Wednesday, March 19. 2008
Your comments and thoughts welcome. These are difficult times for many, so let's all be on our best internet behaviour, please.
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Ok the SOBs are going to deal with the problems in Alaska.
They have scheduled a special meeting of the SOB on the 27th.
What can we possibly expect from them?
They have been totally silent about the financial scandal.
They have shown no leadership at a time when the OCA desperatly needs good strong Christian leadership.
Corrupt leaders are not going to be the ones to clean-up, investigate and then be transparent and accountable.
It's been suggested that the entire SOB resign. But now we are holding our breath again hoping that they will deal with this latest erruption in Alaksa. And that is what we are seeing folks, a small erruption of a huge jurisdiction-wide scandal.
The corruption is just currently popping up in Alaska. Where will it show up next? The OCA is way beyond the SOB band-aid remedy.
Start signing your names to your posts. Don't be intimidated into silence in your communities. Stop supporting this corruption. Stop waiting for the SOBs to solve the OCA crisis. How much longer are you willing to sit around, belly-ache and do nothing but complain?
I hope this is good news?
I personally dont really care if they depose him or anything else... just get him outta here!
How can nikolai even want to stay here? Who would want to stay where they're not wanted or even worse?
What kind of person is so oblivious and obstinate to do such things? That is grounds for any reasonable person to ask themselves and others... WHY?
I understand Fr Garklavs is here in Kodiak - I have sought him out... I came back from a trip to Anchorage (for medical reasons) early so that I might see what he has to say and maybe.. just maybe share some of my thoughts.
#2 Ted Panamarioff - Kodiak Alaska on 2008-03-19 10:12
One way or another, whether they be decisive or indecisive, this meeting is going to tell us a whole lot about our bishops.
#3 Staupitz on 2008-03-19 10:18
It's very obvious that anyone who challenges MH is thrown out with the trash. I take better care of my recycables that does this synod of bishops for church workers and the people who they supposedly serve. Herman destroys anyone who gets in his path. I wonder why he even needs anyone else, the size of the church has so greatly diminished. You can count on one thing, whatever is going to happen has been predetermined and they will make it look like it took some effort to come to their conclusion. How shameful!
#4 MP on 2008-03-19 11:39
I have read the article on Bishop Nikolai in the Kodiak Daily Mirror. I find it disappointing that in this article the first "testimonial" in favor of the Bishop comes from Judy Fulp, a Catholic, who should have at least bothered to ask the members of Holy Resurrection Church how they feel about their Bishop. After all, if she is a "free-lance writer" for the Mirror, she and the newspaper owe it to their readers to do a tiny bit of research before stepping into the fray basing public statements on nothing more than subjective feelings and irrelevant first impressions.
It is sad to see such a momentous event in the life of the Holy Orthodox Church brought down to the level of a common political campaign marred by propaganda ruses, shaky testimonials, petty accusations, hypocrisy, fingerpointing, name-calling, and shady partisanship.
I make a heartfelt appeal to Bishop Nikolai and his followers to show obedience to the hierarchy of the Church and comply with the Metropolitan's orders promptly and without pharisaic quibbling. If, indeed, all accusations against Bishop Nikolai are false, I have no doubt that with God's help truth will eventually prevail. In the meanwhile, PLEASE, stop tearing the Church apart!
#5 herman on 2008-03-19 11:59
Thank you for your request that we use this forum in a respectful manner in speaking to each other. It serves no good purpose to "fast from meat while we devour our brother" as St John Chrysostom advised.
As we speak, the case against Nikolai is being made by those in Syosset. The case is not based on formal charges against Nikolai because none have been made. Rather the case is being made based on two points:
1. That he refused to go on the Leave of Absence and, thus
2. He disobeyed the Synod (well Lesser Synod in this case).
If a bishop truly believes that he does not have the right to leave his diocese under duress and be forced into a leave of absence is he wrong in resisting it? If he truly believes and can back it up with canonical and scriptural evidence that such an action is not proper, is that open disobedience to the Holy Synod?
At the Lesser Synod meeting it was Herman who primed the pump by DEMANDING that something HAS TO BE DONE. We HAVE TO TAKE SOME ACTION.
Fear, dear brothers and sisters. Fear tactics again used by Herman. No solutions, no plan, only fear as a weapon to drive people to make decisions out of expediency. And the Lesser Synod, with scant buy in from the other members of the Holy Synod gained the necessary capitulation.
Is Nikolai a poor leader, a poor example of Christ? Is he arrogant and pompous, even a "predator?" It would appear that a good number of people think so. But, as time goes on, there may be a good number of people who think he is not as bad as others have said. So what do we have? Fear.
Fear of losing Alaska. Fear of personal reprisals. Fear of public perception. Fear of litigation. Fear of the unknown that could happen.
At this moment, we are a Church being run on fear and we should reject such a tactic. We have let fear rule us, in the form of a diocesan bishop and in the form of a Metropolitan, and we have been seduced by it.
We will be judged not on how we were seduced by fear mongers like Nikolai and Herman, but how we so easily gave up on perfect love which casts out fear.
Unless we reject fear and put on love, we will lose our right to be called a Church. If the Synod of Bishops continues to rule by fear and taking the quick and wide road that fear provides, they will have lost their collective legitimacy to be called a Synod. Individual canonical bishops, yes. A Synod of Bishops, no.
May we pray for them and for the clergy and faithful in Alaska. And finally may we pray for ourselves...Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.
#6 Anonymous on 2008-03-19 12:01
This is VERY interesting... is Nikolai going to break a major canon and attend a meeting during Lent missing how many canonical required Akathists? Remember, last year this was a BIG deal. In fact the PR of canon law, Tikhon, made a really big deal about it on the other venues.
Is Nikolai going to break a canon that he holds very near and dear to his heart or is he going to take advantage of the opportunity to face his brother bishops for the last time on equal terms? Is he going to break a canon that he holds very near and dear to his heart or is he going to use the opportunity to face his brother bishops with those cold, deep, dark, intimidating eyes as he bullies and threatens charges upon any bishop bold enough to tell Nikolai like it is? Is he going to take the opportunity to allow his brother bishops to look into those cold, deep, dark eyes into the abyss of his soul and see that what they have done is right? Who’s going to be his target to make prostrate down before him and kiss his hand in submission? Will there be more than one who is made to suffer that humiliation at his insistence? Tell me, when did Christ command ANYONE to prostrate before Him? Where does Nikolai come off commanding this all in the name of Christ?!
Is he going to take advantage of the chance to face his brother bishops while Fr. Garklavs is present in Anchorage, with the opportunity to convene a diocesan council without Nikolai present? Is he going to face his brother bishops, as he so much wanted, and leave Fr. Garklavs to change the locks and encourage the clergy and laity of Alaska to hold firm? If Nikolai leaves, will he ever be back? We know how the Alaskans want to answer that!
Sounds like Nikolai is between a glacier and a hard place. What is this paragon of canonical obedience going to do? What is it going to be Nikolai? You said the Synod should not succumb to the pressure of the media, but then you go and hold a press conference and proudly offer the video on your website. Not only THAT, but after telling the press you will not comment during the first week of Lent, you do WHAT? You hold a press conference to bash your Synod on the first week of Lent! HYPOCRISY! You complain to the press that due process isn’t being followed for you, but you bring Kondratick and Brum to convict a priest in your diocese that you wanted deposed. HYPOCRISY! You said the Synod should not base their actions on what is said in the media, then you hold interviews with the press to state how WRONG this Synod is. The HYPOCRISY! Are you going to attend the meeting this year against that canon that you so very strongly stood to support and not attend a Synod meeting last year, or was it just because you didn’t want to face an issue that was to be discussed? Which HYPOCRISY will you reveal if you do come? That you were really wanted to qualify the canon that its ok under some circumstances? You depose priests who disobeyed you, but when you disobey the Synod that you took an oath to be one with and follow, you go to the press to bash them as coming up with innovations and not allowing you due process. HYPOCRISY! I am sure that the priest defrocked after being convicted by two priests not from his own diocese didn’t like THAT INNOVATION himself! But, the world according to Nikolai, keeps a double standard, one for Nikolai, one for the rest of the world. What ARE you going to do? Maybe they can entice you to make an appearance with a room at the Marriott Marquis? Make it a suite for the distinguished bishop from Anchorage! Maybe take in a show while no one is watching?
Time to take counsel with your mentor and canonical legal eagle, Tikhon, and even with that canonical scholar James Silver and decide what you’re going to do. While you’re doing that, we’ll go back and reread your words at the Panikhida you had for Bishop Innocent and marvel that what goes around, comes around. Words that we can speak of you this very day.
Maybe the Synod needs to call the young Mitred Archmandrite Isidore, Chancellor of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska, Dean of St. Innocent in Anchorage, and Rector of St. Herman Seminary also, and have him place his hand on the Gospel, and then see if he refutes what he said and did to Paul Sidebottom on the night of his drunken stupor? Talk about being caught between a glacier and a hard place! Speaking of Isidore… Nikolai, can you produce a document from the clinic that Isidore camped out at in Minnesota that shows when the visit was arranged before the incidents last May? You said the visit was already arranged, maybe we can see some documentation to that effect? I am sure there are letters and phone bills that show the correspondence.
Nikolai, for the love of God, walk away and accept that you have not been able to do what a bishop needs to do and be. You have to accept that you will never lead a life in that diocese, or any diocese, with any constructive results. You clinging on scorching the earth and impugning all those against you will never give you the white klobuk you longed for. The game is over. You have to accept that it didn’t work out and leave. A refusal to leave will forever cement any questions people have about your faith and love for the Church. God will look keenly upon a man who knows his limitations and can humble himself for the good of God’s Church. God will not look keenly upon a man who’s own vanity, and immodesty, and want of power at all costs causes him to cause irreparable damage to His Church. What good is it if you DID follow all the canons if you destroyed the life of the Church in the process? The canons mean nothing if there’s not a church for them to keep the order of. That is your choice now. Its not YOUR Church, its God, you’ve been given an opportunity to lead and help build it up and it didn’t work out.
You acted unbecoming of a bishop. Maybe there are no canons against that because, frankly, not even the fathers of the Church imagined they would have to write a canon, or canons, to codify what is told to us by Christ Himself. Ever think about that? The canons give order to how we teach what is written in the Gospel. The canons aren’t there to tell us what the rigid laws of being a good Christian are! That was a given! Its comparable to what good will keeping the strict letter of fasting do if you then steal from your brother? Do you see the difference? Can you repeat from memory what the great commandment that Christ gave us is? It’s a lot shorter than all the canons but eclipses the canons in meaning. Following the letter of the canons is easy, following the letter of the Gospel is hard. THAT is the Gold Standard. Keep your eye on the ball.
Do the right thing, in the eyes of God, and leave. Peacefully. Must you take it all down on the way out? Must you tarnish all those within reach on your way out? Will causing tremendous pain bring back any respect for you or help you sleep at night? It’s a losing proposition to continue. A righteous man knows when all his acts result in diminishing returns, when he can’t do any good, and puts himself last and walks away. A righteous man knows that he must put the Church ahead of him and walk away for its good. A righteous man doesn’t act in a manner in which getting the last word, or prevailing over men he feels are evil, or making them submit to him is the motivation. A righteous man doesn’t cling to power like a security blanket. A righteous man knows what to do because he cares about not himself, but something greater than him. He has perspective of the big picture. He has perspective of life without the vestments on!
I have news for you which you will not like. There is/was no conspiracy against you. Herman did not make Isidore drink and say the things he did and is alleged to have done. JOB did not send a convicted sex offender to you begging for tonsuring. The Synod did not send you Lydia Black so you could turn stone cold and toss her out of her home in the dead of night. Mark did not send Paul Sidebottom so that all of this may be brought out. Mark Harrison didn’t want to be pushed nearly to the ground. No one you accuse of conspiring your downfall did anything to cause it. You did it all to yourself. You can accuse people of saying its all about money, but no matter how much money, a bishop who acted like a bishop and not a ruthless tyrant would never find himself in this situation. No one put you in this situation, you put yourself in it. No one handed you the shovel! You got that yourself and dug your own hole. You can cry to the press that people are out to get you and its probably a feeling you have. People who perform the acts against people that you do usually do it because there’s a profound sense of paranoia and that if you don’t get them first they are going to get you. Maybe its just a guilty conscience. Everything you’ve done to people coming back to haunt you and you feeling that payback is inevitable. You feel that if only you got to these people first this would never have happened. That is probably the basis of what you wrote in a recent letter that you wish you had faced all this earlier and, in a way, nipped it in the bud. But in this case it was all a figment of your imagination, you only needed to fear yourself and your failings. Maybe you needed to fear a lack of faith?
This is an opportunity, not for Nikolai, but for the Synod to show that its serious about cleaning things up and when a brother bishop thumbs his nose at its authority that it takes it seriously and takes a hard line, much like he has against his clergy and faithful. Make Nikolai live up to the standards he has set for others where canons and statutes be damned when he wants his will to be done. It’s an opportunity to bring back civility to the Diocese of Alaska, rationale administration, and open the door to giving them the kind of pastoral, God loving, humble bishop that those people so much desire and long for and DESERVE! It’s an opportunity to clean up more of the mess created by Kondratick and remove one more tentacle of that operation from the Church today.
Let us pray, that the Synod can do what’s right in this case and show that it really means it when they say we’ve turned a corner to fixing the ills that plague this Church!
#7 Stonewall on 2008-03-19 12:26
The timing is encouraging: The 44th anniversary of the Great Alaskan Earthquake & Tidal Wave.
#8 K. Carlsen on 2008-03-19 12:45
It has become clear (to me, anyway) that the use of acronyms is not well understood. Please try to keep in mind that you must use the apostrophe ( ' ) only when the acronym is in possessive form: ie, the HSOB's home base is Syosset.
Whether one agrees that the Holy Synod of Bishops is holy or not, it is proper to use all the words in the acronym. Therefore, in the interest of decemcy, please use HSOB.
If you must use SOB, then, as with all acronyms, referrals to the SOB or SIC is just to be in the singular, with no s at the end. The Synod of Bishops is a title, like the OCA. Just as one would never refer to the OCAs, one cannot refer to the SOBs.
The alternative use can lead one to see a very derogatory remark against our bishops. God grant that we can use decency and decorum in our postings, even if we are expressing ourselves in anger. Be aware that others may see our comments and judge us!
#9 Nitpicking English speaker on 2008-03-19 13:22
So much for heeding Mark's admonition to comment with some patience and probity now that the wheels are grinding forward! It is indeed hard to reason with, let alone instruct, a fire in dry weather with plenty of fuel!
I found some of the first 8 posts pretty disappointing. Cappy Larson has lived with her pain (over the San Francisco child abuse scandal) so long that pain shapes everything she beholds. (I can't prove I would do better, either.) But in her sad eyes not only are all the bishops entirely corrupt, but all who work with or under them. How faith-less, how jaundiced, how predictable these inevitable reactions when grief and anger are one's constant frame of reference. While the past is not a pretty picture, by no means does it dictate or prove that nothing good or beneficial can be done now. "Basta," for a whille, at least. Please!
Staupitz (whose nom de plume, presumably taken from Martin Luther's mentor, causes mild eyebrow lifting)opines "One way or another, whether they be decisive or indecisive, this meeting is going to tell us a whole lot about our bishops."
Although I have enjoyed and agreed with some past posts signed with this name, I have grave doubts about this brief assertion, especially as it seems intended to be applied instantaneously, in accord with prevailing internet standards.
Why do I believe it will not tell us "a whole lot" quickly? First, because we will not be there or furnished a full transcript.
Second, because we cannot look into the hearts of the participants. Will they do "good" things for "bad" reasons, "bad" things for "good" reasons? "Cautious" things for "good" or "bad" reasons? "Hasty" things for "good" or "bad" reasons? Mixed motives? Or...??
And third, because the "us" to whom Staupitz's pronouncement refers are not in possession of all the facts OR the legal and canonical considerations on which decisions as to how to proceed must be based. I think many who read this site know that I spent decades making my living in the courts, and participated very directly in several church discipline lawsuits.
I can assure you that the law (both civil and ecclesiatical) are not simplistically easy to parse out, let alone the facts, and it is by NO means an easy task to plot a judicious course for the Church through such relatively uncharted and stormy waters. So when someone like Staupitz seemingly tries to tell us that whatever quickly leaks out into the public of this one upcoming meeting "is going to tell us a whole lot about our bishops" I just have to add a HUGE note of caution.
The bishops know they have a very tough, determined and shrewd adversary in the Bishop of Alaska. The bishops are presumably getting good legal advice about both the secular and religious standards that apply. The facts are complex. They will have to consider fairness to witnesses, to the accused. They will have to decide on available information how best to work for the unity of a diocese which conceivably could be polarized by either or both of the handling and outcome of whatever process is employed. And it ain't like the OCA or its bishops have a huge fund of experience to work from in this kind of situation.
And what about our fundamental intelligence and restraint? I hope most of us have studied some history, where we were taught that it takes time and care to truly evaluate the acts and motives of leaders in pressured, shadowy situations? The passage of time can of course dull memories and obscure facts, but it can also bring perspective and better enable those with the right and duty to judge to be better informed and less lit by distorting passion in passing whatever judgment is ultimately right or necessary.
So in this internet world of instant access, instant gratification, instant judgments, instant (and even INFANT) reactions, maybe we ought to try to resist the temptation to make or live by pronouncements about how this one meeting "is going to tell us a whole lot about" anything - except of course our own need to rush to judgment and the standards which we will choose to bring to bear on those we judge (but perhaps shrink from applying to ourselves.) If I believe (and I do) that I am going to be measured with the same measure I employ on these folks, I hope it tends to make me far more cautious in evaluating a single meeting than this message from Staupitz suggests.
Sure, I can acknowledge that the meeting MIGHT possibly tell us "a whole lot" right away. For example if they drop the case altogether or rush to an impetuous judgment. But that is not liable to happen. The mills of the gods always grind slowly, not just in the OCA.
I am like most of you - an impatient American, raised on Hollywood fantasies which are introduced, delineated and resolved in two or so hours ... or less. We like uncomfortable things to be over quickly with little cost or inconvenience, good guys who shoot straight over incredible distances from the back of a galloping horse, good guys and bad guys who are all white or all black (figuratively speaking), instead of some of the real life shades of grey.
So let's just pray and watch and say as little as the lenten prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian would seem to suggest ("take from me the spirit of...idle talk") and let the process take its course. This is not to suggest that truthful reporting of facts or new contributions of substance should be ignored so that this melts quietly away, but rather that all the anonymous (or signed) effusions of negativity, anger, pessimism, arrogance, impatience, judgment, fear, or whatever, be tempered if not voluntarily shelved altogether.
I believe that in Frs. Garklavs and Tassos and others the OCA has some fine men with guts who are playing some very tough hands of cards that were dealt out to them - ultimately - by God, not just men. I do not think carping (and sometimes awfully reactive and ill-considered) posts here will help such men or their bosses do well, let alone avoid the opposite.
#10 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-03-19 14:46
I am Catholic and am not new to all that is happening in the Orthodox Church, especially in Kodiak. Proudly, I worked, and was on the payroll for 6 months, part-time at the Seminary 9 years ago. Bishop Innocent, Roy Madsen and Ben Ardinger hired me to run the office and help get things going after Fr. Oleksa closed the seminary. It was re-started by the whole OCA and a couple of years later, after Bishop Innocent's removal, a new bishop was chosen to get the seminary up and running again. I helped with an annual appeal for the seminary and updated their data base. It is still a mystery to me how funds are raised to keep everything going and staffed in the Alaska diocese, with most of the money coming from the lower '48. I, also, was best friends with Dr. Lydia Black and helped her diligently for 5 and a half years after she left the seminary. Does not my love and friendship and care make up at all for what you cut down your bishop for, abruptly making her leave her apartment at the seminary. I think it does and I know she does, too!!
#11 Judy T. Fulp on 2008-03-19 15:23
You can't blame Herman for the fact that Nikolai is a ...
Herman has enough stains on his character, you don't have to try and foist Nik's lousy behavior on him.
#12 Anonymous on 2008-03-19 16:17
You decry fear. Very good. What's your name? Until people can summon up the courage to hang a name on what they post, others will find it difficult to credit the writers' clarion call for courage, however appropriate and however well expressed.
#13 Scott Walker on 2008-03-19 17:52
A Modest Proposal for Metropolitan Herman
In the spirit of the season, namely repentance and new beginnings, I sincerely offer some unsolicited and unprompted advice to Metropolitan Herman. I rather doubt it will be appreciated or followed, but I remind him that I previously beseeched him, two years ago, to lead the OCA to truth and reformation, despite any failure on his part to do so in the past. Had he done this, and admitted his past failings, this would be a very different Great Lent.
I assume and pray we are on the verge of celebrating the deposition of Bishop Nikolai and the liberation of Alaska. If so, at least that slate will be wiped clean in Alaska and we can begin to address other matters. First is settling accounts with the truth--a sore subject with many of us and one that continues to fester and debilitate the OCA. No one is more aware of and in need of confessing the truth than Metropolitan--NO ONE! If he could bring himself to acknowledge past errors, seek forgiveness, and apologize to those he has wronged perhaps we could move on as he wishes.
At the very least, it would put him in a position to become an agent of change and resurrection, which he could accomplish by working with Metropolitan Philip to unite the two jurisdictions most open to an American expression of Orthodoxy and least tainted with idolatrous and heretical ethnicity. Both bishops are near retirement and Metropolitan Philip has already expressed his frustration that no progress in this regard has been made. What a legacy that could be if unity could be plucked from the rubble of scandal and division in the OCA.
Many will argue that now is not the time with the OCA so mired in scandal. On the contrary. The once proud OCA has been humbled and forced to face its true size (20,000 more or less) and many limitations. What better time for both jurisdictions, as relative equals, to put aside petty jealousies and rivalries in the interest of a Church that begins to be free of multiple hierarchies and other redundancies. This could and must be done without sacrificing the rich diversity that is to be found in both expressions of Orthodoxy.
All this must be accomplished in a conciliar effort of bishops, clergy and laity. But its initial impetus should come from Metropolitans Herman and Philip. Then the real work of building a functional and accountable governance structure could really begin.
What an Easter present this would be!
#14 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-03-19 18:27
............... not a chance.
To know them, is to label them. Pray, they change their stripes, and the label will fall.
#15 no name on 2008-03-19 18:31
With all due respect to Fr. Washburn, I found Cappy's post refreshing and right on. A priest should know better than to judge those that suffer, but maybe your just having a bad hair day, Fr. George.
The body of Pokrov's work, is testimony and a prayer that the angels hear. We poor sod's on earth can't seem to get the dung out of our ears. There is the problem, for if we did, surely such injustice would not be allowed to stand and people that are on the front lines of martyrdom would not be ridiculed.
It is +Herman's feebleness of purpose that must be attacked. Not those that suffer or morn.
#16 no name on 2008-03-19 18:39
oops--I put my response in the wrong place! It is above with #4 and I meant for it to be with #5--thanks--Judy T. Fulp
#17 Anonymous on 2008-03-19 19:00
Not sure what you are saying Judy...
#18 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-03-19 20:56
I believe you're right. But I also believe that an answer of "it takes more that one meeting to show their character" would have been sufficient. (My eyes hurt now after reading all that.)
#19 Anonymous on 2008-03-19 21:36
#20 Raisa Baldwin on 2008-03-19 21:37
It is unfair to discount my comments and distort them simply because my daughter was absued in the OCA Cathedral in San Francisco. I think you are insensitive to bring up the abuse of my daughter in this manner.
What is wrong with you?
The lack of leadership that we are all experiencing in the OCA
by the SOBs has been witnessed by all of us.
In the future, I would appreciate it if you would speak to the topic and not attack the person making a comment.
I admit that I find Bishop Nikolai's preoccupation with the letter of the law annoying. Men obsessed with rules tend to want to rule over others a little too much. But I also find it troubling that the Holy Synod is so cavalier about the canons. They act like some canons are important and others are not important. I wish someone would explain their reasoning.
#22 Anonymous on 2008-03-20 01:44
Please change that record,RSK is gone and if one person created this unholy mess your nuts. .....
Your hatred for the same people are becoming boring and unchristian. Think before you write !!!
#23 Josh on 2008-03-20 04:28
On the Diocese of Alaska web site we view + Nicolai's letter to + Herman, the SOB's and Pat. Alexei and Pat. Bartholomew how utterly ridiculous! We have gone from the Metropolitan of the OCA with the consent of the entire SOB's asking + Nicolai to "take a leave of absence" while serious allegations made against him were investigated, to his letter telling everyone they have no canonical authority to do so. He goes on to state Apostolic canons 74 & 34 and interpretations.
Folks, this guy has it all wrong. The allegations brought against + Nicolai are more than "he said, she said." There are serious allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse. These are LEGAL issues. The OCA and SOB's, LEGALLY, must ask + Nicolai to step aside so an investigation can take place. The OCA is legally bound to do so and must take these steps due to criminal liability. Since + Nicolai refuses to step aside, the OCA SOB's will be forced on March 27th to suspend or depose him. We can state his disobedience to the Metropolitan and the SOB's, but legally he can be removed for trying to cover up and impede a possible criminal investigation.
#24 Anonymous on 2008-03-20 05:53
I cannot believe what I read. This is coming from the man, who on December 23rd, on the Orthodox Forum, message 73045, without having all the facts, rushed to impetuous judgment and condemned Archbishop JOB, a bishop not of his jurisdiction for doing some “very, very naughty” things. You even said what he was accused of was grounds for deposition because it went against the Holy Canons and COMMON SENSE! Not only did you rush to judgment without the facts, but you said it was basic common sense that JOB had violated. You are a judge of common sense! You even went so far as to imply JOB was a LIAR when you said that Benjamin could have called JOB a liar based on his initial defense of himself before the Synod. Then you conclude with accusing JOB of a “serious lapse in judgment (actually several, but one in particular) a mistake that any one of us could make when, perhaps, our impulses to do good outweigh our ability to think clearly.” So, in the end, you condemned JOB because he had an impulse to do good. Is this what you preach to your parishioners? That, before you do good, think clearly, you might not want to do that good thought you had because there are situations in which good is the wrong thing to do! Bunk! You also put in the minds of the readers that JOB has been guilty of several infractions. Like what? Can you substantiate what those were? Pretty damning, Father, pretty damning! And I’m not speaking of JOB.
This all in the context of spreading some excuse for Bishop Benjamin over comments he made at the Synod meeting in December claiming that JOB has “Presbyterian, congregationalist and democratic” perspectives. Imagine THAT! In America you can be condemned for have democratic perspectives! And now you want to admonish us not jump to conclusions and that we “cannot look into the hearts of the participants”? Man alive! You surely jumped to a conclusion of what was in the heart of JOB pretty quickly and said that he lied. You don’t even know what he said because, as you said, there are no transcripts, but you were sure enough from whoever you heard from that he had lied. And spread a story, that you yourself said was unsubstantiated. A perfect example of the idle talk you said we should avoid. Idle talk that planted in the minds of the readers that JOB had committed a damnable offense against the Church and against common sense, itself! Idle talk in a period of fasting two days before the Nativity. Unbelievable. Good going, Father! Now you want us to practice restraint. I have a suggestion about restraint myself for you!
You ask “And what about our fundamental intelligence and restraint?” Where was the restraint there, especially in light of the revelations lately, that JOB wasn’t the one who instigated the report that Nikolai accused him of instigating? Where was the intelligence to, on the eve of the eve of the Nativity, stir the OCA pot spreading a side of a story in which you, after accusing others of not having the facts, post a view on the situation that was as devoid of facts as those you accused of doing. You spread it even though you called it unsubstantiated! Idle talk! Did you analyze the motives of Benjamin in his remarks or just center on the perceived guilt of JOB and then proceed to say he violated basic common sense? I think you might need to heed some of your own advice.
I disagree, this meeting will tell us a lot as have all of the other meetings that have occurred. After over two and a half years, this Church is STILL in turmoil with the bishops praying fervently that this entire thing passes and whatever happened in the past stays in the past and that we should trust them to move ahead even though they have no real desire to analyze and show us what went wrong. The desire has been to keep the faithful in the dark under the pretenses that you put forth, that we’re not smart enough to figure out what is right and wrong, but we’re good enough to sign the checks to permit them to do whatever the hell they please, accountable only to the inner circle without transcripts. That, my friend, is elitist! We’ve been told that by all levels, Bishops, priests, even the treasurer of the NY/DC diocese, who’s so convinced that we can’t handle the truth that his reports in the diocesan newsletter don’t contain a single number!
Fr. George, we can handle the truth. The truth that you and your fellow clergy preach to us incessantly is found in the true faith of which you are the face of. We don’t need to know the motivations if the outcome is for peace and truth in the Church, because there will be no questioning what those motivations are and where they originated: the Gospels. It’s when we receive an outcome in which we are not able to reconcile what is preached to us, what is told to us is the way WE should behave, when our highest clergy do the exact opposite. Politics be damned, my friend, we answer to a higher authority who doesn’t give a hoot about the politics. When we’re judged, it’s not going to be weighed with the perspective of what the political landscape was in the Church. It’s going to be measured against the commandments in the Gospels. And so must the Synod act in accordance. Yes, we want compassion, but we also want truth, and the two do not have to be mutually exclusive. We want the results to be as public as the verbal and psychological floggings of those in Alaska have been. We want due process, due process not afforded to priests in Alaska who get railroaded out of the priesthood with innovations from a bishop who now shows his double standard when it comes to himself. Because we are fair, we do not resort to measures to ensure that we prevail damn the facts!
I refer back to a line you said back in December” “Obviously, if Archbishop Job was utterly innocent, he would have nothing to hide, correct?” Correct, and we have been saying the same of our Synod for over two years and still there is no truth. And we know, from the leaks that have come out, that there has been no truth, that there is no desire to get to the truth. If they are utterly innocent, why are they hiding stuff. You are right! This is why we question their true motivations and their fidelity to the Gospels.
The toughest job the bishops have is gathering up the backbone to do what’s right and in line with the Gospels.
And you’re right, carping posts will not help any of this be resolved, whether they be from authors you disagree with or from a priest in another jurisdiction who wants to spread “unsubstantiated” stories about an intra Synod squabble in another jurisdiction. Priests like that make their bishops proud, we can be sure!
#25 Anonymous on 2008-03-20 06:04
Time will tell if the H is earned or not...
#26 Anonymous on 2008-03-20 06:15
Can you please explain your last sentence? Something seems to be missing.
"Does not my love and friendship and care make up at all for what you cut down your bishop for, abruptly making her leave her apartment at the seminary. I think it does and I know she does, too!!"
Are you saying your love and friendship for Dr. Black makes up for Bishop Nikolai throwing her out? And are you also saying that Dr. Black knows that your love and friendship made up for it? I just am trying to figure out what you meant by that last sentence.
#27 Sad State on 2008-03-20 07:09
I am sorry that you cannot accept that because of my position in the Church I cannot sign my name at this time. Mr. Stokoe allows people to submit comments without signing their names. Those are his rules. If you don't like them, then take it up with him. If you disagree with what I wrote, then you have every right to submit your rebuttal. But if you do agree, why do you wish to shoot the messenger?
We are not sure who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews, but it is attributed to Paul. Yet, we accept it as part of the canon of Holy Writ. If it helps you, you may attribute my contribution to "Anonymous." Hope this helps.
#28 Anonymous on 2008-03-20 07:41
I was appalled to see Fr. George diminish your comments by simply dismissing them as coming from someone biased because of what happened in your family. I can't even fathom why he would bring up such a sensitive issue and tell us all that your family experienced such a horrible crime. He seems to be of the same ilk as Bishop Tikhon by discrediting people and their opinions. He certainly did try to spread rumors of +Job by insinuating +Job asked for the report that we now all know originated with Nikolai. Yet he does not offer an apology to you or to +Job. What a strange guy. Hardly humble, and I guess he thinks he's just a little bit better than the rest of us with the way he goes on. There's an old song that has the words "though I'm just a little better than the average sort of guy could ever hope to be". It's a spoof of course, but that song comes to mind when I read Fr. Washburn's posts. He tries to work around language to hide his dark side, but he is just wordy - hardly witty. He has crossed the line with his comments to you. Frankly, I have had my full of priests like him. They are men and nothing more, and some are just terrible people. The good ones earn their respect. I have seen a couple of awful ones first hand, and now I never simply accept a priest is a good man because he wears a robe. I hear the people in Alaska telling us they have had enough of a bully posing as a bishop, and I say good for them. They do not need to put up with such a person. Sorry to go on, but I have had enough of this priest's snide and derogatory comments hidden in his wordy missives. The Orthodox church in all jurisdictions needs to offer us better PEOPLE as priests and bishops.
#29 Really a poor example of a priest in my mind on 2008-03-20 07:44
The reality in the OCA today just as when Cappy Larson's children were molested is that sexual misconduct still occurs routinely and that frequently the offenders are not called on it or punished by the hierarchy. The OCA sexual misconduct policy is only a PR document that is not enforced; relief for the victims only comes through Caesar not from our Church or its leaders. It would be more helpful if OCA priests would speak out about the abuse that continues and the lack of enforcement of the OCA sexual misconduct policy; however you and your brothers have taken the easy way out and have left it for Cappy and others to carry the torch.
#30 Joe Williams on 2008-03-20 08:21
I am saying, in response to what I said in the Kodiak Daily Mirror and it was challenged about by comment #5--got my first response in the wrong thread--that I am very knowledgeable of what is going on--I even took Greek from the Seminary from Fr. Bob Arida over thirty years ago (he wasn't a priest then). I am familiar with what is going on way beyond the criticism of me in #5--and I got two library grants for the seminary when I worked there 9 years ago. (Lydia asked me to get them and it was my connection to then Gov. Tony Knowles that I was able to get a letter of support from him which garnered the money for the seminary). I not only wrote lots of articles for the paper on the seminary and the pilgrimage, but I wrote articles about Dr. Black's work in the archives, too. Much of this mess all started when the archives and historic items were moved from the seminary to a small church-run museum in Anchorage, a great idea when you see the final result. Now, many hundreds and hundreds view the church items at the coffee shop/museum directly across the street from the Anchorage Museum www.anchoragemuseum.org which has approximately 200,000 visitors a year.
#31 Anonymous on 2008-03-20 08:53
AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!
This is more truth, common sense, and Christian theology than I've seen from many in the SOB and clergy even. So glad that so many good and decent folks are not fooled and deceived by the mental gymnastics we've seen from the enablers and apologists for the status quo.
The tone and words used by some writers in this discussion are degenerating and are certainly not suitable for an Orthodox forum, especially during Great Lent. Mark, would it be possible to make it mandatory for each person wishing to participate in it to sign (first and last name) his/her posts and state his/her place of residence? I would not mind at all abiding by such a rule, if it were adopted.
(Editor's note: I have always encouraged people to state their name. Some chose not to for good reasons, others for less valid. But having given the option to let those without a voice speak, I cannot deny the others. I will not gainsay their choice, having given them one.
If anonymous postings bother you, don't read them. Pass them by.
#33 herman on 2008-03-20 10:00
Please sign your last name so your thoughts and musings don't get mixed up with mine.
#34 Josh Little on 2008-03-20 10:43
Well, I am still a bit confused, but okay.
#35 Sad State on 2008-03-20 10:49
I was wordy. Guilty. I do like to think that I can analyze some of these things better than some of the reactive writers' stuff we read here. Guilty. To the extent that I can't, or I am across as too full of myself when I try, I apologize.
Cappy and her supporter both have it wrong: My comment did not mention anything about her daughter, son or any other family member. I simply said that since that date she has been so colored by pain and resentment that she completely lacks the ability to be objective about anything involving OCA leadership.
She and her family members and pokrov freinds have posted far, far more about the SF problem and their personal part in it in public, and done so repeatedly. All I did was observe that after all these years I think her pain blinds her to the possibility that there could be some sincere attempt at good being done by the OCA leasdership.
The strength and swiftness of her reaction and the inaccurate rush to condemn me for a mention of a child who I did NOT mention perhaps illustrates my point. Let the readership judge.
As to the anonymous person who charged me with writing certain things on December 23 on the Orthodox Forum in message # 73045, I would like to respond. I recall being initially mistaken about more than one thing in this whole dark series of events, and I may need to apologize to Bishop Job, Bishop Benjamin or others if I did write what this person claims. Perhaps my current condemnation of haste and venom is based on my own past mistakes!!
I do not remember writing such, however, and in an effort to uncover the truth have joined and searched the Orthodox Forum this morning (in vain) for such a message. I hope my accuser or someone else more skilled than I will forward me the exact message - email@example.com - so that I can prepare to dine on crow - or pass the plate to "anonymous." One of the great failings of these lists, especially as employed by the anonymous types, is that we tend not to accept accountability for mistakes or inconsistencies. I thank him for calling mine to my attention ...IF it really was mine. I will save the apology - and the humble pie dessert - until after I am able to check.
#36 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-03-20 11:19
Read my comments in the Kodiak Daily Mirror article and take my answer from that, but then again, those without sin cast the first stone and for sure, many stones have already been cast. Easter blessings on ALL of you Orthodox, since Sunday is my Easter and my son's birthday (as he turns 30). I have 6 grown kids and 10 grandkids and this kind of "quickness to find fault" is truly not unique to your church or even your own families, mine too :)--church and family!!! God bless and may the blessings of St. Patrick be with all of you (our joint saint). I gave all that I have given to your church over the years out of love and respect and gratitude---and because of our wonderful Bishop Francis T. Hurley (now retired--and 81--just saw him in Juneau last week when I traveled there to lobby). Bishop Hurley has a great respect for the Orthodox and also, founded a Catholic Church in Magadan, Russia. Our current bishop meets regularly with your Alaskan bishop, too!
#37 Anonymous on 2008-03-20 11:24
My brothers and sisters, to read the comments on this site is to come away with the impression that there is no goodness in the OCA that it is from top to bottom a corrupt, human organization that has no reason to continue to exist. Since I have many good friends in the OCA I know that not to be true.
Undoubtedly there are many troubles that need to be addressed. The prevalence of 'anonomyous' posters is, to me, an indication that there are many folks who don't wish to be accountable, not just the bishops. Perhaps that is more a reason for the decline that has been talked about.
Christians are commanded to be courageous--responsible for our own sins first and then to help our brothers bear their burdens as well. Unlike our Roman Catholic friends, the Orthodox Church is not designed to be a clerical organization. She could not become one, unless we allow her to. There should not be an "us against them" attitude in the Church. If that has developed in the OCA it is truly sad, but it does not have to continue.
#38 Michael P Bauman on 2008-03-20 11:58
Guys like this are "company men" with a strange military mentality (just following orders!); Alot of the "heroic" priests here in Alaska now speaking out against the Bishop sounded just like this guy 6-24 months ago! Alot of damage has been done in the past 6 years while these guys wrung thier hands in confusion, or, in alot of cases were defending the Bishop until recently...disingenuous at best. Folks like Cappy air the dirty laundry these guys would rather stay hidden, and they resent her for it. There's always some person who will start the "you people are so angry and bitter" line to try to shut us up.
#39 Moses on 2008-03-20 12:03
Excuse me Mr Williams,
But if you have evidence of sexual misconduct on the part of clergy, you are duty bound to report it. If you just "have a feeling" that sexual misconduct is taking place but not being reported, then you can keep your opinion to yourself. It serves no good purpose.
You make some bold statements in your posting. Back them up with proof, otherwise keep your sored suspicions to yourself.
What nerve and gall to provoke and lead others into temptation.
#40 Anonymous on 2008-03-20 14:45
"I found some of the first 8 posts pretty disappointing. Cappy Larson has lived with her pain (over the San Francisco child abuse scandal) so long that pain shapes everything she beholds...."
Excuse me, Father, but I dont get it at all. I didnt realize the good people pouring out their grief and turmoil on this website were doing so for your entertainment. I am so very sorry you are disappointed. Are you assigning grades?
#41 John M. Mize on 2008-03-20 15:18
How is noting that calling for courage while embracing anonymity is incongruent "shooting the messenger"? Because of your position in the Church you cannot sign your name? Why not? Is somebody going to pick your pocket or break your leg? Really, just what is everybody so stinking afraid of? I get that there are folks who fear the bishop or fear the priest. The way that some of them have been treated by bishops and priests, it's understandable. Is that your situation, anonymous? If so, forgive me. But that's not the situation you present. Instead you are eloquent about the debilitating effects of fear, and encourage us all to cast off fear, and then boldly sign as "anonymous". Let's be frank. It is ludicrous to tell everybody else to be brave when you yourself are not being brave. The messenger, in such a case, shoots himself, with no help needed from me or anybody else. (And just what does the author of Hebrews have to do with anything? Nice red herring, though.) Be, yourself, the change you want to see. Others, then, will follow. Hope this helps.
#42 Scott Walker on 2008-03-20 17:00
With few exceptions, those persons who post on this site do so because they see something in the OCA worth saving and fighting for despite its many failings. As you rightly point out, there are many fine Orthodox Christians in the OCA whose voices are frequently heard on this website, and many more uncomfortable participating in this type of forum (or gladiatorial combat ).
However, to imagine that the OCA is not infested with a clerical mindset similar to that found in Roman Catholicism is in my view mistaken. That is one of the underlying problems that has made this scandal possible and gets in the way of resolving it. Of course, not all clergy are guilty of clericalism, just as not all the laity are free of anti-clericalism. When and if we begin to function in the Church in a conciliar way respecting each others various roles, then this problem will begin to diminish.
#43 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-03-21 05:15
Here you are Fr. George- you can use that membership to paste this link:
I would paste everything that was written, but it was a really long comment regarding +Job and +Benjamin and +Nikolai
I believe that the poster believes you are the same person that signs his posts on the Yahoo! forum as "Fr. George de LA" - I always had the same belief, since both you and the other poster are from the AOCA and in California.
Is it you?
Hope all is well,
#44 Pachomius Eric on 2008-03-21 05:39
Perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that there are two Antiochian priests from California named Father George who have posted quite a bit here and on the Orthodox Forum . Fr. George Washburn , the priest who wrote this post, is from St. John the Evangelist Church in Orinda, CA. The other Fr. George, who posted on Orthodox Forum under the name of fathergiryus and who wrote post # 73045, is from Torrance, CA.
Whatever you may think of What Fr. George Washburn has written here (I personally agree with it, for the most part) you are jumping on him strenuously for something he did not write. Perhaps you would like to back off for a moment and reconsider.
#45 Ann McLarnan on 2008-03-21 08:44
You totally miss the point. You publicly discredited me instead of simply commenting on the subject being discussed.
And you can't even apolgize. All you do is make more excuses and in doing so get in a few more public digs in about me.
Shame on you.
You got away with this behaviour for years on the Indiana List, supporting Bishop Tikhon and discrediting Pokrov. But I think people here have you figured out.
(I'll dig up the posts in case you have forgotten)
Yes he is a company man but alas he works for another company. Perhaps he should invest more of his time in his own company (jurisdiction) and work to save the souls of those he shepherds and his own as well.
#47 Anon on 2008-03-21 09:40
I owe you an apology without qualification.
After reviewing some data, which should have been done beforehand, I made the inexcusable mistake of confusing you with another Antiochian Priest, Fr. George, somewhere in Los Angeles area, as best we can tell, who made those remarks on the Forum. Two Antiochian Fr. Georges in California led to one major league mistake. Recognizing that confusion, and the ensuing mistake, I correct the record that it was not you who wrote that message that I was referring to that angered so many.
You have my deepest apologies and it is I who am eating a humble pie, let alone just a slice. I ask your forgiveness not just for the written mistake, but for the lack of due diligence in making sure who I was aiming my anger at was the right person.
While hoping not to diminish my sincere apology, I do wish to aim what I said in my post at the appropriate Fr. George!
Again, my apologies.
#48 Anonymous on 2008-03-21 10:23
Thankyou--I was bothered by the acronym "SOB" as well. It seems totally inappropriate, especially after having been asked by the moderator to "be on our best internet behavior".
#49 barbara on 2008-03-21 11:20
Thursday this headline appeared on the first page of the Kodiak Daily Mirror: "ALASKA DIOCESE OFFICIAL VISITS KODIAK AS WORSHIPPERS CONTINUE TO COMMEMORATE BISHOP PUT ON LEAVE."
Last night I attended the Akathist to St. Herman at Holy Resurrection, and all I know for sure is that it was Fr. Innocent who continued to commemorate Bishop Nikolai, while I saw no evidence that the "worshippers" commemorated the Bishop. As a matter of fact--and I will blame this on my overactive imagination--Fr. Innocent's commemoration of Bishop Nikolai reverberated in a suddenly hushed church, while a palpable feeling of discomfort seemed to pervade the worshippers, many of whom (I know them personally) would not have been there had the Bishop been in attendance. As I said, I blame what I perceived on my overactive imagination--the same overactive imagination that led the Kodiak Daily Mirror to state that the worhippers at large continue to commemorate the Bishop, thus implying that the Kodiak parish stands solid behind Bishop Nikolai.
As to Fr. Innocent, I empathize with him. I see that he's caught between a rock and a hard place, and I cannot blame him for his stand.
I surely hope that this sad event in the history of the island where Orthodoxy first landed in America will soon be over, that all wounds will be healed, and that we will be able to spend more time on doing God's work instead of tearing the Church and one another apart in forums and on the front pages of newspapers more qualified to discuss the price of pollock and high school basketball games than such momentous affairs.
#50 herman on 2008-03-21 12:06
For whatever reason, you seem to be unwilling to accept the fact that not everyone wishes to follow what you think is best. Such intolerance is at the root cause of so much of what we currently suffer in the Church. I really could care less if people follow what I say. I care if they follow what Christ says. Your intolerance does not help.
#51 Anonymous on 2008-03-21 12:10
Thank you for your reflections Michael. Although I now belong to a parish in the Antiochian Archdiocese of America, I became an Orthodox Christian in a parish of the OCA and am blessed to have many brothers and sisters to love in the OCA. For all Orthodox Christians the Church, no matter the jurisdiction, is the Body of Christ. We believe that as God is our Father, the Church is our Mother. This mean that we are all part of the family of God.
As members of this family we are responsible to, and for each other. As you have pointed out Michael, we should all be accountable for our thoughts, words, and actions by stating who we are. We look to our fathers in the Faith, our bishops, priests, and deacons, as elder brothers in the Faith, to guide us in the way that leads to truth and life everlasting in communion with our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. When they fail in their calling to bring holy order to the family, we all suffer. Let us not forget however, that most of our bishops, priests, and deacons in all jurisdictions, fulfill their calling with great devotion and love.
#52 Marc Trolinger on 2008-03-21 14:53
Cappy's opinion of the Synod of Bishops is, like mine, based on how they have responded in the past to serious problems. It obviously includes, but is certainly not limited to, their inaction with respect to the molestations at Holy Trinity Cathedral. Will the Synod disappoint yet another group of petitioners? That, of course, remains to be seen. However, while we would both be delighted to be wrong, history suggests that optimism with regard to the outcome in this particular case may well be misplaced.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Maybe he is not anonymous because he is afraid. Maybe he is not anonymous because of an "incident". Maybe he is anonymous because he, like I, want to simply comment on the situation as regular parish goers, without having our name drag into the mix the organization we work for / our friends / or our families. Consider, for a moment, when Fr. Thomas Hopko's son spoke at New England's diocean meeting last fall. Suddenly, everyone thought that it was Fr. Thomas Hopko who spoke out, and began dragging in everything he ever said about the OCA and its bishops. It is people's nature to read much into everything, but sometimes I want what I say to be just me, just my own thoughts, just my own opinions. Take it or leave it of you want, but I really don't feel comfortable parading around my "authority" or "credentials" in order to get more people to take more seriously my own opinions.
Always yours, Anonymous
#54 Anonymous on 2008-03-21 16:30
Okay. Evade the substance of the criticism, hang a label-"intolerance" in this case-on your critic and change the subject. I didn't think the Metropolitan read this blog, but somebody certainly has a copy of his playbook. A blessed Lent to you.
#55 Scott Walker on 2008-03-21 18:41
Thanks to those who have helped unearth the text of the message that I was believed to have written, especially the Orthodox Forum administrator. It wasn't me.
I am actually relieved on two counts. The message itself exemplified what I was trying to speak against, and had it been from me "anonymous" would have been perfectly right to let me have both barrells! I was also relieved that I did not post such a message and then forget I had joined the forum or posted it!!
In one of those astounding glosses of logic that these exchanges seem to promote, Mr. Mize seems to generalize from my criticism of Cappy on the issue of bias some general invalidation by me of all the grief and pain posted anywhere on this site by everyone else. Please! In fact I believe that the tendency of Bishop Nikolai to consistenly cause so much pain to such a substantial percentage of his clergy and the faithful - I do not know how large, of course - outweighs what good he has done and means that he should no longer be the bishop.
Moses the Tlingit jumps to the conclusion that I am a company man for the OCA. I'm not. If Moses will look back at what I actually wrote I hope he will see that I specifically recommended that the posting of real news and substantive comment continue. I was only hoping that the more virulent would tone it down for a while.
I think the huge shortcomings of past OCA leadership cry out for change. I just don't think it is humane, let alone Christian, to issue blanket condemnations of all who believe it to be God's will for them to work for change from within, so to speak. Time will tell a lot, one hopes, about how skillfully and sincerely they pursue it.
I for one give MUCH importance to the fact that the bishops have unanimously voted to open this can of worms regardless of the reason. I give them credit for knowing darn well in advance that if it goes forward it will be most unpleasant. They voted to go forward anyway.
Which brings me to Cappy again. The original post to which I was responding is the first one in this group of reactions. She was #1 in line, it seemed to me, to quickly trumpet the belief that only the worst should be expected from OCA leadership. I felt that it was too pessimistic and faithless of an evaluation, and stated my belief that in turn arose from her long-standing feelings. She denies it. So be it. I still wish them well in doing what I believe is good for the church: education, comfort, and prevention. While acknowledging the big failures of past leadership, I do not think Cappy's categorical pessimism is good for the Church. We know her position. Let's wait and see.
So my plan now is to take my own advice and say as little as possible for a long time to come! This is other people's business more than it is mine, and I hope I have done little to make it worse.
#56 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-03-21 18:48
Dear Father George,
I apologize if you did not write that post. Please forgive me for jumping to that conclusion.
#57 no name on 2008-03-22 06:23
pokrov.org has a long list of clergy who have been prosecuted or deposed. Calling the OCA guidelines a "PR document" and a "farce" is simply untrue, and even slanderous. I know personally of one of the situations of deposed priests pokrov lists, and I know how aggressively hard evidence of wrongdoing was pursued. This most certainly is not something that is taken lightly.
#58 Anonymous on 2008-03-22 06:34
One flaw with the document is, however, that in the end the bishop(s) has(have) the ultimate say on things. Yes, they have gone after priests in the past. But there is a definite pattern of "if they don't really like you they go after you, and if they do like you they don't really persue it."
So I would say that the policies of the document are good -- it is not a "farce" -- but the honest application of it is lacking at times.
#59 Anonymous on 2008-03-22 10:40
In my relief at not having posted the offensive December message I neglected to be clear in thanking "anonymous" for his/her apology and accepting it completely, which I hereby do. I think his original remarks were actually a pretty appropriate reaction to a nasty and inappropriate post by the other Fr. George - a man I know and will tell of my sentiments. There was one small turn of phrase in the December message which sounded enough like my own writing that I was truly concerned that I might have written something so out of line and thereby pained the bishops and all the others who must have been offended. Whew - not this time, and hopefully not next either, but the more silent I am the better the chances!.
#60 Fr George Washburn on 2008-03-22 10:47
As a life long ORTHODOX, seventy seven years, do not start KNOCKING other CHRISTIAN CHURCHES. This is not what Christians do!
St. James - Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
P - 816-942-4671
C - 816-853-8685
E - firstname.lastname@example.org
F - 816 942-4671
"pokrov.org has a long list of clergy who have been prosecuted or deposed. Calling the OCA guidelines a 'PR document' and a 'farce' is simply untrue, and even slanderous."
As one of the principals of Pokrov, let me say that, in my opinion, the OCA sexual misconduct policy is basically a PR document.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Following your logic, we should not take serioulsy the letters from the clergy who have been hurt in Alaska. These men must be bitter and pessimistic so what they say must have no value.
We are praying for you.... Holy Pascha as we are approaching, I pray that you will have a warm, loving, joyous Pascha. And forgive me if this offends you- because I am from a clergy family.
#64 Wiinga on 2008-03-23 11:35
Moses the Tlingit doesn't jump to conclusions, Moses the Tlingit watches, observes and reports based on observed data. We Indigenous folks have lots of experience with Imperial Christianity, it is old hat to us, and we know EXACTLY what it looks and sounds like. Clergy behavior has become so predictable. It is easier to try and poke holes in folks like Cappy and myself than to go after the Orthodox Mafiosi, seeing how "angry and bitter" we are...I sometimes think the cassocks are too tight and tend to choke off blood supply to the brain.
Moses the Tlingit
#65 Moses on 2008-03-24 09:24
Cappy, very sorry, but your negativity is beginning to grate even me. I, also, found your post #1 offensive. Your utter loathing for everything the "SOBs" do is obvious. I agree with the poster that said that "SOB" is a disrespectful acronym, and "SOBs" should never be used. Not sure if by "SOBs" you actually meant the offensive acronym rather than just "Synod of Bishops" but given the tone, that's definitely how it comes across. In any case, I don't understand your comment about how we should stop "belly-aching" and start taking leadership...what kind of leadership? Do you want all the bishops to resign and then have no bishops at all, just us as "leaders"?
Yes, there are real and deep problems in the OCA. I don't know if it is due to "corruption" so much as simply a bygone subset of Carpatho-Rusyn thinking which mandated that bishops should be listened to without questioning, rules must be followed without questioning, and embarrassments are best to be ignored. I've run into numerous people with this mindset (which includes some of the bishops, but not all of them) who come from the same background, so I suspect that this is simply how they were brought up to think. What do you want to do, rewire their brains? It's not going to happen, it's absolutely psychologically impossible. Which is why I believe that it is best to not try to force this rewiring, rather, to work with the positives and strive for the better. Yes, it is not perfect, but I believe it will accomplish more than constantly being on the attack.
Look, I don't know your background, but you seem to me to be very offended still by it. Feeling hurt by church leaders, and hence the bishops of the whole is one thing. Attacking as "corrupt" all the current bishops (some of whom were likely not even around when your situation happened) is perhaps taking your anger a bit far. I fully believe that someone at sometime sinned against you greatly, but I wonder if perhaps you should be careful lest that sin of another cause your own soul to sin. Like Fr. George says, we should all be careful to keep misconduct from happening. You, perhaps, have the most to teach us in this regard, using your experience to help us learn how to keep another tragedy from happening. Right now, I feel that your negativity is keeping you from this, and I think that's sad.
#66 Anonymous on 2008-03-24 13:00
Thank You Wiinga-I wish you and your family a joyous Pascha as well.
Although I don't understand the "because I am from a clergy family" thing (?) One thing people who know me can tell you is that I abhor passive-aggressive behavior wrapped in a thin veneer of religiosity, although I know that isn't what you are doing, right? right? I come from a long line of Rabbi's from Lithuania, I guess that makes me "Clergy Family" too? ALthough they were considered sub-humans by most Christians...
Moses the Tlingit
#67 Moses on 2008-03-24 14:32
Now THAT is RICH! You're afraid to sign your name but, have no problem berating Cappy PERSONALLY. What utter GALL!
Frankly, she is not alone! Personally, it would not bother me IN THE LEAST, if the ENTIRE Synod was incarcerated! After two YEARS of this foolishness, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
So, Synod, prove me wrong! PLEASE!!!! Do SOMETHING worthwhile. For ONCE!
#68 Alexander Ivsky on 2008-03-25 05:46
I am not afraid to sign my name, I just do not consider it to be wise. What difference would it make who I am? I would still say the same thing. And I was not trying to berate Cappy, but simply indicate that I don't find her anger to be helpful. For that matter, I don't find your anger very helpful either. I don't know you or Cappy, and you very likely don't know me, except through this forum. And what I can see here is simply deep bitterness, and I wonder if that is really healthy for the soul.
You say you want to incarcerate the bishops. What, do you really want to take them out and burn them at the stake? Do you really think that would be wise, much less a Christian thing to do? If they have sinned against God and against us they will indeed have "hell to pay". The early Christian literature bluntly states that deacons, priests, and bishops who sin suffer the greatest punishment in hell. While they may be "deserving" of such punishment, we are also called to pray for the souls of others, this includes our bishops. That's why we pray for them and for the salvation of their souls at every Great Entrance, they need it more than all of us.
You clearly believe the bishops to be corrupt and faithless. and you might be right. However, we're the one's praying for them every week. If our prayers go unanswered perhaps it is because we ourselves are also corrupt and faithless. We're all in this together, and I don't think many of us are actually much better than our bishops. Which one of us knows for a sure fact that when faced with unaccounted money we wouldn't let our fingers get a bit sticky? Which one of us doesn't harbor in our hearts the idea of "what church should look like" and when given an ounce of authority to cause others to conform to that idea wouldn't leap at the chance? Which one of us has difficulty admitting that we are wrong? Sure, we could burn all the bishops at the stake, but then what? We'll still be as faithless as before.
Sure, I think the OCA has been run very poorly, mistakes were made, and sins were committed. We are right to be offended and grieved by those sins. But wallowing in despair, self-pity, negativity, and distress and then lashing out at the bishops in anger with vicious accusations does little to bring the light of Christ to an already bad situation.
#69 Anonymous on 2008-03-25 10:31
While there is plenty of information on our website concerning what Cappy and I personally experienced with the Synod of Bishops, since we went online with Pokrov in June, 1999, we have heard from many others who have had similar experiences. Cappy and I call it as we see it. Moreover, we put our names to our opinions.
Of the nine bishops who currently comprise the Synod, five were already hierarchs when Cappy and I began writing with our concerns in 1991. Of the four bishops who have since been consecrated, two, Bishop Benjamin and Bishop Nikolai, were both in the Diocese of the West at the time. Bishop Nikolai investigated the HTC molestations, and Bishop Benjamin represented the diocese at the legal mediation in 1994.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Actually, those "wallowing in despair, self-pity, negativity, and distress and then lashing out at in anger with vicious accusations" and pious platitudes are --the bishops! Yes, some on this site may also be accused (myself included) of reacting to this frustrating "pastoral" response in a harsh and aggressive manner, but it is the inevitable result of callous indifference of our leaders to the pleas of the Faithful for truth, repentance and appropriate reform.
You might better employ your efforts in reproving the source of the problem--not its victims.
#71 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-03-25 18:07
By my calculations, you still have two bishops unaccounted for. Hence, my nervousness at condemning all of the present bishops.
Look, I know personally of a situation where a priest abused someone greatly and the priest was suspended and deposed (and yes, its a situation that is on your website). I know all the ugly, obscene, and sinful details of what priests can do. I know all the incredible hurt it can cause. We are right to be offended and grieved by such things. But anger is still a sin, especially when it causes one to lash out at the innocent. From what I have seen here, it seems to me that Cappy does have a lot of anger. Does she have a "right" to be angry? Perhaps. Is it helpful for that anger to burn so hotly against our bishops that she is more than happy to damn them all? I don't think so. Anger has a tendency to take over our whole soul, our very being, and when Fr. George said that this colors all of Cappy, I think that that was what he was referring to.
You make it sound on here as if the bishops have a vast conspiracy to cover us sexual misconduct, and I disagree. Perhaps you are not aware, but there are women in this world who take personal pleasure in seducing and/or orchestrating the deposition of a cleric. There's something about the collar and the rush of the forbidden. These cases are real and can happen more often and more easily than we think. While the bishops have the job to investigate allegations of misconduct (this is their canonical job after all) they also have the job to protect their priests from this kind of harassment. This is a careful balance, and we may fault them for leaning too far one way or the other, but lashing out in anger or conspiracy theories does little to bring balance to any situation, much less this one. All it does is close the ears of the bishops to our concerns, making the situation even worse, and making ourselves even more frustrated and angry. Hence, I don't find Cappy's anger to be helpful to her cause. If you think that how investigations are done is faulty you have every right to offer suggestions on how they could be done better. You, I believe, know better than all of us. But it all goes in steps along a learning curve, and tearing down the first few steps isn't going to help any of us get to the top.
#72 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 06:06
I would just like to point out, since we are all hung up on the canons at the moment, that, canonically speaking the bishop does indeed have the final say in an investigation of one of his priests. We can believe that this is not good, but the fact remains that it is, in fact, canonical.
#73 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 08:38
Well said, Anonymous. Thank you for bringing to the forum a mature, Christian voice that doesn't deny reality, but is trying to bring it under the Lordship of Christ.
#74 Maureen Decaire on 2008-03-26 12:50
Oh-my-gosh! Now it' the women's fault!
#75 Oh Brother! on 2008-03-26 15:10
I come into this situation without any previous personal "baggage", only personal observation as a member of the OCA for many years with some knowledge of past and current events received through some very good and credible friends.
My disappointment with the synod, or at least about half of them, is the face that 6 of the sitting bishops were on the synod when the Kondratick scandals were building up and hit their peak and, most disturbing, THEY KNEW MUCH, IF NOT MOST OF WHAT HE WAS DOING. I can forgive them for their human error but I cannot trust them and I cannot accept the fact that they continue in their offices without admitting responsibility (except Ap Job who has been a good example).
#76 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 21:37
Your medieval attitude is very creepy! I guess women who get raped deserve it too? Frightening...and this is what passes for "Orthodox" these days? Yuck.
#77 Moses on 2008-03-27 10:20
Still think Cappy's post about the Synod of Bishops was angry? It looks to me like it was prophetic.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
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