Bullying is never right… especially when a priest does it…
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that isn’t what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it’s about. It’s conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the masses.
Major General Smedley Butler, USMC
The first person says, “You do not agree with me. That means you are not with me. That means you don’t like me. That means you are against me. That means you’re out to get me. That means you are attacking me. That means I have to destroy you”.
The second person should reply, “No, it means I don’t agree with you. That’s all. Let’s have a cup of coffee and discuss it, and maybe you’ll convince me, or, at least, we might be able to reach some compromise”.
But, my friends, our reality has shown that the exchange would not take place. The second person would never have been given the opportunity to respond, and the attack by the first person, with the motive of character assassination would begin. And, my sisters and brothers, there would be no opportunity for discussion, for dialogue, or for compromise. This scenario was repeated again and again, and continues today, and has become the basis for promoting personal agendas and lusting after power and authority. Is this noble; is it righteous; is it Christian? Can it ever be justifiable as being “for the good of the Church?” God forbid! And may He help us all, because this is how we’ve been operating in the Holy Synod and Central Church Administration for years, and we are slow to adopt an alternative.
Archbishop Job Osacky of Chicago and the Midwest (OCA)
The priests are having a fight, and the people suffer.
An old Russian-American baba in the ‘80s
Someone told me that I was “radical”… indeed, I am! However, I don’t think that the word “radical” is bad at all… it means to “go to the root of the matter”. If there’s a sickness, we must describe the symptoms accurately and without diminution… otherwise, it leads to a crank diagnosis, and that leads to skewed treatment. That not only can deepen the crisis, it can be fatal.
For the last forty-odd years, our Russian Orthodox Church in the USA (which is broken into three bodies, the OCA, the ROCOR, and the MP/USA) has been the plaything of small clerical coteries. Two powerful hierarchs, Anatassy Gribanovsky and Leonty Turkevich, ruled the ROCOR and the Metropolia (later, the OCA) until 1965. With their passing, the new First Hierarchs didn’t have as “powerful” and “forceful” personalities as the late bishops had. This facilitated the rise of two ambitious and ruthless archpriests, George Grabbe and Aleksandr Schmemann. The origin of their feud is lost in the mists of history (probably, it was a trivial argument in a smoky Parisian café in the late ‘40s or early ‘50s), these two men not only disliked one another, they hated each other’s theological positions. Trust me, there were no holds barred… nothing was held back. When the OCA supposedly gained “autocephaly” in 1970, it only deepened the rift. “Interesting” characters came to the fore in both camps… there was Iggy Burdikoff (he was a former MP cleric sent into the OCA in ’78) and Pierre l’Huillier (another former MP cleric… ask the people in Paris about him and his “tastes”) in the OCA… Victor Potapov (a VOA bureaucrat and holder of a “red” US passport) and Vitaly Ustinov (the instigator of ROCOR parishes inside Russia in the ‘90s) in the ROCOR. If anyone raised any sort of question… they “disappeared”. No… no one was hurt physically. The usual MO was to make things so unpleasant that people would leave of their own accord, which would lead to sorts like Iggy hypocritically saying, “I’m sorry that they left. They just weren’t patient enough” (said in the most unctuous disingenuous ”sincere” voice). To speak plainly, the above quote from Vladyki Job corroborates what I just wrote. This was “business as usual”, not just in the OCA, but in the ROCOR, as well. Everyone knows of the Forty First Families who hold the Russian Orthodox Church in the USA in their grasp… if you dare to speak of it, you “suffer” for doing so.
If you wish a concrete illustration of what happens… look at Long Island… Lyonyo Kishkovsky (OCA) and Seraphim Gan (ROCOR) head equally miniscule parishes (one is just across the town from the other one)… and both men have equally grandiose views of themselves (as for me, I’m only a simple internet journalist… believe what you will of what I write). As a friend of mine put it:
Outside of the Church, in the secular realm, I’ve never met people like these. Have you? I don’t know where these brutes come from who attach themselves to the Russian Church. My Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Catholic, and non-believing friends and acquaintances DON’T act this way.
We’re INSIGNIFICANT… there are, perhaps, one million Eastern Orthodox of all “flavours” in the USA (not counting vagantes and Oriental Orthodox) out of a total US population of 310 million. That’s less than 0.3 percent, and that’s all groups combined… Greeks, Russians, Serbs, Romanians, et al. Yet, the nastiness employed by some of the clerical leading lights such as Bobby K is just unbelievable. If a Catholic priest were to do what many Orthodox priests do (use the Mysteries as a weapon), it would be known in a flash… Catholics are 25 percent of Americans… therefore, journalists know that they’d have an audience, so, the story would hit page one. For us, we’re not big enough to matter for the press and politicians. People like Bobby K, Iggy Burdikoff, Alexander Lebedeff, and Roman Krassovsky know that they can act with impunity… and they do. Bobby and Iggy brazenly “lost” four years of diocesan financial records… Eric Tosi bleated, “The records simply don’t exist”, and the OCA Metropolitan Council did… NOTHING. Alexander Lebedeff castigated Kristi Koumentakos for suing the Church… yet, he was silent when Bobby K extorted 250 Gs from the OCA Metropolitan Council… Lebedeff said… NOTHING. Roman Krassovsky threatened a layperson, “If you try to do anything about this, I’ll see to it that you’ll be persona non grata at the monastery” (he’s not the abbot, nor is he delegated to speak for the abbot)… he acted on a second-person report… he didn’t allow the layperson involved to speak, to give their side of it all… Krassovsky allowed his victim to say… NOTHING.
THAT’S why I’m “Radical”… this isn’t what Christ’s Church is all about. I shall NOT be silent… I shall NOT be “nice”… I shall NOT be “respectful”. That’s why our Church has suffered such losses over the years… it’s time to stand and say, “No more… you won’t hurt anyone else”. Otherwise, we’ll not have a Church in future, and we’ll have no one but ourselves to blame.
If we want a Church… we’ll have to fight for it. The question is… do we care enough to do so?
Sunday 3 April 2011
My thanks to “P”… you got my brain in gear… yes… radical solutions ARE called for, at times. If you’re “nice” and “polite”, well… you’ll get nowhere, and the same ol’ cast of characters will be up to the same ol’ hijincks (with the same ol’ disregard for how many people they hurt in the process)…