It is increasingly clear that the forced resignation of His Beatitude was botched from the beginning. His detractors did not expect the furious blowback they received from within the OCA and other jurisdictions. Unable to put out the fire, they foolishly threw more gasoline on it with an unsigned letter released earlier this week.
I was able to deconstruct the Synod’s letter fairly easily. Since then more commentators have pointed out other inconsistencies. Two points have risen to the surface.
The first deals with a priest named Fr. Symeon. We are told not once, but three different times that Jonah “unilaterally” received this man into the OCA. The second involves the date in which His Beatitude was supposedly told about a rape that Fr. Symeon allegedly committed. The conclusion was that His Beatitude did not act with alacrity, did not inform the Synod of the priest’s malfeasance, and allowed this priest to remain unpunished. These reasons became the justification for his removal.
The first is easy to deal with: Fr. Symeon was never in the OCA. As to why the Synod (if it was indeed the entire Synod which wrote this inflammatory letter) did know that Fr. Symeon was not a member of the OCA is still an unanswered question. His membership could have been verified easy enough by checking the records in Syosset.
The second involves the date in which the victim informed the Metropolitan that she was allegedly raped by Fr. Symeon. The Synod’s letter states that it was in February of 2012. This is incorrect. +Jonah did not know about it until mid-May 2012.
I will allow the Godmother of the woman who reported the rape to Met. Jonah to comment directly.
Letter from the Godmother
On behalf of many parishioners both at St. Nicholas Cathedral and elsewhere in the OCA, who have contacted me, we would like to express our shock and concern about the letter of the Synod of Bishops regarding the resignation of Metropolitan Jonah. We know him and seriously question the contents of this letter. It seems to be a deliberate attempt to destroy a hierarch by creating a public scandal on the basis of procedural issues related to many untruths which cry out to be countered with the truth. We would like to set the record straight.
The case of the hieromonk whose crime the Metropolitan is accused of covering up, is well known to me.
1. Metropolitan Jonah did not know about this crime until mid-May 2012.
The victim of the crime is a God-daughter of mine who lives in another part of the country. No one here knew what had happened to her in 2010 until she contacted me in mid-May of 2012. At that time she and her husband had contacted the police who said that nothing could be done without more evidence. They then decided to turn to the church in order to initiate an ecclesiastical court to defrock him. She wrote a testimony of her story later in May and sent it to a ROCOR priest and to me, asking that I pass it on to Metropolitan Jonah, which I did. She included a confidentiality statement that it pass no further. Metropolitan Jonah had already in 2010 issued a letter forbidding this hieromonk to serve in any OCA church. Since he was still in a Greek jurisdiction, nothing more could be done by the OCA except to offer pastoral help to her and her husband, which the Metropolitan did by phone.
2. This hieromonk was never received into the OCA so it was not possible for the OCA to defrock him.
Metropolitan Jonah issued a “no blessing to serve” in any OCA church already in 2010 in response to reports of unpriestly behavior. I myself had made one of these reports on the basis of alcohol abuse and an attempted assault of a neighbor on property owned by my family which occurred in late May 2010. Based on the information known at that time, this was the most that could be done. This hieromonk then left the area.
Nothing more was known about him until he returned to the area early in 2012, having sought from ROCOR a “blessing to serve” in its monastery outside of Washington. Now, with the revelation of his crime in May 2012, ROCOR has also rescinded its “blessing to serve”. Shortly after Pascha, he returned to the Church of Greece and the jurisdiction to which he has always belonged.
3. My testimony to ROCOR for it’s investigation was ignored in the OCA.
I was recently requested to send a copy of the testimony that ROCOR asked me to write for it’s investigation of this hieromonk who had managed to receive a “blessing to serve” within it’s jurisdiction earlier this year before anything was known to them of his criminal activity. With the revelation of his crime in May 2012, that blessing has been rescinded and a case is being prepared for presentation to the Greek jurisdiction and the heads of all Orthodox jurisdictions. However, the description of this case cited in the letter of the Synod of Bishops is completely at odds with the evidence presented in my testimony and can be corroborated by others in Washington.
All of this and other accusations are simply unfounded. Was this letter published to counter the outpouring of support for Metropolitan Jonah?
We prayerfully persevere in our belief that the Providence of God will bring good out of this evil.
These errors of fact are so egregious that they discredit the entire letter put out by the Synod and implicates them in a grave miscarriage of justice. With these two corrections the rationale justifying +Jonah’s removal collapses.
Two new questions arise in its place that the Synod must answer:
1) Who made the allegations against Met. Jonah?
2) What was the source of his information?
Lord have mercy.