Wednesday, March 30. 2011
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thank you! I am very concerned by this movement in my country. I love our Vladyka and want the truth to come out as plainly and soon as possible. And it is painful for us to have no public evidence.
But what a terrible message is being sent to victims or future victims -- you will not be believed, you will be labelled as having "mental disorders", and even after the Crown takes your case, parishioners who know nothing of the events will petition for you alleged abuser to remain in a position of authority.
And by this I in no way mean I think Vladyka is guilty. I have no idea. Why can't we just pray for the TRUTH?
#1 james on 2011-03-30 09:15
Amen to that. The truth is what I have been praying for since this story was made known.
Another thing we can do is send money to help pay for Archbishop Seraphim's legal defence, something we are not allowed to talk about in church!
#2 Jane Szepesi on 2011-03-30 13:05
I honestly have no opinion in the matter; I have no clue what happened, nor is it any of my business, but even as someone who has never been victimized myself, I can imagine the outrage that will meet the statement: "In Canada, it is the Queen (in Latin, Regina) and thereby society (all of us) who are the real “victims.” "
No. The queen isn't the real victim, nor is society. To say this shows no comprehension of or compassion for the victims of sexual abuse.
(Editor's note: That is unfair. The writer was not denigrating the suffering of the alleged victims in anyway, but pointing out a fact of the Canadian ( and American system as well) that individuals do not prosecute each other for crimes. The State does - or in Canada, the Crown. That's all. )
#3 barbara on 2011-03-30 13:41
I wish to not use my name because I work for the court system here in the USA in my hometown. I just want to say to my Canadian Brother/Sister in Faith your article is by far an article of tremendous thought, accuracy and composition. Thank you so much. You have clearly stated the matter at hand from both sides of the aisle, without a disregard for the two victims. Part of my work puts me in direct contact with victims and I in no way felt or sensed your article was an afront to the young men in this case in any way. I understood your point clearly and agree with it whole heartedly. You are also correct that the Archbishop cannot be reinstated so long as this case remains pending. This is not a punishment to him. This is a precaution and a protection to other potential victims from a potential source of harm until the matter is resolved. It is not a judgement against the Archbishop. It is just a prudent step to take until the matter is resolved since we have an obligation to protect against potential further victimization. The Roman Catholic Church failed to appreciate that when they decided to move around abusers rather than take action, thus allowing their priests to further victimize. Thank you again and you and all our Canadian brothers and sisters in faith should have our prayers and our support in this trying time.
#4 annon on 2011-03-30 15:35
Re: " Archbishop Seraphim, who, if I am not mistaken, remains for the time being on full salary (since the allegations have not been proven in court, full salary is a reasonable non-punitive action toward Archbishop Seraphim as a positive counter measure to his mandated suspension)."
I have been told that not only is Archbishop Seraphim without salary since his suspension, but that he has used up his retirement savings in paying for his lawyer.
The author of the reflection stated that "full salary is a reasonable non-punitive action". Perhaps someone from Syosset would be kind enough to explain why his salary is being witheld, putting him in financial distress on a day-to-day basis.
Thank you for a very wise, calm, level-headed reflection.
Whose Light must illuminate all the dark corners of our lives
for there to be truth and healing,
A Concerned Canadian
(Editor's note: This is the first I have heard of his salary not being paid. The Diocese of Canada is responsible for his salary, not the OCA. Are they not paying it while he is on Leave?)
#5 Concerned Canadian on 2011-03-30 17:15
I agree with the reflection. I find the petition uncomfortable. I love Vladyka but I also want due process to be followed.
Unfortunately, 2 corroborating witnesses is sufficient evidence for court, its sad because if this is the sum total of evidence the case will probably be thrown out for lack of evidence. Im afraid neither alleged victim or alleged accused will get what they want.
#6 Mike on 2011-03-31 07:13
I have a few things I would like to add to the very fine reflection by this member of our Archdiocese, whoever he or she may be. To the conclusion "I do not want the public to be placed at risk in the interim" I would add "nor our Archdiocese to give the slightest appearance of doing so."
I say this as one who knows and loves Archbishop Seraphim as well or perhaps better than many of the names on the petition. For the information of all, I also want to point out a number of problems with some of these names.
First, it is inappropriate for -any- clergy member of this Archdiocese to place their name on this petition. It is against the directive the clergy were clearly given about publicly raising funds for the Archbishop's support, which is posted for all to see on the archdiocese.ca website. The site on which the petition is hosted is of course raising such monetary support, as well as saying nice (and many perfectly true, if incomplete) things about the Archbishop's character. It really should not have to be said that even if monetary support were not being pushed on the same site, it is necessary for the Archdiocese, including all the clergy, to maintain a public neutrality while the case is under consideration.
Second, at least 10 per cent of the signatures are from people who are not members of the Archdiocese. Even some with Canadian addresses, I personally know, are not in fact members of the OCA Archdiocese of Canada.
It should also be said that even clergy or monastics who are not in the Archdiocese of Canada, and so not bound to obey our Archdiocesan directives, bring disrepute on Orthodoxy as a whole when they are seen publicly supporting the return to active service of an Orthodox hierarch who is currently charged with a heinous crime. It is a shame and a scandal that clergy do not have the common sense to see this without being told.
In addition, it would have been better for the organizers not to allow comments, many of which are not just ignorant but cruel, paranoid and judgmental.
By the way, I don't know what a current census of the Archdiocese would show, but I think the reference to 'many thousands of the believers' in Canada must be terribly exaggerated. This is a small Archdiocese.
Sadly, although the petitioners have wanted to support Archbishop Seraphim out of their personal love for him, this petition will only expose him to more attacks from those who do not know him. My plea to the organizers: if you really want what is best for our beloved Vladyka, listen to the good sense of "Balanced Approach" and take the petition down immediately. The Holy Synod already knows that Archbishop Seraphim is beloved in Canada and beyond, but that has nothing to do with this suspension.
Finally, in regard to the author of "Balanced Approach"-- as I said, I do not know his or her identity. And I am not going to reveal my own here either. That is because, once this reflection makes the rounds of the Archdiocese, there is going to be all kinds of speculation about who wrote it, and mudslinging of the same kind that has been leveled against the unnamed alleged victims. It's a small Archdiocese, and some people here are apparently not able to see the difference between loving our Archbishop and supporting him in inappropriate public ways. Instead they label anyone who disagrees with their actions 'enemies
#7 Small Archdiocese on 2011-03-31 09:46
I thought that this was a good article. It make a good point by observing that it's unfair to judge Archbishop Seraphim's accusers.
As of yet, nothing has been proven against Archbishop Seraphim in a court of law. I don't feel that our diocese was "punished", seeing that it's inappropriate for clergy to exercise their office while under investigation. It's better to wait for the outcome of the criminal trial, and any possible appeal.
#8 Gavin Campbell on 2011-03-31 12:42
Please forgive me. Perhaps I overreacted.
#9 barbara on 2011-03-31 12:49
It is wrong to withhold pay from him unless he resigned or is defrocked. Sounds like that needs some clarification.
..my thoughts, don't have a clue on the balance of matters
#10 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-03-31 20:28
Thank you for your wisdom and incredible insight into this case. I cannot tell you how frustrating it has been, as a member of the Canadian Archdiocese, to read the many ignorant comments on the website that houses this petition.
It quite simply is not an issue of character or believability. It is an issue of RESPONSIBILITY as the author of "A Balanced Approach" so clearly states. It is the church's RESPONSIBILITY to protect the public. It is the church's RESPONSIBILITY to protect itself from any liability. It is the church's RESPONSIBILITY to do the right thing- suspend Bishop Seraphim who has been charged with a crime, pay him until a verdict is delivered and do not make any public appeals for money for his defense.
I too agree that it is totally inappropriate to see clergy signing this petition. You simply cannot, as a member of the clergy and public representative of the church, show any public bias towards Bishop Seraphim. Not from the pulpit and not by signing online petitions such as this. Your support must be, as an representative of the Church, to the Church itself. She is the pillar and bulwark of the Truth.
I hope this reflection causes the people and particularly the clergy that signed this petition, to rethink just what it is that they are supporting. This reflection really causes me to believe that we must love and protect God's Church and not to put our trust in princes or sons of men (even if they are dressed like Emperors of old.)
I agree that "It is a shame and a scandal that clergy do not have the common sense to see this without being told." And this is really the problem with our church today. Poor leadership at many levels. What did the clerics who signed this petition understand about this case and what have they taught their flocks?
I too have seen that anyone who disagrees with those who support the Archbishop are considered "enemies". So, as I was once told to put up or shut up, I will now say, I accept that I am considered an enemy. But I will continue to question and push for the truth.
#11 A Principled Canadian on 2011-03-31 22:23
This rumour that Archbishop Seraphim is not being paid his regular salary by the Archdiocese of Canada is ABSOLUTELY FALSE. I have confirmed that from reliable sources. I do not know where such a rumour can have come from.
Also, Mark, as you know, since the charges were actually laid he is no longer just on leave, but suspended. (I know calling it 'on leave' was simply a slip on your part.)
I was going to confine my comments to the ones above about the petition, but since the topic of Archbishop Seraphim's salary has been raised... he has been paid his regular salary by the Archdiocese ever since the announcement of his 'medical leave' last September, and continues to be paid even since the charges were laid and his suspension by the Holy Synod. That is the correct way to do such things, until the trial is over. That is correctly applying 'innocent until proven guilty'.
However, you can see that this places quite a burden on our small Archdiocese, because while we continue to do this, we still must also somehow support our administrator, Bishop Irenee, until the case is settled, which we are told will likely take years. However, it is not only financially but also emotionally that this Archdiocese is being badly stretched by the current situation.
Some of the petitioners complain they have no leader-- how can we, when people like the petitioners keep looking to an unrealistic hope for Archbishop Seraphim's quick return, instead of looking to the administrator appointed by the Holy Synod, the assistant bishop to whom our Archdiocese said AXIOS a couple of years ago? Though our suspended Archbishop may not be highly visible to outsiders, he is by no means entirely incommunicado. It is one of his virtues that he has always been approachable and responsive to clergy and laity alike, and that has not changed.
The petitioners are right about the problem of our Archdiocese trying to soldier on with a suspended archbishop for an unknown number of years. They are wrong that the answer is to 'change the rules' and return him to active service at any time before the end of the court case. I am sure that cannot happen, nor should it.
Believe me when I say I hope Archbishop Seraphim is completely exonerated. I am personally doubtful that he is guilty. But even assuming he is cleared, I believe it would be for the ultimate good of the Archdiocese for him to retire gracefully now. God grant him many years, but even after this case is over, like the rest of us he is not going to live forever, and thought must be taken for the future of the Archdiocese. Bishop Irenee or whoever becomes the next ruling bishop is in the unenviable position of taking over from an extremely popular person. As happens on the parish level, when a rector retires, the retiring leader should move away from his parish (or cathedral) and not jog the elbow of the new man. He should refuse to discuss with members anything regarding the diocese he has retired from, and give his successor every support possible by sending inquirers directly to him.
As of his recent birthday, Archbishop Seraphim is now of an age to qualify for Canada pension; in fact I am not certain he does not already receive some payment from the CPP simply by virtue of his age.
I hope Archbishop Seraphim can go somewhere quietly and be the monk that he has never had time to be while spending all these years working hard in the service of this Archdiocese and the wider OCA as well. He used to love the rare periods he could spend as a sort of gentleman farmer at the diocesan center in Johnstown, in between his flying all over several continents in the service of the church.
Please, Vladyka, for the good of the Archdiocese, retire now and allow a smooth transition for your successor. You will not be forgotten or abandoned as you face the time of trial still before you. Please have faith in God and in the people of this Archdiocese.
#12 Small Archdiocese on 2011-04-01 12:30
Archbishop Seraphim is being set up, plain and simple. The Orthodox Circus in America is simply out to get him. This is especially evident in that we don't know if these two alleged victims even exist at all. If you accuse someone of something, come out and do it in public. That in itself shows that the likes of Stoke and Hopko are out to get him, just like they are out to lynch Jonah.
(Editor's note: Feel free to spew venom towards me. But this is an insult to Fr. Tom, the alleged victims, the Winnipeg police, the Crown prosecutors, the Canadian justice system, indeed all Canadians. Shame on you. Shame.)
#13 Anonymous on 2011-04-01 19:00
In the south, we are taught as children not to mix politics and religion. As I grew up, I quickly learned that politics and religion must be intertwined. When we express our religion, we also express our politics or should be. His Beatitude Jonah is a prefect example of expressing his religion and therefore his politics. Those in the OCA who are against this type of expression are either hiding,insincere or ignorant. All three of these categories have the same members from one moment to the next. Metropolitan Jonah stands as an example to us all as someone who will guide the Orthodox church into the future with the courage of conviction. We must trust his leadership and heed his guidance.
#14 Marilyn on 2011-04-01 20:51
Just my take on this article and the comments about this article.
Yes, it sends a terrible message , the alleged victims have mental disorders , or are part of a conspiracy against the accused.
Yes , by all means , if you wish , donate money for the accused's defense, but DON'T use your Church's website.
Clergy within , or not part of, this Archdiocese, who sign this petition, not only bring disrepute to themselves and their
respective Archdiocese , they MAY leave themselves and their respective Archdiocese open to civil litigation.
I would be surprised if there are even 2000 people in this Archdiocese , not many thousands.
Yes , absolutley , by all means , Abhp Seraphim SHOULD BE PAID HIS SALARY until there is a verdict on the charges.
As for retirement of Abhp Seraphim , what ever the outcome of the trial, I JUST DON'T KNOW .
Do clergy serve until medically unfit , or should there be a retirement age for clergy?
As for the author of this article , yes ,for me , IT IS a Balanced Approach.
sinner in a very small Archdiocese
#15 sinner on 2011-04-02 12:54
Wow, that's....very strange. Not know if they exist? I don't know how anyone can get such an idea. Of course they exist. Call the Winnipeg police and ask them, or look it up on their web page. The police don't lay charges that involve imaginary people. Or do you come from some place where they do? In that case maybe we can understand the paranoia that would lead you to think that anonymous imaginary people are out to get Archbishop Seraphim....though in that case, it is really illogical to say this 'proves' Mark Stokoe & Fr. Hopko are out to get Met. Jonah, since Mark and Fr. Hopko are in fact -not- anonymous.
As for the people in Archbishop Seraphim's case, they are ALLEGED victims only unless and until the case shows anything different, but they are real people. The general public don't know who they are, as there is a publication ban on their names. So why not just wait for the trial to run its course? Archbishop Seraphim said through his lawyer that he has faith in the legal system-- that should be good enough for the rest of us too.
#16 Small Archdiocese on 2011-04-03 21:16
I too support your plea for Bishop Seraphim to resign. It would certainly send a clear message to the faithful in the Archdiocese of Canada that it is time to move on.
But Bishop Seraphim will not resign. He may be well loved by some, but truly, in my opinion, he is a poor leader. I say this soberly, knowing how he participated in the recent OCA scandal by not doing the right thing. How does one participate in another's sin? One way is by doing nothing in the face of wrong doing. He did not stand up in the midst of the scandal during the Kondratic/Herman reign, despite being privy to the going's on. Or perhaps he was more involved than it appeared. Remember he was simply concerned with where he sat.
Just as when this criminal case was filed against him and he publicly requested a leave of absence for health reasons. A good leader would tell the TRUTH and tell the people the real reason he was taking a leave of absence.
No, he will not resign, He will listen to those he surrounds himself with who say- "stay, we need you, we love you". He will not do the right thing. I imagine that he may even have delusions of returning to the Episcopate after this is all over with.
#17 A Principled Canadian on 2011-04-04 21:06
For some reason, the petition site apparently has some signers wanting to change their addresses. And also their comments. The site doesn't state why this might be so.
Could it be that they have realized that anyone not within the Archdiocese of Canada should not sign at all, even if the petition were to have any validity anyway? I repeat my remark above as well, that even a Canadian address does not prove the signer is a member of the Archdiocese of Canada.
Could it be, one would hope, that some of the clergy signers, within the Archdiocese or without, have realized they ought to take their names off completely?
I am wondering if the author of 'A Balanced Approach' has attempted to contact the site and explain to them why their petition is simply a huge mistake. Or if the petition organizers are aware of the "Balanced Approach" essay and are ignoring it because it does not suit their misguided purpose.
As long as the petition remains as it is, it is misleading naive people, who have met Archbishop Seraphim and found him likeable, into thinking that this is a popularity contest. The preamble to the petition refers to 'especially the new parishioners'. From the wording of the preamble itself and the style of many of the letters of support elsewhere on the site, it seems clear that many of these people are in fact new immigrants, who simply do not understand the absolute need for the church to maintain a neutral stance. Their emotions are being manipulated by the suggestion that our Archbishop and our archdiocese are being 'punished' by this suspension, which is simply necessary.
They presumably cannot be really familiar with the history of child abuse by the institutional (Roman Catholic) church in Canada, the past accountability problems in the OCA, and the normal way things are done when a high-ranking leader of any organization is charged with such a crime-- that is, he is placed on suspension with pay until the criminal trial is settled. Just as is the current situation with Archbishop Seraphim. The Archdiocese and Holy Synod are acting correctly, and a petition demonstrating Archbishop Seraphim's popularity cannot and should not have any effect on these actions.
Meanwhile, the petition organizers who cite the suffering of 'the many thousands of the believers' are struggling to bring the numbers of signers up to a couple of hundred, even with the dubious signatures of those who are not members of the Archdiocese of Canada. They say they plan to officially present it to the Holy Synod after Lent sometime.
From the preamble:
"It is surely the responsibility of the Holy Synod to do what is necessary to keep the sheep together, and this means having a visible shepherd who is the ruling bishop."
Yes, please. Let the Holy Synod encourage Archbishop Seraphim to retire now for the good of the Archdiocese and indeed for his own good. And let us begin the process of finding a new ruling bishop. Archbishop Seraphim has been and still is much loved, and justly, for his hard work in the past. But this current situation is simply untenable. I feel sorry for the signers who are simply acting out of their emotions and not facing up to the reality. They are stuck in the denial stage of grief. The petition organizers are doing us all a disservice by continuing to encourage this delusion.
#18 Small Archdiocese on 2011-04-09 11:24
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