“Turd blossom” was the term of endearment that George W Bush used for Karl Rove, almost from the first day they met when both were young men. I like it because like most Bushisms, it’s rather funny. As a Christian, I’ve tried to conform to the Church’s teachings on profanity (and fail miserably) but even if I were a holy man, the word “turd” wouldn’t bother me. It wouldn’t bother me if my priest used it once or twice in my presence.
It certainly doesn’t bother me that Fr Joseph Fester used it in a private e-mail with a friend of his. In fact, nothing in the now-famous e-mail exchange that OCANews obtained surreptiously surprises me or offends me at. What does offend me is that the account was hacked into in the first place.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the account wasn’t hacked, that Stokoe got the emails “legitimately” (if there is such a thing). Would anyone else find that troubling? I find it deeply troubling that a layperson would read the private emails of a priest and threaten to publish them — hacked or not. There’s something deeply off-putting about this, even abhorrent. Stokoe plays too fast and too loose with other people’s lives and livelihoods. What priest feels safe now? (Would you go into the priesthood now?)
A person could argue that the OCAT fellows did the same thing when they published Stokoe’s secret emails. It’s a sticky situation but I think the publication of those emails did the Church a service. We simply cannot have a handful of Metropolitan Council members form an internal clique to drive out a bishop. The plan, as the emails pointed out, called for a shock and awe strategy, and Stokoe’s blog was clearly part of the tactical maneuvering. There are canons against conspiring to remove bishops, and as impolitic as Fester’s e-mails were, he wasn’t trying to unseat a sitting bishop. (Irony alert: now even compromised bishops –and you know who you are–aren’t safe.)
Team Stokoe has failed although they haven’t stopped fighting. The Metropolitan Council meets this week and, if there is any real leadership there, Stokoe and cohorts should be called on the carpet and fired. They not only caused deep confusion in the Church, they also blackened the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council. Members of the MC should be outraged at what a handful of their colleagues did behind their backs.
Truth be told, Stokoe’s internal e-mails are far more damning than anything Fr. Fester wrote. Do a side-by-side comparison. On the one hand we have a clear consipiracy involving several people who were actively planning to topple a sitting Metropolitan. On the other we have a priest who was asking a retired bishop how he was feeling now that his cancer was in remission. Clear difference.
And Stokoe has yet to explain to the rest of us what he was doing planning a public relations putsch against a sitting Metropolitan. Is the Metropolitan Council down with that?
As for the anonymity squabble regarding OCAT, it was always non-issue. The whole notion that nothing can be trusted unless it is signed is specious from the start. I knew the anti-+Jonah forces were desperate when they went after OCATruth based on their wish to remain anonymous. This was reinforced when OCAT’s critics never once criticized the substance of OCAT’s reporting. Anonymity is not a moral fault in and of itself.
I was talking with one of the OCATs yesterday and we both agreed that OCAT’s strategy of anonymity was a brilliant tactical maneuver because it revealed that Team Stokoe had little substance to their arguments. Their obsession with the issue showed that they had no canonical justification for attempting to remove +Jonah in the first place.
So, what’s left? Nothing much unless the powers that be think it’s fine to make management decisions based on information gleaned by illegal or immoral means. It that’s the case, then the Holy Synod will have sealed the fate of the OCA as it is presently constituted. Expect mediocrity. (Memo from Syosset: Beatings will continue until morale improves!)
Nevertheless, ironies abound. For one thing, I think that the Traditionalists will be left to pick up the pieces of a “conciliar” OCA. Why? Because it becoming apparent a Metropolitan Council cannot lead the OCA. Stokoe proves that. His team used the MC as their staging ground putting the MC in an untenable situation. Maybe the MC has some real men on board that will throw the conspirators overboard. That certainly would help their credibility.
The bishops will begin to see that now. And who knows? the bishops may begin to start acting like bishops (I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one but the Lord is still on his throne).
I believe that +Jonah, by remaining our Metropolitan despite the best efforts of his detractors to unseat him (and taking his lumps) has shown the way that a real bishop behaves.
Eis polla eti Despota!