Monday, August 17. 2009
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I suggest Fr. Brum notify the Holy Synod that he not be considered for this or any other position of greater responsibility in the OCA for he time being.
Surely he knows the role he played in the Theodosius/Kondratick administration, the role the whole Church is aware of through the Report of the Special Investigating Committee. Surely he knows this information has led most appropriately to wide-spread concern about his gaining a more powerful role within the Church. Surely he knows how strongly this opposition was voiced when it was rumored that he was being considered for the episcopacy in the Diocese of the South or as an auxiliary to the Metropolitan, or as Chancellor.
To take this action would demonstrate Fr. Brum's humility, a trait crucial in one why wields power. It would also demonstrate that most vital of abilities: to be able to hear what others' concerns are and to treat those concerns with respect.
Surely, if Fr. Brum takes this action, he would be seen to be wise enough to know that time can be his friend. Let time pass. Let the clouds of scandal pass. Let his actions from here demonstrate his wisdom. Let the Holy Spirit guide all of us to an understanding of his calling, whatever that might be.
Dr. Dmitri Solodow
(Editor's note: Dr. Solodow was a member of the OCA's Special Investigative Committee, and is a member of the MC for the Diocese of the West.)
#1 Dr. Dmitri Solodow on 2009-08-17 12:59
Karlgut and Lickwar have a "functional and sacred understanding of the seal of confession" ? Anyone remember the Koumentakos case? Anyone ever review the matters of public record in that court file, specifically Lickwar's affadavit?
Folks, the OCA does not care about the seal of confession, qualified professionals, helping those who have been harmed by the church, or anything else but their own power. If the above doesn't scare you, then the nomination of Brum should.
This is sickening. I honestly cannot believe that Karlgut, especially, had the nerve to co-author and publish that letter about the selection process. Embarrassing.
#2 anonymous and sick to my stomach on 2009-08-17 13:10
Father Brum? Why not bring back RSK as chancellor? You can't make this stuff up! Is it April 1?
(Editor's note: I do not expect that RSK will be our next Chancellor, should the Metropolitan decide he needs one. However, having recently appointed two stalwarts of the Kondratick regime as Chancellors for the Diocese of the South and for the Diocese of Washington DC, I would not bet against Fr. Brum for the job though.)
#3 Stephen on 2009-08-17 13:17
Well, more orthobla othrobla and orthobla! i'm sick of all the pious filth that these clergy are so good at flinging. These guys wouldn't know Christianity if it bit them in the ass.
The whole rotten bunch are functionally-dysfunctional when it comes to the most basic Christianity, let alone Orthodoxy. They had their chance to manup to the task of making reasonable determinations and solutions to heal people and the Church, now they are totally lost. They have lost the Church and don't know where to find her.
Next, we put STS, SVS and the rest of these places up for sale and funnel all the funds into a nonprofit called THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (OCARA) Income to be used to fund UNICEF. THIS WOULD PLEASE GOD, not what these dopes are up to now!
As for the rest? I think everything is just BRUMTASTIC!
#4 no name on 2009-08-17 14:27
Most of what was written appears correct to me, even if those writing it may not have lived up to it. There is little that I could write about moral, spiritual, scriptural ideals wherein I would not convict myself in the writing. It seems to me that two very good candidates are being presented. Those in the Diocese should pray and work that the right man is selected. If Fr. David Brum decides to stay in the process, receiving votes that could be counted on one hand might send a clear message.
#5 anonymous, but not as queasy on 2009-08-17 14:46
Oh yeah, Karlgut, the guy who has botched all the investigations of abuse for the OCA? .... He's picking candidates? Lord, help the OCA!
If people continue to accept this kind of garbage, they quite frankly deserve exactly what they get.
This is the brand new shiny OCA? Sad, very sad.
I believe Fr. David Brum has been an excellent parish priest and would be a great bishop.
#7 Anonymous on 2009-08-17 16:50
Nobody in the OCA truly wishes to address a simple fact. Unless you deserted the Orthodox Church for several decades, most servants of the Church had a calling of some sort in the Church. Fr. David Brum was a secretary in the Chancery. Fr. Michael Dahulich was the second-in-command to Metropolitan Herman at STS. Nothing need be swept under the carpet, but please, let's remember that most of our pastorates and reasons for serving in troublesome positions are complex and just might be Christ-centered.
(Editor's note: Well, that's damning with faint praise! The best you can say about two of the three candidates is that the reasons for their service is "complex"? Oy!)
#8 Not that important on 2009-08-17 17:05
I don't know where to get those documents, but I do see this in an OCA News article. It quotes a letter of Mrs. Koumentakos to an OCA attorney:
Additionally, [Fr. Karlgut] wrote, “As to allegations of violation of ‘pastoral confidentiality’ it should be stated that in the teaching, Doctrine, and Canonical rules, regulations, and tribunal for internal discipline and government of the Orthodox Church no such concept exists.”
If there is in our faith no seal of confidentiality except on what is said in the Mystery of Confession itself, what privilege would Fr. Karlgut invoke in regards to these deliberations?
I am not a lawyer, by the way, so that is a real question. Another: Fr. Karlgut mentions a “sworn affidavit of consent,” and then states that this wouldn't be enough to protect a layman from being compelled to spill important beans — and it wouldn't give the Church any leverage over him, either. But why not a good old NDA? Couldn't the OCA bring a layman on as a contractor and then write up a contract allowing it to collect some obscene sum in the event of a breach?
#9 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-08-17 21:58
"There is little that I could write about moral, spiritual, scriptural ideals wherein I would not convict myself in the writing"
Yes, but would you also be contradicting other statements of yours on identical topics? It is one thing to do wrong and another thing to be wrong.
#10 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-08-17 22:04
This is starting to be like an alcoholic family.."Don't feel,don't talk.don't ask questions".
I feel tirn..on one hand I admire Met.Jonah and am heartened by some of his statements and then crap like this happens.
I feel anyone that worked in the past regimes of the OCA should never be allowed to be in any position of authority.We still don't know all of the facts..remembe rthe famous statement that if we did "It would destroy the Church". Lets let the chips fall where they may and if, need be, rebuild.
I hope Father Brum is being a good parish priest..let that stand..let his parish keep him and love him.There is nothing wrong with being a parish priest is there?
#11 Stephen on 2009-08-18 03:53
All three of these candidates should NOT be considered. Brum is damaged goods; Dahulich has the mentality of parochial PA and should stay there (let him be bishop of Dallas); Mahaffey is a decent fellow.
HOWEVER, the NY/NJ diocese doesn't have $$$. Bishop Seraphim Seagrist is already in White Plains, NY, has his own residence and he works. He is "THE" ideal candidate. He is well and can easily serve the NY/NJ diocese.
Oh, and let's not forget, one of the prime supporters of + Nicolai of Alaska was Fr. Lickwar. Consider judgment.
#12 Anonymous on 2009-08-18 05:58
I commend the Search Committee for finding these three hidden gems - names no one would have thought of themselves!
In reality, the names seem to lend support to Mark's premise; the Search Committee appears to be more of a "Rubber Stamp" Committee. Although, that being said, I still think we will end up with the best available candidate. I believe the actions of the Committee were honorable, but also easily misinterpreted.
#13 Fr. Stephen Mack on 2009-08-18 06:06
Probably. depends on when I made the statements. I change with time...at least I hope I do, that is the process of salvation. The distinction between doing and being is lost on me. What I do shows what I am. We show our Faith by our works. Some talk a good line, but live differently; saying one thing, but doing another. I think that is the point you are making.
I do not know the people involved in the writing or their history. I do agree with what they wrote, even if their lives are not backing it up. I think the diocese may just get a good bishop, perhaps in spite of the brokenness of those involved in the process.
#14 anonymous, but not as queasy on 2009-08-18 06:17
I am an executive recruiter by profession and have some experience in high profile clergy searches. Confidentiality is paramount, but it is a normal course of action in such business due to the sensitivities not only of the things mentioned by the Deans but also simple things such as prematurely alerting a minister's current parish or place of employment that he is interviewing. Such prematurity can unnecessarily ruin a person's career. But, the more pastoral and spiritual concerns are the sorts of things not easily quantified, and they can get messy - honesty is not always kind, after all. However, unless such deliberations were being done under the seal of confession, it seems as if there is no guarantee the information will not get out or at least be testified to regardless of whether the selection committee are priests or laymen. The only guarantee would seem to be a person's honor and discretion, the minutes of the meeting and any notes, recordings or the fact that everyone has skin in the game and no one wants anything revealed.
I am not a fan of +Hermanator, but I got to know Fr. Dahulich quite well while I was at St. Tikhon's. I was very surprised for him not to be nominated any SOONER. He was my favorite teacher, he made me know and love St. Paul, he showed what St. Paul's love to the Chirch really is. And I just don't see Fr. Dahulich and +Hermanator collaborating on some money schemes together. He was always so distant from +H. and indipendent individual, and focused. I think "focused" is the key word here.
#16 former St. Tikhon's student on 2009-08-18 06:49
What immoral or illegal actions, exactly, did Fr. Brum do. Seems he is being tried and condemned for - what?
(Editor's note: Fr. Brum is not being tried or condemned. Reservations were expressed publicly by the Special Investigative Committee for several reasons. Please refer to Page 27 of the SIC Report "The Inner Circle" concerning his activities while he was secretary to two Metropolitans. His answers to the SIC were found to be unconvincing; this coupled with the fact that he resigned in protest when RSK was terminated raised even more questions. On this basis, and the fact that Fr. Brum participated on at least one ocassion in the dubious finances of Syosset by cashing a check for Kondratick to evade reporting, the SIC members recommended he not be considered for service in the central administration of the Church again.)
#17 Anonymous on 2009-08-18 07:21
Two quick items:
1) The long-winded explanation for not having laity on the search committee was pathetic. There were qualified laity with integrity on both SIC's. There are qualified laity in every corner of the church that know how to keep confidentiality. Period. Enough of the clericalism they give lip service to opposing, but in fact practice.
2) If Orthodox theological education is one of the main criteria for candidates, could we please find out from which Orthodox Seminary Fr. Brum supposedly graduated?
Priest Christopher Wojcik
#18 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2009-08-18 07:34
Two brief replies to the legal comments raised:
1. The terms of a contract allowing one side to collect an "obscene sum" for its breach are always subject to interpretation and enforcement by a judge later on. All or virtually all civil jurisdictions have laws forbidding the enforcement of "unconscionable" terms and/or "contracts of adhesion" in which a party of far greater bargaining strength, such as an insurer or an employer, imposes onerous terms on a policy holder or employee. Neither party could be sure about the enforcement of such terms, but they could be relatively confident that it would make a dandy, public dust-up, and even grist for the internet mills.
2. Quoting briefly and selectively from a statement such as Fr. Alexy's is very liable to be unfair to him. In the context of a lawsuit the duty (or at least the common strategy) of an opposing lawyer is to ask questions in a way that goes as far as possible with the law and facts in an effort to lead the witness to say things favorable to the attorney's client. The fragments of quotes that I saw from that particular case led me to believe the plaintiffs' lawyer was trying to trap the OCA representatives into the admission of categorical privileges (against disclosure of anything unfavorable a parishioner might say about herself) more broad than the ones Orthodoxy really believes and practices. That way the plaintiffs' attorney has more to argue to judge and jury that might earn him a big payday. When we combine the remoteness in time of all these incidents, the obscurity of the context in which Fr. A was speaking, the unknown procedural posture of the case at the time, and the relatively low percentage of folks on this site with a legal education, let alone expertise in the nuances of Maryland law, I do not see us doing good here, being fair to Fr. A, or staying on topic by straying into the piecemeal criticism of out-of-context snippets of evidence.
Unless of course one is just looking for a straw man, which I believe is ordinarily beneath AFOC. And yes, I have had a CA bar card since 1979.
#19 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-08-18 08:09
This blather is further proof that the whole process has been fatally compromised. The only way to proceed is for delegates to vote no to all candidates, and scuttle this Assembly. Perhaps that'll force something more transparent. Any process that results in sincerely recommending Brum is a sham.
Nowhere in the Committee's Letter is there an actual explanation for all the secrecy, aside from laughable references to "the seal of confession." (Irony: Karlgut co-signed the letter). Why was there a need for secrecy in NY&NJ, but not WPA? They failed to address that question.
Instead of "denouncing" the internet (which is ignorant and crotchety) they should engage the criticism head on. As it is, Lickwar & Co. reiterate that they are still right, and everyone else (particularly on OCANews) should be silent and agree. They even make the repugnantly reactionary gesture of maligning Mark Stokoe as a "foreign body" - styling him as an interloper, sticking his nose where it doesn't belong. Seriously? Shouldn't we have cleaned house of these people yet?
This upcoming assembly is toxic. Lickwar, Kedala, Karlgut, and Krawczuk are toxic, and can have no part in leading our diocese in the future. Jonah, too, has reached toxic levels, by allowing these shaningans, as well as by eagerly promoting Brum and other Kondratick alumni. Jonah's actions since Day 1 have been nothing but destabilizing.
Nothing has changed since the Kondtratick / Theodosius / Herman days. This is just Act 2 of the same play; a few of the actors have been replaced, many remain. The internet is still maligned as the devil's haven. Key leaders still push for OCANews to disappear. The mantra remains "shut up and pay up." Reasonable debate is not entertained.
More than funny, this is scary. These people are actually in charge of our Church. I feel trapped, like the only solution is to leave the OCA. I wanted to make a life in the Church and help it grow, but if the solution is to "get along or get out," I will gladly get out.
In the mean time, I hope and pray that Jonah will make a public statement about what is going on, restart the process, and undo the turmoil that is bound to grow. If he and others would simply bring the Church into the light (as they promised at the AAC) then I would eagerly return to my "brothers" to "dwell in unity."
#20 Rdr. Nilus on 2009-08-18 08:28
Also keep in mind that the following individuals graduated from the same school and learned from the same teachers (?)--
Fr. Joseph Lickwar
Fr. Michael Dahulich
One theme we hear over and over from Fr. Michael is "obedience to bishops." Fine, but what does that mean to him..?
(editor's note: Not an unreasonable question, but of course, you will never get an answer given the process in place. No questions, please. That might be construed as "democracy", whereas the hand-picked selection committee's asking questions privately and not revealing any answers is "conciliarity" because they "represent" you in some Pseudo-Dionysian fashion. At least in their minds...)
#21 Anonymous on 2009-08-18 11:41
We need look no further than the recently-completed search process for the Diocese of Western PA to find an inclusive, open and successful search process. Commended, by the way, by Metropolitan Jonah. But, sadly, not used by him in NY/NJ.
(editor's note: Or in the Diocese of the South, where he has appointed the same group of deans , headed by Fr. Fester, the Chancellor, to select their new bishop in a private manner. Go figure.)
#22 dr dmitri solodow on 2009-08-18 11:49
"Some talk a good line, but live differently; saying one thing, but doing another. I think that is the point you are making."
No, what I'm saying is that I find it hard to trust a man who firmly espouses one policy — in writing, in an official Church matter — and then, with no retraction and less than a year later , when it happens to be convenient, turns around and espouses another. If I cannot trust his words, why I should trust his deeds as a committee member?
"I do agree with what they wrote, even if their lives are not backing it up."
But their lives have included this process — the integrity of which I consequently doubt.
Their attempted smack-down of OCA News also gives me little confidence. Mark was harsh in his assessment and tone, but he wasn't gossipy; not to mention that these men are supposed to be shepherds and not combatants in an insult match. Leaders who have nothing to hide tend not to avail themselves of bare-knuckled rhetoric when called to task from below.
"I think the diocese may just get a good bishop,"
I agree with that. But matters like this ought to be done in a good way — especially when there is precedent being set, something that certainly affects more than just this one diocese. In short, this process may have a good primary outcome, but a good end does not justify bad means or render them less dangerous.
#23 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-08-18 12:53
On not having laity on the search committee -- attorneys know all about confidentiality: if they violate attorney-client privilege, they could lose their license. Same thing for medical professionals, and human resources people, and those working in financial services. LOTS of people have to deal with confidentiality. The idea that priests have some special understanding of it is silly.
#24 Ferris Haddad on 2009-08-18 14:02
"Unless of course one is just looking for a straw man"
In that case, I'd think, one wouldn’t have actually asked.
Thanks for your comments and analysis. The only thing I'd note is that Fr. Karlgut's words didn't come from, for example, a deposition: the letter in which they appeared was his follow-up to the investigation he had performed in person, and his first contact with the Koumentakoses since that time. (I'm taking Mrs. Koumentakos's word for that, but why lie in a way so trivial to disprove?)
In any event, it is true that we are only looking at a fragment. But what led me to read it as I did were the events that took place, or failed to; and I see now that I ought rather to have focused on these. Now, Mark admits his perspective is biased, but he is not a liar. And here is what Mark stated he received directly from Mrs. Koumentakos's priest:
"Fr. Velencia’s attachment - a letter to the Metropolitan, some 10 pages long - did not specficially address Mrs. Koumentakos’ allegations, but rather contained intimate, personal and graphic details about Mrs. Koumentakos’s abuse, her subsequent treatment, details about her husband, and their marriage, in what may be described as an attempt to damage her credibility and concerns."
One doesn't want to judge too quickly, but I think we can be confident that there was some rather inappropriate disclosure here. And yet, with Fr. Karlgut investigating, Fr. Valencia was not disciplined — and in fact was consequently given a clergy award (!) by Met. Herman. It is hard, then, for me to receive as genuine Fr. Karlgut's current zeal for pastoral secrecy even in matters outside the confessional. Perhaps there is some obscure set of circumstances that would vindicate him if only it could be known; but considering the recent history of the OCA, it would be a bit much to expect people to assume that.
But I agree with you that it would be unproductive to harp on that particular case. It disturbs me, but I don't see what more can be usefully said about it.
As it happens, there is more than enough other material before us with which to critique this long meditation. As others have pointed out, we didn't hear this objection to having laity on the SIC, which existed for the purpose of investigating clergy corruption and abuses of the worst sort. To hear it now, in regards to the examination of episcopal candidates, is so absurd as to be beyond belief.
But I suppose they do not think much of the SIC: after all, they didn’t give too much weight to its former members' advice as regards Fr. Brum. Not that it was any kind of contest. Apparently, the other thirty-five candidates from all over the world just weren't bishop material. Heaven only knows what the other dioceses are going to do — I guess take whichever of the three don't get elected. (Better hurry, folks — someone's going to call dibs on "Not Brum"!)
In short, they did what they did, driven by obscure motives that can only be identified as being other than common sensical. And saying all these politically popular words at the same time makes it worse, both because of the evident calculation involved, and—again—because it assumes the reader's stupidity.
(Incidentally, just for the sake of knowledge: if a greater guarantor of a layman's promise of secrecy were wanted, couldn't something be worked out? Employees and professional collaborators sign NDAs all the time; and evidently the terms of such need not be unconscionable in order to have the desired effect. I have, though, no experience of such things personally.)
#25 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-08-18 14:54
I too conduct executive searches. Confidentiality in confession is a RC practice. In the early church, confessions were conducted in the middle of the church when all were assembled in a loud manner. The penitent would ask everyone "ALOUD" to forgive him (her). Now, in today's world where people use information against others (true or untrue) it behooves a priest to use confidentiality in confession - for him & the penitent. However, confidentiality isn't the Orthodox practice. A priest who blabs, probably won't be in a parish very long!
#26 Anonymous on 2009-08-18 15:45
I agree with everything in this post by Nilus. How Metropolitan Jonah can continue to promote the flotsam and jetsam of the previous regime is really mind boggling, while claiming at the same time to be an agent of change and reform. Does he have a Bring Back Bob bumper sticker on his car?
I know firmly believe in the conspiracy theory I previously advanced that Metropolitan Jonah was really the candidate of the Synod in a desperate attempt to thwart the selection of Archbishop Job. They have in Metropolitan Jonah a leader that clear shares their reactionary and dysfunctional vision. It therefore comes as no surprise that we are rapidly going back to the future. But we are going to go minus many of us who have had enough of this farce.
It is a disgrace that just keeps on giving.
#27 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-08-18 17:10
I was unfortunate to be a Syosset Chancery attendee during the Brum/Kondratick/Festor tenure- and Brum clearly and blatantly went along with the status quo. I saw it with my very own eyes and was on the receiving end of his lack of pastoral sensibilities.
If you want to take two steps, better yet, a hundred steps back lets make him a bishop because that will restore order and trust in the church. He is member of a tainted lot.
Not only did this man DO NOTHING about the wrongdoing to which he was privy but also perpetuated it.
The mere notion that he would even be considered is beyond my wildest imagination. Come on people, get a clue!
#28 When will the Madness End? on 2009-08-18 22:04
Speaking as a member of the Diocese of the South, I suppose whatever opinions I have don't matter much with respect to other dioceses (as if they greatly mattered in this one), but after reading the exchanges above I think perhaps I should. And I think I should because I am largely ignorant of these nominees or their pasts. I am ignorant of the full extent of the recent scandals from which the OCA is just now emerging. And because I'm ignorant of such things which have happened and are happening so far away from me, though they affect the OCA of which I am a member, I like so many others must rely on other filters to weight these things insofar as we are aware of them.
The hostility to Metropolitan Jonah I see above disturbs me...or more accurately puzzles me. From the day of his election to act as a suffragin bishop to Archbishop Dimitri to the day he was elected Metropolitan, I have never doubted that he was God's choice for us. Doubtless, being human, he will have a learning curve as Metropolitan, and make some mistakes from time to time, but I think he has demonstrated he is willing and able to humble himself when he finds that he has stumbled. Everything I've seen of him and read of him so far tell me he has the right heart for the job.
My trust in this is redoubled because I know him to have been personally chosen by our beloved former Archpastor Dimitri. All the priests I know in the DoS hold Archbishop Dimitri in great esteem and have much love towards him. We trust him. He shielded us from so much of the troubles that beset other dioceses in times past. He is a proven pastor to us and his judgements with respect to churchly office carry great weight.
So the accusations that Metropolitan Jonah is just more of the same don't ring true for me. Until things have stabilized and the foundations strengthened his taking a more direct, somewhat autocratic measures at times don't bother me all. Power wielded by a faithful servant is not something to fear. I hope we can remember the joy in which we received Metropolitan Jonah, and the hope his election engendered.
If he was God's choice, then unless he seriously betrays his calling, I can't fathom not supporting him. My sense of joy in his election is not diminished to this day. I trust him to do the right thing even if his path in doing that right thing might not be the preferred one from my perspective.
Such trust is all I have to go on really. I trust the priests I know. I trust the Archpastor who ruled over our diocese. I trust their hearts and generally speaking I trust their judgements. Because they still take joy in our new Metropolitan, because they have expressed no particular reservations that I know of then I have no reason to doubt or second guess that support. I can think of no reason to think ill of his words, deeds or policies.
More than the priests I know. More than the wisdom and experience of Archbishop Dimitri, I trust in God. The strength of horses, chariots, and princes will fail, but not that of God. I am convinced that after a long time of troubles God had mercy on us and heeded our prayers. He gave us Metropolitan Jonah. And while as a human in relations with other humans there will be give and taken and due accounting he will doubtless have his share of failures and successes. He will learn and grow...from time to time his decisions and process might need to be examined, even challenged to keep him walking according to the light of his better angels. My heart cannot entertain any cynicisms about him. Such ideation is a complete non sequitur to me. It just does not follow.
Because of who I trust locally, I am willing to trust who they trust including the selection committee, including the committee's nominees, including their acceptability to Metropolitan Jonah. But then I will not have to live directly with such a decision, others will and their voices should be heard before mine.
But heard or not with respect of Metropolitan Jonah, I still hear axios in my heart. I still feel the joy of his election. I still trust him.
#29 Reader Seraphim on 2009-08-18 22:34
Regardless of the history of confidentiality, there is an expectation of it in the current practice. Within the OCA, the Holy Synod's Guidelines for Clergy (http://www.oca.org/PDF/official/clergyguidelines.pdf ) EXPLICITLY requires it, under threat of punishment:
"The secrecy of the Mystery of Penance is considered an unquestionable rule in the entire Orthodox Church. Theologically, the need to maintain the secrecy of confession comes from the fact that the priest is only a witness before God. One could not expect a sincere and complete confession if the penitent has doubts regarding the practice of confidentiality. Betrayal of the secrecy of confession will lead to canonical punishment of the priest.
St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite exhorts the Spiritual Father to keep confessions confidential, even under strong constraining influence. The author of the Pedalion (the Rudder), states that a priest who betrays the secrecy of confession is to be deposed. The Metropolitan of Kos, Emanuel, mentions in his handbook (Exomologeteke) for confessors that the secrecy of confession is a principle without exception." (Page 14)
#30 Fr Basil Biberdorf on 2009-08-19 05:57
As was everyone else affiliated with Syossett at that time. And this includes your Bishop, whomever that may be.
So what's the big deal? If Fr Brum is chosen, give him a chance. If he doesn't work out, I'm sure Mark Stokoe will point out all that he will do wrong.
You, as well as those who continue to use Fr Bob as a crutch need to move on with life. He's gone, he's been gone, the "old" regime is gone, it's been gone.
(Editor's note: Sorry, Mike, everyone was not associated with the administration in Syosset under Kondratick as was Fr. Brum. The SIC described him as being in the "Inner Circle"; no one has ever suggested that Archbishop Job was, or Bishop Nikon, or Bishop Tikhon of EPA, etc. ever was any such thing. Nor is RSK gone. Would that he were. He is currently suing the OCA for millions. )
#31 Michael Livosky on 2009-08-19 07:33
As a priest of the Diocese of Washington DC, I'm confused. What "stalwart of the Kondratick regime" is chancellor here?
#32 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2009-08-19 07:57
A feel good story, to be sure. But I ask you: what specific actions has Metropolitan Jonah taken that inspire your confidence and trust? As you freely admit in your post, your trust is founded on "ignorance" of what's going on in the OCA. It is a trust based not on fact, but on feeling. How long do you trust someone until they trample that trust to death?
I too was elated when he was elected. Some of his papers, sermons, and podcasts have been inspiring. But his actions since rising to power (under what I increasingly see as dubiously pre-arranged circumstances) have chipped away whatever elation I had, leaving nothing but a numbing doubt.
He may (possibly) have the right heart for the job, but certainly not the right mind. Or, at least, not the right counsel, which I understand closely informs his decision making process.
My trust will be restored when he actually does something that makes me believe he hears our concerns, and cares about them. Until then, I certainly don't hear axios in my heart.
#33 Rdr. Nilus on 2009-08-19 08:11
"Betrayal of the secrecy of confession will lead to canonical punishment of the priest". Really? In the OCA? Don't think so.
"And here is what Mark stated he received directly from Mrs. Koumentakos's priest:
"Fr. Velencia’s attachment - a letter to the Metropolitan, some 10 pages long - did not specficially address Mrs. Koumentakos’ allegations, but rather contained intimate, personal and graphic details about Mrs. Koumentakos’s abuse, her subsequent treatment, details about her husband, and their marriage, in what may be described as an attempt to damage her credibility and concerns." "
"I think we can be confident that there was some rather inappropriate disclosure here. And yet, with Fr. Karlgut investigating, Fr. Valencia was not disciplined — and in fact was consequently given a clergy award (!) by Met. Herman. It is hard, then, for me to receive as genuine Fr. Karlgut's current zeal for pastoral secrecy even in matters outside the confessional. Perhaps there is some obscure set of circumstances that would vindicate him if only it could be known; but considering the recent history of the OCA, it would be a bit much to expect people to assume that."
+Jonah, I, for one, want to know, are you banking on this particular lawsuit going away...until the next time? Because we all know there will be a next time, especially with the staff you have in place conducting searches for bishops, etc. Do you honestly expect people to trust those you have recently appointed to leadership positions? Do you care about the damage done to people's lives or do you care more about covering the collective ass of the church, enabling the continuation of the abuse of power? Please respond. Please tell me that you, someone, anyone cares about these pastoral abuses enough to do something to prevent them from happening in the future and to do something to help those who have been spiritually injured. Don't tell me that there has been no official response in this particular case because there is a lawsuit. Bull. You are the Metropolitan. You can do whatever you want, remember? DO SOMETHING.
"The secrecy of the Mystery of Penance is considered an unquestionable rule in the entire Orthodox Church. "
#34 Anonymous on 2009-08-19 09:35
A NEW THEORY - totally turn off the old OCA supporters so that they get disgusted with the turn our religion has taken and leave the church. This will clear the way to lead new, uninformed, dedicated, sheep who are willing to follow with blinders the misguided, power hungry heirarchs.
#35 ANON on 2009-08-19 11:04
I happen to agree with what Reader Seraphim wrote regarding our Metropolitan. I have yet to see where he has done anything that he doesn't think is for the good of the Church. I will continue, until proven otherwise, to give him the benefit of the doubt.
As regards the three candidates I think we are quite lucky to have such a choice. I could gladly vote for any of them without voting against any of the others. That is not something that happens often. Of the three I personally know Fr. David and think that he would make a great bishop. That is not an endorsement, just saying that I would be very happy with any of the three.
The fact is that as some have turned on the Metropolitan for not doing what some think to be best, the same folks will turn on whoever gets selected when they do what some don't like. No bishop is perfect, and I doubt that any one would wish for that office. I really wish that folks would go back and listen or read what Metropolitan Jonah said at the AAC before his election. The bad days are over. We are not going back. We trust but we verify. When it comes to some stone tossing we should perhaps let someone else go first.
#36 Evan Kalenik on 2009-08-19 11:59
What nonsense! It is not just what Metropolitan Jonah thinks is good for the Church that matters, but what is really helpful and constructive in reviving the OCA by following Christ--not some idolatrous past. Very little that His Beatitude has done or suggested so far meets that criteria.
Having read much of what he has said and written since his election, I can only conclude, that while he may, from time to time, talk the right talk, he rarely walks it--especially when it comes to conciliarity. In others words he is a hypocrite, i.e. someone who doesn't practice what they preach. Or perhaps, to be fair, he has such a highly nuanced definition of concilarity as to undermine its real intent and purpose.
As for the "three candidates," whatever their respective merits or demerits, it is the process itself that is fatally flawed and hopelessly corrupt, despite the fancy rationalizations and pious exhortations used to justify it. With regard to Fr. Baum, it is self-evident that he is unfit to even have his name put forward considering his dubious track record and past associations, none of which he has repudiated.
Finally, to those members of the Diocese of the South who continue to worship at the shrine of Archbishop Dimitri--enough is enough! Invoking his name or endorsement is for me, at least, a good reason to reject someone for advancement in the OCA. His tenure, in conjunction with many others, will be remembered as the time the OCA abandoned its founding precepts, in favor of returning to the cult of autocratic bishops and rampant clericalism. No wonder some of his acolytes are in need of serious deprogramming.
Good Lord deliver us!
#37 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-08-19 14:25
"personally know Fr. David and think that he would make a great bishop."
Which Fr. David?
#38 Anonymous on 2009-08-19 16:44
As a parishioner of St. Nicholas Church in Whitestone, NY., I am surprised that nothing was done about the fact that the priest there was accused of revealing several confessions - and that those who made those who made those accusations (with witnesses) were, as I understand it, threatened with excommunication. Fr. Likwar and a whole group of priests met with the parish and parish council - but nothing has come of it. The priest is still here, many people have left - and are leaving - our parish - and no one seems to care. Metropolitan Jonah: where are you? Our parish is falling apart because of this priest.
#39 Anonymous on 2009-08-19 17:32
As I've stated I'm ignorant of a great many things with respect to the OCA and its time of troubles and those instrumental in causing them. That however is not the foundation of my argument. Rather it is this, those whom I know who are trustworthy and who are not ignorant of such things love and trust Metropolitan Jonah, and since I trust their judgement I have no grounds to doubt his leadership to date.
As you say, what he has written and spoken has been inspiring. As the Scriptures say, out of the abundance of his heart a man speaketh. What he says shows where his heart is. Therefore I am inclined to withhold personal judgements on issues where I'm out of the loop so to speak. Though I realize certain choices of his raise concerns...and maybe with good reason they raise them...I am also willing to wait and see what kind of of fruit is borne from such decisions. Wheat and tares look a lot alike when first spouted but are discernible in their fruit. Allowing for the occasional and perhaps unavoidable human error as part of his learning curve, if the fruit starts coming back consistently bad, my feeling on this matter may change. But as yet we are still early in the blade of his ministry as Metropolitan, I think it premature to start yelling "tares" in a crowded wheat field.
But based on his record at St. John's, and based on his published statements, and based the continued good will of Archbishop Dimitri, and of all the priests...and even laity who I know who themselves know both Metropolitan Jonah, I think I still have very good reason to hope and to regard his election as a merciful Godsend.
A tree is known by its fruit...I can wait to see what will be found ripening among his boughs in due season.
#40 Reader Seraphim on 2009-08-19 18:10
Mr Tobin, enough is enough, you're absolutely right. Your bishop, during HIS tenure, "in conjunction with many others, will be
remembered as the time the OCA abandoned its founding precepts" just as well.
Quit the singular pointing of your finger. There isn't one bishop in the OCA that didn't have some knowledge or inner feeling that something was going on that wasn't right.
If the people of the south, east, west, midwest or hell, for that matter, choose to worship their bishop, it's really of no value to you. You want to question the process? You have no idea whether Fr Brum would make a good bishop or not. You're just like everyone else who complains about what the Metropolitan is doing or the lack thereof. Your fellow laymen, Mark Stokoe, laid the groundwork for HIM to be elected. Complain to him why don't you.
#41 Michael Livosky on 2009-08-19 19:18
Glory to IC XC!
I think that you were loose with your words because there's a logical disconnect here: "So what's the big deal? If Fr Brum is chosen, give him a chance. If he doesn't work out, I'm sure Mark Stokoe will point out all that he will do wrong."
If he were not to work out as a bishop, he would be a cause of damage his diocese, the good function of the Holy Synod, etc. Mark Stokoe's reporting would not be any consolation compared to that.
. . . . . . . . . .
To Whom It May Concern:
Contrary to what some say, this whole matter of OCANews.org, Church governance and accountability is not about having a public venue to vent and gripe nor to snipe at the ecclesiastical powers-that-be (though some of that does happen).
Rather, it is about being faithful to the Lord and to His flock, so as not to allow one of these little ones to stumble. Many have already been made to stumble for years on end! As our beloved and trusted Archbishop JOB publicly pointed when he called on Met. HERMAN to step down, souls are at stake.
It's not about church politics; that is merely the battlefield on which it is being played out. It's about love of God and love of neighbor (or contempt thereof).
And yes, people who care will get riled, fall into temptation, and speak out of turn. Others who don't care will do so also. We have to discern and test all things and hold fast what is good.
#42 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2009-08-19 19:21
The accusors abandoned their claims because they were bearing false witness, were warned by the clergy, and would have been found out if they didn't recant their statements. The priest was not found guilty. The accusors lied and will have to face God one day.
#43 Anonymous on 2009-08-19 21:44
Worship at the altar of Archbishop Dimitri? I guess i see his tenure differently...a diocesian haven in a very difficult time for the OCA.
As for a more autocratic approach to the episcopacy...a perhaps more Russian understanding of how to exercise the duties of the episcopacy, that i will concede. There are times when that has been useful/helpful in the life of the Church, though I don't know that it should be normative...so far though in the Archbishop and so far as I can tell with Metropolitan Jonah, that approach has been prayful and responsible, if not necessarily to everyone's immediate liking.
if it is indeed too autocratic and not enough conciliar, then I would hope that his tenure would serve as bridge from one way of doing things to another...by measured steps that builds and heals as it moves and strengthens and educates other parts of the body in the proper exercise of their roles where that knowledge/experience may be atrophied or missing.
Wisdom is justified by her children. I think we can give him time. His character tells me he is trying to do right. That said I think is is good though for the faithful to keep him and our other bishops apprised of concerns such as have been raised here. I just hope they could be presented with less cynicism. I really do think he will turn out to be a very good leader for us and I would like to give him the room to prove the worth of his vision and leadership.
Then again, I've been protected from the worst of the fallout from the scandals and have not been close to the injury wrought by them. Others who have suffered or been close to it may be twitchier and more gunshy than I am. And that may explain some of the distrust.
#44 Reader Seraphim on 2009-08-19 22:26
The Father David I was talking about was Fr. David Brum.
Sorry about not remembering that there were two with the same first name.
But as I said any one of the three would be great.
#45 Evan Kalenik on 2009-08-20 03:21
I may agree with you about the process being flawed, but I doubt the outcome of any selection committee would have been different. I am not suggesting that the ends justifies the means either. Other candidates can be nominated from the floor but I would be rather surprised if we wound up with a bishop who wasn't one of the three named candidates.
I disagree with you about your assessment of the Metropolitan. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt without closing my eyes to anything. My family fought against the way the bylaws were shoved down the throats of the parishes many years ago due to a lack of conciliarity back then. The same with the calender issue twenty years later for the same reasons. I don't see the same issues today as I have in the past.
After what we have been through I doubt that anyone will make everyone happy. Some folks confuse democracy with conciliarism. That may work fine if we were Methodists perhaps, but we are not. I expect my bishop to lead. Not as a dictator, but not as one who polls everyone before making any decision either. Will he make a mistake from time to time? Yes. Get bad information? Yes. Perhaps listen to the wrong people? Yes. But I also hope that he learns from those times that he made a mistake for whatever the reason.
In the little over a half year since he became the Metropolitan to draw any conclusions at this moment I think is wrong. Looking at the situation that existed one wonders if he was set up to fail in the minds of some by expecting too much of any mortal man. Is there too much concentration on perhaps one error and ignoring the other nine things he did that were good, right and proper? If you picked up the phone and called him would he hang up on you if you disagreed with him? I don't think so.
For the time being I will continue to give him the benefit of the doubt if I disagree with something he does. If it bothers me I will address it with him or my priest or bishop. As I have done in the past.
#46 Evan Kalenik on 2009-08-20 04:32
Regarding Abp. Dimitri of Dallas, consider this:
At the 1970 SOBOR he received the popular vote for Metropolitan. However, the hierarchs overrode the decision and went with + Theodosius. From that time on, + Dimitri resolved to set up the "anti-Syosset" in Dallas. Basically, he did as he wished and beat to his own drum. Now, he did help spread his own brand of Orthodoxy throughout the South, but several of his actions are highly questionable.
1) the election and consecration of + Tikhon (retired) for the West Diocese (his former deacon)
2) the election and consecration of + Nicolai (retired) for Alaska
2) the ordination of many clergy without proper Orthodox theological education
3) protecting RSK, Brum, Fester and others responsible for the past chaos in Syosset
#47 Anonymous on 2009-08-20 06:25
I really like your idea that anyone who wishes to worship their bishop can do so in Hell!
I am happy to say that my two former bishops have been forced to step down, +Theodosius and +Herman, and that the only regret I have is that they have not been joined by many others. But without the support of many persons like yourself, reforming and purging the OCA of sin and corruption is a very tough job. And that's why YOUR fellow Christian, Mark Stokoe, is so widely admired, and, of course, hated as well.
#48 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-08-20 12:29
Ah, but you see these things were, as I understand matters, said in meetings with the priest outside of Confession. I presumed Syosset's claim here was that "pastoral confidentiality" — that is, a general practice of secrecy with regard to communications with one's priest — is not mentioned in the canons and so on, and therefore Mrs. Koumentakos had no right to rely on it.
This would, needless to say, be a legalistic contention of the greatest perversity. Fr. Alexander Schmemann, hero of the OCA, specifically recommends (in the appendix to Great Lent) that people not discuss their personal problems in Confession, but rather meet separately with the priest for this purpose. Moreover, one is to avoid mentioning the sins of others during Confession — and yet very often people wish to discuss with their pastor wrongs, or perceived wrongs, committed against themselves. And what about married couples, or engaged couples, who are being counseled by the priest? One could go on and on.
Fr. George has correctly pointed out that we do not know the context of Fr. Karlgut's statement. Moreover, there are legitimate questions regarding the extent to which communication with one's priest outside of the Mystery is confidential. If I'm talking to my priest about choir practice, and I mention that I've got a cold, is it wrong of him to (for example) ask someone he sees later to pray for me? What if I mention that I'm running out for a few minutes to pick up some more ketchup for trapeza?
These are extreme examples — my point is that the absolute ban we have as regards confession cannot simply be extended to "everything." But I don't think this is any bar to developing a coherent and satisfying policy. The hierarchy could, for example, identify "pastoral counseling" as a category of interaction with the clergy, giving various characteristics to define it. (Say, if it takes place in a meeting at which attendance is restricted, if it deals principally with spiritual or emotional matters, etc.) Then the clergy can be informed that those interactions are strictly confidential, and that as for anything else they are to use common sense. This would not, I think, be too different from the confidentiality doctors must practice.
That isn't to say that Fr. Valencia ought to be off the hook for sending such a missive to Mark and others. What he did is an obvious violation of the spirit of pastorship, if not an indication of emotional instability sufficient to bar his continuing his ministry for at least some period. It is disappointing that he has not been punished under the new administration — regardless of any earthly concerns over the lawsuit.
#49 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-08-20 15:14
it is sickening and disgusting to accuse the "accusers" of lying. Anyone in our parish would testify to the honor and good character of the "accusers." As I understand it, the whole matter was dropped when they were threatened with excommunication, (and, now, eternal hell at God's judgment), probably because the Power Structure feared another law suit. In fact, none of those who did the "accusations" had any intention of instituting any law suit or destroying the life and reputation of the priest. On the contrary, our parish has gone out of its way to try to work with this dysfunctional man and to help him, thinking that it is his first parish and that he is inexperienced. But in less than a year of being here he has refused several good, long-standing and honorable people communion. Is that normal? What have they done that so drastic action has to be taken - by a man who is a priest less than a year? And About 20 good, honorable people have left our parish and are going to church elsewhere. And the drain is continuing. Are they, also, "to face God's judgment?" And rumor has it that most of the Parish Council members are going to resign after the annual meeting because they cannot stand trying to work with the priest anymore.Are they, also, vindictive, false witnesses? What is going to happen to our parish when there is no parish council? What has our parish done to be treated in such a horrible, unchristian and dishonest way? And who "exonerated" the priest? The matter was dropped because of fear. There was no "exoneration." They just wanted to sweep the dirt under the rug and hope it all just goes away. And why was a "mentor" (who lives 200 miles away) put over the priest if he is so capable? And where is the Metropolitan in all this? Why is he not verifying the apparently false information he is receiving? Our parish is being destroyed. And no one cares. Our parish is being crapped on for no reason at all - other than it was given an inexperienced....priest about whose appointment the parish was never consulted, and who is now being defended by lies, probably because they don't know what to do with him. Talk about "conciliarity." What a joke!
#50 Anonymous on 2009-08-21 09:24
When the Church goes (or shall I say sadly shrinks) back to being a dozen people worshipping in a refurbished wing of someone's house, where every single person already knows the intimate details of everyone's life already, then we can go back to the "ancient" practice of public Confession.
Private Confession is not a "Roman Catholic" practice as it was also implemented in the East centuries before the Great Schism. It was done so for practical reasons, one of the biggies being the fact the Church was no longer a room with close friends and family (or people who became as close, or closer than family, whom Christians lived, worked, wnet to jail and in some cases died with), but it became, as it is now, a large Community with hundreds or even thousands of people whom we barely know. If you're in favor of public confession, no one is stopping you from confessing all your sins during coffee hour, but those of us who don't want to confess in a room full of strangers the intimate details of our lives simply assume the seal of Confession is absolutely unbreakable. Or so we should assume that. The act of revealing a Confession by a priest is absolute and utter betrayal, and many people who've had that happen NEVER heal from it. Frankly I knew the "seal of Confession" was at times loosely followed by a rogue priest here or there, but I had no idea it was actually a "problem" in the Orthodox Church until reading this disturbing news.
#51 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-08-21 12:13
The shameless and toxic decision to postulate David Brum as a candidate for episcopacy is deeply troubling! Given the problems that Brum represents for the OCA:
Brum is a "vested" former Roman Catholic priest who took no monastic vows upon entering the OCA yet has remained a "single" unmarried priest under no obedience.
Brum has less than 15 years as a vested orthodox priest
Brum has no Orthodox Seminary education whatsoever!
Brum is part of the Kondratick/Fester clan
And worst yet, Brum is a very close associate of Nicholai(Soraich).
Consider that it was Nicholai(Soraich) who brought Brum from the RC into the OCA. Nicholai is Brum's mentor. They spent time together in Vegas, where their bond of mentor/protege grew stronger. It was there that Brum trained in Nicholai's "orthodoxy" . This is why Brum and Nicholai share in common misogynistic views. Nicholai was the one, via Tikhon(Fitzgerald), who obtained the Arizona parish for Brum as he tried to distance himself from the scandal in NY in which he was an active player, fully aware of what transpired.
Nicholai and Brum are two peas in a pod.
If you can't stomach Nicholai, you won't stomach Brum.
Brum is a bad choice for any diocese of the OCA let alone any other jurisdiction. My friends tell me that the Roman Catholic Church was thoroughly blessed by Brum's departure. Making Brum a bishop is a backdoor for Nicholai's regime into the OCA. With Fester already chancellor of the South, Bob firmly in Venice, Nicholai still holding the title of bishop and Benjamin running both Alaska and the DOW the OCA goose is half cooked. Brum in the synod would finish it off!
Clearly +MJ was ill advised by Benjamin who favors Brum. This is why the entire SIC wrote against Brum with one exception: Benjamin! He has dealt with Brum since his arrival in the DOW under the assumption that Brum is a future bishop. It is apparent that Benjamin continues behind the curtain to push for Brum into the synod and +M Jonah is lapping it up.
What kind of integrity Benjamin shows when he headed the SIC and knowing what he knows still pushes Brum into episcopacy? And what does that says about +M Jonah?
After some research on these bunch you will find allegations of:
inappropriate public conduct
homosexual affairs (if the traditional anglicans were join us they will be disappointed)
church promotions based on sexual favors
installment of sexual offenders to the clergy
firing-silencing and abusing whistle blowers
abuse of power
violations of US law
violations of OCA statutes
violation of SCOBA statutes
violations of Canon laws
violations of common decency
misrepresentation of charitable collections
stealing from victims of disasters
stealing from orphans
excessive and lavish lifestyles and trips on the OCA dime
'pathological' false sense of moral superiority combined with deep narcissism
...and the list go on and on. Even if half of the list was false they still would not be fit to be in any position of power in any religious group from the point of view of risk management and public safety. These people have done enough damage to public image of Orthodoxy in America!
What is it about the OCA does not need the old club back that +M Jonah does not understand!
Your Beatitude: For the love of God, Stop the shuffle: we need real change!
Benjamin, Bob, Brum, Fester and Nicholai already need to go! Its long overdue. Don't pile more clutter in the synod making it impossible to clean up.
Mark my words, we can barely tolerate these people already in power, if you continue to promote them, you will all be alone in the sham you call the synod, because more people are going to leave the OCA. I know I am. I am tired of pretending, with the crooks still in power the synod is an utterly embarrassment!
To the OCA faithful: Stay firm. Say NO. These people have to go!
#52 So disappointed and tired of all the lies and cover-ups... on 2009-08-21 15:54
It is so easy to be be brave and outspoken while remaining your anonymity. Please do not talk for "every parishioner". The parish is divided. Are those "honorable long-standing people" who were denied communion are just as bitter and angry as your posts? Then I do not blame the priest for doing so.
#53 Anonymous on 2009-08-22 20:45
The parish is not divided. A great majority of the people are fed up with what is going on with this priest - a 12 month wonder who uses communion as his personal weapon to silence anyone who dares to cross his party line. It is a blasphemy and disgrace. I have been in this parish all my life and have never experienced anything so sick, dark, loveless and grim. The priest actually told the parish that, for the past almost 100 years, they never heard "correct Orthodoxy, " until he came. If his version is "correct Orthodoxy," I want no part of it. Answer this: why are so many leaving our parish - and who is going to pay the bills when the money runs out, as it inevitably will. Am I bitter and angry? You bet I am. We are being mistreated, mishandled and lied to - and no one seems to give a damn. And I choose to remain anonymous - and that is none of your business - Mr. Anonymous Yourself, whoever you are.
#54 Anonymous on 2009-08-23 11:10
Who are these anonymous cowards who are complaining about the priest in Whitestone, but are afraid to let their identity be known?
Come out of the shadows and reveal yourselves.
#55 Miron T on 2009-08-24 07:11
Speak for yourself - not everyone in the parish has the same opinion as you.
#56 Anonymous on 2009-08-24 07:31
May God have mercy on your souls for what you are doing to this priest and his beautiful family.
#57 Anonymous on 2009-08-24 08:58
Can't we all just love one another as taught in the scriptures? Matthew 22:37-40; Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-35.
It appears some people have forgotten how.
#58 Susan T. E. on 2009-08-24 10:19
Dear angry and bitter anonymous. Our parish, unfortunately, does have a sad reputation. We are famous for getting rid of priests that do not make us “comfortable”, the parish enjoys its spiritual slumber. For years, communion was a “given”, the priest was just someone we pay to perform the sacraments, confession just needed once a year to retain our voting privileges in the parish, Christ was “our own”, “a Russian”, we own the church – our grandfathers built it, right?
The only thing I heard the priest ever announce in public about communion is that we have to approach it with the spirit of love – not hatred, forgiveness – not vengeance, humility – not pride. Such spirit is attained with repentance through confession to a priest. Our priest went as far as to allow anyone wishing to have a confession outside the parish to do so as long as they do it. You can be a long-standing parishioner till you are 101, that will not make you a Christian. Without spiritual renewal, renewal of our sacramental life, without love for our fellow parishioners, we cannot enter the gates of heaven. We are not in politics, we are a church.
#59 Anonymous on 2009-08-24 18:05
Alexey Karlgut, is that you?
#60 Anonymous on 2009-08-25 06:24
why is it when someone who has been harmed by a priest decides to try to hold that priest accountable, that person is trying to destroy the priest, his family and the church? if the church acted responsibly and intervened appropriately in these cases, then victims of clergy misconduct would not have to resort to other means of accountability such as lawsuits. think about it: who would ever WANT to file a lawsuit? do you have any idea how painful, stressful, disruptive and expensive a lawsuit is? do you think maybe, just maybe, a person who has been harmed by a priest and has not been able to get the church leaders to respond in a manner that corrects what has happened as well as prevents it from happening in the future believes that he or she must move forward not only for him or herself but for other potential victims?
if this priest hadn't blabbed private information, he and his beautiful family and his parish would not be in this mess.
#61 Anonymous on 2009-08-25 06:35
I have an idea. Instead of allowing these priests to continue to blab and betray their parishioners, instead of allowing the church leaership to continue to look the other way and use bullying tactics to shut people up, instead of resorting to lawsuits, why don't people who have been victims of clergy misconduct form a peaceful demonstration group. Call the local police and find out where it would be lawful to stand peacefully with signs near the entrance of whatever parish. Stand there on Sundays and warn people with signs that say "do not go to confession to this priest" or orthodox christians do not keep confessions and counseling private". I think I will.
#62 Anonymous on 2009-08-25 06:40
Look, either these people recanted or they did not. It is only these alleged witnesses who can say whether this priest broke the seal of the confession. If they have recanted, the question is closed as a practical matter. (What are you asking for? A spiritual court with no witnesses?)
Frankly, if this had happened to me, I would not hesitate a moment to risk excommunication. If an excommunication is unjust, another bishop may lift it upon investigation; and there are plenty of Orthodox bishops out there. But, most importantly, souls are at stake—those of future parishioners and that of this young priest (who if guilty and unrepentant will have the gravest sin to answer for at his death). Resistance here seems to me to be the natural reaction of one truly wronged — and so I would be most suspicious of people who recanted en masse. Did not even one have the courage to resist? Or is it that they all realized that the gig was up?
On the other hand, if there remain accusers, let them demand a proper spiritual court, according to the canons and the OCA statue. If necessary, let them insist publicly. What we have on this forum is an exchange between posters who may or may not even be from the parish—who knows?—and who do not even claim to be witnesses to the alleged misdeeds.
What on earth is the point of that ?
#63 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-08-25 17:12
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