No, no one is coercing us to do this. No one has been in contact with Syosset or the Hierarchy of the OCA. No one for that matter has convinced us we are on the wrong track. In fact, quite the opposite.
We believe we are on the right track for this reason: Monomakhos has become the venue for speaking truth to power, in this case the Apparat that has undermined His Beatitude at every turn. If nothing else, it has served a purpose by allowing the Royal Priesthood to express their frustration about the Church we deeply love, which unfortunately has also become secretive in its dealings, moribund in its vision, and frankly, morally compromised in its leadership.
We do not want to see the destruction of the Church. Instead, We want to see its renewal. And, judging by the comments and discussion posted ever since the removal of Metropolitan Jonah, it is clear that most of us believe that if renewal does not occur, the OCA is doomed and the quest for authentic American Orthodoxy will be set back another generation.
We don’t want to undermine the Church leadership either — corrupt and inept as it is at times. Speaking for myself, I repent of any offense I may have given a brother this past week, whether he be bishop, priest or layman. Having said that, we cannot let down our guard and allow injustice or malfeasance to continue. Instead, we want the leadership to start policing itself according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the moral tradition of our Orthodox faith. We want accountability, and we want the leadership ranks cleaned up. It’s not that hard, and when all else fails, go to the Rule Book. (More on that below.)
Finally, this is not about His Beatitude. We should be aware though that because the removal of Jonah was grievously mishandled (and uncanonical and illegal), it became the precipitating event of this airing of deep grievances, many of which have been building over years.
This is what Jonah brought to the table: the clear Gospel of Jesus Christ framed in the context where its relevance and power could be comprehended and applied. What a breath of fresh air it was. The Christian world outside of the Orthodox Church responded powerfully to Jonah’s message. So did many of us within it. The OCA Apparat did not. Had they understood, they would have not subjected him to the many petty humiliations that they did.
First, you need to give an apology to Jonah and to us who were expected to countenance your mistreatment of him based on nothing but your claims of putative authority. Do you understand what a grave offense your extended mistreatment of him really was and how it offended so many in the Church? Do you understand how it divided the Church? Do you understand the scandal you caused those who seek out the truth of our faith?
Second, we don’t want sodomites in either the priestly or episcopal ranks. It’s a grievous sin. Four sins cry out to heaven the Scripture tell us: murder; robbing a man of his just wages; oppression of the orphans, widows, and poor; and sodomy. These sins corrupt institutions. If they are not rooted out, their rot will infect the entire institution and destroy it. If you don’t believe me, read His Beatitude’s prophecy regarding the erosion of freedom of conscience within the Armed Forces. This corruption is playing out right before our eyes.
Get rid of the sodomy. We are sick and tired of it. We want it gone. Let the sodomites go to the Episcopal Church if they want to remain “Christian.” They will be welcomed there.
Third, priests who have dared bring up sexual malfeasance in the past and have been punished for it such as Fr. Vasilie Susan (see testimony, .pdf), need to be restored. We don’t like it when good and honorable priests are mistreated in order to cover up sins that you are responsible for rooting out. Start doing your jobs. If you don’t want to, or if baggage in your background compels you to compromise and cover it up, resign. You are not a real bishop.
Fourth, start taking better care of the priests. It is unconscionable that some priests have to live on $30,000 a year or receive food stamps while administrators make upwards of $120,000 a year plus benefits. Where are our priorities? Why isn’t more effort being made to give these men a livable wage?
Fifth, no more secrecy. It is unconscionable that our “American” Church has a Metropolitan Council that cannot and will not allow its deliberations to be made public or a Synod which uses the euphemism of “concern” in self-serving ways.
As for the future (if there is one), we will not accept a Metropolitan foisted on us who has questionable behavior in his past. Given the complicity of this “unanimous” decision by the Synod, this may very well be impossible. We hope it isn’t.
The days of ignorant compliance are over. Simply telling the laity “trust us” are gone. We need you to lead, but your leadership has to be real and substantive. Mitres, vestments, and pietistic Ortho-speak alone doesn’t cut it anymore.
When the ringleaders of this illegitimate action are identified, they must be brought up on canonical charges and if adjudged guilty, appropriately punished. It doesn’t matter whether they are bishops, priests, or laymen. And if the secular courts have to step in because civil laws or criminal statutes have been violated, so be it.
We love our Church. We also know there are good men in the leadership. But the good men have to muster the courage to root out the rot, to retire the compromised, and set a vision for this Church that we all love. This Church needs to be freed from the shackles of the unrepented sin so that the Gospel of Christ can be preached with clarity and power and many can be saved. We are not going back to what it was.
See you all Monday.