Voices from Russia

Friday, 22 July 2011

22 July 2011. Guess Who Came to Liturgy?

Firstly, here’s my proof for this (and the image above is proof positive, even for the doubters):

http://albionfourthrome.blogspot.com/2011/07/bishops-maxim-nikolai-concelebrate-in.html

http://www.serborth.org/07132011.html

A friend sent me the following:

Look at who came to the party… besides the bishops, a certain bishop wannabe for Alaska [Gerasim Eliel] also served…

Frankly speaking, one has to realise that Maksim Vasiljević is an SVS-style Renovationist fanatic. My Serb sources tell me that some of the loopy liturgical instructions that he issues are contentious and dubious, to say the very least. Vasiljević was in Paris for a year, and sources tell me that he sucked up to the Rue Daru crowd… he and John Breck are stuck together so tightly that it would require a major surgical operation to separate them. Maksim runs interference for the HOOMie fanatics in Platina; he protects them from criticism. This is more of the same… Eliel did stick by Gleb Podmoshensky (GP) after GP’s rightful defrocking for nasty doings, after all.

The only thing that it lacked was Izzy Brittain… but that would’ve gotten Maksim in trouble with the OCA Holy Synod… but as it stood, this “concelebration” wasn’t bright at all. It made it appear that the SPC defends Fathausen (for it’s well-known that Soraich is tight with BP and JP) and the konvertsy element in the OCA. Of course, this occurred because Metropolitan Christopher Kovacević has been dead and gone for almost a year… there’s a power vacuum in the SPC in the US. Don’t forget, recently, the succession of Patriarch Irinej Gavrilović showed the deep and rancorous divisions in the SPC (Irinej was very much a compromise candidate). There’s no doubt that Amfilohije Radović’s influence is growing, especially after Ratzinger made two major gaffes concerning Croatia and Stepinac. Obviously, this is an attempt on the part of the SPC Renovationists to strut their stuff (in order to convince the SPC Holy Synod to appoint a Renovationist to succeed Christopher)… it also means that the SPC Holy Synod is in deadlock at present about Christopher’s replacement. However, this gives the grounded people in the SPC (such as Amfilohije) ammunition to use against the Renovationist cabal. Maksim should’ve kept Nikolai and Gerasim in the background… he didn’t, and that’s news.

This DOES mean that much is going on behind the scenes. In Orthodoxy in the American diaspora, as in the old Soviet Union, censorship of “bad news” is pervasive, so, rumour flies without restraint. It’s best if we stick to substantiated history, actual images, and real events. As I say, it’s a FACT that JP lies about his sojourn in Russia in the ‘90s… it’s an attested FACT that he went there to further GP’s oddball project… it’s an attested FACT that Mark Stokoe’s a former Syosset apparatchik drone (who’s lusting to be one again, dontcha know). It’s an attested FACT that JP and BP served with Izzy Brittain. That’s what I cover… the real events of the Church. What I CAN say based on my knowledge and experience is that the present structure is tottering and it’s rotten from the foundation all the way through to the ceiling. I’ve no bloody idea on how the dénouement is going to work out… no one does, to be frank. However, I do know that the time for “painless” solutions is long past… there are now two mutually-exclusive groups in the OCA, and “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. The only question is “when”, not “if”…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

22 July 2011

Albany NY

Editor’s Update:

One of my indefatigable correspondents clued me in to important details on this. Hierodeacon Panteleimon Erickson was raised in HOOM. His father, Paul, is a deacon who came into the OCA in 1995 and is now serving in Juneau AK. The younger Erickson was also suspended by the OCA from running off to Australia with Soraich. I don’t remember seeing that his suspension was ever officially lifted. Shades of Brittain… Fr James Barfield is a HOOMie, as is Fr Hilarion Frakes. In short, they’re all squiffy cultists and not Real Orthodox at all. Things ARE getting curiouser and curiouser, Alice…

BMD

Friday, 28 March 2008

The Alaska Clergy HAVE Spoken

ilya-repin-the-arrest-of-christ-1886.jpg

The Arrest of Christ

Ilya Repin

1886

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Again, to set the stage, I give a quote from the press.

The Morning After

There was a significant earthquake in Cook Inlet yesterday, halfway between Anchorage and Kodiak. But, it was the entire OCA that shook as the Synod of Bishops reversed its earlier decision to place the controversial Bishop of Alaska on a mandatory “Leave of Absence” while an investigation is conducted. The Synod decided to re-instate Bishop Nikolai Soraich and allow the Bishop to remain in the Diocese while new “inquiries” are made. Therefore, Fr Alexander Garklavs, the Chancellor of the OCA, was removed as the Diocesan Administrator.

In explaining their decision, the Bishops stated they were “aware of the concerns of clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Alaska”, but recognised “the express desire of their diocesan hierarch to address these concerns and to take whatever action is necessary to restore peace”. Two members of the Synod, Archbishop Nathaniel Popp of the Romanian Archdiocese and Bishop Tikhon Mollard of Eastern Pennsylvania, will now “travel to Alaska, to inquire into these concerns” next Monday, and, then, report to the Synod at its next meeting in mid-May. No explanation was offered why the previously-stated need for an investigation into allegations of abuse is now only an ”inquiry into concerns”; nor why the previously-stated concerns of witness tampering and intimidation of witnesses by Bishop Nikolai are now somehow less valid.

Not Allowed to Report

Even more surprising though, was the Synod’s decision not to hear, or even receive the report from Fr Alexander Garklavs, OCA Chancellor, who had spent the last week in Alaska interviewing priests and lay people concerning the allegations against the Bishop. Rev Garklavs confirmed the Synod’s action, in an e-mail message to the priests of Alaska late yesterday. Rev Garklavs wrote the following words.

Dear Alaskan Brothers,

As I said when I was with you, so, I repeat it again, “I’m humbled and honoured to be in your presence”. We’ve not seen nor been told of the deliberations of the Holy Synod earlier today, but their decision is tragic. That I had neither the opportunity to present my report nor to speak to them is unexplainable. The day was a hectic one, and the afternoon was spent on travel to Pennsylvania for Fr Eugene Vansuch’s funeral; after the service, I came back home. So, tonight, I’m overwhelmed with monumental feelings of anger, loss, and betrayal. And if I were to give in to my baser instincts, I’d probably write and say things that I’d later regret. So, I’ll prepare to go to sleep with the thought that, if the sun rises tomorrow, we’ll have another day.

But I did want to say something to you. The events today, unfortunate as they are, are still far from ending the Alaskan situation. As you know, two hierarchs from the Holy Synod will be coming to Alaska next week. I understand that they’ll be doing the same things as I was, listening to you and the terms of the agreement that Bishop Nikolai has given them is that you’ll be able to say to them anything that you said to me. It makes everything so much harder, since we all went through this painful process just a few days ago, but, nevertheless, the bishops will be there to hear you out. In fact, they’ll be travelling to villages that I wasn’t able to visit. So, I encourage you, brothers (and your fathers, and mothers, and sisters, and brothers), to take the opportunities to meet with the hierarchs, when they are nearby, and share with them what you shared with me, with the same dignity, honestly, faith, and piety that you had when we met.

I’m no longer the “Administrator” of the Diocese, and the few, but significant, changes that we did put into place will probably not be acceptable to Bishop Nikolai. But I’ll not abandon your cause nor forget your noble courage. I assure you that almost all of your clergy brothers here in the “lower 48” stand behind you completely. And, if necessary, we’ll come to Alaska on our own resources to stand next to you during your times of trial.

Your brother in Christ,

Alexander Garklavs

Reactions

The Anchorage Daily News reported on its front page Bishop Nikolai’s reaction to the surprising turn of events:

Bishop Nikolai, who had refused to step down, issued a written statement praising the decision. “The action taken at the meeting reflects the desire of the Synod to approach problems in accordance with the established order of the Church”, the statement said. “(Rev Soraich) is confident that the process of reconciliation for all Orthodox faithful in Alaska will continue in the days and weeks ahead”. He also called on Orthodox people in Alaska to pray, “particularly those with whom they have disagreed over the past several weeks”.

(Read the full ADN story here)

The newspaper didn’t identify where or when the written statement was issued, and no statement has appeared on the Alaskan diocesan website, or the OCA website.

******

fr-thomas-andrew.jpg

Fr Thomas Andrew, a priest in Alaska

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(Bishop Nikolai’s) critics were stunned by the decision. One prominent Alaskan priest called the Synod’s decision, “devastating”. A prominent layman, who like the priest didn’t wish to be identified, was more graphic. He wrote, “The Holy Synod has given the Alaskan faithful the kiss of Judas”. As many Alaskan priests are subsistence gatherers and fishermen, they lack the financial resources to fly into Anchorage once a year, let alone twice in one month, the Synod agreed that the two inquiring bishops will fly to several outlying areas. However, it isn’t clear what these bishops will hear that Rev Garklavs didn’t. The priests are united in their continuing opposition to the Bishop and his alleged abusive behaviour. As one priest wrote to students at St Herman Seminary yesterday evening, “The clergy are going to write letters insisting that BN leave or they will leave the diocese or the priesthood entirely. That is where we stand”.

So What Happened?

Initial reports from the Synod meeting indicate that Bishop Nikolai made good on his public threats to challenge the “canonicity” of the process against him; as well as his intention to appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarchate should the Synod proceed in its efforts. In short, Nikolai gained on technical grounds, while the Metropolitan failed to keep a consensus for his previous strategy. Archbishops Nathaniel Popp and Dmitri Royster favoured Nikolai’s assertions that only “Bishops should investigate Bishops”, despite objections from Archbishop Job Osacky and Bishop Benjamin Peterson. In the absence of the facts from Rev Garklavs’ report (for unexplained reasons, the Metropolitan decided before the meeting not to allow the report to be presented) no one had the energy or vision to address the growing leadership vacuum. A compromise favouring Nikolai subsequently emerged. In the end, the decision resolved nothing besides guaranteeing the OCA yet another Pascha, the third in a row, in turmoil.

Meeting Cancelled

In related OCA news, the Special Investigative Committee’s (SIC) proposed interviews with Metropolitans Herman Swaiko and Feodosy Lazor, as well as Archimandrite Zacchaeus Wood in Moscow, previously scheduled for today and tomorrow, in Ellwood City PA have been postponed due to services for the late Fr Eugene Vansuch. The former Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards Director passed away unexpectedly earlier this week.

Mark Stokoe

Orthodox Christians for Accountability

28 March 2008

http://www.ocanews.org/news/TheMorningAfter3.28.08.html

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Why would two bishops travel to Alaska when a report has already been prepared by Rev Garklavs? The clergy in Alaska spoke openly and clearly to this cleric, and the situation has not changed one whit. The added expense alone for no added result is imprudent, at best, and, at worst, a shocking disregard for the scanty resources available to the OCA at present. “Only bishops can investigate bishops”. Well, let’s look for analogous recent cases. Ah, yes… the Sourozh imbroglio in England in 2006, which was successfully resolved by the MP. The investigative board consisted of four individuals, two bishops and two archpriests. Therefore, this assertion falls; it’s not backed by recent precedent. Note well that Nathaniel and Dmitri didn’t back up their claim with examples or canonical citations. The Alaska clergy are adamant. If Nikolai isn’t removed, and the elevation of Terenty Dushkin to minor orders is, indeed, against not only canonical legislation, but, also the ancient tradition and practise of our Church, they’ll “leave the diocese or the priesthood entirely”. I’d say the following to those who insist that the OCA is a viable body (a VERY open question at this juncture). If the Alaska priests threaten to leave the diocese if Nikolai isn’t removed, this means that they’ve already discussed and agreed upon a plan of action amongst themselves and the native elders. That’s the way of it in native Alaskan cultures. In other words, they know where they’ll go if they leave the OCA. If the Alaska clergy and parishes defect, it’s some 28 percent of the non-Romanian OCA.

You see, there are three separate bodies in the OCA. To make sense of what I’m about to say, we must look at what statistics are available. The Romanian diocese overlaps all other territorial dioceses in the OCA. It has some 72 parishes in the US (plus 28 in Canada), and Professor Krindatch estimated that this body has some 27,000 faithful in the US, which gives it parishes that are larger than the OCA average (375 faithful per parish, which is 243 percent of the “average” OCA parish in the “lower 48”). It’s estimated that there are 25,000 faithful and 93 parishes in the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska (268 faithful per parish, which is 174 percent of the OCA average). There are 408 parishes and some 63,000 faithful in the remainder of the OCA in the US (154 faithful per parish) (plus 85 parishes in Canada, 9 in Mexico, and 3 in Australia (!)). Note well that the non-Romanian/Alaskan OCA average is below the minimum required to support and compensate a priest properly.

I’m sorry to state that more complete figures aren’t available because the OCA has never issued accurate stats ever since its founding. Indeed, to inflate the number of parishes in its reports to the NCC, the OCA adds the foreign parishes to those in the US, when it should only be reporting the former. That’s to say, it reports 670 parishes when it should be reporting 573… something to think about. One can see from these figures that the defection of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska would doom the Syosset central administration. The diocese in Canada uses a legal loophole that ensures that funds collected in Canada stay in that country, so, Syosset cannot tap that source for funds. Therefore, the continual slaps at the Alaska native clergy are puzzling in the extreme. If this situation is mishandled, it dooms the body. Why is the OCA Holy Synod acting in such a dysfunctional manner, a manner that’ll destroy their organisation if they persist in it?

******

The Farewell to America of Patriarch St Tikhon

Filipp Moskvitin

2003

_______________________________

The people and clergy of Alaska have spoken… Syosset had best listen, or find itself with a VERY nasty surprise. To see the Lent profaned in such a manner… it makes me weep in sadness and frustration. Pray for the clergy, faithful, and elders of Alaska. They need that, at the least. Keep that as a Lenten discipline… these people are walking the Way of the Cross and need our support.

Vara Drezhlo

Friday 28 March 2008

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Nikolai Remains Defiant… He refuses to admit that his Ordination to the Clergy of a Known Convicted Sex Offender is Evident Grounds for Dismissal

Nikolai Soraich, suspended OCA bishop of the Diocese of Alaska, he ordained a sex offender knowingly to the minor clergy

_____________________________

Firstly, as per usual, let us set the stage by giving a quotation from the press.

Nikolai to Attend Synod

In a story published yesterday in the Kodiak Daily Mirror, Bishop Nikolai announced he would attend a special meeting of the Synod to be held next week.

Alaska Diocese Official Visits Kodiak as Worshippers Continue to Commemorate Bishop put on Leave

Orthodox Church in America officials confirmed Wednesday that Archpriest Alexander Garklavs is now in Alaska and one of his first stops was Kodiak. Church leader Metropolitan Herman appointed Rev Garklavs administrator of the Alaska diocese on 8 March, after Bishop Nikolai Soraich was put on mandatory leave for refusing to depart Alaska during an investigation into alleged charges of abuse. The bishop, who still refuses to leave, said on Wednesday that he would be happy to meet with Fr Garklavs, but hasn’t as of Wednesday. Rev Garklavs likely stopped in Kodiak first because the island is one of the few Orthodox parishes in Alaska that defied Metropolitan Herman’s order to stop commemorating Bishop Nikolai in services. In a recent letter addressed to his congregation, Rev Innocent Dresdow said he’d continue to commemorate Bishop Nikolai because he’s been offered no canonical reason or official notification to do otherwise. “Although it’s true that various communiqués have been posted on various websites, including the OCA website, I’ve received no official instructions from The Holy Synod”, Innocent wrote in the letter. “All of the official directives of the OCA, as it impacts this parish, have come to me in the mail and in hard copy. Therefore, I assume that something so significant as ceasing to commemorate a bishop would be afforded at least the same level of orderliness and decorum”. Fr Innocent said he’d defend his stance even at the cost of his priesthood. “I’ve been willing and am willing to suffer slander, insinuation, false accusation and potentially the loss of my priesthood in order to defend the integrity of the church”, he wrote. “What’s at stake here isn’t a war between personalities or bishops. What’s at stake here is whether or not the church will function as it has functioned for 2,000 years or whether it’ll decline into the ordinary and ungodly”. It’s unknown if Rev Garklavs delivered written orders to Fr Innocent. Fr Innocent didn’t return phone calls and Rev Garklavs couldn’t be reached Wednesday.

In other developments, the Holy Synod of Bishops will hold a special session on 27 March in New York (sic) to address the situation in Alaska. Bishop Nikolai, who feels angry and betrayed by the actions of his fellow bishops, said he welcomes the meeting and confirmed he’ll attend. “I sent a letter asking for the bishops’ help (regarding the situation in Alaska) and their response was to tell me to get out of town”, the bishop said. “I think (the meeting is) important and things need to be discussed in my presence to talk about all of these things”. Bishop Nikolai reiterated that he has no plans to step down and that the church has no grounds to remove him. “You have to follow the rules with how they’re written”, Bishop Nikolai said. “If I was to comply with something that wasn’t right, then I’m accepting the fact that we’re breaking the rules and that every other rule can be broken, too”. He said there is a process and he’s happy to follow the process “in every detail”.

20 March 2008

Ralph Gibbs

Kodiak Daily Mirror

As cited in Orthodox Christians for Accountability

http://www.ocanews.org/news/KodiakMirrorNikolaiStays3.21.08.html

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There one has it, emphatically and without ambiguity! Nikolai believes that everyone has to applaud his ordination to the clergy of a known, convicted, and registered sexual offender. There aren’t only canons, but also well-known traditions, customs, and established practises of the Church that forbid such an action clearly, without a doubt, and with categorical precision. For Nikolai to feign ignorance of such is truly breathtaking and beyond the pale! Nikolai is counter-attacking vigorously, and he has a veritable consilium of spin doctors pleading his cause. This case is virtually a repeat of the sordid situation in Yekaterinburg in 1999. Nikon Mironov spread abroad his individual notions on theology and church life, as has Nikolai. There were protests of high-handedness and corruption on the part of Nikon, as there are of Nikolai. There were reports of homosexuality in high church places in the case of Nikon, and the same is true in the case of Nikolai. Courageous clergy put their careers, reputation, and priesthood on the line to oppose an evil bishop in the Diocese of Yekaterinburg, and gutsy clergy are doing likewise in the Diocese of Alaska. There’s a VERY good thing that comes out of such troubles. The sheep are separated from the goats; with no doubt of who’s of what sort. Let’s remember the Church definition of the word “confessor”. A confessor is one is who stands for the Faith in times of difficulty and confusion, and who isn’t afraid to pay the cost, if necessary.

Recall Athanasius contra mundum (Athanasius against the world)… look at the price that St Maximos the Confessor paid… see the resolution of St Mark of Ephesus. Bring to mind the firmness of the opposition of Bishop Pyotr Mogyla to the Jesuit-imposed Unia… Don’t forget the penalty that the late Fr Dmitri Dudko suffered for his allegiance to Christ and his Church… the priests in Alaska are cut from the same cloth. They deserve our prayers and support. They are CONFESSORS. Their voice not only deserves to be heard, it has the full force of the tradition, history, and convention of the Church behind it. As an old friend of mine is fond of saying, “No matter if you slice it thick or thin, baloney is still baloney”. Indeed! Nikolai ordained a known sex offender to the clergy. This alone is grounds sufficient for his dismissal in ignominy. The Holy Synod of the OCA has a definite choice to make in this matter. It must either remove Nikolai immediately from his position as ordinary of the Diocese of Alaska or stand exposed as a group of weaklings unable and unwilling to apply the standards of the Church. If Nikolai isn’t removed, it may be the beginning of the final act for this sickly organisation. Why must we live in “interesting times?” May God have mercy on us all.

Vara Drezhlo

Saturday 22 March 2008

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Nikolai Orders Clergy to Disobey Metropolitan

In an “Open Letter to the Clergy and Faithful of the God-Protected Diocese of Alaska”, Bishop Nikolai ordered his clergy to disobey the Metropolitan’s directive of 8 March, posted on the internet on 10 March, to cease commemorating Nikolai as the Bishop of Alaska. He wrote the following:

Let me be clear, all clergy of the Diocese should continue the current practice, maintain the commemoration of their Diocesan Bishop in the celebration of the Divine Services of our Church, and not accept as canonical or biblical recent innovations announced by Metropolitan Herman.

In the two page letter, the Bishop tells his clergy:

If you comply with the innovations presented to you by Metropolitan Herman, you will severely wound the very Church which you so highly prize.

The bishop, who on 5 March was placed on mandatory leave and ordered to physically quit the diocese while an investigation into his actions in Alaska is conducted, continues to resist.

Have no illusions about this … (it) is an ecclesiastical punishment without trial and that is nothing less than the rejection of Church discipline for some cause other than the integrity of our Lord’s Church. I have not vacated my office, and I will, by our Lord’s grace, continue to persevere.

(Read the full text of Nikolai’s letter here.)

No Links

Interestingly, the OCA website has dropped its links to the website of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska, and while Nikolai is still listed as its bishop, the words, “On Leave of Absence”, are conspicuous next to his photo. As per the Metropolitan’s directive, Rev Garklavs is now listed as the “Diocesan Administrator” on the OCA information page regarding the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska.

Council Resignations Explained

Other changes to that page are in the offing. As reported by OCANews.org on 22 February, both Alaskan representatives to the Metropolitan Council have resigned. In a recent posting on the diocesan website under “Ask Vladyka”, Bishop Nikolai offered an explanation. He wrote:

A number of people have asked why my two Metropolitan Council Representatives resigned. Some conjecture if I told them to; or compelled them to do so in one way or another, when, in reality, I even tried to talk them both out of it.

Both Fr Isidore and Mina Jacobs sent me letters in late January asking to resign and both of them had very different reasons for doing so. Fr Isidore expressed a general dissatisfaction with the tone of the Metropolitan Council and questioned its right to exist canonically. He was also disgusted in the vindictive approach some members of the Metropolitan Council have taken with regard to Fr Robert Kondratick in internal Metropolitan Council correspondence. Mina Jacobs cited a need to devote her valuable time to something more positive and conducive to building up the Body of Christ, the Church. Both Fr Isidore and Mina Jacobs clearly indicated that their time was better spent in Alaska. Given that the Metropolitan Council has led the way in reforming the financial practices, ethical guidelines, and charitable distribution of the OCA in the past two years after a decade of corruption, one would love to be able to ask Ms Jacobs how she envisions spending her time more “positively”. Moreover, one has to wonder if the “vindictive approach” of which Fr Isidore complains might include no longer referring to Robert Kondratick by the title of Protopresbyter, since he was deposed from all priestly ranks eight months ago. This fact seems to have escaped the bishop as well….

Another Perspective

The bishop’s attempt to reduce the issues in Alaska to procedural issues is gaining little traction. It is, however, producing some interesting writing among those most affected. In a recent e-mail to fellow priests, Fr Michael Oleksa mused:

I’ve been reflecting on what we are learning in a positive way about the very nature of the Church as we struggle to resolve the issues in Alaska. We are re-affirming the conciliar nature of the Church. No one alone can deal with or even raise the issues, but together, at first a few and then the majority of clergy and then hundreds of laity have begun speaking ‘with one mouth and one heart.’ This was not a plot, organised or devised by some secret revolutionary cell. It was unified and determined without being self-serving or angry. The Church spoke to its leadership.

And those leaders responded, taking action in order to strengthen and heal. Presupposed in the intervention of the Holy Synod was a principle perhaps never explicitly articulated at any earlier time. Canons are precisely the expression of what is normal, expected, taken for granted, until the obvious is challenged. Then the Church finds it necessary to clarify Herself. In this sense, canons are not new, nor are they invented, nor do they develop as secular legal precedents do. The canon, so to speak, was always there, as the norm, the way the Church IS, but until a certain conflict or dispute arose, it did not require an explicit formulation. And what is the “canon” that we have discovered, a principle that was always there, but for which the Church had no previous need to state emphatically, publicly, clearly? What is the First Alaskan Canon? It seems we have already discovered it:

“A bishop shall love his diocese as a husband is admonished to love his wife, to offer himself, to suffer and to die for her if necessary. The people of each diocese shall respond in love and respect for their bishop. If the bishop abuses, wounds, harms or scatters the flock entrusted to him, let him be removed from his seat of authority and let the Holy Synod investigate the situation. If he persists in his abuse, let him be suspended. If he defies the authority of his Synod, let him be deposed”.

Perhaps, this sort of procedure was assumed, taken for granted in times past. Perhaps, it was never necessary for the Church to affirm such an obvious principle. But, today, in Alaska, this is the norm, the canon, whether it was ever explicitly formulated before, that has arisen, has appeared as obvious from within our situation. We have learned something new, that was always there, about the Church, and about ourselves.

Clearly, the lessons will continue.

11 March 2008

Mark Stokoe

Orthodox Christians for Accountability

http://www.ocanews.org/news/NikolaiOdersClergytoDisobey31108.html

Editor’s note:

It is interesting to note the dissimilarity between this case and the two other known cases of episcopal discipline in the last 10 years, that’s to say, the situations in Yekaterinburg in 1999 and England in 2006. In the first case, Bishop Nikon Mironov submitted to authority, and no incitements to disobedience were issued by him. In the second, Basil Osborne issued calls to disobey the MP Holy Synod, but he didn’t do so whilst still in “authority” at Ennismore Gardens. In this case, Nikolai has taken the gauge of the OCA Holy Synod, and he decided that there’s going to be no effort on their part to remove him forcibly, so, he’s going to stay put. Stokoe’s faith in the so-called Metropolitan Council is touching, naïve, and highly illuminating. This body isn’t canonical; it’s a Protestant innovation. None of what has happened in the past year has occurred because of that body’s actions, they’ve occurred because Herman Swaiko fears that Moscow is going to pull his autocephaly. This is illuminating because it shows that many American Orthodox don’t believe in Orthodoxy, they believe in post-modern Positivism, instead. Yes, we should avoid the Scylla of corruption and Roman centralism taught by Herman. At the same time, we should avoid the Charybdis of Protestant “democracy” advocated by Stokoe and others.

We should follow the path that Moscow used to resolve the two other cases mentioned. There should be open meetings, preceded by vigorous publicity, to get to the root of the problem. It worked in England; it’ll work here, as well. The corrupt bishop should be removed and replaced by a competent and saintly hierarch, as was the case in Yekaterinburg. There’s no need to involve a semi-Protestant “Metropolitan Council” (indeed, the sooner such an innovation is dispensed with, the better). There’s no need to consider a married episcopate, which is rank heresy (Stokoe, on his website, hasn’t admonished those calling for such, which leads one to wonder whether he agrees with such distortion (to use the kindest word) of Church teaching). Above all, Garklavs can’t be both Chancellor of the OCA and Administrator of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska. It’s impossible to do both at once. It looks as though the native faithful and clergy are being spat upon, yet again. Syosset should attend to the fact that native peoples keep their options open… don’t be fooled by their silence.

BMD

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