The panic and hysteria surrounding the inclusion of Fr. David Brum’s name on the short list of episcopal candidates have reached the level of the absurd. Brum’s chance of being elected bishop by tomorrow’s special diocesan assembly is less than that of a snowball on a hot July day in Times Square.
One can demonstrably and rationally argue that Brum’s name should never have appeared on the short list, but given that the objective point system of seven criteria established by the search committee did not allow for quantification of character or unquantifiable elements, such as being in the “inner circle”, the search committee, I understand, sent his name forward with others with the same score and expected to be hammered on this very point.
My vote will go elsewhere and I hope, not too optimistically, that a candidate with the sufficient two-thirds vote will be determined on the first ballot. I trust that the delegates, with the help of the Advocate’s grace, will be able to discern what is best for our diocese.
The main issue is not that our new leadership has not learned its lesson. (Although that is true.) Rather, the issue is that we still have plenty of old leadership, still firmly in the intellectual sphere of Herman (Swaiko) and Nikolai (Soraich). To be explicit, I am referring to Archpriest Joseph Lickwar and Archpriest Alexi Karlgut, along with the rest of the Episcopal Search Committee.
Our diocese will not see new growth or new life until these men are no longer in influential leadership positions. The new generation in our diocese - wisely - will not see the beauty of the Church's wisdom reflected in the actions of men like Lickwar and Karlgut.
The way these two have conducted themselves during this affair has been immensely disgraceful. I am particularly insulted to see Fr. Karlgut still in a position of influence, given his role in the Koumentakos lawsuit - among other things. It is always insulting to see leaders tell us we must conduct ourselves "by the books" and then make up their own rules when personally convenient.
I find it hard to continue to partake in a Eucharistic community where men like Lickwar and Karlgut are in positions of high esteem. I have suffered as fellow college-aged friends, who where interested in the Orthodox faith, became disinterested after finding out about situations like this. This kind of totalitarian, Internet-hating, non-Orthodox "leadership" only serves to undermine our ecclesiology, and destroy our Church.
Dr. Solodow poses a question to which we all know the answer, at least as far as the Synod is concerned. It really is time we faced up to the rather obvious fact that the Synod has no interest in conciliarity, other than in a very narrow sense that applies only to bishops. They are supported in this interpretation by the Baums of this world, who would like nothing better than to drive a stake through the heart of real conciliarity, i.e. that which applies as well to laity and "lower" clergy.
It is on the matter of conciliarity that Metropolitan Jonah disappoints me the most, since he has on numerous occasions supported and promoted it in the abstract in a far broader sense than he is doing so today. But actions speak louder than words! The latest atrocity in the NY/NJ Diocese has been preceded by an even more ominous threats to revise the constitution and governing documents of the OCA to reflect an even more powerful and unaccountable Synod, leaving the laity to essential do nothing but fund raising for the black hole of the Synod's spending and appropriating appetite. A slew of other high handed and inappropriate appoints of Kondratick devotees merely adds further insult to injury. It should also be noted, that the approval of the new bishop of WPA, elected by a very conciliar process, was long delayed until the matter became a public scandal and embarrassment to the Synod.
But all of this is to expected in a hierarchy that gives lip service to concilairity, while secretly despising it--or maybe not so secretly in the case of many of our happily departed former hierarchs. Perhaps there is hope that some of the newer members of the Synod will see the light, as has Archbishop Job, but recent developments underscore the counter reformation is underway--blessed apparently by our new Metropolitan.
Again, I am not a member of the diocese, but I am certainly capable of 'vacuous' observation. haha
From my third party, fairly disinterested, perspective, postponing the process is absurd. The SC really had no business putting Fr. Brum into the list of names. Promoting someone mentioned in the SIC report as belonging to the 'inner circle' of RSK is far fetched enough to get a lot of disinterested thirds (like me) concerned and wondering if the OCA is just another political machination, or a storyteller, not a Christian enterprise. If it were to happen, his elevation, that is, without him taking personal responsibility, etc., it would be a devastating testimony to the church. Today, not under MT or MH.
I listened to the questioning of Fr. Brum and I wanted to give him every benefit of the doubt, but he failed to take personal responsibility and had a golden opportunity to do so. In his first response, he could have discussed his role in the scandal, but instead rarely used I. He could have told everyone how he asked Dn. Wheeler to forgive him, but didn't. He mostly credited naivety. The second response wasn't geared toward an opportunity to answer.
So, my vacuous opinion would be the following:
1. Ask Fr. Brum to remove himself. Who? The SC, in light of the recent scandal and his clear role in it.
2. Do not postpone a long overdue selection of Bishop.
3. Try to understand how the RSK administration impacts church life today and in the future and set a course to remedy it. That would include remedies for Dn. Wheeler, and even some of the 'villians' and perceived and partial villians like Fr. Brum. Can Fr. Brum ever be considered for Bishop given his role? Clearly, he has been, but it is an outrage.
The Metropolitan really needs to step up to the plate on this stuff.
The reflection by Dr. Solodow reflects a certain amount of very understandable and justifiable impatience and disappointment. The issue is not Father Brum's nomination per se, but the entire process and the self-defensive and paternalistic attitudes of the nomination committee, particularly of Father Karlgut. Well, welcome to reality: change is hard in any setting but may be even harder in the Orthodox Church. We cannot change our culture as fast as we would like. What we need to do is to plug away until it DOES change. I thank God for this site for being such a constant advocate for accountability and transparency.
I disagree with Dr. Solodow's belief that "Metropolitan Jonah will be seen as a leader who does not listen to the clergy and laity who have spoken out. The Holy Synod will be seen as, at best, “tone deaf” to the realities of the situation." He has already spoken out and said that the Diocesan Assembly can choose to do a do-over. Mark reports that "According to sources close to Syosset, Metropolitan Jonah, Locum Tenens, has indicated that he would agree to a postponement of the election - if it is the will of the Extraordinary Assembly. He is reported to prefer that the decision to take a step back and re-examine the process, or to proceed, as the Committee desires, be made after clergy and laity speak together on Monday in Clifton. The decision would then be made by the clergy and delegates representing the Diocese as a whole, in conciliar fashion, rather than by just the Committee or himself."
Now, this is indeed great news whatever the Extraordinary Assembly decides to do. BTW, do other folks find that the Metropolitan operates as if his ideas are draft ones or that his initial actions maybe changed/refined later? I find that extremely refreshing and such a departure from many executives, who value making decisions fast more than arriving at the right solution.
Regrettable that the SC could not find a way to take character into account, if true. Perhaps we could borrow some Google engineers to help tweak the formula for the future.
A Fellow Orthodox Christian
Okay, but what would you have done with Frs. Lickwar and Karlgut? Revoke their election to office? On what grounds?
There was no reason they should have constituted the search committee, of course. But I don’t see how simply booting them from authority is a principled option, however undesirable their influence.
A Fellow Orthodox Christian
Only in the OCA could the most unstable, bungling, nincompoop of a clumsy, get-in-the-bishop's-way, where's the pin in my orarion Subdeacon inveigh on the Internet against a parish Priest for having been so humble as to "enable" a Bishop, let alone Caesar, and implicitly admonish his own Bishop for not obeying the commission he had headed? Well, we can be sure that the boob of a Subdeacon never enabled a Bishop in any service where the Subdeacon served, or, rather, Interfered. As Ernestine always said, "And that's the truth!"
(Editor's note: Bravely said, anonymous. Bravely said. Do you feel better now calling a student interested in the life of the Church a
"boob"? Why not bravely try to answer his concerns?)