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4.4.06 Latest News

+Tikhon to +Herman:

Resign, Retire or Be Deposed

In the concluding paragraphs of his letter dated March 24 to Metropolitan Herman, Bishop +Tikhon offers the Primate of the OCA three stark choices: resign, retire or face deposition. +Tikhon writes:

"Please consider these alternatives which I consider to be ones which hold out substantial basis to hope of an early amelioration or even termination of the provocations afflicting the Body of the Church and which will end this putting of God to the test:

1. Resign and ask the senior member of the Holy Synod, His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania and the Bulgarian Diocese, to assume the post of locum tenens (and temporary administrator). Your Beatitude's last official act should be to revoke any and all actions taken since the last session of the Holy Synod.

2. Retire, after immediate consultation and the most thorough possible physical and psychological evaluation. No one would question any expenses in excess of what the insurance plan allows. At the same time taking the actions in paragraph a) especially, 'the last official act should be to revoke any and all actions taken since the last session of the Holy Synod.'

3. Consider the canonical implications of remaining as First Hierarch and continuing on Your Beatitude's present erratic course over the sea of life, which might possibly result in discrediting of so much of what Your Beatitude had accomplished that was decent and orderly. The alarm voiced by prominent representatives of other Local Churches indicates to me that there would be no shortage of available Hierarchs to make up the required twelve.... Think of all those who have trusted you, rightfully! Do you care for their fate? Do you want to provide them an example of stubbornness, rather than firmness? An example of non-repentance and blaming others?

With love in Christ, Your Beatitude's most unworthy intercessor, +TIKHON"

A Note to Our Readers

OCANews has chosen to withhold publication of the full text of the Bishop's startling letter, just as we did not publish Protodeacon Eric Wheeler's October 2005 letter to the Metropolitan in full. In both instances general allegations of sexual misconduct are made against some clergy (other than the addressee), which would be inappropriate to repeat without corroborating evidence. As these allegations are scattered throughout the Bishop's letter, we have chosen, therefore, to quote the letter at length.

+Tikhon's Outlines His Concerns

As OCAnews reported last week, +Tikhon's letter begins with the announcement that he is withholding his diocesan assessments. He justifies that decision by stating: "I am concerned with the probity of actions taken with reference to the Holy Canons; the Statute of The Orthodox Church in America; the Policies, Standards, and Procedures of the Orthodox Church in America on Sexual Misconduct; and the measures approved at the Special Session of the Holy Synod. I feel that all these may have been grossly violated and are still being violated, and I respectfully request a written reply from Your Beatitude as the First among Equals to this inquiry about my concerns."

In the ten page letter, +Tikhon lists 15 major concerns. These are, in the order they appear in the letter:

•The fact, manner and appropriateness of the dismissal of Fr. Kondratick;

• The hiring of Proskauer Rose LLP without the knowledge of the Synod of Bishops;

•The expense of Proskauer Rose; +Tikhon writes: "That Your Beatitude's administration is in the process of obtaining loans to meet already existing budget failures and has authorized expending funds from unknown, therefore mysterious sources, gives an aura, or rather, provides evidence of arbitrariness, even recklessness."

• That Acting OCA Treasurer Fr. Paul Kucynda is allowed to act as a church spokesperson;  "Your Beatitude has apparently authorized the acting Treasurer of The Orthodox Church in America (without any information relative to this being afforded the Holy Synod) to act as some kind of quasi-chancellor, worse, Church spokesman! How my heart went out to Your Beatitude when the acting Treasurer, Archpriest Paul Kucynda, perhaps distracted by the heady pleasure of being interviewed by a newspaper and getting to see his own words in print, quoted Your Beatitude as justifying Your Beatitude's sudden summary and arbitrary dismissal of the Chancellor this way:

'Finally the metropolitan came to a point where he realized, "I have exhausted all of my possibilities, people are beginning to say that I am incompetent, that I should be deposed, and so he decided to act," Kucynda said.'

Your Beatitude! That was a patent admission that the Chancellor was discharged for strictly and entirely personal reasons, and I feel very sad that Your Beatitude's confession was so publicized. To see an Orthodox Hierarch confess to having 'exhausted all of my possibilities' is something which I had never expected to see before I fell asleep. It contradicts all Your Beatitude's teaching and preaching of the Gospel of Christ over so many years of wonderful service to the same!"

• That the Metropolitan has failed to adequately challenge Protodeacon Wheeler's allegations concerning the misuse of ADM donations.

Foreign Concerns

+Tikhon continues by questioning how the Metropolitan has, or has failed, to address concerns emanating from overseas. Specifically, +Tikhon:

• Challenges the Metropolitan to deal with an allegation of sexual misconduct on the part of one priest towards another while abroad;

• Complains that the Metropolitan has awarded the Order of St Innocent to a man +Tikhon claims is a former KGB operative;  "I wish to express once again my concern relative to the awarding of the Order of Saint Innocent, with specific attention to the bestowal of that award to a man named.......... I informed Your Beatitude of that, and that he had been identified as a former officer of the KGB, in the two-star rank, who was, additionally, an official persona non grata in the USA and on its soil. Your Beatitude said words to the effect that Your Beatitude knew that already and had thought it was 'all cleared up.' Your Beatitude, that is not good enough.

While Your Beatitude did indeed serve in the US Army, as, I believe, a company clerk at some remote Army outpost in Goose Bay Labrador, I, too, in my thirteen years in the uniform of our country, served at Goose Bay, Labrador, at the large Goose Air Force (SAC) Base, providing security (in my first assignment) for the air-refueling tankers which made possible the 24 hour alert bomber defense to patrol the air space between our East Coast and the Soviet Union. My next assignment was at a classified ordinance site in the South, belonging to the Defense Atomic Support Agency (DASA) from 1961 through 1965, After one year interval at SVS, I was taken back immediately on active duty where I served first at Columbus AFB, Mississippi, as, finally, Base Deputy Commander for Security and Law Enforcement (the Army calls it 'Provost Marshal'), prior to sudden transfer to the Air Staff at Hqs USAF in the Pentagon, where I got an office in charge of civilian and military employees in the ring of the 5th floor as Deputy Chief, Personnel Security Group. Your Beatitude, I am deeply, deeply concerned about the award of the Order of Saint Innocent and what Your Beatitude can assure me or not assure me about the identification of Mr....

• Expresses concern that a rumored surveillance system at the OCA's St. Catherine's Representation Church in Moscow could backfire on the Church; "Your Beatitude, I am deeply, deeply concerned .... about the electronic surveillance tape in an office of OUR Church which both American and Russian government and Church VIPs may visit, unawares! I can assure Your Beatitude, that the empty expostulations of Wheeler, Stokoe, and others under Archbishop Job's omophorion and the unfortunate Kappanadze, Simerick, T. Hopko and Berezansky, etc., could find confirmation in a way unforeseen by any of those far-seeing and wise men."

Canonical Issues

+Tikhon then turns to canonical failings of the Metropolitan. He points out that:

• The Metropolitan fails to reside within the bounds of his Diocese; "At the Special Session of the Holy Synod, I requested that Your Beatitude reside on the territory of Your Beatitude's own diocese, that is, the Diocese of Washington and New York. Your Beatitude replied, 'Now is not the time.' I now respectively remind Your Beatitude of our oath relative to the Holy Canons. Further, in accordance with The Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, which, after (Article IV The Metropolitan, Section 1 The Metropolitan: 'is the diocesan bishop of one of the dioceses of the Church' reminding the Church that the First Hierarch (Primate) must be a diocesan bishop, mandates that he live in his diocese, as follows: (Article VI The Diocese; Section 4 The Diocesan Bishop; paragraph a) "shall reside within the limits of his diocese."

Your Beatitude, we are all aware that while still Archbishop of Philadelphia, Your Beatitude sought and obtained the approval of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania to live in the diocesan bishop's residence as long as Your Beatitude is alive; nevertheless, such an approval is an approval of a fiction; since Your Beatitude may NOT live there. I repeat this, with all honor and respect, Your Beatitude, Your Beatitude may NOT live in the residence of the Bishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania without incurring canonical sanctions. This is fully in accordance with the truth and with the teaching of the Church as it is exemplified in, for example, classrooms at Saint +Tikhon's Theological Seminary. More than 30 (thirty) days have passed since I asked Your Beatitude at the Holy Synod meeting to take up your residence in Syosset or in Bronxville or anywhere within the limits of the Diocese of Washington and New York, and I feel that this a reasonable time limit within which to receive some reply. It is a Holy Synod matter, therefore one with the highest possible priority."

(In an aside, +Tikhon complains about the inappropriateness of the Metropolitan's disdainful remarks about +Tikhon himself, and other hierarchs, to members of the Administrative Committee. He complains about the presence of "non-believers" at that same meeting. He derides Fr. Paul Kucynda's abilities as Treasurer.)

• That the Metropolitan has failed to uphold his Third Confession of Faith given at his consecration as a Bishop; "Members of the Administrative Committee, improperly constituted at its last meeting, have also revealed to me and may reveal to anyone who may ask, that Your Beatitude has made reference to a paragraph in the Statute, with respect specifically to Your Beatitude's peremptory and arbitrary dismissal of the Chancellor, which Your Beatitude (it has been revealed by the acting Treasurer and Secretary in the press. See above, which bares Your Beatitude's entirely defensive and personal motivations) effected out of that 'fear of the people' which is excluded as motivation from the realm of possibility by the 3rd Confession of Faith at the ordination of a Bishop.

The invocation of the Statute was not only incorrect, it was incriminating, no matter how one considers it:

It per se gives the lie to your words as quoted in the Washington Post.

It is patent evidence of violation of the very Statute paragraph invoked! For the paragraph invoked, relating to pastoral (see the dictionary) interventions, depends entirely on its concluding words, 'in the framework of the holy canons.' There is no canon at all which relates to the quality of performance of any employment beyond Priestly employment, and there is no canon at all which grants any' Hierarch, even a Pope, the privilege of unilateral action in non-diocesan matters.

Administrative Concerns

In the final pages of the letter, +Tikhon turns to Metropolitan Herman's failings as an administrator. He complains that the Primate's recent actions, most notably the dismissal of Fr. Kondratick, has:

• Invalidated the current audit; "By dismissing the Chancellor, Your Beatitude has unwittingly frustrated the possibility of any kind of rational audit, since without the Chancellor or a Chancellor (and, Your Beatitude, the Holy Synod has not only been kept in the dark about the dismissal of the Chancellor until it was an accomplished fact, but Your Beatitude has not presented the name of one person to either the Holy Synod or the Metropolitan Council to replace him) any audit must, frankly, fail. ...... Your Beatitude, when a man is fired, it is grievous and unchristian to demand that he continue to act in the capacity which one took from him."

• Left the computers at Syosset at risk; "Your Beatitude has been informed that the computer system at Syosset is vulnerable to outside or inside manipulations, known as 'hacking'. One may lock all the doors and windows and put the computers in a vault, but if they are functioning, they are vulnerable to hacking. While the Protodeacon does not have accounting credentials, beyond the 'accounting background' which any holder of a savings account may claim, how is Your Beatitude going to evade any question relative to the tainting of this audit? Your Beatitude has told Protopresbyter Rodion on more than one occasion that if he would only resign voluntarily 'all this will go away: this is all they want.' Why would not some person of ill-will logically and fairly infer that Your Beatitude dismissed the Chancellor because he knew too much? (emphasis in original).

• Has tolerated Archbishop Job; "I feel that the tolerance of the outright cruelty of Archbishop Job towards Bishop Allejo is unconscionable and his actions are those of a wolf, rather than a shepherd. That he participated in the election of Bishop Allejo and the service on the eve of the Consecration in his Mantiya, and then arrived late with the retired Bishop Mark to stand in the Holy Altar and demonstrate to Your Beatitude, the Holy Synod, and the entire body of the Clergy and People gathered for the Eucharist their 'apartness' is, to me, a serious crime against decency, order and Christ's Holy Gospel. May God protect us all from such wickedness and malfeasance in the office of Bishop! The Chancellor was dismissed, locked out of the Chancery, his wife insulted, accusations .......conveyed to him as pressure to resign, when the acts themselves were outright fiction! Yet a Hierarch who flouts the Holy Synod and Christ's commandments before the world continues to function with the tacit blessing of Your Beatitude, making a mockery of certain pro forma admonitions relative to acting in accordance with Synodal consensus, the same consensus which Your Beatitude held up as incompetence to those lawyers and accountants."

• Has chosen his advisors poorly; "I am perplexed by the role of faculty members, clergy members of the faculty of Saint Vladimir's in advising Your Beatitude and/or fomenting greater disorder and chaos. I'm especially perplexed by the irrational advice gratuitously afforded me and others by Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, who may be having some kind of stress incident. He first wrote us that the ONLY solution was his advice. No sooner had he done that, than, after the sensational and scandalous and arbitrary discharge of the Chancellor, he generously afforded us copies of the wisdom he has dispensed to the Metropolitan Council!

I have my own diocesan council, and a Presbyterium second to none. What do I need with a dogmatic theologian's, (I should say, 'popularizer of theology for the educationally challenged') kibbitzing advice? Any matushka and many other ladies in all my parishes have as good a grip, as advanced piety, and as many brains as Father Thomas Hopko. His letter to the Metropolitan Council is an unconscionable and mob-inciting RANT. What arrogance and self-delusion! He and that Protodeacon Danilchick, former Exxon or Enron accountant are, I understand, among Your Beatitude's most favored advisors, though why anyone would curry their favor is way beyond my ken."

+Tikhon's View of the Problem

In the penultimate paragraph of the letter, +Tikhon writes: "Your Beatitude, this sad letter is not by any means a complete summation of all the matters which weigh on my heart and the hearts of other members of the Holy Synod. This sad letter, Your Beatitude, is caused by my own personal and ethical concerns with which we must all deal according to Grace and the Holy Gospel. While Your Beatitude may have hectored Father Bob with such statements as that his resignation would result in everything going away, it should be clear to Your Beatitude, as it is to me, that all the troubles now afflicting our Church are not attributable to Father Bob. The troubles are attributable, chiefly, to Your Beatitude's paralysis from the day that the Archbishop of Chicago acted like some kind of ombudsman or the elected manager of a social club in a democratic republic of some kind, rather than as an Hierarch and someone who loved and respected the other members of the Holy Synod, regardless of their attitude to him personally. Nevertheless, decisive and pious action at the time when a Protodeacon of Your Beatitude's diocese began to outrage any concept of decency and order whatsoever launched Installment One of his destructive plans .......would have obviated all this."

The letter ends, as reported in the beginning of this article, with offering the Primate a stark choice: retire, resign or face canonical deposition. The clear threat is made, that if the Primate fails to resign or retire, the necessary quorum of twelve Bishops it takes to canonically depose a Diocesan Bishop could be assembled. Bishop Tikhon did not identify who these twelve hierarchs might be.

Copies of the letter, however, were sent to all members of the Holy Synod: Archbishop Kyrill, Archbishop Dmitri, Archbishop Nathaniel, Archbishop Job, Bishop Seraphim, Bishop Nikolai, Bishop Nikon; as well as the auxiliary Bishop Alejo; retired Archbishops Gregory & Peter; the deans of three seminaries Deacon John Erickson (St. Vladimir's Seminary), Archpriest Alexander Golubov (St.+Tikhon's Seminary), & Archpriest Chad Hatfield (St. Herman's Seminary); and members of the Diocesan Council, Diocese of the West. Missing from the list is the auxiliary Bishop of Archbishop Nathaniel, +Irineu, as well as Tikhon's own auxiliary Bishop, +Benjamin. (Bishop Benjamin may have received a letter as a member of the West's Diocesan Council.)

-Mark Stokoe








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Read more excerpts of Bishop Tikhon's letter here


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