Friday, March 21. 2008
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"You have to follow the rules with how they’re written,” Bishop Nikolai said. “If I was to comply with something that was not right, then I’m accepting the fact that we’re breaking the rules and that every other rule can be broken, too.”
This comment by + Nicolai in the newspaper is a red herring. The SOB aren't looking for a Canon Law lesson by a rogue bishop who has disobeyed the Metropolitan and the SOB. As has been mentioned previously, the particular canons + Nicolai sites are "guides." The letter of the law of these canons DO NOT supercede the authority of the SOB and Metropolitan. + Nicolai's interpretation underscores his misunderstanding of where the REAL authority lies in this case according to Orthodox Canon Law. The authority over him and the Diocese of Alaska lies with the Metropolitan and SOB.
#1 Anonymous on 2008-03-21 06:07
This is very good news. In this time of the year when the Church calls us all to put extra effort into overcoming our selfishness and to seek reconciliation so that our hearts will be receptive to our Lord's presence, let us pray that all the members of the Holy Synod will be filled with the Holy Spirit.
It is important to remember that even though we have been very disappointed by the behavior of some of these bishops in the past, the potential for the Holy Spirit to guide them to do what is meet and right for the Church remains.
#2 Marc Trolinger on 2008-03-21 06:40
O Lord Jesus Christ our God, look down upon Thy suffering servants, and grant them healing. Send down Thy Holy Spirit to guide our Holy Synod in the way which Thou would have them go. Grant good things of this world and the world beyond to all our Holy Bishops, and especially to His Beatitude Metropolitan Theodosius and His Grace Bishop Nicolai. Grant peace to our Church, which Thou hast planted in this land, that we may worship Thee in spirit and in truth. Grant our Holy Synod the wisdom to discern Thy will and the courage to do Thy will, and have mercy on us and save us, for as much as Thou are merciful and love mankind.
#3 Fr Andrew Moulton on 2008-03-21 06:41
Isn't it funny how last year it was "uncanonical" for -NS to attend the Synod Meeting during Lent, but this year it isn't? The will to survive is a powerful motivator.
L'etat c'est moi!
#4 Felix Culpa on 2008-03-21 07:01
Everyone in Western PA, and in fact, the entire OCA, should be watching this Nikolai catastrophe, review how it came to be, and be very vigilant that this is not repeated in the selection of a bishop for WPA. We now know what can come about when a person who is not suited, nor fit, to be a bishop is placed in that position. This must not happen again and the first test will be WPA.
Also, beware, WPA must make it known that, if there is a compromise with Nikolai, as the Synod, and Herman, is wont to do, that that compromise does not take the form of Nikolai moving to WPA. But then again, Nikolai, knowing his canons like the back of his hand, would declare that as uncanonical and… WPA doesn’t own land like Alaska so he doesn’t desire it anyway! If they do not suspend Nikolai, and all the ammunition is there for that to occur, they’re going to have to find somewhere to stick this guy lest they lose the entire Alaskan Church.
The selection of the WPA bishop, which has been lightly discussed, if at all, should be on the radar of everyone as a test of if things have changed, and be seen as a chance to start turning the SOB in a way that returns it to the original mission of the Church, away from being a society of the chosen.
#5 Anonymous on 2008-03-21 07:24
It was one thing for Herman, Seraphim and Nathaniel to do their "cloak and dagger" routine at the Lesser Synod and via phone calls to try and get rid of Nikolai. It will be an entirely different dynamic with Nikolai "in the house" as you put it. Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the meeting!!!
#6 Anonymous on 2008-03-21 11:05
Don't pop the cork to quickly, this man has spent his entire secular career schmoozing, charming, and tearing down both the useful and the expendable.
He is an abyss of ambition. A paragon of narcisistic self-love. One who bemoaned the possibility of never owning a Lexus again after moving to Alaska. One who planned his rise from hieromonk to archimandrite to chancellor of the Diocese of the West.
I will not rest until I see the word "suspended" after his name in the OCA magazine.
#7 Waiting in Alaska on 2008-03-21 13:14
No need to be a fly, here's how it will go.
+ Nicolai will try to provide a "self-righteous" defense and act as if he were above all those present. He will quote canons and raise his voice. The SOB will be calm and vote to suspend him. He will then threaten them with going public with secrets he keeps in his safe about the SOB. He will still be suspended if not deposed.
#8 Anonymous on 2008-03-21 13:18
Whatever candidates are chosen, the people of WPA must insist on several things. First, that their candidate have a SOLID ORTHODOX THEOLOGICAL TRAINING (an M. Div. from SVS or STOTS). Second, that a thorough background check be done on the candidate chosen with interviews of past associates. And finally, a complete psychological assessment be given. Without these, the WPA is asking for trouble. Why not be the first to re-instate the married episcopate?
#9 Anonymous on 2008-03-21 13:27
How very true, oh, how very true you are in writting the simplest words that you have put. Makes one wonder how he (BN) has survived thus far, no sleep, worries, pacing, and paining. Let us continue to pray for him, and ask openly that he forgives us and that he writes to the faithful forgiving them and asking for thier forgivenss.
Forgive Me a sinner on this blessed Great Lent
#10 Pauk on 2008-03-21 14:00
Look, I personally know the metropolitan and Bishop Nikolai. The Metropolitan was a wonderful bishop, but I just can't agree with almost everything he tries to do now. Wasn't it him who brought Bishop Nikolai to Alaska to try and straighten things out? And now the same priests who try to get rid of anyone who tells them to follow the rules are trying to get rid of them. This is all ridiculous, the Metropolitan has absolutely no right to ask Bishop Nikolai to take a leave of absence. The canons are there not as just a guide, it took an entire ecumenical council to create these laws and rules we live by, who are we to question it? Even the Metropolitan? He is only one man, as in not perfect, he has no right to ask Bishop Nikolai to take a leave of absence. IF charges are brought against Bishop Nikolai and IF he is found guilty, then he would step down, as the canons require.
#11 Stephanie on 2008-03-21 14:52
Is there any list of those who are considered episcopabile (to use the Latin term) for the Western Pennsylvania see?
Is there any possibility that the synod of bishops might merge it with the diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania?
What is the situation with the Bulgarian diocese? Are they expected to simply accept the bishop of Western Pennsylvania as their own, or are they looking for a bishop on an independent basis?
#12 Edmund Unneland on 2008-03-21 15:38
To The Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America:
Bishop Nikolai will have you for lunch.
#13 no name on 2008-03-21 15:58
Look, we all want +Nikolai gone. I'm hoping, like you, that he will be disposed of on the 27th. And, as I've said, I'm sure it won't be long before he's back in Vegas, or wherever.
But what you're saying is just not true. "The authority over him and the Diocese of Alaska lies with the Metropolitan and SOB." This is false. They do have authority over him, but it is not absolute. If bishops were subject to their local synods in an absolute way, the Church would not allow bishops who object to the decisions of their local synods to appeal to a larger group of bishops. The Synod only has authority to the extent that they obey holy tradition. If a synod -- that of the OCA or any other -- violates holy tradition, its decisions can be overruled by a larger group of bishops. This is an ancient practice, one which reveals the nature of the bond between a local Church and the whole of the Church on earth.
This is not about "the letter of the canon" -- as though what's at issue is some detail, (like, say, "They only sent one bishop to deliver the summons, but the canon says it has to be two"). No, this is about the spirit of the canon, about the whole reason the canon was written. And that is the basic principle that a bishop cannot be stripped of his authority unless his fellow bishops find that he really has done something to deserve it.
This has not happened, *even according to Met. Herman*. On March 7, +Herman wrote to +Nikolai that "There are no formal charges and our preliminary investigation into the character of the complaints should not be viewed as taking place of any statutory or canonical procedures, should they even be required." But the very next day, he announced that not only was the Bishop of Alaska forbidden to exercise his office -- the clergy of the diocese were no longer even to commemorate him. Instead, when the time came in the services to commemorate the diocesan hierarch, they were to name +Herman. Again, as the analysis Mark posted on the 10th pointed out, "no charges have been brought against Bishop Nikolai," and "a Leave of Absence is not a punishment."
Well, if there are no charges and no punishment, then a bishop can't be removed from his position. That's not a detail about the canonical tradition here, that's its point.
There are several reasons why I believe it's unwise of the Synod to ignore this, and why it could blow up in our faces, but it's in my previous posts, and I've already repeated myself somewhat here.
#14 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-21 18:56
Perhaps better to say "Captain Queeg will be on shore duty for a time"?
#15 anon on 2008-03-21 23:12
I had the opportunity to meet with Fr Alexander Garklavs and I must say that I am grateful that I did...
I believe that I understood what I was told, I also believe that Fr Innocent continues to do the opposite of what he was told; he did it in front of Fr Alexander - more than once.
I am only now awaiting to see what it is that our Synod will do...or not do...
The ball is in their court for the final play of the game!
There is more I would like to say... but wont... not now at least.
#16 Ted Panamarioff - Kodiak Alaska on 2008-03-22 05:34
Maybe you don't know MH, but "cloak and dagger" isn't his routine. It definitely isn't the routine of BS, BN, I don't know, so maybe, I guess.
I have seen MH in action a few times and there were a few things that stood out. One, he doesn't like to be played a fool. Two, he can't stand it when people use him just to cross him. Over the past few years Nicolai has done nothing but hound MH every decision, calling every little thing uncanonical. (I didn't know teleconferencing was considered by Trullo, but I guess he thinks that it was). He has been constantly trying to usurp MH authority and humiliate him. MH, I believe, has had quite enough. Who wouldn't? Why throw Nicolai out now? Because he can. He honestly, truly, can throw out the one member of the Synod who has always been there to cause division and strife and confusion. So he will. Sure, it will be on the childish level of "you didn't do what I told you to do", but even that, indeed, is MH's right.
#17 Anonymous on 2008-03-22 06:09
How about a candidate who is filled with the Holy Spirit, humble and gentle, longsuffering and with genuine love for the flock. A seminary education is unable to provide these virtues, which should be first and foremost in the mind of those select the next bishop of WPA. No psych exam will suffice in regard to this.
#18 Rich on 2008-03-22 11:05
Sorry, but what MH first asked for was for BN to go on vacation for a few weeks. A "leave of absence" is not a punishment, and therefore it is not uncanonical. A "leave of absence" is the agreed upon procedure of the OCA to investigate allegations of abuse. If the Synod of Bishops agree upon a certain procedure it can, in all right, be considered a "canonical" procedure for everywhere the OCA has jurisdiction.
MH only ordered BN to cease being commemorated after BN had publicly refused to follow this procedure, hence breaking the agreed upon "canon" of the OCA. It is rather ironic, since BN was on the Synod which ratified this procedure in the first place. If it truly was uncanonical, he should have complained then, not now. Though, I seem to remember him complaining about how he didn't like much of the document, but the other bishops overruled him. Hence, it is binding upon him to follow the procedure, no matter how he feels about it.
#19 Anonymous on 2008-03-22 14:18
I care about the canons too -- and with friends like +Nikolai, the canons don't need enemies.
" IF charges are brought against Bishop Nikolai"? You mean, like charges for being physically violent with his subdeacon? For making a reader of a man lately convicted of an infamous crime? (And then lying about when he suspended him? Doing that could be viewed as disobedience to the Synod in itself.) Or maybe you mean one of the other possibilities.
You say it is all about "the same people who try to get rid of anyone who tells them to follow the rules." First of all, let's have the names of these many people who "they" have tried to get rid of. And even this would not explain why even young native clergy and non-OCA members also have spoken out about Nikolai. Or how it is that some native clergy who have called for his removal have said themselves that the diocese did need more order.
Also: the canons are a guide. Do you know what would happen if all the canons were literally applied? Let me ask you -- did you eat more than twice during Clean Week? Have you ever done anything technically worthy of excommunication, yet not been excommunicated for the full length prescribed by the canon? (Hint: just about everyone has.)
So the canons are not laws in the sense that you describe them. But there is a problem comes when "a guide" somehow comes to mean "something to do the opposite of." Which is why I too say that +Nikolai needs to be charged with something, something unrelated to this "Leave of Absence" controversy.
It's a pity that the fact that he hasn't been is causing some to say -- and in several cases, I am sure, such as yours, also to think -- that there's nothing to charge him with after all.
#20 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-22 14:27
Well, "fellow Orthodox Christian," you sound as if you are + Nicolai himself. The authority over + Nicolai and the Diocese of Alaska lies with the Met. & SOB - PERIOD. He can appeal to Pat. Bartholomew, Pat. Alexei or whoever he wants. His DISOBEDIENCE, his GOING PUBLIC MAKING ACCUSATIONS, his OVERALL CONDUCT is enough that he should be suspended. No one in Alaska wants him and his conduct has proven that he should have never been a bishop. This is enough for his suspension and/or being deposed. Hopefully, Pat. Alexei will take him and make Bishop of Outer Mongolia.
#21 Anonymous on 2008-03-23 10:50
It is just this very type of thinking that goes against the efforts of Saint Tikhon in bringing about concilarity. I encourage you to read the editorial by Leonid Kishkovsky in "The Orthodox Church" newsletter. It is perhaps one of the most well written articles on the subjects our church has faced and I encourage Mark to post it as a reflection if he can.
It is this type of thinking that results in Bishops who rule like autocrats and believe they are only accountable to the Synod, or in your case only accountable to even the Synod under a Spiritual Court. You see, when the Bishops aren't accountable to the people, aren't accountable to the clergy, aren't accountable to the Synod, and are only accountable to a Spiritual Court; we don't have a church.
As I have stated fervently, the greatest disappointment in the RSK and now Nikolai issues are that the church only responds when [the issues] exceed the limits of reasonableness.
This time, Metropolitan Herman and the Synod, as badly as we would like to dislike him and them for blatantly mismanaging the church, at least financially, is/are seeing that he/they cannot allow the church to behave in this way.
Unlike the US allowing brutality to rule the day in Iraq's assassination of Saddam which was a continuation of the same behaviors, I would hope the OCA finds a better path than simply deposing Nikolai for his clear violation of a canon.
I would hope the OCA learns that Bishops are never imfallible and need to be reprimanded when they behave badly.
Many people in Alaska have had it with the man. I would not think keeping him there is wise at this point. However, there is no reason for any of us to expect another Nikolai won't come around someday and kick and old lady out of her home.
The Synod needs to see this and make laws and rules that stop these chief priests and pharisees from becoming hypocrites.
#22 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-03-23 13:56
What? Is he the Cookie Monster?
#23 Anonymous on 2008-03-23 19:38
Well, we now have it. + Nicolai has revealed to several associates his defense before the SOB of the 27th. Everyone has been wondering what his possible defense could be or could it even hold water. Now that it has been revealed, he has a point. His defense is: "March Madness." UNLV didn't make it!
#24 Anonymous on 2008-03-24 07:43
By Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko
"The Orthodox Faith" - Doctrine
There are canon laws of ecumenical councils, of provincial and local councils, and of individual church fathers which have been received by the entire Orthodox Church as normative for Christian doctrine and practice. As a word canon means literally rule or norm or measure of judging. In this sense the canon laws are not positive laws in the juridical sense and cannot be easily identified with laws as understood and operative in human jurisprudence.
The canons of the Church are distinguished first between those of a dogmatic or doctrinal nature and those of a practical, ethical, or structural character. They are then further distinguished between those which may be changed and altered and those which are unchangeable and may not be altered under any conditions.
The dogmatic canons are those council definitions which speak about an article of the Christian faith; for example, the nature and person of Jesus Christ. Although such canons may be explained and developed in new and different words, particularly as the Church Tradition grows and moves through time, their essential meaning remains eternal and unchanging.
Some canons of a moral and ethical character also belong to those which cannot be changed. These are the moral canons whose meaning is absolute and eternal and whose violation can in no way be justified. The canons which forbid the sale of Church sacraments are of this kind.
There are, in addition, canons of a quite practical nature which may be changed and which, in fact, have been changed in the course of the life of the Church. There are also those which may be changed but which remain in force since the Church has shown the desire to retain them. An example of the former type is the canon which requires the priests of the church to be ordained to office only after reaching thirty years of age. It might be said that although this type of canon remains normative and does set a certain ideal which theoretically may still be of value, the needs of the Church have led to its violation in actual life. The canon which requires that the bishops of the Church be unmarried is of the latter type.
It is not always clear which canons express essential marks of Christian life and which do not. There are often periods of controversy over certain canons as to their applicability in given times and conditions. These factors, however, should not lead the members of the Church to dismay or to the temptation either to enforce all canons blindly with identical force and value or to dismiss all the canons as meaningless and insignificant.
In the first place, the canons are "of the Church" and therefore cannot possibly be understood as "positive laws" in a juridical sense; secondly, the canons are certainly not exhaustive, and do not cover every possible aspect of Church faith and life; thirdly, the canons were produced for the most part in response to some particular dogmatic or moral question or deviation in the Church life and so usually bear the marks of some particular controversy in history which has conditioned not merely their particular formulation, but indeed their very existence.
Taken by themselves, the canon laws of the Church can be misleading and frustrating, and therefore superficial people will say "either enforce them all or discard them completely." But taken as a whole within the wholeness of Orthodox life -- theological, historical, canonical, and spiritual --- these canons do assume their proper place and purpose and show themselves to be a rich source for discovering the living Truth of God in the Church. In viewing the canons of the Church, the key factors are Christian knowledge and wisdom which are borne from technical study and spiritual depth. There is no other "key" to their usage; and any other way would be according to the Orthodox faith both unorthodox and unchristian.
#25 Anonymous on 2008-03-24 08:29
Thanks for posting this item. Of course, the "fundamentalists" and "legalistically inclined" amongst us will not be happy with this definition and description of the Canons, and how they should function, but it makes eminently good sense to me.
#26 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-03-24 09:39
What if your assumptions are wrong about the Bishop attending the meeting. You sound like you are in control. HUH.
(Editor's note: I made no assumptions about the Bishop attending or not. The Bishop is quoted in the Kodiak Daily Mirror as saying he would attend. Now he is reported to be hesitating about attending. I have simply reported his comments as he made them....)
#27 Anonymous on 2008-03-24 10:43
I would not dichotomize, here. The qualities you list are undeniably important and must be at the forefront of consideration. On the other hand, a seminary degree does say something positive about the candidate. The person has a certain breadth of knowledge that will be useful and had been under the watchful eye of professors. Though faculty cannot catch everything that should be a "red flag," it is helpful. Psychological evaluations are also useful tools and I, for one, think they should be required before being admitted to a seminary. All of these things should work together. I don't think we should be dichotomizing, here. Let us use what abilities God has given us as a Church to further the ministry of Christ.
"Yield authority in your diocese if you want, but if you don't then we'll make you," has nothing voluntary about it. It is a flat order, and a bishop cannot be deprived of his office, permanently or temporarily, without a determination of guilt.
The OCA statutes are not in harmony with the canons just because they exist. Canonicity is not a question of the majority rule of one local synod. It is what it is.
You are right that the non-commemoration edict was given after he refused to leave. You forget that the Synod never suspended or deposed +Nikolai for disobedience or anything else. As it is, the edict looks like an alpha-dog maneuver on +Herman's part, an escalation of a continuing conflict. But this is an edict only appropriate as the end of the conflict, when the deposition is ordered. That's our tradition.
And it's not hard to fulfill. I will repeat that +Nikolai could have been deposed by now , and with no way to object, if the Synod had acted in accordance with the canons. What they did was highly irregular, and it seems to have been done for no good reason. That is wrong.
I have said everything I have to say in my previous posts, and I do not think any new points are being raised. Unless there are any, I think I will have to simply resign myself to disagreement with you.
Please forgive me if I have offended you. It was not my intention, and I know that you want, as I do, for justice to prevail in Alaska, and for the faithful there to be placed in the pastoral care of far better hands.
#29 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-24 11:19
You say I "sound like +Nikolai." I know that. It repulses me. You ought to consider what a mistake it was for the Synod to hand him reasonable arguments to make.
(But if you mean to say that I'm his supporter, you're welcome to view my reply to comment #8 in this thread, posted simultaneously with your own.)
#30 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-24 11:33
One would assume the candidate(s) would have all the attributes you mention. Education, background checks and a psychological evaluation are just as necessary. Apparently with + Nicolai, no one really checked the list for any of these!
#31 Anonymous on 2008-03-24 11:37
I'm hardly a Nikolai defender, but this whole process seems like a plan to shuttle Nikolai out of his diocese gone awry. That is to say, one gets the real impression that the Holy Synod wanted Nikolai to depart quietly, and gave him the opportunity to do so without being deposed. Nikolai, of course, will have nothing to do with that. So now we have a completely messed-up situation where a diocesan hierarch is being told:
1. to take a compulsory leave of absence (something that the canons do not address),
2. to vacate his diocese (especially strange, since the canons require a hierarch to reside within his diocese), and
3. to be removed from the commemorations at the parish level (something only done when a bishop is no longer the bishop for the diocese; we certainly all commemorated Met. Theodosius while he was on extended leave of absence for medical reasons).
Why doesn't the Holy Synod show some stones by following the procedural requirements to convene a spiritual court, gathering the evidence needed for the proceedings, and then conducting the proceedings with whatever outcome it yields?
Nikolai appears to have made a complete mess of Alaska, inflicting much spiritual damage in the process. No one has accused him of being a fool, however, and a fool is what he would be if he voluntarily left his own diocese. Does anyone REALLY think he'll be returning once he does that, regardless of what this "investigation" would yield?
#32 BB on 2008-03-24 15:07
I disagree that a leave of absence is the same as yielding authority. He was ordered to leave because an investigation needed to take place, and it is thought by many that the presence of BN would prejudice the witnesses and the evidence of such an investigation, therefore, he was asked to leave.
I refer you to the OCA policy statement on Sexual Misconduct:
9.01. Interim Actions Pending Resolution
(a) If allegations of sexual misconduct involve a member of the clergy as a respondent, the Bishop will inform him of the complaint and may, pending resolution of the allegations, suspend him, with pay, from further service in the Church under such terms and conditions as the Bishop determines appropriate.
If we really want to follow the canons then you would also have to say that this policy is uncanonical. A priest is attached to an altar, and is bound to it. Yet in this policy a priest can be immediately barred from his altar by a simple allegation of misconduct. Canons or no, I think we can all agree that this is common sense. If a priest is accused of committing misconduct with teenage girls while hearing their confessions, how many parents would let their children continue going to confession to him while the investigation takes place? Much less receive communion from his hand? Would knowing that they would have to face the priest in a few days as their spiritual father cause those who had been abused so much fear that they are unable to give testimony? The only, the only difference in this case is that it is a bishop who is being accused, not a priest. But the same principles apply. As well as the same application of the canons.
A bishop being asked to go on a leave of absence does not break the residency rule any more than a priest being bared from his altar break his attachment to that altar. According to your logic, a priest who is bared from his altar because of the investigation of abuse would be right to tell his bishop to take a hike and continue to celebrate liturgies at his altar anyways. Is this really what we want? We begged and pleaded for these misconduct guidelines, and when they came out we called them a farce and that they weren't strict enough. Yet when we see them applied we all get our panties in a twist and start complaining about canons. If they're so uncanonical, we should have complained about them when they were adopted, not now a few years down the line. Our bishops are probably all scratching their heads at the moment wondering "what*ever* do these people want from us???"
#33 Anonymous on 2008-03-24 19:22
Was +Nikolai going to have authority in his diocese, or not, while he was on his leave of absence? He was not. And did he have it before? He did. So I think we can say he was being told to yield his authority. It doesn't matter what term is being used.
First of all, let's be clear: it would be an extreme economia for a bishop to suspend a priest without ecclesiastical trial. That's why you used the example you did. Now, consider that the relationship between a priest and his parish is not like the one that exists between bishop and his diocese. "Where the bishop is, there is the Church." (I know that these statements of the fathers can be twisted; but they are not false.) The removal of a bishop is a matter of an altogether different order. Neither is the relationship between a priest and his bishop like that between a bishop and his synod. So, no -- the cases aren't similar.
"What," you might ask, "if a bishop were being accused of molesting children?" That would be a dilemma. Of course, it's not the one we're in now. But: if the Synod were at the point of demanding a leave of absence in order to investigate child molestation, the police would be involved, and one hopes, an arrest made. That's Caesar's job. If Caesar's not up to the task, then things change. In that case the Church surely has a legal and moral obligation to protect alleged victims and possible future victims by removing the bishop for a time. That is an example of adaption of the canons to special needs of the present day. I think anyone would have to admit, at the very least, that it is arguably such an adaption.
But what special needs of the present day call for the novelties we see in this case? Are modern Americans in greater danger from vengeful Church authority than subjects in the Byzantine Empire? Are bishops now so much more powerful than then? No and no. And in the present case, there's already a ream of letters from witnesses who are obviously unafraid of +Nikolai; so this was an especially flimsy justification for ordering him out.
As for your head-scratching-bishops image -- well, what can I say? These guidelines deal with sexual misconduct, which is not the reason being given for demanding +Nikolai's leave of absence. But even if this were the reason being given, the guidelines wouldn't help much. After all, they don't address episcopal wrongdoing, as the Synod members well knew when they adopted them.
So I'm having trouble feeling sympathy.
#34 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-25 15:40
[My apologies. This was supposed to be a reply to 1.1.2, above. I can't seem to put it there, though; comments on the entry are evidently disabled. Mark: Perhaps this is broken?]
#35 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-25 15:47
"Was +Nikolai going to have authority in his diocese, or not, while he was on his leave of absence? He was not."
I disagree. He was. On the initial voluntary leave of absence he would still have authority over, and still be the ruling bishop of the diocese. He was asked to leave in order to let an unobstructed investigation take place, during which no judgment was made upon his position. The only thing he would be disallowed from doing is communicating to, whether in a threatening or unthreatening manner, with the witnesses.
I've said it elsewhere, and I'll say it again here. The canon about residency does not apply to this situation, no matter how much BN whines that it does. If it truly did, then every time a bishop goes to Syosset for a meeting, or otherwise steps foot outside their diocese, they would fall under the charge of "abandoning" their diocese. This is, of course, just silly. Which is probably why MH got so angry when BN brought it up.
Simply put, the canons say nothing about how an investigation is to happen, except that it is to be conducted by one's bishop. Indeed, the canons say absolutely nothing about a thing called a "Spiritual Court" either, are we also going to say that that's uncanonical because the canons don't mention it? All the bishops, including BN, got together and agreed that when under investigation a cleric could be suspended from his duties. This is more than "extreme oikonomia" this is a modern innovation born out of the fact that the canons say little about how to conduct an investigation and the fact that the OCA could be legally liable for abuse that happens while an investigation is taking place. BN seems to be more than happy to apply this policy to others, but when the shoe is on the other foot he turns into a 2-year-old have a temper tantrum. If I were MH, I would be absolutely steamed at him too.
#36 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 05:39
And what "authority" do you think Herman actually has? In fact, Herman has been acting more like a RC Pope then an Orthodox bishop in dealing with church affairs. A man who did not even graduate from college, and got a pastoral degree, is leading our church now.
Please define the "authority" of the metropolitan. If you study this question, you will discover that Pope Herman has overstepped his duties many times, of which Nikolai was one bishop who called him on it.
There is nothing wrong with that.
#37 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 12:50
Oy! Is MH the Metropolitan of All America and Canada or not? Since last time I checked Alaska was within the bounds of "All America" then he is the Metropolitan there. He is, in fact, BN superior, and as such he has the canonical right to investigate him if he chooses. If you have been paying attention you would have noticed that original communiques MH had with BN at the start of this investigation were done with the cooperation of the Lesser Synod, i.e three bishops. You can't get much more canonical than that. No I don't think MH is infallible and no I don't think he has absolute power. But in some things he does, indeed, have authority, and this is one of them.
I am not aware of BN having "called" MH to task for doing something anything actually overreaching his authority. MH calls a meeting of the Synod (which is, in fact, his job ), BN refuses to go. MH then suggests that they meet by telephone so BN can participate, but even that, alas, BN refuses. He not only refuses, he accuses MH of being "uncanonical". Sounds to me that the situation is more like BN trying to assert his own authority. Unless you can enlighten me on more weighty, and much less infantile, ways BN has "stood up" to MH I will persist in believing that it is BN who is on little more than an ego-trip.
#38 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 19:03
Thank you for your reply. I've posted comments on the above in the next thread, where I propose we move further exchanges. But I had two notes on matters that are highly specific to this thread:
1) Let me reiterate that a bishop is not the same kind of cleric as a priest. Their roles in the Church are not simply analogous. The sexual misconduct guidelines don't apply to bishops -- and, even if they did, alleged sexual misconduct has not been advanced as the reason for demanding the leave of absence.
2) Canon 6 speaks of charges being brought before a group of bishops assembled for the purpose of evaluating those charges. Surely the fact that the particular phrase "spiritual court" does not appear is trivial.
#39 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-26 21:04
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