Wednesday, November 12. 2008
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As wonderful as Fr. Christopher Wojick's comments were -- spot-on and reflective of how many of us feel -- the disappointment came in the form of +Benjamin's reaction to his comments, which was to say nothing, turn on his heel, and walk away from the podium. To me, this speaks volumes in terms of the Synod's limits in terms of taking responsibility for the events of the past. It seems that they'll only go so far in that regard.
#1 David Maliniak on 2008-11-12 08:10
+ Seraphim's decision is a serious blow to the process in Pitt. It is truly unfortunate that he has removed himself from consideration. Everyone here has seemed to already have elected + Job, but I tell you, he is not the best choice. Knowing all the personalities involved, I believe the best answer is electing + Seraphim as "locum tenens" for Met. until a permanent Met. can be elected in 2011. The election of + Job as Met does nothing to advance the OCA.
#2 Anonymous on 2008-11-12 08:26
One thing about the Orthodox faith is that Christian compassion wins out over obedience, but only for some. The mere request from one person that the Metropolitan resign gets him terminated from his post, while another fully disobeys the entire organization and is allowed to remain on board. This is really bizarre behavior when you compare Woog versus Searfoorce.
(Editor's note: The good news is that Fr. Searforce is a candidate to return to the Council from the AAC. One can only hope he is elected tomorrow.)
Too bad the Bishops have to have Dan Fall point that out to them. The internet must be a real nuisance for them.
In other Synod related matters, my hat goes off to Abp. Seraphim. At a time when our church needs unity, he understands how he cannot provide it and took a very high road for his letter to the delegates. We should all be most gracious to him and work to forgive his past complacency if he discontinues complacent behaviors in the future.
By the way, it is complacent to keep Dr. Woog on through her term and to remove Searfoorce. There is simply no other way to describe these events. We show compassion to one person who disobeys and none to another who speaks tough when times are tough.
Perhaps the Gospel is simply too vague to be a guide for conduct for our hierarchs.
The book does wander quite a bit.
#3 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-11-12 08:53
This paragraph summarizes the gist of the problem in the OCA:
"Several Bishops have made it clear that the clergy and laity are accountable to each other, the clergy and laity are accountable to the Bishops, the Bishops are accountable to each other, and to "other Orthodox Churches", but there is no accountablity of Bishops to clergy or laity. "Of course, " said Bishops Benjamin, "we would be foolish not to listen to your advice." "
If this "ethos" and culture represents the "new and improved" OCA then we're still in serious trouble. Nothing significant seems to have changed with how our bishop see themselves and consider themselves unaccountable to the people. These are not real shepherds but impostors. The important spiritual humility and proper Christian understanding of leadership is still missing in action.
(editor's note: This was Bishop Benjamin's view, and it appears, in electing Bishop Jonah, the Synod as a whole does not share it.)
Here's what the OCA bishops ignore about a proper understanding of servanthood and accountability in the Church:
A Bishop must be a servant:
Let us see what Jesus says about leaders being servants.
Jesus called them together and said, ³You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many. (Mt. 20: 24-28; cf. Mk 10: 42-45)
This clearly demonstrates that all of us who have authority within the Christian community whether lay or ordained are first called to be servants of others. A bishop, because of his enhanced
responsibilities, has the highest level of responsibility and highest need to demonstrate servanthood.
According to this model, when a bishop visits a congregation, it should all be about how the bishop can serve the clergy and people of that congregation rather than how the priest and congregation can serve the bishop. Sadly the majority of my experience in 36 years of ordained ministry has been the latter.
We need bishops who know how to serve and build up the church. We need bishops who understand that the lionıs share of grass roots ministry takes place at the parochial level not at the diocesan level. The men and women in the pews are to be the prime ministers of the Gospel, and the job of the bishop is to support the clergy in enabling that to happen.
The bishop must be willing to be accountable to those under his authority:
This is crucial but frequently overlooked. Besides being under God's authority, the bishop must be willing to be cared for, prayed for, and to be held accountable by those under him. All of us in Christ must be willing to hear the hard word that calls us to transformation and repentance. That is as true for the bishop as for any Christian.
All too often, because of their office, bishops have thought that they were above criticism by anyone including those who are under them.That is not the biblical model.
It seems the Anglican church has a better and more ORTHODOX understanding of a Christian bishop's role than the OCA bishops. Yet another opportunity missed for the hierarchs to return to the proper Orthodox Christian understanding of servant leadership and start walking the talk. They are moving further from the narrow path and guaranteeing more problems and less trust by the rational sheep in the Orthodox Church in America.
It looks like any hopes of true repentance on the part of our hierarchy is just going to be a pipe dream, like many of us have expected. Also, the word and promises of the bishops don't amount to much, either. If not for Fr John Jillions, the "promise" of answering more questions at subsequent sessions would have been "conveniently" ignored. Same old, same old!
I'm sad to say that I am relieved that +Bishop Seraphim has removed his name for consideration as Metropolitan, especially in light of his comments this year, the most absurd being from this past spring that to ask for +Herman's resignation would be the same as committing patricide! Now, hopefully, the way will be clear today for the body at the Council to obtain a two-thirds majority vote for +Archbishop Job as our next Metropolitan!! May God's will be done!!!
#6 David Barrett on 2008-11-12 10:11
Bishops are not accountable to the clergy and/or laity???? Do they have to be reminded that they too are "in the Church" and not "above the Church"? If not for the clergy and laity they would have no parishes....
#7 Anon on 2008-11-12 12:38
We, in Canada, have much to rejoice in our Vladyka. His letter reveals his metal, and his abiding, loving concern for his Canadian flock. We are grateful for him. God grant him many years.
#8 A Canadian on 2008-11-12 14:08
I just read of the election of Jonah. I don't know him. It appears a lot of people like him. However, in the midst of this huge OCA mess, he went from priest, to bishop to metropolitan in just eleven days! I would have felt more comfortable with a voice of more experience.
#9 anon on 2008-11-12 16:32
May God grant +JONAH many years!
I am truly grateful to see that at least one thing has changed consequently, I am deeply concerned that those men who sit on the synod are so callously willing to continue business as usual...
I wonder at how much problem/s they will cause our new Metropolitan.
I cant help but wonder at how much of the previous problems were caused by this common belief that prevails amongst the bishops - I wonder too... how much Kondratic really had to do with the mess? Were they all in on this? seems that might be the case? I dont trust them - this is not innocent until proved guilty... time and their replacement will be the only thing that will restore my faith and trust in that body of the Church.
I pray that some chrisitian humility will permeate the cold hearts and closed minds of those who "rule" with closed eyes and fists... that they will finally resign and allow God's Will to be done.
(editor's note: The Bishop's are hovering over him like proud fathers showing off their new son. In one sense they threw him under the bus; but in an equal sense they seem very committed to ensuring his success, which is, in many parts, their own. Time will tell. )
#10 Ted Panamarioff on 2008-11-12 16:54
Good news, I hope! ....
#11 Anonymous on 2008-11-12 17:30
Quoting from the report: "Several Bishops have made it clear that the clergy and laity are accountable to each other, the clergy and laity are accountable to the Bishops, the Bishops are accountable to each other, and to "other Orthodox Churches", but there is no accountability of Bishops to clergy or laity. "Of course, " said Bishops Benjamin, "we would be foolish not to listen to your advice."
This is bad theology and bad ecclesiology. The bishops are as equally accountable to the laity as the laity are to the bishops. It is called mutual accountability. Otherwise, the bishops make a mockery of the relationships among of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. What Bishop Benjamin described is akin to him saying that the Son and Holy Spirit are accountable to the Father, and the Father is accountable to... Who? Some other trinity? Of course not. No, the Father, in a first among equals position, holds Himself accountable in a relationship of love to the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Bishops emerge from the laos and are accountable to the laos. Will someone please correct Bishop Benjamin's teaching today? What the Bishop is saying reveals an elitist, "chosen" thinking that helped cause the problems we are in. Too many bishops, and clergy for that matter, think they have arrived at some higher plateau of existence after ordination. Set apart does not mean set above. This thinking must be corrected if we are ever going to fix our governance, because our governance emerges from our thinking. If our thinking is wrong, so too will be our decisions, priorities and actions. We must fix our broken ecclesial theology.
#12 Anon. on 2008-11-12 20:58
Reading his biography, he seems to be the right.
but, come on now. We have to move forward. I am sure he is the one to help us move forward, instead of moving back.
Thanks be to God, this was the work of the Holy Spirit.
May God grant him many years.
I am sure it would be hard to move from a foreign country to US. Especially if he does not have to pay taxes. Glory to God, Canada, for you have a wonderful Bishop. AXIOS!
#13 Anonymous on 2008-11-12 22:08
I was listening to +Jonah's answers to the questions from the night before he was voted the Metropolitian. He states that the only way to regain trust is to choose love. I agree with him. If the current Synod of Bishop's love us, they will leave so we can heal from our terrible wounds. I feel that by them still being "in power" I am simply being abused over and over again. We will love and forgive, but they must take responsibility for the pain they caused and move on. It seems there is a double standard here that I am not comfortable with...to take responsibility for one's actions, does not simply mean to say, "as we had no leader, we were unable to do what was right"...I am very saddened that they don't see the path. Although I do love and forgive them, that does not mean I entrust the church to them anymore. They have failed the test and need to move on for their sakes and ours. I was hoping for some realization of this at the AAC, but it does not look like this will happen.
#14 Saddened on 2008-11-12 22:13
Go to the Ancient Faith Radio website, visit the "Specials" section and here his address to AAC on Tuesday. He also delivered the homily during the Divine Liturgy on Wednesday morning and his address on Wednesday and interview as well.
Reading Mark's initial report provides some insight into the events and tenor of the AAC prior to Metropolitan Jonah's address helps put the first address into further context.
#15 John Czukkermann on 2008-11-13 03:47
Saint Cyprian of Carthage, who famously wrote "the bishop is in the Church and the Church is in the bishop," also wrote to his presbyters and deacons: "From the beginning of my episcopacy I made up my mind to do nothing on my own private opinion, without your advice and the consensus of the laity... We will discuss in common, as our respective dignity requires, those things which either have been or are to be done." That sense of "symphony" and mutual accountability, of the "servant leadership" taught by Jesus Christ, seemed to be missing from some of the episcopal remarks at the 15th All-American Council. Yes, the bishops, as shepherds of the Church, are our fathers in God, and we owe them honor, respect and obedience, but they owe us, their flocks, something too. As the Bible says: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.... Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:1-5). And again: "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged" (Colossians 3:20-21). It's a two-way street.
#16 Gregory on 2008-11-13 04:46
Any bishop who thinks he owes no accountability to those he serves should ask himself where he would be without them. Without a flock, the shepherd is out of work. We can always vote with our feet and find a new shepherd if necessary. A bishop would find it much more difficult to find new sheep.
In all of these discussions, though, one thing in particular stands out for me, and that is how fortunate we are still to be able to speak directly to/with our bishops. I am thinking of the scandals of the past decade in the church of Rome, and how really remote those bishops are from their flocks. If you want to see a couple of high-handed, autocratic prelates, take a look at the cardinal archbishops of New York and Los Angeles. We have had our own issues with imperious bishops but ours are models of humility and collegiality, compared with their Roman cousins.
#17 Morton on 2008-11-13 06:57
I stand corrected, only a few of the bishops or maybe just one, +Benjamin, seem to share this view. Thank you Mark for pointing this out.
I hope and pray that the election of the new Metropolitan +Jonah is a change of ethos and the re-birth of a stronger and more orthodox and Christian OCA in the true sense of the Orthodox Faith and Christ's teachings. AXIOS! AXIOS! AXIOS!
I appreciate all of your posts and opinions during the AAC, it is important to me to know what was happening - from your perspecitve too...
Our parish delegate shared the most beautiful details and her feelings, I only wish that I couldve attended.
#19 Ted Panamarioff on 2008-11-13 13:42
I'd really like to think that, indeed, God's will WAS done. And I am overjoyed to admit to you that in our last exchange here, you were right and I was wrong. I do not know that I have ever been so overjoyed to be mistaken in my life! Sorry you had to miss it.
May God keep HB Jonah joyfully and humbly on the straight and narrow path on which he seems to be started.
#20 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2008-11-13 22:30
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