The OCA drama continues… but, it is not yet time to comment in depth upon it, for the so-called SIC report raised as many questions as it answered.
Not much can be said until the OCA Sobor meets in November. Truly… for the OCA is still secretive in its methods and one hears the same old modernist mantra on the Stokoe site. Indeed, what HAS happened? Not much. Herman Swaiko tendered his “resignation” and some bishops were blackballed by the report. One has to ask, “Why?”
I realise very deeply that the OCA situation is in a great deal of flux at present, which is why I have been loath to comment upon it. However, it is interesting to note which three bishops were “bad-dogged” by the report. The inclusion of Nikon Liolin on the list is no surprise. He was very much “Herman’s man”, and if Herman were to go down, Nikon would go with him. Nevertheless, this is less because of any misdeeds on his part as it is a “gesture” against Herman Swaiko. If one attacks the flunky, one attacks the master. One of the other names on the list is “interesting” in the extreme. Nathaniel Popp is on the list as “punishment” for his talks with Patriarch Daniel of Romania. Shall this accelerate the departure of the Romanians from the OCA? It could, and one must admit there are those in the OCA who would be glad to see them go. Apparently, the Romanians were not Schmemann true-believers, and this would strengthen the hand of the SVS lot in any remnant OCA. I use the term “remnant” advisedly, for the OCA would lose about 25 percent of its membership when the Romanians leave. In fact, they may not be the only group getting ready to bail out.
A parish church in Alaska. This diocese still lacks a bishop. Why was Jonah Paffhausen not named as bishop here? Surely a vacant see takes precedence over a post as a vicar bishop where the diocesan is still alive!
If one looks at it, the SIC report leaves only a few bishops left in the OCA. Herman has resigned. Nikolai has been removed, albeit somewhat irregularly. Dmitri is in his 80s, and in frail health. Nikon, Nathaniel, and Seraphim have been placed under suspicion. This leaves only three possible candidates for metropolitan. Job does not wish it, he has made this clear. Tikhon is much too young.
The last candidate, Benjamin Peterson is dangerous in the extreme. He served in Las Vegas under the removed Bishop Nikolai Soraich when some of the most questionable actions in this drama took place. Also note that this report leaves him the only remaining actual candidate for metropolitan. Considering that the report came out under his signature, it is a naked and open power grab by the SVS and Syosset mafia. Indeed, if one removes the “indicted” bishops form the picture, there are only three active members of the Holy Synod left (with the ailing Dmitri, it makes four).
Despite all the noise about “democracy” in the OCA, the only vote that counts in the selection of a metropolitan is that of the Holy Synod. The votes by the laity and clergy are nothing but bootless “beauty contests”, and according to Orthodox tradition, they truly cannot be anything other. This means that there are four members of the Holy Synod eligible to vote, if the bishops named in the SIC report are barred from voting (a likely outcome, which is why it was done). In such a truncated synod, Benjamin Peterson would win three to one, and it would herald the final triumph of the OCA true-believers.
Benjamin Peterson smiles too widely and too often. Life has taught me to be wary of “smilers” and Mr Peterson is no exception. Do not forget that he was a protégé of Nikolai Soraich. Benjamin makes a loud noise of how he lives in a homeless shelter. That is posturing of the worst sort, almost on the level of such world-class phoneys as Mahatma Gandhi or Lev Tolstoy. I mistrust all who are fond of “gestures”; it is usually a sign that skulduggery is afoot. This is a fellow who is openly and nakedly manoeuvring to take the office of metropolitan. Note well that the SIC report (which Mr Peterson penned) left him the only possible candidate for metropolitan.
St Nicholas Cathedral in New York City, we would do well to remember who founded this church and who endowed it. Tsar Martyr St Nicholas made this church possible, we should remember that. That gives us a hint as to what we should do! It’s time to go home!
The Stokoe website does not develop this situation to the fullest. Firstly, it is because Benjamin Peterson is congenial to their modernist aims, so, they are giving him a pass. Another is quite simple. This lot shall allow no questioning of Alexander Schmemann and his received Gospel. If it means, in essence, throwing out the Romanians and Canadians, so be it. The OCA shall become a rump organisation, but, it shall be “pure”. The spirit of Mansonville fills the air. When the Vitalyites left the Church, they broke into squabbling factions; the same is true of those who left the Church after the reconciliation of 17 May. The same dynamics would operate on the OCA, and it shall not explode with a bang, rather, it shall slowly expire, becoming, in the end, nothing more than another vagante Old Catholic sect.
Not very encouraging, is it? However, some people (amongst them priests) asked that I pen something on this situation. This is the best that can be done based on the current information available. Whether the OCA survives or not is an open question, although I think that the organisation is on life-support, and it is high time we pulled the plug.
It is time to go home. Holy Mother Church is waiting.
May God keep us all.
Albany NY USA