like animals, but if we impose the commandments without the love of God we become like demons. The same holds true for the canons. The canons are a skeleton, but is that all we want? The Holy Spirit is the Giver of Life and Jesus Christ is the Truth.
#45 Michael Bauman on 2008-03-14 15:29
So, why do you not sign your name?
#46 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2008-03-14 15:33
Why not? Isn't he the head of the Synod? The bulk of my post decried the lack of leadership of the Synod in general. But Herman is THEIR leader; and he should do something.
#47 AnonPriest(ARch.ofC) on 2008-03-14 15:57
For anyone who has been around SORAICH/NICHOLAI for any length of time, it does not take a rocket science degree to determine that he has a harsh, non-people-person personality. It certainly is unfortunate that he was appointed bishop because such individuals rarely make good pastors. He made a deal with Kondratick. That is why he is there. It is not coincidental that he was the Chancelor of the West during the pedophile scandal at Holy Trinity. Some deal was struck. Also, these types are personalities are better suited to other professions than ones requiring compassion and flexibility.
We are not going to change this zebra's stripes. He is being obstinate. It comes naturally to him. Lets pry him off of us and then move on. Then, let's stop picking bishops just because they are not married. This narrow criteria is part of the reason why we are in this mess.
#48 Anion. on 2008-03-14 17:05
I (really really REALLY) agree with Wiinga... This guy that calls himself Bishop Nikolai after there was a banquet, he thanked everyone, and then, turned around and in front of the preparers face, made rude remarks about it to his priest Isadore... I didn't want to ever see that guy again.
#49 ask an alaskan on 3/14/08 on 2008-03-14 18:08
Thank you, Joyce, for explaining that "subsistence" means to the people of rural Alaska. This is certainly something that is absolutely crucial to the people of rural Alaska, including the clergy. This is also something that Nikolai absolutely does not understand. He only thinks of how he can manipulate people to "obey" himself. He thinks nothing about real people living in real places in real situations with real families.
Living in luxury with a priest as a "domestic partner" is totally in disconnect with the true life of the people of Alaska (not to mention the clear teaching of God in the Holy Scriptures).
I pray for his repentance and salvation.
#50 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2008-03-14 19:23
"Garklav was appointed by whom?"
By our Metropolitan, Herman. That's his job. Get used to it.
"Do you think they would allow someone into Syosset who is not with their program?"
If, by "their program", you mean the extension of Christ's word in our broken world, no, they probably wouldn't. We've experienced some poor examples, but they're, ahemmm, not with us anymore. Can I get an "Amen"?
"He is just an extention of the OCA problem. There is no way a corrupt system is able to intervene and solve the problems in Alaska."
We all have our spin on the events affecting our church, but to castigate Fr. Alexander, who I suspect you've never met or spoken with, is sad. He is a decent Christian and deserves not only your respect, but your support. We ALL fall short and needs Christ's divine mercy. Pray for him. Pray for me. Pray for Bishop Nikolai.
What did you want the OCA to do in Alaska? If you have better solutions, offer them for discussion. Thanks for posting your name, an increasingly rare occurence on this website.
#51 Marty Brown on 2008-03-14 19:27
I feel sorry for BN , Fr. I, and crew. How they are trying to feed the flames with the wrong kind of 'smoke wood', as we say in the fishcamps. This is and was never about land and money, IT IS about how you always were ugly to everyone below you, from small babies to the ailing elders. I know you are aware. BUT, it hurts you so much when you realized that you had to chop up a wrong kind of 'smoke wood'. I know you have a heart in you, and when you have Christ with you, your heart warms, and you see Christ in people. I am told by many that you will never allow love in your heart... I pray, and my children pray that you will lift up The Cross, admit to it, move forward (out). I'm sorry you made your path with riche$ of 'golden bricks' when all we have is Love, Church, and subsisted food we are blessed from God. So, no more 'golden bricks' in Alaska, but we are still rich with Love for God, our Churches, and caring clergy. I know you or Fr. I read these comments so get ahold of "Anna" and tell them the real truth.... you traveled the villages, and you know our clergy HAVE to work hard to feed their families, say it to the media where you are "the star".
#52 Wiinga on 2008-03-14 20:17
Well said, but you left out some other key players... Kucynda, Herman, the secret Mafia cabinet from Las Vegas, Nicholai, Tikhon, Dimitri, the former OCA attorney whom we trusted, ... and the many clergy and laity who failed their fellow parishioners by remaining silent in the face of corruption - the shepherds who did not protect the sheep. God help us.
Thanks God for the few from that time who have stood up for righteousness. There are others not yet identified who deserve our thanks and restitution. I hope that time comes.
#53 Anon. on 2008-03-14 21:43
What works best with attention seekers? Depriving them of their attention. I suggest therefore, that we might wish to deprive Bishop Nikolai of the attention he seems to crave. Let Mark Stokoe continue to report major events, but why keep commenting? We aren't hurting him any at this point by doing so, but it might just sting a bit if he weren't getting any additional attention, eh? Isn't it at least worth a try? As I understand that's what the priests in Alaska are doing now. They don't have to listen to him anymore, so why should they pay him any attention at all? If that's true with them, why not with us too? It's just an idea.
#54 Hopeful on 2008-03-14 23:50
Of course, extra-canonical measures are going to be called for at times in the life of the Church. The canons are, after all, responses to pastoral needs, and new needs arise.
The issue here is that there are already canons detailing how to handle charges against a bishop. What is new in this situation to justify these inventions? Why should clergy cease to commemorate their bishop when their bishop has not been deposed from his office? That does violate Church tradition. And as to the notion of taking a leave of absence -- to, as you put it "step aside temporarily so an investigation into very serious charges can be done" -- are there any charges sufficient to potentially depose a bishop that are not "very serious"? Our fathers have already prescribed methods for dealing with such charges -- methods that the technological advances of modernity actually make easier to implement in our days than in theirs!
The point is that Orthodox bishops respect the judgements of the fathers -- and therefore do not arbitrarily alter them -- because of their collective experience and their holiness, which is of course a work of the Holy Spirit. Or anyhow, Orthodox bishops should respect their judgements, and shouldn't arbitrarily alter them. This does not seem to be the mode of the Holy Synod, and the Church now suffering for that -- as it has been suffering.
+Nikolai will soon be gone, one way or another. This freestyling attitude should go, too. Freedom is one thing, license another; and I submit that we have long seen too little of the former and too much of the latter.
#55 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-15 05:53
Some people here are making this bigger than what it is. Fr. Garklavs will freeze all accounts in Alaska. + Nicolai will be "escorted" out. Stability will be reaffirmed in Alaska and eventually, a new permanent administrator or bishop. Not a big deal. The problem is this guy should have never been made a bishop.
Next, back to the main OCA mess. It really is time for Met. Herman to resign.
#56 Anonymous on 2008-03-15 07:52
You're right on. Due process has to be respected.
#57 Milos Konjevich on 2008-03-15 12:37
OCA financial reports are now posted.
It looks promising; certainly a lot of work!
Do we have any of our faithful OCA accountants to comment?
#58 Patty Schellbach on 2008-03-15 13:50
Like you, I grew up in interior Alaska too. Before Bishop Nikolai came to Alaska , our priest was gone from June to August in 'fish camp' -- the church was empty. In the old days, I am told by the elders, the priest and the faithful returned from fish camp on the weekend for church. They always had plenty of food. While I was growing up, we never saw the priest during the summer. The servant of God Anna is right on the money as far as I am concerned. A lot of our priests are less concerned with caring for our spiritual needs and more concerned with their own leisure -- which, work or not, is what fish camp really is -- especially when the fathers I know all have jobs, or their wives do. I know many people in our villages that feel the same but we do not have such easy access to internet.
#59 Anonymous on 2008-03-15 16:51
Based on the quality of the "share your comments" on this tread, I wonder if it might be best to suspend this feature of your website during Great Lent for the sake of not "leading people into temptation."
Post Reflections, News, etc., but these comments are really rather silly, for the most part.
Just an idea for the sake of spiritual growth during the Season of Repentance.
(Editor's Reply: Thanks for the suggestion. In the absence of any alternative at this crucial time, I will decline at this time.)
#60 Anonymous on 2008-03-15 21:15
My hat's off to Hopeful...and also to Wiinga. Ever since DAY ONE...He's been "ALASKA's STAR" anywhere and anyplace he went. Now he's also the star of the OCANEWS.org...heheheh
#61 ask an alaskan on 2008-03-15 23:42
On one level I agree with everything you have said--almost. But the application of your principles to the Nikolai crisis does not preclude applying common sense and adapting canons to present day situations, as long as their fundamental essence is not violated. You have an impossible task in convincing me that Bishop Nikolai is being dealt with unfairly or unjustly. The converse is more likely to be the case.
I note you avoided Fr.Wojcik's most important point--namely making "obedience" the most important virtue, even to the virtual exclusion of others. You did castigate those supposedly equating God-given free will and liberty of conscience with license--a "red herring" if ever there was one in the case of the OCA. The "freestyling (sic) attitude" you abhor is more properly termed rational thinking for oneself and acting with an informed conscience. More of this, rather than less, is what is needed in the OCA.
#62 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-03-16 10:30
Extract from the confession of faith signed by Bishop Tikhon, retired bishop of the West, at his consecration and Bishop Nikolai of Alaska at his consecration:
"I promise to preserve the peace of the Church, and firmly to hold and to teach with zeal the people entrusted to me. I promise to devise nothing whatsoever which is contrary to the Orthodox Catholic Christian faith of the East all the days of my life. I promise that in all things I will always follow and obey the Holy Synod of Bishops, and in all things to be of one mind with His Beatitude, the Most Blessed Metropolitan, the Archbishops and Bishops, my brothers, and that together with them I will be submissive to the Divine Law, the Sacred Canons of the Holy Apostles and Holy Fathers. I promise with all sincerity to cherish towards them spiritual affection, and to regard them as my brothers in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior."
And to quote the great Shakespeare:
"To persevere in obstinate condolement is a course of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief: It shows a will most incorrect to heaven, a heart unfortified, a mind impatient"
(Hamlet I, ii, 92)
#63 anon on 2008-03-16 11:50
Bishop Nikolai was not the chancellor of the Diocese of the West (DOW) in 1991, which is when the molestations at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco were uncovered. Fr. Vadim Pogrebniak was the chancellor. Bishop Nikolai (then Fr. Nicholas) was sent by Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) to investigate the allegations in April of that year.
Bishop Nikolai became chancellor of the DOW on August 6, 1994. He served as co-chancellor for the preceding month. Three of the four settlements were already completed by August of 1994. I know, because I attended the mediation.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
For an entertaining look at the situation in Alaska, might I suggest a viewing of the fine motion picture "Mr. Roberts"? Very inspiring, helps blow off steam. Someone, someday, is going to throw this clown's palm tree in the drink. It can't happen soon enough.
#65 anon on 2008-03-16 17:08
He may be referring to the surplus in the budget last year.
#66 Reader Michael on 2008-03-16 19:14
Sunday, March 16, 2008
For several weeks I have been watching the news reports and internet comments concerning the issues that surround the OCA in Alaska. I have watched many very good people maligned including accusing Bishop Nikolai.
I am not an accuser of Bishop Nikolai nor am I one of his supporters. I am not an accuser of Bishop Nikolai because he hasn’t done anything to me or towards my family and I have not seen any of the alleged abuse; also, I would never publish the sins of another for all the world to see. I am also not his supporter. What I support and defend is the Church, her canons, her sacred history, and her sacred traditions. This is where I stand and this I will defend with my life. If Bishop Nikolai or anyone else is on the side of the Church ,then we are on the same side no matter what sins may have been committed.
Let us remember the Life of the Holy New Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth: “The terrible death of the grand duke Sergei Alexandrovich, who was torn apart by a bomb in the holy Kremlin itself (near the Nicholas Palace where the grand duke had moved after he left his position as Governor-General…. The greatness of spirit with which she endured her trial evoked for her the deserved admiration of everyone. She even found in herself the moral strength to visit Kaliev, the murderer of her husband, in the hope of softening and healing his heart by meekness and complete forgiveness. These Christian feelings she also expressed, through the person of the slaughtered grand duke, by having the following touching words of the Gospel inscribed upon the memorial cross,.... at the site of his death, ''Father, forgive them for they know not what they do..." by Metropolitan Anastassy
Let us follow her example.
Galatians 6:7-10; “Don't be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don't give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let's do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith.”
By your Holy Prayers
#67 Ambrose Stapleton on 2008-03-17 02:00
I disagree that we should give our tithe to secular charities. Our tithe belongs to God and for the salvation of souls. Giving to charity is, of course, a good thing, but it should be over and above our tithe to the church.
Fr. Garklav's comment about money applies only to the Central Administration - meaning that they are trying very hard to keep the book in order and balanced. It is good that they are successful in this. But no matter how much they keep this in order there will still be struggling mission parishes and mission priests who struggle to feed and clothe their children. If you don't want to give your money to the Central Administration then ask your priest for the names of some struggling mission priests that he knows, he probably has more names than you can write down. Send your money directly there, or, if you don't want to send money, donate church furnishings or vestments by establishing a tab in the church's name with one of the ecclesiastical suppliers or tailors. You'll probably get the biggest blessing from this, this will get you written down as a "founder" and you will be commemorated every Sunday as long as that church exists.
In short, I think it is high time that we in the OCA actually bother to take care of our priests and missions. The Antiochians are very good at this, why aren't we?
#68 Anonymous on 2008-03-17 06:18
Please forgive my outburst and understand it to be a result of my frustration. My parish is very active in helping seminarians directly and I agree that it is good to help missions and struggling priests in our church. All of us at my parish are very generous to those in the church that we can help directly.
Be assured that your comment has chastised me and I will agree with you that helping those in the church who need it directly should be our first priority. But I still cannot in good conscience send anything to a central office when I know the money will go to lawyers instead of those needy priests and missions.
These awful, sinful situations have been going on for so long and continue to go on because those in authority won‘t do the right things to bring all of this to an honest and truthful end. I cry for my church! I weary reading all the solutions and complaints but nothing gets done. In fact, it seems to worsen with each passing week regardless of the fact that we are in the Great Lent.
Please forgive me but understand that I feel rather helpless and, contrary to God’s desire, hopeless as well. I know that God is everywhere and the Holy Spirit inspires us to do His will, but I feel that people who are involved in all of this are not following His will and I am at a loss to know how this will all end.
#69 A Very Sad and Tearful Lizzie on 2008-03-17 09:03
I did not avoid Fr. Christopher's point about obedience -- I didn't disagree with it. But I think you have avoided my point. How is what is being done with +Nikolai "common sense," as opposed to that which is appointed by the canons? What adaption to "present day circumstances" is needed in the case of the traditional procedures for removing a bishop?
It is not +Nikolai's "rights" I am concerned about, or if he is being treated fairly or not. I am asking how what the Holy Synod has done is compatible with Orthodox practice. By all means, use common sense and adapt the canons to present-day circumstances. That's what the Church has always done. But we shouldn't change what has been delivered to us without some good cause. That is not Orthodox. Often, there's wisdom in what our elders have handed down to us, and wisdom (and humility) on our part in respecting their judgments. Native Alaskan culture seems to value this as a general principle for life; perhaps we need to learn from it.
And when it comes to issue of commemoration, what +Herman directed is not merely extra-canonical but anti-canonical. When +Nikolai is no longer Bishop of Alaska, then, and only then, is he no longer to be commemorated in the diocese of Alaska. This may seem like a minor point, but it is not. That clergy should commemorate their local bishop, and not another, is a teaching of the first ecclesiological importance. (Now, if a bishop were to fall into literal heresy, then it would be canonical for his clergy, not only not to commemorate him, but also not to commune with him. But +Nikolai has not been accused of that, and this is not the justification advanced by +Herman.)
Perhaps you misunderstand me in part. I certainly see what the Alaska clergy did as an example of Christian freedom. I expect we differ on such matters much less than you think, and maybe not at all. The attitude I abhor is not "rationally thinking for oneself," but arbitrarily acting on one's own -- apart from the fathers -- in Church matters.
Of this, there has been plenty in the OCA, and I believe it has absolutely contributed to this crisis. I said something about this above, in comment #3, but a more direct example is before us: Do you think the way +Nikolai ended up in Alaska was consistent with Orthodox tradition? (I invite you to read the Didache on the topic of episcopal elections -- just to begin with.)
Don't you think that Fr. Isidore's ordination to the priesthood should have been delayed until after he turned thirty -- as our tradition wisely requires?
Or do you think the control of an entire local Church by one priest (or any one man, for that matter) accords with the logic of the canons? (This, note, was a perfect extended example of license crushing liberty.)
There are too many examples for me to keep going. The fathers knew what they were doing, and ignoring what they laid down as a matter of course -- and even for no particular reason at all -- has cost the OCA. Are there not "weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith"? Of course. But "these ought ye to have done, and not [left] the other undone" (Mt. 23:23).
(Words for me too, of course.)
#70 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-17 09:43
Good to see you around!
On December 23rd (just in time to stir the Nativity pot) you stated, on the Orthodox Forum, that JOB had done some “very, very naughty” things when it was allegded by Nikolai and then backed by Benjamin that he had interfered in another diocese’s business and deserved to be put through the process that was threatened upon him. For your reference, the message was 73045. You felt, especially, that what Benjamin had said had merit and that you gave us another side of the story that we might not have known.
You stated in the first line that “It seems, without much evidence, that Bishop Benjamin has now fallen into the cross-hairs of a few folks with even less information” when people started to comment on his comments about JOB at the Synod.
Now that another side of the story has been laid out here by the person who originally wrote that report that Nikolai felt was done at the urging of JOB to get at Nikolai, are you going to apologize or explain your comments? You put a lot of thoughts into people’s minds about the guilt of JOB without knowing the entire story. You piled on giving a lot of credence to a story by two people with vested interests to beat down JOB. Are you at least going to acknowledge that what you said was wrong and that.it was a rush to judgment without knowing all the facts, like you were at least inferring that those that were bashing Benjamin were doing? Sounds like maybe the people you were talking to who’s story you wanted to make sure was published were working with even less information than you accused others of?
Will you post an acknowledgement of your own rush to judgment against JOB on the Orthodox Forum? If not, why not? You were so quick to defend Benjamin and accused JOB of being “very, very naughty”. You even said that the offense was “grounds for deposition in accordance with the Holy Canons and COMMON SENSE” (emphasis is mine). Do you often rush to judgment against Bishops not in your jurisdiction? What was so common about the sense you used to pile on to JOB? Apparently now that the author came forth to give who WAS his initiator maybe that sense wasn’t so common afterall.
Wishing you a very blessed and introspective Lent!
#71 Reader with a memory on 2008-03-17 10:45
Thank you for that reasoned response. As I said initially, I agreed with most of what you said in the first instance, and even more with what you have subsequently stated. As for obedience v. freedom, I guess I am out of step with many in Orthodoxy. Whether that is a problem for me or Orthodoxy remains to be seen.
#72 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-03-17 11:56
Be encouraged Lizzie, despite all of our human failings, bickering, disagreements and passions, God will build His Church and He will be Glorified and it wont be according to our plans. Be strong and of good courage. With all of the stuff going on we can take comfort that people still Love Christ and His Holy Church and they are willing to fight for it. It would even sader if all this was going on and no body cared and nobody was fighting for the Truth.
Please remeber me in your prayers.
#73 Ambrose Stapleton on 2008-03-17 14:16
I am very sorry, I did not mean to chastise you. I simply get frustrated sometimes (well, lots of times) that we in the OCA don't know how to take care of our priests and churches. The vast majority of our seminarians are living off of student loans, they have to beg for hand me down vestments in order to get ordained, and when they graduate they are sent off to remote mission parishes that don't pay them a cent. This situation is as much the fault of the Central Administration which takes the Appeals money and happily throws it at worthless lavishness (if not outright immorality) as it is of those who don't give any money to the church. Seminarians, mission parishes, and charities all feel caught in the middle here, and it is frustrating to see them suffer for something they had nothing to do with.
I was just trying to point out that those who feel they can no longer put hard currency in the general coffers or Appeals baskets still have avenues open to them to help advance God's kingdom with the donation of goods and direct donations to the mission parishes, seminaries, and charities. Honestly, I personally prefer this method over the centralized "collect and distribute" system.
#74 Anonymous on 2008-03-17 20:24
In the above post, Reader with a memory said: “Do you often rush to judgment against Bishops not in your jurisdiction?”
How interesting! What jurisdiction are you in???? Is it possible that your bishop is in Eagle River in Alaska? That is a very interesting situation! Eagle River is just a few miles away from +Nicholai. Do you think your bishop reads any of this stuff? Why are you so outspoken about a jurisdiction you have no vested interest in???? Or.... do you have vested interest in it that is unknown (at this time)? Interesting!
#75 Interested on 2008-03-18 09:24
Thanks for the correction, Melanie. Fr. Soraich was so close to all of that mess at the time that he might as well have been the Chancellor, as intertwined as that hair ball was.
However, my main point was about the SORAICH personality type. He is not a people person and no one should be surprised that he is exhibiting those deficiencies now, to the detriment of the Church in Alaska.
The OCA has got to stop being so incompetent in its selection and training of leaders. It is not enough to place warm bodies in parishes. People need to be qualified for the positions, not just match by gender and marital status. Most importantly, we need to stop placing academic and analytical types in pastoral positions. Pastors need to be amiable and empathetic. Granted such types are often not organized, that is why we have the Body of Christ and the Gifts of the Spirit. Lets stop all this incompetent behavior and start living the life God wants for his children. Right now we are acting like the Prodigal Son wallowing in the pig sty.
#76 Anon. on 2008-03-18 16:24
Amen to that! Unfortunately though, many of our current bishops want cold, analytical types who are not empathetic and are not in-touch with "the people". This way they can manipulate them and they will teach them the "right way" to be a bishop. It's sad, but it's what they are.
#77 Anonymous on 2008-03-18 21:24
The person who is ashamed to identify himself as quoting from the Confession of Faith made in the Church, bare-headed, in the presence of consecrating Bishops and the whole Laos, has, thank God, reminded me that I and Bishop Nikolai both made that Confession. While promising to obey our brothers, we also promised "to be submissive to the Divine Law, the Sacred Canons of the Holy Apostles and the Holy Fathers."
I think that if one would take thought when reading, one would come to the realization that one's brothers may not always be submissive to the Divine Law, the Sacred Canons of the Holy Apostles and Holy Fathers. In that case, I would (especially as I am an American who believes that there is more safety in the rule of law than the rule of men) tend to teach and act on the side of the Divine Law, the Sacred Canons of the Apostles and the Holy Fathers.
Acccountably, and, therefore, not anonymously,
Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald)
#78 Bishop Tikhon on 2008-03-19 19:03
I really appreciate your post, you made some very good points. I was reminded of a couple good quotes.
"What keeps you from giving now? Isn't the poor person there? Aren't your own warehouses full? Isn't the reward promised? The command is clear: the hungry person is dying now, the naked person is freezing now, the person in debt is beaten now-and you want to wait until tomorrow? "I'm not doing any harm," you say. "I just want to keep what I own, that's all." You own! You are like someone who sits down in a theater and keeps everyone else away, saying that what is there for everyone's use is your own. . . . If everyone took only what they needed and gave the rest to those in need, there would be no such thing as rich and poor. After all, didn't you come into life naked, and won't you return naked to the earth?
"The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry person; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to the person who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the person with no shoes; the money which you put in the bank belongs to the poor. You do wrong to everyone you could help, but fail to help."
"The large rooms of which you are so proud are in fact your shame. They are big enough to hold crowds--and also big enough to shut out the voices of the poor....There is your sister or brother, naked, crying! And you stand confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering."
#79 Ambrose Stapleton on 2008-03-20 18:32
Being submissive to the Divine Law and the canons of the Holy Church, how do you reconcile your defense of the promissory note with Canon 17 of the Council of Nicea? Or is the defense given in the appeal of the deposition that this is the wife’s request for interest on her money valid? Do not the two become one in the sacrament of marriage? And we’re not even talking about all the scriptural references concerning lending. Telling us that the corporate offices and administrative committee approved and signed the note should be no defense either, because we know that the MC cannot trump the canons!
It is interesting, however, that you did leave yourself out an out with the “I would… tend to teach and act on the side of Divine Law, the Sacred Canons of the Apostles, and the Holy Fathers.” I suppose that the defense of the promissory note is one of those times that you tended not to follow the Divine Law, the Sacred Canons of the Apostles, and the Holy Fathers. And how do you decide that you are not going to follow the Divine Law, the Sacred Canons of the Apostles, and the Holy Fathers?
Since we are also reviewing canons, I suppose that your numerous comments about those in power in the government should have caused your deposition:
Whosoever shall insult the King, or a ruler, contrary to what is right, let him suffer punishment. If he be a clergyman, let him be deposed; if a layman, excommunicated.”
But then we can say that since “President” is not in that list that you are not really breaking the canon, what do we care about the spirit of the canon? So then you would admit that the canons are a tad outdated in certain respects and not to be followed to the letter of the law, but to the spirit in which they were written?
And more, when he was in Las Vegas, then Fr. Soraich took employment in the DA’s office, was it? Is that not a breach of:
Let not a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, undertake worldly business; otherwise let him be deposed.”
Why was this overlooked? Hath Nikolai used this canon to discipline his clergy while being in clear violation of it himself before he came into power? Another case of tending not to act on the side of the Sacred Canons of the Apostles?
And now, we have to follow every canon to the letter of the law. Reeks of double standard to allow behavior that is questionable at best.
#80 Anonymous on 2008-03-21 06:32
Well, Mr. Know-it-all. Looks like your little prophesy fell apart. Look at oca.org right now: March 27, 2:18 pm. Looks like the master-manipiulator once again triumphed over the feeble ones. What happened to those "frozen accounts" or the "escort" or the "stability." It's gone... all gone.
#81 Lynn on 2008-03-27 11:20
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