Saturday, February 21. 2009
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I don't like it, I don't like it one bit.
#1 no name on 2009-02-21 16:31
This is all interesting; however, there is no information reported about the outstanding issues of the past administrations; "Old Business," so to speak.
When will the follow-up actions called for in the SIC Report occur?
What findings have been uncovered in the audit of St. Tikhon Monastery/Seminary/bookstore.
Has the Diocese of New York been audited yet? What findings have resulted? If the audit has not been performed yet, why hasn't it taken place.?
#2 Bruce W. Trakas on 2009-02-21 17:27
Wow. So much for hoping for change, for trying to have faith in new leadership. Thanks to Metropolitan Jonah for clarifying the "new" OCA's priorities, though. At least we know who and what we're dealing with. Namely, an institution that is more concerned with protecting itself from legal liability than stopping abuses of all kinds committed by clergy. Excellent.
#3 anonymous on 2009-02-21 17:46
It sounds like the Metropolitan is on the right track. If you look at the OCA Web page, it mentions the Holy Synod the Central Administration, but says nothing about the dioceses.
If the OCA is to be the Local Autocephalous Church, then it must embrace that role fully and be the Church of America. moving beyond the collection of overlapping ethnarchies that Patriarch Tikhon began to assemble. To that end, the parishes of the Albanian and Romanian Episcopates need to be integrated into the geographic dioceses in which they are located rather than remaining as phyletistic exclusions. If they require language-specific resources, they should be organized into sub-episcopal vicariates under the Office of the Metropolitan similar to the way the Western Rite is set up in the Antiochian Archdiocese.
How are diocesan bishops currently selected in the OCA? It would logically follow that, in the future, following through on the Metropolitan's vision, diocesan conventions composed of clergy and lay delegates would select up to three candidates whose names would be forwarded to the Holy Synod for election.
#4 Peter C. on 2009-02-21 18:23
Centralization; decentralization. Exactly what companies do every 5-10 years. Which is better? Which is more effective? Which will serve the laos better?
In this economic environment, why not make each diocese responsible for itself. All their problems are their problems. Then, the Metropolitan can be be free from many of the administrative issues plaguing a central administration.
The problem: mismanaged dioceses can be become seriously damaged and very difficult to correct. However, even in our current centralized administration, this has already happened. Decentralization puts the onus on each diocese and it's bishop.
#5 Anonymous on 2009-02-21 18:41
First of all, thank you for your detailed report of what occurred at the joint Synod-Metropolitan Council meeting this week. Furthermore, thank you for your thought-provoking questions and comments at the end of your report. Yes, there are two more days of the meeting to occur this next week, and maybe more details and clarification will result (as you said, the agenda was pretty full, which precluded the chance for further questions and comments). And, also, yes, it seems our new Metropolitan is more open to feedback, ideas, and dialogue that his predecessor (one's imagination is strained to find a more constrictive environment than the one perpetuated during the four nightmarish years of +Herman's dictatorial reign!). I agree that there needs to be a balance of input and decision-making between the hierarchy, the clergy, and the laity. I had heard that mention was made at the AAC in Pittsburgh in November to have a committee or group of people put together a detailed report on the functions and ministries of hierarchy, clergy, and laity, based on the canonical Tradition of the Church. I believe such a detailed study would be beneficial for all of us in the Church, from the bishops to the clergy to the people. It seems that not only an openness is being promulgated in these "new times," but, also, a willingness to actually listen and hear people, taking what they say seriously! For that, we may thank God, and pray that we, ourselves, can continue to build on this!
#6 David Barrett on 2009-02-21 18:42
I don't either. Perhaps instead of continuing to try to reason with unreasonable, uncaring church leaders, we need to simply protest in public, in front of specific parishes and diocese centers. Alert the media. Not for retribution, but for accountability, protection for others who may not know what lurks there.
#7 anonymous on 2009-02-21 19:22
There is no doubt that Met. Jonah is charting a new course for the Orthodox Church in America. This new course do not negate the vision of the Church first offered here by St. Tikhon. Rather it is a realistic assessment of how best to grow the Church here in North America. The life of the Church is in the dioceses and until the dioceses of the OCA can stand up and do the work they are charged to do, we will limp along.
The most important thing to remember is that a small but effective "Office of the Metropolitan" can do more to facilitate the work that must be done at a central office rather than look big but in fact act small. It is much easier to fix a broken diocese then it is to think that an office in New York or even the meeting of a group of MC members, none elected for any particular skills, but rather a popularity contest can be totally invested in the life of the Church. That is the dual role of members of the Holy Synod and no one else.
I would rather have a group called the MC or whatever you like, made up of women and men who come from diverse backgrounds that can lend their expertise to building up the Church. Not unlike the Board of Trustees at SVS. Professionals, dedicated to the life of the Seminary and willing to do more than just talk but financially support the work of that institution.
The Metropolitan has taken the lead. He is leading. Anyone who in the past thought we lacked leadership should be happy. We now have a man who understands the Church and is willing to get out in front and help shape the future of our Church. Bravo and AXIOS!
#8 I Like It. on 2009-02-21 19:27
It's an error to contrast "synodal" with "conciliar" in the final editorial portion of this article. The history of the Church is replete with councils, and not a one of them is a democratic, populist body. They are all, every one, essentially synods.
The cure for abuse in the episcopacy is not congregationalism but simply a return to the actual tradition of the Church, namely, that the episcopacy be defined not by their "credentials," but by their holiness, and that where they fall from grace, they are deposed appropriately by those appointed by the Holy Spirit to do so -- synods.
(Editor's note: Conciliar does not mean congregationalism, which no one is promoting. Let's drop that red herring from the beginning.)
#9 A Reader on 2009-02-21 19:48
It is called change, but the extent of that change is to further remove the people from governance, which I see as potentially catastrophic.
While the intent to 'shrink' the federal government of the OCA, if you will, might be a good plan. Latter Metroplitan's may still use the office in largess and then the MC will have still less power than it didn't have before!
I think Mark's editorial at the end best sums it up for me, but I think Mark was too kind in the editorial using Nikolai as the example. Unless the MC could be involved in making sure 'pastoral care' was being addressed, the vision is a terrible one and the change would have most likely held intact the regime of Metropolitan Herman and then Chancellor Kondratick.
Metropolitan Jonah's 'vision' is making the clear and obviously delusional leap that Bishops and Metropolitans are always good and that the notion of pastoral care will be the same from Bishop A to Bishop B and that somehow Bishops can help manage each other (HA!). And his plan to minimize the opportunity for financial scandal fails to recognize financial scandal doesn't have to be misuse of resources. It can be abuse of people resolved through the tort system of the US, which can change the budget of the OCA in a hurry.
Metropolitan Herman was not held accountable by the Synod, but rather the MC. In fact, the report demanded by the MC resulted in his removal. Here is a quote from the archives of OCA.ORG.
'His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, addressed numerous concerns that arose in response to information and statements circulated in recent weeks, primarily on the internet. Emphasizing that all financial matters are his responsibility, Metropolitan Herman informed council members that he plans to order independent audits by an outside CPA firm licensed within the State of New York. He further reported that the results of the independent audits will be made available to the Church at large.
Our love and concern must be for the Church, Metropolitan Herman stated, adding that recent allegations, especially those circulated on the internet, are not for the good of the Church.
In response to questions about earmarked donations, Father Strikis noted that such contributions are used as specified by the donors.'
This is the key to why Jonah's vision is wrong.
The MC must have an active role in fielding ethical problems and determining whether 'pastoral care' has been met. This comes directly from Metropolitan Jonah's very own vision of what the shepherd means to the flock in his paper. What do I mean by this? I don't mean annual reviews of Bishops and Metropolitan's, although they ought to consider this amongst themselves to be blunt. I mean the MC ought to be the first step in dealing with ethical issues of the church. The Koumentakos matter and the complaints against Nikolai ought to have been fielded by an independent body. That is, one that wouldn't have quickly pushed the issues under a rug. In the matter of Paul Sidebottom, Bishop Nikolai wouldn't have explained away the matter to Metropolitan Herman if the issue was on a ethics list held by the MC. We know what happened there.
It seems the OCA is actually plagued by SCANDALS, not scandal, and the reason is that the Bishops are human and continually fail to meet pastoral care.
Now, we plan to remove the people from even helping the Bishops at all?
Here is an excerpt from Metropolitan Jonah's very own paper.
The spiritual father is thus accountable to his disciples. True obedience is thus a relationship of absolute mutuality. Thus, the ministry of spiritual fatherhood is a charism within the Church and for the sake of the Church, not over it. The bishops and presbyters are part of the People of God, not lords over them; as spiritual fathers, they can only function within this structure of mutual accountability and responsibility, upon which all Christian authority rests.'
(Editor's note: Dan betrays his residence in Minnesota. In Norwegian, "uff da" is an interjection used when something is scary, uncomfortable, hurtful, annoying, sad or boring . "Uff da" is most often used as a response when hearing something lamentable, and could often be translated as" Oh, I'm sorry to hear that." )
#10 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-02-22 07:30
This is an addendum to my earlier post. I read the entire statement of Metropolitan Jonah which was far longer than the editorial here and I am cautiously optimistic about what he wrote. I especially like the fact that he reflected on the past issue (singular).
I would like to reiterate my concern that the MC has truly been a powerless structure and the Synod, not the MC made the critical error in 1998 discounting audits through a bylaw. Further minimizing the MC to a fund raising body seems outright dangerous.
Here is what I propose from my kitchen stool in Saint Paul. My proposal is not egotistical and I seek no aggandizement, in fact, I'd rather stop posting here altogether:
I simply propose that any changes made are made based upon their ability to minimize the financial risks to the church body and to maximize their ability to help suppose and foster the growth and sustainance of the church and that the changes would have made past outcomes better, not worse. That is, if the changes in the Statute that I've also long called for, could have prevented the scandal, I'm for it. If the changes discount, or disconsider the scandal and only blame three men for the entire problem, I will discount the changes. Equally, the matters of the Koumentakos and Sidebottom court problems ought to be able to be properly managed by the Bishops and not US law, and these issues as well ought to have a reasonable means to be processed and not quickly swept under a rug by a Bishop, only to rear up their ugly head in the court system. This is shameful.
No rules are perfect, but good rules can stop many of the problems the OCA has been encountering and it is my prayer that the changes reflect the need.
Tactically, I would hope the new structure/Statute will carefully put these cases into the structure and determine the likely outcome.
That is, if Metropolitan Herman had the future rules, what would the likely outcome have been? Nikolai's lawsuit? RSK's lawsuit? Koumentakos lawsuit? Sidebottom lawsuit? RSK's defrocking? RSK's continued role in the OCA? Wheeler termination?
I ask these issues be theoretically applied to a new structure and a likely outcome determined before changes are adopted.
This is my hope.
#11 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-02-22 09:07
Don't really know, but sounds like centralizing power and authority and decision-making (to the episcopate), while decentralizing the financial responsibility and work to the laity : pay, pray and obey.
Good or bad??
My humble opinion is that obedience can only be based on love. I can only obey someone unreservedly whom I love. What do I love in the one I obey: I love my own true self in them (i.e. Christ, for it is no longer I who live), because love makes us one. Obedience cannot be mandated because of hierarchy if there is no self-sacrificing love and respect flowing downward, and drawing love back to itself. It's not about congregationalism vs.hierachical , but about serving one another in love. It's not about protecting the institution, but of living the Gospel.
#12 Ever and anon. on 2009-02-22 11:12
Decentralization also called departmentalization is the policy of delegating decision-making authority down to the lower levels in an organization, relatively away from and lower in a central authority. A decentralized organization shows fewer tiers in the organizational structure, wider span of control, and a bottom-to-top flow of decision-making and flow of ideas.
In a centralized organization, the decisions are made by top executives or on the basis of pre-set policies. These decisions or policies are then enforced through several tiers of the organization after gradually broadening the span of control until it reaches the bottom tier.
In a more decentralized organization, the top executives delegate much of their decision-making authority to lower tiers of the organizational structure. As a correlation, the organization is likely to run on less rigid policies and wider spans of control among each officer of the organization. The wider spans of control also reduces the number of tiers within the organization, giving its structure a flat appearance. One advantage of this structure, if the correct controls are in place, will be the bottom-to-top flow of information, allowing all decisions among any official of the organization to be well informed about lower tier operations. For example, an experienced technician at the lowest tier of an organization might know how to increase the efficiency of the production, the bottom-to-top flow of information can allow for this knowledge to pass up to the executive officers.
#13 Anonymous on 2009-02-22 11:52
The episcopate is accountable first of all to Jesus Christ as we all are, but also to the Church as a whole as the Body of Christ. If they are not the Incarnation means nothing.
It is interesting that despite or perhaps because of their vows of obedience, the monastic communities has, in the past, exercised an ad hoc method of episcopal accountability. We do not yet have an integrated monastic presence in the U.S. that would allow them to act in such a manner.
Regardless of structure, immediate episcopal accountability is to us, the laity and clergy just as we have accountability to the episcopate. As in marriage, it is mutual submission in love.
Such accountability resides in our willingness to be more complete Christians ourselves to be witnesses to the love of Christ in all that we do.
It would seem prudent to allow for a structure that makes it easier, rather than more difficult, for such accountablity to be exercised, even if it is primarily on a diocesan level.
Just as important is that bishops be with their flock on a regular basis, "out amongst 'em" so to speak. Not just at banquets and liturgies, but as teachers and pastors. The Imperial Episcopate must perish. The episcopate must be imbedded in the community, not separate from it.
We should all want to be around our bishop and our bishop should desire above all to be with us. We are not enemies. We need the authority of the bishops and they need our love, prayers and holy desire for union with Christ.
Personally, one major move that would help accomplish what I describe is to have more bishops. More and smaller dioceses would help prevent the isolationist, despotic idea of the episcopate. In that context, opening the episcopate to more mature, married clergy (kids raised) might make sense.
The least tenable idea I find in Met. Jonah's proposal is that only the bishops elect the bishops. Not a good idea.
#14 Michael Bauman on 2009-02-22 17:17
When last seen in these pages I believe I had obejcted to Mark's serve, and he replied by complimenting my backhand with one of his own. I'd better duck this time!
But the post to which I am replying is too priceless to ignore.
1. It is the first comment on Met. Jonah's proposal.
2. A completely anonymous no name purports to send it.
3. The person dislikes the proposal IN TOTO.
4. The person offers no reason at all for blanket rejection.
Haven't we come to the place in the OCA debate - or at least the portion of the discussion that takes place here - that a couple of advances in technique and programming are in order? Even American Idol's creators realize that you can't keep parading the same old tone-deaf wannabes out there year after year and expect it to sell.
The changes I would advocate here are three:
1. Define the scope of the discussion and stick to it.
We know that single issue lobbies like the abuse-fighters will be ready with the reductio, happy at any time to focus the discussion on their issue and the self-described herculeanity of the task they have set themselves.
2. Require the majority of, if not all, commentators must participate accountably under their own names.
We were told in the beginning that treacherous, retaliatory people in power would make folks pay. While some of those who have been toppled were still in power, I must admit to believing that there was more than a little such danger.
But now that they are gone and there is a new administration which wishes to be known for openness to responsible discussion of conflicting views, I think it is time to put it to the test. And especially in the context of a debate of such magnitude - the future shape of a wounded Church that seeks to experience some healing and must choose from a very broad range indeed of possible remedies.
3. A broader editorial base.
Back in the day when the sole focus here was on removing the old regime from power and shedding light on dark practices of the past, a single man with a single mind and a singular focus was more or less adequate for the task. (I know Mark doesn't claim that he actually was adequate, but to his credit did his best anyway and must be honored for it.)
But now we see the scope broadened immensely. Sure there are remaining questions about who did or did not do what to whom or with other people's money in the past.
But there has been a shift. What is the Church supposed to be in the world? How does a church with czarist roots transplant itself into post-modern, egalitarian, Protestant soil? How does a Church that has been lax about financial controls and the screening and supervision of a certain segment of its clergy get out of the ditch on that side of the road without overcorrecting into the one on the opposite side?
Even giving Mark full marks for what he has done before, I do not see how such a momentous discussion can flourish here without broader editorial participation. There is a reason why the best newspapers of bygone days had editorial BOARDS - and it is far more than just the need to cover for vacations and illnesses. No one man was considered to have the resources of dispassion, compassion, breadth of vision, etc. necessary to define a great newspaper's editorial position unilaterally.
Now if he or we want this site to continue to be "Mark's Corner," with all the advantages and limits that implies, so be it. But I think the site aspires to a whole lot more and is capable of a whole lot more. Contributions to the renewal that can only be achieved by letting more, and well-chosen, people in on the top floor.
Those of us who have been around a whle - and been in other places besides just the OCA - have seen example after example of inspired individuals whose gifts and vision at a particular point enabled them to do something very useful, but who then, through clinging to one-man vision and power sort of institutionalized themselves after the initial crisis had passed.
Maybe this site needs to continue to be the enfant-terrible of OCA discussion, and the more important, responsible discussion of the big issues by people with names and views they are willing to affix those names to must shift to some other site. So be it.
But with Met. Jonah taking the risk to raise big ideas and make himself vulnerable to the process of debating them without iron fisted control of the outcome, I suggest that the time for one man editorship of a site of fuzzy focus and a large majority of anonymous patricipants has passed; it is no longer adequate for making the best contributions to the larger task at hand.
(Editor's note: I might suggest your remarks would be more effective if they were addressed to OCA.org, rather than OCANews.org. Rather than worry about a few anonymous writers, which if they don't post here will post elsewhere, why not spend the time trying to build up OCA.org beyond its propaganda functions, such that OCANews.org as a whole would be pointless.... But then, as you point out, this is just one man's thoughts.)
#15 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-02-22 17:34
I guess any model, properly put in place, can work.
I just wonder what challenges this "new model" may bring.
Our OCA has just undergone several challenges, precisely within the episcopate.
This new model will leave me questioning until I see more of how it has been implemented.
#16 Patty Schellbach on 2009-02-22 17:43
Wow! So, let me see if I understand correctly. We are trading a corrupt Metropolitan and national office for 10+ potentially corrupt dioceses!
Does Metropolitan Jonah understand the corruption on the diocesan level? Alaska? His own Diocese of NY/NJ where non-Orthodox still occupy the residence of former +Peter?! The Diocese of the South where Fr. K. still wears a cassock? Diocese of E. PA where St. Tikhon's is proving to be in some respect more corrupt than the former national office itself?
The church is centralized to bring order. My gosh - decentralizing can create absolute corruption and chaos - almost independent churches with no binding obligations.
And, I, like everyone here, am amazed on the reduction of of the Metropolitan Council involvement and laity in decision making.
NO PRIEST OR BISHOP should be in charge of funds. The treasurer and secretary should be LAY positions! There should be absolute separation between the spiritual mission of the church and the the business of the church. For me, there is an absolute difference.
The church needs a business administration office with qualified MBA-type personal to handle the business, marketing, legal and human resource complexities of the church, separate from the spirituality of the church which should always be headed by our bishops.
Just because the MC was ineffective in the past, doesn't mean it should be eliminated / reduced in the future. In my opinion, it should completely resolve, and new members unscathed from the past should be elected.
Nonetheless, there must be a balance. There must also be a well-thought direction and understanding of the ramification of decentralization.
+MJ needs to look first to his own diocese!
I believe we are heading into an extremely scary period for our church.
#17 Anonymous on 2009-02-22 19:02
It was with a sense of disappointment that I read the Metropolitan's vision for the OCA. It appears that the way forward is the way backward, that is, to exalt the role of the Synod at the expense of the other clergy and the laity. There is little comfort in this given the lack of administrative oversight by the Synod for these many years. The Metropolitan needs to focus on the structures necessary for full transparency and accountability. It is only when this occurs will the OCA be able to prosper and thrive.
#18 David M. Paynter on 2009-02-22 20:06
To put things in perspective, decentralization is something which some bishops, like +Job, have been asking for for years. So maybe it's not all a bad idea cooked up by evil people out west somewhere.
I don't think the OCA is big enough to support the current levels of the CCA, the economics simply aren't there. So I agree with +Job that it makes a lot better economic sense to keep most money on the diocesan level, rather than funneling money in circles through the CCA and then right back out to who-knows-where.
Also, there is confusion on the popular level about who/what the Metropolitan is to them. NY/NJ has had to function the past few years without actually having a bishop (a bishop, in the minds to most people, is someone who comes to their parish every once in a while on parish feasts and occasionally tonsures/ordains one of their fellow parishioners). In other places the Metropolitan is little more than a mere name. These are problems which lack a clear answer, but somehow they need to be fixed.
Also, I think it is fallacious to assume that if things are decentralized everything else will remain exactly the same, with the effect of consolidating power with the bishops, i.e. with an even weaker MC to keep an eye on things. Even if the "federal" MC is reduced to mere fundraising, this doesn't mean that each "state" can't form its own "MC", its own board to give advise and make sure rules are followed and books are balanced. In fact, I think such a localized "MC" could be far more effective than the current "federal" MC. A local "MC" could spot troubled Deaneries, pinpoint dysfunctional parishes, and reexamine "funny" books far quicker and easier, and maybe then problems could manage to be dealt with before they blossom into large lawsuits and enormous spiritual pain.
All I'm saying is that I think +Jonah is trying to save the OCA (yes, it needs saving) and in order to do that he needs us to work with him constructively. If you think his plan has loopholes, suggest ways they can be fixed. If you think there needs to be more lay involvement in choosing bishops, suggest a way that can be done fairly and honestly. But I think we can all agree that the OCA can not continue as it has and expect to have a future. Hard decisions will have to be made and changes will have to be made. +Jonah has decided that just changing the faces in Syosset is not enough to save the OCA, and economically speaking I think he's right. So, please, let's stop saying that +Jonah's trying to make us a bunch of bishop Nikolai's, it's really not helpful.
#19 Anonymous on 2009-02-22 22:52
Read between the lines. The decentralization is a necessary step towards Met. Jonah's long term goal - American Orthodox Unity, in addition to being both more canonically correct and more practical administratively. It has to happen.
#20 Gene on 2009-02-23 06:50
I wonder where +Job stands on all of this?
#21 Anonymous on 2009-02-23 10:26
I agree with comment #1 I don't like it. The AAC, Metropolitan Council, and Diocesan Councils are important lay-voiced bodies. I always thought that the Metropolitan was bishop of a local diocese and was the "head" spokesperson to the rest of the world -- Orthodox and nonOrthodox. This new idea (my words) seem more like the Metropolitan being the head of the church as in the Roman Catholic Church. Talk of the Orthodox Church being concillar and not like the Roman Catholic Church doesn't appear to an accurate mindset. The faithful do not have faith in the way the Church has been administered. The Synod of Bishops have not been able to dicipline each other. This new plan does not seem to resolve the real problems--removing corruption from the Church, being fullly accountable to the laity and each other. Clergy and Bishops tell the laity they have an equal voice in the Church--theoligans who are not ordained, are laity and an educated laity where is their role in all of this. Our faithful today, for the most part are very well educated in both secular and theological realm. This new proposal does not live up to giving the educated laymen a voice in the administration of the Orthodox Church. It just sounds like the bishops are still trying to cover issues up and get themselves off the hook.
#22 anonymous on 2009-02-23 10:38
Perhaps I don't understand the meaning of the word "conciliar." The Synod IS conciliar, by definition, is it not? And it is "counsel" at this level (perhaps also including some participation by the so-called lower clergy) that is implied in the word conciliar, at least historically, is it not? I'm not aware of any use of the term outside of these OCA discussions where conciliar is used to imply participation by a broad base of lay people.
As to whether the Metropolitan Council should be retained or not, I have so little experience of seeing it functioning effectively that I can't really voice an opinion. It does seem to me that the main issue revolves around choosing better leaders at all levels, and then letting them lead; and that adding layers of oversight or participation by the laity (bottom-to-top), who may or may not be qualified to participate in canonically binding decisions, is more apt to hamper efficiency and transparency than to promote it. But I could be completely out to lunch on this.
#23 Morton on 2009-02-23 11:01
"In the same manner, if the OCA had been operating under this new vision, it is most likely that the former Bishop of Alaska would still be in Anchorage, not Australia. Why, having suffered through Nikolai's predations, ( and the Synod as much as his diocese) would the Synod, the Metropolitan Council, or the OCA as a whole then want to endorse and embrace something so similar to his oft-repeated vision of "diocesan" sovereignty? "
Gee, isn't it nice that the OCA is moving in the direction Nikolai wanted? You guys are just too much...
Moses the Tlingit
#24 Moses on 2009-02-23 13:07
Thank you, Mr. Fall. I agree with everything you've written here.
I also reread +Jonah's opening address and I have a few questions for him:
He wrote, "The presbyters and deacons, in particular, as well as all the faithful, are in a relationship of obedience to the bishop, and accountable to him for their service within the Church".
Is not Fr. Raymond Velencia in a relationship of obedience to you, as his bishop? If so, what are you doing to intervene in the Koumentakos matter since according to your outline, you are the one who has the responsibility to do so? Do you condone the tactics being used by defense attorneys in court who say that the OCA does not know Mrs. Koumentakos and the the diocese is like a Holiday Inn franchise? Do you support the clergy award Fr. Velencia was given by +Herman last May shortly after the civil lawsuit was filed?
#25 Anonymous on 2009-02-23 13:29
+Jonah’s contribution has many worthwhile features such as decentralisation. However, it is fatally flawed by a total absence of decentralisation of power – especially as it relates to serving liturgies and the dispensing of sacraments, and the clerical monopoly related thereto.
Bishops and above need to be reminded that [in +Jonah’s own words: “The bishops are not the Church”] and are there for the bene esse of the church, and in and of themselves do not constitute the esse of the church. They are merely one charism amongst a number, not the central charism entitled, ex officio, to “discern” and hence “judge” (and control) all other charisms.
His contribution betrays a totally Romanita ecclesiology that has pervaded the Roman Catholic Curia for the last 1400+ years (since +Gregory I). It effectively defines “church” in terms of bishops and above.
And the “laity” (which includes priests!) are only “in the church” as they are “in submission to” a canonical bishop who is in apostolic succession. +Jonah’s quoting of Apostolic Canons and a Canon of Chalcedon betrays this Romanita.
The Americans and Canadians share a British ecclesiastical history, not that of a Latin or Greek Roman Empire history (pace Romanides). This involves for those of British descent a substantial “arms-length” from Romanita. How does this apply to the “Canons” of the Church?
We British (the oldest gentile Church in the world, and far closer to the Jewish origins of the Church than any other gentile Church in the Roman Empire) took a very diffident view of the proceedings of Church Councils held within the Roman Empire. In the British (Celtic) Church, we never had Roman Law. Our Laws were Brehon and not Roman.
We accepted without question all output of Church Councils – in terms of Canons and dogmatic teaching – which related to the Holy Trinity and its subsets of Christology and Pneumatology.
However, any Canon from any Council including “ecumenical”) which implied the existence of Roman Law or required a Roman manner of ecclesiastical organisation we British rejected as inapplicable to British Christianity. This included output (including Canons) from “ecumenical” Councils!
In this regard, many “Apostolic Canons” are Constantinian or beyond, they betray too many Constantinian anachronisms to be credibly claimed as pre-Constantine. Thus, most Church “Canon Law” is Romanita.
For the OCA to move forward in a North American setting, it needs to abandon its Romanita, and begin to move within a Brehon-Law framework. This will mean the abandonment of a Roman “top-down” power-structure, with a consequential abandonment of many heretofore clergy-monopolies.
Clerical (and especially Episcopal) monopolies – the magnet for all power-hungry individuals – hardly existed in the Celtic Church.
A Brehon Law framework and a British modus operandi, for example, would have weeded out Herman, Kondraticks and co. before they became clergy.
Sadly, and without wishing to be a party-pooper from afar, there are still more power-scandals hidden in the OCA. Some: pure-power, others financial and administrative, yet others sexual misdemeanours.
I encourage this site to shine the klieg-lights of the Gospel into these shadowy corners, so that deeds done in darkness man be revealed in the light.
#26 John B on 2009-02-23 14:19
Regarding congregationalism, Wiki defines it as a "system of church governance in which every local church congregation is independent, ecclesiastically sovereign, or "autonomous." "Congregation" is defined in Webster as " a religious community: as (1): an organized body of believers in a particular locality." I suspect you know this already so I apologize for being redundant, but I am reiterating to make a foundation for my point.
It is a particularly Eastern Orthodox concept that each local church under its overseer (Bishop) is ecclesiastically and spiritually complete. That is why in Orthodoxy we do not have super bishops. We do however have deputy-overseers (presbyters) and deacons. My point simply is that the revisioning of +Jonah may well result in congregationalism in the guise of a diocese. For what is a diocese but an organized body of believers in a particular locality, headed by one overseer and his deputies? For all practical purposes, each diocese will be very autonomous--I should say each Bishop will have his own fiefdom, with little imposition to its autonomy by other Bishops, even the Metropolitan. We have seen the sad results of such an approach recently in Alaska.
On the other hand, it is clear from the earliest of times that leadership of the Church is to be entrusted to people qualified in many ways. Apostle Paul orders, and it pays to repeat it over and over, that "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." (1 Timothy 3: 2-7)
Think about this: a bishop is supposed to be a man of the world, with quite a bit of worldly experience and responsibility (wife and grown up children), and able to provide for his family--the last bit leading us to think that he has an occupation of some sorts, being able to pay rent or make house payments, feed and clothe the family, able to teach--overall an exemplary person. Nothing here about being holy, celibate or monastic. Upon consecration, the overseer' main job was to rightly divide the truth of the word (teach) and act as the chief priest of his congregation. The bishop was not supposed to be responsible for everything, a point made a quite a few times in the New testament (see deacons and deaconesses). And, oversees and bishops alike are subject to checks and balances for they are to have wives !
To the ordinary reader, the Holy Scriptures are sometimes crystal clear and make common sense. That is because we were made in His image and likeness and are capable of using our God-given reason. We are not using common sense (or God's gift) in this matter.
It is not reasonable to expect a mental health counselor to also be a welder. Not anybody can control air traffic, fly jets, paint masterpieces, or compose great music. You get my drift: God created us so that each one of us is differently endowed with some talent, ability, inclination. On top of this, we each have different life experiences (often different from our talents or inclinations).
Since that very common sense beginning, what made our Church leaders believe that only monastics and widowed-priests can and should become bishops? (That is after first setting apart man and wife at the Council at Trullo) That bishops should be not merely the chief priests and teachers but also chief everything? I know this is what happened in the canons but the audacity of such unscriptural practice is beyond my understanding.
Anyway, we would not have this "revisioning" problem if we merely follow the Orthodox practice of overseers and deacons, with a correct interpretation of the role of laity that stems from "the royal priesthood of believers." This is nothing new: all throughout the centuries (even today) powerful laity have run the Church, although disguised as Emperors, Sultans, Tsars, Chief Procurators, or the Department of Religious Affairs. We even here that Patriach Kiril is talking about a renaissance of the Byzantine symphonia (Good Lord, have mercy!) In the United States, we do not have kings, tsars and commissars; "we the people" are the ultimate authority. Church practice should be given some consideration here. As traditionalists fall back to, 'we've always done it this way." So, why is +Jonah deviating from centuries of practice?
In this, I am somewhat encouraged by +Jonahs' words that "(in the Orthodox Church, according to the Canons, all responsibility rests ultimately on the bishops: spiritual as well as financial and organizational.) They may and should designate people to handle such affairs, both for the sake of ability to administer and to guard the reputation and integrity of the bishop."
I just wish he had said "They must designate people to..." rather than the wishy-washy "They may and should..." +Jonah is much more optimistic than Saint Paul or the Apostolic Fathers in the ability of monastics to become bishops who can handle the responsibility for financial and administrative affairs, on top of spiritual affairs. Even if they delegate, the bishop must have a good grounding in finances. I can see a married bishop have an inkling (just from running his household), I just don't see monks, who are pledged to poverty and prayer, making sense of finances or administration. Frankly, even if a bishop has an MBA (or perhaps because he has an MBA), he will know to make somebody else responsible for finances for this sound financial and organizational practice. Even if a bishop has a MPA (or because of it), he will know that he must hire the best people to fill in his weak areas. I could go on...
Forgive me if I have offended anyone, Carl
#27 Carl on 2009-02-23 17:16
i agree with you, i called for protests on this site last year. Face it, our people barely have a good grasp on cabbage let alone taking to the streets. the converts are either into the stillness stuff or are looking intellectually for solutions. contrary to what some priests teach liturgy is not the solution to all problems.
Your suggestion hits home with me.
#28 no name on 2009-02-23 17:37
Bishops and Metropolitans sweeping things under rugs is actually pretty scary.
The Catholic church is feeling the pain of that daily. Our problems aren't greatly different.
If we look closely at all the problems; I'd say the root cause is trying to hide the issues typically by domination of some powerless third party, whether it be Wheeler, Sidebottom, Oleska, Searfoorce, Koumentakos, etc. We could extend the list to people that were complicit, because they understood they had to help hide things or they'd end up dominated as well. I'd say Strikis and Kucynda fall in that category, along with a few others I'm failing to remember.
How to stop Bishops from sweeping problems under the rug?
#29 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-02-23 18:21
The difference between centralization and decentralization is the source of authority - in the former, authority is delegated from above, in the latter, from below. In the United States, we have a federal system, where the various states are subordinated to the central authority. This is contrasted with the Canadian system, a confederation, whereby the provinces retain all authority not specifically given to the central government.
As we contemplate the role of the various structures we need (I think) to keep in mind two things.
First, the Apostolic Canons are one thing - the Apostles something else. Deacons were chosen to relieve the Apostles from the burden of administering the Church. While they retained the authority, the Apostles delegated the responsibility.
Secondly, we need to make sure the Metropolitan and MC (and all of us for that matter) understand that fiduciary duty is not a duty that is assigned - it is, in and of itself. Fundraising may be a duty, but it is not (and cannot) be a fiduciary duty. I would encourage a quick read of the Wikipedia page on "fiduciary duty". The duty of a fiduciary is to place the good of the organization above the good of self. It is a very Christian concept - placing the needs, wants, desires and good of others before our self-interest. Metropolitan Council members have that duty, according to our current statute, and members of the Holy Synod have that duty as well - both by our Statute and from our scriptures, and the example of our Lord.
A fiduciary holds something of value that belongs to another. The bank, the investment house, the government - all have fiduciary responsibilities. None of which are fundraising.
I'm not attempting to pick nits here - as the history of our church demonstrates, words and their meanings are critically important.
I believe His Eminence has made a good proposal as a starting point for discussion. Now it is time to discuss. It must not be a fait d'compli. We are struggling with issues the Church has never faced - how to hold the hierarchy accountable in a democracy.
In Christ our Savior, wishing all a beneficial Lent,
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#30 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-02-23 19:05
At the risk of sounding like a broken record:
How can one determine if the governance procedures of the OCA need to be changed when for all intents and purposes, so many of the existing standards and responsibilities were never enforced or complied with to begin with? So many of the failures and problems of the OCA can be traced back to non-compliance and lack of accepting already defined responsibility. Had the problems been a direct result of the statutes being enforced, then obviously the statutes might need to be changed. Had the problems been a direct result of faithfully executing the will of the AACs, then obviously AACs are not the place for an expression of will. But if no one is doing their defined job, and no one is complying with the decisions of those responsible for making decisions, there is no way to tell if those jobs were properly defined or the decisions had merit.
No matter what new organizing principles are adopted, if compliance remains lacking, the venture will fail. A true artist never blames his brushes for his artistic failures. The long standing culture of low standards, low expectations and a routine failure to live up to those standards/expectations is the basic cause of the problem.
#31 Overseas Observer on 2009-02-24 04:33
The idea of eliminating the Metropolitan Council is not a good idea. Doing this would only consolidate more unregulated power in the Metropolitan and Synod itself. This is precisely how the OCA got into it's past mess. What is needed is a Metropolitan Council as an ongoing review board of the Metropolitan, the Synod and all of their activities. Of course, under the proposed decentralization plan, each diocese will have to regulate and audit themselves with lay participation. However, the need for a "higher council" of lay participation over the entire church should remain. In this manner, issues within the church at the diocese level and Metropolitan level can be reviewed quarterly or semi-annually before certain issues fester for years.
#32 Anonymous on 2009-02-24 07:07
Right on, Overseas Observer. Sadly, I laughed when I read that the policies for handling misconduct are scheduled for updating...per the Sidebottom settlement....at the discretion (good faith?) of the Synod. Same for +Jonah's Re-vision. Words on paper don't mean a damn thing if people in charge don't follow their own rules....let alone follow Christ's.
#33 Anonymous on 2009-02-24 07:50
I appreciate the irony of your embrace of Lutheran theology, wherein the episcopate is defined as being of the bene esse of the Church, rather than the esse. But perhaps you are confused as to who we are. We are Orthodox Christians; and Orthodoxy teaches clearly, plainly and unambiguously that the episcopate is of the esse of the Church as the continuation of the apostolic ministry, inalienably part of the Church's DNA.
As for "Romanitas" (Mehercle! at least get the Latin right!), well...using "Roman" as an epithet for everything bad and/or theologically unsound is gratuitous at best and historically untrue. Kindly remember the Tome of Leo; the vast writings of Sts. Ambrose, Justin Martyr, etc.; the musical wonder (whether or not you appreciate the depths of his theological writings) of St. Gregory the Great's contributions, etc. And your "take" on the British Church is at best an apologia rather than accurate history.
Holy mother Hilda of Whitby, pray to God for us!
#34 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-02-24 08:32
Awhile back Robert Wachter submitted a very informative and lengthy reflection about fiduciary responsbility.
Of course there would never have been a need for such a reflection if the Church was managing itself well. I don't have much hope of things changing with Metropolitan Jonah's Re-vision paper.
Of particular interest to me when I read the reflection again was Mr. Wachter's explanation of the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine. I encourage everyone to read it.
Talk about covering things up. Lets look at this possible scenario. The Church mismanages itself. Situations which can and should be handled internally in the Church end up in the court system. Instead of correcting things or even prividing a plausible defense, the Church resorts to saying "yes, maybe this is a bad priest, but the law says that the Church cannot get involved". The judge agrees that yes, the priest is bad, but also that the court cannot do anything about it. (I disagree that the court cannot get involved - Mr. Wachter gives good explanation of neutral princicpals - but whether a judge would ever look at a hierarchical church matter without taking the way out provided by the ecclesiastical abstention is unknown to me. I am not a lawyer). The case is dismissed. The Church instructs everyone to move on. Shameful, I agree Mr. Fall.
#35 Anonymous on 2009-02-24 08:51
Yes, cover-ups. What about .....? Yes, the priest was defrocked, but did the Church learn from what happened? For instance, why did the OCA continue to utilize the "investigative" services of Fr. Alexey Karlgut, who has no formal training in such work and who operated more like a bully than a cleric? Is he still part of the OCA's Office of Sexual Misconduct, as Mark called here recently?
(Editor's note: According to Fr. Garklavs, at the most recent MC meeting, the OCA no longer employs Fr. Karlgut in this capacity.)
#36 Anonymous on 2009-02-24 10:15
I have to disagree with those that believe the risk is larger for decentralized than for centralized.
We have a situation where the Bishop of Alaska was removed by the Synod, not a metropolitan. There are elements of accountability in that move.
In the past we have had, more or less, a monarchial Synod, where power is held in the hands of the Metropolitan. As I understand what Met. Jonah has written, a bishop is not accountable to the Metropolitan, unlike the operation of our Synod in the past.
If we truly have a Synod that holds one another accountable, then the devolution idea actually decreases risk, simply because more people are involved (a gaggle of Bishops vs. One Papal Metropolitan).
The potential for abuse of power is always there. That's why the behavior of Archbishop JOB over the past few years has been such an example. In his relationships with the other bishops in the Synod, he did not act as one under accountability to the Metropolitan. He fulfilled his role as a Bishop and said "This is not right." In the relations with his diocese, he has always kept his diocesan council advised and informed, and sought their counsel. He didn't always follow their advise, but there was (and is) transparency there.
This devolving can work - but the one thing that will have to occur is for the Bishops to learn how to be a Synod, and a Holy Synod, and not defer to the Metropolitan.
In Christ our Savior,
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#37 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-02-24 10:19
I'd go for less wordy posts....... we all know the issues, people involved, and the rumors,
just a thought.
#38 no name on 2009-02-24 11:25
As noted in the past you are not on OCA clergy but yet you have a lot to say and condemn about what goes on in the OCA. Based upon this last article you write maybe it would be best if you had a web site of your own, a forum so to speak, where you can control all the in's and out's of what is being presented. Regardless of who writes what you critique every passage. Remember, we are all different personalities and what I or anyone else says is not necessarily in agreement what you may think or feel. You come across as being the expert in all that is said and done here. Quick to correct another persons concerns, ideas or attitude. Like Mark said, maybe you should address your ideas to OCA.org.
#39 Hal Pukita on 2009-02-24 11:35
It is not just "the people in charge" who have not complied with existing standards. Parishes, clergy and individuals have all been selective in which standards they will follow and which they will ignore. Of course, this behavior is reinforced by leaders failing and/or refusing to enforce the existing standards. In short, the culture of the OCA is one of regular and routine willful misbehavior and expedience.
Rather than completely redesign the standards for the OCA, I would suggest that each and every member, from Metropolitan on down, begin to comply fully and faithfully with the spirit and letter of the current canons, statutes, structure and policies. That means fully and faithfully bearing one's responsibilities, and holding one's fellow Christian to their responsibilities within the Church. Do this for three years and see where it takes you. That would be three more years of full responsibility than the OCA has experienced since autocephaly.
If the current behavioral patterns continue, no changes in the "rules" will offer any benefit.
#40 Overseas Observer on 2009-02-24 11:38
Dear Fr. George,
I don't know how you can say "I do not see how such a momentous discussion can flourish here without broader editorial participation."
There is an entire section on OCANews.org which argues against that narrow opinion, it is called "Reflections."
#41 Bill Samsonoff on 2009-02-24 12:30
Take to the streets.......that must have been that Theopaphmarxvoltaireimus fellow. I must have missed him during my catechism.
#42 Anonymous on 2009-02-24 15:12
Is fund raising a fiduciary duty? Do bishops have the education and talents to take on the job of a greater body like the MC?
Not that they are not well educated, but are they trained to be the sole voice of an organization that has some pretty sophisticated financial and legal needs. I suppose if 2/3 of an AAC agree, then we will see someday. And if it works great, but if not, then the people will get the leadership they ask for.
Seems more like the bishops should be left to tend to the vineyard and work with and bless or spiritually discipline an MC charged with "waiting at table":
"And the 12 called together the whole community of disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables. Therefore, select from among yourselves 7 men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.... The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith."
#43 Anonymous on 2009-02-24 16:39
Along with all the suggestions, both from +Metropolitan Jonah and others regarding reorganization of duties, responsibilities, and accountability, shouldn't there be a move to establish spiritual accountability??? For instance, there is a check-and-balance system in parishes for lay people to regularly partake of the Sacrament of Confession. There exists the same check-and-balance system for this same Sacrament for parish clergy, priests and deacons. However, is there any check-and-balance or accountability system to make sure that bishops regularly partake of the Sacrament of Confession?? Or, is it/has it been that, once the multiple laying on of hands occurs and someone then wears the black or white hat, that they are then "exempt" from the act of repentance for the duration of their lives?? To some, this may seem like a facetious question. However, in light of what has occurred during this crisis, and, more especially, how some of our hierarchy have acted (and, at other times, not acted), I wonder if they are called to "work out [their] own salvation in fear and trembling!" I believe that if our episcopacy were to seriously follow the Gospel of our Lord ("Repent! For, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"), and were accountable to do so on a regular basis, this could head off at the pass, so to speak, many of the abhorrent sins that we have seen in this crisis! Without a regular and disciplined life of repentance, Confession, and accountability, it is no wonder that so many hierarchs fall into the very tempting sin of infallibility (that is, thinking that they, themselves, are infallible). Living the life of the Gospel and the Sacraments (especially including Confession) on the part of our hierarchs would set the example for all of us in the Church to live that life, and would be a spiritual barometer for them, ensuring that the self-righteous and indignant atrocities of the past don't repeat themselves!!
#44 David Barrett on 2009-02-24 20:21
Dear Bill and Hal:
Bill's point about the reflections is completely valid. I did not mean to ignore or undervalue that section. Nevertheless I think the point I was trying to make has some merit too: all the news articles and all the editorial work is that of one man. I think in this stage of the debate, a broader editorial base would be beneficial, and I hope you will at least consider the idea and the reasons I stated for it.
As to Hal, points acknowledged too. Yes, I am an outsider and try to remember that by not expressing direct opinions about how the OCA should run itself. Maybe I am too critical of some of the stuff that gets posted here, but maybe its warranted.
Because I assume the Bill and Hal posts are under their real names, I give them extra value. Thank you!
#45 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-02-25 04:43
To wit: grow-up and face the problems which are deep-seated and still require unearthing at many levels, instead of distracting attention towards revising the statutes and changing church governance. The problems with the OCA are rampant moral and ethical issues, spiritually-based.
#46 Ever and anon. on 2009-02-25 06:50
Whether Fr. George is in the O.C.A. or elsewhere is not as important as his ideas. An outsider’s view may givc us insight we cannot see sitting so close to the problem. Ad hominem attacks should have no place in this forum.
#47 Terry C. Peet on 2009-02-25 08:06
With the election of a new metropolitan, a bishop untainted from past abuses, and the emplacement of new leadership in the central church administration, we have turned an important corner in cleaning up the mess that is the OCA. Tactics, regrettable, but necessary to oust the old leadership (bishops, chancellor, etc.) need to change accordingly. Judging from the candid and open discussion at the AAC in Pittsburgh, none of us should fear expressing our points of view. None of need to be anonymous. “Anonymous” is a sign of fear and of the waning old culture. If we want transparency and accountability, we must hold ourselves accountable and transparent, which means signing our full name, offering firm criticism so long as it is constructive, and suggesting alternatives if we disagree with a course of action. The anonymous post at the top of this section is indicative of the old culture, which we must reject for the very reasons Fr. George Washburn gives. We don’t want such attitudes in the Holy Synod, the Metropolitan Council or among the laity. If it is not good for the leadership, it’s not good for us either.
To be sure, the new leadership should have its feet held to the fire lest it slip back into the old ways, which this website was instrumental in uncovering and dismantling. Fr. George offers constructive sound criticism and suggestions and I am sorry, even ashamed, to read some of the knee-jerk reactions to his post. I find myself in agreement with the editorial and reflection segments of this website, but, the preponderance of anonymous rants is not consistent with the new leadership we wish to promote. Fr. George’s suggestions deserve more deliberative consideration.
And Mark, suggesting that Fr. George address his concerns to the OCA.org is a bit disingenuous. Not all websites are set up as blogs like OCAnews.org.
#48 Terry C. Peet on 2009-02-25 08:12
On the Greek Orthodox website it says the following about Forgiveness Sunday "...Before we enter the Lenten fast, we are reminded that there can be no true fast, no genuine repentance, no reconciliation with God, unless we are at the same time reconciled with one another...." Who in the church has reached out to Sidebottom or the Koumentakos et al to ask their forgiveness? Who in the church has asked forgiveness of those of us who tithe and give with the expectation that our church leaders will be good and faithful stewards of these contributions and not use these monies to pay needlessly for legal fees when simple accountability could have resolved the issues and wrong doing before divisive and costly litigation began. I will ask forgiveness for my anger towards those individuals in power who have refused to take responsibility due to arrogance or indifference. (I'll admit that my heart is not fully in it though.) I have lost my hope in the church doing the right thing for those individuals already harmed and more importantly behaving differently when confronted with poor judgement or inappropriate behavior in the future. My prayer is that we may all journey through Lent made aware of our imperfections, compelled to make amends to those we have harmed and better align our thoughts and actions with God's good and perfect will for us. Lord have mercy on all of us and please move in the hearts of those in power to heal the damage that the church has allowed.
#49 s.lewis on 2009-02-25 08:35
Why is it that Nikolai had to be subjected to a third party hosted public relations campaign by his clergy first?
I think you forgot the facts Marty. That is, first OCANEWS.ORG became the sounding board for the problems in Alaska, then the Bishops listened. When another Bishop (Job) was the sounding board for the problems in Alaska, he was threatened with deposition for it!!!!! REMEMBER?
Don't credit the Synod for their fast action, or any action for that matter. They don't deserve it, sadly.
OCANEWS.ORG needs to be replaced. Sorry, Mark, but it does.
OCANEWS.ORG needs to be replaced with an ethics committee that has clergy, laity, a lawyer, and Bishops on it. At that time, we'll be far better off.
Otherwise, if we follow the Metropolitan's vision to a T, we'd be stuck with Mark, which sickens me a lot, cuz frankly I want to be done here and had hoped I was with the new Metropolitan.
Its a good vision, but it needs some serious tweaking. The Metropolitan has forgotten about the fallibility of men and how easy it is to sweep things under a rug.
#50 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-02-25 08:54
Here is the bottom line. The Orthodox Church is a hierarchical church. This does not diminish the role of the laity in the Church but rather makes it possible for the laity to fulfill their function in the Body of Christ.
However, as long as those who write here envision the unique role of each in the Church in terms of power over or power to check another, none of you who see the work of the Metropolitan to reshape the Church and to have her abide by the canons given to us will ever be happy.
There appears to me to be a total misunderstanding of what freedom in Christ means and sadly I submit that Archbishop Job's misreading of Orthodox ecclesiology with his "we are free men in the Midwest" has left a misunderstanding that freedom is that we can do or say anything, that the ends justify the means, even to the point of thinking that bishops are not invested with the ultimate responsibility for the life of their diocese and as synod for the life of the local Church. Rather, we can have a group, like the Metropolitan Council, who MUST be there to "check the power" of the bishops. This is nonsense at the least and heresy at the most.
I content that the OCA has been hampered to fulfilling its vision as the local church in America because we have been saddled by a Statue, written in the 1950's revised in the 1960's and given a window-dressing make over in the 1970's with our Autocephaly that is fundamentally flawed.
The document was written when there was widespread anti-clericalism in the Church. Bishops were foreign, and they needed to be "educated" by "Americans." Priests needed to be "checked" and "kept in line" by their parish councils, diocesan councils, and yes, the Metropolitan Council. We grew out of this but because of the abuses by leadership (bishops) we have now come full circle again. But it still is the wrong place to be.
Thus, what Met. Jonah is proposing is something that must be done. We must adhere to the canons. We must structure our Church on what Holy Tradition sets forth. This does not mean that we cannot or should not apply these canons to our unique local experience as a Church, but it does mean that we cannot play fast and loose with the canons because we think we know best.
The relationships between bishops and their clergy and flock and bishops to each other are not an innovation. That is what the Orthodox Church teaches and envisions as given to us by Christ, to his disciples. Again, what confuses the whole dynamic is the injection of "power." Power as authority to abuse and use for self-interest.
So if we have bishops who abuse their authority do we have to create another body to wield power over the clergy to offset it? Do two wrongs make a right? Of course not.
Any understanding of church authority on any level by anyone one, clergy or laity that misapplies freedom in Christ (which is freedom from sin) and power (which is found in humility) with how the world defines freedom and power will ultimately continue to divide us and lead us to perdition.
Resist any temptation to inject worldly power into our discussion and then we have a chance to accept the wise consul and words of Met. Jonah to us without fear and without stipulation.
#51 Anonymous on 2009-02-25 09:50
Worth noting that if there was a papal type primacy in the office of the met in the past, it was not because that's how the Statute (or the canons!) are written. Its because that's what people allowed ... for whatever motivation. Rules are only as good as the people who choose to follow them.
#52 Anonymous on 2009-02-25 11:25
From Fr. Ted Bobosh's blog on 11/16/08:
"When the Synod or the chancery tries to push a “let’s move on” agenda, it is telling the victims of the scandal that “your pain and anger are unfounded and meaningless - get over it.” The membership needs some recognition that they were victimized by corrupt individuals. When the Synod or the chancery passes over past events as if they never happened, it re-victimizes the membership once again. The victims of assault and crime need some affirmation, some validation, that their loss and pain is real, and that others recognize their pain and suffering and feel outraged by what has happened to them. The lack of outrage on the part of the bishops especially is unconscionable."
Is this priest for real? Could there really be a priest in the OCA who cares for the victims? Thank you, dear God.
#53 Anonymous on 2009-02-25 11:29
When Fr. Matsko speaks , I don't have to...
..how cool is that?
#54 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-02-25 17:52
I agree with the devolution of authority from OCA Central Administration to individual dioceses; Orthodoxy does not need to ape Roman Catholic institutional structures, like the Papacy or Curial Dicasteries. However, that will mean that the news stream through OCA News will be needed more than ever to prevent dioceses from becoming little episcopal empires (cf. the Diocese of Alaska for a recent episode).
#55 Wayne Matthew Syvinski on 2009-02-25 18:00
First of all, I again say that it is difficult to dialogue with someone who hides behind the cloak of "Anonymous" and cannot honestly sign their name to the words they present.
Secondly, those of us who "write here" do not envision our roles as having "power over" or "power to check" or "power" of any kind. Period! Those who seriously and openly (signing their names) post on this site say precisely the opposite: it is not about power and control. It is about accountability in love! In fact, the very man you are defending, +Metropolitan Jonah himself, says the same thing about the episcopacy! At the AAC in November, he called all the bishops "the head slaves" and referred to himself, the Metropolitan, as "the head slave of the head slaves!" He also said, in reference to the crisis, that "we (the Church) have been raped!" Therefore, those of us who "write here" are on the same page as the Metropolitan!
Thirdly, the canons are not self-enclosed entities, as ends in themselves! In fact, the only part of Holy Tradition that cannot be added to or detracted from is the Bible, the Holy Scriptures! Many theologians and experts on Canon Law have, for years, said that the canons need revisiting, re-examining, and revising. Some canons are eternal (such as those saying that those who proclaim and teach heresies are anathema and excommunicated); many others are temporal and need to be revised or expelled altogether (such as the ones restricting women in church during their menstrual cycles or after childbirth). As with anything else (even the Scriptures), it's easy to pick and choose, out of context, those canons that we "like" and support our views, while sweeping others under the rug, haphazardly. Again, there needs to be an intelligent, informed, theologically-sound and prayerfully-prepared examination and revision of the canons.
One thing you said that I totally agree with: "Any understanding of church authority on any level by anyone, clergy or laity that misapplies freedom in Christ (which is freedom from sin) and power (which is found in humility) with how the world defines freedom and power will ultimately continue to divide us and lead us to perdition." I cannot think of a better description of the abusive, power-laden, freedom-misapplied episcopal watches of +Herman, +Nikolai, and +Tikon (of the West). It is precisely to prevent these situations, where things occurred "with how the world defines freedom and power," that the call for checks and balances, formulated, instituted, and prescribed in the love of Christ, is being made by those of us who "write here" and who love and care for Christ's Holy Church!!
#56 David Barrett on 2009-02-25 19:38
Perhaps this shows my naivete, but wouldn't a well-formed monastic be under obedience to a spiritual father or mother who hear that monastic's confession on a regular and (relatively) frequent basis? And isn't the lack of proper monastic formation -- or the appearance of such -- one of the problems with the manner in which the OCA has provided itself with episcopal candidates since at least the granting of autocephaly? Besides being an outsider, wasn't one of the reasons for the joyous reaction to the election of Metropolitan Jonah that he seems to be a "well-formed" monastic?
#57 Mark C. Phinney on 2009-02-26 04:45
Thank you for responding. And, yes, you have precisely proven my point. The new Metropolitan, along with bishops such as +Archbishop Job, is one of those who have lived monastic and/or monastic-type lives! But, as you pointed out, how many of the other bishops that we've had since our Autocephaly (including some bishops currently in active office) can be considered "monastic" in that sense? And, if they are not, to whom are they accountable, especially regarding their own life of repentance, Confession, and spiritual growth? Again, for proof that this life of repentance has been severely lacking in our hierarchy, just look no further than those who were actively involved in the abuses and unethical conduct that resulted in this crisis. Even an elementary school child can put two and two together in this situation, and come up with four; that is, even a child above the age of reason and logical thinking (seven years and older) can see that those who perpetrated these abhorrent acts can*not* have been living a seriously repentant life! Especially when these abuses were so long-term, going on for decades! I agree with you: we need more spiritually serious candidates for the episcopacy, such as our new Metropolitan, if our Church is ever going to heal beyond these issues!
#58 David Barrett on 2009-02-26 11:38
Dear Father Philip,
I am curious about the distinction that you are making. Assuming that French and Italian are not that far off from Latin, I thought that "esse" means: "the essence" or the "essence of being" and "bene esse" would be roughly: "well being" or essential to the well being of the essence.
You formulated the Orthodox position to be: "the episcopate is of the esse of the Church," rather than "the episcopate is the esse of the Church." I agree, but frankly I do not see how this is that different from "John B" who said: bishops "in and of themselves do not constitute the esse of the church." I would think that no member (or no overseer, presbyter, deacon or lay person) of this household (or Body) is THE essence. If any is to be considered the "esse", shouldn't that be the head or Christ Himself?
#59 Carl on 2009-02-26 12:57
A point of history, please: I don't get how the "British church is the oldest gentile church in the world." Antioch, Gaul, Italy, Kerala, and Spain all have claims to being older. I can't find any firm evidence of organized dioceses in Britain before the end of the second century (which isn't to say there weren't any). But dioceses of Aix, Catania, Marseille, Toledo, and Trier all date from the First Century and have continued down to the present. Of course, dioceses in Africa and Asia Minor also dated from that period, although they ceased functioning during the Muslim period.
This is apart from any question about what British cultural influence has to do with org structures in the Orthodox Church...
#60 Morton on 2009-02-26 14:50
Amen, Carl. My thinking exactly. Where CHRIST is, there is the Church!
#61 Anonymous on 2009-02-26 17:18
Dear Father George,
You can be assured that those are our real names. Why would you assume otherwise. Bill is a moderator on the Orthodox Forum website. I am just an old Orthodox servant trying to help build a church in the Columbus suburbs. It baffles me that anyone would fear signing their own name. It is easy to say things under the anonymous banner so you are not held accountable. I don't buy that, especially if you are clergy.
#62 Hal Pukita on 2009-02-26 18:17
Thanks for your question. The terms "esse" and "bene esse" in reference to the episcopate have a distinct historic context, namely, the Protestant revolt of the 16th Century. And one simply cannot use those terms in reference to the episcopate without conjuring up that connotation.
The argument itself was whether or not the episcopate was of the "esse" of the Church, a fundamental part of the Church's makeup and order, without which the Church would not be the Church founded by Jesus Christ; or whether the episcopate was of the "bene esse" of the Church, a ministry which had its uses for the well-being of the Church, perhaps, but which was not a fundamental and inalienable part of the Church's order and ministry, and which could be ditched without doing violence to the Church's basic nature and structure. Luther taught that the episcopate was of the "bene esse" rather than the "esse;" obviously, Roman Catholicism insisted on the episcopate as being of the "esse."
That the Bishops are not in themselves either the Church or the Church's "esse" is, I think, beyond argument. Over its history the Church has had good bishops, bad bishops, mediocre bishops, smart bishops, stupid bishops, pious and devout bishops, and apostate bishops (just as the Church has had good, bad, mediocre, smart, stupid, pious and devout, and apostate laity, deacons, and presbyters)...and will continue to do so until the Parousia. But Orthodox doctrine insists that the episcopate as "an order of ministry" is of the Church's "esse," because the episcopate is the continuation of the apostolic ministry and charism, and because it is, therefore, that order of ministry from which the other orders of ministry flow.
As for "where Christ is, there is the Church," yup, I agree....just as I probably agree with you about the flag, mom, and apple pie (although I actually prefer coconut custard pie). But that's not the issue. The issue is: does the Church which Jesus Christ founded and of which He alone is the sovereign Head contain the episcopate as an essential part of its God-ordained structure, or does it not? Orthodoxy insists that the answer is "Yes."
#63 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-02-27 04:51
I agree with you, Anonymous.
Fr. Ted has made an excellent recommendation and observation.
#64 Patty Schellbach on 2009-02-27 06:46
Good response, Fr. Philip. And I agree with you.
#65 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2009-02-27 13:08
Dear Father Philip,
Thanks you for your kind answer. If I may, I would to follow up. You rightly pointed out that "the episcopate (is) an essential part of (the Church's) God-ordained structure..(because) the episcopate is the continuation of the apostolic ministry and charism, and because it is, therefore, that order of ministry from which the other orders of ministry flow." I don't disagree but wonder if we could say the same thing about the lower clergy?
To be sure, we've had many ministries in the Church, starting with the Apostles and the first deacons, followed by teachers, preachers, prophets, etc., and finally by the normative overseers and deacons, whose charisms include some of the God-given talents/gifts of the ad hoc teachers and preachers. Oh, yes: also the ill-defined "priesthood of the believers."
It seems to me that regardless of the further distinctions made between bishops and priests, they are both the overseers of 1 Timothy 3. To me priests are deputy bishops and often not in the sense of an auxiliary (that is if a local church/congregation had a bishop and a number of priests). A parish priest is just as much an overseer of his congregation as a bishop is of his see. How can a priest be a true overseer if he does not also possess charism to faithfully discern and preach the Word as received from His Holy Apostles and their successors? If not the full charism that a bishop has, how about a part of it?
My argument is simply that there are many essential parts of the Church's God-given structure. I'm not arguing the primacy and importance of the bishop: I am questioning the apparent devaluation of the other essential parts: the Priests, Deacons, Readers, Sunday School teachers, Church Council members, Choir Directors, Youth Leaders, and most of all, the laity--the royal priesthood of believers.
#66 Anonymous on 2009-02-28 08:21
So, you are suggesting the OCA can't internally manage itself without third party observers?
#67 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-02-28 09:00
Many thanks for your forbearance in managing this site. At times, it must be a thankless task.
However, I simply cannot excuse some of the historical ignorance shown by some of your contributors.
Morton’s challenge on the “vintage” of the British Church is fatally flawed by the Romanita that I have elsewhere castigated. He seems to think that the foundation of a “see” (or diocese*) – with a presiding bishop, is the formal start of a church. We British (which includes the Irish at the time) never saw it that way! Our foundation structures were never “diocesan”! Ours revolved around the Religious Community or “choir”. (often referred-to in British documents as “cor”.) Just a few dot-points to help in the education process:
*[The “diocese” was a carbon-copy of the Roman prefecture.]
c37 - Wales - Cor Eurgain established by St Joseph of Arimathea in Glamorganshire (in honour of princess Eurgain - daughter of Caradoc and the first British convert to Christianity).
- Rome: Emperor Tiberius dies.
44 - Miriam’s Dormition at Jerusalem - Joseph of Arimathea present.
- Maximian becomes Arles’ (Gaul) first Bishop. - later confirmed by Cardinal Baronius.
45 - Glastennen: the Synagogue of the Holy Miriam (built of wattle and daub) is adapted into the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Cor Illyd. First above-ground purpose-built (adapted) Church building in the world.
314 - Council of Arles - 3 British Archbishops of Caerleon (Wales), London and “York” (Wroxeter) present and accorded the honour and precedence (including precedence of authority) of representing the oldest Church in “the West”. British Bishops led by +Restitutus of London. +Adelphnius of Caerleon-upon-Usk (aka Llandaff), +Eborius of “York” (Wroxeter) and Deacon Arminius. The Roman Wroxeter was known in Welsh as Caer Effrawg (“Castle of the Hebrews” - of Aristobulus) - midway between the Roman garrison towns of Chester and Caerlon. This is not to be confused with a “York” further to the north in Britain, which was always called by the Romans: Eboracium.
325 - Ecumenical Council of Nicea – the 3 British Archbishops of Caerleon (Wales), London and York present and accorded the honour of representing the oldest Church in “the West”. The British bishops are selected by Wales as being the best able to represent and defend "British" interests at the Council. The British Church given precedence over Rome (as at Arles 314) as the "oldest Church in the ' west ' " - its contingent was approx one third of the total Latin-speaking delegates! When Arimathean-French Churches are added, this pushes the “Armathean contingent” at this council to over half the “Latins”! All Arimathean Churches join in condemnation of Arianism.
436 - Eire: Patrick returns to continue a thoroughly "Celtic" evangelisation of Eire, establishes his "choir" at Armagh.
1111 - Raith Bresail : near Cashel: Cellach (high king, and pro-Roman) presides. Eire divided into 24 "sees " replacing the monastic (abbacy) administrative structure.
Now some points (not all related to the above):
The Church in Antioch remained stoutly Jewish until well after the 49CE Jerusalem Council.
The church in Ethiopia (evangelised by Philip’s eunuch) was formally inaugurated after the Dormition.
India (St Thomas) was in the first year or so of evangelisation when Thomas was miraculously gathered to Jerusalem for the Dormition.
Spain (Compostela de St Iago) was evangelised jointly from Wales and Gaul. Toledo was initially a “satellite” of Compostella.
The English (Saxons) largely resisted the “diocesan” organisation principle imported by Augustine of Aosta (later of Canterbury) in and after 597 until they had it uniformly imposed on them by the Normans (after 1066).
The Irish Church managed quite successfully for 675 years without any trace of a “diocesan” bishop! Yet, on “diocesan” principles advocated by Morton, the Irish Church was first “born” in the year 1111, a manifest nonsense!
I hope that this is not too esoteric, but I think that it does relate to the current OCA crisis. Does the OCA not confront a situation eerily similar to that of Luther??? The most ardent advocates for a Byzantine-style “autokrator-bishop” have to be left speechless at the Irish experience.
(editor's note: Yes, it is esoteric, and no, I doubt the OCA will be abandoning the diocesan structure. While the "charismatic" nature of the Irish Church worked in a homogenous cultural situation in difficult physical circumstances where the Church was a minority, I doubt it is a real model for today....)
#68 John B on 2009-03-01 14:37
Actually, the Metropolitan has a ton of power.
He can't be deposed without the entire Synod agreeing to it.
The best way to remove an even corrupt Metropolitan is through vile (wordchoice?) poitical campaigns that force his retirement which take years and private funding. Anyone get that? How about the bad taste in my mouth? The idea this and the requirement is enjoyable is bizarre. The idea that it is sinful to engage is such tactics when it is the only real solution is just as bizarre.
The Statutes won't be changed on this matter. Metropolitan Jonah quite predictably won't be going there.
This most likely means the OCA will not ever be able to function forever without at least occassional third party observers, and yes, sometimes often, and GOSSIP. The Metropolitan's Lenten letter chastises gossip as unclean to some degree, but sadly, the gossip he chastises brought about a cleansing to the church that the Statute and frankly, the Synod, simply couldn't. We've been here before. The calls for the entire Synod to resign were on track, but we must move past these now.
If the Statutes were revised to the correct degree, a corrupt Metropolitan would be removed internally, without the villagers and their proverbial pitchforks or 'gossip'. What degree would that be? Certainly a vote of 2/3rds of the Synod would be reasonable, and yes, a Metropolitan could be 'plotted' against under such a plan, but at that point, that Synod would be a pretty bad bunch as well.
Former Bishop Nikolai is still reeling from the shell shock that a Bishop could be removed. How dare they? I will sue! How then is a bad Bishop to be removed properly without deposition? Do the Statutes offer a remedy?
The Metropolitan is trying to start a new path, but he himself, must first embrace what OCANEWS did. It brought about the cleansing; it wasn't repentance that did it. Just a bright light.
His Pastoral letter ought to have read that the office of the Metropolitan needs to lead by example. That it needs to hold itself out in the brightest light and sustain itself through any gossip by sheer honesty and candid truth, and repentance. Instead, we are held to account for our own.
Lawsuits are tricky and there are always two sides, but the OCA wasn't candid about recent policy changes and the reasons for adopting them, for example. I let it slide until today when upon reading the people get credit and the Statutes are fine.
How the Metropolitan expects people to not gossip, when his administration isn't candid in the first place, is really bizarre.
Here is an excerpt from OCA.ORG from the last month.
'This revision was initiated by the Holy Synod of Bishops and blessed by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah.
"The existing document was prepared and adopted by the Holy Synod of Bishops in 2003," said OCA Chancellor, Archpriest Alexander Garklavs. "The needed revisions reflect the need to address ethical issues and aspects not covered in the original document. The process is being done with the help of canonical, legal and professional experts."'
The candid truth is the revisions were initiated by a layman, solidified by US laws and court challenges, and formally rubber stamped by the Synod and sure, fair enough, blessed by the Metropolitan. If the Canons get any credit, it was long since forgotten and suddenly changed under the bright light of scrutiny.
The OCA reminds me of the CEO, upon realizing the bad news of earnings falling from 20% to 8% writes this in his report... Earnings, in a harsher business environment this year, were still positive and beat the S&P by 50%! He'd much rather state that, than, we lost two of our high margin contracts to competition this year because we wouldn't negotiate the price down far enough and if we had, we'd have better earnings, more like 12%. You see? You can say anything and call it truthful, but being candid is an entirely different story.
The OCA needs to be candid before it can start expecting people to stop the 'gossip'. And the OCA must expect OCANEWS.ORG and its 'gossip' to stay around if Bishops and Metropolitans have unchecked power. That is, power to sweep away issues without others in the organization understanding the ramifications. And I don't mean the laity en masse, except perhaps select members of the MC.
Its a disappointing reality, but I don't think they've learned their lesson, yet.
Pray for them to be illumined.
Things look different in bright light. Ever notice that?
#69 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-03-01 15:30
This is an interesting comment of Fr. Ted Bobosh on the move on statements as re-victimizing and I agree. It remains a situation of re-victimizing in each unanswered letter and passed over attempts to make charitable help a "front" instead of a cure or healing when letters and such are signed by heirarchs and a lot of talk happens without action to the core needs where this trouble began.
I believe if these core issues related to abuse were really solved and people put into their budgets resitutition and help for victims of abuse, a well spring of new hope and a flood of love instead of a spread of fear would transformation all we do,
In my adamantly stubborn opinion, to devalue any God-given gift is utterly unscriptural (cf. 1 Cor.12:12-27), arrogant beyond belief, and flat-out sin, all the more so because "the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom.11:27). So I'm with you there.
The office of presbyter is indeed an extension of the bishop's ministry and is in that sense derivative. Orthodoxy expresses that by reserving the High Place centre chair to the Bishop, requiring the use of the antimins, etc. And historically, it was only slowly that those sacramental functions understood as apostolic (presiding at the Eucharist, baptising, chrismating, absolving) were delegated to presbyters, primarily as a matter of necessity. In the East, that delegation was pretty much complete, with the exception of ordaining (although I think abbots are allowed to tonsure monks of their monastery as readers, although I'm not sure). In the West, that delegation generally excluded Chrismation as well as ordination, although in "danger of death" emergencies Chrismation (Confirmation) too was conceded to presbyters.
But the various orders of ministry, all flowing from the apostolic ministry, have their place in the Body, and are not to be dismissed casually. Nor is their exercise to be treated as a "right," or as if somehow the ministry to which I am ordained were "mine." All is of grace, a gift of God to a raggedy, unworthy beggar. To swagger about as if the order/function entrusted to me makes me "somebody" isn't just prideful; it's also pathetic...like the kitten who insists he's a lion on his great-grandmother's side.
As for the priesthood of all believers, note firstly, that there is in the New Covenant only one priest, only one who offers sacrifice: Jesus Christ. As the prayer before the Great Entrance joyfully acknowledges, only He is "the Offerer and the Offered, the Receiver and the Received." The word "priest" as applied to the order of ministry is an elision of the word "presbyter." (The Greek "presbyteros" becomes in English "prester," then "priest.")
Because we are each united to the Head, Who is our Great High Priest, each of us in the Body has a share in His priesthood. But, again as the Apostle teaches in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12-14, universality of priesthood does not mean uniformity of function; and it is all the functions together which make up the continuing priestly ministry of Jesus Christ here on earth.
The issue, I think, is really about how we envision the Church. Roman Catholicism tends to envision it as a pyramid of authority, with the pope of Rome at the apex. I submit that authentic Orthodox ecclesiology envisions the Church more as a circle of interdependence and mutual accountability. I also submit that the authentic life of the Church is not about and can never be about power (clericalism, trustee-ism, or whatever), but about authority to fulfill specific functions within the Body....and that when it does become about power, "the glory has departed" and apostasy has begun.
#71 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-03-02 04:58
Dear Father Philip,
I know this is pretty bad timing but I wanted to get this out before I forget. BTW, I do not expect a reply for a while.
Regarding our exchange of views, it looks like we agree completely except our reading of "John B." I am in total agreement with your statement that "the authentic life of the Church is not about and can never be about power (clericalism, trustee-ism, or whatever), but about authority to fulfill specific functions within the Body." However, I have the feeling that the Orthodox Church has not operationalized this concept, at least with regards to all believers other than bishops, since Constantine. The 1917 Sobor and the current OCA statutes did attempt to change the quasi-Papist status quo; however, I am dismayed by Metropolitan Jonah's revisioning that seems to be a reactionary return to the monarchical episcopate--regardless of his words about servant leadership. I hope that I am wrong in my interpretation of his views but there it is...
Wishing you the best in this Holy Lenten season, Carl
#72 Carl on 2009-03-03 10:51
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JIM JONES AND MARK STOKOE? ANSWER! NOTHING! THEY BOTH LED PEOPLE DOWN THE WRONG PATH!
(Editor's note: If that is the case, All Caps Guy, why do you keep on reading?
#73 Anonymous on 2009-03-03 11:44
Public action and taking to the streets, demonstration at diocesan centers, seems a normal course of action for those whose lives have been endangered by those who have plotted harm to silence their attempts to reveal the continuing involvement of church administrators in support of clergy sexual abuse.
see also 30.2
He didn't lead anyone down a path. He just swept up the mess on the path.
Who are you all caps guy?
#75 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-03-04 20:04
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