Thursday, September 11. 2008
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Eastern Pennsylvania has 37 or so parishes. Add in a few assigned priests to the email list .... how long would it take any of us to read through 40 well composed "reflections and thoughts"emails on such an important subject? Assuming the replies were immediate to the email sent that morning-- for a meeting at THREE O"CLOCK THE SAME DAY?!
I think this last minute opinion seeking is the same window dressing as all the parish meetings this Summer.
#1 Jim M on 2008-09-11 12:07
Fr. Ted Bobosh has hit the nail on the head regarding the sickness and disease that afflicts the OCA. As one who has been refused communion by some of the now-SIC-exposed wrongdoers, I can relate. The tragedy is the way these wrongdoers manipulated communion and confession in their efforts to maintain control. I had suspected that confession was nothing more than a useful way for these untrustworthy priests and bishops to "get dirt" on anyone who might expose them, then they would kibbutz among themselves, share that information with each other, and figure out ways to ridicule, defame, and demoralize that individual, usually through clever manipulation. Or, if these bad guys weren't cajoling juicy tidbits out of you from confession, their second weapon was to punish you by refusing you communion, all the while taking it themselves.
Among the reforms required needs to be a complete rethink of our approach to the cup. It has become sick the way we withhold the cup from ourselves and God's people. We ask forgiveness each liturgy right before communion, yet still stay away because we didn't go to the priest for confession. What good was that prayer then? Communion has become a travesty in more than a few parishes. But why would I confess in the midst of the corruption that has become the OCA, when no one knows who can be trusted with sacred confidences?
These peoples' hearts' are hardened and have been for a long time. Some keep hoping that some semblance of a Christian ethic will emerge, but alas, as Fr. Ted points out, they don't even realize they have done wrong!
Who are these people? Why did we follow them for so long? How did they worm their way into positions of responsibility? Who taught and reinforced this immoral ethic? Can we rid ourselves of this disease? Much more work is required to rid ourselves of these demons.
#2 Name withheld on 2008-09-11 17:07
Thank you Fr. Vinogradov,
Among other things, you include in your introductory remarks to your translation the following:
"It is Pollyannaish and irresponsible to overlook the actual sins (and yes, crimes) perpetrated so many years against the trust of Church members, that is why the SIC report must be lauded for its directness, impartiality, clarity, and sobriety. But it is spiritually irresponsible (and yes, deadly) to pursue the isolation and demeaning of the perpetrators. The evidence of actions brought to light accompanied by a forgiving Eucharistic Body becomes the therapeutic context in which the sinning healer has the choice to turn and be healed. But if that door is closed, then it is the doorkeepers who will have to answer to the One who called Himself the Door (or Gate) to the sheepfold."
This attitude I really agree with! To me it expresses Christ's attitude towards the adulterous woman: "Go, and sin no more." There was judgement (sin no more) as well as mercy (he let her go without a big chastisement).
To me, the measure of Christian maturity of us faithful is weighed by commentaries such as these.
#3 Patty Schellbach on 2008-09-11 18:48
I received Bp Tikhon's email on Wednesday, not Thursday. His Grace might not have had much time to review what he was sent, but at least an effort was made to get a general sense from his priests.
#4 Priest in EPA on 2008-09-11 19:33
It's satisfying to see that the Synod has stuck to the Statute and called an election for the AAC. Anything else would have been problematic.
Now we need to think about who should be the next Metropolitan.
To me, this is a question primarily of who is best suited to our immediate tasks.
We are in a very unsettled period. Some of our most respected leaders [Fr. Hopko, Mtska. Schmemann] have spoken of the next three years as a transitional period requiring special, temporary leadership. This makes sense.
We have heard that the bishops hesitated to call the election for this time. Although I do believe it would have been wrong to delay, I also believe that there was wisdom in that hesitation -- we've barely absorbed what has happened, we must take time to come to terms with it all, we barely know where we are and much less where we are going.
For these reasons I believe it is imperative that the Metropolitan elected at this AAC promise to offer his resignation in advance of the next AAC.
This requirement eliminates bishops far from retirement age, such as +Benjamin. He has shown himself an able and forthright leader in the assembling and release of the SIC report. But I believe he is a leader for the OCA's future, not for the present. Were he elected now he could be expected to serve for decades. Were he to agree to resign in three years, we would lose one of our most promising bishops.
We need a caretaker. We need someone who wants to retire in three years. We need someone who over the past three years has shown himself willing to stand up to the status quo and ask tough questions. We need someone who has publicly shown himself willing and able to examine, to regret, and to ask forgiveness for his own actions and inactions. Honestly, we need someone who doesn't want to be Metropolitan, who would serve for three years rather than *rule*.
I believe that for the three years until his long-planned retirement, we need +Job to serve as Metropolitan.
At the end of three years, we will have new bishops to choose from. We will have had time to see how our bishops respond and adapt to the new, fresh, open reality of the OCA. We will have had time to come to terms with the past and to have made decisions about the future. In 2001 will come the time when we can elect someone who will serve a long term and lead us forward. For the next three years, we need gentle healing.
Just one person's perspective.
#5 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-09-11 22:32
I couldn't agree more strongly! Having alluded to this problem before, your post offers the opportunity for me, and hopefully others, to further air this serious subject.
Let me suggest that the Sacrament of Confession is the most abused and profaned sacrament in the Church. Some will maintain that it is the laity who are guilty for not offering more confessions that are comprehensive and heartfelt. No doubt there is some in truth in this. But the manipulative abuse of this sacrament by some clergy, egged on by some bishops, is the far more serious problem that undermines respect for and observance of confession.
As a former Anglican (where confession is encouraged, at least in Anglo-Catholic circles, but not mandated), I have always found this sacrament problematic. It is worth noting, from a historical perspective, that confession did not exist in the early Church, but was instituted after numerous persecutions of Christians had resulted in widespread apostasy. The confession of this serious lapse was made publicly in front of the congregation of faithful. One did not go to a priest then to confess "run of the mill" sins--that is a more modern innovation.
I am not arguing against an intelligent and judicious use of confession. For those lucky enough to have competent spiritual fathers, who can listen and offer helpful spiritual direction, lucky you and God bless. But, as we all know, this is not the norm. The norm is a long line during Lent to quickly run through a list of rather mundane sins to a priest overwhelmed by many other responsibilities and frequently unprepared to offer constructive spiritual advice. When you add to this the desire of some clerics to use confession as a control device, a sacrilegious perversion of the highest order, you have a recipe of disaster.
For all its scandals and faults, the Roman Catholic Church has at least protected the confidentiality of confession. We seem unable to even insure that confessions are not used by some for blackmail and control. But unfortunately, as in so many other things, we seem to have adopted the legalistic approach of Rome when it comes to the use and application of confession. At the risk of offending many of you, I ask how can we withhold the Lord's Body and Blood from those not meeting some arbitrary standard of confession unless it concerns grave sin of a scandalous nature?
No doubt some will contend that the Communion Sacrament needs protection from the unworthy or that the unworthy need protection from the Sacrament! How ridiculous! God needs protection? God will strike down the unworthy? Then Heaven help all of us, except, of course, our "worthy" priests who subscribe to this nonsense. No wonder infrequent communion is so prevalent in much of the Orthodox Church--yet another break with our Apostolic past.
All of this discussion is related to what is happening in the OCA today. Clearly it is not a financial problem, an administrative problem or even just a personnel problem, but rather is a spiritual and leadership problem that strikes at the very heart of our Church.
#6 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-12 07:22
Dear Name witheld,
Let's NEVER lose sight of the fact that approaching the chalice to receive Holy Communion is a privilege and not a right. Each and everyone of us is not worthy.
If we understand this, perhaps then we'll be capable of laying aside our earthly cares and not worry about who's receiving and who isn't.
#7 Michael Geeza on 2008-09-12 07:37
I agree with Fr. Bobosh and your coment.
This has happened to me, and I received a stupid letter from the bishop that said I could not receive the HIDDEN MYSTERIES. I was an Alter BOY when this bishop was born.
Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
P - 816-853-8685
E - firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr. Ted's reflection tells me that there should be, at the very least, a spiritual court for everyone named in the SIC. Everyone, including Dn Eric, needs to be sat down and asked "where you aware of what was going on/what you were doing?" and "do you think this was wrong?" I'm sure the answers would be fascinating. The Synod simply can not allow priests continue to serve the Church while in unrepentant sin. This is one of their main functions, and failing to carry it out is a dereliction of their duties. Even if they simply give a "slap on the wrists" after the spiritual court, we really need to formally bring everyone named into court. Not doing so will only allow the "peeps" to laugh off their sins even more, and only serve to allow others to think that their sins were/are acceptable.
#9 Anonymous on 2008-09-12 09:59
My vote for next Metropolitan is Fr. Alexander Golitzin. We need a group to go grab him and consecrate him before he can get away.
#10 Anonymous on 2008-09-12 11:05
I really hope that at least 68% of those casting votes for a new Metropolitan in November will agree with your thoughtful assessment.
Archbishop Job's humility, kindness, and wisdom are exactly what the OCA needs at this time of transition and renewal.
#11 Marc Trolinger on 2008-09-12 11:35
I second this proposal! Under the current circumstances nothing else makes sense or is practical. It is incumbent on the AAC to produce a two thirds vote for Archbishop Job to avoid the devilish possibility of the Synod doing something truly stupid.
AAC delegates--please make this happen!
P.S. to His Eminence--this really is a cross you must be willing to pick up.
#12 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-12 11:39
In addition to the new metropolitan being elected in Pittsburgh, the OCA also put this statement out - “The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America resolved to authorize His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania to supervise all daily operations of the Stavropegial Institutions of St. Tikhon’s Seminary, and St. Tikhon’s Monastery, including its Bookstore, and to supervise the external audit for 2008 of St. Tikhon’s Monastery and Bookstore.”
This will prove interesting - how much of this is in conjunction with everything that happened in Syosset.
#13 no name on 2008-09-12 11:56
This strikes me as sensible. Perhaps it will be proposed seriously at the outset of the AAC.
#14 Rdr. T. John on 2008-09-12 12:22
Can someone please tell us briefly what the official qualifications are for one to become a Metropolitan? A second request is to have some idea what will actually transpire on the first day at the AAC to elect a new Metropolitan. How open is the entire process? Thanks.
#15 Vera Chalfant, Wilm, DE on 2008-09-12 12:29
As nice as this would be, and it would be nice since he is apparently both very intelligent and very humble (and perhaps even a fool for Christ if his straw hat is any indication) we would have to consider if pulling him away from Marquette is actually a good idea. There he trains many Orthodox students from around the world in an academically sound and well-respected Ph.D. program. Good Ph.D. programs which encourage specifically Orthodox studies are quite sparse in the English-speaking world, as are good Orthodox scholars who can teach such programs. In short, I think he is serving Orthodoxy (all of it) where he is much better than if he was the Metropolitan of the OCA.
On the other hand, there are, in fact, fine Orthodox monks living in monasteries who hold Ph.D.'s from respected programs who not only speak English well, but are American citizens to boot. I can think of a handful who currently reside on Mt. Athos (a former Harvard professor in particular is well respected even outside the Orthodox world), there are also some scattered in Palestine and Russia I do believe. Given the way the U.S. election is going, I'm all in favor of a "dark horse" candidate. I realize we all got burned with Peter, but I think it is safe to just avoid the French altogether at the moment.
I know the question of married episcopacy has been brought up before, and I agree that now is not even the time to think about introducing it, but I would like to make a gentle suggestion that we think about including our female monastics more. Most nuns I have met have been some of the most highly educated, intelligent, and perceptive people I have ever met. And people don't become Orthodox nuns because they have fantasies about wearing a white hat either (!). I'm not suggesting we go completely the way the Iroquois did, but I have the feeling that if a female monastic saw what was going on during the "scandal years" she would have had enough of the mothering instinct to just care about what was going on. Orthodox anthropology makes the point that men and women are different, so it stands to reason that when only men are involved in something that things can get lopsided. The MC is not the place for abbesses, neither is the HSOB, so I'm not sure what the implementation of my idea would look like. All I know is that I would like to see the abbesses of the OCA monasteries given a more active role in ecclesiastical decisions and the day-to-day affairs of the administration.
#16 Anonymous on 2008-09-12 12:39
The reality of this election is this. The person elected will be an "interim" Metropolitan and an insider. This person will step in to make peace, quell the issues and be above reproach. This person will be a "stabilizer" until a long-term Metropolitan can be elected at the next AAC in 2011. So, logically, + Job may fit this bill!
#17 Anonymous on 2008-09-12 14:24
If you were an altar boy when Archbishop Job was born,you should have learned Orthodoxy 101.You write like a Protestant who has no use for bishops.Bravo to Archbishop Job for standing up to bullying laymen like yourself.I've been a priest for over 30 years,sir, and if MY bishop would have stood up to bullies like yourself,my wife's early death might have been avoided.Since you are so wise,why don't YOU accept ordination and see how you like it when your wife and family are used as a vehicle for attacking you!
#18 Anonymous on 2008-09-12 15:14
I think we need to re-word things. Someone said if Bishop Benjamin were elected as Metropolitan....Hey if he were elected Bishop of the West it might have been interesting! How many warm bodies were actually and are ever in contention for a particular diocese?? The body temperature and gender all too often are the deciding factors. It is centuries overdue to correct this bizarre "tradition".
#19 anon on 2008-09-12 15:16
Thanks to Fr. Ted Bobosh for being one of the very vocal priests. If we had more priests speaking as bravely on the subject, I'd feel no need to speak as much. Forgive and understand my earlier and honestly ongoing frustration with the Gospel quotes. It wasn't that I was refuting the Gospel or the continued use of it here, it was that others already had quite apparently refuted it, so it seemed pointless. After further review, perhaps it wasn't.
I'm taking a break from OCANEWS.ORG.
The church has shown somehow that it can behave in a conciliar fashion and with somewhat positive results.
I ask anyone reading my post to not have a knee jerk reaction and now short the church financially for its past failings. The churches all desperately need our support and the Bishops do as well.
#20 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-09-12 16:56
I get your first point, although I cannot agree with it in the context provided by your second point. You said: "Let's NEVER lose sight of the fact that approaching the chalice to receive Holy Communion is a privilege and not a right. Each and everyone of us is not worthy."
Let's be logical here: if no one is worthy, why is that the Church expects us to receive communion even in the face of horrible consequences if one receives communion unworthily?
The answer is that Christ Himself is inviting us and that is what makes it worthy enough and also more than a privilege. While it is good for the soul to approach the chalice humbly, when looked at it objectively, this is indeed an invitation that should not be interfered with except for good reason. In other words, more than a privilege and less than an absolute right.
Which, brings us to your second point. You said "If we understand this, perhaps then we'll be capable of laying aside our earthly cares and not worry about who's receiving and who isn't."
Yo are correct: we should not be worrying about anything else but ourselves and the Lord while we approach the Chalice.
However, here we are talking about people who are not perfect, and perhaps not even that saintly, who notice and hear things after the service is over, may be at coffee hour. So, they sin and take notice that the priest/bishop has refused communion to somebody they know. Worse, they keep on sinning in that they don't walk away when the reason for the refusal does not quite jibe with what they know of Orthodox practice, let alone humane conduct. So they sin some more in getting angry at the priest/bishop for refusing communion for no good reason.
Now, tell me Michael: who has sinned more? Whose sins have affected more people? To whom was more given?
If you maintain that all of this is not anybody's business, I would be delighted to show you why you are wrong. But this post is long enough.
#21 Carl on 2008-09-12 17:47
Obviously, I don't know why your bishop would bar you from the chalice. But, seriously, does your age, and that of the bishop, really factor into this? A younger man can never tell an older one of his sin?
Abuse of confession and absolution does not negate their value.
Really, this is the same baby-out-with-the-bathwater that plagues so many responses here. Just because we have lousy hierarchs doesn't mean hierarchy is bad, either.
#22 John on 2008-09-12 18:52
I agree , let the things we can't control alone and believe in our faith. I ask for forgiveness for all of my hatred towards this site and what I believe it's done.
#23 Anonymous on 2008-09-13 02:51
Sermon on the Elevation of the Cross/ Sept. 14th
The Elevation of the Cross
On September 14th, for centuries, when the feast of the Elevation of the
Cross was celebrated in cathedrals, the bishop would take his place in
the center of the church and, surrounded by a great assembly of clergy,
would majestically raise the cross high over the crowd and bless the
worshippers on all four sides of the church while the choir thundered in
response, "Lord have mercy!" This was the celebration of Christian
empire, an empire born under the sign of the Cross on that day when
Emperor Constantine saw a vision of the Cross high in the sky and heard
the words "In this sign conquer..." This is the feast of Christianity's
triumph over kingdoms, cultures and civilizations, the feast of that
Christian world which now lies in ruins, still crumbling before our very
Yes, the solemn, ancient rite will once again be celebrated this year.
The choir will still be joyfully singing that "the Cross is the strength
of kings, the Cross is the beauty of the universe." But today, the
tumultuous metropolis surrounding the church does not participate in
that hidden triumph and is completely unconnected to it. Its millions of
inhabitants will go on with their normal lives and their usual ups and
downs, interests, joys, and sorrows, with no reference whatsoever to the
goings-on within the church building. Why then do we keep repeating
words about universal triumph, and singing over and over again that the
Cross is unconquerable? Sadly, we have to admit that many, many
Christians are unable to answer this question. They are accustomed to
seeing the church in exile and on the margins of life, exiled from
culture, life, schools and from everywhere. Many Christians are content
and undisturbed when the authorities contemptuously allow them to
'observe their rites" as long as they are quiet and obedient, and do not
interfere in the building of a world where there is no Christ, no faith,
and no prayer. Those tired Christians have almost forgotten what Christ
said on the night he went to the Cross: "In the world you have
tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:33).
It seems to me that we continue to celebrate the Elevation of the Cross
and repeat ancient words of victory not simply to commemorate an old
battle that was won, or to recall a past that no longer exists, but in
order to reflect more deeply on the meaning of the word "victory" for
Christian faith. It may be that only now, stripped as we are of outward
power and glory, government support, untold wealth, and of all apparent
symbols of victory, are we capable of understanding that all of this
was, perhaps, not genuine victory. Yes, the cross raised above the
crowds was in those days covered with gold and silver and adorned with
precious stones. Yet neither gold, nor silver, nor precious stones can
erase the original meaning of the Cross as an instrument of humiliation,
torture, and execution on which a man was nailed, a man rejected by all,
gasping from pain and thirst. Do we have the courage to ask ourselves:
if all those Christian kingdoms and cultures died, if victory was
replaced by defeat, was it not because we Christians became blind to the
ultimate meaning and genuine content of Christianity's most important
symbol? We decided that gold and silver would be allowed to eclipse this
meaning. And we decided as well that God desires our worship of the
To honor the Cross, to raise it up, to sing of Christ's victory: does
this not mean, above all, to believe in the Crucified One and to believe
that the Cross is a sign of staggering defeat? For only because it is a
defeat, and only to the measure it is accepted as defeat, does the Cross
become victory and triumph. No, Christ did not enter the world to win
outward victories. He was offered a kingdom, but refused. And at the
very moment of his betrayal to death, He said: "Do you think that I
cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve
legions of angels?" (Mt 26:53). Yet, Christ was never more a king than
when He walked to Golgotha carrying his own cross on his shoulders while
the hate-filled and mocking crowd surrounded him. His kingship and power
were never more obvious than when Pilate brought him before the crowd,
dressed in purple, condemned to a criminal's death, a crown of thorns on
his head, and Pilate telling the raging mob: "Behold your king." Only
here can the whole mystery of Christianity be seen, for Christianity's
victory resides within the joyful faith that here, through this
rejected, crucified and condemned man, God's love began to illumine the
world and a Kingdom was opened which no one has power to shut.
Each of us, however, must accept Christ and receive him with all our
heart, all our soul, and all our hope. Otherwise, outward victories are
all meaningless. Perhaps we needed this outward defeat of the Christian
world. Perhaps we needed poverty and rejection to purge our faith of its
earthly pride and of its trust in outward power and victory, to purify
our vision of the Cross of Christ, which is raised high above us even
when neither we nor the world can see it. In spite of everything, the
Cross is still elevated, exalted and triumphant. 'The Cross is the
beauty of the universe." For in whatever darkness people find
themselves, and however great the outward triumph of evil in this world,
the heart still knows and hears the words, "Take courage, I have
overcome the world."
[Taken from, "Celebration of Faith" Sermons, Vol. 2, "The Church Year"
by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, 1994. Available at:
#24 Anonymous on 2008-09-13 06:52
There is no peace for the wicked. Stabilizing the situation by quelling the issues is no way to true peace. We must deal with all the issues to find true peace.
#25 Ever and anon. on 2008-09-13 07:16
Dear Fr. Alex, thank you for your reflection and for the translation of Fr. Victor's essay. The subject of transformation of evil through love is one of his favorite topics, as far as I know. Thank you also to the Anonymous poster for posting Fr. Schmemann's sermon for today's feast.
From reading the many posts on the forum it appears to me that we are once again falling into the pharisaic sin of elevating the Law above the Love of Christ. It is rather interesting that there are almost no responses to Fr. Vinogradov's reflection or Fr. Arida's essay that he refers to in his posting. it is as if the matters of Eucharistic life and communal love are unimportant and secondary at the moment to the burning issue of "who takes the throne". Perhaps it would be wise to remember that the election of the Patriarch of Russia in 1917 happened by lot. I doubt that many would dispute that it was "the best man" who has been chosen. (Incidentally, in case people missed it, please read the posting on the OCA website on the proposed amendment to the Statute on the subject of the election: http://www.oca.org/news/1641) I think it is not quite there yet, but am personally very pleased with the sentiment. Perhaps it is time to test our faith, not our democracy, and trust the election at this critical time to God's will, not our politics and good intentions?..
(Editor's note: God's will can also be expressed through the voice of his People in an election as well. The matter is serious and deseves serious reflection. In 1917 the Russian Church had not elected a leader in 2- 300 years, so lot among the leaders in a revolutionary situation was probably a good choice - and in retrospect wise. Are we in the same situation? No. So, without prejudging, I think it deserves lots of discussion before we make such a fundamental change.... And discussion is good.)
#26 Inga Leonova on 2008-09-13 08:27
Mark, - The matter is serious and deserves serious reflection. From your mouth to the ears of the Synod, the MC, and all of us. It is "serious reflection" that was practically absent from the SIC report and is often missing from our passionate discussions.
#27 Inga Leonova on 2008-09-13 10:13
Yes, we must have the balance of the Law and Love of Christ as well and this is why is stated in my earlier post how I liked Fr. Vinogradov's words.
Each one of us are all still God's children. Some of our administration will never have the same roles of leadership. But they are still persons.
I do believe balance and love is always needed and points to Fr. Vinogradov's comments. They are representative of the HARD work it takes to be fully Christian.
#28 Patty Schellbach on 2008-09-13 11:33
Thank you,John,you hit the nail on the head! Luther threw out the baby with the bathwater,i.e.,he rejected the holiness of the church because of the great corruption in the Latin church at that time.I'm afaraid some of the people posting here are acting like latter day Luthers,albeit with the best of intentions.
#29 Anonymous on 2008-09-13 12:16
Article 4, Sec 4 of the Statute: "If not already a bishop, a candidate for the office of Metropolitan must fulfill the canonical, moral, and educational requirements stated in Article VI, Section 9."
Artcle 6, Sec 9: "Qualifications:
a. The candidate for the office of diocesan bishop must satisfy all the requirements of the Holy Canons pertaining to this highest of all ecclesiastical offices. In addition, it is preferable that he have completed a course of study in a Graduate School of Orthodox Theology and that he be conversant in the English language.
b. If he is not already a bishop, he can be nominated only from among the monastic or celibate clergy or laymen;
c. If at the moment of his nomination he is a layman or a celibate or widowed priest, he shall pronounce at least the first monastic vows (rasophoria).
Here is the election process:
The election shall take place according to the following order:
a. The Council nominates candidates by secret ballot without previous discussion of names. A blank paper ballot shall be distributed to each member of the Council before the vote.
b. On the first vote, one single name may be written on each ballot. If the name of a candidate is written on a number of ballots equal to at least two-thirds of the total number of members in attendance at the Council, his name shall be submitted to the Holy Synod for approval by majority vote; in case of rejection, the Holy Synod shall formally state the reasons which motivated the rejection.
c. If no candidate receives a number of ballots equal to at least two-thirds of the total membership in attendance, or if the person receiving that number of ballots fails to receive the approval of the Holy Synod, a second vote shall be taken.
d. In the second vote, two names shall be written on each ballot; the tellers shall not count any ballot on which fewer or more than two names are written. The names of the two candidates who receive the highest number of ballots on the second vote shall be submitted to the Holy Synod for their choice by majority vote."
Please note that the following Statute amendment has been proposed (along with one other amendment. see oca.org):
a. The Council nominates by secret ballot, without previous discussion of names. Three blank paper ballots shall be distributed to each member of the Council before the vote.
b. Each Council member writes one name on each of the three ballots.
c. The ballots are counted and the names of the three men receiving the most votes are announced to the Council, with the number of votes each man has received.
d. Should any of the men so nominated not already be a bishop, his name is given to the Synod of Bishops for canonical clearance. If the Synod determines that the nominee is not canonically qualified to be consecrated a bishop, they announce the reason for his disqualification, and the procedure for electing nominees is repeated according to the above rules until three nominees are secured.
e. The Synod of Bishops receives the acceptance of nomination from each of the nominees. Should any refuse, the procedure is repeated until three nominees are secured whose names are written on three identical sheets of paper, identically folded, put into an appropriate vessel, covered, and placed on the Altar Table.
f. After the Divine Liturgy is celebrated by the locum tenes and the Synod of Bishops, followed by a Service of Prayer, a member of the Church appointed by the Synod of Bishops picks one paper from the vessel.
g. The new Metropolitan, chosen by lot, is immediately enthroned in office according to the established ritual. Should he not be a bishop, the Synod of Bishops announces the time and place of his episcopal consecration and enthronement as primate of the Orthodox Church in America.
I would assume that, as in past AAC's, Statute amendments would be first considered, so that the new election process may actually used at the upcoming AAC.
#30 Michael Strelka on 2008-09-13 12:46
Just three questions.
Will the new proposal for electing the new Metropolitan be voted upon before the election of the Metropolitan? It seems logical that if we are to be satisfied with the selection, the procedure should not be the one that put Herman in place. The new proposed procedure seems quite fair.
Second question: Mark, do you have any information on the last Town Meeting held on the last day of the FOCA convention in Florida? Since it was the last one, it would be good to have someone report to your viewers the events of that meeting.
PS. Oops! Almost forgot the most important one. Where are the minutes of the last Metropolitan Council meeting?
#31 Lizzie on 2008-09-13 15:39
I don't know you personally, but I hope to get to meet you in Pittsburgh.
As one who has been following ocanews.org and occasionally contributed, I've always read your postings very closely. If, in fact, you are absenting yourself I want you to know that I, for one, will miss your contributions. I believe you've always attempted to present a very balanced view of the topics at hand, though I haven't always (usually, but not always!) been in agreement.
Furthermore, I think you from time to time have opened yourself spiritually here in a way that few have. I've found myself praying for you specifically when it has seemed you've been undergoing a particularly "dark" time in your soul observing all the folderol from however many sides of however many issues. Thanks be to God you've always seemed to come out of it and able to rejoin the fray with insightful and practical commentary.
If you feel the need to take a break from here, well, I'll miss your thoughts. Enjoy a well-deserved rest. God bless, and come back soon. I think we need more like you.
#32 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2008-09-13 18:33
And what if the AAC delegates DON'T make this happen. What if there is another alternative, even from amongst our Synod. Are you willing to lay aside a personal choice or agenda? Or, will we pout and find fault and react, judge and be disaffected until we consume ourselves in an orgy of anger and recrimination?
Just a thought!
#33 Anonymous on 2008-09-13 20:49
Of course, I could accept another reasonable choice, but who would that be? There probably isn't time to find or vet someone from outside the Synod, though in the long run that would certainly be my strong preference. The current Synod is too compromised by their various roles in the scandal and have demonstrated zero leadership in resolving the critical concerns it has brought to light, excepting Bishop Benjamin. There is also the crass political consideration of the lay and clerical delegates not dividing their votes, thereby enabling the Synod to once again impose an ungodly choice.
From the beginning, it has been Archbishop Job, and only among the then existing Synod, Archbishop Job, who has been willing to ask for the truth, despite the scorn and pressure that came down on his head from his "brother bishops." So it really is a no brainer that he is best, if not the only, choice, if one values truth telling and humility in one's hierarch.
If that constitutes a personal choice or agenda (I don't know Archbishop Job personally), then so be it. I will be happy to scream "Axios" from the rooftops if a better man is found and chosen.
#34 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-14 06:04
Dear Lizzie: If one looks at the minutes of the last three AAC's, one of the first items of the first plenary session is to consider amendments to the Statute. If the same is true of this AAC, then if the proposed change to the Statutes is passed, then we will have a new procedure for voting for a Metropolitan. I am hopeful that if this is not true, that there will be an alternative agenda proposed from the floor at the beginning of the first session, so that amendments and Resolutions will be considered first. This must be done so that we don't create the absurdity of considering a budget resolution after already passing a budget.
#35 Michael Strelka on 2008-09-14 14:52
an excerpt from a post a post about leadership from a blog worth thinking about-- by all council members, bishops, clergy and laity; and by whoever takes on the job of Metropolitan:
From 5 Traits of True Leaders:
4. An equal readiness to take the blame when things go adversely. It is when things go wrong that true leaders are separated from the pretenders. The weasel leader will gladly accept the accolades when he and his team succeeds, but will find another individual to take the fall when things get tough. When followers see this, it completely demolishes any confidence and allegiance to that leader. True leaders will take responsibility for all consequences of their decisions, even the bad ones. Even when the results were the fault of a subordinate, a true leader will still take all the blame. Perhaps the leader failed to communicate clearly what the subordinate’s duty was, or maybe the leader failed to match the right man with the right job. After taking responsibility for the results, an effective leader will immediately take action to correct the situation.
How to be a leader by taking the blame when things go adversely:
When taking the blame, you must do so sincerely. Your confession must spring from a genuine belief that you were at fault. To accept blame, but to do so grudgingly, makes you a boy, not a man. Never play the part of the martyr and seek glory for taking the fall. Likewise, don’t take the blame publically, but then tell your subordinates that the only reason you took responsibility was to save their asses. You’ll look like a phony and deteriorate their trust in you.
#36 Mat. Donna Farley on 2008-09-14 17:30
I agree with many of the writers here, and care too to share my own thoughts.
+MH and +MT were not elected. They were both "chosen" by the Synod of Bishops. Are we not to reasonably assume that this will not be the case once again? I sincerely hope not.
As one of your previous writers has noted, almost all of our current bishops should eliminate themselves / be eliminated from contention. +Dimitri is too advanced in age to administer the duties fully. +Seraphim, +Nikon and +Nathaniel were all named in the report. NONE of these bishops should be chosen. In fact, these bishops should be called upon to resign immediately! Should any of these bishops be "chosen", how are we not to believe that we will not have more of the same corruption? +Tikhon has admitted missing receipts and having flawed records at St. Tikhon's (not surprising considering who is still residing there and was formerly in charge). +Benjamin, as many have confirmed, has been in re-hab...
This leaves only +Job by shear default. +Job admits he should have asked more questions, and probed deeper. Surely, he should have. But, considering he is otherwise innocent of accomplicing criminal actions, he should be elected, if for nothing other than his self-imposed retirement, at which time, we will hopefully have a new slate of bishops, and further qualified individuals.
Our church is in a serious leadership crisis. With hope, our current leaders will lead by excluding themselves from election.
#37 Anonymous on 2008-09-14 19:09
Why not elect as our primate the primate of the Antiochians? We would immediately have a personal union of the two jurisdictions, which could lead very quickly to a formal union.
#38 Anonymous on 2008-09-14 23:08
I can't tell you the problems I'v incountered with priests as concerns this sacrament. Hearing a priest make personal comments about people he confesses makes my skin crawl. It happens all the time in my church and it has become obvious there is no "seal of confession" between priests. Yet people treat this man like he's a god, the sad thing is that it's just a sick co-dependance dressed up as piety.
#39 anon on 2008-09-15 05:48
I wonder if you got any 10 OCA priests in a room and asked them what they wanted to be different in the OCA and its hierarchs if you would get even 2-3 of them to agree on basically the same things.
Honestly, what I want, in no particular order:
a. No gay bishops.
b. No ecumenist bishops.
c. No bishops with the attitude that as the OCA we need to set the trends for the rest of the Orthodox world by being "forward thinking."
d. No bishops who are beholden to ocanews.org and Mark Stokoe, nor the east-coast "old-guard."
e. No bishops who are too chicken to set a priest straight -- no matter how many decades he has been a priest -- if they hear or, worse, see him making up some bone-headed liturgical innovation.
That is just for starters....
(Editor's note: Now join in with me, all who know the tune -
" As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list--I've got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed--who never would be missed!
There's the pestilential nuisances who write for autographs--
All people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs--
All persons who in shaking hands, shake hands with you like that--
They'd none of 'em be missed--they'd none of 'em be missed!
CHORUS. He's got 'em on the list--he's got 'em on the list; And they'll none of 'em be missed--they'll none of'em be missed."
#40 Anonymous on 2008-09-15 09:06
Thank all of you for correcting me.
1) I am not afraid to sign my name.
2) I pressed charges against a person for going across the dividing line and killing a cat. I have not killed any one. This is another laughable statement.
3) The bishop admitted he was asleep at the wheel (23) years. How many lives has he ruined for being asleep at the wheel.
4) I like the cliche, throw the baby out with the water, maybe
our metropolitans, some bishops, and some priest should have been thrown out with the water. The OCA would not be in such a
sad state as we are today. Many of you are afraid of your shadows.
5) Four people from our mission church have completed a seminar,Equipping the Equippers, at a Baptist church. It was a twenty four hour course, and the cost was bourn by us that attended.
6) We should never talk about any other relegion. Just remember the OCA has 27,000 members, after thirty eight years.This is not really something we can be happy with.
I want to thank you people for setting me straight.
St. James Brother of the Lord
Kansa City, MO
P - 816-853-8685
E - email@example.com
Glory to IC XC!
I'm not sure of the point regarding "a...Three blank paper ballots shall be distributed to each member of the Council before the vote."
"b. Each Council member writes one name on each of the three ballots."
This system would not necessarily produce the three most highly regarded candidates. Those candidates who have enthusiastic support among their supporters will pick up three votes from each supporter, while those with more tepid but wide-spread regard, or whose supporters share enthusiasm for other candidates, or those wanting to hedge their bets, so to speak, will spread their votes over two or three candidates (among what is necessarily a fairly broad field of candidates). The result could be that fourth, fifth, or even lower tier candidates could make it among the top three vote-getters at the expense of more widely regarded candidates. Even all three nominees could have a relatively small portion three-vote supporters.
I know that I'm speaking theoretically, and that no election process is going to be flawless, but this proposal leaves me wondering if such outcomes were considered. Would it be better to stick with one ballot and one vote per person? The remaining basic conditions of the proposal could remain the same, but one vote per delegate would neuter the effect of fanatical supports and force the indecisive to commit themselves toward a specific candidate (which, I know, is not a flawless procedure either).
Much would be riding on this amendment. A healthy discussion is in order.
Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik
St. Nicholas Mission Church
#42 Anonymous on 2008-09-15 16:23
Thanks, Fr. Dennis,
I second that!
#43 Patty Schellbach on 2008-09-15 17:54
I don't think anyone can necessarily assume the next metropolitan will be an interim one. Power has a way of growing on people. Only one bishop has indicated a desire to retire within that time-frame, and he may not be the one chosen. And even if the man elected accepts with every intention of stepping down in three years, conditions change. I think the electors have to assume that whomever they pick will serve out his term according to the canonical limits, i.e., until he dies, retires, or is removed. To elect a primate based on our assumptions of when he "ought" to retire seems unrealistic or even a little naive.
#44 Morton on 2008-09-16 04:53
Just think what Gilbert and Sullivan could have done with all the material the OCA has provided these past three years--but I won't go there!
"No gay bishops?!" Now that's a tall order if one believes half of what ones reads on this website. Are we including monastics and secular clergy? Seminary officials? Does it matter if they are open or closeted? Practicing or not practicing? Does a vow of celibacy trump sexual orientation, which after all, most intelligent people believe is not a matter of choice (sexual orientation that is)?
Why don't we start with a more modest standard that no clerical clique, of whatever sexual stripe, can comprise a secret society of enablers that hypocritically says one thing and does another while lambasting the rest of us for our sexual sins and weaknesses. Maybe we can even begin to reexamine some of our preconceptions and assumptions in this area?
#45 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-16 05:16
Here's what will probably happen:
The popular vote will be won by + Job, but not enough votes to confirm him. It will come down to a run-off between him and + Seraphim. + Seraphim will win.
Now, Mark here has stated that + Seraphim did nothing to correct the financial scandal once he knew of it. Others have said he tried to work within the SOB to address it, but was stymied. I believe this to be the case. + Seraphim did not have enough clout to uproot the system, but with + Job, it began. It took time, but the Truth has and is coming out.
+ Seraphim is not a bad choice for Met.
#46 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 05:56
When considering our choice for Metropolitan, some have mentioned Bishop Benjamin's rehabilitation for alcoholism. This is rarely contrasted with the recurring accounts of Archbishop Job's failures with alcohol. Has Archbishop Job sought help with his trouble with alcohol? I'm not advocating either Vladyka for Metropolitan, but the current rumblings seem unfair to those who deal with their addictions.
#47 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 06:13
If you are referring to "cumulative voting" then I think you might be interpreting the amendment incorrectly. My interpretation is that you would write a different name on each slip of paper.
#48 Michael Strelka on 2008-09-16 07:15
Sorry Mark, didn't get the Mikado reference. Not really up on Gilbert and Sullivan. How about St Nikolai of Zica and South Canaan?
""Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another" (1 Peter 5:5).
Here is the principle of the true Orthodox conciliarity [sabornost]! It is based on the unconditional obedience of the younger toward the elders and on reciprocal obedience of equals among themselves, and on the humility of both the elders and the younger. Humility [poniznost] is a good word but better still is the word humbleness [smernost] and the best word is humble-mindedness [smirenomudrije]: in essence, humble-mindedness corresponds exactly to the Greek word which the apostle used in his epistle, and it signifies lowly thoughts about oneself and higher thoughts about God and constant admission of one's helplessness, one's ignorance, one's viciousness, one's unworthiness and constant recognition of God's power, God's wisdom, God's mercy and God's dignity.
God is the only King of mankind. That is why God opposed the wishes of the Israelites that a king be appointed for them from among the people. God rules and men serve God. Those who rule and those who submit are equally the servants of God. When it is known and recognized that God is King and that all men are servants of God then, by this, the foundation of catholicity is established, the foundation of the angelic society. Upon this foundation then is built the House of God, the angelic society, with the help of the obedience of the younger toward the elders and on reciprocal obedience of peers among themselves and upon the humble-mindness of all. In this manner, two terrible evils are avoided in the world: tyranny, i.e., one ruling over many by force, and anarchy, i.e., mob rule, thereby avoiding mono-tyranny or poly-tyranny.
The principle of conciliarity [sabornost] is an organic principle, i.e., the principle of life. This is the principle of mutual service, mutual help and mutual love. Brethren, may God endow us with wisdom to have recourse toward this saving principle in our lives.
Lord Jesus, obedient and humble Lover of Mankind, implant and confirm in us obedience to Thy law and mutual obedience out of love and humble-mindedness toward Thy unutterable power and wisdom. To Thee be glory and thanks forever. Amen."
#49 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 07:48
Not sure what you mean by your comments Mark?
The list seems to me to be a noteworthy one.
#50 No name on 2008-09-16 08:04
Regarding the Mortgage on St. Tikhon's. Do you know if it was a mortgage approved by the St. Tikhon's board of trustees for the monastery to meet expenses (perhaps because donations might be down) or was this was a mortgage that went into the OCA's accounts? Do you know who received the money?
(The mortgage was taken out by the Metropolitan on the monastery, of which he is the trustee, not the Seminary, which has a separate Board. The money did not go to the OCA's accounts, because then it would have shown up on the OCA's books; which it has not according to sources; nor would it have been a surprise to the Administration ( which it was) and the Metropolitan Council ( which it was). The question is who technically "owns" St. Tikhon's monastery and its land. Is it the OCA or the Abbot as a corporation sole (in this case +Herman) or some other entity (like a Board). If the OCA owns it, by Statute, the Metropolitan Council has to approve any mortgage. This all needs to be sorted out.)
#51 Diane Prokipchak on 2008-09-16 08:52
I'm not going to get into the business of repeating what someone told me that someone told them, etc. etc., but here's one observation and one question.
Observation: It would be quite possible for both Mark's characterization and that of others to be true -- Abp. Seraphim may have taken actions that he considered to be pursuit and may have encountered responses or non-responses that left him stymied. At the same time, others hearing exactly what those actions consisted of might characterize them as doing nothing.
Suggestion: Why don't you ask Abp. Seraphim exactly what he did once he heard the accusation and what happened in response to his actions and how he in turn responded?
If we can have a clear public record of the actions, then we can have a reasonable discussion of whether he pursued the matter adequately or not.
(Editor's note: Consider the question asked. However, since the Archbishop has said he does not read this website, maybe someone in Ottawa that does could ask him to respond to Rebecca's question, should he so choose. Of course, the existing public record is clear:
In December 2004 according to the SIC Report, Archbishop Seraphim learned firsthand of the allegations against RSK.
In January 2006, Archbishop Seraphim " and the Members of the Lesser Synod, have reaffirmed the decisions made by the Holy Synod of Bishops, at the time these concerns were first raised, in 1999, and 2000." That is, there was nothing to the allegations, the accounts were not to be audited, and the matter was closed.
In February and March 2006 first Archbishop Job, then the clergy of the Midwest, then 70 senior Archpriests called for an investigation.
And in March 2006 Archbishop Seraphim and the Synod attempted once again to minimize the allegations, "exhorting the faithful to remember the Holy Gospel, to conform to the example of Christ, and to live as Christians in mutual repentance and forgiveness."
After a year of public silence, the Archbishop and the Synod then admitted in a March 2007 they were wrong, offering the following as explanation: "For more than a year, the Church has been preoccupied with allegations of improper financial activities by employees of the Chancery. By now, most are aware that the accusations are focused on three general areas, that:
?1. The processes in place for administrative and financial controls were routinely circumvented;
?2. Monies designated to specific charities were diverted and used for other purposes; and
?3. Church money was used for personal purposes.
It must be confessed that during early 2006, there were many of us who believed that the allegations were exaggerated, motivated by the personal animosity of the accusers, or that there were simple explanations to these 'misunderstandings'. In March of 2006, it became apparent to us that we were wrong in these beliefs, and that there was substance to at least some of the claims."
And so the list goes on, with the Archbishop dismissing the problem again by writing to his diocese that " it was just about money" in late 2007, until Fall 2008 and the release of the SIC Report.
In short, the ARchbishop's public words are really quite explanatory in themselves: he thought the allegations were "misunderstandings" at best, dismissed the accusers and their "motives", felt it was not his position or authority to act, and so sought, on numerous ocassions between 2005 and 2008 to downplay, minimize and on at least one ocassion call for any investigation to cease. He never publically objected to the Metropolitan's hiring of P-R, nor the withholding of their Report, nor the interference of the first Special Commission, or the withholding of their Report, etc., etc., etc. And, yes, he did have a chance to speak to the Special Investigative Commission to explain his actions ( see witness list), so it was not like they did not interview him.
That's the public record.
So, I, too, would be curious to hear from the Archbishop what the "private" record is that would mitigate the public one that the SIC forgot to include in its remarks in the Report. )
#52 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-09-16 09:12
Let's not forget the meaning of the word "elder" here in your citation is: presbyter.
Thanks for injecting this important and widely overlooked truth, so out-of-vogue in the Church today.
#53 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 09:19
Sorted out? This is a no-brainer. Since when does the Metropolitan Council have any authority over seminaries or monasteries, or their property? This is solely under the purview of the Board of St Tikhon's. If the MC claims this authority, SVS and all stavopegial institutions should take legal action immediately.
The MC should stick to their charter - to implement the decisions of the AAC. Period.
(Editor's note: I suggest you read the Statute again, specifically Article 4, Section 5 g. The OCA does not own SVS or STS; they have their own boards; nor does it own New Skete, or any of the other stavropegial monasteries to my knowledge. The MC has never asserted and never would assert a claim on them. But St. Tikhon's monastery is older, and was built by the OCA, then a part of the Church of Russia; and may indeed be owned by the OCA, in the same way the OCA owns Syosset. The issue needs to be clarified.)
#54 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 09:48
So you are suggesting that we try to have our autocephalous Metropolitan also be someone who is an archbishop under a foreign See? I'm not even sure if that is practical, much less canonical (but then this whole situation in America is a canonical oddity anyways). And, with all respect to the Sayedna, old Arab men run things very differently from what we are used to. Ask a few Antiochians what they think about how their Sayedna "does" things, and I'm sure you'll get an earful. How he functions might work well with other Arabs, but in the OCA I fear his style will only crash and burn.
i think it is reasonable, at this point, to refrain from trying to elect a bishop from another jurisdiction to be Metropolitan.
#55 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 10:09
No one denies that the MC mortgages and purchases property "of the OCA." But clearly the precedent has been set with all the aforementioned instituions. Hopefully Bishop Tikhon has enough sense to call in the lawyers on this one to block any attempt by the MC to assert authority beyond what the MC should have. Frankly, all seminaries and monasteries, diocesan hierarchs, parish priests and their councils would do well to do the same, given some of the attitudes on the MC these days. Let them stay strictly within their bounds, and not one inch beyond. And let them not attempt to expand their scope at all in the future.
#56 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 10:34
Indeed, Mr Tobin, it might well be that this is the big elephant in the middle of the room that is the OCA "crisis." To be sure, no one is saying much of anything about it, certainly not on ocanews.org. But now you seem to imply that we need to reconsider the clear teaching of Scripture and 2,000 years of Tradition on this subject, as if we moderns know so much more about these things than Christians of the past (who include the prophets, apostles and fathers of the Church and, if you accept their authority -- God).
I find the suggestion more than a little troubling. I ask you: is it the job of the OCA to revolutionize Orthodox teaching and practice? I always held out hope that all the nay-sayers re: the OCA were wrong and that the OCA was really not hell-bent on "modernizing" the Orthodox Faith. I am beginning to wonder, or rather, despair.
(editor's note: Everyone talks about the elephant in the room, and certainly there are some suspicious footprints here and there; but unless you have a photo, credible witness, eyewitness, document, some type of physical or concrete evidence upon which to base your allegations, it does not rise to the level of discussion we are trying to have here. All the allegations that have been made on this site regarding the financial scandal have had a witness, document or some other evidence to back them up.( Sadly, much more has been subsequently found) But we are not there yet regarding the elephant. )
#57 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 11:23
Oh, I think you understood the Mikado reference--you just didn't like it or think it appropriate.
While I find your comments learned and generally efficacious, I must take exception to your paean of praise for "unconditional obedience." Are we to ignore conscience and reason in our quest to be unconditionally obedient? What if the "elder" is wrong , misguided or downright diabolical? One can not escape responsibility for intelligently and conscientiously exercising his or her Free Will. Even deciding to be obedient to someone requires the affirmative assent of one's will.
There are also the practical dangers of surrendering your will to another. We are not angels, as much as we might want to be. It is spiritual pride in the extreme to think that we may be. Nor did you acknowledge that clergy and monastics are under a different order of obedience, but once again, one that should have limits.
I can't help but wonder why such an intelligent post can not bear the signature of its author. Perhaps it just out of an undo sense of humility?
#58 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-16 11:26
Why would we consider anyone with an alcholic problem for any responsible position, especially, Metropolitan?
This posting is a continuation of 126.96.36.199
St. James - Brother of the Lord
Kansa City, MO
P - 816-853-8685
E - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sounds like the bank owns it.
#60 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 12:28
I am the priest who posted below.I've never revealed a confession.In fact,despite my m any sins,I always try to ask to keep from from any personnal bias when I see someone coming to the Sacrement with whom I've had issues.Not only the Sacrement of Confession is secret,but even if someone speaks to me in private,as did one woman yesterday,while I was driving her on a pilgrimmage to an Orthodox convent.In fact,my bishop told me that a confession may NEVER be revealed even if a candidate for Holy Orders confesses something which might prevent his ordination.The priest after this MAY go to the bishop and warn him that there might be an obstacle to ordination,but even here,the confession is NOT revealed.
#61 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 13:48
Hear,hear,Mr.Tobin,but the bottom line is that there should be NO sexual activity, gay or not, except for married clerics with their spouses.Being a widower priest and having the more conventional sexual inclinations,I can't imagine what attracts a man to another man.I suppose if I were about 20 years younger,I might feel the urge to leave the priesthood and remarry,BUT my children are grown, and I'm afraid to throw away the gift of the priesthood, though I KNOW I don't deserve it.A wise old bishop,who is well versed in both the Fathers and Scriptures besides current events,expressed his opinion that a man could have certain hormones which might lead to same-sex atraction.The bishop said in such a case,if the man is a devout Orthodox,he should seek the monastic life.Obviously,this wouldn't mean an end to his struggles,but then my marriage at a young age didn't mean that other women stopped looking attractive,though this is not so much the case anymore.I once had a spiritual father who was possibly gay.At some point his wife left him(no children) and he became a monastic while still a parish priest.I don't know if he ever practiced that lifestyle after his monastic tonsure, but I DO KNOW that he had a policy of never making pastoral visits to anyone alone,he always had his deacon or someone else accompany him.
#62 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 14:17
Thanks for your response, Mr. Strelka. If your reading is the intent of the amendment, then perhaps it ought to be re-written so that there would be one ballot per delegate on which three different names would be written. This way, it could be confirmed that each ballot is legitimate. Otherwise, unscrupulous delegates could triple vote for one person.
Again, thanks for your quick reply.
#63 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2008-09-16 15:46
Thank you Father. You keep your confidences. Blessings on you. However, perhaps we should develop a different approach to "worthiness" for confession altogether that makes this an issue between the communer and God, and takes this judging requirement off the parish priest completely. I would prefer that. Familiarity breeds contempt. Priests are human and fallible. This idea that they can treat people with dignity, respect and objectivity, in the face of knowledge of potentially horrible or distasteful secrets, is untenable. Let them confess those horrible or distasteful things at least to God, and then perhaps to a priest other than their parish priest, someone who can bear them up to God, but who does not have to then try and juggle that knowledge within daily parish life. Having priest gossips about confessions is a travesty. Its a total breakdown of honor, discipline and trust. The Protestant practice of confessing to God directly makes a lot of sense in the face of the abuses we are experiencing. I know one doesn't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but sometimes it is tempting. Right now, I personally will not confess to a priest I know, at least not until order, dignity and trust have been restored within our Sacraments.
#64 Name withheld on 2008-09-16 16:20
I agree with you about this. Everyone of us has our weaknesses and crosses to bear. At least +Bishop Benjamin faced his problem and got help with the problem. It takes a lot of courage to do that, especially when you are a bishop. I'd much rather have a bishop (or Metropolitan) who admits he has a problem and actually does something about it than one who lives in delusion and does absolutely nothing about it.
#65 Janice Chadwick on 2008-09-16 19:11
Mr.Babish: Let me try to answer your points one by one.
1.Perhaps,sir,I'll give you the courtersy of signing my name when you show some common courtesy yourself.You have written imflammatory statements,such as"putting our bishops back in their cages."Perhaps you would have liked the late Mr.Stalin.He put plenty of bishops and priests behind cages,namely,prisons and death camps.I'm giving you the courtesy of having a dialogue with you as one human being to another despite our disagreements.
2.I'm sorry for the loss of your cat(if it was your cat),but I'm not clear how that fits in here.Are you saying that Archbishop Job denied you communion because you pressed charges against a man for killing(accidently,I hope) a cat?Also,when did I say that you DID kill anybody,or when did anyone else on this forum say any such thing? I did say that my wife's early death MAY have been brought because of a bullying church president.For all I know,I may be the one responsible for her death,after all,she lived with me.I,too, have never murdered anyone if you mean shooting or sabbing,etc.MAYBE,however,I have killed people by speaking ill of them.Maybe thoughtless words or actions on my part could have been contributing factors in the deaths of some people,my wife included.
3.Archbishop Job admitted he was wrong,more than some of the other bishops involved.What would you have him do,douse himself with gasoline and commit the sin of suicide like Judas?Would THAT make you or anybody else that he has wronged feel any better?Would THAT advance your or their salvation?
4.The Church has survived weak and sinful leaders since the original 12 Apostles, all of whom abandoned OUR LORD,except for St. John the Theologian.What's your solution,no more bishops or priests,in that case you would be basicly a Protestant, in other words,"I can go directly to Jesus without the middleman(bishop,priest,etc)."
5.You and some others had time to complete a 24 hour course in some Baptist church.What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?...
6.Who says we cannot speak of any other religion?I thought you were so big on being an American,which would mean that you value the First Amendment....Oh,and if numbers are that signifigant,why did only the one disciple,St.John, remain by the Cross of Our Lord,while all the others fled?In conclusion,I suspect your thanks to us for setting you straight was sarcasm,but I really do thank people, bishops, priests, laity, Orthodox, and non-Orthodox who have set me straight when I was wrong about anything.Often at the time,I didn't really want to hear it, but when I thought about it,I realised just how right they were.I'm sure my response has made you angry,but as one priest wrote to me after I sent him a letter my first year in seminary,thinking to teach him,"if you can dish it out,you can take it."
#66 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 14:02
Yes, yes, yes. He is a good man and a great priest.
#67 Yanni on 2008-09-17 20:42
It is a little hard to know what the poster meant by "gay" -- he may simply have been referring to homosexually active bishops. In any event, I am not aware of any temptation that, by itself, makes the tempted person more sinful than any other Christian. The teachers of the Church tell us the opposite. So on this we agree: I couldn't care less what tempting thoughts a bishop has flitting through his head -- what we need are men who keep their vows.
But I must take issue with your suggestion that the Church's teaching regarding homosexual activity is a "preconception" or an "assumption" that it is possible for a Christian to "reexamine." I am hard-pressed to think of any deeds that have a more consistent patristic witness against them. There is no debate to be had for an Orthodox Christian: homosexual activity is contrary to the will of God. That is the Orthodox faith.
For you to say or suggest otherwise is wrong in many ways. It's factually incorrect, it's contemptuous of our forefathers in the faith, it calls into question the fidelity of your instructors, and, what is worst of all, it makes a mockery of the labors of those who struggle with this particular passion. These are men and women who, out of love for the God of Truth, have chosen to bear what Schmemann called "the frightening burden of homosexuality" (Journals 177) with Christian dignity, rejecting at great personal cost the false peace of the world, to which you propose they might turn back. I doubt either one of us can fully appreciate what that entails -- for my part I will heed two thousand years of living tradition and respect it as a silent martyrdom, and one of a greater magnitude I have been counted worthy.
How this tradition is insufficient to command your assent I do not know, since you chose to become Orthodox -- I now wonder if you were told what it means, to be Orthodox. We follow the faith of our fathers and mothers and the teachings of the councils -- the faith once delivered to the saints by God, who did not leave us orphans, dependent for our inner instruction on human philosophy and the fallen fashions of this world.
#68 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-09-19 06:21
It appears to me that the words are those of St. Nikolai. I'd appreciate it if the poster would provide us with a reference -- it's a text I'd like to examine in more detail.
Obedience to another human being, in the Orthodox sense, can never be utter and complete. Even in the case of monastics -- what if an elder demands that his disciple follow him into heresy? What if he makes demands that are morally repugnant? I think we can safely assume that St. Nicholai, and any holy teacher, would recognize certain limits on obedience, despite occasional language that would seem to disallow it.
Still -- and I think this is the poster's point -- the point is that the default is obedience to those who have the rule over us (see Heb. 13:17). Exceptions are just that, just as an economia is, by definition, not the rule.
#69 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-09-19 06:26
Well my sanctimonious and anonymous friend, I had in mind a much broader reexamination of sexual morality than your arrogant and presumptuous charge implies. By the way, who appointed you the arbiter of what constitutes proper Orthodox tradition? Yours is but the same tired reiteration of the ultra-traditionalist line, where the dead hand of the past is all controlling and unchanging. I suppose you think women should be seen, with a veil, of course, and not heard? That sexual relations are for procreation only and therefore birth control, and many sexual practices, are immoral by definition? Etc., etc., etc.
But all of this is really a discussion for another forum. My principle point, which you ignored, was the hypocrisy of those religious leaders and others, who are quick to cast stones in any direction but theirs.
By the way, the Earth does revolve around the Sun and left handedness is not a sign of the devil.
(Editor's note: One war at a time, gentleman. Our current battle involves finances. So while this conversation is interesting, important, and needs to be held, this is not, as KRT points out, the time or place for it. Dare I say it? Oh, I will: Let's move on...)
#70 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-19 14:26
Continued discussion of sexual ethics, as such, would surely be counter-productive. But I do think that the lack of adherence to Church tradition that's found in some corners of the OCA has quite a lot to do with the present mess, and the way out, and that this proposition is worth discussing.
In a separate thread, a poster dismisses election by lot on the basis of its being "old-world" and "retrograde" -- the choice of those who don't understand God's work through His people, the way we thankfully do. I tend to think this method the wrong choice for right now, but is that really why? We've seen a teacher of theology declare that the real problem with the OCA has nothing to do with the OCA as such but is really about the Dionysian corpus, and other authors inform us that, no, it really all went wrong with the peace of the Church in the fourth century.
Speaking more practically: I was amazed at the several posters who literally didn't care at all about what the canons said when it came to dealing with +Nikolai. It's one thing not to know -- one can hardly be expected to know about Church traditions without serious study of them, which we're not all free to undertake. But to know that you don't know and then to declare that you don't care -- that's something else. But if the synod had been guided by the canons, +Nikolai wouldn't be disrupting the Church in Australia, because the traditions that would have ejected him from Alaska would also have deposed him from the episcopacy.
Lastly, as regards my anonymity: let me state to all that this is not about my own protection, but that of others. Many of my posts (like the above) are nothing to worry about in that respect, but I've decided I'd rather have a consistent posting identity than oscillate between being myself and the Masked Man.
#71 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-09-19 23:01
P.S. I've just realized that Mr. Tobin is among the few writers here who've found roots of the present crisis in the changes of the Constantinian era. I meant nothing by failing to refer to him by name -- I simply forgot.
#72 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-09-20 05:59
I hope you'll forgive me for my language above. Disagreement or not, I ought not to have used such a tone, and it is no wonder that you were offended.
#73 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-09-22 10:42
Dear Fellow Orthodox Christian,
I am not without sin in this regard myself. Thank you for your note and absolutely no hard feelings.
#74 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-22 11:58
That is the full extent of the text. It's the homily for July 11 in the Prolog from Ohrid.
#75 ejv on 2008-09-22 14:21
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