In biology, there’s a concept known as extinction. It’s what happens when a species cannot adapt to new conditions. This is to be expected since flora and fauna have no moral agency and are governed entirely by their physiology and anatomy. In other words, they’re not autonomous or sentient. To the extent to which they’re self-aware, it resides only in their immediate consciousness of reproduction and death. Everything revolves around sex and death in other words.
Human beings of course are different. We are very self-aware and we can think beyond our immediate needs. Unfortunately, when we aggregate into groups, a certain amount of this sentience is lost. Sociologists talk of the “madness of mobs” for example. All institutions are capable of falling into this pattern. When nations do it, they collapse. Think of the Ancien Regime of France before the Revolution or Byzantium before its fall.
No institution is immune from this. The inability of the Catholic Church to reform itself inevitably led to the Reformation and all the tumult that Martin Luther unleashed upon Europe when he nailed his 95 Theses to the cathedral door at Wittemburg. Before this event, wars in Europe were strictly small-scale affairs for the most part, fought according to established rules; after this event (which caused the cleavage of Europe into different camps — Protestant and Catholic), the wars became much more massive and destructive. Think of the Thirty Years War, the Napoleonic Wars, and the First World War. (I personally think that if all Western Europe had been Catholic, Pope Benedict XV could have stopped that one from ever happening.)Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, institutional mediocrity. We see this now in the OCA, where Syosset, in order to justify its uncanonical (even criminal?) actions, has decided to tighten its grip on the Church as a whole, even going down to the parochial level. Bishops don’t really matter anymore. The diocesan model of sovereignty which was pioneered by the late Archbishop Dmitri Royster of Dallas, and championed by His Beatitude Jonah, is pretty much dead in the water. Examples of this include the creation of a Sex Czar, a Clergy Cop, and now mandatory continuing education for priests.
The first two officers have hopefully been dealt a death-blow by Monomakhos. At the very least, we’ve held them up for the ridicule that they deserve. The most recent lapse in good judgment is the imposition of continuing education credits for priests.
Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with continuing education per se. The problem arises from the timing of this as it seems to be a direct slap in the face of the legitimate Primate. I believe it’s being done to continue the insinuation campaign against His Beatitude. “See! Jonah violated the SMPAC Report!” (Even though we weren’t allowed to see it.)
The fact that this concept hasn’t been thought through was my initial reaction. Some correspondents said “well, the GOA has programs like this, so what’s the big deal?” True enough but then I got to thinking: well, the GOA has better compensation standards for their priests. Why don’t we start there? Would it be too much to ask that our bishops also submit to these bright ideas or are they above the law?
Anyway, several priests in the OCA have contacted your humble servant off-line and contributed their own perspectives on this matter. See what you think. (And yes, they choose to remain anonymous. That should tell you something right there.)
[Editor's Note: Fr W asked that his comments be removed. For an explanation, please see "Mea Minima Culpa." Now Fr V asked that his comments be removed as well. Frs X, Y, and Z on the other hand are unembarrassed and are still standing by their comments to the best of my knowledge. However, rather than take the chance of exposing them (via the process of elimination) to those in Syosset who might do them harm, Monomakhos is making the editorial decision to remove their comments as well. In the future, if any priests in the OCA are upset with the way things are going, I would suggest going directly to your bishops and voicing your concerns.]