Voices from Russia

Friday, 27 April 2012

27 April 2012. Rumblings From the OCA Diocese of the South… Trouble in Paradise… Are the Natives Rejecting Maymon?

00 Ilya Glazunov. The Return of the Prodigal Son. 1977

The Return of the Prodigal Son

Ilya Glazunov

1977

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It’s time for the spurious “autocephaly” of the OCA to end, and for the notional “autonomy” of the ROCOR to go the way of all flesh, too… “there’s no place like home”. Our place is set and the family waits… why, oh, why are we still clinging to the filthy rags of a dead and putrid ideology? Must we drain the cup to the dregs?

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A friend sent me this, it truly needs little, if any, commentary from me (or from any one else):

My Dear Brethren of the Diocesan Council,

As the end of Lent draws near, I request your indulgence to hear me on a matter of great importance to the future well-being of our diocese. Believe me, I’d rather be silent and let this pass by; I’d rather not risk trying your patience and losing your goodwill. But because of the trust the people of my deanery repose in me, and the duty I bear before God to work for the good of Christ’s Church in the Diocese of the South, I find I can’t be silent. Persuaded that we all desire a good, pious, capable successor to Archbishop Dmitri who’ll be able to unite and effectively shepherd our diocese, I proceed as my conscience demands in the hope that you’ll understand my deep concerns, which, I assure you, aren’t mine alone.

A year ago, as the newly-appointed dean of the Dallas Deanery, I was subjected to an intensely disturbing explosion at St Seraphim Cathedral during that most somber and poignant week of the Church year… Great and Holy Week. I can’t forget that week and the pall it cast over Pascha. I can’t forget the tears of the faithful who came to me in distress over what was happening to their cathedral. I can’t forget the weeks that followed as I labored with others to pick up the pieces and put them together again.

This body at our February meeting in Charleston voted to put on the ballot the man who was at the heart of that explosion last Holy Week in Dallas. To you who did not live through and know little or nothing about it, the decision to include him on the ballot was easily made. For us who did live through it, that decision strikes us like a slap in the face. We’re dismayed that he’s been put on the official ballot, from which he may either be elected by a majority of delegates in our diocese, who are ignorant of the facts of last Lent, or from which he may be simply chosen by the Holy Synod of Bishops, regardless of how we may vote.

The reasons urging us, the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the South to this decision of including this man on the ballot were not the particular qualifications of the candidate, not his compatibility for our diocese, not his ability to unite and lead us, and not even his suitability to be a ruling bishop again after leaving his previous flock for reasons that aren’t fully clear. Rather, his inclusion on the ballot was urged as the logical consequent of fairness, forgiveness, and charity.

How does fairness require us to include this man on the ballot? If we’re to cite fairness, where’s the fairness to the faithful of the cathedral, who had their Lent and Holy Week disrupted by this man’s mistakes, whose paschal joy was dimmed, and whose deep wounds are only now healing? Where’s the fairness to the cathedral priest who was brutally treated by this man for four months, who in his actions went well beyond the authority delegated to him, and made pastoral decisions in sensitive matters that were characterised several times by our Locum Tenens before the deans as “stupid?” Where’s the fairness to the diocese in rewarding this man with a most unusual “guest” status compensated by a comfortable salary and freedom to travel about the diocese despite his “stupid” mistakes, mistakes one might expect of a newly-ordained priest fresh out of seminary, and not a seasoned clergyman? Where’s the fairness in allowing one candidate to live in the diocese, travelling and campaigning at diocesan expense, soliciting invitations to parishes, while the other candidates remain outside? Where’s the fairness in not having this candidate undergo the same psychological testing and vetting the other episcopal candidates must undergo? (We ask more of the divorced seeking a second marriage than we’ve asked of a bishop seeking a second diocese!) Where’s the fairness in not closely examining his track record in his former jurisdiction and the reasons leading to his divorce therefrom? And where’s the fairness to the priest, our former chancellor, whose private e-mails were dishonorably accessed and published without authorisation to the priest’s hurt and the scandal of many? Fairness would appear to offer no strong support to this man’s candidacy.

How does forgiveness compel us to make this man an official candidate? By all means, we urge the battered wife to forgive her battering husband, but does that forgiveness require her to move in again with him before she has seen clear evidence of his repentance? Yet, this is precisely what’s being asked of us in the Dallas Deanery… we’re to forgive and accept a man who for ten months offered no apology to the priest in Dallas nor to the faithful of the cathedral for the scandal he caused; we’re to forgive and accept a man whom you all heard say recently in Charleston that he found it difficult to ask forgiveness because he sees himself as the victim, not as one who has offended. Before you rush to believe his account of being set up and victimised, please do due diligence and speak with those who suffered because of his actions. It isn’t enough to tell the people in Dallas just to “get over it” when you don’t really know what this “it” is. How is the apology this man wrote to the cathedral (after being prompted) at the start of the Great Fast, which didn’t apologise for any specific sins or errors, constitute an apology, repentance, or the basis for forgiveness? Such an apology that apologises for nothing specific is worse than no apology… and it went over in Dallas, I can tell you, like another slap in the face. Yes, we must and do offer forgiveness to this man and pray for him, whether he’s able to name his sins and ask forgiveness or not, but that doesn’t require us to put him on our ballot. Indeed, his refusal or inability to admit to any specific mistakes provides a strong reason for excluding him from it.

How does Christian charity demand that we make this man an official candidate for the episcopacy of our diocese? Our OCA received this man as a refugee from his former jurisdiction. Because of the traumatic nature of his departure from it, he was urged to rest and recuperate at a monastery and there learn our ways. He insisted he was ready to work at once. He was immediately handed the DOS on a silver platter, introduced to us by our Metropolitan as a most likely candidate to succeed Archbishop Dmitri. Upon this recommendation, we and the cathedral welcomed him gladly, expecting only the best. Yet, within four months, the promising relationship was in utter shambles, irretrievably broken primarily due to his poor pastoral decisions and poor presentation of himself to the faithful. Despite the explosion he ignited, instead of being asked to leave to diocese and go to his proper see of Baltimore, he was allowed to retreat to Miami as a salaried guest of the diocese and to continue serving in some undefined, untitled capacity, despite repeated objections to this strange arrangement. In all this, he’s been shown an abundance of charity far beyond the Gospel requirement to turn the other cheek or to go the second mile.

Yet, if we’ll speak of charity, how do we show charity to our traumatised brethren in Dallas? What does charity towards our brother, the brutalised priest of the cathedral, ask of us? Doesn’t charity, at least, require us to hear what they have to say? And doesn’t charity also call us to speak the truth in love to our uninvited guest that he may honorably take responsibility for his actions and not continue portraying himself as the innocent victim and blaming others for his own mistakes?

Members of the Diocesan Council, I urge you to reconsider the decision we made in Charleston on the shaky basis of fairness, forgiveness, and charity. That foundation doesn’t support the candidacy of this man.

I know that some of you see this man as a victim, “set-up” and schemed against by our former chancellor, innocently caught up in the currents of Church politics, ambushed by rebellious and contentious people in Dallas who couldn’t accept someone who did not meet the impossible standard set by Archbishop Dmitri. Perhaps, he’s portrayed himself to you in this light as he has travelled about our diocese. I tell you, there’s another side to the story, and that whatever the currents of Church politics, whatever the alleged machinations of the former chancellor, whatever the sins and shortcomings of the faithful of the cathedral… there were many actions that this man carried out which were fully in his power and by his choice and judgement, that, were they accurately known and considered, would cause anyone concerned for the future of our diocese to oppose his candidacy. Will you not consider the witness of your own brethren of our diocese, with whom you have long lived and served? Will you not do due diligence in investigating their first-hand experience with him? Or, will you reject their testimony, preferring to credit the word of a newcomer in our midst who has a personal stake in the matter? Fairness, forgiveness, and charity all require you to hear out your brethren, which to my knowledge, few if any of you have done.

The fact is that inclusion of this man on the ballot puts those who experienced Great Lent (during which the problems were already building) Holy Week and Pascha in Dallas last year in a most uncomfortable position. Love covers a multitude of sins, and this we have endeavored to do… to cover this man’s sin, so long as he was removed from us so he could hurt us no more. But with this man on the ballot as an official candidate for the office of bishop of our diocese, we’ll find ourselves morally bound to speak up publicly, loath though we be to do it, about the facts of what happened last year, facts which, becoming public, will do no one any good… not the OCA, not the Holy Synod, not our diocese, not the Diocesan Council, not the ones who must speak up, and especially not the man himself. But the facts of our experience are fully relevant if the delegates of the parishes of our diocese are to make a fully informed decision at the special assembly this July in Miami to elect a bishop, and so we’ll be compelled to submit them.

Rather than supporting this man’s candidacy, the facts of the matter would lead us to remove him from the ballot if we care about true fairness, forgiveness, and charity, if we desire the peace, well-being, and unity of our diocese, and hope to present our delegates with viable candidates whom we all have reasonable confidence will be able to unite and effectively shepherd and develop our diocese. What is more, if we don’t remove him from the ballot, even if his chance of direct election is slim, we invite the Holy Synod to make the decision for us and install him despite our wishes. Remember Archbishop Dmitri and Metropolitan Theodosius!

Redress of the issue lies in our hands. We may summon our courage and decide that, just as we voted him onto the ballot, we may, upon further consideration of the facts, remove him from the ballot and from further consideration for the position of ruling bishop of our diocese. Failing this remedy, we invite contention and division to our diocese that will not aid us in building up the Church here in the South and throughout North America, and the ballot we offer to our delegates will not serve fairness, forgiveness, or charity for anyone.

In Christ,

Priest Justin Frederick

Dean, South Central (Dallas) Deanery

OCA Diocese of the South

no URL available… sent to me as an e-mail attachment

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The plot thickens, doesn’t it? We have a closed kangaroo court in Syosset with no published result… we have Victor Potapov issuing a vituperative personal attack on a layman outside of his parish (no matter what he’s done)… now, we have a revolt brewing in the OCA Diocese of the South over the dubious jurisdiction-jumper Mark Maymon. Mr Maymon refused to be obedient in the AOCANA… what makes one think that’ll change in the OCA? The First Family apparats in both the OCA and the ROCOR are rotten to the core… and in sore need of replacement. The Mother Church ain’t perfect… it has theives… it has poseurs… it has faygelers… it has schismatics… yep, they sure do pop up from time to time. The difference is that the Mother Church does something about it with due speed, and when it acts, it does so in PUBLIC. If a decision’s taken, it’s publicised that very day. Mark Maymon could be called a Nikon Mironov, but since Mr Maymon’s not half as qualified as Vladyki Nikon was, it only makes it worse, I fear… ’nuff said…

If this isn’t proof that we need to “go home”, nothing is…

One last thing… both the OCA and the ROCOR official websites still refuse to acknowledge last Sunday’s molieben in Moscow (or to show our support for the Mother Church), and both official websites still refuse to support His Holiness personally in the face of attacks orchestrated by Western media outlets and the Western special services. I thought that you’d like to know that…

BMD

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