Comments Posted By Helga
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Mr. Stankovich, what should outrage you is that sexual misconduct is the OCA’s newest assassination method. I’m not doing that against Vladyka Benjamin, I’m simply pointing out that there is a huge difference between the way his allegations have been handled and how Metropolitan Jonah’s opponents supposedly want sexual misconduct handled.
There were allegations, Stankovich. The nature of things means I can’t possibly know whether they are true or not, but there were allegations. The very morally outraged crusaders over sexual misconduct in the Orthodox Church, however, instead of investigating these allegations, these very same crusaders have ignored them and covered them up, and punished and persecuted Metropolitan Jonah for attempting to investigate.
I am not attempting to make Bishop Benjamin look like a molester or something. (The allegations as I am aware do not rise to that level anyway.) I sincerely hope the allegations are not true. But they have been made. And it is an offense against the integrity of the Church to punish one bishop for supposedly failing to investigate all credible sexual misconduct allegations, while allowing another bishop to escape being investigated.
» Posted By Helga On November 2, 2011 @ 7:44 am
Thank you, Ken and Reader Thomas. All I heard in that speech was the Metropolitan Jonah we know and love. It was an example of humility and piety that all would do well to emulate. I praise the Holy Spirit for allowing him to be our Metropolitan.
What bothered me was the complete abdication of responsibility by the other members of the Holy Synod, particularly represented in this instance by the documented statements of Bishop Benjamin:
When a question was asked about whether they would take up their part in this, Bishop Benjamin denied that they had any.
When it was asked whether the other Synod members would take up the same cross they were handing to the Metropolitan, Bishop Benjamin compared the Metropolitan to an alcoholic and to Bishop Nikolai, implying that the other bishops are somehow victims of the Metropolitan through some pathology of the Metropolitan’s.
When it was asked whether the Synod would do anything about leaks, Bishop Benjamin mocked the question, asking the priest who asked it if he wanted the bishops to frisk each other before meetings.
And nobody really challenged him on this, which is ridiculous.
» Posted By Helga On November 2, 2011 @ 12:35 am
Yes, that is true, George. From the rhetoric that comes out of Pokrov, it sometimes sounds like child sexual abuse is the only crime ever, and every clergyman ever likes to cover it up. From practical experience, though, we know Pokrov is very selective about the kinds of crimes they get outraged about, and even about sexual abuse cases themselves.
» Posted By Helga On November 2, 2011 @ 12:04 am
It was Stokoe himself who talked about the investigation. Of course, when it was against Stokoe’s pal, Stokoe has to find fault with it. I believe Bishop Nikolai was the one who mentioned the part about the bishop’s nephew allegedly being the object of this, and the hours of pornography watched on diocesan computers.
I need to go get a shower now.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 11:36 pm
Your Grace, that’s pretty scary, not to mention crazy. I like to follow their stuff because I like to know where my priests come from and where my money goes, and I noticed that sometimes different bishops will ordain the same seminarian to the diaconate and priesthood.
Do notice they’ve come full circle about certain things, though. I hear they even let people wear prayer ropes now.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 9:20 pm
Fr. Jillions’ speech during the second plenary session told me all I need to know, and also drove me to use an Alka-Seltzer. I can’t believe I listened to the whooooole thiiiiing.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 8:38 pm
Congrats, Herc! I’m glad Mom and the wee baby made it through okay.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 8:35 pm
George, if I remember correctly, Bishop Benjamin’s case allegedly involved his own teenage nephew. For me, that really put paid to Pokrov’s selective outrage over child sexual abuse.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 8:33 pm
NO, Carl, Syosset absolutely IS a cesspool. It burns Metropolitan Jonah because he’s clean.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 7:22 pm
Carl, tell that to the people who make fun of Metropolitan Jonah for being on the chubby side.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 6:24 pm
Jacob, that is assuming Moscow makes good on its threat to not recognize uncanonical actions against Met. Jonah. They probably won’t have a problem with a lack of a release if they’re dealing with a robber-synod situation.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 6:04 pm
Oh, I will reserve one ad hominem remark, because of that whole monkey butt thing. I think Bishop Benjamin is the last person who should be remarking on the size of anyone else’s butt.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 6:00 pm
Madam, you have more brains than most of our bishops. Syosset is not just a money pit physically, it’s a cesspool of moral and spiritual corruption. If I were sorry that we elected Metropolitan Jonah, it’s only because I would be sorry we put him into that terrible mess. He’s the only one who can clean it up.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 5:56 pm
I think the critical lesson here is that bishops need to be much more circumspect in general about who they ordain, and ESPECIALLY about who they nominate for the episcopacy.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 5:20 pm
If he goes ROCOR, I’ll follow him. And I’ll take my head’s $105 tax with me.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 5:18 pm
Rod, they could have sent Metropolitan Jonah to Fr. John Breck’s retreat center. It specializes in helping clergy, and it’s Orthodox. It’s in South Carolina, so it’s a ways from DC, but it would certainly be better than this place that sounds like it’s the “Molester Dry Cleaners”.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 5:14 pm
DM, it’s in the “Synodal reflections” after Metropolitan Jonah’s speech.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 5:09 pm
I thought he was very Jonah-esque for a long time. But I couldn’t ignore petty cruelties like Bishop Benjamin’s refusal to allow Metropolitan Jonah to visit St. John’s this past Lent.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 5:07 pm
I have been trying not to say anything that might be construed as an ad hominem attack against Bishop Benjamin, but that’s really hard after last night. His call for leaving behind agendas is base and hypocritical in the light of his false claims about Metropolitan Jonah and the intra-Synodal relationship.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 4:41 pm
Well, it should give you hope that Fr. Chad Hatfield and others have seen right through the deception. They obviously see this as more than “Metropolitan Jonah is nuts” issue, and that there’s fault with how members of the Synod have treated him as well.
Metropolitan Jonah’s speech was very clear about the nature of intra-Synodal relations: “I thought we had a good working relationship but obviously there is something very broken.” Bishop Benjamin whistling the “oh, everything’s fine” tune contradicts that, but the very fact that there’s an open contradiction shows that Bishop Benjamin’s claim is not true.
I’m re-listening to that part of the Q&A, and a further issue is Bishop Benjamin’s telling comparison of Metropolitan Jonah to Bishop Nikolai. Regardless of what one thinks of Bishop Nikolai, we all know what happened to him.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 4:13 pm
LOL, Herc. He is obviously scared of the lay support for His Beatitude.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 3:42 pm
For Lola: Rebecca Matovic is liveblogging the AAC. http://rebeccaam.livejournal.com/
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 2:47 pm
Thanks, Andrew. New York Plan or bust!
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 2:38 pm
I agree, Jacob. I think George has done an unmatched service to the OCA in commenting on the situation in his blog entries and allowing others to use it as a forum for dissenting against Stokoe’s take on things. The OCA owes a great debt to him and Jesse Cone.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 1:24 pm
Metropolitan Jonah continues to press for the sale of the Syosset chancery because it is an expensive albatross. It is a large, old house on a large parcel of land, and it is hideously expensive to maintain. Much of that maintenance is for landscaping and other ornamental needs that do not further the mission of the Church by any stretch of the imagination. Furthermore, the chancery is larger than any amount of office space that the OCA can use, yet it does not meet all of the needs of the central administration, as they still have to use a local hotel for large meetings. Most of the people who were tasked for looking into this issue would have to either move with the chancery, or lose their jobs.
Metropolitan Jonah fired the chancellor because it was his prerogative to do so under the human resources policies that were in effect at the time. Solodow is being deliberately misleading in claiming “common practice would be for the appointing authority to be the dismissing authority.” Whether it’s common sense or not, the policy at the time was for the national chancery to be primarily the domain of the primate, and that the primate had direct oversight (including the ability to fire) over the staff. This changed with the resolutions adopted in May, which Metropolitan Jonah voiced (likely diplomatic) support for in his speech last night.
Solodow’s criticism of the Metropolitan’s draft budget is perhaps the most galling of all the criticisms, as Metropolitan Jonah did not formally prepare a budget for the contingency (that’s not his job), he only threw out some ideas to show that the idea of reducing the assessment is feasible. Solodow leaves out two vital considerations – the fact that most of the ministries cut from the national church’s budget would be moved to the dioceses (which would be the primary financial beneficiaries of cutting the central administration assessment), and the fact that other fundraising would make up for the loss of the assessment, for things like the external audits. Moving the chancery to a less expensive part of the country is an essential part of this plan, for the simple reason that it is terribly expensive to live and operate in that part of Long Island. The total annual budget of the OCA is about two million dollars. $450,000 of that, nearly one quarter of that annual budget, is to pay the salaries of three full-time employees and one half-time employee in the chancery. There are numerous other examples of this kind of wanton waste due in large part to the chancery itself and its location, some of which I have already mentioned.
As for the talk of “maximal autonomy”, the Metropolitan only countenanced this possibility as a method of reconciling the OCA to the rest of the Orthodox world in order to facilitate a unified, autocephalous jurisdiction in America. Metropolitan Jonah has been exceptionally brave and kenotic in openly discussing how this would occur without using the triumphalist dogma that has caused so much acrimony over the years.
The Metropolitan voices opposition to the Metropolitan Council because it *is* an uncanonical entity, unprecedented in the canons and Holy Tradition. It’s not necessarily wrong to have that happen in the interest of conciliarity, but one must be cautious when pressing the edges of boundaries like this. The Metropolitan Council, historically, has not been that way. It has repeatedly overstepped its boundaries even under the statute that Solodow exalts, all to no good end. Furthermore, as Solodow serves on this council, he cannot be considered a neutral judge in the matter.
Once Metropolitan Jonah had recused himself from the investigation of Fr. Zacchaeus (Wood), his communications with Fr. Zacchaeus ought to be considered entirely personal. I cannot prove Solodow wrong about the supposed legal risk this may have occasioned to the OCA, but considering Solodow’s track record within this document alone, he is hardly credible on this or any other matter pertaining to the governance of the OCA.
I sincerely hope the members of his diocese pays attention to the offenses against good order that Solodow is committing in their name, and that they act accordingly.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 11:38 am
Rod, it is much more than the fact that Metropolitan Jonah hasn’t been deposed. I didn’t hear Winston loving Big Brother. I heard the Metropolitan speak in incredibly forthright terms about what’s been going on. All this year I thought back to his speech at the last AAC where he excused the Synod’s leadership failures, and I thought of how incredibly naive that was. Last night he said that he had underestimated the level of dysfunction within the Synod. His tone of voice is the closest I’ve ever heard to him expressing anger. If it was anger, it was righteous anger.
Yes, Metropolitan Jonah took a lot of the blame, much of it undeserved. But his only alternatives would have been to blame the others openly, or pretend the problem didn’t exist, neither of which is an acceptable option for a dedicated monastic like himself. The problem is, people – least of all his brother bishops – are not supposed to see that kenotic humility and say, “Yeah, it is all his fault” when it truly is not.
From the last three questions in the session, it seems clear that people know it is NOT just a problem with Metropolitan Jonah. All of them, starting with the lady who spoke before Fr. Hatfield, seemed to see right through that. God bless them all.
The Synod was asked by Fr. Hatfield what they planned to do to participate in this healing, and Bishop Benjamin used the opportunity to dump on Met. Jonah some more, comparing him to an alcoholic and the Synod to people needing Al Anon. Notice that Bishop Benjamin put the kibosh on questions right after Fr. Hatfield’s. Then a priest came up and asked them to address the issue of leaks. Bishop Benjamin’s response was basically, “Well, what do you want us to do, frisk each other?”
They were repeatedly challenged on the issue of the Synod’s working relationship, and every time that happened, Bishop Benjamin’s weak explanation, “There is no strife, everything’s fine!” failed to obtain.
People are not falling for the crap anymore. Those last three questions from the plenary session show that much. And Metropolitan Jonah’s and Bishop Michael(?)’s advice was dead on, telling people to help by reducing the market for the pornography.
You and I both know Metropolitan Jonah has nothing to fear from a legitimate, unbiased evaluation of his mental state. As long as whatever facility they are using is ethical and qualified, I don’t think it will cause any harm. It will just be a waste of time and money to point out the obvious.
What I am wondering is, when the doctors come back with the obvious diagnosis of sanity, who’s going to be the next scapegoat?
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 10:29 am
The good news is that Metropolitan Jonah is still alive, well, and the active primate of the OCA.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 8:52 am
Herc, Solodow’s report is nothing short of rank insubordination.
Speaking of which, I noticed a lot of self-serving rhetoric in Bishop Benjamin’s speech. That whole monkey butt thing was ridiculous. “Some in white hats, some in black hats” – Metropolitan Jonah’s the only one up there in a white hat.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 2:00 am
George, in all fairness, I can see how you got that impression. I’m up to Bishop Matthias, and everyone’s been talking about how courageous Metropolitan Jonah is for seeking help, and frankly it does make it sound like he’s going to rehab or something. From the information in your revision, it sounds more like he’s taking night classes at the business school.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 1:30 am
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Listening to Metropolitan Jonah’s speech (25 minutes into the Plenary I recording). Wow. I’m surprised the paint didn’t peel off the walls.
» Posted By Helga On November 1, 2011 @ 12:19 am