One of the more specious memes put out by the late, unlamented OCANews and its amen corner was His Beatitude’s supposed inattention to political niceties. This came directly from Fr Leonid Kishkovsky and was repeated ad nauseam by his acolytes. According to this narrative, had Jonah known his place and truckled before this eminence grise, he wouldn’t have given that speech in Dallas some three years ago, which supposedly angered Patriarch Bartholomew. Not content to beat Jonah over the head for upholding the OCA’s autocephaly, these Stokovites go on to intimate that this gaffe permanently derailed the OCA’s recognition by Istanbul.
There are lot of problems with this narrative. Perhaps the most laughable is the idea that the Ecumenical Patriarch would ever recognize the primacy of the OCA. That’s ridiculous on its face and anybody who thinks otherwise is poorly informed. This criticism of Jonah is beyond naive — it’s mendacious. Jonah’s speech was certainly bold but it was in perfect accord with what the OCA had always believed about its autocephaly and primacy on this continent. It was startling to hear and no doubt His Holiness was probably angered by its audacity, but the facts were otherwise inarguable.
For the sake of argument let’s that the Kishkoviskyite narrative is accurate; Jonah shouldn’t have given this speech, or at least softened his tone. Put another way, Jonah should have listened to the OCA’s Department of External Relations before speaking on matters related to inter-Orthodox and international relations.
If the Stokovites were correct, then what are to make about this latest gaffe committed by His Grace Bishop Nikon of Boston? Nikon invited the “president” of the breakaway “republic” of Kosovo to come to St George Cathedral in Boston, the flagship of the Albanian episcopate of the OCA. Can anyone not see how inflammatory this is? (Special thanks to Byzantine, TX.)
Where to begin? Leaving aside the fact that Mdme. Jahjaga is a Muslim, could anyone in Kishkovsky’s office not see how this act would anger Serbian Orthodox Christians throughout the world? The Patriarch of Serbia wrote a stern letter to the OCA expressing his great dismay, something which primates of churches are loathe to do.
This provocation did more than damage relations between the OCA and the Serbian Orthodox Church. Their naivete no doubt startled almost all of the other Orthodox Churches, none of which recognize the Albanian-dominated “republic” of Kosovo and for good reason: its militias (including the KLA which was listed by our State Department as a terrorist organization) have destroyed and/or desecrated dozens of Serbian churches — some of them hundreds of years old, and uprooted and murdered thousands of Serbian Christians.
To not put too fine a point on it, the OCA needs all the friends it can get. This didn’t help.
If anybody thinks this indictment is too strong I offer a challenge: find me one Orthodox country who has hosted Madame Jahjaga or any official from “Kosovo” anywhere at all. Whether it was before a parliament, embassy, church, expatriate community center, cemetery, anywhere at all.
Who is in charge of the Department of External Relations? I’ll gladly accept his apology. As well as all our readers who upheld the veracity of OCANews and its Apostle of Accountability and Responsibility as the very picture of veracity and sobriety. This includes exalted archpriests as well.
View pictures of this affair here.