A Dearth of Vision
In previous essays regarding the new Sex Squad Regime, we stated that the new ORSMA regulations were clearly not thought through. This dearth of vision has plagued the OCA for quite some time. Its hold over the institutions of the OCA are ultimately what did in Metropolitan Jonah who was a man cut from a very different (read: more visionary) cloth.
What accounts for this rigid institutionalism? What visionary vacuum exists which hinders the OCA from being a true territorial church? Monomakhos has long perceived a supine acceptance of much post-modern secularist thought in the upper reaches of Syosset. That there is a perceptible disdain for traditional Orthodox praxis is just as apparent. For too long, its functionaries have succumbed to a modernist, centralized, and business-like model of church governance, one in which power-point presentations studded with pie charts and bar graphs, self-promoted “summits,” and radical encyclicals are produced for the express purpose of looking busy and being “relevant.” Because this is the animating spirit, hyper-centralization becomes inevitable and the hiring of extra bureaucrats necessary. Paper-shuffling replaces Orthopraxis.
And now we must come to grips with the latest wave of inanity. One of the hallmarks of post-modernist ethos is the “third-wave” feminist belief that men are by nature abusers and women victims. It is always thus and no situation can be envisioned in which there can be any deviation from it. Initially, we were going to entitle this part “The Feminization of the OCA” but what is really going on here is emasculation, not feminization; hence the title.
The Emasculation of the OCA
As mentioned in Part II, a cursory reading of the new ORSMA rules portray all accused priests as guilty until proven innocent. This of course is a direct violation of Anglo-American jurisprudence. Think of how preposterous these new regulations are. All the burden of proof from the moment an allegation is made against a cleric is that he is guilty of the accusations. End of story. If the accused does not respond within 21 days he will be presumed guilty of the allegation even if the allegation is wildly contrived. (An example would be the McMartin case involving a day-care center in Massachusetts in the 1980s: the guided testimony of five-year-olds was accepted as valid, even if they included incredible tales of witches flying on broomsticks and children being sacrificed on altars.)
Such a legal regime is one that is divorced from reality. Consider: Within 21 days, the accused must mount a defense even though he can’t be told what the charge against him is. This impractical, nonsense really. He enters the ORSMA process not only blindfolded but with both hands tied behind his back!
Real World Ramifications
Think of the real-world ramifications. Is the new Sex Squad and/or the Sex Czarina going to fly to (say) Colorado to investigate an allegation against a priest? The OCA has been bleeding money for quite some time. No reversal is on the horizon. Given that several officers (including Tikhon) had to take five percent pay cuts, it seems unlikely. Or is the accused priest supposed to drop everything and fly to Syosset for his inquest? Really? Many parishes in the OCA at present don’t send their priests to local diocesan conferences precisely because they can barely afford to pay their priest as it is. Does Syosset think that hard-pressed parishes are going to pay for an accused priest’s travel expenses.
How is this rational? It isn’t. But practicality and common sense were never part of the radical feminist paradigm, or any other culturally Marxist belief-system for that matter. In this neo-Calvinist view, the essential depravity of men necessarily follows from the basic tenets of radical feminism, therefore practical considerations are beside the point. According to the tenets of this hysterical doctrine, Patriarchy is not only the oldest and most universal form of oppression but the primary form and the model for all others.
This catechism teaches us that white supremacy, colonialism, class structures, hierarchy, critical thinking, and so on exist only because they flow from Patriarchy which is the Original Sin of radicalism. Unlike liberal “first wave” feminists who found oppression in legal systems, or “second wave” feminists who saw it in Marxian class-war doctrines, “third wave” radical feminists locate the root causes of sexual relationships in the male sex itself. And the male sex is by necessity evil.
Unfortunately, the Orthodox Church is a patriarchal system. The God we worship is triunity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Radical feminists therefore see that this doctrine must be overthrown since in their view, the male of the species justifies his oppression of females by recourse to theology. The very fact that the hierarchy is made up of men only makes the situation worse.
It is for this reason that post-modernists have no concern for defendants’ rights or universally-admired Anglo-American jurisprudence — a legal regime which enshrines the rule of law and has been a lynchpin of successful Western governance for centuries. Despite these preposterous attitudes, we can only worship at this altar and no other. If that means bankrupting a priest or bringing a parish to brink of insolvency, so be it. The fact that the priest may be innocent is immaterial since by the definitions of radical feminism, he can’t be innocent –he’s a male after all.
A Sign of Internal Decadence?
Another reason must be considered. We know that Syosset and the Synod slandered Metropolitan Jonah when they released a letter accusing him of covering up an alleged rapist priest. The charge was drawn out of thin air and disproved in a matter of days largely through the efforts of vigilant Monomakhos readers.
The Syosset-Synod Axis has never apologized for the letter. They have never even hinted that the public record needs correction. This was a sin against a man, but it was also a sin against the members of the Church who were expected to collude with the lie and thereby join in the public discrediting of their former Primate.
OCA leadership pulled the levers of the institution to promulgate slander and then fell silent when the slander was exposed. The consequences of their sin and subsequent silence has affected the Church deeply. Think of it this way: when a person with dysfunctional behavior refuses to recognize that his behavior is dysfunctional, he often attempts to draw the stable people around him into his dysfunction. That way his dysfunction meshes with the dysfunction of others and he feels stable. If the dysfunctional person is a leader, he will distort not only his personal relationships but also the institution he serves.
The troubles in the OCA started long before Jonah. Sexual sins were hidden by OCA leadership for years, including the homosexuality of some of the bishops and other well-placed clerics. Rumors of dalliances were whispered about for years; it was an open secret for the most part. Like families of alcoholics, most walked on eggshells when dealing with some of these men. Partly it was out for fear of offending the guilty, sometimes out of simple embarrassment. Nor can we forget that there is a high cost to pay for those who expose wrongdoing. Since we are talking about bishops who for the most part protected each other, any exposure by well-meaning whistleblowers likely would have worked to the detriment of those who brought the charges, rather than the bishops. Such through-the-looking-glass logic is endemic to decadent institutions.
The problem was that by refusing to deal with the sin on an institutional level, toleration for homosexuality became institutionalized. This is why there is much sound and fury characterizing all priests as potential sexual molesters, but no word is spoken or action taken about homosexuality. By holding up the standard of “sexual misconduct,” the same players are hoping to do two things: first, to act concerned about potential clerical misconduct and second, to steer the gaze of onlookers away from the ongoing homosexual hijinks of more established persons.
Metropolitan Jonah had no patience for the double standard and dared to speak against the loose moral standards he observed. One has only to recall the public criticism he received for reiterating the Orthodox teaching on sexual immorality in two pastoral epistles he issued a few years back for the Archdiocese of Washington. His discussion of homosexuality overturned the rule of institutional silence established during the era of his two predecessors, and he raised the ire of leaders who forged their careers while the rule was in place. Any uncovering of that lie threatened the moral credibility of the institution and its leadership, and in order to restore stasis Jonah became their scapegoat.
The scapegoating did not work even though the leadership succeeded in ousting Jonah and moral vindication has proven to be elusive. ORSMA is a step to recover it. ORSMA has the character of a moral crusade and like most crusades, it creates the appearance that the crusader is a moral exemplar. However, with the failure to scapegoat Jonah, the old leadership will need another scapegoat, or two or three to finish the job. Once the scapegoats have been selected and duly cast out, the leadership is freed from the onus of public repentance, and the institution that they have thrown into turmoil by their mismanagement of the Jonah ouster can stabilize.
ORSMA will not rectify the institutionalized corruption created during the Theodosios/Herman years. It is not designed to do that. It will instead provide the show trials necessary for the vindication of the old order so that the stain of sin caused by the treatment of Jonah can be swept under the rug.
Priests need to be very cautious, especially those who have raised the ire of Syosset and the Synod by pointing out that some of the emperors have no clothes.
Abuse in the Real World
Let us be clear on one point at least: if anyone, especially a clergyman abuses a child, the proper authorities should be immediately called and he should face the full force of the law. If a clergyman seduces (or tries to seduce) an adult woman, he should be sued by her husband and the divorce proceedings should be handed over to a spiritual court. If she is single, she should complain to his bishop. What if the bishop is at fault? She should complain to her priest and he should bring it to the local presbytery. (Other avenues exist: Monomakhos for example was the site where more than one bishop was exposed for some type of malfeasance.)
Unfortunately, the ORSMA rules have little to do with this type of abuse; instead they take this more extreme type of abuse and project it onto every clergyman in the OCA. In reading these regulations, it is clear that there is no differentiation at all between the various types of abuse. A child sitting on priest’s lap, a priest kissing a widow on the cheek at her husband’s funeral, or a priest commending the appearance of a woman who overcame a physical impairment is no different than a priest assaulting a woman. These are the bitter fruits of the anti-Patriarchy as understood by the radical feminists. Since all men are abusers there can be no other logical outcome.
Some people of course will respond “well, if the priest is innocent, he has nothing to be afraid of.” This view is naïve at best. There are countless examples of priests who have been falsely accused and who’s lives have been ruined. The greatest example is the beloved St Nektarios of Aegina. Other examples abound today.
ORSMA gives the priest only two options, both of which look bad to the casual observer: 1) defend himself, or 2) get a lawyer. Both put him in the inferior position vis-à-vis the Sex Squad.
The Sex Squad and SMPAC
And this now brings us to the Sex Squad itself. It receives its marching orders from the SMPAC committee, wherein we find some priests who whose own histories are checkered (to say the least). In addition, a victim of clergy abuse serves on it.
In a saner world, on in which the interest of fairness would be given at least some type of lip-service, one would expect that a clergy advocate serve as well, presumably a priest who was the victim of a false allegation at one time. This should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, according to radical feminism men are oppressors and thus they have no rights. One can only wonder, to what extent has cultural Marxism infected the upper reaches of Syosset?
This latter point bears further scrutiny. Isn’t it curious that the Sex Squad is chaired by a woman? Why is that? Is it because radical feminism demands it? After all, how can we expect one man to judge another man, since (after all) men are the problem? The logic is inescapable.
There is a more prosaic point as well. How would a fortyish priest respond to a phone call from a younger female, telling him lurid details about his supposed actions? When men are confronted by women who have authority over them they are usually at a loss. When to this mix is added sexual details, the result for the accused is devastating.
How Did We Get Here?
Some have asked me why we chose Glinda the Good Witch as our graphic for this series of essays. That is because in The Wizard of Oz, Glinda invariably arrives and leaves borne inside a bubble. Syosset today lives in its own bubble, one of its own making. This bubble is made up equal parts secularism, post-modernism, and a curious disdain for traditional Orthodox ecclesiology.
So how did we come to this point? What beguiled the bishops of the OCA to abrogate their authority and effectively seal what is for all practical purposes an episcopal death warrant?
The only reasonable answer is that they have been emasculated. Because of a long series of scandals and inadequate character formation, the bishops themselves are not capable of proper Orthodox governance. In their weakness they have bought into the secularist governing model of the Strong Chancellor form of church administration.
Some of course give up the struggle because they have their hands full with their own dioceses. Let us not forget that most of our bishops are doing “double-duty” thanks to the large number of vacant dioceses.
Others of course have conceded defeat because they themselves are not above reproach. Some (as has long been known) have fallen short of the strictures St Paul enumerated regarding the proper episcopal qualifications. By a weird process of inverse natural selection, the weakest have risen to the top and are incapable of making things right.
So here we are. Every priest in the OCA now has a Sword of Damocles hanging over their head. Most I expect will hunker down and hope that they don’t make too many enemies. Others may hope that the monies will dry up and Syosset will have to close this office. Still others may pray that in time, we will get better, more resolute bishops who will take back their prerogatives from the protopresbyters who run the show. One thing we can be sure of: none of the other jurisdictions will buy into this nonsense.