Friday, November 26. 2010
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The house of cards is beginning to fall. What did the previous and current administration know and when did they know it? What was covered up on other bishops for their silence about this? Was this known at the time he was elected bishop? How much are we going to pay for this one if it was known?
Will they do the right thing and suspend him pending the outcome of the investigation and trial? Does an internal investigation really mean anything at this point as its already out, they're not going to get more information than the police are, and its really just a reactive attempt to appear to be doing the right thing.
New faces, new names, same old administrative incompetence.
#1 Not surprised on 2010-11-26 10:12
I have been told that these allegations were known about two years ago..Melanie Sakoda of Pokrov has correspondence with Met.Jonah about them two years ago..SHAME!...
I am starting to think that the OCA should fold and we should just be part of the Patriarch of Moscow..look how they handled those allegations at that orphange...a hell of a lot better than we are handling this...
#2 STEPHEN on 2010-11-26 11:38
Let's not forget that many great saints have been accused of similar offenses. Some have committed such sins and others have not. Our task as the faithful is not to judge or condemn, but to pray and seek greater repentance for ourselves. May this situation be for the salvation of Archbishop Seraphim and for all those in the Archdiocese of Canada, and for the men making the accusations.
#3 reminding you all on 2010-11-26 11:40
Plainly this is further evidence our leadership has a chosen and lived blind spot. They have an imbalanced excess attention on the future of the misdoer and not enough for the many scandalized.
I think the best name for this 'blind spot' is the loss of the voices of the gracious plenty of working-age widower bishops owing to discovery of the cesarian operation, antibiotics and antiseptics and anesthetics. By the grace of God this improvement in women's lives is here to stay. There can be no doubt of this among the 'rational sheep'.
Unless we change our rules to allow senior 'empty nester' priests to be bishops this 'blind spot' generally in the area of same gender sexual activity in the leadership will continue to cause us loss until we are gone and well deservedly so.
Synods must be able to remove misdoing members, the 'never married' will not put up with misdoing among those who actually know what it is to be a father, and the widowers and empty nesters will correct the present 'blind spot' that is killing us among the 'never married'.
We need to restore this balance and right soon.
A married episcopacy is well within Orthodox Tradition, if we don't rediscover and implement it in a balanced way -- we are done no matter the volume of rules and documents and committees and 'strong statements' on the subject.
#4 Harry Coin on 2010-11-26 11:49
Thank you POKROV for all of your hard work, ladies! I remain a huge supporter! Also, thank you for continuing the fight against tremendous odds, often having to wipe the spit from your faces. My hat is off to you.
To JP and his cronies, resign TODAY, along with your buddy in Canada.
Thanks in advance!
#5 Moses on 2010-11-26 13:42
I have tried to remain optimistic about the OCA's new leadership from day one, and have, admittedly, become rather skeptical about it lately. However, I remain unconvinced that they knew enough to take action prior to the recent developments. If someone proves that they did, I will revisit that, but allegations from the Pokrov ladies don't carry any weight with me. If Pokrov announced that the sky is blue, I'd not only look out the window, I would compare the sky's color to some swatches from the paint store before agreeing that it was indeed blue.
That said, I am deeply sad about Archbishop Seraphim's downfall. The Archbishop Seraphim I knew was gentle, humble, and harmless. If the charges are proven, I will be severely disillusioned.
I sincerely hope that the charges are false, or that if they are true, that the archbishop has sincerely repented and has not harmed anybody else, and that the victims will recover.
(Editor's note: The truth will come out with regards to all of your questions. That must be our hope. )
#6 Cordelia on 2010-11-26 14:04
Gee, "Not surprised," I'm not surprised that people like you wish to make more out of this than exists. The truth is that no one presented an actual complaint of anything until recently. There are always rumors and innuendo, most which are sour grapes and baloney, but these are actual, real accusations. So, they must be examined, even if such events took place in 1985. From those in the know, they believe the accusations to be bogus, but we'll see! Personally, knowing the bishop, these accusations seem unreal, but we'll see. Other than that, take your conspiracy theories and go write a book!
#7 Anonymous on 2010-11-26 14:51
You must be a gymnast to blame this on the current administration! Was Met. Jonah even Orthodox when this happened?
#8 Antionymous on 2010-11-26 15:01
Many churches are in the 'safe haven' program where everyone who comes in contact with children - sunday school teachers, clergy, monks. nuns and bishops are are all given a clean bill of health by the local police.
We Eastern Orthodox Christians are remiss in not being active supporters of this program - remember all public school teachers are finger printed and checked out - so why not all of our chruch workers including all of our bishops.
In light of everything that has happened during the past 10 years I would think that all of our leaders - archbishops and metropolitans would be lining up to show how squeaky clean they are or God forbid, are not.
We do not need anymore blackeyes - Just think what Jesus is saying as he looks down -- this is a tragic mess and every jurisdiction appears to have its own dirty laundry - no wonder the books Bowling Alone and 9 Shifts are saying that our youth are not joiners - not joiners of anything - including church.
It appears that anyone who has his head screwed on correctly is having second doubts.
We all have truly dropped the ball = how can such leaders hold the laity up to a standard that they are not embracing? Does this really create credibility? How holy is the sacrament they administer if they themselves are soiled and tainted? Is the Holy Spirit truly doing their bidding sacramentally for doesnt the Triune God know what is truly in their unpure hearts and unpure souls? So how can what they do be so holy?
To quote a great American - 'This day will live in infamy" unfortunately over the past 10 years we Eastern Orthodox Christians have had many of such days.
Perhaps it is time to erase the board, clean the slate, retire all of the hierarchs regaedless of age and church administrators - suppossed good and the known bad - and begin all over with a clean slate - perhaps this is the only way a modicul of trust can be established in the system --- Just ask yoursell " what would Jesus do" See John 2:12-22 -- it may be time to clean house - and for this I grieve
To quote another illuminary "God Bless Us, Everyone" amen
#9 rjklancko on 2010-11-26 17:49
I'm not getting the idea that the (alleged) crime of 20 years ago, is Metropolitan Jonah's fault?
(Editor's note: I think the suggestion not that the alleged crime was the Metropolitan's fault, rather, that it is his fault that nothing was done about the allegations for the two years he has been Metropolitan.)
#10 Antionymous on 2010-11-26 21:06
"From those in the know, they believe the accusations to be bogus..."
And I'll bet everyone of 'those in the know' sit on the Synod.
(Editor's note: Friends, it doesn't matter what anybody here, or on the Synod, "believes". The Crown "believed" there was a case, and charged the Archbishop. That's a fact. Now it is up to the Court to determine the facts and whether the Archbishop is guilty or not guilty. Following that decision, it will then be up to Synod to determine how to act on the Courts findings, and the result of the Church's own Synodal Investigation Commission.)
#11 Anonymous on 2010-11-26 21:27
Metropolitan Jonah was an outsider from California. He was about as far away from Syosset culture as anybody could be in the OCA. So I don't think flushing the current bishops would do any good.
I think it might be better to ask, what is it about coming to Syosset that makes bishops act the way that they do? And what can be done about it on our end?
#12 Cordelia on 2010-11-26 23:21
Thank you. I have been outraged at the rush to assume His Eminence is guilty. If he is, of course, he should be held totally accountable, but we are a LONG way away from knowing that. All this "I heard" or "apparently," followed by rumors with no evidence behind them is incredibly destructive to both sides. Let the courts do their work. We have no reason at this juncture to believe they won't render a fair verdict.
#13 Morton on 2010-11-27 03:43
Oy gevalt...THAT old refrain...
The vast majority of sexual abuse happens within families. Why do you suppose a married episcopacy would be any less troublesome in this regard than a celibate one? You fall in to the old trap of thinking this has something to do with "repressed" sexual urges. Plenty of celibate monks serve their whole lives without ever abusing a single child, as hard as that may be for some to believe. And nor is there the slightest evidence to suggest that homosexuals abuse children in a higher proportion than straights. You seem to imply by your "same-sex" comment that they do.
If you want to see what a married episcopate looks like, take a look at the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, which have had married bishops since the break with Rome 470 years ago. Like what you see?
#14 Morton on 2010-11-27 04:00
Innocent until proven guilty and there is no guilt by association.
Thank God we are still in North America!
#15 Alexandru Nemoianu on 2010-11-27 06:13
Let the process take it's course. The Archbishop denies the allegations, now charges against him. He has steadfastly denied that any abuse took place. It is up to the court in Canada to settle the matter. Why do we have to nit pick this to our spiritual distraction? Best to report what you feel you need to report and close down the comments. Yes it is news but these comments are not.
(Editor's note: The, friend, don't read them. You have can easily read the news, and never read the comment boards. Simple as that. Yet, you choose to read them. You make an effort to do so. Why? If it is only "nit-picking" to you, why bother? Don't. Simple as that, and let people who feel they have to get something off their chest, for their spiritual wel-being, do so. But I see no reason to deny them their essential freedom because you may experience some elective discomfort. End of story.)
#16 Anonymous on 2010-11-27 07:46
According to OCA Policies (11.05.b), only if Archbishop Seraphim is convicted will he be banned from contact with youth in the OCA.
However, in the Diocese of the Midwest, where I serve, nobody even charged with a sexual crime against a minor may work with youth (Risk Manual 2.3.5). It would seem that Archbishop Seraphim cannot be allowed to supervise altar boys in the Midwest Diocese from this point forward.
#17 Archpriest Christopher Wojcik on 2010-11-27 08:31
Better we go to confession to get things off our chest! Take care.
#18 Anonymous on 2010-11-27 08:31
Jonah chose NOT to investigate this when it was brought to his attention. That is, he chose to bury it. Likewise, he chose to "end" relations with the TEC, and, then, two months later, he chose to sign an agreement with a TEC seminary. I think that everyone can see the connection. The man is inconsistent, with no set policy, he's "a man whose allegiance is due to expedience."
Bishop Eulogy in Russia kicked out the Mother Superior and Father Confessor of the child-abusing convent without waiting for a court verdict. Jonah should do likewise. Seraphim must go, and go now. Jonah must resign for obstructing an investigation for two years. All those who defend Jonah stand behind Eric Tosi's, "The records simply don't exist". They defend clerical malfeasance on the grounds that "we're all sinners." Excuse me, the Church does kick out criminal clergy. Ask Bishop Diomid, that's what happened to him. Also ask Jonah why he supports Kondratick and finds his reinstatement a good idea.
There's more to this than just a court case in Canada.
#19 ANONY-MOUSE on 2010-11-27 08:35
The Married Episcopate is part of the Tradition of the Orthodox Church. There is NO reason not to have married bishops. In general, married men are more psychologically balanced and able to deal with and understand issues with families. A married episcopate does not mean ALL will be normal. There are plenty of married paedophiles and homosexuals, but overall, more normal than not!
#20 Any Moose on 2010-11-27 09:22
I am absolutely outraged by what Fr. Dennis Pihach wrote to the clergy in Canada. The underlying tone is that this is only going forward because of the high profile nature of the case, not due to any merits of the case. Why can't these "leaders", and I use this in the loosest sense of the word, realize they need to remain NEUTRAL and stop with their hidden agendas. It is precisely due to reactions like this that victims are so unwilling to come forward. It is time to break up this boys club and stop this culture. Does no one see what is happening here?
Don't forget, for a while there was letters of support for the bishop posted on the Canadian diocese website. The new acting bishop had enough sense (or was directed) to remove these. Someone realized that neutrality is a must to protect all involved, but here we have it again. Could someone tell the Canadian diocese to stop it!
I agree with other comments that the bishop MUST be suspended immediately pending the outcome of the criminal charges. Without this, we are absolutely sending the wrong message that the only one worthy of protection in this is him. What about the people?
#21 Outraged on 2010-11-27 10:05
I realise that law can be confusing, especially for Americans (operating under their own assumptions and legal rights and practices) looking at Canadian law. For example: the Canadian Supreme Court recently ruled that, contrary to its own previous rulings, an accused does NOT have the constitutional right to have counsel present and to be advised by counsel while being questioned by the police. So much for Miranda (although I'm still quite fond of Carmen's songs).
Anyway, concerning our intrepid editor's assertion that "the Crown 'believed' there was a case, and charged the Archbishop," that is not quite so. Firstly, it is a peculiarity of police procedure in Winnipeg that the police cannot interview a person of interest unless and until they have laid a charge. Only then are they free to interview the accused. In other Canadian jurisdictions, this is not the case. But then, Winnipeg has always been sui generis about a lot of things. In any event, it is only now that the Archbishop and his lawyer get to see the accusations and evidence the police have used to support their charge. There is absolutely no obligation for the police or Crown to disclose their evidence until a charge is laid.
Secondly, it was the police who laid the charge, not the Crown. (Yeah, I know: the police are also agents of the Crown. But---thanks be to God---they still must submit their conclusions to someone else before a person can be brought to trial.) It is now up to the Crown Prosecutor to decide if the charge has any merit and whether or not there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a reasonable expectation of conviction. It is not unusual for the Crown to make that determination only after a preliminary hearing and the defense has, as it were, "tipped their hand" about the defense contentions.
I do wonder, however, why so many folks posting on this site seem so very eager for the charges to be true, that explicitly or implicitly they have already judged the Archbishop guilty (e.g., Not Surprised, Stephen, Harry Coin, and Moses in this thread alone thus far). It is not a suggestion, but a command by the Lord Himself that we "judge not according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (Jn. 7:24) and an apostolic injunction that love "believes all things" (1 Cor.13:7), i.e., always believes the best about another person and their actions and intentions unless and until proven otherwise. This means, of course, that until trial, and all the evidence is on the table, and twelve good persons and true have exercised their duty to be the triers of fact, we have an absolute moral obligation to stop running our mouths about the Archbishop's supposed guilt....
And to stop being so utterly hypocritical. I'd be willing to bet (if gambling were canonical) that not one of these folks would be so eager to be assumed guilty if they were the accused. They would be as vocal as anyone else in demanding the presumption of innocence. And if any of them think that they are not capable of the most horrendous of sins if the right buttons were pushed, they're fooling only themselves and are suffering from the most dangerous form of pride possible. If 38 years of priesthood have taught me anything, it is that under the "right" impetus any human being is capable of performing any and every kind of evil; that even the saintliest of saints is still a sinner in the process of being saved...and that the biggest and worst sinner any of us knows is the face in he mirror. It's not for nothing that the Greek text of Luke 18: 13 (unlike our English translations) places in the mouth of the penitent publican the words "God, be merciful to me, THE sinner."
#22 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2010-11-27 10:18
In response to whether a married episcopate is the cure for sexual abuse allegations and problems, I have to say definitively no. Although a married episcopate is part of our church history and was certainly present in the early church, over the past hundreds of years the church has chosen (for whatever reasons) to do away with it. Should it come back? Fine with me. But that would need to be decided by a pan-Orthodox council, not by one of the 15 autocephalous churches unilaterally restoring a married episcopate without discussion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. That would separate us from the Orthodox communion, which no one wants.
We all are well aware of never-married bishops who are not good bishops (some of them are currently serving here in America now!) -- this is not judging, it is simply pointing out the obvious. There are also countless never-married bishops who are saintly and wonderful (St John of Shanghai & San Francisco in recent memory comes to mind). And yes, previously married & widowed bishops have been so beneficial for Christ's church and have presented Christ to the people as bishops are supposed to do (such as Met. Leonty of the OCA/former Metropolia). But it is dangerous to declare that never-married equals bad bishop, whereas married or widowed equals good bishop. It's not that simple.
What is most needed to fight sexual abuse in the church is for the bishops, priests, and lay people to be able to talk about it openly. It is everywhere in our society, and our churches need to talk about it as well. Every parish should have its own sexual abuse/assault policy that every priest, layperson, church school parent and church school teacher needs to be aware of and should perhaps formally read and sign. It should be discussed openly at annual parish meetings and whenever else needed.
Gone are the days when sex, sexual abuse, etc is not talked about. God commands us to deal with reality, and the reality is that sex is everywhere in our society, and our church leadership and laypeople must openly address it in parishes. But to say that the answer is to allow a married episcopate is short-sighted and a poor attempt at a very simple answer to a much more complex issue.
On another note, thanks again to Mark to provide a forum to discuss important issues in our American Orthodox community (openly!). And I hope and that everyone had a blessed Thankgsiving. "Anyone who is capable of thanksgiving is capable of salvation" -Fr Alexander Schmemann
#23 Gregg Gerasimon on 2010-11-27 10:38
Let's keep in mind the degree of surety a new Metropolitan would have to have to take action against a long-sitting bishop. We don't know what kinds of precautions may have been taken or inquiries may have been taken behind the scenes. I'm really impressed with culture of transparency that +Jonah has brought about in the financial arena. These really terrible crimes that have been alleged must be deeply troubling to him. I for one pray that he continues to handle the matter with openness, grace and transparency. If things were known and actions should have been taken sooner, this must be publicly admitted that steps must be taken to insure that such things never again. Our new leadership must be wiling to put their cards on the table, to say what they knew and when. If they have erred in their judgement and been two cautious in actions that needed to be taken, we should be willing to forgive to the point that they are willing to come clean. At least from +Jonah's public statements, I have every reason to be impressed and to trust that the matter is being handled appropriately. When allegation of a priest hurting children in the way emerge, a crime far graver than any amount of financial mismanagement, it must give everyone, in including our hierarchs pause to contemplate what went wrong. It's when the defense of reputations are put at the a higher premium than the truth, that substantial and lasting damage to the Church can occur. Look a the situation of the Roman Catholic church right now. I, for one, have faith in our hierarchs' present handling the situation. More than anything, I pray that they will be absolutely, and completely truthful and forthright about everything that was known, suspected, or alleged and when. There's a humility and risk associated with this, but if it's not done, the entire church will emerge tarnished by one man's (alleged) sins.
#24 Nunc et semper on 2010-11-27 10:47
I found the news articles interesting because they suggested the Abp. "turned himself in". That implies he did something wrong and they better be careful because I think they are opening themselves for liable suits. He was asked to come in for the arrest. He didn't 'turn himself in' acknowledging a crime. There is a huge difference.
I really found the previously disclosed 'medical leave' and the silence to be problematic from my perspective and have stated so in the past. I was disappointed in the 'medical leave' for sure, but after the statement from the lawyer for the Abp., less disappointed in the silence, although I see nothing wrong with professing innocence if it is just. Maybe someone can explain that to me.
I have a problem with a 25 year old criminal case. As some of you may know, the courts in America had a problem with a civil case going back 2 years (Lily Ledbetter). My problem is that a lot is lost when the accusers don't speak for that long. The Catholic churches victimization of children has been known about for nearly 20 years now.
The OCA really needs to review how this was handled internally based on the idea it was disclosed to them 2 years ago.
Does the OCA have a sound policy to deal with such a situation? Is the policy right? I think rather than blaming someone for inaction, we need to ask if an action should have been taken, why wasn't it? Then, if Metropolitan Jonah failed to act in accordance with our policies, he should be reprimanded at least in a resolution. Or, if the policies aren't good enough, the church needs to make them better. In other words, make sure we have a good policy that protects children from even a potentially falsely accused person, and then make sure that policy is properly applied.
I don't see how this can be considered good policy if all the heresay is accurate unless there is a nuance to policy I'm missing, like the claimaint can't be a third party, for example. Maybe Mark can expound on the policy, not policy specifics related to this matter.
The one disappointment I have with pokrov that I will make public is they have gone too far in putting up a page called 'public allegations'. This type of overreaching, polarizing behavior is what gives pause to sound minded people and policy makers. What allegations were ever made against Bishop Nikolai? I never heard of any, unless inaction is now an allegation. If I were him, I'd sue them for certain. If they want a page for inaction and the reasons why, that would have far more weight than putting someone's face on their page. For another thing, who own's those pictures? Weren't they pictures taken by the OCA? I think for all the good they are trying to do, they have gone too far putting up an allegations page. I think putting up a page for those arrested, but not tried, in the case of Abp. Seraphim is more than fair so don't think I'm defending anyone.
Can I just allege any damn thing about anyone and that is okay? NO
#25 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-11-27 11:05
The impulse to "save face" is something very human, we all share it. It is hard to admit something as embarrassing as this investigation, and even harder to admit wrongdoing... if there was any. So, to vilify Abp. Seraphim would probably be hypocritical on my part.
That said, there is something very disappointing about the way this situation has unfolded, and it is extremely reminiscent of the Old Regime. From the alleged whistle-blowing two years ago, to Abp. Seraphim's mysterious withdrawal during the AAC Elections, to the misleading announcement of a "leave of absence" for health reasons... at every step of the way, it seems there has been an attempt to obfuscate the truth, either on the part of Abp. Seraphim, or of the OCA Administration.
Perhaps that's because everyone was lawyered up, and obfuscating truth is, therefore, to be expected. My only point is that one would expect more candor and integrity from Bishops and Administrators -- a willingness to be forthcoming and honest about a situation, which is painful and difficult, but is (from what I understand) our calling as Orthodox Christians. Consistently seeing the OCA's spiritual leaders exhibit this poor example, I am hard-pressed to place a priority on these virtues in my own spiritual struggle.
#26 Nilus on 2010-11-27 11:17
Thank you, Morton. I wanted to respond to Harry Coin's post, but was too angry last night. Let me try again...
How ignorant it is to assume celibacy is a symptom of sexual ills, when in fact it is a great spiritual gift. Celibacy is not the hallmark of sexually-repressed homosexuals with pedophile potential. None of those things even have anything to do with each other: celibates are not sexually repressed, homosexuals don't always try to be celibate, and pedophiles can be anybody - old, young, men, women, married, single, widowed, homosexual, heterosexual....
It is also ignorant to assume a married episcopacy would be free of sexual temptation. Many convicted child molesters are or were married in heterosexual relationships. Sometimes they are so good about carrying on in those relationships that it totally blindsides the spouse.
Yes, child molestation is prevalent among men who "know what it means to be a father", who are happily married, who appear to be perfectly well-adjusted to all the world, or at least look well-adjusted to people who are too focused on demonizing celibacy and celibates that they ignore the child molesters right under their noses.
Fatherhood is NOT limited to the wherewithal to donate sperm towards the conception of a new human being, or to giving day-to-day care for a child. It's not even about scraped knees and having a stern talk with a daughter's boyfriend. The Church granted us another definition of fatherhood in our spiritual tradition with our priest-fathers and our spiritual fathers, our monastic fathers and our church fathers.
It is hateful to assume that a celibate man who has devoted his life to the Church, who forsook marriage for the sake of the one thing needful, would not have an emotional investment in the well-being of his flock as strong as a father of children. It's even more hateful to assume he must be a repressed paraphiliac.
#27 Cordelia on 2010-11-27 11:20
Is Pokrov willing to release the correspondence with Met. Jonah? Perhaps, if the names of alleged victims or accusers were/ are known to Pokrov, and were/are included in the correspondence, they could black them out. Are they willing to give their correspondence at least to the investigation committee? How can any one make conclusions on what anyone knew or should have done with that knowledge based simply on "letters were exchanged". We have one quotation from one letter and the rest is unrevealed.
Fr Yousuf Rassam
#28 Anonymous on 2010-11-27 11:27
Time and again, people wait for a "trial" in the OCA. Why can't Seraphim just come out now with what evidence he has to rebut the allegations? Like Kondratick who always wanted it to all come out, Seraphim is going to hide behind his legal team to shield him and keep the level of uncertainty up so that people can assume, but never know for sure.
(Editor's note: The Archbishop has a legal right to remain silent, and nothing may be inferred from that - that's our Fifth Amendment, which I and you should be willing to extend north of the border. The trial, should it come to that, will determine the facts and whether he is guilty or not guilty. Let's have the patience, courage, and faith to wait a bit, OK?)
#29 Anonymous on 2010-11-27 12:02
But wasn't Jonah the head of the monastery where they sent priests to be shielded and kept out of sight? Didnt they send Rymer there from the GOA and the former comptroller of the OCA, Stravros Strikis? There's a lot of trust in Jonah to keep the bad apples in seclusion and out of the public eye.
Jonah knows a lot more than people give him credit for.
#30 Anonymous on 2010-11-27 12:11
Having followed the situation with Archbishop Seraphim at a distance, I would like to make a brief observation. Regardless of the Archbishop’s innocence or guilt, I am uncomfortable with the Church administration being stuck with the duty of investigating criminal conduct. This is not to say that I want the guilty to go free, but it is rather the expectation of competence which troubles me.
I expect the clergy and hierarchy to be competent in religious and spiritual matters, not criminal investigation. Such investigations ought to be handled by civil authorities who are properly trained in investigative work and can offer a real solution. Please allow me to explain this further.
First, criminal investigations are not easy. Witnesses can feel intimidated and will not cooperate if pressed to hard or insufficiently, and only an experienced investigator has a chance at striking this balance. We clerics can also be a tad bit idealistic and overlook what a seasoned professional would not. While the Church can and should cooperate with civil authorities, we ought not to fall into the trap of trying to replace them.
Second, what is the worst punishment the Church can offer? Excommunication? Expulsion from orders? Yes, these are heavy penalties with eternal implications, but they are not enough to protect the general community from a predator. The Church has no prison system to warehouse dangerous people. The former penalties can often be arrived at after civil authorities have performed their ‘ministry’ and successfully prosecuted offenders. All a Spiritual Court needs to do after that point is review the legal proceedings and ask the defendant if the case took place and whether he chooses to agree with it or not. No lengthy process and no dragging of victims through a second investigation. The accused need only be found guilty of being convicted of a crime, and the Spiritual Court need only consider the conviction and its correspondence to the canonical Tradition.
If the OCA were to investigate anything, it would be why the RCMP was not contacted sooner when witnesses came forward, and what changes can be made to enhance the speed of such contact. We as a community need to teach our people to not wait on the Church or ‘someone else’ to report crimes. If we have information, we need to immediately make that contact with law enforcement, both for the safety of the community and the salvation of the criminal. I do not think investigating the actual charges at this stage is helpful, since the RCMP is guaranteed to do a better job of criminal investigation than any panel the Church produces (no offense to the present committee, but I am doubtful it will be able to out-perform ‘Canada’s Finest’).
Forgive me for being blunt: I do not believe that sexual predators can be reliably rehabilitated without significant, long-term therapy and near-miraculous levels of repentance and willingness to change. Therefore, I do not advocate anything other than imprisonment for duly-convicted offenders.
The OCA does not offer ‘therapeutic incarceration’ for either clergy or laity. Canadian police do, and so the whole affair should be left to them until the process has played out.
However, I do salute the OCA Holy Synod's willingness to take action rather than merely denying anything is going on. To ignore the obvious would have been horribly self-destructive.
Fr. George Aquaro
#31 <username> on 2010-11-27 13:50
Well said Alexandru,short statement but to the point-Innocent until proven guilty! Father Dragan Filipovic
#32 V.Rev.Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Dragan Filipovic on 2010-11-27 17:38
Yes I am not surprised about oca. The so called bishops and metropolitan have resloved NOTHING about the scandal. It is now years and nothing has been done.
I suggested all peoplej of oca join the Moscow PAT.
AND please stop giving all your money to oca. The bishops and MET live too well for being monks. And Herman is still living at St. Tikhons. WHY?????
I do believe that one day oca will reinstate all those involved in the scandal and business will be as usual. Give us your money but dont ask any questions or question anything we do. In addtion the Bishops seem to have so many rules that all seem to benefit only them.
GO to the Moscow PAT.]
#33 John Macenka on 2010-11-27 19:16
Here's a better idea: stop reading .... (that) idiotic hate rag. And if you are the so-called "Vara" himself, delete your pathetic, slanderous blog.
(Editor's note: If you dislike a blog, the best way to express that dislike is to ignore them, not trash them. That just gives them publicity from those who have not heard of them before. So, as the editor, I ask you all to voluntarily refrain from this kind of discussion, please, because I do not want to trash other sites, no matter how much or little they deserve such. Thank you for your consideration.)
#34 Cordelia on 2010-11-27 19:16
Sorry, Mark, but I wonder if you should reconsider accepting comments that parrot those particular views.
(Editor's note: I generally don't censor views except for language or for facts I know personally to be false. The views here are not mine, but they are someone's, and the Church is to encompass everybody, everywhere at all times. It is not only a club of like-minded people. )
#35 Cordelia on 2010-11-27 19:52
I think Bishop Nikolai was accused of misconduct, per the article above (this is just one of many)
IMO, Pokrov would not still be in existence, including its website public allegation page, if the Church responded to abuse and misconduct in a rapid, transparent, Christian and caring manner, which at the very least protected alleged victims as much as it protects accused clergy and itself as an institution. I am grateful for Melanie and Cappy of Pokrov, I admire their steadfast diligence, and I hope they keep doing what they are doing until such time the Church gets it.
#36 Kristi Koumentakos on 2010-11-27 19:58
this is the article that spells it out, FYI
#37 Kristi Koumentakos on 2010-11-27 20:13
WATCH OUT for that gunman on the grassy knoll too!
#38 Anonymous on 2010-11-27 22:12
Fr Yousuf Rassam wrote, "Is Pokrov willing to release the correspondence with Met. Jonah?"
The correspondence has been up on Pokrov.org for quite some time now. If you have trouble finding it, feel free to write to me privately.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
You are right. I would not want to be assumed guilty if I was accused. However, my experience with Archbishop Seraphim is riddled with many instances over the years where he has done just that. Assumed guilt on the hearsay of others. So indeed God is merciful and gives us all what we need for our salvation. As unpleasant as it may sound to you...for Archbishop Seraphim maybe a taste of his own medicine is what he needs.
You are nitpicking about the police charged vs the Crown charged. Look, the bottom line is that the police (who, as you pointed out represent the Crown) and who are the ones who investigated the allegations, say there is enough evidence AGAINST Archbishop Seraphim to charge him.
Is that to say that I am "eager for the charges to be true" as you said? Clearly the charges are there, as I already pointed out, because there is sufficient evidence . Do you mean am I "eager" for Archbishop Seraphim to be found guilty? For the sake of all involved I sincerely hope that justice will prevail. I have no idea what happened 25 years ago. As I have said in previous posts, only God, Archbishop Seraphim and the two boys (now men) know the truth. And the Truth will set us ALL free- The Archbishop, the boys (now men) and all of us in the Canadian Archdiocese who have had to endure the mishandling of this horrific accusation from day one.
I agree entirely with "Outraged". We should all be outraged- about the current state of the OCA in Canada, about it's current leaders, and most of all about the way our own Bishop has chosen to remain silent. As you, Fr. Phillip, pointed out yourself about those who are accused and presumed guilty, "They would be as vocal as anyone else in demanding the presumption of innocence." Bishop Seraphim has CHOSEN to remain silent. Offering us, his flock, no reassurance at all. What a leader.
But finally someone speaks- his lawyer. I find the statement made by Archbishop Seraphim's lawyer to be interesting. One thing in particular- When he states "Obviously it’s not a pleasant thing to be accused of things that you don’t feel happened."
What does that mean? Either these things happened or they did not. Whether someone "feels" they happened seems out of place entirely, especially considering the seriousness of the charges. Fr. Phillip, you are not the only one who can nitpick!
Nonetheless, God is merciful in ALL things. The good and the bad. HE is the TRUTH, HE is the LIGHT, and it is in HIM that I put my trust. Do not put your trust in princes nor sons of man where there is no salvation.
#40 A Principled Canadian on 2010-11-28 01:41
Mark, I'm afraid this is one those rare instances where you are totally wrong!
The moral imperative for any Christian, and especially a member of the hierarchy, the minute they are confronted with such charges is to" tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth" regardless of any legal consequences. To hide behind secular legal niceties, and lawyers, is to evade their duty to accept martyrdom, if need be, in order to bear witness to the truth.
This is just another example of how low our standards are these days for those who would seek to follow Christ. And it is also a tacit admission that there is substances to the charges.
(Editor's note: I don't disagree with you at all regarding the low standards. I simply was discussing his legal rights, not his moral choices, or the imperatives/requirements of leadership. But I do disagree with your last line. We are legally obligated not imply anything in this case from silence. )
#41 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-11-28 06:41
I don't know if Archbishop Seraphim is guilty or innocent, but one thing that I know for a fact is that the initial investigation was never conducted by the current chancellor. He said that there was nothing to investigate. Along with the investigation of the archbishop, I believe that a full investigation of what happened two years ago that prohibited a full investigation of the archbishop needs to be explored.
Several people have pointed out that Metropolitan Jonah wasn't around at the time the allegations surfaced. He was, however, aware of the allegations right after his election since the news broke just prior to the AAC. In fact it was common knowledge that Archbishop Seraphim withdrew his name from nomination for metropolitan after this information broke. I for one want to understand how on earth the Holy Synod, which met in December right after the election at the cathedral in Washington, DC did not have this as item one or two. Or is it only the chancellor who has the power and authority to do initial investigations and decide if something is or is not credible to bring forward to the holy synod?
What this reveals to me is that the OCA really hasn't moved far from the old days if the chancellor has so much power that an issue like this just got buried. Here's what I'd like to see: why not post the agenda from the December meeting of the holy synod? Was this issue even on the table to be discussed?
The timeline seems to be that the information broke in October/ November 2008, Metropolitan Jonah was elected, and the Holy Synod met shortly thereafter. When was this issue discussed by the holy synod and who made the decision that there wasn't enough evidence? Why wasn't the archbishop questioned by a special commission or by the holy synod at their December meeting?
As an outsider looking in, it really doesn't appear that anything was done. When Arcbhbishop Seraphim withdrew his name, the book was closed and no further mention of an investigation occurred. If it turns out that the archbishop is guilty, I hope that all of the bishops on the holy synod and the chancellor will have the courage to resign.
#42 Anonymous on 2010-11-28 07:46
i wish there was the same level of compassion in other jurisdictions.
#43 Happy on 2010-11-28 07:58
I would compare the sky's color to some swatches from the paint store before agreeing that it was indeed blue.
Indeed you can't see the forest for the trees. This is the problem that has existed for decades; child molesters have preistly garb on and therefore can't be child molesters or the victims and the ones making the allegations are the real suspects. The victims are victimized again. +J had Rymer at his monastery and didn't warn the public that a child molester was there. The whole Blanco mess with the former HOOM now OCA crew. There is a definite blind spot for this problem in the OCA and the fact that +J sat on it for 2 years demonstrates it clearly again. Of course he is innocent until proven guilty but I would hope that the standard would be for the episcopate to be beyond reproach. Get off the anti-Pokrov kick and open your eyes to what is repeatedly happening in the OCA and the devastation that continues to people's lives.
#44 Ex-OCA member on 2010-11-28 10:15
I'm not sure if my original reply made it or not, here goes another attempt.
I think Fr. Wojcik makes an excellent point if he is accurate.
Why would the OCA have a substandard policy such as this one?
Noone should be allowed to serve if accused by legal authorities and the church must have a required notification policy as well.
I am not suggesting even stopping pay for such a person, because an accusation must be proven by a legal court.
Another person makes a point about the OCA investigating. I would say the only way the OCA investigation has any merit is if the OCA has a higher standard than the law. Given the facts in the Kondratick matter, I don't believe we have proven our standards are higher. For that matter, an internal investigation seems unusual unless it is a full review of the handling of the matter, for example.
And anyone who has taken a leave, by the way, ought to be put on a temporary suspension officially when the police get involved.
#45 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-11-28 10:50
Yeah, God knows all the hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate live so frugally!
#46 Jon Marc on 2010-11-28 11:50
All the correspondence with the OCA is posted on the Pokrov website and was made public in a press release dated 10/5/2010.
In one link, there is a letter sent to Fr. Alexander Garklav, a response from Garklav and then a response back from Pokrov. All three emails were copied to the OCA Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council. And there is another link to a response to Pokrov from Met. Jonah.
Garklav states that there are not enough facts to do an investigation BUT Met. Jonah informs Pokrov that there is an investigation. Both acknowledge they know of the allegations. Shortly after Pokrov wrote the letters, Archbishop Seraphim was invited to accompany Met. Jonah on his first official visit to Russia as Metropolitan. Clearly, Seraphim was not suspended at that time as he did in fact travel to Russian in an official capacity. If we choose to believe Met. Jonah, the investigation was in progress during that trip. If we believe Garklav, there was no investigation.
There is also a letter from +Nikolai Soriach. Whatever one has to say about +Nikolai, he appears to know about the allegations against Archbishop Seraphim.
It’s all there, you can read it for yourself.
With regard to my last sentence, I agree that on reflection I should have said: "And it certainly leads one to think that there may well be substance to the charges." Of course, I was making a moral observation, based on the Archbishop's response to date, rather than a legal point for which presumption of innocence is indeed assumed.
So I think we are both basically on the same page, and probably agree that to resort at every turn to secular legalisms, as so many on this website like to do with respect to our life in the Church, is abhorrent and Pharisaic.
#48 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-11-28 14:45
This raises an important question: did SNAP/Pokrov send the same revelations of child abuse to the police in Winnipeg?
If so and the police did not feel the evidence provided rose to a level requiring even investigation, then why do we feel so righteous in blaming the OCA for not coming to the same conclusion?
Sure, the Church and the police have different standards and interests. An affair between a priest and a parishioner will not get the priest arrested, but it will and should get him defrocked. But, we are talking about whether the Church had enough info to credibly take Abp Seraphim to a Spiritual Court. If the police didn't have enough for an investigation, the Spiritual Court likely didn't have enough to convict him in a Spiritual Court.
Fr. Philip (Speranza) provided a good primer on the Canadian police and justice system for Americans, it may also be helpful to understand what the process is for a Spiritual Court. What options did the Synod have given the evidence (or lack thereof) provided to them? Does canon, US or New York State law allow for disciplining a bishop based on hearsay alone, for instance?
Of course, the details are important and I eagerly await the release of more information.
#49 melxiopp on 2010-11-28 16:59
So much to respond to, but lets be clear there is an important difference between 'celibate' and 'never married'. Men who have no interest in marraige in particular or women in general, and who are discreet but not celibate to begin with sacrifice nothing aforementioned, gain power, and get to wear dresses while people kiss them alot.
Moreover, let's pretend the Gospel that called for bishops to be 'chosen from among the people, husbands of but one wife' is not nothing if having 'Orthodox' in the title of our church is meant to mean something.
Our church did an innovation restricting the bishops to be drawn from the 'not presently married'. This made sense when a man whose wife had died could not reasonably be expected to live long enough to see children from another marraige reach their teenage years. But that's not the way it is now. The reason for that innovation is now gone and a reason to restore the Gospel's clear directive is most apparent.
In our modern context due to the extraordinairy improvement in the health of women has changed to the current homosexual misconduct catastrophe we now see. Women's health thank God is here to stay, we need to deal with it.
Last, understand that there are serious careerists among the never married who will not welcome senior empty nester respected clergy who actually know something about being fathers to be among candidates for bishop. It would be more impressive if those who defend the never married only world we now continue to lose and decline with sign their names.
P.S. Does nobody feel guilt about the impressibly poor results we've had among Islamic people? That population generally has lower overall education, homophobia is the norm, and the first thing they see is Islamic leaders are married and what they see among the Christian leaders closest to them: We Orthodox -- what appear to be gay leaders and men who subordinate themselves to such. The content of our preaching is moot before we start. Is that fair? No but that's why the Gospel speaks of the importance of avoiding the appearance of scandal as well as scandal itself.
(Editor's note: Homophobia is not a virtue, even when preaching to homophobic cultures. Secondly, if you suggesting that homosexuality and paedophilia are related, you are mistaken, in the same way rape has nothing to do with heterosexuality. It is about power, not sexual orientation. The allegations concerning the Archbishop are not about homosexuality. So if we are to have this important discussion, let's do it free from phobia, stereotypes and cheap rim shots, please. Otherwise, it risks trivilizing your serious points.)
#50 Harry Coin on 2010-11-28 17:09
Mark, please delete Cordelia's comment in full, or at least the personal attack. You have edited posts in the past which were much less offensive. Regardless of her opinion of that particular website, her attack on the author's personal life was extremely cruel, irrelevant and should not be tolerated by anyone.
(editor's note: I did edit "the attack", hence the elipsis. I see I overlooked the outdated reflexive prounoun, however. Sorry. But I doubt that rises to the level of "cruelty". As I suggested, in dealing with such websites it is best just to ignore them. Let's begin now.)
#51 Kristi Koumentakos on 2010-11-28 18:56
If he wasn't Orthodox when this happened he has no business being Metropolitan let alone a bishop. REVOTE NOW!
#52 no name on 2010-11-28 18:58
Thank you, Greta, Cappy and Melanie!
#53 no name on 2010-11-28 19:05
Oh yeah go to the Moscow Patriarch, get real they're 1 of the reasons the OCA is such a mess.
#54 anon on 2010-11-28 19:09
Yes, I understand, Mark, but you don't have to leave accusations that lead nowhere unchallenged.
I know you must have piles of comments to edit every day, but there's a difference between whistleblowing and blatantly false accusations.
If there's not, I might have to mention that I was in Dealey Plaza in 1963, and I swear I saw a white klobuk on the grassy knoll.
(Editor's note: And here I thought it was the CIA/Russians/Cubans/Unhappy Loner that did it. It was the Orthodox Church? Does Oliver Stone know?
As for accusations that lead nowhere, I think you have answered your own problem. Such smearing leads nowhere, and everybody but the mud thrower knows it. He/She disgraces only themselves, and censoring them will only encourage it. The key is not believing allegations; it is being provided real evidence, and being open to it when provided. )
#55 Cordelia on 2010-11-28 21:37
Kristi, I stand by everything I said in the original post, and I fully accept Mark's edit.
#56 Cordelia on 2010-11-28 21:48
#57 Moses on 2010-11-28 22:27
I must admit that I just learned of the +Seraphim accusation today, and read through the posts. Here is a potpourri of thoughts from a simiple parishioner to throw into the mix regarding some of the topics that have been discussed.
Regarding celibacy being a requirement for bishop, my understanding is that the oldest tradition of the fathers allowed married bishops. It seems obvious to me that we ought to strive to be consistent with the oldest traditions. Both celibacy and marriage are sacraments, and both can draw us closer to God. In my opinion, celibacy is better practiced in a pure monastic environment in which a person can really spend the majority of their day in prayer and meditation. I think the responsibilities and schedules of the hierarchs preclude this lifestyle, so it is not surprising that they are not always successful in maintaining the rigors of a celibate lifestyle. It cannot be denied that a disproportionate number of child molestation cases are perpetrated by Catholic, and in some cases, Orthodox priests. It is not unreasonable to consider that this may be related to forcing a celibate lifestyle on those who have neither a desire nor the ability to live the life of a true monastic.
Regarding homosexuality and paedophilia: There was a debate whether homosexuality makes one more likely to molest children. Frankly, I think this profoundly misses the point. .... It may be the jurisdiction of the state to determine civil liability, but that determination is irrelevant within the church, which has to hold itself to a higher standard, and it is the responsibility of the leadership to use spiritual discernment to root out all sexual (or any other pervasive lifestyle sins) within its own ranks.
Regarding +Seraphim: At this point, let the process work itself out. If it turns out that he is guilty, then he should be removed from the episcopate and he will have a civil penalty to pay. Even if he is found guilty, our judgment of him should be tempered by the fact that it happened 25 years ago and there are no accounts accusing him of inappropriate acts since then. Before we are too eager to cast stones, we should keep in mind that none of us are the same person today that we were 25 years ago, and all of us have done things in our youth that we regret. That doesn't justify child molestation, as that is particularly heinous due to the fact that the victim is a child, and a person of authority is stealing the innocence that properly belongs to that stage of life. If he is found guilty, then he should spend the rest of his life demonstrating his repentance, and he should not hold a position of authority lest the name of Christ be defamed further.
Regarding the Metropolitan: I think smearing the Metropolitan with innuendo is inappropriate. A good leader is subtle and discrete and tries to resolve problems with the people involved. A good leader does not air the church's dirty laundry. Some are dissatisfied that not enough heads have rolled for the financial scandal a few years ago. Consider which is more important, though: paying back those who have sinned (and we have all sinned), or changing the direction of the church towards purity, spirituality, and integrity. The best way to lead the church in that direction is by example, by quietly showing the path to humility, purity, and Christ-likeness. As a hesychast, I think Metropolitan Jonah is uniquely qualified to lead us in this way, and from everything I have seen, he is. I believe he cares deeply about the purity of the church. If we see imperfection in others, it is far better to help that person to reform than to cast stones at them. If there are current and ongoing sins that are not being dealt with, either openly or discretely, then and only then can you judge the metropolitan, but unless and until there is concrete evidence of this, we ought to support the Metropolitan. Showing discretion towards a man who may or may not have sinned 25 years ago, but who has not had even a hint of impropriety since, is not a good test of whether the Metropolitan is successfully reforming the church to achieve a higher level of purity today.
(Editor's note: We have no idea of what evidence the police may or may not have; we shall see it at trial, and a jury, not us, will make the decision as to the facts of the case. I am not sure many will agree with you, however, as to time mitigating seriousness or punishment. It would seem that Canadian law, as opposed to US law, disagrees, since these crimes have no statute of limitations in Canada, but do in the USA.
As for your other comments, the proof is in the pudding, and time will tell whether your other speculations are accurate or not.)
#58 Ken Miller on 2010-11-28 22:43
With respect to Fr. George's comments, the Church and the State operate (and quite rightly) in two different spheres. It is the State's responsibility to keep the populace safe from criminals by catching them and then...well, after four hundred years we in North America still haven't come to a consensus about what comes next: punishment or reformation. In any event, it's the State's task to deal with the criminal aspect. BUT that does not make conviction in a spiritual court a "slam dunk" unless what the State considers to be crime is something the Church considers to be "...unorthodox belief, breaches of canonical or moral discipline..." (Statute, Article XI,3). There are things (e.g., abortion) which the State considers legal, but which the Church condemns as sin (in the case of abortion, as deliberate murder).
It is the Church's task to deal with what affects its own life and health, and to do so, not according to the law of the land, but according to the Gospel of Christ. It is not the Church's job to punish crime; it is the State's (cf. Rom 13:1-7). It is the Church's job to deal with and heal the wounds caused to the offended, to the offender, and to the Body of Christ by somebody's sin. The whole paradigm is different. And I, for one, wouldn't have it any other way.
Concerning the process in a spiritual court, The Sacred Canons are generally pretty straightforward about clergy misdeeds and allow for only one remedy, viz., deposition from Holy Orders. (And note I say "remedy"! The point of this is to do that which provides healing for and does what's best for the whole Body.) And NO! there is no provision in civil law or the Sacred Canons for conviction only on hearsay. Quite the contrary, actually.
Now, concerning the process for a spiritual court, please consult The Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, Article XI, which lays out what is supposed to happen and how it's supposed to happen. Note, however, that even after 40 years since the Tomos, the Holy Synod has still to fulfill its statutory responsibility to establish a set of "procedural rules" for spiritual courts (Article XI,k). Unhappily, then, spiritual courts in the OCA find themselves having to make it up as they go along; and there is no consistency in procedure from diocese to diocese or even from case to case. This is, of course, sheer madness.
With respect to the make-up of spiritual courts trying clergy, Canon 12 of the Council of Carthage mandates that “If any Bishop falls liable to charges, which is to be deprecated, and an emergency arises due to the fact that not many can convene, lest he be left exposed to such charges, these may be heard by twelve Bishops; or, in the case of a Presbyter, by six Bishops besides his own; or in the case of a Deacon, by three.” And note that in his commentary, St, Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain explains that a Bishop’s “case is to be tried by twelve Bishops, and his own," meaning twelve plus the Metropolitan under whose jurisdiction the accused Bishop falls. Given that this Canon is an emergency provision, in case the full Synod of a Province cannot meet in a timely manner (as per Canon 4 of Antioch), the numbers given are an absolute minimum.
Concerning those who accuse clergy of any kind of wrong-doing, Canon 74 of the Holy Apostles mandates that “when a Bishop has been accused of something by trustworthy men, he must be summoned by Bishops…” for trial. The commentary explains that the demand for trustworthiness does not apply when the Bishop is accused in a financial matter; in such cases, according to Canon 6 of the Second Ecumenical Council and Canons 8 and 27 of the Council of Carthage, the accuser may bring his charge, no matter what kind of person he is. But according to the very same Canons, in EVERY other kind of matter the accuser must be both an Orthodox Christian and above suspicion with respect to his character. Canon 28 of Carthage adds that “if the person of the accuser is in disrepute, he ought not to be allowed to present his accusation.” Clearly implicit in these Canons is the requirement that an accuser’s character and reputation be examined before he is allowed to make his accusation. This requirement is also included in Article XI,4,b, of The Statute. (Clearly, then, in the case now before us, there must be an investigation into the character of the accuser(s) before a canonical trial can take place. And given that there have been false accusations in other cases, e.g., that of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernadin, this is not only proper canonical order but also common sense.)
As for my primer on Canadian police procedure, I was mistaken concerning Winnipeg. As a matter of fact, as everywhere else in Canada the Winnipeg police could have interviewed the Archbishop prior to or without charging him.... After all, it took fulminations of the highest order to stop him from following his own instinct to just drop into the cop-shop, sans counsel, for what he thought would be an open and honest chat. It is true, however, that until he was charged the police and Crown had no obligation to disclose to him any evidence against him. But now, at least, his attorney can begin to prepare a proper defense.
As for "Principled Canadian," I challenge you to provide me (by private email, if you like, at email@example.com) with even one instance in which the Archbishop disciplined someone unjustly. In the one case clearest in my mind, it was only the Archbishop being his usual softy self that kept one cleric from being hauled up in front of a spiritual court and being most justly deposed for numerous canonical breaches. You keep making this charge, but---as usual---fail to provide even a scintilla of proof. So put up or shut up.
#59 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2010-11-29 08:25
Thank you Fr. Philip for enlightening me on the whole charges before questioning thing, I found this incredible confusing.
I knew that in Canada one does not even need to disclose their name to a police officer without being charged or issued a summary offense.
I am concerned that Vladyka did not speak to the charges, it seems like the right thing to do. Particularly if one does not have anything to hide. Though if all I had to go on was that I was charged with such as such, I would want to hear the details of the allegation before responding to it. I still find the silence concerning.
Similarly, I also found the leave of absence letter disturbing, why not simply inform us some basic details, I find this constantly frustrating how not talking at all about something leads to more rumors, more miscommunications than if someone had given some basic information. Why could he not of simply put, "I have come aware as of late of a allegations brought to the police and a subsequent police investigation of a alleged sexual assault dating 25 years ago. I am therefore taking a leave in order to address these, and remove my self from any position of power until these issues are dealt with. This is long overdue ... as my doctor.... medical ... etc". Open, doesn't reveal anything huge, but allows alot more trust. Better from the shephards mouth than websites.
If someone would actually of put Canadian law into the context along with the story, people would be less quick to assume guilt and maybe more trusting of the process. I would assume that two corroborating victim statements would be considered sufficient evidence for a charge, unless the witnesses had been deemed inconsistent or uncredible, So I wouldn't read to much more into the charges.
Glad that this is proceeding relatively quickly and not being drawn out for months.
#60 Rdr Michael on 2010-11-29 08:44
Mark, Thanks. I notice that among the church scandals among those who are on the 'never married' leadership track we see the police bring charges nearly always in cases of sexual misdoing toward older boys and young teens by men. We would see more cases were the 'legal age of consent' higher.
Certainly, homophobia is no virtue, I agree entirely. As we know the Gospel has an awareness that many things are not virtues, yet prevail and instruct the church members to recognize such, without accepting it, so as to avoid scandal. This requirement we still have.
To be clear I feel strongly about merely adding the 'empty nester' respected priest who all feel would be a bishop were it not for the lack of death of the wife-- while in no way suggesting the actual learned spritual celibate not also be bishops. We need to restore lost balance, not go on 'gay witch hunts'. I apologize sincerely as sometimes in my dismay at our shrinking I gave the other impression.
#61 Harry Coin on 2010-11-29 09:01
Tell it to St Ambrose.
#62 Scott Walker on 2010-11-29 09:08
Mark, it's been a while since I looked at the numbers, but I believe you are mistaken in denying a stronger link between homosexuality and paedophilia than between heterosexuality and paedophilia. The numbers I recall were that one in three cases of child molestion are homosexual, which would indicate that paedophilia is much more common among homosexuals, since homosexuals are nowhere near one third of the population.
(Editor's note: You are wrong. The following is just one citation, taken from UC-Davis: "The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children. This is not to argue that homosexual and bisexual men never molest children. But there is no scientific basis for asserting that they are more likely than heterosexual men to do so. And, as explained above, many child molesters cannot be characterized as having an adult sexual orientation at all; they are fixated on children."
That being settled, let's move on.)
#63 Caveat Lector on 2010-11-29 09:14
I would like to thank Mark for his response. I would go further.
The idea that Muslims or anyone else would see Patriarch Ignatius, Met George Khodre, Pope Shenouda, Met. Philip Saliba, Bp. Antoun, Bp. Demetri Khouri as "gay" is laughable.
Also, Islamic societies display a wide variety of attitudes to homosexual acts and homsexuality.
The usual Muslim sense about monasticism is rather more Christian and quite preferable to Harry Coin's salacious assumptions. There is the story of Mohammed's early friendship with the Syriac monk Bahira. and the Quran itself reads in 5:82 "And thou wilt find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe (to be) those who say: Lo! We are Christians. That is because there are among them priests and monks, and because they are not proud. "
Perhaps quotations from the Quran are too much for someone who calls a quote from the pastoral Epistles a quote from "the Gospel".
Also, the description of the "never married" is not warranted, widowed priests are regular candidates, for instance, in the OCA, including the last two bishops elected and such well known (and loved) hierarchs in our history like Met. Leonty and Abp. Kiprian.
The difficulties of evangelizing muslims is a big topic, and something of a digression here. But let's just notice that the prohibition on leaving islam or on proselytizing muslims with death penalty attached might just have something to do with it. Penalties which are sometimes enforced in totally non-muslim places like Rashid Khalifa, killed in Tucson as an apostate for having a reformist form of islam considered to much of a deviation. Or Fr Daniel Sysoeff killed recently in Moscow for successfully evangelizing muslims, (this, though hobbled by the monastic episcopate of the Russian Church, according to Mr Coin)! How much more these penalties are observed in places like Egypt or Pakistan, let alone those places that formally observe Sharia.
Is it not obvious that a married episcopate is going no where? No one in America has the ability to even consider it. With the possible exception of the OCA, which would immediately hand all of its many enemies just what they need to abolish our tomos and cut us out of communion, that is if the Synod of the OCA even thought, (which I doubt) that they have the authority to challenge such a universal praxis on their own.
Better to work on getting good monastics and good widowers into place. After all, I can think of many married clergy who would be a disaster as bishops. Like myself, for instance.
Fr Yousuf Rassam
#64 Anonymous on 2010-11-29 13:01
Thank-you for that enlightened, subtle post linking paedophilia and homosexuality, and lauding normalcy among the rest of the population.
And we wonder why so many of our young people leave church at college?
I can't imagine why.
#65 Anonymous on 2010-11-29 14:13
Harry is presuming to instruct Cordelia?
This is one of the most frightening postings I've read here, and there are plenty.
#66 Rdr. John on 2010-11-29 14:20
You do know that the OCA forced their first bishop, Met. Herman to resign?
There may be compassion but the OCA did some house cleaning
and Bishop Nicholai in Alaska was sent packing too.
And the OCA continues to sweep out .... We in the AOCA want to see the same thing happen starting with the resignation of Met. Philip .... (several) members of the Board of Trustees, followed quickly by an external, independent audit of all the AOCA financial holdings.
#67 Iskandra Tannous on 2010-11-29 15:08
"AMEN" to Mark Stokoe's remarks about this post.
And to bring up another couple of points: the assumptions presented in the post ignore the fact that young girls have also, sadly, been the victims of abuse. But there seems almost to be a mentality that somehow that isn't as bad, because, hey, at least those perpetrators are 'regular guys' (i.e., straight). Somehow these victims are ignored, and so there are people who think that if they eliminate homosexuals from the clergy, everything will be solved. Not so. Homosexuality does not equal pedophilia, and pedophilia does not equal homosexuality. To equate them is demeaning to female victims.
Plus, there is the fact that being married does not mean that a man is a heterosexual, or at least living solely as a heterosexual. There are any number of men who marry to cover up the fact (remember Rock Hudson, for example?), even among the clergy--yes, even among the Orthodox clergy.
I really don't think that there are many out there, celibate, "not married" (as Mr. Coin puts it), married, widowed, etc., who want to be a bishop. I would hope that any candidate would virtually have to be dragged kicking and screaming in protest through the Royal Doors--I know that I would!
#68 priest Mark on 2010-11-29 15:43
If Archbishop Seraphim is innocent, then I pray that there are as many News articles and as much coverage and forums on his innocence as there has been on his alleged guilt! That's right ALLEGED. It would bother me a lot less if he was actually found guilty and then people wanted to say nasty things about him. It is absolutely NOT Christian to judge another man, especially still with such possibility of innocence. It astonishes me that people are so inclined to HATE (human nature? maybe, but definitely NOT Christ-like). I do know though, that if he is found innocent sadly there will not be as much coverage. Many will not even hear that he is innocent and all over the internet, etc people will google his name and they will see the word 'Charged'. Has anyone thought that if the allegations are false, then perhaps the tables are turned and in Fact the Archbishop could be the victim in this case? and the acusers the abusers? It may be the other way around as well, but we don't know people and don't claim to, unless you have some actual evidence again this man, then keep your horrible opinions to yourself. We should all be looking at the plank in our own eyes anyways right?
Also, if people hate the church so much and want married bishops and want to flee anytime there are issues....well, maybe these people are better off not being Orthodox. Christ is the head of the Church and I know that He is watching over things. Raise it to Him and trust that the church, though there may be a sick liver or eyeball or whatever, can get through trying times. Just as the church has throughout history! Have a little faith people! Not in Princes or in sons of men, but in whom we have our salvation!
There are some very good points made on this forum and it is good to talk, but it is just so suprising that people are so excited to judge a man and to judge the church because of what one man MIGHT have done. Many people are so quick to throw the first stone!
"If Christ is not raised, your faith is worthless" (1 Cor 15:14). If this were true and only by this would my faith be meaningless and the church useless. I will not base my faith on mistakes possibly made by man. However others may choose to forsake the church, etc based on fallen man or bad talk the church. I think that the church is a great gift from God! I'm thankful that we are taken care of, even when we in our little human minds think thgat we are not.
(Editor's note: Being young, I think you would do well to research the life and witness of the late, great Catholic Cardinal Bernadin of Chicago and how he handled such accusations against himself; how he implemented policies, among the first in the country, to deal with allegations openly, transparently and with accountability. The problem here, it seems to me, is not that people are judging the Archbishop - no one knows the facts yet - but they have legitimate questions as to why it took so long for the Church to deal with it. The cry from the most is simple" Have we learned nothing from the Catholic Church's turmoil? Sadly, I can give you 2.2 billion reasons (and climbing) why we should have learned something in handling these issues....)
#69 Young adult who cares on 2010-11-29 15:48
Yes, indeed there are examples here and there of this one and that Islamic one getting along with this or that Orthodox never married bishop. And yet the response does not touch the argument I made. By the appearance we put forward, contrary to the Gospel on the point, we give cause for scandal and do the Imam's job for him. Obviously our leadership is okay enough with this to not change back to what the Gospel holds as a balanced perspective. How's that been working out for us? Islamic converts aplenty? Good relations? Reduced repressions?
Anyhow, if you want to keep to the ranks of the widowers you will find owing to the dramatic improvement in the health of women, who now live to be older than men while when the rules were made men outnumbered women 3 to 1, just do nothing. Certainly the leadership will survive longer than the parish priest and probably make it to retirement. That's what counts, right?
#70 Harry Coin on 2010-11-29 15:53
...there is no provision in... the Sacred Canons for conviction only on hearsay. Quite the contrary, actually.
...the accuser must be both an Orthodox Christian and above suspicion with respect to his character.
These are two especially important points to remember when questioning why the Holy Synod did not take action sooner. It looks as if, given the proof available prior to police involvement, it would have been impossible for the OCA to hold a Spiritual Court or to discipline Abp Seraphim.
First, according to Met. Jonah, "no formal accusation has been made by the alleged victims", as of July 15, 2009, so no investigation into the "trustworthiness" of the accusers could be undertaken. That is, the information provided by Pokrov/SNAP and Bishop Nikolai is hearsay and inadmissible in either a Spiritual or civil court. Second, it would be the height of insensitivity to needlessly undertake the investigation into the accusers without an accusation - and contrary to secular and pastoral expectations that seek to shield victims from being tried themselves. Third, we do not know whether the accusers are Orthodox, which means they would not have standing as accusers in a Spiritual Court. It is also worth asking how, according to Bishop Nikolai's source, Abp. Seraphim "confided" in Met. Jonah prior to the Archbishop's retreat at St. John's Monastery in CA. If this was confided in confession, it would be impossible for Met. Jonah to speak publicly or act in such a way so as to break the seal of confession.
This is not meant to excuse, but simply to flesh out the difficulties involved in determining the best course of action. Was it possible - legally, canonically, statutorily - for the OCA to investigate the Abp without an accusation from the alleged victims themselves? Given the shredding and removal of documents by the former Chancellor, are the original documents regarding the original allegations in the 1980s extant in Syosset? Were there any legally binding agreements that would have kept the OCA from revealing the contents of those documents? Should confessors be required to reveal confessions concerning child sexual abuse to the authorities? Does Holy Tradition (not to mention employment law in Canada and the US) allow a Synod to discipline a bishop without cause, on suspicion and hearsay? If the Synod suspected the allegations were true, what could they do if the accused will not resign, will not confess, and presses his rights fully?
(Editor's note: Important points? I knew no good would come from priests quoting canon law to well-meaning laity as if they were laws. Are you really suggesting that just because a canon in the 5th century, or 12th century, said the accuser must be "an orthodox christian", a contemporary synod would be unjustified in disciplining a clerical abuser as long as he abused non-Orthodox children? Or as long as he abused children from troubled backgrounds, so they did not have a "good" reputation by your standards? Oh good grief. Think about what you are saying! And people wonder why Europe is secular, and hudnreds of thousands of Catholic Americans have dropped out of the Church in the last decade? Really, you act as if the canonical tradition is more important than the people it was designed to help and protect. The Sabbath, and the canons, were made for man; not man for the Sabbath, or the canons. If a Synod or a bishop justified inactivity in the face of sexual abuse of children, or adults, on the basis of canonical reticence, what have we become? What have we become? What have we become?)
#71 melxiopp on 2010-11-29 16:05
Would it matter if someone says that the church did investigate the rumors. Archbishop Seraphim was asked about the rumors, he denied any wrongdoing and in the absence of any victims coming forward until now, the Church could not question anyone and thus the investigation could go no further. I don't think that a rumor is enough for the OCA sexual misconduct guidelines to kick in. And I don't think that any formal charges were ever made against the Archbishop before, thus no coverup.
(Editor's note: There is a Synodal Commission established that has, as one of its duties, to investigate this question. Let's let them work before offering excuses, or for that matter, criticizing. God knows, however the case turns out, there will be much to learn for this tragedy.)
#72 Anonymous on 2010-11-29 16:32
There's something about an igumen telling someone to "shut up" that really makes my skin crawl.
#73 Nilus on 2010-11-29 16:41
Just to be clear, my protest was directed at what I considered to be a very cruel and irrelevant comment made in public (regardless of whether you think that person had it coming), not at whether I support or agree with what is written on another blog by another blogger.
#74 Kristi on 2010-11-29 16:48
Does anyone realize that whether a charge is true or not an insurance company would rather settle out of court than face attornies fees?
Making an accusation of this kind is easier than the daily pick!
Easy cash and a a little human debris!
May the finger never be pointed our way.
The mere accusation is damage enough!
#75 anonymous on 2010-11-29 19:23
St Ambrose can take a flying....... no one made him error free.
When will all this stop, when can we again be proud of the bishops we have? huh?
#76 no name on 2010-11-29 19:57
Dear Fr Philip,
I just heard a wonderful lecture in which "judging" was discussed. When the speaker was asked, "how do we not judge?", he said: "we can report, but we are not to pronounce a verdict."
That seems to me to be the key. We don't know what happened those many years ago and even if we do know, it is the legal process' job (and God's) to judge or pronounce a verdict.
What I find most alarming by the many comments I often read on this site - about this event and others that have recently occurred -is the willingness and the enthusiasm to judge - often most harshly.
In anticipation of a follow-up post, I will say clearly: I am not excusing sin, or pedophilia, or episcopal corruption. Even the thought is heart-breaking. I am simply stating that as Christian people we can report the facts -- if we know them -- but we are never to become the jury and the judge.
I trust that if we kept this in mind, the tone and tenor of some of these comments might change. At least I hope they would.
#77 Kevin Allen on 2010-11-29 20:20
I was well aware of Nikolai's efforts to cover up/defend his drunken chancellor, but I flatly disagree with putting Nikolai on a 'allegation' page when the topic is sexual abuse and if I were a juror on a civil court, I'd side with Nikolai on a defamation suit.
If they want to promote the idea the church take a higher amount of responsibility, simply pointing out the differences between the DoM policy and the OCA policy like Fr. Wojcik did would be far more objective than putting up bad decision makers on a 'allegation' page.
I think Pokrov is lost on this issue, just one man's opinion.
I don't think it would be inappropriate to put someone arrested on a website, but I doubt if he were not found guilty pokrov would remove him. Nikolai, for example, was not found guilty of anything, never charged, had no accuser, but ends up on pokrov, appearing as a sexual abuser himself.
A twisted sense of right.
(Editor's note: By way of explanation, I think Pokrov is responding to Fr. Isidore's allegation against Bishop Nikolai, as reported by Paul Sidebottom, that the Bishop "beat" him. Hence their posting. And as Melanie is an attorney, I don't think you have to worry about Pokrov. But I am sure they appreciate the concern. )
#78 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-11-29 20:55
Kindly note that our concern and focus here is the manner of sexual misdoing we see in church leadership, as these are generating pitiful loss and fantastic scandal for our faithful, not the population in general mentioned in the above posting. What we see in the mostly entirely ordained young never married, both in our church and in the Roman Catholic, is an overwhelming disproportion of covered-up and enabled misdoing with boys in the pre-teen to teen range. We see this also when the occupational and workplace laws of the civil authority are violated and so the civil authority investigates.
We would be worse than blind to suppose the misdoing stops in only the situations that draws the activity of the civil authorities. Our leadership does not police its own ranks when the age of the person exceeds a minimum or when it does not involve workplace complaints.
The misdoing of our leaders is almost never with women according to reports to date. It is with men and early teen to teen boys.
It is a historical circumstance that crept upon us as the years passed by and men whose wives had died and certainly would have been made bishops owing to their respect and sucess are now not made bishops for the simple reason that their wives stayed healthy, they didn't die young in great numbers as they did 100 years and more ago.
Shall we deal with this while we still have the numbers to do so? Or shall we selectively quote history while denying the historical record as to how long people lived, and when women died on average, and when men died on average. For example let's look at when the concept 'retired' -- and lived another 20 years-- had meaning. Not for 1930 years of the life of the church!
Does enough insitutional care yet live in the humanity of our leaders whose academic attainment does reach to this difficult appreciation of a huge blind spot among them? Enough to recognize an 'empty nester' priest who actually is a father represents the only biblically certified chance we have to restore balance killing loss and a future for us?
Or shall we go down the path of the Romans and over the years yearn for a 'theory of primacy' that protects incumbents mostly and develop 'ontological differences' between the clergy and the people. Fear the axe at the roots!
#79 Harry Coin on 2010-11-29 21:45
Sadly the Church has a lot of clergy who act in a rude and immature manner.
(Editor's note: True, but we should forgive them, even as they daily forgive our rudeness and immaturity. Thus, we can bear each others burden, and help each into the Kingdom. Right?)
#80 Andrew on 2010-11-29 21:59
Where to begin...Please reread my post and rethink your response to me.
I have struggled under the leadership of Archbishop Seraphim. He has, time and again, presumed guilt without first asking "is this true?" He gets his chance- before a judge or jury to respond to the charges against him. Something he does not always give others.
This is simply my experience.
I am disillusioned with the leaders of our church. Forget quoting the Canons to me. I'm talking about being a Christian in the world today and acting like one. Consideration, kindness and compassion- Honestly speaking something sadly lacking in some of our Canadian leaders. I have experienced it.
I take exception to your "put up or shut up" comment. I am not a "silent lamb" like you may wish. I have a voice and a right, even an obligation to to hold our leaders accountable for their actions. I sincerely desire to leave a better church to my children.
Fr. Phillip I suggest that you rethink how you choose to respond to people on this blog. You do not know everything there is to know about Archbishop Seraphim and how he relates to others. We all have different experiences and opinions of him. I do not "attack" those who have a good opinion of him because, as is the case with me, their opinion of him is most likely based on their experiences.
So, here we both sit in a Diocese who's leader has been ARRESTED and CHARGED with a crime. And you are asking me to "put up or shut up". NO.
I will not put up with this type of leadership. And I will not shut up. I have an opinion. I am an Orthodox Christian and this is my church.
#81 A Principled Canadian on 2010-11-30 00:05
I find it curious that someone should provide YOU with details of their experiences with Seraphim. Are you Seraphim's personal PR Manager? It seems that perhaps you think that the only legitimate experiences with Seraphim are your own. Wow!
#82 Puzzled on 2010-11-30 00:15
Interesting comments, but just to clarify: the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) have no part in the Archbishop Seraphim case. It is the local Winnipeg police who are involved. This is a 'local' complaint. The RCMP would deal with this if it were a 'federal' case, which it is not. This allegation is slightly more serious than an assault and battery charge, despite the American Pokrov hysterics. Be that as it may, I condone nothing, but wait for reasonable voices to dominate and draw a rational conclusion to this, a chapter overwhelmed by obvious, internal Syosset political intrigues. Much more going on here than angry child-protecting harridans after +Seraphim. Oh yes.
#83 hierodeacon Amvrosi on 2010-11-30 01:55
Some questions for consideration.
1. We are called to discern and yet not judge. How is a Christian to have an idea when discernment is left for judgment?
2. We are also called to be more concerned with our own faults than those of our brothers and sisters, yet we are also called to correct our brothers and sisters out of love when they sin. How do we balance these two commands?
3. Those called as shepherds of Christ's rational flock are held to higher standards of conduct from the very beginning. The implication is that they are to continue living up to those higher standards throughout their service to the Church. How are we, as the Body of Christ, to deal with serious lapses in clerical conduct, especially hierarchical conduct?
4. Which is more important: exercising one's legal rights or honoring the oath to uphold Holy Tradition in all of its forms, especially in the case where exercising one's legal rights runs counter to the mandates of Holy Tradition?
5. We are called to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." Given this injunction, how are we to respond -- not react -- to the manipulation of information by our hierarchs? Are they not called to deal with us, both clergy and laity, in truth?
#84 Mark C. Phinney on 2010-11-30 06:46
Married priests should be allowed to be Bishops; yes there are plenty who would be "a disaster" but lets face it there is a bigger gene pool to choose from.
#85 Anon on 2010-11-30 07:03
Dear Mr. Coin,
I am going to do you a courtesy you have not done me, and actually respond to what you have written.
First. You misuse the expression “The Gospel”, it does not mean “any verse of the New Testament I happen to be quoting, nor, much less, any interpretation which I choose to place on the NT verse I am quoting. “The Gospel” in our tradition and almost any ordinary usage means one of two things: either “The Gospel according to” Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, as in Mark 1: 1 ; or the proclamation of the Kingdom of God and salvation, as in for example, Matt. 4: 23, 11: 5, 24: 14; Mark 10: 29, 16: 15; Luke 4: 18; Acts 8: 25, 14: 7; Rom. 1: 15 – 16, 15: 19; 1 Cor 1: 17, 4: 15, 15: 1; 2 Cor 2: 12, 4: 3 – 4, 10: 14 – 16; Gal. 1: 11; Eph. 1: 13, 6: 19, Phil 1: 7; Col. 1: 5; 1 Peter 1:12, 25, 4:6; Rev. 14:6.
We are told how our Lord made this proclamation in Mark 1: 14 – 15 “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” St Paul summarizes the “doctrinal content” of the Gospel in Colossians 1: 9 – 23, 2 Tim. 1: 8 – 10, and Rom. : 1 – 4: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:” I do not think that any of these scriptural uses of the word Gospel will bear the meaning you are placing on them. Do you really think Jesus can be thought to have preached “Repent, and believe! for the Kingdom with married bishops is at hand!” ?? Or even, “The Kingdom with a balanced view of sexuality”? Do you really think that disagreement with your interpretation amounts to what is described in 2 Thess 1: 8? Calling your interpretation the Gospel is serious, even though it is probably a sloppy overstatement, by which you seek to add authority to your opinion and by which you dare to impugn the Orthodox faith of others. But what we call “the Gospel” is serious, for which reason I have labored the point: St. Paul says that “another Gospel is accursed” Gal. 1: 8 – 9.
Moreover, your interpretation, whilst plainly not “the Gospel” is also simply not correct. You seem like you are trying to press into your service 1 Tim 3: 1 – 7 and Titus 1: 6 – 9. I think it worthwhile to quote both at full:
1 Tim. 3: 1 – 7 “This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
Titus 1: 6 – 9. “If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”
If what you mean is that they command married bishops, your interpretation is at odds with what St. Paul says in 1 Cor 7, especially verses 7 – 8, 17, 24, 27. What, do we think St. Paul in writing to Ss. Timothy and Titus disqualified his own, never married self from leadership in the Church? If these verses require married bishops, wouldn't they also require children (not a child, but children!) and return us to a pre-christian state of considering barren couples cursed? In fact few if any Christians, Orthodox or heterodox have ever seen these verses as requiring married clergy and disqualifying the never married, this includes those early centuries when married bishops were still allowed and amongst later groups that re-introduced a married episcopate (Lutherans, Anglicans, etc). None of these have ever disqualified the “never married”. What the tradition of our Church and the interpretation held almost universally is that these verses in Timothy and Titus specify the terms under which married candidates for ordination are evaluated. I would gladly add that it is wise to seek in unmarried candidates, by analogy, the same character which St. Paul is looking for in married candidates as far as their life in community is concerned: how have they lived with their parishes, their family their communities?
Now for monks and Islam. I did not refer to this or that Imam. I referred to the very Prophet of Islam himself and his well known early friendship with a monk. And I referred to the very words of the Quran itself. These are impeachable Islamic authorities and they do not back up your assertion that monastic=gay in the Muslim mind. Even if it did, what of it? Especially as they are, in your own, (more than a little patronizing) description, uneducated homophobes. I myself regard it as somewhat pubescent, as in, from a middle school boy's bathroom, to impute homosexuality to any one who doesn't prove otherwise by having sex with a girl. A mature Orthodox Christian who knows the very high place our Church has placed from the very beginning in consecrated virginity has no time for this puerile devaluation of virginity, and salacious assumptions. We do not consider virginity shameful, even in a 40 year old, no matter what Hollywood and Islam-according-to-Harry say.
I also gave a pretty powerful reason why there are not “muslim converts aplenty”, which you just ignored, though it doesn't take much imagination to realize that the death penalty might just figure in at least as much as your sexual assumptions. You know there is an Anglican church in the middle-east? Do you think Muslims are flocking to those married bishops to convert? Why do those married bishops also have, to use your phrase, “ impressibly (sic) poor results”? And I gave a specific list of Orthodox and Oriental Christian leaders, hierarchs, never married, in the Arabaphone world, limited to those who might be well known to Orthodox in America. Your issue is not an issue in regards to these bishops. I suspect your issue is just that, yours, and really doesn't have to do with the real life Muslim views of sexuality (which are quite diverse, including on homosexuality).
And no, I don't think that your way leads automatically to “reduced repressions”, if I am getting the meaning of this phrase. Rev. Ted Haggard, anyone? Really, do you think homosexuals or paedophiles never marry? Or that garden variety heterosexuality can't also lead astray, (Rev. Jimmy Swaggart), into the spiritual ditch?
I also provided you with specific widowed hierarchs. I fail to see what an demographic forecast has to tell us in the face of real live widowed bishops. In our rather small episcopate in the OCA we have three widowed men elected to the Holy Synod right now, (one awaits consecration).
Nor did you face the point that the married episcopate has little chance of achieving ecumenical consensus at the moment, unless you meant to address that by implying that all celibate bishops are time servers pushing to retirement. I do not think your plan a panacea for what ails us and I do believe the attempt would likely cause schism, to steep a price by far,
I am going to try to see through the thicket of what you have written to identify some thing approaching points of agreement. I imagine that you are reacting to an episcopate, (real or perceived), wherein the monastic requirement is a formality, the other character guides in Timothy and Titus are ignored, and the “check their community life by analogy” that I posited a few paragraphs ago does not enter in. This is a distortion of the Tradition of our Church. Since we here in America can not change the outline of that polity on our own, perhaps we might just have to seek other ways to free the praxis from distortions, such as applying all the scriptural requirements, not just the celibacy one, and give a try to actually obeying the tradition in its own terms. I think it would work, without a schism. While I do not find it possible to agree with your evaluation of muslim attitudes, your sense that what we do must be for the salvation of all is encouraging. I simply see the costs to the unity of the Church from introduction of married bishops are much greater than the benefit of imaginary muslims waiting to convert.
Fr Yousuf Rassam
#86 Anonymous on 2010-11-30 07:08
Why do you want Metropolitan PHILIP to resign? Please support a list of reasons you feel strongly about. Not opinions, but facts. Thanks Iskandra.
#87 Happy on 2010-11-30 07:27
I apologise for employing an idiomatic phrase much used in my youth a half-century ago but, perhaps, not in yours. For the sake of clarity, my challenge to "Principled Canadian" is to either produce solid evidence to back up his charges or to fall silent about allegations which strike me as libelous, and to remain so. Better?
#88 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2010-11-30 07:41
You hit the nail on the head with the problem. You said, "Would it matter is someone ..." The operative word here is "Someone." It's not stated but implied in your sentence if "Someone" investigated. A one-man investigation is exactly what happened under the old regime. They sent Fr. Karlgut out as the enforcer and he did the investigations. A man with absolutely no formal training in psychology or law. A one-man investigation squad is not appropriate ....
You said, "I don't think a rumor is enough ..." Respectfully, sometimes a rumor is enough because the danger to children especially is enormous! You are right that many victims are reluctant to come forward, but that doesn't mean that you don't try to corroborate the rumor with additional witnesses. Often a child will not speak to their parents but they will speak to a close personal friend. In the case of Archbishop Seraphim, unless someone actually drove from New York to Canada and asked some questions, no investigation occurred, period.
You said that "no formal charges were ever made ..." First off, police generally do an investigation first before handing down formal charges. Second, common sense would dictate that an investigation take place simply because: a) the high profile nature of allegations against an archbishop b) the crass fact that if you are wrong and the allegations are proven to be correct it will cost an enormous amount of money explaining why you never did an investigation, and c) it's just the right thing to do to protect those accused and those who may have been harmed.
Something implied in all of this is the cost. If the OCA has such a problem with accusations, then it needs to look deep inside itself as to why there are so many allegations. Second, if it is such an issue, then maybe it is just a standing line item in the budget "Investigations of misconduct." The OCA can't keep sweeping its problems under a rug and pretending that they aren't there.
Were the former confessors of the archbishop questioned?
Were the former confessors of the alleged victims questioned?
Were the parents of the alleged victims interviewed by someone in the church?
Was a written report of all of the attempts made to do an investigation prepared?
Who were the individuals assigned to attempt an investigation two years ago and what are their credentials?
Sadly, I'm afraid that there are no answers to those questions because the handling of this case was so horribly bungled....
In the Jewish faith, it is now a very long-standing phrase after the holocaust, "never again." The victimization of children is a holocaust that I just don't think the bishops in the OCA have figured out yet. As Mark said in a previous post, "2.2 billion and counting," perhaps if the OCA is hit with a massive lawsuit because of this (assuming the allegations are correct), maybe the phrase "never again" will actually mean something to them.
#89 Anonymous on 2010-11-30 07:44
To clarify, the difficulties I raised go far beyond the specific points I quoted from Fr. Philip and that you dissent against. The two initial points discussed are important if initial follow-up to rumors is denial by the accused and no response from the alleged accusers (until they went to the police). Then what? Are second- and third-hand accounts to be trusted, just in case? Is that legal, canonical or fair? If you, as a confessor for instance, know the rumors to be true, your hands are tied. Then what? If the OCA is barred by previous legal agreements from revealing allegations, then what? What if documents about past allegations were destroyed or lost by the previous Chancellor? This is when issues surrounding hearsay, cause, discipline and the requirements of spiritual courts cause difficulties.
As you have said previously, both the police investigation, trial (if there is one) and the internal investigation (by people from within and outside of the OCA, from Syosset and Canada) will reveal far more facts than any of us have today about the alleged crimes, their revelation and the parties' responses to both. I'm sure mistakes were made by the OCA, I'm sure improvements to the sexual misconduct guidelines can be made, I'm sure that errors in judgment will be found, and I'm hopeful lessons will be learned. We can only pray everything possible was done to deal with the situation balancing respect for the rights of the accusers and the accused, and that the truth will come out.
#90 melxiopp on 2010-11-30 09:24
I'm afraid Fr. Philip and some others may have not understood the full extent of my comments. I apologize for being in a rush when commenting.
Here are some points I would like to offer:
1) Just because the Church in general or the OCA in particular has a 'one-size fits all procedure' does not mean it should be followed 100% of the time. I think that the procedure Fr. Philip quotes is good for moral lapses that are not covered by civil law. However, as I have argued in other forums, when you see a criminal breaking into cars in the church parking lot, you don't call the rector... you call the police.
2) Just because the OCA has a policy of investigating moral transgressions on their own does not mean that they need to act as independent entities. Again, the OCA can report crimes to civil authorities and carry out the intention of its regulations by being assured that a competent agency is handling the investigation.
3) I do not think the intention iof the OCA regulations or statutes would be to have a predator merely receive church discipline but be free to offend in the general community. However, conducting a parallel investigation serves no purpose when a more thorough and ultimately more efficacious process (in the case of predatory sex crimes, I think defrocking is less efficacious that imprisonment in terms of continued predatory behavior) is already in place.
4) I think that if Pokrov had/has real information and withheld it from the Church and from the police (I do not assume they did not contact law enforcement at some point), then they are just as guilty as Archbishop Seraphim or Bishop Nikolai or the OCA may be (assuming he covered up his crime) in covering up this crime. Nikolai, as a former probation officer, would be even more guilty because he knows the standards of mandatory reporting and he potentially refused to carry out his fiduciary duty as a hierarch of the Church to report this matter.
5) I think it totally unnecessary to drag victims through two investigations when the Church could benefit from a thorough police investigation and use its results to the same end. Again, fulfilling the law of the OCA's statutes ought to be less important than compassion for victims while attaining the same results from a single investigation.
6) If the OCA were to investigate anything, it ought to be why the police were not called sooner rather than later, and why there still is no education program in parishes to teach our community about reporting abuse and holding up victims who report as model Christians who truly fight evil. I have not been able to get either bishops or even Pokrov interested in such work, which makes me dispair that such crimes and the ensuing blame games will continue.
7) Given the nature of these crimes, I do not think the Church is equipped to handle them alone. The canons Fr. Philip quotes were from a different time, when the Church could imprison its own and mete out punishments. For example, the Church could force a man into a monastery and keep him there, something which cannot be done now. We need to look at the canons in the light of their intentions in their time, and not project our circumstances onto theirs.
Anyway, my frustration level is up, and so I'm going to stop here. This is starting to hit too close to home.
Fr. George Aquaro
#91 <username> on 2010-11-30 10:15
I do not know if the confessor of the Archbishop was asked, but if he was, would he break the seal of confession (ala Valencia?)
You miss the big point, no victims were known. They never came forward. They thus could not be questioned.
I totally agree that things can always be done better, and we will learn to do better, in fact we are doing better with better guidelines, procedures and oversight.
Perfect, it will never be perfect, but we can also learn to cooperate better. Pokrov, for instance has no interest in working more closely with the OCA. They would rather do their own thing as a watchdog organization. That is their choice, but they should try to be a bit less polarizing and not work with just a fringe member or two of the MC to do their bidding.
Have any more "victims" of Archbishop Seraphim come forward? The facts as presented by organizations like Pokrov make the strong case that a child abuser does not act in isolation but in a repeated pattern. And yes, the reply is that many don't come forward for reason like fear, shame, etc. But are there even rumors of more children? I guess we should act on rumors now.
The Archbishop then as he does now, steadfastly denies all the charges against him.
There are some who think that Archbishop Seraphim "is toast." I will wait and see.
(Editor's note: We shall all wait and see, actually. But I do have a question for you. Jesus told us that when one lamb is lost, the good shepard abandons the 99 to look for the lost one. In this case, if the Church heard rumours of abuse, would not the thing to do have been to seek out the "lost one", rather than sit back and wait, and expect, and require, the lost lamb to contact them? Should not the Church have at least made an effort? (God knows some travel the world seeking one convert! ) I think these are questions any investigation should ask, and I hope they will. But then, I am only a fringe member of the MC, after all...)
#92 Anonymous on 2010-11-30 10:52
So , Fr. Philip , put up or shut up is the best you can do after 38 years as a priest?
Why would Principled Canadian TRUST you?
Abhp Seraphim and 2 former Met are on record as being part of the( S.I.C. report)scandal, if I can't TRUST these 3 ,why would I TRUST you?
Forgive me Fr. but weren't the Canons , which you love to quote , written by fallen sinful man?
This is U.S./Canada/Mexico, in the 21st. century , we WON'T shut up.
Whether Abhp Seraphim is guilty or not I DON'T know , and for me it would be an incredibly LONG stretch of logic to compare his misdeeds(S.I.C. REPORT) to something as heinous as the current charges he now faces.... and they are heinous , they ARE NOT simple battery/assault charges.
I pray for ALL involved.
Bravo to Principled Canadian/Puzzled/Enraged...there 2 sides(favorable,unfavorable) to people's opinion of Abhp Seraphim....both sides should be heard.
Bravo to those who have had good relations with Abhp Seraphim and commented on this site.
i am...WORST OF SINNERS
#93 Anonymous on 2010-11-30 10:55
"Were the former confessors of the archbishop questioned?
Were the former confessors of the alleged victims questioned?
Sadly, I'm afraid that there are no answers to those questions
because the handling of this case was so horribly bungled...."
It's bungled when we throw out the absolute privacy of confession to satisfy an investigation? Sorry, you are horribly wrong here on this point. You go beyond the limits of what is acceptable. Investigate to find the truth, yes. Violate that same trust in order to do this? No, absolutely not.
#94 Stunned on 2010-11-30 11:23
"Go to the Moscow P." this really gripes me, good old anti-Americanism, anti-intelectualism, a pathetic Eurocentrism and probably delusional monarchism it's just that kind of weird quick fix mentality, magical thinking really that has crippled the OCA for decades.
(Editor's note: LOL! But anonymous, don't you know that the Tsar can make everything better, if he only knew the problem!)
#95 anon on 2010-11-30 15:16
"the absolute privacy of confession"
While unsure where things stand in Canada, the laws of many states in the US set aside clergy-penitent privilege and require clergy, as legally mandated reporters, to report instances of suspected child abuse and neglect to secular authorities. As a masters level social worker, whose entire professional career has been devoted exclusively to the area of child welfare, I applaud such laws. If some clerics, their bishops, or an entire jurisdiction should choose to disregard such civil law in preference to canon law, then perhaps they should face criminal and/or civil (i.e. financial) penalties commensurate with the damage caused to the victims of potential abuse & neglect they have chosen to ignore.
For a slightly more detailed examination of the issue see: http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/clergymandated.cfm
#96 Stunned at Sutpidity on 2010-11-30 15:33
The alleged victims also have rights. Were they pressured to come forward? The investigation will hopefully shed light on this. Were they "kept quiet" all these years? The investigation will hopefully shed light on this.
However you raise an interesting point, should the church chase every rumor? If in fact Fr Karlgut was asked to investigate, I don't know if he did, but if it was looked into, as much and as far as possible at the time I don't know if we know enough to say any thing except now we know more or at least the alleged victim have finally come forward. Now we will wait.
#97 Anonymous on 2010-11-30 16:17
Fr. George Aquaro wrote:
"I think that if Pokrov had/has real information and withheld it from the Church and from the police (I do not assume they did not contact law enforcement at some point), then they are just as guilty as Archbishop Seraphim or Bishop Nikolai or the OCA may be (assuming he covered up his crime) in covering up this crime."
Pokrov.org did contact the police in Canada with the information that we had. When the authorities said that it was not enough to open a case, we contacted the OCA.
Of course, the OCA already had **more** information than we did, so we could only urge it to open its own investigation. Fr. Alexander Garklavs told us that the OCA didn't have enough information to open an investigation. A few months later (July, 2009) Met. Jonah Paffhausen told us that the OCA was investigating. All of this is documented and is available on Pokrov.org, as well as on the SNAP website.
Fr. George also wrote:
"If the OCA were to investigate anything, it ought to be why ... there still is no education program in parishes to teach our community about reporting abuse and holding up victims who report as model Christians who truly fight evil. I have not been able to get either bishops or even Pokrov interested in such work, which makes me dispair that such crimes and the ensuing blame games will continue."
As volunteers, Cappy Larson and I work hard to support survivors who make the difficult decision to come forward. This ministry is very much needed and is very dear to our hearts.
Frankly, as I believe I've told you before, we don't have the time to take on another massive volunteer project. Moreover, even if we did have the time, we don't have the expertise to develop training programs. Finally, if the bishops are not interested in such programs, why would **anyone** waste their energy on such a project?
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Let's just consider the facts.
1) "The burden of proof lies on the party affirming, not the party denying." That's in the Justinian Code, much of which is still canon law for the Orthodox Church. So it's not just a principle of secular law, but a canonical principle. In which case, anyone who accuses Archbishop Seraphim of anything must meet the burden or proof. In which case also, the Synod of Bishops is concealing absolutely nothing because nothing, as of yet, has been proven.
2.) In Canadian Law, the right to fair trial trumps freedom of the press. Which again emphasizes that the Synod of Bishops has nothing to hide, because by law, the Canadian press can reveal nothing.
3.) The Anglican Church of Canada can find no evidence whatsoever of complaints or allegations against Ken Storheim during his time as an Anglican priest.
4.) Neither SNAP nor Pokrov nor the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have any evidence to allege systematic or on-going abuse by Archbishop Seraphim.
3.) The laypeople and clergy in the Archdiocese of Canada fully support Archbishop Seraphim. Myself included, and that's because we see the allegations as UTTERLY OUT OF CHARACTER. And that's because they are utterly out of character, and I'll testify on this and any other website in his defense.
(Editor's note: While I appreciate you sharing your opinions, unless you are in the RCMP, SNAP or Pokrov, you can have no knowledge that your assertions in #4 are correct or accurate, given your own assertion in #2. All you can legitimately assert is that none have been reported....)
#99 Gavin Campbell on 2010-11-30 18:56
There are many reasons he needs to retire. His mental health is obviously failing. His need for constant adulation and praise in many issues of the WORD magazine is over the top and unseemly for a bishop who should exemplify humility. It is my observation from attending Palm Desert, that some of his clergy, family and close friends seem to worship the man. Any bishop that allows for an unhealthy adoration of himself is under a grand delusion. While at the convention, I heard more mention of how wonderful Met. Philip was by his crony clergy than worship for our Lord. And Met. Philip approves of this glorification by his club of priests.
Another reason he needs to retire is, Met. Philip uses fear and manipulation to control his priests and considers those who raise any questions to be "dogs" which is the word I heard him use at Palm Desert during his address to the general assembly. No priest will dare question or oppose Met. Philip on any issue for fear he will be removed from his parish and in some cases, he won't be allowed to transfer to another jurisdiction. This last month or so we have seen him remove several priests. One was transferred abruptly after 20 years in his parish with little fan fare and the other was sent into limbo for a minor infraction. But the list of priests who have been removed for personal offenses to our hierarch is long and extends over many years.
And while Met. Philip has no problems removing priests who question him, he will bend over backwards and keep priests who obviously need to go due to breaking canon law and/or Biblical laws (adultery, misuse of church funds, marrying another man's wife, etc.). I am not going to name names, but let's just say my relative knows who they all are and I know who some of them are.
Another reason he needs to step down, the legend of self-rule. We never had any form of autonomy because we have always been viewed by the synod in Damascus as an eparchy. That is the reason why we never had one agreed to constitution between our church here and the synod in Damascus. Met. Philip wanted to let those who converted think we actually had autonomy so they would believe we were making progress toward a united, American church. He hoped they would continue to give money (tithe), support the archdiocese (ministries) and start new missions. But as we have all witnessed, we no longer have a local synod of bishops who work in a concilliar manner. We have one Metropolitan who calls all the shots and secretary bishops who implement what he wills. Our ecclesiology is mocked by Met. Philip. The only rule he wants is his own self-rule and that is what he was able to get through bribery or fraud at the last synod meeting in Damascus. IF you are wondering, a true form of our church ecclesiology is the OCA's governance structure. They have diocesan bishops who have their own budgets and they must work in a conciliar manner as a local synod without interference from any foreign church. Met. Jonah does not have the authority to make all the decisions. He must work with his brother bishops to come to a consensus.
Finally but by know means the last reason he should retire is the financial improprieties listed at the link below. I have pulled one section of it to give you a sampling of what has gone on behind our backs.
If you go to this link: http://ocanews.org/news/AuditReportAOCA7.23.09.html
You will see a report that was handed out to those of us who were delegates at Palm Desert. It clearly shows that the archdiocese financial holdings are being handled improperly by our hierarch. Below is a sampling.
II. Issues Which Must be Dispelled
It is very unfortunate that such a section needs inclusion in this document. When conflicts and crises arise within any group of people, rumors of misdeeds begin. Sometimes they are true, sometimes not, and sometimes the truth lies in the middle. When it is possible to dispel such rumors, the health and
well-being of the Church and her members demand that such action be taken. The claims below need to be proven inaccurate or, at a minimum, be disclosed and adequately explained. An independent external audit should accomplish this.
A. Condo in Florida
Title records show that, in the 1970s, Metropolitan Philip apparently purchased the property located at 3900 N Ocean Drive # 9F, Ft Lauderdale, FL 33308 and transferred it almost immediately to family members. Serious charges have been made that this condominium is simply titled in the names these family members to avoid it constituting a property of the Archdiocese under Metropolitan Philip’s “corporate sole” claim, but that the Archdiocese has always made the mortgage payments on the condominium. Such charges, if true, would constitute serious financial crimes under New York law and should be dispelled with an in-depth, independent, external audit before they do further damage to the reputation of the Archdiocese and Metropolitan Philip.
... ... ...
C. The Englewood Real Estate
Claims have been made that the Archdiocese owns a piece of real estate in Englewood, outside of the Archdiocese’s headquarters, that has been used as a guest house or apartment, not in conjunction with Archdiocesan business. This property, if it exists, should be included on the balance sheet. Furthermore,
if rents have been collected, those should be included on the income statement. However, the financials do not reflect any line items for rental income or expenses of this property, fueling further speculation by those who would harm the Archdiocese and Metropolitan Philip.
D. Number of Signatories on Checks
Metropolitan Philip has insisted on various occasions (most recently in the April 2009 edition of Word Magazine) that, with respect to Archdiocesan monies, “every check must have two signatures.” This is a sound financial practice followed by many organizations to prevent a single person from manipulating bank accounts. However, various recipients of Archdiocesan funds claim that they have received and cashed Archdiocesan checks to which only one signature was affixed. It is possible that there are several accounts, a part of the General Fund, for which only one signature is required or that checks for smaller amounts do not need two signatures. An independent external audit would help validate, and perhaps even improve, the Archdiocese’s internal processes and controls over the handling of cash and bank accounts.
#100 Iskandra Tannous on 2010-11-30 20:54
I don't care about Ms. Sakoda's credentials. It doesn't make everything she does right.
When did the beatings allegations occur, before or after the sexual allegations against the chancellor? The only fact here is nearly nobody liked Nikolai, including myself, so the notion I find his picture on a site dedicated to sexual abuse on an allegations page is odd.
And furthermore, Nikolai's damages would be very difficult to prove, so even if he did win, the amount might be peanuts.
And Mark, really now, do you think I enjoy defending Nikolai? The point isn't about him already. It is about the bad means to the good ends.
Someone alleges something against any priest in the church and pokrov puts it up and that is okay with you? Far out man.
#101 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-11-30 22:51
This is all very disturbing, but what do you Mark, suppose Met. P is going to do about Worcester? The church is lierally falling to pieces with no end in sight. ....Mark, maybe you can shed some light on the downfall of St. George Worcester.
#102 LB on 2010-12-01 10:37
Thank you, Mark, for taking on this "Orthodox Christian of good repute" issue. It is raised quite frequently in discussions about various shady characters and often wielded cruelly to undercut the credibility or relevance of victim accounts. It becomes a guaranteed escape hatch -- the novice who left the monastery accusing the abbot of abuse leaves the church in disgust, so he has no standing to accuse. Nice trick.
Honestly, to me, it begins to sound like some of the most extreme and repugnant ways that Islamic law is interpreted and applied in some places, for example, making it virtually impossible for a rapist to be charged, but inevitable that the rape victim, by raising the accusation, is herself convicted of adultery and stoned.
It's sometimes hard for students in science and math to develop an intuitive sense of how physical laws or numbers work -- so they can get lost in details of calculation or applying rules, and not notice that a wrong turn has sent them off in a direction that is getting further and further from what is physically or mathematically plausible.
It would seem that canonists fall easily into the same trap -- following the minutiae of the rules, without noticing that they're ending up somewhere that denies and contradicts the basic spirit of our Christian faith.
#103 Rebecca Matovic on 2010-12-01 11:10
Has Anybody asked where is the real HUMILITY in these events? And no I don't been the phony humility/forgiveness that Metropolitan Jonah and Bishop Michael put forth. This humility causes more damage to people than anything else. I mean real humility that seeks the good of people and wants them to flourish in the faith.
If a member of the clergy has an issue or potential issue in his past that could scandalize people, compromise people, and damage them spiritually then this member of the clergy if he possesses real HUMILITY should not seek higher office nor accept it if offered but instead face the consequences of his actions and live a life of quiet repentance seeking to repair the damage his sinful choices caused and restore any victims to wholeness.
I see alot of phony humility in the OCA Hierarchy but I do not see real humility at all. Unless this phony vision of humility and forgiveness is challenged and questioned more people will be scandalized and suffer at the expense of our hierarchs egotistical behavior.
Egotism that masquerades as humility and forgiveness has caused and will continue to cause untold damage to the membership of the OCA.
#104 Andrew on 2010-12-01 11:21
"If some clerics, their bishops, or an entire jurisdiction should choose to disregard such civil law in preference to canon law, then perhaps they should face criminal and/or civil (i.e. financial) penalties commensurate with the damage caused to the victims of potential abuse & neglect they have chosen to ignore."
Oh, I believe most priests have already made their decision on this point. We are quite prepared to face such prosecution.
It boils down to obeying God when His will conflicts with that of Caesar.
#105 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-12-01 12:21
There's no 'false humility' going on. Nothing has been proven against Archbishop Seraphim. Nobody is obligated to repent of something they didn't do, and nobody should be forced to repent of something unproven.
Remember, the Emperor Justinian is a saint of the Orthodox Church, much of his legal reforms are still canon law. And it's his code that stipulates that the burden of proof lies on the party affirming, not the party denying.
And that also means that there is, at the moment, no scandal, just hysteria. A hysteria I find reminiscent of the Satanic Ritual Abuse scares of the 1980's.
(Editor's note: Really, Gavin, there is no hysteria about the Archbishop's case. An Archbishop's arrest is news, whether he is proved guilty or not guilty. And no one, not the CBC, nor CTV, nor the papers, nor here, is "breathelessly" covering the story, but simply reporting the facts as they are known. Do people make inappropriate comments? Yes, including those on both "sides", that is, those looking towards guilt, and those towards innocence. Are comments a bad thing? No, because when they are inappropriate in public, we have a chance to correct them. Left whispered, the falsity festers...)
#106 Gavin Campbell on 2010-12-01 12:32
Actually, I can assert that allegations have been reported by the RCMP, and that's because a.) I live in Canada and read the news releases and b.) the allegations are not in the media ban. And in the news releases, the Winnipeg RCMP are still asking for people to come forward for more evidence. All that can be reported is that something is to alleged to have happened 30 or so years ago. So again, I fail comprehend the mob mentality that seeks to lynch the Synod of Bishops of the OCA in general and Archbishop Seraphim in particular.
Also, Pokrov and SNAP, on their websites (not under Canadian law), are still asking for people to come forward with more evidence, which, apparently, they seem to lack. There simply is no basis to allege ongoing or systematic abuse, other than an unproven allegations isolated incidents.
(Editor's note: I think you are conflating two things. One, is the Archbishop's case, for which allegations have been made, and as is usual in these cases, others, should they have any evidence, are being asked to come forward. Asking that does not prejudge anything, nor can one infer anything from it, pro or con. It simply is a prudent thing to do in unknown circumstances.
Secondly, the "mob mentality" against the OCA's action is simply the raising of questions ( for example: What did the bishops know, and when did they know it?) which even the OCA admits is a worthwhile endeavor. This is evidenced by the charge given to the Synodal Commission. It too does not prejudge anything in the Archbishop's case. It is, among other things, a recognition that this has never happened in this century, and the OCA wants to make sure it was handled correctly, or determine why that was not the case.)
#107 Gavin Campbell on 2010-12-01 13:03
You will need to bring this up with your Hierarch. Does civil law trump religious law? I would probably go to jail to protect confession. I have heard the "buried alive in a field" arguments against privacy, I have heard the "to confess a sin and to be unrepentant is no confession" argument against privacy, I have heard of the "what if I told you there was a buried body in the field phone call to the police" cover story to bypass privacy. It's a slippery slope, confession is private or it is not. There are laws on the books that protect abortion "rights" so does that means it's ok? It's may not be fair to compare these two, but the law is the law.
(Editor's note: Very few things are absolute. Consider this from a Catholic canonist: " If the penitent is not willing to cooperate, there are sometimes situations in which priests can find ways to help the authorities without revealing the content of a person’s confession. If a penitent has indicated, for example, that he fully intends to kill or harm Person X, a priest may be able to warn the police that Person X is in danger, but without fully explaining how he obtained this information. I personally know of a case in which police received a phone call from a priest, warning them that two teenaged sisters were in danger at that very moment. The police understood that the priest was not permitted to give them more specific information, and simply located the girls, notified their parents, and made sure they were protected. It is quite likely that some horrible crime was averted by this priest’s action, yet he did not violate the sacramental seal-in fact, nobody was really sure if he had learned the information in the confessional or in a confidential conversation outside of it. Once again, such collaboration between the authorities and the clergy happens more often than we may realize..."
I think most of our clergy are wise enough, and clever enough, to uphold both the letter and spirit of the secular and ecclesiastical laws....)
#108 Stupid and Stunned on 2010-12-01 13:24
Phony humility/forgiveness? Bishop Michael? You're kidding here, right? You obviously do NOT know Bishop Michael. You do NOT know of his good works, his gentle spirit, his generous ways. Are you trying to ignite a flame war here? All I see in your post is an intent to slander a good man. He would probably want to talk to YOU, ask for YOUR forgiveness if he offended YOU in any way, and he would sincerely try to mend his ways. All I can do is sit and type this post in anger, I feel ashamed of myself that I feel that way and cannot be more like Bishop Michael. I am sickened that someone would attack a good, decent man.
#109 Extremely Offended on 2010-12-01 13:36
"Does civil law trump religious law?"
Wrong question, I believe.
The secrecy of the Confession is absolute. It is not derived from the canons. It would be absolute even if there were not canons governing it.
Sacramental secrecy flows from the nature of the Sacrament: the disclosure of the secrets of conscience to God in the act of repentance. To violate the secrecy of Confession is a sin against the Holy Spirit, by whose authority the priest hears the Confession (John 20:22-23). Heaven help the priest that monkeys around with this trust.
If a priest does not believe this, he has no business hearing Confessions, nor should anyone else feel secure if he confesses to such a priest.
In short, the canons are not the basis of the sacramental secrecy. The sacramental secrecy is, rather, the basis of the canons that govern it.
#110 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-12-01 14:41
OK fair enough. I probably should have calmed down a bit.
Yes, it is good to raise questions, because otherwise the OCA will have the same sort of problem that the Roman Catholic Church has had.
And you're right, it's reasonable for investigators to ask for more evidence. Touche.
But nonetheless, I do feel genuinely bothered by a lot of remarks made. I am bothered by assertions that this is a scandal for the OCA when, as of yet, nothing has been proven. That's what I'm trying to chisel at. There does not seem to be enough healthy skepticism in favour of Archbishop Seraphim, only of him and the Synod of Bishops. Maybe I'm wrong, but I do know what people in the Archdiocese of Canada are saying, and we're skeptical of these allegations. But who knows - maybe we're wrong, too.
#111 Gavin Campbell on 2010-12-01 17:32
Again, fair enough.
But while I admit I overstated things, I still feel bothered by the rush to judge. And I admit that there's a rush to judge Archbishop Seraphim's accusers.
#112 Gavin Campbell on 2010-12-01 17:35
#113 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-12-01 17:44
It seems to me the National Enquirer headline that would sum up their 70's journalism would be, "Aliens paid Bigfoot to shoot JFK from the grassy knoll."
(Editor's note: No, the headline would read "Pregnant Lesbian Aliens paid Illegal Immigrant Bigfoot to shoot Philandering JFK from grassy knoll.")
#114 Ed Unneland on 2010-12-01 19:54
PS re: education program in parishes
According to this article, the Innocence Mission, a non-profit founded by Elaina Kroll, plans to train "150 parent's groups, schools, religious organizations and other nonprofits" during the coming year.
This group operates out of southern California, so perhaps you could contact Elaina and see if your parish could be among those 150, Fr. George. It might be a small start, but it would be a start.....
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Of course, plenty of Orthodox clergy (at least here in the US) would answer differently. I suspect a lot has to do with some residual anti-Catholicism (especially from convert clergy), as well as the perpetual Orthodox temptation to define themselves as against anything Catholic, even at the risk of spouting bad sacramental theology.
#116 Amanda on 2010-12-01 20:11
Now if we could just get the focus off the damn legal waiver, wouldn't that be something?
#117 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-12-01 22:51
We need more monastics. Not just for bishops, but just for our salvation.
#118 Anonymous on 2010-12-02 07:36
The question is, 'What constitutes confession?'
If someone comes to his priest, and talks about the kids he has molested, but refuses to turn himself in to get help, did he confess? Did he make his 'confession?'
Orthodoxy teaches repentance, and it is the center of the rite of confession. Priests do not give absolution to the unrepentant, since he has not truly confessed his sins, but merely bragged about them.
So, we need to understand what confession really is before talking about the absolute nature of any aspect of it.
Fr. George Aquaro
#119 <username> on 2010-12-02 08:17
"Episcopalian Lesbian Aliens paid Illegal Immigrant Biggy Footsky to shoot Philandering Papist Vanya Kennedy from grassy knoll."
#120 Cordelia on 2010-12-02 08:37
A lot of people seem to be shocked at the length of time (25 years) it took for these boys now men to report the offence. I amongst others in our parish, recently attended a course on child abuse. During one of the films we watched a 40 year old explained sexual abuse he received by the hand of his priest. He as a child he felt ashamed and responsible for the priests actions. He finally was able to tell someone about the abuse in his mid-twenties. He had not told anyone. Not his Mother nor Father knew of any of this.
I don't know what happened and I am trying to be fair but let us not be totally ignorant about how victims will react. Blaming victims is one of the reasons children want to be quiet particularly if the adult has some authority.
I just don't know what the reason would be for these once children to make this up and then grow up to be young men only to bring this up again.
#121 Saddened on 2010-12-02 17:14
Child Abuse is not a one-time thing; it is repetitive. There is no history of repetitive behavior here. One must therefore ask, "Did this really happen? Who are these people bringing these accusations?" I am very curious who these people are and why this is coming out now. Even more curious is why the former bishop of Alaska who was dismissed from his duties (Nicholai) is pushing these accusations as true! I hope we see a very public trial!
(Editor's note: Let's stick to the facts: there is no history of repetitive behaviour as yet made public. There may - or may not - be; that is for the trial. I repeat - speculation in these matters is not helpful to anyone, since the authorities are now in charge, the Church is investigating, and our policies and procedures are being followed.)
#122 Any Mouse on 2010-12-04 09:54
Just a brief addition to the connection between homosexuality and paedophilia, because I don't think a single excerpted quote from UC Davis should settle anything:
Although it's true that paedophilia as a phenomenon should not be attributed only to homosexuals, we shouldn't blur the fact that pederasts often target victims from the gender of their general sexual preference. If the simple majority of paedophilia cases in the Church are male-on-male, and they are, it is at least possible to assume that there could be some link to homosexual orientation among abusers in the Church.
(Editor's note: Possible, but not the case. According to the latest academic research most researchers are coming to agreement that most true paedophiles have no adult sexual orientation, but are fixated only on children, of either sex. They are best described not as homosexual or heterosexual - but paedophiles. I hope this puts the matter to rest. )
#123 Jackson Downs on 2010-12-04 13:13
Actually, this has been a helpful (if tangential) line of discussion for me, and I'd like to learn more about the connection between paedophilia and sexual preference. Why the push to "put the matter to rest?"
(Editor'snote: I am glad this has been helpful for you, but it is not the purpose or goal or expertise of this site to discuss these matters. There are many other places to that; while there are precious few to discuss matters in the OCA and lately, the AOCNA. So, while not wanting to limit anybody's concerns, I think the point has been made that there is no direct, indirect, or causal link between homosexuality and padeophila.)
#124 Jackson Downs on 2010-12-05 17:10
Where have you been the past 4-5 years? The OCA Synod of Bishops and its members have proven themselves as likely as not to do as little as possible when faced with prospect of disciplining one of their own. When faced with acknowledging their own incompetence and sloth regarding their more difficult hierarchical responsibilities, like seeing to the proper execution of fiduciary responsibilities by the members of the Synod and the Central Church Administration, they preach a message of "cheap forgiveness" -- requiring no apparent repentance and no restitution, just easy, complete forgiveness and forgetfulness.
It is wonderful that you have enough contact with your archpastor to be able to defend him based on your personal interactions. For those of us who only know him from what has been written concerning him, I suggest you read the report of the OCA's own Special Investigative Committee and that you compare the diocesan announcement of Archbishop Seraphim's leave of absence to the announcement published by the Central Church Administration to get an idea of why some of us take his plea of innocence with a heavy dose of skepticism.
How His Eminence has handled these allegations is indeed a scandal. Lies of omission are lies nonetheless, and His Eminence has lied to the clergy, monastics, and laity of the OCA. He, as are all hierarchs, is called to a very high standard of conduct, and he has fallen short of the mark. His acknowledging that failure would be the first step in repentance and forgiveness.
Mark C. Phinney
#125 Mark C. Phinney on 2010-12-05 20:24
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