By now most people know that the attempts of Metropolitan Jonah to leave the OCA and be accepted into ROCOR have been temporarily scuttled. Reports from several sources who work in and around Syosset are reporting that the Chancellor, Fr John Jillions, pulled out all stops to present Metropolitan Jonah in the worst possible light to ROCOR. His activities have not stopped there however. Apparently, Fr Jillions is on another crusade to dig up evidence against other OCA bishops.
Sources inside ROCOR have confirmed that the recent meetings at the OCA Chancery in Oyster Bay Cove between the erstwhile Primate (Metropolitan Tikhon), Archbishop Justinian of the MP, Metropolitan Hilarion of ROCOR were arranged by Frs Jillions and Kishkovsky to show that ROCOR’s interest in Metropolitan Jonah and Bishop Nikolai Soriach was a bad idea.
To make their point, Fr Jillions opened the personal OCA files of Metropolitan Jonah and Bishop Nikolai and let the MP and ROCOR look at those files. This was done without the knowledge or consent of either Metropolitan Jonah or Bishop Nikolai.
This presents several questions about the authority of Jillions to share such personal information without consent, not to mention if those files are in fact keeping with generally accepted Human Resource practices as what should and should not be in personnel files.
Not satisfied with these questionable actions, or maybe buoyed by them, Fr Jillions made a trip to Johnstown, PA for a visit to the headquarters of the American Carpatho-Russian Diocese in the USA. (ACROD is an autonomous diocese under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.) That meeting was reported by Fr Jillions in his “Chancellor’s Diary” on February 8, 2013. But what was not reported by the OCA was the real purpose of his visit.
The real purpose was not to exchange pleasantries with the new ACROD bishop; rather, Fr Jillions asked for the meeting so he could look at the ACROD files on Bishops Matthias Moriak, Nikolai Soraich, and Michael Dahulich. All three formerly associated with ACROD. (Soraich attended seminary at Johnstown.)
It is not surprising that Fr Jillions had an interest in gaining information on Bishops Matthias and Nikolai, both currently out of OCA favor, but why Bishop Michael of New York and New Jersey? That piece of the puzzle comes into better focus when the case of Fr Vladimir Alexeev, Rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Brooklyn, NY is put into the mix.
In 2012 Fr Vladimir was suspended by Bishop Michael after a complaint of clergy misconduct. Last summer, Bishop Michael, escorted by a police officer, went to Holy Trinity to inform the parish that Fr Vladimir was suspended and removed as pastor from the parish. Bishop Michael and the officer were not greeted warmly by the faithful and needed to exist the church by a back door to avoid angry parishioners.
Bishop Michael however observed due process and the case against Fr Alexeev went to a Spiritual Court in the Diocese of NY/NJ. The case against Fr Alexeev was presented by, you guessed it, Fr Jillions. After making his presentation to the Court, clergy representing Fr Alexeev presented their defense of Fr Alexeev. The ruling of the Diocesan Spiritual Court was that the case presented by the prosecution (Jillions) was without merit and they ruled in favor of Alexeev. Bishop Michael did the stand-up thing and accepted the Court’s decision; he lifted Alexeev’s suspension and returned him to his parish in Brooklyn.
However the Court’s exoneration of Fr Alexeev was not accepted by Fr Jillions who immediately informed the Holy Synod that he wanted to appeal the Court’s decision to the Synod. It is not known what the feelings of the Synod are about Fr Jillions’ desire to appeal the Court’s decision, but what is known is that he went to Johnstown and was made privy to Bishop Michael’s ACROD clergy file (as mentioned above). The question is why? Was he trying to find something that about Bishop Michael that can be used as leverage against him? Could such information make it easier for Jillions to continue to pursue his case against Alexeev with Bishop Michael silenced?
Once a Diocesan Spiritual Court adjudicates a case the only person who can block the appeal of a case to the Holy Synod is the diocesan bishop –in this case, Bishop Michael. Since Fr Vladimir was reinstated, it would appear that Michael is not in favor of an appeal of the case. This is a curious game for Syosset to play, after all, Bishop Michael accepted the verdict of the Spiritual Court, and any further intereference would diminish the diocesan form of ecclesial governance. To reiterate, the case is closed, the defendant exonerated, and the priest’s bishop is accepting of the fact. Even if some in the national chancery are upset with the verdict, the fact remains that due process worked. All things being equal, the bishop would have the advantage and responsibility for what goes on in his diocese. To continue to pursue a closed case means –at the very least–that the Chancellor does not accept hierarchical authority –t say nothing of due process.
Another question to consider is, was Bishop Michael even aware that Jillions was looking at his ACROD file in Johnstown? Did he have Bishop Michael’s permission to look into his personal clergy file? Did he get the approval of Bishop Nikolai and Bishop Matthias or Metropolitan Jonah to look into and let others see those files? One would hope so! Or will these bishops find out about all this by reading it here?
This situation opens a bevy of questions about Jillions’ motives and how he conducts his job. Is Bishop Michael seen as some sort of threat to the Syosset status quo since he was the popular choice of the clergy and faithful delegates to the Parma Council? Is he being knocked down and put in his place in case Tikhon’s tenure is no better than his last two predecessors? We already know that Jillions and Tosi preferred Archbishop Benjamin Peterson for the White Hat after Jonah’s illegal ouster. Do we have an “all-powerful Chancellor” willing to do whatever is necessary to the present protopesbyterian Regime in power? Wasn’t this the complaint against the former Chancellor?
We do know that Fr Jillions has been on a clergy misconduct crusade; some would call it an unnatural obsession. We do know that he has looked into dozens of cases that were already adjudicated and sealed. Now he invades private files of OCA bishops. Why? In order to keep them quiet and in line? What right does he have to do this? Why is his position superior to that of a diocesan bishop and a diocesan spiritual court made up of clergy who he has no authority over? Is Syosset’s creeping power something that all OCA clergy should be wary about? Why the selective interest in certain episcopal files but not others?
Monomahkos will keep an eye on the workings of Syosset and report on any new developments.