Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of VIenna and Austria (1966- ), the Representative of the MP to the European International Institutions
Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna and Austria, the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate to the European International Institutions, addressed the All-American Council (sic) of the OCA, asking not to be nominated as a candidate for the First hierarch of the OCA. “I must clearly state that I will not allow my name to be advanced as a candidate for this position”, Vladyki Hilarion stated in an open letter published by the OCA official website.
In recent weeks, several OCA priests conducted an open campaign for the election of Bishop Hilarion as the First Hierarch of the OCA. Vladyki Hilarion said that he received letters and phone calls asking him personally for his permission to allow them to advance his name for the nomination for this position, and he felt grateful “for this unexpected outpouring of love and appreciation” and trust from so many Orthodox Christians in America.
At the same time, Vladyki Hilarion indicated several of the reasons why his election would be impossible. First of all, in his view, “First of all, the OCA must be headed by an American. If a Russian bishop was elected its First Hierarch, this can be interpreted as an implicit denial of its autocephalous status”, Bishop Hilarion said. Furthermore, in Bishop Hilarion’s opinion, a Russian bishop “would find it extremely difficult for to act freely” in this position, since, even before he arrives, opposition to him will form, “simply on the basis of his being Russian and not American. They will regard him as the ‘hand of Moscow’ and his actions will be constantly and deliberately misinterpreted”, Vladyki Hilarion wrote. Finally, he noted that His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei II of Moscow and all Russia expressly asked him to continue his service as a bishop in the MP.
Vladyki Hilarion stated, “I received the Orthodox faith through the Russian Orthodox Church. She is my spiritual mother, whom I love deeply and wholeheartedly. At the age of twenty, I received monastic tonsure, and, since then, I have been fully obedient to my Church, to its Patriarch, and the Holy Synod. My life is in the hands of His Holiness and I will never accept any proposal concerning my service without his prior consent”. He emphasised that he believed that the discussion around his name would die down naturally, however, it had intensified as the All-American Council (sic) approached, and he felt compelled to make this statement “so that its participants should not waste their precious time” considering his candidacy. The All-American Council (sic), which will elect a new First Hierarch of the OCA to succeed the retired Metropolitan Herman Swaiko, will open on Monday in Pittsburgh PA.
7 November 2008
Firstly, let me give a note on terminology. The triennial convention of the OCA is not a council in even the most charitable sense (it is why I put “sic” after each statement of “Council”). A council is composed of bishops, who meet whenever necessary to consult on problems in church life. It is not a ginned-up imitation of “American democracy” as are the OCA (and AOCANA) conventions. At the least, the AOCANA is more honest, as it calls its conventions “conventions”, not “councils”. If we remember that so-called “American democracy” is the political embodiment of Radical Protestantism, one can understand the reason for my caveat.
As for the Pittsburgh convention itself, it bids fair to be “interesting”. There are things other than a vacant Metropolitanate to consider. All the skeletons are going to come out of the closet, or, there is going to be an open effort to quash same, or, what is most likely, a combination of the two that shall leave no party to the affair satisfied.
Shall Raymond Velencia (he is named, because his crime was especially heinous) be seated as a delegate, despite having a lawsuit pending against him? After all, he shared pastoral confidences with the entire world, a noisome and vile act if there ever was one. If the OCA wishes to show its remorse and to begin to give recompense to the Koumentakos family, it would not allow this moral monster to sit as a delegate; it would strip him of his priesthood, and stand aside from the rightful civil suit against him. Otherwise, the corporate body may find itself liable for this individual’s actions.
There are many others… Shall a certain priest of the Diocese of the South be seated as a delegate after shielding Robert Kondratick and allowing him to remain an official representative of a parish of his diocese after RSK was rightfully defrocked for corruption and destruction of records? If he did it once…
What about the former treasurer of the Diocese of New York and Washington who was forced to resign and the books were found in an absolute mess afterwards? At best, that is incompetence and/or negligence. At worst, it is corruption. When the Episcopalians caught their treasurer in similar shenanigans, she ended up wearing prison-orange and doing state time here in New York.
What about the priest who was allowed to raise an objection to a motion at the last convention, even though that motion had majority support, even though the priest involved had a pecuniary interest? I would say that the priest involved loves Mammon and filthy lucre more than God.
What about the well-connected priest in the central administration who fled to Arizona when all of this blew up in 2005? I make the observation that the only reason apparatchiki flee Dodge is to avoid trouble when the still blows up.
Do the delegates know the above? Yes, they do, and more besides. You shall note that most of the miscreants go unnamed. I wished to illustrate sorry trends, not run a personal vendetta. In the case of Mr Velencia, it is so open and scandalous that a name was necessary. If the OCA continues to receive him as “a goals-oriented priest”, it deserves the worst that can happen to it. The poor Koumentakos family… spare a prayer for them.
May God have mercy on the poor people of the OCA… they deserve better.