Saturday, August 30. 2008
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I'm sorry, but I am aghast at what I read in the Holy Synod's most recent letter. In my opinion, it is precisely more of what we do not need.
I thought the letter was outrageous. Am I not seeing something? Am I spiritually crazy? Am I that far out in left field, or did you get some of the same impressions from the letter?
it seems to me to be nothing but a summation of Metropolitan HERMAN's previous self-justifying pious-speak letters, even assuming the bishops' genuineness regarding the sentiments written. No substance at all. Letters like this make it difficult for me to either assume genuineness on the part of the writer, or, to believe our bishops are not still being herded, like the blind leading the blind, by those who are still invested in covering up the scandal.
Please tell me where I'm wrong.
First of all, the letter says our bishops accept responsibility, while
at the same time making sure to repeatedly clarify that none of them did anything wrong. This doublespeak is intended to be legally "prudent," I guess (perhaps in light of the SIC coming out?), but it nulifies even their inexcusably over-generalized "acceptance" of responsibility. There is no confession here. To accept responsibility involves admitting what I've done wrong and accepting the consequences of my actions (or lack of
action when I was the responsible party). Where is the acceptance of discipline or consequences? For that matter, what actions, words or deeds are being admitted? None. It is a neutered,
ambiguous-to-the-point-of-meaninglessness, "acceptance" of
responsibility. Instead, we need heart-bearing honesty. We need
specific acceptance of one's sins, passive or active.
Secondly, the protectionist stance of the letter is more of what we do not need. The bishops make sure to sound repentant, but they don't state anything they are repenting of! I would respond: Abandon self-preservation! Our Church is in crisis! You have misled us. The examples of this are too numerous to list, but for one example, bishops have unanimously and officially expressed support for Metropolitan HERMAN publicly, while refusing to explain themselves publicly and seeking to distance themselves from that vote or hint at disavowing it privately. One bishop has privately expressed support for Archbishop JOB's "Are the allegations true, or false?," but still hasn't said a word publicly. In fact, as far as I know, not a single bishop except His Eminence Vladyka JOB has publicly taken a stand for bringing the truth to light or risked himself in any way to bring genuine resolution to this crisis. Instead, we read letters which make statements of either grossly downplaying this scandal or out-and-out incompetent ignorance, such as "Our current crisis has had mainly to do
with administrative difficulties," and "Experienced parishioners have
said something to the effect that it is only money, after all, and we
never did have much anyway." With all due love and respect, this
stretches credibility so far it breaks.
Looking at the letter a bit closer: The opening paragraph labels our
crisis, a "controversy." This itself downplays the significance of our
current circumstances. Why not call a scandal, a scandal? Or, more honest yet, "embezzlement," "fraud," "larceny," "theft," "betrayal," and "lies"? This has not been "the center of considerable attention," but has been destroying the faith of many and ripped out the heart of the OCA.
Self-justification is the opposite of repentance. When we confess our sins, we are not to make any excuses (even excuses we think are legitimate!). But in this letter, the justification starts right off the bat: "when initial reports began to appear about questionable financial practices of certain Chancery officials..." This is nothing less than an intentional deception. Metropolitan HERMAN knew all, years before Protodeacon Eric Wheeler's "A Call To Accountability" began to appear publicly. Metropolitan HERMAN took part in firing Dn. Eric, and replacing him! The whole sentence is structured so as to give the impression that the Metropolitan was as surprised as the rest of us when "initial reports began to appear." Yet, not only did he already know of Bob and Metropolitan THEODOSIUS' embezzlement, he covered it up by
appointing Bob Chancellor and by deceiving the Holy Synod into voting for unauditable "discretionary" accounts. His actions continued to cover up and deceive and thwart any attempt at exposing the truth, even after the "initial reports" were broadcast in the world media!
The letter goes onto say "the Bishops relied on the truthfulness of the administrationpersonnel," but, again, Metropolitan HERMAN knew that Bob was stealing from orphans and widows, and actively covered it up. The letter againimplies ignorance: "...instead of beginning to investigate the veracity of what was being said," but Metropolitan HERMAN knew the allegations were true. "When more concrete information began to appear to support
the initial reports" is more doublespeak: Metropolitan HERMAN was
treasurer and secretary and Metropolitan while five million dollars wasblatantly stolen, with regular trips to withdraw just under the $10,000 legal declaration amount.
Each of the other bishops feign ignorance, as well. At the very least, where is the "I should have known"s? Where is the "I was negligent in my archpastoral duties"? The only bishop even attempting to specifically apologize is Archbishop JOB. He came clean as soon as the scandal hit, in specially-called Deanery meetings where he told what he knew, when he knew it, his own involvement (in ignorance), and specific instances where
he should have suspected something but negligently let it pass. In
nearly every Deanery meeting or Townhall or Assembly or public occasion I have seen him since then, and there have been, I would guess, at least a dozen such occasions in the past three years, he has shared openly, without self-justification, offering relevant recollections of his own failures which in various ways perpetuated the climate of fear and silence during The Embezzlement Era. His letter of apology to Mark Stokoe is a case in point.
"The Holy Synod did not act as quickly as it should have" is a
misstatement. The Holy Synod did not act at all, and only when legally threatened --after a year and a half of cover up and deception-- did Metropolitan HERMAN offer up Bob as his fall guy.
"The Holy Synod has to, and does, take responsibility for the failure in responding to the evidence of financial accountability"; How? What actions of personal and corporate repentance are you accepting? Who is going to step down as an expression of accepting responsibility for their part in our twenty-year scandal? You see, these are nothing but words, with absolutely no actions behind them. There is no specific, no concrete, no honest repentance here. Only more self-justification. More cries of innocence: "we were not alone in being deceived about the nature and scope of the inappropriate conduct."
Then, rather shamelessly, the letter places blame on the Metropolitan Council. This is particularly brazen, because many members of the Metropolitan Council tried to speak up during The Embezzlement Era, only to be silenced by Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, Bob, Metropolitan HERMAN, and
other Syosset powers-that-were. Nevertheless, the letter seeks to
legally set up the bishops as not responsible: "The Metropolitan
Council, the body primarily responsible for scrutinizing financial
reports...," and implies that all the Holy Synod did was rubber stamp what the Metropolitan Council decided: "presenting them to the Holy Synod for approval" -- this is the exact opposite of what was going on, at least as far as the two Metropolitans, Bob, and others at Syosset were concerned. It has long been known --and officially reported in Diocesan Reports by Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky and others-- that Metropolitan Council was intimidated (and in some cases coerced) into becoming nothing but a rubber stamp for Syosset. Again shamelessly, the letter slings blame on
the Chancery staff (anyone but Metropolitan HERMAN): "'smoke-screens' erected by Chancery staff" --when it was Bob and the Metropolitans who created smoke-screens, covered up, and embezzled. Members of the Chancery staff are guilty, too (either passively or actively), since such a web of lies could not be sustained by a two man show, but again the letter seeks to pass off responsibility to anyone but our Metropolitan.
Finally, the last sentence of the paragraph tries once again to summarize the tired line that 'everyone's to blame, so no one's to blame': "...which made it possible for us all to fail in such a manner."
And that's just the first paragraph. Suffice it to say, this letter is a
lie. It is yet another attempt at a let's-go-back-to-business-as-usualway of dealing with, or more accurately, not dealing with, episcopalresponsibility in this scandal. "We are making good progress inestablishing a properly functioning Central Church Administration" isn'ttrue, either, because the leader still refuses to live in his area ofjurisdiction, not even near enough to Syosset to come in once a day. Instead, coming only periodically, things are not functioning properly, by specific admission of Syosset personnel themselves.
"We are being enabled to receive, and therefore to provide to the wholeChurch, clear, honest, and accurate reports about all aspects of our Church's life": Start with direct answers to the specific allegations made and an honest admittance of sin. Some of the bishops haven't even admitted there was gross wrongdoing involved, just "controversy," and "administrative
difficulties" --while most don't even take a stand at all.
"We have had an inadequate system in place for managing serious
situations," --notice again passing the blame for inaction on to an
impersonal "system"-- "and thus, when the gravity of the situation
became fully obvious, it was not dealt with expeditiously." The problem isn't that the situation was not dealt with expeditiously, it was thatthe situation was not dealt with, and has not been even admitted, at all. Finding your fall guy does not designate dealing with the situation. Adopting "Best Practices" does not admit what happened so the sin can be dealt with.
And what's this implication that there was a time period before "the gravity of the situation became fully obvious"? Metropolitan HERMANwas actively covering the situation up, actively silencing priests and others, actively firing Gregg Nescott, while releasing letters exhorting us to "move on." The greater scandal is the cover up of Metropolitan HERMAN, not the original sin of Bob and Metropolitan THEODOSIUS.
"The very real suffering endured by all of us as a consequence of feeling betrayed by those in whom we have placed significant trust" again implies others betrayed, rather than admitting His Beatitude betrayed us. "Some of the clergy and faithful feel betrayed by their bishops –ascribing to them responsibility for the actions of others": again, theresponsibility belonged to others. "We have indeed failed in various ways": In what ways? What failures are you admitting to? None. "There
has never been any systematic or deliberate intention to do so on the part of the bishops...as persons": What does that verbal conglomerationmean? If it means to say that no bishop intended to deceive, then whatabout the numerous silencings, cover ups, the "firewall," and disallowing the original SIC to investigate anyone but Bob?
In classic pious-speak, the letter tells us that the bishops have
recognized just what they, in fact, have not recognized:"Recognizing
our weakness, and our failures" implies specific confession, which is
exactly what the letter avoids. After all the posturing and
self-vindication, "The Holy Synod of Bishops bows low before the clergyand the faithful of the Church, and we ask forgiveness from you all"frankly seems disingenuous.
First of all, don't just say it, DO it.
Let your collective penance be to literally, physically bow before a
layman and a clergyman at every public and private ecclesial meeting you attend for the rest of your episcopal service. But first, admit your wrongs, and stop claiming ignorance and disavowing responsiblity. You are the highest authority in the Church! As Truman had it on his desk, "The Buck Stops Here." Where's your dignity? Where's your courage to
tell the truth and "come clean" before God's People? Aren't you more concerned for the Church than for yourselves?
"We are truly sorry that this could come to pass in the Church" --again, the passive voice, without a hint of personal responsibility. What specifically are you sorry for that you have done, or that you didn't do but should have done? The only redeeming line I can see in the whole letter is the second half of the above sentence: "and that this has happened under our supervision." Embezzlement, fraud, theft, lying, deception, cover up, blackmail and extortion, has all happened under their supervision. It's the only line implying responsibility, albeit indirect responsibility. In my opinion, when such gross evil and such organized deception goes on under your episcopal supervision, you should resign for that reason alone. When you have become a participant in the scandal --in knowledge or ignorance-- and when you have become a stumbling block to the Church putting the scandal behind us and moving forward (indeed, when you have become a stumbling to the Gospel for some,
and a hindrance to people joining the Orthodox Church!), why stay?
In truth, there are no reasons to stay in episcopal leadership
after a two-decade-long scandal like this that are not based in pride. It is God Who holds the Church together; we will continue to exist with you as retired bishops. But first, with "openness, honesty, and clarity," tell the truth to us all, for the good of the Church.
After such a letter, the closing exhortation rings very hollow: "We
need, all together, to open our hearts to Christ's will, following the
direction of St. Herman, who said: 'From this day, from this hour, fromthis minute, let us love God above all, and do His holy will.'" In otherwords, "Let's move on." I think Saint Herman would be mad if he knew hiswords calling for repentance were used in this way.
Help me see where I'm wrong, guys. I'm stunned here.
St Stephen Orthodox Church
#1 Fr. Mark Hodges on 2008-08-30 12:38
You are right on the money, so to speak. Thank you for taking the time to articulate what I'm sure many of us are thinking and feeling in response to the over-the-top letter from the Synod.
I think I speak for many when I say that the only bow we're interested in witnessing at this point is when +Herman bows out--the sooner the better.
#2 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2008-08-30 13:25
Far too little and much too late.
P.S. to Fr. Mark; no; you are not crazy and you aren't missing anything.
#3 Anon--do you wonder why? --Priest on 2008-08-30 14:56
The letter is at least a couple years late, if you ask me, but given the rest of what I have to say, it is a move back towards some distant notion of a conciliar religion from a clear Papacy, but it holds no water, read on...
I submitted a response to Fr. Herbel that didn't get posted, but I'm sure this thread will get a lot of review so I'll post here.
Regarding deposition of Bishops...
I wasn't looking for a definition of how to depose a Bishop. I was identifying the clear problem.
We have a Papacy.
If we just accept the doctrine of imfallibility, we could return to our roots as One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic church. OK, maybe we won't step quite there, but patricide when you criticize a Bishop sounds like a move in that direction to me!
For those of you that disagree with me, I can cite examples all day long that will prove we have a Papacy in the OCA. A papacy for the non-theologian, including me, would be when no council of the church can really implement any decision or take any action and the hierarchy run the whole show. The Bishops also disenfranchise people either through total disclusion, or simply by disallowing certain votes.
A great recent example would be the removal of Fr. Searforce (sp.) from the Metropolitan Council by Bishop Nikon. Bishop Nikon should be deposed for that action. It is not a conciliar action and it goes against the grain of how a conciliar church would act when a motion was not liked. Ruling such a motion out of order is equally Papal.
Another example would be the letter written by Metropolitan Herman in April of 2006. He accepted all the responsibility. This is also Papacy, clear as a bell by my 10 minutes of education on the subject.
The letter written now tries to pin some blame on the Metropolitan Council, but I don't see how the Council could have done anything different. Everytime anyone on the Council speaks, they get a boot in the rear.
For the Bishops to really accept responsibility for the problems of the church, they must recognize that Papacy is the root cause of the problem. And Papacy would be where the Bishops rule without consideration of any of the clergy or laity and when the clergy and laity take action or speak against the wishes of the Bishops, they are removed from governance roles.
Deposing Bishop Nikon for removing Fr. Searforce would be the proper step if you ask me on the limited information I have. Job should have been deposed for silencing Stokoe. Herman for silencing Nescott. Just to cite a few examples of our Papacy.
Our theologians need to speak up on this stuff. They know the history of this and how Orthodoxy is supposed to be different much better than Dan Fall.
#4 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-08-30 15:53
Friends, that letter of Friday night was what we were treated with so much from the Clinton Administration: a “trial balloon”. You can also call it running up the flagpole, or more like the case in this situation, throwing something at the wall and see if it sticks. Whichever description you prefer, the point is that that letter was put out to gauge reaction to the wording of the SIC report at that time. If the reaction went bad they would “tweak”, as they said, that report to take a harder line, again to the minimum damage to themselves, but enough to appease the masses.
Would Christ have preached just so much to avoid crucifixion? Would the myriad of saints gone just so far as to avoid being fed to the lions? And we call this a “holy” Synod?
#5 Anonymous on 2008-08-30 17:56
Glory to IC XC!
Hi, Fr. Mark,
Thanks for the post-- a lesson in logic, and repentance to the hierarchs. Who'd have thought such would be necessary? (Well, I mean who'd have thought that before all this filth came to light.)
One little addition to your piece, reinforcing your point. You said, "It has long been known --and officially reported in Diocesan Reports by Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky and others-- that Metropolitan Council was intimidated (and in some cases coerced) into becoming nothing but a rubber stamp for Syosset." I also recall from my years on the Diocesan Council that Fr. Vladimir (among others) complained that it was impossible to get straight answers and information at MC meetings. This frustration was evident years before the scandal was revealed, and puts the lie to trying to blame the MC as a scapegoat. There were MC members who wanted and tried to get information and to fulfill their duty, but were blocked.
Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik
St. Nicholas Mission Church
#6 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2008-08-30 19:20
When you stop laughing, hysterically, at this letter, and I really am laughing, you have to ask yourself: if it was merely that they were had, why are not those that had them going to jail? After all, last fall they termed it theft, and Fr. Tassos referred to the embezzlers, so if you were had and wanted to do good in the eyes of the Church at large, wouldn't you send the bad guys to jail? It doesn't add up. Its real easy, you just dial 9-1-1 like the name of the fund you still haven't dispersed $150,000 from. Now, tell me, Synod, is part of not disbursing $150,000, almost 8 years to the day when the report is issued, just being had? You had no idea that after a certain period of time and funds were not given out that you might want to question it? You never asked if those funds were disbursed? You didn’t CARE? What kinds of stewards to those in need are you? What kind of love and compassion were you giving those that had been impacted? If you did not think of that, and that is amongst 10 of you, why should we entrust you with our spiritual care? You weren’t had, you didn’t care, as long as the “Chancery staff” made you feel important, they could do what ever they damn well pleased!
Oh, and by the way, because if they are reading here trying to gauge the reaction, I am telling them now that we expect at least one other person NAMED as an embezzler because Fr. Tassos, who has more credibility than the Synod combined and then multiplied orders of magnitude, said the word in the plural. So, when you go back to tweak the report, you better tweak in more people than just RSK. "Damn!" they're saying, "how did we miss THAT?!"
The next time they take a group picture it should be in front of a brick wall and there should be a stool with a glass of water in front of each of them.
#7 Anonymous on 2008-08-30 20:02
The Holy Synod of Bishops recognizes that the Lord is working among us in the correction of our Church's life.
What the so-called "Holy" Synod doesn't seem to recognize, or doesn't seem to want to acknowledge, is that the primary way the Lord was working in this situation was through ocanews.org. Until they acknowledge and recognize this Website's and its owner's contribution in keeping their feet to the fire, they have not repented and they are just using religious-sounding language to try to get y'all to "move on."
This is shameful and as far from repentance and recognizing the problem and working on a solution as the earth is from the sun.
#8 Anonymous on 2008-08-30 20:41
Would Christ have remained anonymous to avoid crucifixion? Would the myriad of saints have remained anonymous to avoid being fed to the lions?
#9 Gregory Orloff on 2008-08-30 20:43
In complete agreement. The letter is a clear example of "hierdrivel." I am surprised the +Job signed it...
#10 Another anon priest on 2008-08-31 08:16
The only comment you have about this situation is a shot to anonymity? God help us!
#11 Anonymous on 2008-08-31 09:07
Just when we thought the Synod was maybe, just maybe, starting to remember (at least +Job has and did) the Moral Tradition of our Faith and was finally getting away from the "Functional Atheism" mentality and leadership precepts they've embraced and practiced for more than a decade (or two decades by some accounts), here comes another "pastoral" letter that is a giant whopper of an insult heaped on the people and the Church disguised as "repentance". Of course, it's a neutered and watered down form of repentance divorced from assumption of full responsibility, accountability, acceptance of the consequences of their actions (active or passive), attempt to confess the truth of what actually happened, how many of the Lord's talents where wasted and stolen, and without any indication of how they will redress the squander of the Church's treasure.
As Fr. Mark so wisely and clearly indicated, this letter is full of legally prudent doublespeak and obvious attempts by the Synod to blame everyone else but themselves for the many years of embezzlement, fraud, abuses, unethical conduct, silencing and firing of messengers, and documented/successful attempts to marginalize the MC and dissenting voices within the leadership of the Church. Instead of "The Buck Stops Here!, we take full responsibility and we will pay the price for our failures, including our resignations and release of all PR reports to the Church", they give us "The Buck Never Got Here!" or "Buck, What Buck, We Never Knew About It". Par for the course for this group of men who do not practice what they preach and speak with a forked tongue in regards to the continuing failure of their sacramental duties of good stewards of the Master's talents.
With each passing day and with each passing action of this Synod, we are reminded of yet another of Christ admonitions:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." (Matthew 7:15-19)
"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." (Matthew 7:24-27)
We have to ask ourselves are these hierarchs (+Job excepted) true or false prophets? What is the fruits of their labors as reflected in the work and situation in the OCA? Should we continue to build our house on sand by trusting them and giving the fruits or our labors and talents to an organization built mostly on moral sand (fraud, deceit, lies, unethical conduct, alleged immorality, functional atheism, etc.)? Are we that foolish?
Thanks so much for the post. When I read the letter, I was offended and wanted to respond. However, I found myself at a loss as to how to express what I was feeling. Thankfully your post did just that! I've had it with these men and cannot bring myself to call them "bishops" of the Church. I don't believe the Holy Spirit was at work in their selections. I think the "good ole boy" syndrome selected them. I believe the Holy Spirit is with us, the faithful, and is going to continue to be with us as we look for ways to clean up the mess these men made. They just don't get our sense of stewardship too, for the good of the Church.
#13 anon on 2008-08-31 15:38
I believe the Holy Synod’s letter explains to my satisfaction what happened and I humby pray that they also except our forgiveness for sometimes being to impatient. Now let me say a few words about Chris Banescu’s protestant opinion on forgiveness and repentance. Chris speaks about the question that Peter asks of Christ on how many times should he forgive the offender. Our Lord replies, if he repents forgive him 70 x 7. The key word that Chris defines for us and wants us to accept as such is merely a human definition of repentance. I bet he never once checked to see how the Church or how the Fathers of the Church defined repentance. St. Cyril of Alexander says, “Faith in Christ is the highest form of repentance”, like wise Chrysostom; “To prepare the way of the Lord is equivalent to producing fruits worthy of repentance”, also Origen; “John’s call to repentance is for everyone”. Now lets relook at the question raised; "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying,"I repent," you shall forgive him." (Luke 17:3-4). “To Forgive Seven Times.” Cyrill of Alexandria says, “If he who sins against you repents and acknowledges his fault, you shall forgive him not only once, but very many times.” “We…must rather imitate those whose business it is to heal our bodily diseases and who do not care for a sick person once only or twice, but just as often as he happens to become ill. Let us remember that we also are liable to infirmities and overpowered by our passions. This being the case, we pray that those who have the duty to rebuke us and who have the authority to punish us may show themselves forgiving and kind to us. It is our duty, having a common feeling for our mutual infirmities, to bear one another’s burden, so we will fulfill the law of Christ. The Lord then tells the apostles, “Although he sins seven times in the day,” that is, frequently, and will acknowledge his fault, you shall forgive him.” Truly in a most informative way the Holy Synod acknowledged their fault and I for one forgive.
Also it is hard for me to understand how erroneously and with a sense of authority you have misinterpreted:
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." (Luke 23:34) “This passage is often quoted and mentioned by many as proof that we must forgive anyone for everything at all times, without any preconditions, change of heart, or contrition on the part of the offenders. But notice that Christ prayed to His Father to forgive those that did not know what they were doing. Indeed, many of the soldiers and underlings that physically restrained, beat, insulted, whipped, spat upon, crucified, speared, and ultimately killed Jesus did not know what they were doing. They were under orders from their rules and superiors to carry out the unjust sentence and horrific punishment on a innocent man. Their culpability and responsibility was small because none of them understood or knew that they were torturing and killing a sinless Messiah, the only begotten Son of God, Light of Light, True God of True God. Also anyone in the crowds at Golgotha who had never heard of Christ, had not listened to His sermons and parables, or witnessed His miracles would indeed not know what they were doing when they taunted Jesus and cheered on the crucifixion.”
I would only like to bring to your attention the behavior and action of Judas and Peter along with all the other Apostles except John. In fact Peter swore that he had not known Jesus. The sinning women wiped Jesus feet with her hair and when questioned, our Lord gave the answer. Another example was the prostitute who was judged by her accusers who were ready to stone her. I need not remind you how Jesus responded to her accusers. There are so many examples where Jesus does not Judge the repentance of others and only one in which he does and that is the Publican and Pharisee. My friend Chris, you sound to me like the Pharisee. It is time for you to take off your judgment hat and put your forgiveness hat on.
Go read the Fathers of the Church. In the mean time I do forgive you for this error. Whether our Lord will, I do not know, I pray he will if you repent (change your direction, a change of heart). I think you ought to reread what St. Stephen the first martyr said as the people knowingly murdered him and Apostle Paul was one of the witnesses and most assuredly heard Stephen say, “Lord do not charge them with this sin.” Acts 7:60. He is our example to follow.
I believe the Holy Synod asked for our forgiveness for those things they erred in. Now just because you think they did more and you yourself and others are accusing them of more, you want the Holy Synod to lie and say that they are guilty of more in order to justify your own feelings. My words to you are the same and with the same love that our Lord said to Peter.
Yours in Christ, Sam Pelican
#14 Anonymous on 2008-09-01 05:31
Fr. Mark's opening response says it point by point better than I could.
This "apology" is three p's
Political, preemptive, and pathetic
I am not surprised that most of the bishops would sign such dribble, but I am rather disappointed that my own bishop did.
#15 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2008-09-01 07:39
How did eight men, most of respectable age, come up with that silly publicity stunt? The ‘pastoral letter’ sounds like it was written by a very bad lawyer. Several contributors already elaborated on the obvious fact that the Synod actually denies any wrongdoing, shifting the blame onto the Metropolitan Council and a series of unfortunate events. If the bishops are so imperceptive that they thought no one would notice the glaring incoherency of their letter then how did they make it to such prominent positions of leadership? If the bishops despise the people so much that they simply do not care about their reaction to the letter then why did they feel compelled to write it?
#16 Karina Ross on 2008-09-01 15:19
Thank you, Father Mark!
You expressed much better than I ever could how I also feel about this ridiculous "letter". I've been quiet here and on Orthodox Forum for months, hoping against hope that finally, maybe, closure would come, that maybe we've hit rock bottom but, NO! Along comes this riduculous "epistle" and I realize, once again, that until Herman is DEAD along with ALL of his co-conspiritors, we will never be able to move forward (or even run in place, it seems)
Will this nightmare NEVER end?
Holy Father Leonty, HELP US!
#17 Alex Ivsky on 2008-09-02 10:42
"From this day, from this hour, from this minute, let us love God above all, and do His holy will.” Sounds like a 'let's move on' to me. Is anyone surprised?
I think that the next appeal will be structured like this:
To be Christ-like. Who can disagree with that? Christ showed forgiveness, which we must emulate. This is exactly the same 'hook' of liturgical logic that the Catholic Church used to coverup and silence the abused and their families. It went like this;
Father O'Flynn has done wrong, is a sinner. Doesn't Christ tell us to be forgiving? How can you not show the forgiveness of Christ? Are you above what we are taught? .... “From this day, from this hour, from this minute, let us love God above all, and do His holy will.”.... a one-size-fits-all comment to the rescue.
#18 Jim Murray on 2008-09-02 10:49
One of my dearest friends, a fellow convert, has just left the OCA specifically because of this letter.
She decided that this was the last straw for her and has joined another jurisdiction.
She told me that she could not "stand under the mantle of such an authority as Met.+Herman."
Holy Fr. Maximos the confessor, pray to God for us!
#19 an anony-mouse American convert on 2008-09-02 13:58
Oh, don't worry. Your bishop will come up with some excuse for signing it (I wasn't there; they attacked me; I didn't understand it...). And then he'll apologize, and everyone will swoon.
(Editor's note: As a matter of fact, it has been reported that Archbishop Dmitri and Archbishop Job have complained that the draft they saw of the Synodal letter was not the final one that was published by Archbishop Seraphim as Secretary of the Synod, but an earlier, and much different, one.)
#20 Anonymous on 2008-09-02 13:59
No swooning here.
The systemic problems ARE still well in place, not WERE as the letter suggests.
The Bishops have unchecked power. The governance of the OCA has failed mostly because it is Papal in nature.
Bishop Nikon should get no breaks from anyone friends. He should be removed. This would truly start to show that we are indeed a conciliar and not a Papal religion.
Otherwise, if you all want the Bishops to have great power, why do you care if they spend the money on boys and wine?
#21 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-09-02 15:45
Our bishops have learned Soviet double-speak well... "we ask for your forgiveness for nothing but our collective ignorance of all things material (that we are charged by Almighty God to oversee)." Brother. When will we stop this utter waste of time and poor stewardship dealing with these buffoons; Bp. Job exempted?
The Soviets had a saying dripping with sarcasm: "We are experts at reading between the lines." Our bishops are not even that clever, they just lie and deceive with abandon and think us all too powerless to resist.
#22 Anon. on 2008-09-02 20:37
A moment of levity in this latest episode in the disappointing and trying string of scandals. Has anyone else noted the play on words in the title for this thread of comments: "The August Archpastoral Letter"? From The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged Edition
1. inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic.
2. venerable; eminent.
I for one found the letter quite the opposite.
#23 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-09-03 03:42
Hilarious! Not AU-gust... but au-GUST.
It's September, not August either way.
#24 Jim Murray on 2008-09-03 08:09
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