Monday, March 24. 2008
Your comments on the issues facing the Metropolitan Council, the Synod, the SIC and the PCC are all welcome.
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That should read Easton, PA, not "Eaton"
#1 Anonymous on 2008-03-24 08:50
As regarding confidentiality of the proceedings of the MC meetings, perhaps the MC members should reread Alexander Brody's early ocanews.org Reflection on Censorship/Self Censorship.
#2 Karen Jermyn on 2008-03-24 10:50
I think it would be very helpful to your readers if you would publish the names of the people on the MC who are pushing for complete confidentiality for their work, with punishments for violators.
I for one find this idea quite chilling in light of all that has gone down in the OCA of late. We need more openness, not less, if we are going to get through this period in our church. Please don't give these people who want complete confidentiality for the meetings of the MC the cloak of darkness they so desperately desire--tell us who they are! The last thing we need in the OCA is another set of insiders controlling all the information going out to the church at large. The members of the clergy and laity are well past the point where we are going to stand for that! The MC is not a secret society—they are supposed to be serving the church, not hiding information from it.
#3 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2008-03-24 11:29
"The Bishop is now stating he has not decided whether to attend the Synod meeting or not;"
The Bishop reserves the canonical right to be wishy today and washy tomorrow!
This is becoming a farce! Bishop Nikolai should stop being a primadonna and should go to the Synod meeting to face those who have made accusations against him. By not going he would only prove either that he is guilty and afraid of the Synod or that he thinks himself above the Synod itself.
#4 herman on 2008-03-24 12:42
All those who have come before the SIC (at least the new SIC) have had their testimony taped. Now why do you think that Archimandrite Zacchaeus and his attorney, Alexandra Mankowsky (formerly the lead attorney for the old SIC and Faith Skordinski) have demanded that unless there is no taped recording of Zacchaeus' testimony, he will not appear?
This "archimandrite" is so deep into this whole affair that unless his testimony is made public, one will never have confidence in the conclusions of the investigation.
Do I smell a continuing coverup?
#5 DT on 2008-03-24 14:57
It looks like Bishop Nikolai is going to skate through his meeting with the Holy Synod without any repurcussions based on the timeline he has on his website. I'm not a fan of his but it certainly looks like the folks in Syosset unfortunately dropped the ball once again. The "official" report from Syosset regarding Sidebottom was never released. The canons referenced by the Holy Synod in the letter to Bishop Nikolai were misapplied (he was never formally accused of anything nor deposed). Asking someone to take a leave of absence and then telling his diocese not to pray for him (again, keep in mind he was not suspended or deposed) can't possibly be correct.
And while we're at it, can someone explain to me how it is that the Holy Synod can ask Bishop Nikolai to take a leave of absence while an investigation is under way yet somehow the same standard wasn't applied to Metropolitan Herman?
As I said, I'm not a fan of Bishop Nikolai but the way the OCA is going about trying to rid of the guy just doesn't make any sense.
#6 Anonymous on 2008-03-24 19:51
Does Herman think we are stupid with all of these groups and people meeting to cover up his involvement in the scandal ? MH needs to stop with these bogus groups and go to the police. We all know if anyone really stole millions they would be in jail.
Herman if you can't admit your involvement in excessive money spening , take off the robes and join RSK. Everyone including the bishops should be investigated by people outside the church. MH everyone knows you'll rig it so you come out clean as a whistle.
#7 Hope on 2008-03-25 05:18
This is the best posting ever including the Reflections (epistles) that are on record.
Not revealing all of the players, and information will be another (B--l S--t) session, and an expensive one at that.
The OCA will be the laughing step-child of ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS if we keep this up!!
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
Would the SIC commission interview Father Oleg Kirilov who was the Priest in Charge of St Catherines OCA Cathedral in Moscow prior of Archimandrite Zacchaeus? He had boasted that he knows a lot about the ADM funds designated for St Catherines....
#9 A on 2008-03-25 07:14
Let's do the math.
A dozen or so letters from clergy and laity in Alaska stating in clear terms that Bishop Nikolai is a bully and maybe even worse.
FLASH...........from Syosset............HERMAN STATES "WE MUST DO SOMETHING"
Now, we have over 1000 people in the Church who have signed a petition for Herman to step down.
FLASH.........from Syosset.............HERMAN STATES "THESE PEOPLE ARE FROM THE DEVIL"
So I guess one can conclude if you are FOR HERMAN its ok, but if you are AGAINST HERMAN, you are from the Devil.
Wake up people. Herman is playing all of us for fools and we just go along with it and ignore the real devil in our midst.
HERMAN MUST GO. HERMAN MUST GO. HERMAN MUST GO.
#10 Anonymous on 2008-03-25 08:45
True....all they need to do is depose him for the fact he knowingly tonsured a convicted criminal into the lesser orders. That's sleazy enough on his part to warrant his deposition.
#11 Anonymous on 2008-03-25 10:36
Unfortunately, I think we already are. Now the Greek Bishop in Boston forbids his clergy to serve with OCA clergy. What is that all about?
(+Methodius, according to his letter on the OCL site, is angry that there is more than one Orthodox Bishop of Boston besides himself. Why he suddenly chose this moment to protest a situation that exists, in many cities across the nation, has perhaps more to do with his not being invited to attend an Albanian celebration at St. George's OCA cathedral led by the Primate of the Albanian Church. Since that celebration was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Albanian language liturgy ( that is, the first liturgy served not in Greek, but Albanian) the question of inviting, or not inviting a Greek Bishop, was awkward. Since multiple holders of the "same" see are not going away for the foreseeable future, it is unclear how this moves the question forward....)
#12 Anonymous on 2008-03-25 10:38
Mark, how do people get you to post letters on the front page? There is a very important letter from someone in Kodiak that was posted on www.dioceseofalaska.org today, from someone who was at the meetings in Kodiak but I didn't know how to send it other than in this forum.
#13 Marie on 2008-03-25 12:10
What's interesting is there are 100 people in Alaska asking for +Nikolai to be removed (for lack of a precise number, I'm completely guessing), how many THOUSANDS signed the petition to have Herman removed? Who will tell Herman to take of leave of absence while everything is sorted out? Who will tell all of North America and Canada to STOP elevating Herman's name during the liturgy?
#14 Peter Pappas on 2008-03-25 14:00
I think you are taking things out of context.
What I believe certain members of the MC are saying is, let's not allow what transpires during our meeting to somehow, someway make it to this website before any minutes are posted or summary report is made public.
Too often, information somehow and someway made it to this site before the chairs had an opportunity to cool off from the fannies sitting in them during previous meetings.
How was this possible if Mark wasn't present at those meetings? Someone who was there willfully and deliberately provided information.
One of the problems within our church Cathy is that certain individuals have a need to know all of the juicy details.
They feel it is their God-given right. Well you know what, I for one am at the point where I just want the problems to be fixed. I don't need or want to know everything. Have your meeting, discuss what needs to be discussed, take action if necessary and get on with life.
In the words of Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind fame, "frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."
(editor's note: Sorry, Mike, but some of us still give a damn. If the MC members seeking to restrict information beyond legal and personnel matters (which should legitmately be kept confidential) think the way to do it is to "bind" MC members of not reveal things that happened in the meeting, they are sorely mistaken as to how such information makes it way to the people such as me. As I have said repeatedly: there are no leaks in the OCA; its a wetlands. Draining it will not accomplish anything besides killing all life, and turning the church into a desert. If that is their goal, our long defeat continues. But it will not stop the flow of information in an information age, anymore than you can halt the tide or light overcoming the darkness. )
#15 Michael Geeza on 2008-03-25 14:07
I hope something this important doesn't stay buried for long.
#16 ethelrod on 2008-03-25 16:38
You too are missing my point. Yes, the truth needs to be told. However, it doesn't need to be told to your website before their meetings are even completed.
I believe the actions of certain MC members during past meetings were childish and they should have been called on the carpet for not keeping their mouths shut until the meetings were over.
These actions are what I suppose they are trying to stop.
You know it and I know it.
So please Mark, stop putting your spin on what I say.
(Editor's note: I am often accused of missing the point, but rarely does the charge stick. I have never, ever, published details of an MC meeting while it was in session. I always wait till the meeting is over, and in a vast majority of cases, several days. If one waited until the Minutes were published one would be waiting weeks - and in some cases we would never have been told what transpired. What has Syosset's knickers in a knot is that I have often published contradictory information to the version they wanted set forth; and in each instance my version was more accurate and complete than the "spin" they attempted. One has no need to look further than the infamous "Statement" in 2006 to see evidence of that. One hopes such days are long behind us. So, yes, Mike, we do both know what is going on. The trouble is, for you, I will continue to inform the OCA of it as long as I, and my associates, are able.)
#17 Michael Geeza on 2008-03-25 17:07
At the funeral of ROCOR First-Hierarch Metropolitan Laurus, the MP's Metropolitan Yuvenaly refused to concelebrate with the OCA delegation. +Tikhon of EPA stood in the altar, while +Yuvenaly concelebrated with the 6 ROCOR bishops, the Serbs, and the Antiochians.
The day before that, Metropolitan Herman served a panikhida in Jordanville but was asked to leave and not stay for the funeral. Thus, the OCA delegation at the funeral was limited to +Tikhon, and Frs. Behr and Kishkovsky, none of whom was invited to serve.
#18 Anonymous on 2008-03-25 17:45
I don't know if "important" is the word. The document is accusatory and placed mostly in the pronoun of "you". I don't need to read another person trying to represent another person. The document would have been far better if it was put in the person of "I", i.e the person writing it.
Furthermore, I find it to be unintelligent in places. Unfortunately, the page it is on disallows me from copying and pasting text, but I refer you Page 2 Paragraph 4. BN is not the current bishop of Alaska, and also not deposed, because he has simply not been stripped of the rank of a bishop. It's not that hard to figure out. The Greek church has a-geographical bishops as a rule (Met. Kallistos is a shining example). One can question whether or not this is a good thing (even whether or not it is canonical) but it is normal in modern Orthodoxy. BN, simply put, is suspended from his duties, not deposed. Originally, the suspension was to be only temporary, but due to his disobedience it is quickly on its way to becoming permanent. I don't understand what is difficult about this, it's not illogical at all. BN agreed to the document which allows for the suspension of clergy who come under investigation of misconduct. What, is it good enough and canonical enough for others but not good enough or canonical enough for him? What hypocrisy.
The deal is that the canons say ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about how an investigation is to take place. Saying a "leave of absence" is uncanonical is only done by extension from the canons which mandate that a bishop reside in his diocese. Yes, but does "reside" mean *all the time*? If so, then every time a bishop goes to Syosset, or goes on a trip anywhere, he is being uncanonical and abandoning his diocese. It's silliness. BN was only asked to leave his diocese temporarily. He was not reassigned. He was not deposed. When he was insubordinate MH took over governance of the diocese, but, pending the conclusion of the investigation, BN has not been reassigned or deposed. Saying all this is illogical or uncanonical is little more than a bait-and-switch. BN has us all bunched up in a little canonical ball, making us think that he understands the better than everyone. I'd bet you anything that if was offered the position of Metropolitan he wouldn't have a bit of trouble abandoning his diocese, numerous canons which order excommunication for bishops who transfer their sees notwithstanding.
#19 Anonymous on 2008-03-25 18:38
We must remember that the incidents alleged to have taken place here are CRIMES. Sexual assault and Domestic Violence are CRIMES, not violations of some religious practices or canons. Why then are these CRIMES not being investigated by Alaskan Law Enforcement????? Since when are major crimes in Alaska investigated by Priests from New York?????? Are Orthodox Christians to become like the the Orthodox Jews who have their own laws and court systems? Are we trying to set the precedent that any clergyman accused of a crime can be investigated and tried by the Synod of Bishops or Special Investigations Committee and therefore bypass State or Federal Law?
#20 Sophia Weisheit on 2008-03-25 19:20
So now the Metropolitan Opera... oops... council meets... to discuss confidentiality... seems to me there are much more important issues at hand;
First and foremost; what if the SOB doesnt do the right thing? suppose... that -n is found to be the triumphant canon boy... that he trumps -h?
There are a great many of us so called disgruntled wrong-doers who will not stand for such a travesty...
What do we do? Take our churches back...
remove them from the OCA?
After all... who built them? Who has taken care of them? in some cases for over a hundred years?
I am sure that a legal civil suit would find that to be true...
See... I am not in the place nor state of mind - spiritually or otherwise
to fight on forever on this issue of who is right, based on what standard, for what year we want to use...
I do know one thing for sure...
The land that St Herman lived on, walked on and died on will not be a part of this mess... even though it has been ransacked by -n and his minions...
The honorable stewards of that land... are not the Diocese of Alaska, nor the SOB or the OCA...
the owners of that land will keep it as it was... as we were directed to... by our ancestors and St Herman...
the same place he wanted to be buried at... without fanfare and glittering rament...
just nature's truth, the raw beauty of God's Creation.
Oh yeah... no admission charge... no $15 bottles of Holy Water...
#21 Ted Panamarioff - Kodiak Alaska on 2008-03-25 23:30
There are two things most everyone in the OCA agree on. 1) + Nicolai must step down or be removed. No one in Alaska wants him and there are serious charges which must be investigated. 2) + Herman must step down due to his involvement in the financial mess. Even if it is shown that he did not ACTIVELY participate in the filtering of monies, he KNEW about the irregular situation and did nothing. It has already been indicated that + Herman will step down at the AAC, but most would like to see it sooner. + Nicolai must step down immediately before Alaska descends into more chaos. + Herman still serves a purpose, but his credibility has been seriously compromised.
#22 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 05:29
"It has already been indicated that + Herman will step down at the AAC, but most would like to see it sooner."
Can you please tell us where this has been "indicated"? If that is the plan, it needs to be made clearly known throughout the OCA--ASAP. There is no point in withholding this information from the OCA at large when we are approaching such a significant Council. Why should we spend months preparing to deal with the +Herman issue if it is already known that he will step down?
I for one believe that there would be great rejoicing and a great release of energies and resources to the OCA if +Herman would make a public commitment to resigning at the next AAC. It would breathe new life into our church, and give us some sense of hope for the future of the OCA. And though I am among those who would like to see him resign much before November, I could certainly live with him staying in office until then, IF HE PUBLICLY COMMITS TO STEPPING DOWN AT THE AAC. I think he would regain a great deal of respect and good will from all of us if he would make that commitment.
Please do tell us where you got your information.
#23 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2008-03-26 06:01
Also, just to add on, does anyone else think it strange that this document appeared on the website that BN, last I heard, still had control over? Rather interesting, considering that the document says all the things that BN wants us to think. 1) That it's all about the land. 2) That MH actions were uncanonical. 3) That Fr. Garklav's is a fool. 4) That Syosset has no idea what they are doing. Being couched in the language of "I wish that BN was deposed too, but only for the right canonical reasons" sounds a awful lot like it was pulled verbatim from...the comments on this very website.
Maybe I am reading too much into it, but all this makes me wonder if this meeting actually happened. Can others who attended this meeting affirm its existence and that this document is close to being a representation of what occurred there?
In the end though, I think it is more than ironic that the very one who complained incessantly about those "evil people" posting personal communication on the internet would, now, post a personal communique to Syosset on his very own website. The internet is a wonderful thing when you can spin it for yourself, now isn't it?
Can you tell that I really really really don't trust BN?
#24 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 06:21
Thanks for your endurance and persistence, Mark, and thanks be to God for his goodwill use of the Internet.
I have heard an MC member say *the truth may never be known*. If I were an MC member, I would say: The cover-up and lies shall continue 'over my dead body'
A certain group's (the MC, e.g.) knowing the truth and not revealing it to the whole Church publicly is just more of the same old, same old in my opinion. We are not poor, ignorant children needing protection from the truth; we are of Christ's Body, each empowered through knowing the whole truth in order to function as healing members, just as healing cells in the human body are alerted and summoned to fight infection.
Censorship of any information (excepting gossip) in the Church (no matter what the so-called motivation) is the devil's playground, IMHO.
#25 Karen Jermyn on 2008-03-26 06:51
That's OK. There are still deep feelings in ROCOR regarding the OCA and they didn't want anyone "raining on their parade." It will take years to sort everything out, but it will sort. The funeral was a 7 hour endurance test; who needs that?
#26 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 08:28
How ironic, the man who taped Fr Kondratick does not want to be taped.
#27 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 08:43
Fr Oleg was NEVER the OCA Representation priest in Moscow. He was attached to St Catherine's while he worked in Moscow...
#28 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 08:53
Hi Mark......just read Downing's letter to Garclavs as published on the Alaskan Diocese web-site.........believe we should take into consideration their thoughts upon Syosset's motives in sending the "chancellor" to Kodiak and Anchorage.........+N may rethink his trip to synod after reading this report
#29 Guileless on 2008-03-26 09:56
Michael got what he wanted out of this and that was for RSK to hang. As a matter of fact, it was a good thing to happen. But, Michael has also steadfastly defended both Herman and his sidekick, Paul Kucynda, through this. So, for him, its over, and anything else can only be bad news for him. So, for as far as he's concerned, the case is closed.
However, Michael, Nikolai is still around and he's a Kondratick appointment, who paraded him up and down the east coast after his consecration. Surely you want to see this remnant of the Kondratick regime dismantled, no?
#30 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 10:59
..and no, Herman is not going to step down. He is the paperweight over all the evidence that, should he leave, will come to light. The only way he's going to leave is when he assumes room temperature.
#31 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 11:02
It is well-known that he will retire. There is too much going against him and he's just hanging on until the AAC. Look, he's 70+, he's had more mini-strokes than + Theodosius; ... everyone knows RSK was his hand-picked guy for Syosset; no public financial records are available for STOTS; Dn. Eric Wheeler told + Herman of RSK's stealing and he did nothing; etc., etc. , etc. The next Metropolitan will be + Seraphim as it should have been at the last AAC.
The problem is, none of the hierarchs have tried to groom ANY to succeed them - WHY? We need to turn to married bishops where more stability can be found. It is ridiculous to try and keep Orthodox thinking that "marriage" is an impediment to ordination or consecration - it isn't. Monks and celibates were chosen for expediency and at this time in the church in North America, it is no longer expedient.
#32 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 12:16
God works in mysterious ways! Remember Gula on Bright Monday?
#33 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 19:11
"The Greek church has a-geographical bishops as a rule (Met. Kallistos is a shining example)."
I think you mean the Church of Constantinople. The bishops of the Church of Greece, as a rule, reside in their sees in Greece. In any event, the reason this has been true for Constantinople is that the lands under its jurisdiction are no longer Christian. So they assign bishops to these dead places, but then they send them all over the world (since Constantinople claims the rights to every place that isn't historically Orthodox).
But actually, that is far from Constantinople's universal practice or "rule." In America, Constantinople's bishops in the Greek Archdiocese are the bishops of the areas in which they serve; and that is also true in Hong Kong and other places.
In any event, no bishop is a-geographical; they all have dioceses of which they are the bishop. Some of these places are no longer Christian, and this makes it a bit of a farce, but there is no such thing as an actual free-floating bishop.
If the Synod were to deal with +Nikolai along these lines, I suppose they would have to transfer +Nikolai to a newly created diocese in the middle of the Nevada desert, or something. But I don't think a bishop can be transferred against his will -- as you pointed out, strictly speaking, a bishop may never be transferred.
Anyway, the point is that every bishop is the bishop of some particular place; so it's not possible for +Nikolai to be no longer the bishop of Alaska, but not a bishop of anywhere else, but still a bishop. That is why it appears that he has been deposed.
(You know, a previous poster pointed out that the edict to commemorate +Herman came only after +Nikolai refused to leave. So your proposal -- that a "leave of absence" for a bishop means that he is no longer the bishop of his diocese -- does not seem to be what the Holy Synod had in mind.
The problem then, of course, is that so long as a man is a bishop of his diocese, no other Church authority is allowed to interfere in his management of it. That's the first canonical issue. On the other hand, a bishop cannot be deprived of his office without being charged and tried by fellow bishops. That's the second. The point about a bishop residing in his diocese is really peripheral, here -- it just underscores the inseparability of a bishop and his diocese.)
#34 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-26 19:51
Let me respond to some related points in your comments in the previous thread, at 184.108.40.206.1.1.1 (yes, it's seven of them):
A) +Nikolai was certainly being deprived of his authority. On March 4th, +Seraphim cites the Synod's letter to +Nikolai telling him (ordering him?) to take the voluntary leave of absence. It stated, "During this time the day-to-day affairs of the Diocese will be conducted by an Administrator appointed by His Beatitude." In your earlier comments, you wrote that "he would still have authority over, and still be the ruling bishop of the diocese." But what meaning do those phrases have to you? ("Day-to-day affairs" is vague, but practically quite inclusive. I mean, I suppose Fr. Alexander won't be inaugurating any major building projects. But Bishops constantly have significant pastoral decisions to make.)
Besides, you state that +Nikolai is forbidden to communicate with "witnesses." I suppose this practically includes the entire diocese, since investigators cannot know who they want to talk to before they have begun. In any event, surely many of the clergy, including all the deans, would be witnesses. But how can someone have authority over people to whom he he is forbidden to communicate his directives? Do the words "authority" and "ruling" have any real significance at this point?
B) You have stated that "the OCA could be legally liable for abuse that happens while an investigation is taking place." If you can show that the Church has such liability, then I don't object to an innovation of this sort. But, to begin with, I don't know what kind of "abuse" qualifies here. In a case of alleged child molestation, for example, if the authorities have not stepped in and removed the bishop from circulation, then the Church arguably does have a legal (not to mention moral) obligation to act. (I'd say so, certainly.) But no one is claiming that that's in the mix in this case.
I am sure we'd both welcome comments from attorneys with experience in this type of litigation. Does the Church have liability for not provisionally removing a bishop durning an investigation into charges against him? If so, what kind of charges?
#35 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-26 21:02
While I am sure Vladyka Seraphim has his good qualities, I am still uneasy about having a Metropolitan who was not only on the SOB at the time of the scandalous behaviour, but who also help position in Syosset at the time (SOB Secretary).
If anyone from that time period, I could understand Vladyka Job as Metropolitan because at least he had the courage to speak out about the activity and to stand behind his convictions. I don't judge the others for not doing this, but I must at leat give credit to Vladyka Job for being a man about it . However, we all know of his intentions for retirement.
Wouldn't it be possible to elect one of the newer bishops or even someone who is not currently a bishop but who may be a bishop by then? I would sleep much easier knowing that it is a new administration with a clean slate and a fresh outlook. There were several votes for non-bishops in Orlando. Let's begin to think seriously about this.
#36 Anonymous on 2008-03-26 21:52
It would be pretty tough to put your name on such a vulgar commentary. The only time anonymous posts like yours deserve posting is when they have content. Curious how this post adds anything to the discussion.
My name is on the petition, so don't think I'm taking sides with the Metropolitan.
After reading your comment, perhaps the Metropolitan needs a show of support. I personally think he'll resign once he's repaired the train wreck he allowed and even helped create.
But posts like yours can only polarize him into trying to do exactly what you say.
#37 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-03-27 05:36
Just to answer a few points specifically to make myself more clear.
"Day to day affairs" are just that, the constant pushing around of paperwork. I read this as saying that the entire diocese was going to be put on hold during the suspension. I.e that BN would not be able to transfer or appoint anyone, such as sending a key witness to the Arctic to witness to polar bears let's say. Also, not being able to appoint one of his friends and supporters to a high-ranking and prominent position, which he has already tried to do. While the investigation was to take place, then, no transfers would be made, no positions filled, and no budget changes.
As for a-geographical bishops the point is that they have no diocese, no clergy, and no parishes. They do not live at or even near to where their see is, nor do they have any jurisdiction there. Yet, they are still bishops. Hence, not having direct control over parishes does not, obviously, make a bishop a non-bishop. Also, not physically residing in one's see does not make a bishop a non-bishop either (yes, this is non-canonical, but it does have long precedent, and I never heard BN whining about it until it suited...himself).
On a leave of absence, therefore, BN would not be deposed. He would still be bishop and commemorated as such. He would still be the bishop as much as any of the bishops sitting in Syosset at the moment are still, in fact, bishops of their diocese while they are in absence from it. Does not making any decisions in the diocese for a few weeks make one a non-bishop? No. Does not making any decisions for a few weeks in a diocese negate the fact that one is still the bishop of the diocese? No. Which is why I called it silliness.
BN is confused. You can see it in the news article. First it states that he was "asked to step down" and then it states that he was on put on a "mandatory leave of absence". The two are not the same thing, no matter how much BN tries to make himself think that they are, are not matter how hard to tries to make us think that they are. BN knows that we all don't trust MH and he knows that we think little of MH's decisions. All he's doing is trying to tweak himself into *us*, that he also is being repressed, mistreated, and abused by MH, just like all poor little us. It's absurd and sick.
BN is, I believe, obsessed with his own authority. This is why he could not bear the thought to suspend his "function" of bishop for a few weeks. He can't go a day without asserting his authority over someone. This is why he couldn't leave the diocese for a few weeks, this is why he has always had difficulty getting to Syosset anyways, and this is why he had to make Job submit to him. He is completely unable to separate his ontological authority as bishop from his functional authority. He believes that a suspension of the functional equals a suspension in the ontological. This is, simply put, absurd and silly. This is not what MH had in mind when he asked BN to go on the leave of absence (MH is quite good at separating the two, if we haven't all already noticed) and it is not what the other bishops had in mind. Yet BN persists in not recognizing this. Hence, I believe him to be obsessed.
As for legal liability, I am not the first or only one to bring up this issue. The charges against BN included physical abuse. As well as a suggestion of sexual abuse if one takes into account the allegations of what Fr. Isidore said when he was drunk concerning his relationship with BN. As far as I know the legal system here in America holds that those who have knowledge of abuse, yet do nothing to prevent it from happening further, can be held liable for that abuse. Hence the policy of removing a cleric accused of being abusive.
To sum my position up in a few words: a suspension in the function of a bishop has no bearing on the ontological position of a bishop. This, as far as I can figure, is Syosset's position as well. This separation is a widespread and widely practiced assumption in modern Orthodox ecclessiology, as primarily evidenced by the existence of titular bishops. Is such a separation canonical or right? Simply put, the canons don't really address this issue. Yes, they do say that a bishop is to reside in his diocese, but this does not prevent him from temporarily leaving the diocese, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Therefore, I don't believe that BN original "leave of absence" request was the same as deposing him, and I don't believe it was uncanonical.
#38 Anonymous on 2008-03-27 09:09
Can you point to anything that +MH has done that indicates he has any interest in repair?
He's done nothing unless absolutely pushed to the wall. His most notable actions have been to squash investigation and limit discussion.
#39 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-03-27 10:43
Thank you for your thoughtful reply.
The issue here for me is first of all what a bishop is in fact, by which I mean, in life. I would not separate ontology from its expression in life -- I wouldn't want to, anyway, except as a very last-ditch necessity. I think history shows that to be generally unwise. You mentioned that titular bishops are a widespread phenomenon. Yes, they are, and they have been especially in America. After all, certain people abroad never wanted American sees to exist, and this is how it was pulled off. And it allowed us to technically follow the injunction not to have more than one bishop in a city. This way, everyone's canonical "consciences" could be quieted, but it would still be possible to keep Orthodox in America divided up into ethnic social clubs (faithfully nationalist, conveniently well-heeled, and reliably parochial).
A titular episcopacy another boon that can be bestowed by the powerful, another way to create loyalty and indebtedness. And it serves the interests of synods that don't want transparency, because they can make a man a bishop without people paying much attention. Then, when it's time to fill a real vacancy, they just transfer him. Bishops are supposed to come from the people they will guide, but I suppose this other way creates more reliable members of the club.
And his is the phenomenon you're using to justify the Synod? It's so strange for this to be coming from a voice within the OCA. There was a time when the bright lights of the OCA believed that everything in the Church should be for real and not for show, because that's where life is. Imagine -- to dress someone up like a bishop, and he has no flock! (And then the consecration service -- the silliness of going on and on about the God-protected city of Wherever, which the bishop will never set foot in!)
Do you want to know what a bishop is? Don't consult the latest examples (why would anyone?) -- look at the Didache, the canons, the and the writings of the fathers on why we have bishops and what a bishop is. He's bound to his diocese and his flock. Nothing is to be done without his knowledge. And on and on.
There are times when that vision has to give way to the needs of a fallen world Like, when +Nikolai's clergy wrote the Synod against his wishes. A perfect example. But that should be a last resort. Trying to yank +Nikolai out of Alaska as the Synod did was not practically necessary. (In fact, as we now see, it was practically disastrous.) They could have been rid of him by now if they had done things by the books.
Maybe they should start doing so as a matter of course.
As far as the legal questions in this particular case are concerned, I'm not a lawyer either -- which is why I said I'd like to hear from an attorney (that was a hint, friends). For my part, I'd think that since Fr. Isidore is an adult -- and well enough to leave treatment and get acceptable mental health evaluations -- he would have a pretty high bar to meet to prove that the Synod had a duty to get him away from Nikolai, when he himself was insisting that everything was fine.
(By the way, I know +Nikolai never cared so much about any of this until it suited him. Of course he can't separate his ego from his office; of course he can't bear to lose control over people for a millisecond. I mean, as far as we can tell from here, he's a sick man. Thus, he doesn't see that he could have taken the leave of absence voluntarily -- voluntarily delegated his oversight of the diocese -- and that he should have. But that's not the point: we're surely interested in the truth, and not how +Nikolai's mind might occasionally intersect with it, or fail to.)
#40 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-28 15:20
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