Saturday, May 7. 2011
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I am very grateful for the love of the Church and the truth manifested by our leaders during the past weeks meetings in Chicago. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide our bishops, priests, deacons, and lay leaders.
#1 Marc Trolinger on 2011-05-07 13:52
GOOD NEWS! .....Chicago seemed to move things in the right direction. It was wonderful to see Fr. Garklavs treated properly and maintaining a consulting role with pay & benefits..... It was also great to see + Jonah's wings clipped. I would have liked to have seen + Jonah dismissed, but I guess we'll have to wait for Seattle. Between now & Seattle let's see how many more faux pas + Jonah can perform.
(Editor's note: One should not wish for someone to error. On the other hand, one cannot ignore it either. )
#2 Anonymous on 2011-05-07 13:57
Can you please clarify whether or not Fr Gregory Jensen has now been stopped from acting as the sexual misconduct investigator ( I think that was the position). Was it instructions that must be followed or a polite request without any teeth.
(Editor's note: The MC offered its considered opinion, and defunded him. Whether he is officially removed is not the MC's call: it depends on the Metropolitan, with the guidance of the Lesser Synod. Traditionally events surrounding this office are not published - one would hope if a decision is made, this time things would be done openly.)
#3 Gh on 2011-05-07 14:00
It sounds like some really good policies came out of the meeting. I think the best thing to do at this point is to sit back and wait to see how it works out. And pray.
O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance: granting to Thy people victory over all adversaries, and by the power of Thy Cross preserving Thine estate.
#4 Kirk on 2011-05-07 14:11
"They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them." Rom 1:24
#5 delegate#1 on 2011-05-07 15:25
Thank you for your continued great reporting on the OCA.
I waited for the "real news" and I believe you provided that in your quote in your summary of the Synod and MC meeting:
"Having the Bishops present at the MC meeting is generally seen as a benefit, as problems can be addressed and misconceptions resolved quickly. The old regime’s tactic of “divide and conquer” is no longer in place, nor desired. Such growing conciliarity amid a real desire to be accountable, only bodes well for the future of the OCA. The Synod is working on finding its balance, and the Council continues to develop and grow in confidence and professionalism, so as to be of ever greater assistance to the Synod."
I was hoping that this is what I, and we, would hear from this historical meeting. To me, we, the OCA continue through growing pains of finding that conciliarity, transparency, and cooperation that can make the OCA that much stronger and faithful to the Gospel.
The OCA may be a work in progress, but I believed in the collective talent, acumen, and good will among our clergy and lay leaders. I think we are turning some rough corners in the OCA. This shows great promise to what the OCA IS capable of. May God bless this new energy and committment which seemed to be so apparent in your reporting of these recent meetings.
Patty Schellbach, Ed.D. (as of four hours ago)
(Editor's note: Congratulations on your degree!)
#6 Patty Schellbach on 2011-05-07 15:49
"The delays were caused by the postponement of the previously scheduled meetings by Metropolitan Jonah."
Metropolitan Jonah wouldn't have had to delay the meetings if the Synod had not placed a 60-day commitment on his schedule. What was he supposed to do, allow the meetings to proceed without him being present?
"To accommodate his schedule all sessions were held at Christ the Saviour Church, which is adjacent to the Midwest Diocesan Center, in downtown Chicago."
What does the meeting location have to do with the Metropolitan's schedule?
"Father Garklavs, upon leaving, received a loud, long and heartfelt standing ovation from all present."
Even Metropolitan Jonah? What a trooper!
(Editor's note: Yes. The meetings were held in Chicago because the Metropolitan was in Chicago. If the Metropolitan did not stand ( I do not know, my back was to him as I was facing the departing Fr. Garklavs, he was the only one not standing...)
#7 Cordelia on 2011-05-07 15:52
It's good to hear of those charged with the leadership of the OCA, both the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council, acting responsibly and maturely and working together to address tough issues.
Maybe the folks predicting the demise of the OCA got ahead of themselves a bit.
#8 Rebecca Matovic on 2011-05-07 16:54
Years ago, I work at a small community newspaper. I resigned when the publisher hired a town councilman to be the reporter for his own council news. It was an important enough ethical conflict that it was noticed and mentioned by the Poynter Institute (they who give out the Pulitzers).
How is it any different when you try to objectively report on a body you serve on as a member?
(Editor's note: Because objectivity is not about participation, but truth? Because until 5 years ago the option was no reporting at all? Because I don't sell advertising or make money, in either position? Because I have no agenda on the MC besides that expressed on the website - that is, accountability and transparency, and therefore there is no conflict? Because I never sought to be on the MC, but serve out of obedience to the late Archbishop's request? Etc.)
#9 Reader Nicholas Bailey on 2011-05-07 17:28
Christ is Risen!
Indeed, He is Risen!
I appreciated your reporting on what prompted you to begin this website. I appreciate your reporting on what happened in Chicago this past week. But I cannot help but wonder if your detractors claims are entirely meritless when you indulge in what can only be characterized as sniping comments toward our Metropolitan Jonah. To wit,'This is no minor adjustment; for in +Jonah’s case, it means he will permanently lose the $3,000 a month stipend he was receiving, until recently,from Dallas.'
Why even go there? It is not a worthy comment on your part, considering all the good you have done for our church and was unnecessary. You sound, even to those who support your efforts, as though you are grinding an axe.
Or this,'the Dean of the Metropolitan’s cathedral, Fr. Joseph Fester, was “relieved of duties” ; a surprising decision by the Metropolitan, who, according to sources close to the Synod, had only recently proposed Fr. Fester’s name to the Synod to become Chancellor of the OCA.' Is it possible that maybe the way you saw things or had been told just might have been wrong? By the tenor of your previous posts, the canning Fr. Fester by the Metropolitan would indeed be unfathomable. But just by giving the Metropolitan the benefit of a small doubt that +Jonah wasn't aware of what extent one of his supporters, someone who appeared to be 'in his corner' was doing, the firing upon realizing what Fr. Fester was actually doing can easily be seen as the Metropolitan's effort to right things upon realizing what was actually taking place. +Jonah found out and had to release someone who was supporting him,instead of covering for him, as might have been done in the past. It is hard to fault +Jonah, if one but gives him this small grace.
But no, at the end of this article, when you could have ended your report well at the statement,'That is what was done in Chicago.' You had to end it with another less-than-worthy of your best efforts comments. Again, why?
I was at Chicago this past week for the celebration of Bishop Matthias enthronement. I don't often get to the 'big city'. It was a moving service and the comportment of the celebrants was uplifting. We are blessed with Bishop Matthias as our new bishop. It gave me new hope for the future. Things in the meeting as you reported appear to be on the up and up for our church as a whole. Again, your efforts in the past I thank you for. But please, I humbly beseech you, refrain from making your weaker brother to stumble and weaken his faith in God's Will for His church by writing in this manner again.
I have posted my real name in a show of the earnestness of my comments. I really am a nobody in the big scheme of things
I hope it is a small thing I ask of you.
(Editor's note: As the Metropolitan's speech in Santa Fe makes clear, the point about the salary was important to +Jonah - not me; it helps explain some of his actions. As for Fr. Fester, the Metropolitan knew full well all his actions and intent, and coordinated with him in them. It was the Synod that demanded Fr. Fester's "relieving of all duties"; that the Metropolitan ultimately agreed to it is indeed noteworthy, since that is such a rare event. Witness, for example, the situation in Venice, FL. As for the ending of the story, it too was fact, unpleasant as some may find it. If you just want me to report "pleasant facts" for the "weaker brethren", or distort events so as not to upset anyone, I won't do the latter; I try, however, to be cognizent of the former. I am sorry to disappoint you.)
#10 David Mazurik on 2011-05-07 18:58
The Metropolitan was receiving $3,000 a month from Dallas? Lets just call Jonah the double dipping despota of Dallas who preaches humility but then collects his tribute on the side.
Common sense ethics says Metropolitan Jonah should return all the stipends he received from the DOS or donate such proceedings to a charity.
Btw, I would like to thank Rod "your spy in Philadelphia" Dreher whose emails were essential in brings the problems surrounding Fester to the forefront. Thanks man!
#11 Crunchy Con Job on 2011-05-07 19:36
I was right there with you, Mark, until you added that little low-rent rhetorical victory lap at the very end. It left a nasty taste in my mind, just as bad, in its way, as the ravings at OCATruth and Monomachos. I didn't think you were the kind of guy who would twist the knife as your foe is wounded and bleeding. Tacky. Disappointing.
#12 Scott Walker on 2011-05-08 06:15
Well, what do you know. As always happens, the official OCA press releases and Holy Synod minutes posted on the OCA website, once again prove Mark was telling the truth all along. I wonder how long it will take for everyone to wake up and smell the coffee!
Thank you, Mark, for all you've done and continue to do! Keep up the good work!
#13 Anonymous on 2011-05-08 10:28
Will this be a step in the right direction, or will it turn into a William Hamilton cartoon?
(“I think it's high time we quit shilly-shallying and put a couple of committees together to take a look t some of the contingencies of toughening our rhetoric!”)
Time will tell.
#14 GregF on 2011-05-08 12:02
This AOC layman looks upon the sausage making going on with our brethern in the OCA with envy.
While having sympathy for those who are suffering through the turmoil you are at least able to deal with your issues in a conciliatory manner with a truly functioning Synod.
Consider yourselves blessed and fortunate in being able to deal with these matters without the insane manipulations and interferences of foreign clerics and a Metropolitan who not only fancies himself a pope but actually exercises all such prerogatives better than the medieval Borgia's.
#15 Kevin Kirwan on 2011-05-08 12:17
Mark, you must be the anti-Christ. You must have 666 branded on you.
Kidding, of course. I've gone to ocatruth.com now and then for comic relief. I find those posts to often be filled with vicious, malicious statements, comments, and opinions...most if not all of which is not grounded in reality.
But recently I came across monomakhos.com. I am stunned to learn a site filled with such malevolence in the name of Christianity and Orthodoxy exits! It's just a stunningly innacurate and misleading reporting of anything but fact with you, Mark, as it's main target!
I never appreciated what it took Mark, for you to keep going against such tremendous odds. I always liked ocanews.com but I've gained a whole new respect for you. I, and I'm sure a lot of Orthodox, are very grateful for your work. Persevere, Mark...run the race to win the crown that lasts forever! God grant you many years.
(Editor's note: It is an old tradition: shoot the messenger. )
#16 Major Disbelief on 2011-05-08 12:33
All you wished for seems to have happened. Can you think about shutting down this blog and ending the acrimony? It would be good for the Church and all of us who care about the future of American Orthodoxy.
(Editor's note: I I don't blame you for being tired; we all are tired of the games some people play. However, if holding a bishop accountable for his deeds and his word is acrimony, then the "good for the Church" would be sticking our heads back in the sand. If the future of American Orthodoxy is predicated on blissful ignorance of the facts, then it has not much a future. I do not think this is what you mean; it is rather, a cry of the heart. But ignoring, enabling and excusing bad behaviour is not the solution. Changing behvaiours is.)
#17 anon on 2011-05-08 13:55
This should hopefully result in a self-imposed gag order on those who feel that the OCA is too immature to run its own house!! The love, honesty, candidness, and mature articulation shown here proves that, as St Paul says in Ephesians, "speaking the truth in love" is the way of the Church!!!
#18 David Barrett on 2011-05-08 14:58
While I am not part of the OCA, I follow the current OCA "saga" because we are all Orthodox in America. What affects the OCA, affects us all, even if we are administratively isolated. I trust the reporting of Mr. Stokoe and I think him for it, mostly because there is more reporting than opinion.
However there were two pieces of information that I though were unbecoming of a "reporting" entity, even if Mr. Stokoe does not consider himself as such. First was the mention of money that His Beatitude would no longer be receiving as L.T. of the Diocese of the South. While this may be factual, I think it was reported as an issue for His Beatitude. I hope that is not the case, as I hope that all of the physical necessities of H.B. are taken care of without the need for an extra $3000. I am actually a little shocked that he would be receiving this money. Maybe I am way too naive, but I would assume that the episcopacy would not considered a career, and would not require personal salary for "additional work." Of course Their Graces, Eminences and Beatitudes should be taken care of as much as is possible. In any case, it seems almost close to slander to make such a statement that the $3000 would be a consideration.
Secondly. the ending statement of "The weak “Eis Polla”..." seems cruel either in in truthfulness or its exaggeration. Although you may disagree fervently with your Metropolitan, I think it is in poor manners and poor Christian expression to begrudgingly offer a "Many Years" to your elected Metropolitan. I disagree with my Metropolitan on many things, but I do not offer ill will towards him. I ask his blessing, and respect his office. I may disagree with him, but I believe that God will work things out in the end, and that my dismissal of him will harm me more than help the Church.
Please keep the reporting at 100% and the opinion at 0%, that the truth may be made manifest. For I truly believe that the truth will set us free.
Christ is Risen!
(Editor's note: Unfortunately, both issues were factual, and issues. I refer you to the Metropolitan's speech in Santa Fe regarding the issue of money. It is of import to the Metropolitan, and helps explain his actions, and those of the Synod in response. Secondly, I could have omitted the action of those present concerning the Eis Polla. But that would be distorting what happened. There was no more factual, and better, way to express the disappointment of those present with the Metropoltian's actions that to report what happened, as sad and shocking as you may find it. It is shocking and revealing and sad; but it happened.)
#19 Sdn. Seraphim on 2011-05-08 17:08
"Error" is a verb Mark? "Err" maybe?
(Editor's note: I am not sure of the reference, so it may well be that I have erred. Or am in error. Thanks.)
#20 Marcel Herlé on 2011-05-08 20:41
Don't worry, defeat will be snatched from the jaws of victory. The OCA has proven to be the perfect shadow of the old Soviet system. I suppose one really can tell a tree by its fruit and that one cannot expect wheat from the seeds of tares.
This is not to say that I approve every move by His Beatitude. He certainly contributed to the disastrous situation we are in. But, it seems that something very sick in our "institutional" structure, something that must have been present long before autocephaly, has finally come to fruition.
The "February Revolution" has succeeded and the "October Revolution" awaits. Once can only anticipate what monstrous birth awaits us.
(Editor's note: God, dear friend, can raise life from dead bones. We, the OCA, are neither bones nor dead. So take a deep breath, and watch God work as He Will. )
#21 Ivan Vasiliev on 2011-05-09 05:11
Having entered the Orthodox Church at St. Mary's Cathedral in Minneapolis, I am, once again, grateful to and proud of the Midwest Diocese.
Also, thank you Mark, for your excellent work and love for the Church.
Christ is Risen!
#22 Rebecca on 2011-05-09 07:18
In a previous post my comment was, "Let the Synod meet (clearly not a rubber stamp by the accounts set forth here) and work this out with the help of the Holy Spirit." This is what happened and now all should pray for healing.
Mark, I appreciate your response to some of the commenters that we should not hope that the Metropolitan fails going forward by rather view this as a time for true metonia for all involved.
I would put it out to you, however, that when you post the communique of the MC to let it "speak for itself" that your ending comment of the "weak Eis Polla that faded into silence" is petty ad hominum. Was not needed and reflects some of your bias and bitterness.
(Editor's note: Neither bias nor bitterness, but in fact the Council and Synod speaking for itself - or at least it seemed to me and others present who remarked on it at the time. )
#23 From the GOA with love on 2011-05-09 07:50
Your assessment is right on! The OCA is becoming a very healthy organization through all of this. After + Herman, no one thought a convert Met. would adapt the same unilateral, authoritarian misunderstanding of a bishop's office. Yet, + Jonah was apparently influenced by Russia & his minions. What the OCA has been through and still going through, is what the Greeks, Antiochians and others will eventually ALSO go through. The OCA is really light-years ahead of the others in terms of administration and really understanding how bishops and laity should work together. Too bad it takes confrontation to bring this about, but maybe confrontation is necessary to instill change; for the better!
#24 anonymous on 2011-05-10 06:47
While there were some really positive things that came out of the recent joint meetings, there are still a number of unresolved questions, like:
What's the status of Archbishop Seraphim?
If Fr. Alexander Garklavs "resigned" then why is the OCA paying him four months of severance? If he was "fired" then who "fired" him? Wouldn't it have been cheaper just to leave him on as the chancellor until the AAC and then not renew his contract?
What other potential legal land mines are sitting out there because of whatever is in the sexual misconduct report?
What, exactly, is the status of bishop Mark?
By the way, Mark, despite the fact that the guys on the other website tried to discredit you, it seems that the truth actually came out. Last time I checked you were still on the MC and a certain priest is no longer in Washington. Res ipsa loquitur!
Keep up the good work!
(Editor's note: a) Archbishop Seraphim is suspended pending his trial as per OCA policy. b) It would have been wiser to let Fr. Garklavs just finish his term and then move on without drama. No one asked me thcugh. c) None, we hope. Hope springs eternal. d) +Mark is still the admin of the South. )
#25 Anonymous on 2011-05-10 13:15
I for one am very dissatisfied with one particular part of what I read in the minutes. Under the heading Meeting with SMPAC, it states:
"The SMPAC assured the Holy Synod that their documents and their concerns were solely a means to document lessons learned, not to bring accusations against any individual person or organization.
They expressed their fervent desire to receive the Holy Synod’s assurance, not only that proper policies are put in place, but most importantly that they be followed."
No - for me this is NOT at all acceptable. If there has been wrongdoing, which it sounds like there has been, people need to be brought to account. These are the most serious of crimes, that our own clergy and bishops are perpetrating, and to simply put them into a box as "lessons learned" is just not good enough.
These policies and laws governing the protection of children and all individuals have been around for a while now - ACCOUNTABILITY is in order.
It seems our leaders are continually forgetting their responsibility to protect the public - not their friends and fellow clergy men.
These are CRIMES - they can't just simply say - "Oh, sorry, I guess I should have reported that; oh, I guess I should have done more”. I sure hope we are not enabling this behavior by not bringing them to account.
If this is the case, this is not acceptable to me as member of the OCA.
It would be good to hear some comments on this from the ladies from POKROV.
(Editor's note: I think that is just what the SMPAC said: they want assurances the policies of the OCA are being followed. The Bishops seemed to all "get it" in Chicago, and one can only take them at their word the policies will be followed. As for lessons learned, that is a good excersize in accountability. In short, the OCA will be a safer place for the lessons learned from the past three years. )
#26 Concerned on 2011-05-10 20:25
mark- you are a piece of garbage. i hope you cry yourself to sleep at night knowing that you are a loser of shakesperian proportions.
#27 Anonymous on 2011-05-13 07:53
I ,too, am encouraged by the apparent results of the meetings in Chicago. Frank and wide-ranging discussions seem to be what we need right now, and I'm happy to hear they took place. The Holy Synod really seems to be trying to do the right thing. Even if they slip up, I'm beginning to think the intention to do the right thing is there.
I'm somewhat concerned by OCA News' complete silence for the last week, and am hoping it's just a matter of catching up on business and not any one of a number of worse possibilities that spring to mind.
Keep up the good work---
#28 Ann McLarnan on 2011-05-16 15:59
Could the editor please direct me to where in Jonah's remarks that is (about the salary)? I looked over the most recent post (5-21) and couldn't find it. Is it in a different post?
(Editor's note: I believe the quote you are looking for is the following from the speech:
" There is the idea being put forth that the officers and the MC members are equal with the bishops and should have equal authority. After all, the officers make more money than the Metropolitan ( and can cut his salary without even the courtesy of informing him, much less his consultation), so they are his superiors, to whom he must submit."
The citation may be found about 4/5ths of the way into the text. )
#29 Fiona Samaritisa on 2011-05-22 15:01
If you are going to insult someone in writing, at least use spell check.
#30 The Bard on 2011-05-22 23:22
Can it be? The Great White Orthodox Christian Fathers are going to "allow" Alaska to select it's own Bishop? They are trusting the OCA's Brown Children of the North to make decisions for themselves? Things MUST really be changing! I wonder what the celebrity Priests and Authors here in Alaska think about this turn of events? After all, you guys have been such good advocates for us over the years, right?
In the Spirit of Adwa, 1896.
Moses the Tlingit
(Editor's note: More commonly spelled Adowa - a reference to the Ethiopian defeat of the Italians in 1896 that preserved the independence of Ethiopia.)
#31 Moses on 2011-05-23 09:20
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