– Monomakhos recently acquired a leaked draft of the new sexual misconduct policy to be discussed at the ongoing OCA Synod meeting. These new rules have come under severe criticism by some of the clergy and laity who have read them. Why would this be? Isn’t it a good thing to have rules that protect lay people from clergy abuse?
Of course it is. Procedures already exist which do so. The fact that they are haphazardly applied is a problem to be sure. Selective enforcement has always been the bugbear of the OCA but that can be rectified easily if the diocesan bishops would step up to the plate. Unfortunately, the OCA has a dearth of diocesan bishops. Hence the very real fear that the proposed Rules and Procedures (R&P) are nothing but a power-grab by Syosset to exert even more control over the OCA.
Consider: under the new Rules, the diocesan bishop (assuming there is one) is one of four people who will be informed of any new case involving alleged sexual misconduct in his diocese. Moreover, if he has proof that the allegations are baseless, he is powerless to stop the process. In other words, he now shares episcopal oversight with at least three other people; essentially becoming a bystander. In reality, he is no longer sovereign in his diocese.
This new paradigm contradicts not only Scripture and the Canons, but the plain text of the OCA Statutes –specifically Article IV, Section 4, subsections b and f: “[the Bishop] has the right of initiative and authoritative guidance in all matters concerning the life of his diocese.” And “…shall exercise the right of pastoral action and discipline in reference to the diocesan clergy and laity in all cases not requiring the action of a Church Court.”
There are other concerns as well which we will examine in due time. What particularly vexes us is the Star Chamber quality of the proceedings. It’s bad enough that the diocesan bishop is for all intents and purposes being taken out of the adjudication process, what is worse is the Defendant is presumed guilty and must prove his innocence, a direct violation of Anglo-American standards of ordinary jurisprudence.
We will deal with these and other issues in Part II.
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