“After careful reflection and prayerful discussion…” Archmandrite Gerasim’s Election Put On Hold

janusAfter a closed session on Wednesday morning, it was announced that His Eminence, Archbishop Nikon would be relieved of duties as Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South. Metropolitan Tikhon was named the new Locum Tenens, while Archimandrite Gerasim [Eliel] was appointed Administrator of the Diocese.

[gview file=”https://www.monomakhos.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2015-0321-mt-letter-dos-archimgerasim.pdf” height=”1100px”]


  1. That dog don’t hunt!

    • Daniel E Fall says

      Sure might. If you are interviewed for a job, and asked your greatest weakness and answer administration, then the employer gives you a slightly different job instead of the one you interviewed for-do you

      A. Throw a hissyfit.
      B. Graciously accept the opportunity.
      C. Question the employer’s genuinous [sic].
      D. Ask all the people that chose you to throw hissyfits?
      E. See if skeletons arise from the SNAP closet.

      Give it another year-patience is a virtue.

      • The Church is not a corporation, and the Synod is not a board of directors that employ regional directors they call “Bishops” that work to ensure the profitability of their assigned region. Our Bishops are the backbone of our Church, and if the Synod knows something that would disqualify Fr. Gerasim, then the Synod should have denied his nomination and started the search again. By denying the enthronement of Fr. Gerasim the Synod lends credence to the accusations against them made here and other sites. This action only serves to darken the shadow over Syosset. Please forgive me.

        • lexcaritas says

          I agree with David. Is a bishop supposed to an administrator? This sounds like the Episcopalian or Roman Catholic model. Does it lead in the right direction? or waste talent?

          Or is he to be a chief pastor, a servant of the servants of God, committing himself to the service of the Word and prayer? Aren’t there others–deacons and laymen–equipped to serve as the bishop’s administrators?


        • ChristineFevronia says

          In reading the wording of Met. Tikhon’s fifth paragraph in which he delineates what he will be doing as “overseer” versus what Fr. Gerasim will be doing as “administrator”, I can’t help but come to the conclusion that this action is happening for one reason. Some synod members don’t want Fr. Gerasim to be a bishop because they don’t want him to be able to VOTE as a full synod member with a voice and a vote equal to theirs in weighty church matters. If you look at how Met Tikhon has split up the duties between himself and the newly-created role of administrator, that really is one of the only things Fr. Gerasim will not be doing. He will be denied a vote on the synod. And with the All-American Council coming up shortly, that vote could mean a tilting towards a different outcome in weighty church decisions.

          And doesn’t it creep anyone else out that Met. Tikhon used the term “overseer” as what he will be for the South?

          • Carl Kraeff says

            The word overseer is found a few times in the New Testament. The Greek word that is used, “episkopos,” means overseer, which at that time meant the chief slave of the household. the English word that corresponds to the Greek is bishop. In context, it means a ruling bishop.

            There are a couple inferences that can be made from Metropolitan Tikhon’s use of the “overseer,” none of which are scary or creepy:

            1.He is reiterating that, as locum tenens, he is the bishop for DOS, regardless of the fact that he has delegated most of his episcopal responsibilities to Fr. Gerasim. One of his most important responsibilities is indeed to oversee Fr Gerasim’s discharge of his responsibilities as administrator.

            2. He is indicating that he will not be heavy handed or act as a monarchical type bishop.

            • ChristineFevronia says

              Greetings, Carl. I’ve been reading your many posts on this thread in which you’ve taken up the cause of defending the OCA. I appreciate and respect your loyalty. Loyalty is a beautiful virtue!

              To know just even a bit about the history of the South and to watch current events unfolding in our country… Well, I think a different term than”overseer” could have been used for this occasion. But I do work in a highly litigious environment in which I’ve seen folks mandatorily shipped off to “sensitivity training” for less. So it must just be me.

              But what do you think about the rest of my post? Do you think that idea has any merit?

              • Carl Kraeff says

                Christine–You are one of handful posters here whom I respect very much. I do not really know any other reason than the officially stated one. I do have a niggling suspicion that the postponement was not due to anything more than petty personal feelings. I am not going any further with this as I am already dangerously close to gossip.

                I pray that we all have a blessed Holy Week and a glorious Pascha.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              It’s already been pointed out, but “overseer” appears often in the New Testament in English; just the straightforward translation of episcopos.

              But it does ring oddly, not because of the “plantation South”, but simply because “he’ll be the overseer” means “he’ll be the bishop.”

          • Christine Fevronia writes, “And doesn’t it creep anyone else out that Met. Tikhon used the term “overseer” as what he will be for the South?”

            I believe the word “episkopos” (bishop) is sometimes translated as “overseer”. It didn’t really catch my attention apart from the queasiness caused by the word’s connection to plantation slavery. That’s not his fault; he probably has no clue about it and probably didn’t even write the letter himself. However, he can’t claim on one hand to be giving Fr. Gerasim broad authority while reserving the real “overseer” authority to himself. They may have delegated tasks, but in the real world some things don’t fall within the lines, and having a “two masters” situation could create problems.

            I’m not sure what specifically caused your creeped-out-ness, Christine Fevronia, but I am guessing it’s because this whole setup treats Fr. Gerasim as something potentially volatile and dangerous. The man has been on trial for six years, jumping through every hoop the Synod tells him to. The faithful of the diocese had been given a specific order of events taking place based on when the nomination was held, which no one questioned until this surprise decision by the Synod.

            If it’s really a requirement to have a candidate serve as Administrator, why didn’t they delay the nomination process until Fr. Gerasim had done that, like they did for the others where this was applied? Why didn’t they ask him to serve in this capacity when he moved to Dallas? Furthermore, if being the administrator is really intended to be a “test period” for a nominee, then why on earth did the other dioceses have it take place before the nomination? If they’re holding a supposedly multi-candidate nomination and only one candidate has been administrator already, doesn’t that give that candidate a certain advantage over the others by virtue of name recognition and personal familiarity? What if other candidates would be equally good but simply weren’t first to be selected to serve as administrator?

            The tl;dr of that is: if they want to make this administrator period part of the OCA’s election process, then they need to apply it fairly.

            It’s entirely possible that the bishops do intend to elect Fr. Gerasim after this administrator period, but this is to show Fr. Gerasim and the DOS who is “boss”. I also think you’re on the right track about this being a reduction of the DOS’s influence within the Synod. There will be a number of statute revisions considered at the next AAC, and surprise! there will be no DOS bishop there.

            I must repeat Edward’s point below: if you want to see change in the OCA, stop feeding them money.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Dearest ChristineFevronia,

              I strongly suspect that, like me, you are familiar with Chapter 9 of The Book of Proverbs which begins, “Wisdom has built herself a house…” I further suspect that, like me, you realize that this is not that house. So, we scoot ahead:

              Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding. He that reproves a scorner gets to himself shame: and he that rebukes a wicked man gets himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate you: rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
              Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. For by me your days shall be multiplied, and the years of your life shall be increased.
              If you be wise, you shall be wise for yourself: but if you scorn, you alone shall bear it. (v. 6-12)

              All of this is to say that, like me, I am reasonably certain you would agree that applying scrutiny to the Triads of our Father Gregory Palamas, rather than paragraph five of matters which have no application to you to begin with, will “increase your days.” And as you see following your post, “scorn” begets “scorn” in this house. “Your heart is made of a good matter, and you shall tell of your deeds unto the King! Always, now and forever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

            • ChristineFevronia says

              Helga, spot on as always!!! I think also that they’ll be voting on the increase proposed by the synod requiring each diocese to take more money from the parishes to then give to Syosset. Please pray for me, a sinner.

            • Gene Rose says

              My understanding was that he was sent to Dallas (and Los Angeles, before that) to gain experience. I was born at night but, not LAST night!

  2. Paragraph 3 of the Metropolitan’s letter describes a recently established precedent in Alaska and the Midwest dioceses. The Metropolitan contends that it is this precedent that is being followed in the matter of Fr Gerasim. But this is not the case. In Alaska and the Midwest, a clergyman was made diocesan administrator before being nominated by the Diocesan Assembly to be the ruling bishop of the diocese and then elected by the Synod. You can see this in the official OCA biographies of Bishops David and Paul. This was not done here with Fr Gerasim. Why wasn’t it? And why the need to blatantly mischaracterize episcopal elections? This mischaracterization–more the failure to elect Fr Gerasim–is what is so bewildering.

    Also, Fr Gerasim has been “vetted” by the Holy Synod. What is the flaw in the vetting process that requires the Holy Synod to continually shift the goal posts in this matter?


    • George Michalopulos says

      Agreed. His Grace Bishop Tikhon hit the nail right on the head when he wrote yesterday that this was unprecedented.

    • Lack of precedent is one way of characterizing it; the Synod demonstrating it has learned hard lessons regarding the election of brother bishops is another. Vetted by the Holy Synod is one thing, tested by the Synod and given final, formal approval is another. If there remain questions about how a hierarch would actually administer and rule in his diocese, then it is prudent to give him some time to prove himself. Perhaps the experience of Bp Matthias who was perceived to have acted differently as a ruling hierarch than he did as Administrator is a lesson the Synod is trying to learn. As always in the election of hierarchs, the diocese is given input but not the final say. The Synod may have given provisional approval to Fr. Gerasim’s candidacy and others, on canonical grounds, but that does not preclude additional preparation. There is nothing in the Statute governing exactly how a Diocese and the Synod work out their own, not always simpatico interests in the election process. Fr. Gerasim himself may also have requested additional guidance or oversight prior to stepping into the top job in the South. Like it or not, fair or no, there are significant questions in the minds of many regarding what is seen to have been a cultish monastery environment in Platina and how that might affect the way in which its former abbot would then administer and rule a diocese – or rule within the OCA’s Holy Synod. A wise candidate would do all in his power to allay any of those concerns, whether fair or not. In addition, given the liabilities involved in electing someone who may or may not have been privy to his predecessor’s sexual misconduct (abuse?), together with the Abp. Seraphim case and the finding against Bp Matthias, not to mention ongoing whispers around Mets. Theodosius and Herman, and the rather extensive roster of forcibly retired bishops in the OCA. Well, it is perhaps wise for the Synod to take every preparatory precaution in not only vetting candidates based on canonical criteria but also against more practical concerns of pastoral leadership, management, and proclivity for real and perceived future mistakes. I wonder too if the penchant for what could be perceived as firebrand politicking coming out of some in the DOS might also be doing harm to Fr. Gerasim’s election. A partisan atmosphere created around Fr. Gerasim on any number of topics within and outside of the OCA is not a particularly attractive potentiality, were I a bishop on the Holy Synod. So, this Administrative period might be as much about testing the DOS as it is Fr. Gerasim.

      • LOL. What a bunch of Northeastern Syosset babble.

        Cultish. Testing. Sexual misconduct. DOS Firebrand politicking. Partisan atmosphere. Here is the best “Proclivity for real or perceived future mistakes.”

        There you have it kids.

        The DOS is branded partisan because they overwhelmingly nominated Fr. Gerasim. Hmm.
        The DOS is cultish because the respect and love their future bishop. Hmm.
        The DOS is a bunch of firebrand poltik’in (read country bumpkins).

        Honestly the elitism of the aka post is truly a bunch of New York BS straight from Syosset central casting.

      • aka:

        I agree with all your points. But that is not what the Metropolitan wrote.


  3. Carl Kraeff says

    This was a letter from the DOS Chancellor, Fr. Marcus Birch. I have enormous respect for Fr. Marcus and believe every word that he word to be true.


    “Archimandrite Gerasim Appointed Adminstrator of the Diocese of the South – 03/21/15
    Dear Faithful Clergy of the Diocese of the South,

    All the blessings of the fast!

    Please carefully read the attached letter from His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon. I also encourage you to send this out to your parish mailing list if you so desire.

    Following this past week’s Holy Synod meeting, Fr Gerasim has been appointed Administrator of the Diocese of the South, and Metropolitan Tikhon is now the locum tenens. As Administrator, Fr Gerasim has been given full responsibility for the life of the diocese, save for those things which are specifically reserved for a bishop. Practically speaking, this means that your dean continues to be the point of first contact when pastoral need arises, but that Fr Gerasim will be integrally involved in all the decisions which affect the life of our diocese.

    From today forward in liturgical services you should no longer commemorate Archbishop Nikon, but only the Metropolitan as “His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South”.

    Be assured, too, that Fr Gerasim is in complete agreement with this decision, and as soon as he is back in Dallas he will send out a letter explaining things from his perspective. This decision in no way nullifies our Special Assembly, and Fr Gerasim has not be rejected by the Holy Synod, nor has any other candidate been put forth for our Diocese. I, therefore, ask everyone to temper his disappointment that there was not an election and recognize that this is the next step in a process that will lead to the election of a new bishop for the Diocese of the South. I counsel patience, and I also beg for restraint, especially as regards to any clergy who might be tempted to ‘vent’ on social media or in the ‘blogosphere’. As one wise member of our diocese has stated, “this is a process not an event”.

    Please let me know if I can serve you in any way. In the meantime, I pray that you all have a profitable remainder of these Great and Holy Days.

    I remain faithfully yours in Christ Jesus,
    Archpriest Marcus

    Chancellor of the Diocese of the South”:

    • It seems that the chancellor understands that this was a deliberately provocative action by the Synod.

      • It seems that the chancellor understands that this may be seen by some in the DOS as a deliberately provocative action by the Synod. He appropriately refrains from showing his own hand, in this letter, at least.

        • who gains says

          If he showed his own hand, he could not claim innocence when some later administrative mishap arises that is deemed to preclude Fr. Gerasim’s election.

          • Post-Jonah Paranoia says

            “If he showed his own hand, he could not claim innocence when some later administrative mishap arises that is deemed to preclude Fr. Gerasim’s election.”

            Bullseye. So be on watch for such an exigency.

        • Better stated.

      • Daniel E Fall says


        That is not what was asked for….

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I do not see anything that leads one to believe that Fr. Marcus understands this to be a “provocative action by the Holy Synod.” Rather, he wrote that he understands some folks will be disappointed this action. And, he strongly cautions clergy not to “vent’ on social media.

        More importantly, he made some rather forceful statements:
        –this decision in no way nullifies our Special Assembly, and
        –Fr Gerasim has not be rejected by the Holy Synod, nor
        –has any other candidate been put forth for our Diocese.

  4. Paul Stasi says

    Waiting to see how this plays out.

  5. At first, I was baffled by the Synod’s actions. Fortunately, I stumbled across this video that explains the rationale behind the process being used for Fr. Gerasim and the Diocese of the South. It really explains everything.

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=055wFyO6gag&w=420&h=315%5D

  6. Salemlemko says

    Thanks be to God! CSB Hoomies stopped in their tracks.

    Sorry George!

  7. How much further is the Synod going to push the DOS? What’s the real problem they have with the DOS? The memory of its Beloved Vladyka DMITRI? Fear of Johnnie Reb?

  8. I see the Chancellor’s letter to be, at least in part, a gag order. I’m having difficulty trusting him completely.

  9. OK, well since the Chancellor of the Diocese doesn’t wield any authority over me, I will just say what I feel. How disappointing that the Primate of the OCA apparently thinks the faithful of the DOS are either disinterested or stupid. When he states that deferring consideration of the nomination to enable Fr. Gerasim to gain “administrative experience” is following the example of the Diocese of Alaska and the Diocese of the Midwest, he is either being completely disingenuous or he is flat out lying. Neither of the candidates in Alaska and the Midwest had been vetted twice, sent to seminary, and assigned to cathedeal parishes (as rector nonetheless) for three years of candidacy. In the Midwest, the candidate was asked to serve as administrator before nomination, not after. His episcopal election was not deferred in order to gain “administrative experience.” Fr. Gerasim has been a known candidate for 3 years. If a need to gain experience existed, why did the Holy Synod neglect to address that need for three full years? If serving as rector of the largest parish in the Diocese is not sufficient “administrative experience” why was a Diocesan appointment not considered in the months preceding the February 2015 nominating assembly? If, as a manager, I knew a candidate for promotion needed training or improvement in a certain area and failed to provide it, I would assuredly have failed miserably in my duties. So this “decision” can only be seen as a failure by the Holy Synod.

    There is one person in this Diocese threatened by this nomination, and that is the Chancellor. Bishops are free to choose their own Chancellors and, of course, as Administrator some of the functions the Chancellor has been filling in the absence of a Bishop will go away. Unless of course something happens while Fr. Gerasim serves as administrator that would make the search process have to start all over again. If the Holy Synod, in good faith, wants Fr. Gerasim to succeed and progress to election as expressed by the overwhelming majority of DOS delegates, then they should remove the Chancellor from the picture completely, as the position is now essentially redundant anyway. Indeed, if the Chancellor were interested in integrity in the process, he would offer his resignation to the Metropolitan who would in good faith then consult with Fr. Gerasim about who should be the Chancellor. Watch carefully and if administrative missteps are alleged, see who is in the middle of it.

    Fr. Gerasim undoubtedly feels a call to fulfill his nomination. He won’t speak an ill word of this new step in the process. And perhaps that is an excellent example to all of the faithful in the Diocese. But I fear more is at work than just a few months of on the job training.

    • This is downright silly – “the position [Chancellor] is now essentially redundant anyway.” Every Diocese has a Chancellor. Wouldn’t he be an asset to Fr Gerasim as he begins to navigate the system as Administrator? Wouldn’t removing the Chancellor actually impede Fr Gerasim’s success and progress, and increase the odds that he might make a mistake that would result in the Synod’s decision to not elect him?

      Those who have been around the Diocese for a while might remember that Fr Marcus twice – TWICE – turned down the position, before accepting it at the request of Metropolitan Jonah (when he was Locus Tenens), after all of the happenings in Dallas. Not much of a power grab, no?

      Based on what I know, I’d say that Fr Marcus probably looks at the decision like his parole has been denied, and he will continue his incarceration until October at the earliest.

      • Oh yes, Fr. Marcus HATES being chancellor. He hates sending out gag orders. He hates giving clergy awards (a bishop’s function). He just hates it and is eager to stop.

        Fr. Marcus has aggregated pseudo-bishop status to himself since the time of his appointment. If you are correct, why didn’t he tender his resignation and let Administrator Gerasim ask him to stay on?

        You say it’s silly, but if this nomination goes off the tracks, look at who is in the middle of it and report back.

        • It seems you are trying to put words in my mouth. When did I say Fr Marcus hates being chancellor? Further, when did I ever call anything a gag order? That’s clearly your interpretation of a letter that is open to a number of interpretations. For Fr Marcus to urge caution and restraint seems like a rather pastoral course of action – would you prefer that he ask people to rebel and sow the seeds of dissent? Complain about how unhappy they are? How does that build the Church?

          And again: how do you know that Fr Marcus didn’t offer his resignation and Fr Gerasim asked him to stay on? Does Fr Marcus clear his actions with you? Did he send out a press release and I missed it? You are arguing from silence – and, even more – ignorance.

          From what I can tell, everyone else here recognizes that the Holy Synod has already “derailed” the election, insofar as it hasn’t happened. Are you somehow saying that everything so far is hunky-dory, and if Fr Gerasim isn’t elected, it’s Fr Marcus’ fault? That can’t even be categorized as an interpretation – it’s pure fiction!

          To answer the question your pseudonym asks, it looks like the Holy Synod gains. With the Diocese directly under the control of the Metropolitan, it would seem that he is free to do as he wishes now – including to not have an election at all. If I read the Statute correctly (which I may not), the Holy Synod has no obligation to act on the nomination.

          And, by the way, most diocesan awards have been presented by the Deans for the past few years, not Fr Marcus. And – as you mention – it is the bishop’s prerogative to give awards, which is exactly what has been done. Archbishop Nikon gave all the awards – at the diocesan level; some happened to be presented by other people. Obviously, for higher awards, the Holy Synod gives all awards, which are then normally presented by someone else, too. Are you trying to say that because a palitza is a synodal award, the whole Holy Synod must be in attendance to present it? Hogwash. Words have meanings, and you are clearly twisting yours to achieve your ends.

      • All true. Someone in Gerasim’s position would be unlikely to change chancellors. A new bishop certainly isn’t typically a threat to the chancellor being made redundant. An auxiliary bishop can sometimes take the chancellor position (I seem to remember that then Bp Benjamin was given the chancellor position and pay in the DOW when he was auxiliary.) But not a diocesan bishop — they depend on their chancellors for a lot. I don’t see the DOS chancellor as being threatened by Gerasim in any way.

        • Gene Rose says

          It used to be the custom, at least in parts of the OCA, that Chancellors and most in administration would tender their resignations to a new bishop to allow him to appoint his staff without embarrassment of anyone involved. I believe that practice stopped with the election of Metropolitan Jonah. I remember Fr. Kondratick being rather worried as to whether or not he still had a job when Metropolitan Herman was elected.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      The whole paragraph about the DOS Chancellor, and in particular about the incumbent, Fr Marcus Birch, is pure conjecture. Knowing Fr Marcus personally, I would add that it is simply wrong to impute bad motives to him. As Kurt said, he did not seek the job nor seeks to keep it. He is the Chancellor because he was asked. Period.

      • Fr Burch is one of those clergy who, no matter who comes out on top, will be on the “winning” side!

      • Gene Rose says

        Some of the rest of us know Fr. Marcus personally, too… and the report isn’t all good!

  10. Fr. Peter says

    Too bad there was no candidate that held a degree in business and more than 10 years of pastoral and executive administrative experience.

    • Mark E. Fisus says

      Where are you going to find one like that among the ranks of monastics?

      • Monk James says

        Fr. Peter (March 24, 2015 at 6:11 am) says:

        ‘Too bad there was no candidate that held a degree in business and more than 10 years of pastoral and executive administrative experience.’

        and then

        Mark E. Fisus (March 27, 2015 at 2:39 am) says:

        ‘Where are you going to find one like that among the ranks of monastics?’


        I think, or at least I hope, that Fr Peter was being witty rather than serious here.

        The truth of the matter is that The Church is not a business, and trying to run it like a corporation is alien to its very nature as the Bride and Body of Christ. Notions like ‘best practices’ and commissions and committees to imitate the larger culture on a legal or otherwise institutional basis are secular endeavors with secular motives and secular results perhaps unlikely to be of much help in proclaiming the Good News and bringing people to Christ.

        Fr Alexander Schmemann very tongue-in-cheekly commented that we have a great many priests who would make wonderful bishops, but their wives won’t die. He was not advocating a married episcopate — let’s be clear on that — but he lamented the fact that men with vast pastoral experience were ineligible to become bishops.

        There’s a middle way here, and it’s not as grim as ‘Mark E. Fisus’ (wasn’t that clever?) wonders.

        Rather than send monks to pastor parishes or get MBAs, it’s better to let us pray and work and work and pray, learn theology and come to spiritual maturity through our traditional ways. When, by one means or another, one of us emerges as a viable candidate for the episcopate and is chosen, may the Lord grant him the help and support of all those experienced parish priests and administrators who have chosen marriage instead of monastic life.

  11. Sean Richardson says

    Although this seems “unprecedented”, I’d like to give the Synod of Bishops the benefit of the doubt, and just suggest that in view of some of their past decisions, on this one, and perhaps to those in the future, they are just being careful. It’s never a bad thing to be careful, given the opportunity.

  12. Daniel E Fall says

    I’d say this is called taking it slow. After the Synod rushed with a few others, perhaps this is wise.

    It is fair to say a number of OCA bishops have not been the best; even very recent choices.

    Of course, if this is merely a setup for rejection; that would be horrible, but that is not positive conjecture.

    My advice for those unhappy is to bite the tongue and remain positive. If the nominee answered fairly a question about administrative competance-this looks like an opportunity versus rejection.

    If droves of people get nasty-it won’t end well.

  13. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    Can’t anyone write clear English in those offices? It’s the REFLECTION, not the discussion, that should and can be prayerful! Discussion can’t be prayerful AT ALL!
    This gives the (no doubt, unfair!) impression that they are just trying to SOUND good, no? Prayerful discussion…..why I don’t think even that imbecile, Senator Cotton, could top that!!!

    • Ha! I missed that one. Nice catch…

    • Jackson Downs says

      It seems to me that all things can be done prayerfully. In terms of discussion, one can keep prayer alive in the call and response with another person, in order to invite God into the space in between oneself and the other. From a certain perspective, that kind of discussion is the only kind that doesn’t objectify the other.

      Not that I am an expert on prayer or discussion, myself…

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        How would YOU determine that ANY discussion was prayerful? What are the signs? I also am dumbfounded by “keeping prayer alive.” And what is a CALL and response with another person? Sounds like sounds without meaning, Jackson.

        Prayer is one thing. Discussion is another. Ordinary human beings like me stop discussion to pray. and the report that the Holy Synod held “prayerful discussions” is pure FLUFF.

        • Jackson Downs says

          Well, we may have a different approach to thinking and talking about these things. This is the sort of language used by my mentors in the faith. And of course there are lots of ways that people differ in expressing themselves.

          For instance, on your ORI bio page, I furrowed my brow when I saw that you were said to have “re-enlisted by taking a commission” in the military. For some people that may seem a perfectly adequate expression of the way that you continued your military career. For you and I, however, and those of us more familiar with the military, this is just a silly mistake, isn’t it? From a certain point of view, no two events in military service could be more disparate than the signing of an enlistment and the receipt of a commission.

          Thanks for your service, by the way.

  14. Maria Von Trapp says

    In addition to the opaque language issued about Fr. Gerasim, they made the stupidest statement ever about the Bishop Seraphim situation. After reviewing the conviction and the all-mighty OCA sexual misconduct policy, the HS appointed 3 bishops to “develop procedures.” What a crock! Hasn’t this been going on for 4 or 5 years? The policy is crystal clear: A conviction equals deposition. So, what does all this endless stalling mean? Some options:

    -Maybe Seraphim has a big brown pile of dirt on more than one person at the Chancery and HS.

    -Too many Canadians believe he is innocent, and the HS risks infuriating the diocese.

    -The HS is just shortsighted and ill-prepared, essentially wasting their last 8 meetings when they could have “developed procedures.”

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Maria, this a number from that famous musical. “The Sound of CYA.”

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Maria–The relevant section of the report states:

      “In closed session, the Holy Synod reviewed a number of clergy cases, including that of Archbishop Seraphim. Having thoroughly reviewed the report of the Synodal Commission in this regard, procedures and a date for the convening a spiritual court were reviewed, with a committee of three Bishops appointed to develop appropriate procedures.”

      What this says to me is that the “appropriate procedures” are going to be developed for the conduct of the spiritual court. This does not change the current policy regarding the consequences of conviction by the Spiritual Court:

      “d. Penalties against bishops judged guilty after trial, as well as against false accusers, are prescribed by the canons of the ecumenical and local councils and the holy fathers.

      e. A judgment of deposition or defrocking of a bishop has final validity only when signed by at least 12 bishops. (If such need arises, bishops may be invited from neighboring ecclesiastical provinces to complete the quorum.).”
      (The Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, Article XI, Section 7, Subsections d and e.)

      To refresh our memories:

      September 2010: The Lesser Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America meeting September 21 – 24, 2010, heard an official report that police in Canada had received a complaint alleging misconduct committed by His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada some 30 years prior. He was placed on leave of absence by the Holy Synod of Bishops effective October 1, 2010.

      October 13, 2010: the Holy Synod appointed a Synodal Commission to conduct an internal investigation into the allegations. The members of the Synodal Commission were announced on October 29, 2010.

      November 25, 2010: Archbishop Seraphim turned himself in to police authorities in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

      November 30, 2010, the Holy Synod of Bishops changed his status to ‘suspended’ and he remains in that status.

      June 2013: Trial in Canadian court started.

      January 2014: Convicted in Canadian court.

      October 2014: Appeal made to higher court.

      February 2015: Appeals Court upheld the conviction and sentence

      March 2015: OCA Holy Synod took the actions cited above.

      It certainly looks like the Holy Synod acted promptly and responsibly, and in accordance with established policy and procedures.

      • my head hurts says

        I thought that Abp. Seraphim was forcibly retired. This does not appear in your timeline.

    • Hyperbole says

      From what I understand, the hold up on the deposition is a matter of procedural ambiguity. We do not have enough bishops to convene a spiritual court, so they’re determining how to handle it. Do we create more bishops that aren’t needed otherwise, or do we borrow from another jurisdiction?

      They have to be sure that the entire procedure is delineated before it happens, otherwise Abp Seraphim could potentially come after them with a civil suit.

      • Hyperbole, the OCA actually does have enough bishops to sign off on a deposition now, and before that was the case, it was written in the statute that they could request the involvement of bishops from other jurisdictions.

        I have no issue with the OCA waiting until after the sentence is served to proceed with the spiritual court. What bothers me is that they may feel pressured to depose Archbishop Seraphim simply because their policy demands that conviction equals deposition, not because they make an independent finding of guilt based on the evidence. Some of the evidence at the trial seems very flimsy, and given past experience, I am not at all optimistic about the OCA’s willingness to give Archbishop Seraphim an impartial hearing.

        • Fr. George Washburn says

          Hi friends:

          Among other things Helga tells us (sans specifics or an indication of why/how he knows) “some of the evidence at trial seems flimsy.”

          This causes me to ask some questions, musingly and perhaps even rhetorically:

          1. How much of the trial did Helga attend? What percentage of the documentary evidence and trial transcript did he review? With what formal training?

          2. How many trials has Helga personally participated in? Presumably he hasn’t conducted any, has he?

          3. What is the criminal burden of proof followed by the Manitoba courts? Hint: ” beyond a reasonable….” Which part of this test does Helga believe the jury failed to follow, and on what factual basis?

          4. In what percentage of criminal (or civil) trials is **none** of the evidence flimsy? I can assure you it is low. And the trial judge is there to follow the urgings of defense counsel to keep the evidence out if it is too tangential or flimsy or confusing.

          5. What does it matter if some evidence is flimsy if the rest convinces the jury beyond a reasonable doubt?

          6. What standard would Helga have the OCA Synod operate by if not “criminal sex conviction automatically = deposition?” Sometimes? Only if it was recent? Only if most people believe it? Only if it was lurid enough?

          7. Does Helga realize that Manitoba trial judges are duty-bound to throw out cases if in their professional opinion the evidence in the aggregate could not rise to the level for a reasonable jury to convict? And that the judge, who we have every reason to presume stayed awake and did his/her job, would have been strongly urged by Abp. Seraphim’s attorneys to make such a ruling if they thought it might fly?

          I feel bad for Abp. Seraphim, the victims, the OCA faithful, and anyone else directly and adversely affected, but don’t feel that Helga ought to play both sides of the net against the middle with such vague and unsubstantiated comments about the alleged flimsiness of “some” evidence.

          One presumes that the OCA SYnod’s cautious approach to the Spiritual Court issue arises in part from uncertainty over how much of the trial evidence to consider without bringing witnesses in to go through a whole new court exercise, and how to get that evidence if that is what they think they should do. Not exactly spelled out in black and white in the canons, is it?


          Fr, G

          • Fr George said

            ….” Which part of this test does Helga believe the jury failed to follow, and on what factual basis?

            There was no jury. It was trial before a judge who was clearly antagonistic throughout. The same judge soon afterwards became a judge of the Appeals Court, so that when his decision was appealed, his fellow judges supported their new colleague.

          • Daniel E Fall says

            It seems to me Fr W, that you are pointing at what amounts to a ridiculous effort to continue to slam OCA leaders.

            That OCA would require some other diligence beyond the court is silly and backwards. To discount criminal court is what the Catholics did with Mengele.

            • Mike Myers says

              Daniel, please elaborate on this stunning suggestion, “. . . To discount criminal court is what the Catholics did with Mengele.” I knew not a thing about that — and although I ask with great trepidation, I do gotta ask.

              • Daniel E Fall says

                Vatican ratlines for Nazis is pretty well known. Not sure why the Vatican cared, my guess is they were well paid at some point, or threatened.

                My suggestion is basically that a church determining a man guilty or innocent separately from a criminal court is really not wise. It can cause all sorts of spurious actions like firing Chancellors and demanding resignations of Metropolitans to name a few.

                • Mike Myers says

                  Daniel, yes, ic. The ratlines I knew about. I was just stunned to hear hints of anything quite so far gone as any hierarch in the RC in any way supporting or sympathetic to Mengele, of all creatures. That was news to me. The truth is that I really don’t want to know such things. I know all too much as it is. God help us.

                • There were historical reasons why the church, East and West, has tried to insist on having a separate ecclesiastical court system. Those reasons probably don’t apply now but there is no reason to assume they couldn’t again in the future.

                  • Well, the history is fine, but for the church to overlook or disregard secular, but criminal courts was the suggestion, and that makes no sense, unless the dichotomy were great. Like, for example, it was criminal to speed in a car and the crime was two years in jail…the church could decide such a crime was not worthy of removal of a priest. Or, vice versa, where the priest robs a bank and the church wants to execute him.

                    The notion that Abp. Seraphim would somehow get a different standard from the church or even a different trial and outcome pales on absurd.

                    Just the resources alone to do a thorough investigation would be a misuse of church funds. Look at what is cost the church do investigate the overspending issues. If memory serves me correctly, it cost over a half million dollars to say someone was overstepping financial boundaries. Not suggesting it wasn’t done right, but the resources to investigate something already done by the civil authorities would be wasted.

                    And, what, would the church have a different statute of limitations on criminal sexual misconduct? Or some other type of economia? It would be so wrong.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            Thank you,Father George. It’s very unsettling to have anything like a dialogue with an entity as insubstantial as the pseudonymous “Helga” (or Gelga” in Great Russian)! He or she resembles, in puerility, the prankster brat that breaks into school after hours and defecates on the teacher’s desk and leaves a note signed with a pseudonym. It, or he, or she also obviously belongs to the group in the OCA that set up and adored a false idol called “accountability.!” Go figure!

            Just as disgusting is the apparent ignorance of our legal system and its principles and practices. I’m afraid many of us get our legal expertise from “Law and Order” and other products of network and Hollywood studios! Once the OCA had world-class legal advice from a firm like J. Russin’s. That’s all history now.

          • who gains says

            And let’s remember the judge did throw out one of those charges due to the unreliability of the accuser. The other charge though was deemed sufficiently credible and resulted in conviction. The appeal is over. The time to act is now.

          • Fr. George Washburn writes,

            “What standard would Helga have the OCA Synod operate by if not ‘criminal sex conviction automatically = deposition?’ Sometimes? Only if it was recent? Only if most people believe it? Only if it was lurid enough?”

            I would not have them operate by any of the straw-man standards you have mentioned.

            To be clear, I absolutely think that clergy sexual abuse of a child should result in the perpetrator’s defrocking.

            However, the problem with setting forth a policy saying conviction equals deposition is that it cedes authority over a clerical matter to a secular court. The civil authorities can try a clergyman and put him in jail, but the authority to defrock a clergyman must remain within the Church only.

            “I feel bad for Abp. Seraphim, the victims, the OCA faithful, and anyone else directly and adversely affected, but don’t feel that Helga ought to play both sides of the net against the middle with such vague and unsubstantiated comments about the alleged flimsiness of ‘some’ evidence.”

            I was making a brief remark about concerns I had, not writing a dissertation on it.

            Why don’t you do some research and report back on your findings? I would be intrigued if you find the same issues I did. I’ll help you get started by telling you that Archbishop Seraphim’s trial was actually a bench trial, not a jury trial, as you appear to have assumed. Until you familiarize yourself with the case, you are hardly in a position to criticize my thoughts on it.

            • Fr. George Washburn says

              Hi friends:

              I like what Helga has written…. mostly.

              I DO very much see the problem of ceding authority to secular courts. It sounds like Helga and I see it the same way.

              Now that Helga mentions it was a bench trial, I recall hearing that. I apologize for forgetting it. But where does the correction of my inaccuracy leave us?

              With the word “flimsy” that, to my eyes, stood out as the operative word in Helga’s remarks. And with Helga implying an experienced trial judge (not a lay jury) relied on the flimsy, and thereby misjudged the case?

              The implication of Helga’s post seemed rather clear – I mean if one is not critiquing the result, why mention that SOME evidence was flimsy AT ALL?

              Helga is entitled to contend that someone with 35 years of experience is in no position to offer anything helpful to a man with 0 years experience who’s clearer on 1 key fact, but if so, we know why.


              Fr. G

          • Maria Von Trapp says

            There is simply no excuse for the Synod’s lack of action.

            I count 13 bishops in the photograph of Synod’s Spring Session. The initial conviction of Seraphim was last summer which means the HS could have begun “developing procedures” at their session last Fall. (Nevermind the Seraphim conviction, pass the shrimp please.)

            The appellate court conviction was in January, two months ago. There is some sort of “Crisis Action Committee” at Syosset that is supposed to spring into action on stuff like this. Ooops, forgot, the Syosset boys were busy taking another one of their religious tourism escapades with Metropolitan Kishkovsky to visit the dead Cardinal in New York, or the Pope, or maybe it was the Constantinopolitan Pope.

            Short digression about the AAC. What the hell difference does it make what the new statutes say if the HS and Syosset are going to do what they damn well please? Yes, that’s called corruption.

            Back on topic now. The HS voted through the all mighty PSP’s last year, so they fully knew about the Seraphim predicament at that time. A Spiritual court is not even referenced when deposing a criminal convict. Since the HS passed these rules unanimously, a criminal conviction is like a defacto guilty verdict at the spiritual court level. Here’s the text:

            PSP Section 10.05. Discipline of Clergy:
            (B) Any Clergy who admits or is found to have committed child sexual abuse shall be
            suspended by the applicable Ruling Bishop, shall be deposed by the Holy Synod of Bishops, and
            shall be permanently prohibited from exercising any functions or responsibilities of parish

            So put that in your cadilla and smoke it. That will bring me back to doe.

            • Jesse Cone says

              Here are some questions; I can answer most of them.

              Why present a vetted candidate if there is a substantial reason not to consecrate him?

              Why spend the money to have an assembly when the predictable outcome is they’ll elect a candidate you will not? (He’d been elected before!)

              If you were a member of the Synod and found yourself diametrically opposed to welcoming Fr. Gerasim to the episcopacy, what would you do?

              How would administrative training have helped +Seraphim, +Mark, +Matthias, etc? If not, how is this “learning from past mistakes”?

              What guarantees has the Synod provided to ensure the DOS their assembly was not a waste of money?

              Does this make the Synod of Bishops look bad?

              What will happen in October if the Synod still refuses to acknowledge the election at the DOS assembly?

        • Paul Stasi says

          Helga, I am not a lawyer and not even close to being a tbeologion, but it appears to me that if a person is convicted of a crime in a court of law then the synod should assume that the person is guilty and act accordingly. They must assume that evidence is reliable. As to what penalty to give Storheim, I suppose they will have to determine what cannons of the Church he violated and what the proscribed penance is to be. For example, I recall reading in the cannons that if a man lays with a man, if he is a priest let him be returned to the laity. The Canadian Courts has already determined that this happened- did they not? I don’t understand the need of the synod to reexamine evidence unless they are trying to weasel out of paying restitution to Storheim’s victims.

        • Maria von Trapp:

          The policy is crystal clear: A conviction equals deposition


          What bothers me is that they may feel pressured to depose Archbishop Seraphim simply because their policy demands that conviction equals deposition, not because they make an independent finding of guilt based on the evidence.

          CORRECTION. The policy (section 9.10) dictates SUSPENSION of clergy upon criminal conviction. Quote: “(A) On conviction of a felony or misdemeanor arising out of the same or similar events that are the subject of a complaint under these Policies, Standards and Procedures, a Cleric or Lay Worker shall be automatically suspended from their duties (if not already suspended) and in the case of a Cleric, from all priestly functions, until the effective date of a Final Decision under these rules.”

          • Melanie Jula Sakoda says

            Maria von Trapp is correct, as the Synod conceded on February 6, 2015 (http://oca.org/news/headline-news/court-upholds-conviction-of-archbishop-seraphim):

            “The process leading to a spiritual court will commence as mandated by the Canons of the Orthodox Church and by the Policies on Sexual Misconduct of the Orthodox Church in America, the latter of which require that clergy who have been convicted of child sexual abuse be deposed by the Holy Synod of Bishops.”

            Your reading of the policy is incomplete, OOM.

            Section 9.10(C) says:

            “For all purposes under these Policies, Standards and Procedures, and for purposes of any Final Decision, conviction of a Cleric or Lay Worker of a criminal offense arising out of the same or similar events that are the subject of a complaint herein, is conclusive proof of the commission of the criminal offense and is conclusive evidence that allegations which correspond to those contained in the criminal offense in the Complaint have been substantiated.”

            Section 10.05(B) says:

            “Any Clergy who admits or is found to have committed child sexual abuse shall be suspended by the applicable Ruling Bishop, shall be deposed by the Holy Synod of Bishops, and shall be permanently prohibited from exercising any functions or responsibilities of parish ministry.”

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              All the bishops of a province, ALL the bishops of an autocephalous Church together, united, , are the supreme canonical authority of any Church, and NOT because any previously published policy or regulation or golden calf of a”statute” says so. Mrs. Sakoda is careless in her language if she avers that conviction EQUALS deposition. Rather deposition may be imposed as a RESULT of conviction. If what I state were untrue, then my parents would have had no choice but to circumcise me. Some of our recent “policies” reflect ‘current (or even MBA) wisdom.” And an ostrich-like avoidance of Church teaching and Tradition!

              • Salemlemko says

                Thanks for sharing Love BT! That’s more info than we need.

                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                  Oh Salemlenko, I didn’t realize you were interested! So be assured that my circumcision was my parents’ CHOICE. Of course, they had no idea back in 1932 that circumcision might prevent transmission of AIDS or the cervical cancer that afflicts so many of the spouses of the uncircumcised. I just wanted to point out that the Synod of the Apostles ALSO could override all such “policies.”

              • Maria Von Trapp says

                The Bishop is incorrect when he says that deposition “may be imposed” by the OCA HS as the penalty for a criminal sexual conviction in the secular courts. Like it or not, Ms. Sakoda has it right when she sites the OCA policy Section 10.05B which states that a cleric found guilty of a criminal conviction “shall be deposed.” The entire HS unanimously approved the existing sexual misconduct policy during the Storheim criminal trial. It’s been 15 months since the original conviction, and the Bishops have failed to follow their own policy. There have been numerous other sexual misconduct issues, including depositions, over the last two years. Yet, Storheim continues to get a free pass. Why?

                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                  Obviously, “Maria, The fact is that the Bishops may impose a policy and then decide to disobey it. THEY are the authority and decide themselves when to impose their own policy. Mrs. Sakoda thinks they are forced (by?) to follow whatever rules they themselves make up!
                  There’s no policy which states “If the Bishops do not follow their rule they are punished.”

                  Or do you and Mrs Sakoda know of some canon that says Holy Synods must follow their own rules/
                  Anyhow we see that many things allegedly created by the Synod were really products of the admin crowd which includes the Metropolitan Council.
                  A policy is a policy, NOT a canon.

                  • lexcaritas says

                    If what you say is true, Your Grace, then the language should not be “shall be suspended,” “shall be deposed,” and “shall be permanently prohibited, but “shall subject to suspension,” “shall be subject to deposition,” and “may be permanently prohibited.”

                    Grammar is important and the legislator should follow his own legislation until it be modified. To act otherwise is arbitrary and lawless and makes a charade of the whole concept of legislation.

                    Christ is risen.

                    • I think Vladyka is claiming that the statutes were not written by or adopted by the Holy Synod, but by some other entity of the OCA. (Please correct me if I have misunderstood. ) Therefore they do not have the force of “real” canons. I would also point our that even with the canons, Orthodox tradition has never treated them in a legalistic fashion. They are guidelines to be used by clergy, with discretion. Were they not, most of us would be undergoing lengthy periods of excommunication.

                      Now, as to the wisdom, in today’s litigious climate, of having a contemporarily written statute on the books and not following it? That is another matter. I know that in general, the only thing worse than not having a policy is to have one and not follow it. Because if something goes wrong, you are condemned out of your own mouth.

                      But if the man is in prison, not a lot can go wrong until he gets out.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Dear “lexcaritas,” please pay attention to language. Policy” is not regulation, nor is it law or legislation or statute.. Any “shalls” in a POLICY are not commands or laws. They but express intent but not obligation. And even the policy in question did not say that conviction EQUALS suspension or deposition. Careful reading is always recommended, especially among the Orthodox!

                • Maria:

                  Section 10.05(B) says:

                  “Any Clergy who admits or is found to have committed child sexual abuse shall be suspended by the applicable Ruling Bishop, shall be deposed by the Holy Synod of Bishops, and shall be permanently prohibited from exercising any functions or responsibilities of parish ministry.”


                  The Bishop is incorrect when he says that deposition “may be imposed” by the OCA HS as the penalty for a criminal sexual conviction in the secular courts. Like it or not, Ms. Sakoda has it right when she sites the OCA policy Section 10.05B which states that a cleric found guilty of a criminal conviction “shall be deposed.”

                  Maria, has it occurred to you that: 1. deposition can only be imposed by a SPIRITUAL COURT after deliberation by the synod (possibly including evidence from a criminal proceeding), that 2. section 10.05B refers to the outcome of the SPIRITUAL COURT, and that 3. no Holy Synod is bound by policies or procedures not found in the holy canons of the church, regardless of how YOU interpret those policies and procedures, as Vladyka has pointed out? NO POLICY DOCUMENT – especially one as hastily considered and poorly thought out as this – is BINDING on the synod. The policy document only confuses matters and leads to unwarranted expectations of “automatic this” and “automatic that.”

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  You are apparently not aware that in Canada and the United States, a conviction by a trial court is not final until after the appeal process has been exhausted. I hope this helps.

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    Well, it’s final, all right, or you couldn’t appeal from it. But it’s not “final final”. But while it stands, it’s final. For instance, you are usually in prison as a result while your appeal is pending.

                    The consequences of the conviction attach when it is entered by the trial court.

  15. Engaged Observer says

    Yes, it certainly does give the impression that the Synod may be simply throwing the DoS a bone while they find a way to get someone else into the bishop’s position.

    Helga, I love the Lucy-holding-the-football analogy — how apt! Seems that some in the OCA central administration rely on there being plenty of Charlie Browns out there among the faithful.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Engaged Observer–There may be some, even many, Charlie Browns among the faithful. It is really to their credit that they trust their pastors–bishops and priests–and are not hyper-critical and excitable like some folks on this blog. It is also a fact that many of these latter types have picked up their marbles and gone elsewhere. However, I suspect that many of the DOS “Charlie Browns” will quit being so come October 15th if the canonical election of Fr Gerasim does not occur without grave reasons for the rejection of the nearly unanimous nomination by the clergy and faithful of the Diocese.

      • So only 7 months to create some grave reasons. Has a committee been formed to handle that yet?

        • Heracleides says

          I predict a conversation in Syosset along these lines will occur in the coming months:

          “Instruct Tikhon to release a statement saying Gerasim screwed up as DOS administrator on matters X, Y, and Z.”

          “Excellent – that should more than suffice to bring this farce to an end. Thank God we had the foresight to tell those clowns on the Synod NOT to make him a bishop but rather keep him on a tight ‘administrative’ leash.”

          “Lol. Indeed. Makes disposing of him, the ultimate goal afterall, so much easier.”

          “If only it had worked out this smoothly with Jonah… oh well – live and learn – we nailed it this time around. Tell Benjamin to get Brum off his bum – it’s time to bring him into play.”


  16. Here is my question, as an observer who is about to join an OCA parish in the DOS (after 10 wonderful years at Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox in Linthicum, MD): Is the DOS the actual problem here, for the Synod?

    Is the DOS out of step with the rest of the OCA on key moral and cultural issues? Plus, the DOS seems to be growing, as opposed to the OCA norm elsewhere, and has a strong foundation, a strong sense of identity among its priests?

    Is the DOS a good fit for this Synod?

    • 1. The Diocese of the South, West and Canada do indeed have a certain intimacy amongst clergy and faithful that seems to be absent from other dioceses. It seems to be growing in New York under the leadership of Bp Michael. The largest diocese in the OCA, the Midwest, lost any sense of brotherhood during the times of “withholding”, and they have yet to gain back any sense of family (see the turn out at the consecration of their new bishop).

      2. The Diocese of the South is certainly no monolith. I would say it is as diverse as some of the other dioceses, but it may stand out because almost everything it does is new.

      3. The Diocese of the South, as the entire Orthodox Church in America upholds the same faith and doctrine, including moral teaching, of the Orthodox Church in the Oikumene. The more proper statement would be: there are clergy within all the dioceses in the OCA who have, or are attempting to push the envelope most especially on the matter of so-called gay “marriage”, but these clergy are certainly not amongst the majority, and thus far the not a singe bishop has endorsed any movement on the Church’s teaching on morality. One could argue that the lack of action against some clergy is itself an endorsement, and to that one, I would have to concede the point.

      4. The Diocese of the South may be starting missions at a greater rate than other dioceses, again the difference is the age of the diocese. The south and west are building, while rest of the OCA is maintaining, or attempting to rebuild. But in general the missions of the DOS are quite small in terms of number of faithful. In some quarters it is indeed growing.

      5. “Is the DOS a good fit for this Synod?”. It is a strange question to be sure. What does a “good fit” mean? What are the assumptions being made of “this Synod”?

      I think the actual problem here is that people tend to forget that it is not just a diocese gaining a bishop, it is the brotherhood of the Synod gaining a member. And so, the better, maybe more appropriate question would be: is Archimandrite Gerasim a good fit for the Synod. And by-golly the answer must be a resounding, Yes!. Why? because this Synod needs more true monastics ( if I may say – educated monastics) amongst its membership. The fact that Archimandrite Gerasim participated in the meetings of the Holy Synod, as reported, and that, as stated in the letter from the Metropolitan, he has been given wide latitude in applying his position as administrator are all positive signs.

      We here in the Diocese of the South may not like the time it has taken, and certainly the OCA has exaggerated the application of the Locum Tenens, at least in terms of duration, if also not in terms of scope, but I do think we also have to remember that the Synod’s caution comes from a history of electing and consecrating bad bishops, and I do mean its entire history and not just the recent debacles of Met. Jonah and Bp Matthaias. Think of +Job, +Nikolaj, +Mark (Fosburg), +Theodosius. None of these men should have ever been consecrated. I am thankful that we have a Holy Synod that is learning from past mistakes, and taking serious their brotherhood.

      Terry: welcome to the OCA; despite all our problems we are still the bearers of a vision of Orthodoxy in America which few others have; and we are the home to Theological Education. What other jurisdictions run two world class seminaries, and one very excellent diocesan seminary (St Herman’s)? That should make you feel at home.

  17. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    Today is the Annunciation, the Orthodox Church’s main celebration of Christian freedom, the first inkling, from an Angel, that the days of AAdam’s curse were actually coming to an end. Russian traditionally release birds from their cages today, In Moscow this was a big day for peddlars who sold caged birds which one could buy and release. The Patriarchs of Moscow traditionally release doves today, i.e., on the Annunciation. The greeks, however, usually commemorate “Okhi” day, a patriotic thing……

    • I think you have it wrong. Oxi Day is in October. The recent Greek celebration is for Independence Day.

    • The greeks, however, usually commemorate “Okhi” day, a patriotic thing…..

      Everybody knows that the war for Greek independence began on Kyriopascha (by design, of course), the year 1821. So the SECULAR celebration is Independence, and the CHURCH observance is Annunciation or Kyriopascha as the case may be. It may surprise SOME PEOPLE that the freedom promised by Christ is both spiritual AND political.

      • Everybody knows the Greeks will never again see a Kyriopascha. Ever.

        • Edward:

          Everybody knows the Greeks will never again see a Kyriopascha. Ever.

          Who’s to say the Greek church won’t return to the Julian calendar in the coming decades/centuries? Edward believes he can predict the future, with his categorical never/evers!

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            If they went to the Gregorian calendar there’d be even more of them in the near future!

          • It would be my great pleasure to eat crow about my statement should that eventuality take place. Having the Greek churches return to the Julian Calendar has certainly not been on any agenda of the so-called possibly upcoming “Great Council.”

    • Anna Gribowsky says

      And, your Grace, you also got it wrong about Russia, which happens to be on the Old Julian Calendar. So, no doves were released on March 25. They will be released on April 7.

      • Anna:

        And, your Grace, you also got it wrong about Russia, which happens to be on the Old Julian Calendar. So, no doves were released on March 25. They will be released on April 7.

        Good point, Anna. And won’t it be even more of an OBSCENE MOCKERY OF CHRIST if the current patriarch releases a dove on that day to symbolize “Christian freedom,” after giving his blessing to the death, destruction, rape and mayhem being inflicted on Russia’s neighbors by her government and its dogs of war.

      • Anna, here’s what the Patriarch said when releasing his doves in 2010:

        “Our epoch is not more trouble-free that the pagan one. However there’s one difference – the Savior has opened the door for us. God gives us power to protect ourselves and the whole human race from evil powers,” the Patriarch said.

  18. Gail Sheppard says

    So was Reagan really an atheist? Guess those stories about Joan Ceciel Quigley were true.

    You know me. Always the last to know.

    • lexcaritas says

      Nancy and Ron, Jr.; not Ronald, Sr. or Michael, obviously.

      Is your question a non sequitur, Gail. What brought this up?


      • Gail Sheppard says

        Non sequitur, mostly. I was watching CNN at the time. I was surprised that a son of our former president was atheist and it got me thinking why this would be so.

        I suspect Nancy Reagan’s “spirituality” might have seemed reasonable to her husband. He may have associated spirituality with Christianity. The blending of the two resulted in an atheist son, capitalizing on his father’s good name, using phrases like “the intrusion of religion in our secular government” and “working to keep state and church separate,” to support major change.

        The subtle tweaking of ideals usually results in a downward trajectory.

        I see this statement from the Holy Synod in a similar way. Through the use of words like “prayerful discussion” and “the Holy Synod has decided,” they are attempting to bring legitimacy to actions that deviate from the status quo. In other words, there is some subtle tweaking going on here, which may be cause for concern.


        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          I thought the Reagans’ spirituality” was partly based on astrology?

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Your Grace, “a horoscope is not only a photo of your material and psychological world but also your spiritual world.” This website says so. 😉


          • lexcaritas says

            It was rather liberal Nancy who delved into astrology with Jean Dixon, was it not? Not Ronald. Do we know what he thought about it?

            No doubt both bear some “blame,” for Ron Jr.’s world view, but children are not robots and parents are not the only influence on their lives.

            While Ron Jr. claims atheism, he differs in this from Patti, Maureen and Michael.

            Is God, by the way, to “blame” from Adam and Eve? Are they for Cain? What, then, of Abel and Seth, who “turned out” better?

            How responsible are bishops, by the way, for priests and people under their oversight and tutelage who go wrong? Is it even possible to answer these questions without an almost divine knowledge of the facts and circumstances and careful discernment? Is this an activity in which we should engage from a distance?

          • Well, Vladyka Queen Elizabeth I believed in astrology, and she didn’t do too badly. 🙂

        • Gail:

          I was surprised that a son of our former president was atheist and it got me thinking why this would be so.

          How many sons and daughters of Orthodox Christians have left the church? In the good ole’ US of A, the answer is MOST! Does that surprise you, too? There are far fewer Orthodox Christians in today’s church in the U.S. than ever emigrated to the country. Most came 1880-1920.


          Through the use of words like “prayerful discussion” and “the Holy Synod has decided,” they are attempting to bring legitimacy to actions

          Gail, would you prefer that the Holy Synod bring ILLEGITIMACY to its actions? Would the phrases “un-prayerful non-discussion” and “The Holy Synod flipped a coin about the whole mess” please you any better?

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Truthfully, everything surprises me, OMM. I love that about getting older!

            I do not think the Holy Synod flipped a coin. I think their actions were deliberate and well considered. They believe the Church needs “tweaking.”

            This is not an indictment, but rather an observation.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              Thanks, Gale! You gave several merry minutes thinking of Dr. Luther as “THE GREAT TWEAKER!”

              • Gail Sheppard says

                A great TWEAKER, huh?! Who knew?!

                Did I say how much I LOVE surprises? You never fail to disappoint, Your Grace!

  19. my head hurts says

    Does no one find it peculiar that we now have the Metropolitan serving as Locum Tenens of the South – after the synod specifically put rules in place forbidding the Metropolitan being Locum Tenens? Oh wait, that was during the time of +Jonah. Now that he’s been replaced, well, that rule can be ignored.

    This is nothing less than an failure of leadership. This nomination was not a surprise. The candidate did everything he was asked to do, and then some. The Synod put in place a ‘vetting” process. Those on the list were deemed to be candidates acceptable to the Synod.

    Except now Fr Gerasim is not acceptable. So the Synod can ignore that rule too.

    This is a handy way to disenfranchise the South at the upcoming All American Council, which, ironically enough, is being hosted by the South. But they won’t have a voice on the Synod for any actions taken at the AAC. Well DOS, they don’t want your voice or ideas.

    Just your money.

    • Gene Rose says

      My understanding was that he was sent to Dallas (and Los Angeles, before that) to gain experience. I was born at night but, not LAST night!

  20. And thus my questions, listed above:

    Is the DOS the actual problem here, for the Synod? Is the DOS out of step with the rest of the OCA on key moral and cultural issues? Plus, the DOS seems to be growing, as opposed to the OCA norm elsewhere, and has a strong foundation, a strong sense of identity among its priests?

    Is the DOS a good fit for this Synod?

  21. As I have said before, none of the nonsense (Arida, jerking the DOS around, you name it…) will stop until concrete and drastic action is taken to hurt Syosset in the pocketbook. No other language will be understood or taken seriously. Anyone who actually wants change has to come to grips with starving the beast. Everything else is mere buzzing and whining that will be ignored as long as those in charge are comfortable.

    • Dear Edward,

      Look at what “starving the beast” accomplished in 2007 & 2008? Sure, maybe in the short term it caused Metropolitan Herman to step down, but in the long term it hurt the brotherhood of the Church.

      Please tell me how ‘starving the beast’ is going to shut down the voice of Fr Robert Arida? How is “starving the beast” going to change the caution the Holy Synod is taking in installing someone who will be a bishop for the next four decades?

      Since Fr Robert has nothing to do with the Chancery located in Syosset, New York, I fail to see how “starving the beast” will have any effect. By “starving the beast” you will make it difficult for the Holy Synod to meet and function properly. So how exactly will that help in the so-called “jerking the DOS around”.

      You know what will help? People like your self engaging the Church, stepping up with ideas on how to build the Church up in a more positive way, and making yourself and your concerns, hopes and fears present at deanery, diocesan and national church meetings. Everyone can be a keyboard warrior. Why don’t you try to be something better. A true contributor to the upbuilding of the Church?

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Erving–If you are new to Monomakhos, you should know that there is a very vocal anti-OCA group here that nothing can satisfy. Some have already jumped ship, mostly to ROCOR. Others can only be satisfied by the undoing of “great injustices” done to particular people–like the retired Metropolitan Jonah, Bishop Nikolai, the defrocked priest Kondratick, etc… I think this solid core of malcontents will go to their grave feeling the way that they do and there is no reasoning with them.

        • who gains says


          If you are new to Monomakhos, you should know there is a very vocal pro-OCA group here that nothing can fluster. It does not matter how many inconsistencies, non sequiturs, new procedures or questionable decisions are made by the Holy Synod, this group will never question or even permit the suggestion of a poor decision or impropriety without jumping in to defend it. I think this solid core of sunshine pumpers will go to their graves feeling that they are being ruled over by equals to St. John Chrysostom and Basil the Great.

        • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

          Mr. Kraeff, isn’t “malcontents” a bit harsh and dismissive of a group of folks most of whom, I would presume, you have never met in person? You and I certainly have not made an acquaintance, but I suspect that, our diametrically opposed attitudes and behavior toward His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah notwithstanding, we would share much in common, particularly concerning our military experiences and overall political-ethical assessments of American culture and U.S. public policy.

          Moreover, I can assure you that, since my canonical release from the OCA to ROCOR and the subsequent transition of the OCA mission in Stafford, VA, that I serve into a parish of ROCOR, I have greeted each morning with relief, joy, and gratitude that my parishioners and I have been delivered from our previous malaise and are now free to live and grow in accordance with Orthodox Tradition and to minister to one another and the wider community with full confidence in–and respect and love for–our hierarchs.

        • Carl,

          That is so simplistic. I am surprised that is all you can muster.

          Those who have fled the OCA or who stay fighting by questioning its leaders are doing so because they believe that what once was the OCA, what it could have been, and maybe, just maybe, can be salvaged, not as a stand alone jurisdiction, but parishes and clergy who are worth saving, do so because souls are more important than saving a failed OCA.

          We fight because we still see great OCA hypocrisy. The Fr. Gerasim fiasco is just the latest. The OCA elects and consecrate bishops with dubious moral character yet they delay and delay a man who is beyond question. Why? Could it be that if he is consecrated that he will clean up protected gay clergy in the DOS? Those who have protected these clergy and continue to do so, not electing Gerasim because he would clean up this mess?

          You speak of your support for Fr Burch, who has been vocal about a particular gay priest in the DOS whose lifestyle is a scandal. To his credit he has spoken out, but he also has not drawn any line in the sand, putting his own position and “career” in jeopardy to speak truth to power. Others have and paid a terrible price, a lesson not lost on Burch.

          Now we are told to be patient, all will be well. Really? What has really changed to give us any sense to now trust these men?

          +Benjamin, +Nikon, +Nathaniel, +Michael all want Bishop Brum to be the next DOS bishop. +Tikhon’s letter is just buying time, another delay, and I have to agree with others who have posted here, a blatant exercise to disenfranchise the DOS at the upcoming AAC on the very territory of the DOS. We will have NO episcopal presence on that Synod during the AAC. It will be an event that could substantially change the very dynamic between Syosset, diocese and parish. These suggested Statute changes have traditionally been objected to by the DOS. Anything that would neuter the role of the diocesan bishop and cede authority to Syosset has historically been objected to by +Archbishop Dmitri. But, how convienent to not have his successor in Atlanta.

          “Solid core of malcontents” won’t have to go to their grave fighting if people like you wake up and stop trying to defend the indefensible. I am not anti-OCA. I am pro-truth and integrity and transparency. You can lay the blame for all things OCA terrible at the feet of those you mentioned, however I do not see the OCA any more truthful or transparent and the actions and excuses given to obstruct the will of the DOS in overwhelmingly nominating Fr. Gerasim is just the most recent example of OCA toxic leadership.

          I mourn the death of the OCA because it has made our witness more feeble by its blunderings and now attempts to cater to a more secular model of Church by putting Fr. Gerasim through a meat-grinder allegedly so that he can gain more “administrative” experience! If those who are requiring this would take the log out of their own eye and see that everyone of their dioceses are administrative disasters, and were honest, then maybe the DOS can finally have a bishop who its faithful believe in.

          Sorry, Carl. OCA hypocrisy is just too much to stomach.

          • Daniel E Fall says

            They delay because of past mistakes.

            Everyone is overthinking

            If they didn’t like Gerasim-it would have been different.

            Don’t overcomplicate matters.

            Keep it simple.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              Perhaps they remember being stampeded into electing Jonah as their first hierarch: they feel that was horrible boner, and so they’re leaning over backwards, thinking (!!) they’ve learned something?

              • Maria Von Trapp says

                The delay on Fr. Gerasim is payback for the DOS refusing +Mark. It’s kindly called white collar body-checking. Put plainly, Revenge.

                • Elliott Williams says


                  I think you may be right on some level. Certainly the bitterness of +Mark against the South is firmly entrenched in the Synod of Bishops. Add to this his abysmal record so far as Bishop, opps, sorry, now ARCHbishop of Philadelphia with sagging clergy morale, demands for more money from parishes, putting one of his fair haired boys from Antiochene days in the Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre after forcing a senior diocesan priest in the Cathedral into retirement, and now will move his pet priest friend out of Wilkes-Barre because only about 15 people show up on an average Sunday to a plum parish (by EPA standards) to Bethlehem, PA, the South knew best and the Synod can’t stand it.

                  All of this is to say that the poor folks in EPA had little choice but to have +Mark shoved down their throats. They weren’t strong enough or brave enough to stand up to Syosset, like the DOS did in their nomination of Gerasim.

                  The DOS was right in rejecting +Mark by running him out of town on a rail – Texas Style. Of course, +Jonah was wrong in ever accepting +Mark in the first place, but that is another story.

                  So, if the South now has to pay the price for the petty revenge of the little men on the Synod, count is as a medal of honor for courage. Will Gerasim ever be elected by the Synod? Who knows. But if he isn’t and some Syosset troll is foisted on Dallas like +Maymon was foisted on EPA, someone who has no connection or love for the See, good people will suffer needlessly.

                  • Older but Wiser says

                    What in the world are you talking about…EPA may not love Abp. Mark, there may be problems there, as you note, but the priest at the Wilkes-Barre cathedral was very ill, was he not, when he retired? And Bethlehem has a rector, who is not ready to retire, having been there only a couple of years, and a very young man.

                • Why would you suggest revenge when you aren’t even a member of the DOS?

    • Hyperbole says

      Just remember that withholding your tithes will also hurt your parish and your priest. If there’s a way to avoid paying your assessment, you can do that, but I’d hate to see a bunch of parishes or priests running in the red due to lost tithes when they’re innocent bystanders.

      • All I am saying is that when key people at high levels in a church decide to act like self interested politicians with agendas that are fundamentally secular, it is foolish to expect that they will be persuaded by appeals to scripture and tradition. There are two things that are actually effective: prayer and starving the beast. And the two are not mutually exclusive.

        I don’t care what people in the OCA do. What I am pointing out is that the mindset in Syosset seems to be, “some people will grumble and whine for a while but all we have to do is wait them out — the money will keep flowing and we will eventually wear them down and get what we want.” So don’t bother wIth the complaining. Either suffer in silence and pray, or do something.

        Don’t kid yourself. Syosset makes that exact calculation when it fails to respond to something like the Arida situation or jerks the DOS around: “they can’t hurt us without hurting the priests and parishes they love — all they can do is complain, and they will eventually tire of that.”

        For the record, I didn’t starve the beast in 2007 or 2008. Everything going on in Syosset at that time was pretty much what I expected from them, so I felt it would be hypocritical of me to act shocked. I had chosen to be in an OCA parish of my own free will, and having my money go to Syosset was the price I had to pay for that privilege — and in the case of that parish and that diocese, it was a true privilege indeed. I would point out that there are ways that individuals and parishes can decrease assessments while mitigating it’s effects on the local parish, though.

        • Am I to understand that you are saying–if I don’t get what I want I will quit contributing. Wrong answer. Giving is a matter of faithfulness not agreement. If it were a matter of agreement we would always have individuals or groups within a parish withholding funds. Furthermore we all know Jesus had serious disagreements with the Jewish religious leaders of his time yet there is no record of him encouraging, suggesting or demanding that people withhold their tithe. Your suggestion that money talks is a prime example of secularism.

          • When church leaders act like secular leaders pursuing secular agendas, they have IMHO, ceded the right to having the benefit of the doubt, and the faithful should have no qualms about doing battle on the secularized field that those authorities themselves chose.

            • Great response–fight sin by sinning.

              • Sinning? How do you read a man’s heart to know that? Does one sin if one gives to another church entity, or to the poor and hungry, rather than to the church entity that you say everyone must? Does one sin if one gives in a way that maximizes what stays in ones local parish and minimizes what goes to Syosset? Does a parish council sin if, while staying within the rules, it minimizes what it pays in central church assessments?

                For that matter, I am unaware of anything in the Orthodox tradition that makes it a sin not to write checks to the church at all. There is far more in Scripture about giving to the poor and to widows and orphans than there is about giving to an ecclesiastical structure. And ultimately, it is ours to give as we see fit. St. Peter put it well: “Whiles it remained was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?” We give out of love for God and because we see worthy causes that we want to help, not because we are obligated for fear of sinning by not dutifully and unthinkingly shovelling money into an entity that is not doing its job, but that still demands that we give to it — and in the dollar figures that it demands of us . If someone’s conscience bothers them because of how Syosset has historically used the hard earned dollars they are giving and would rather give to a needy parish’s building fund or would rather put cash in an unmarked envelope and slip it into a hardworking priest’s pocket, who are you to judge that man a sinner? God gave us brains and intends for us to use them. Again, if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. If you like what Syosset does, send them extra.

          • my head hurts says

            I do not quit contributing. My contributions take different forms. In kind contributions to the church. Personal contributions to the priest. Alms to the poor in the parish. Pay into the building funds. Support of monasteries.

            Many people have simply redirected the tithe to other areas. The tithe is to God, not Syossett. His church and His work can be supported in many many ways. And it seems profligate to waste money by throwing it toward ineffective, wasteful, self absorbed, dare I say corrupt endeavors.

            Just what, precisely, does supporting the mansion in Syosset do to further spread the Gospel?

            • At last, a voice of reason. There are many more things one could add to your list. I know that it is shocking to suggest that the OCA chancery isn’t God, but someone had to do it.

        • Edward:

          There are two things that are actually effective: prayer and starving the beast.

          A propos of the “prayerful discussion” discussion, above, maybe Edward can let us all know how to prayerfully “starve the beast” since HE KNOWS that they are “ACTUALLY” EFFECTIVE.

          • If your question were a serious one I might answer it. If the shoe doesn’t fit don’t wear it. My comments were self evidently intended only for those who are distressed about the current direction of the OCA central administration.

            • Daniel E Fall says

              Years and years of financial impropriety drove the last withholding of funds. If everytime things did not go one parishes way; funds were withheld; it would not be church.

              If everytime the unhappy parish jumped jurisdictions; it would not be church.

              Bandwagons and malt shops, places of refuge, revenge, fear, distrust-the motives need careful reflection.

              If the DoS reacts poorly; they certainly won’t allow the nominee.

              Easy on the caffeine friends…

      • Hyperbole says

        I’m not sure I see the point of the thumbs up/down voting system here. 7 likes and 17 dislikes on my comment- what, 17 of you really think it’s appropriate to withhold your financial contributions and starve your priest and his family? Or was I downvoted simply for politely posting a comment about taking caution rather than rash action? If you feel that you must punish the synod by making it hard for your parish to pay the electrical bills, or making your priest need to sign up for food stamps, knock yourselves out- the final judgement for that action will come someday.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          This “voting” thing is very dubious in my opinion, but it’s George’s site…..

          It’s better than the former system, which just showed a “net vote”. It was not so easy to figure out in every case how that translated into positive & negative votes. I wasted a certain amount of time now and then on that…..

  22. Why does this Synod remind me of a band of thieves reluctant to let go of the golden goose?

    • Daniel E Fall says

      Imagine if bishops didn’t have powertrips; things would be different.

      Please pass the cabbage rolls.

  23. Now, as a newcomer — soon — to the OCA, here is the paragraph that leaps out at me, from all of the give and take above.

    — +Benjamin, +Nikon, +Nathaniel, +Michael all want Bishop Brum to be the next DOS bishop. +Tikhon’s letter is just buying time, another delay, and I have to agree with others who have posted here, a blatant exercise to disenfranchise the DOS at the upcoming AAC on the very territory of the DOS. We will have NO episcopal presence on that Synod during the AAC. It will be an event that could substantially change the very dynamic between Syosset, diocese and parish. These suggested Statute changes have traditionally been objected to by the DOS. Anything that would neuter the role of the diocesan bishop and cede authority to Syosset has historically been objected to by +Archbishop Dmitri. But, how convienent to not have his successor in Atlanta. —

    Now, discuss. This is the topic that scares me. What are the doctrinal issues at stake in this clash? What are the details of the proposed changes? Who can provide actual information on such questions?

    • tmatt,

      Orthodox ecclesiology is very clear The diocesan bishop is responsible for the life of his diocese. That is without question or debate. Yet, the suggested revisions to the OCA Statute is attempting to cede authority away from the diocesan bishop when it comes to discipline of his clergy by setting up an uber-prokurator system that decides questions of clergy discipline. This is outside the bounds of established Orthodoxy. But here is the deeper crisis.

      If OCA diocesan bishops are WILLING to cede this authority, are they still, in effect, really diocesan bishops or just glorified auxiliaries?

      It is not enough for a bishop to accept all the positives of being a bishop without also taking on the yoke of dealing with matters of clergy discipline. It is already an objective fact that Syosset has created a super structure to make invasive inter-diocesan decisions. No bishop has the right to interfere in domestic diocesan matters, yet the current OCA Synod has abused this canonical reality time after time. Syosset has ignored diocesan spiritual courts when diocesan clergy have been exonerated of charges. The fact that diocesan bishops have abdicated their responsibilities and not objected to this does not change canon law. Rather it has exposed the weakness of OCA diocesan bishops.

      If a Church is unable to field bishops who don’t understand their role and responsibilities it is not up to a central power to assume that authority, and if it does, then it no longer can be an autocephalous Church.

      The life of the Church resides in the diocese, not in a central authority. If that were the case, then we might as well have a Pope. We do not not, yet, the OCA wants to have it both ways.

      It is clear that OCA dioceses are weak, not because they must be, ( as the new Statute changes are trying to incarnate) but because they have not been able to present hierarchs, who in practical matters are willing to accept their canonical responsibilities. This is the real danger because if bishops are not willing to take on their martyrific roles, why should anyone, clergy or laity, do the same.

      Now, maybe the only real diocese in the OCA, the Diocese of the South, will be have no bishop at the so-called “All-American Council” this July. Why? Because the bishops were unwilling to accept the Holy Spirit willed decision of that diocese to nominate its candidate for its bishop. A man who has been a martyr, witness, in obedience to the will of that Synod. A man who has done EVERYTHING asked of him.

      tmatt, if you are now going to be moving to a part of the country that is in the geographical boundaries of the OCA Diocese of the South, I hope you will have a good parish, led by a good priest with good fellow parishioners. But, be aware that the OCA as a jurisdiction is impaired. It does not mean that you cannot find spiritual growth and fellowship in a particular community, but as a jurisdiction, well, as Archbishop Dmitri was fond of saying, “tend to your own knitting.” Keep your focus local because beyond, and especially in Syosset, it is a mess. He, of blessed memory, took on that yoke and protected his flock of Syosset incursions, but now, without a bishop, who will protect those good and faithful clergy and laity?

      • Your final paragraph reinforces many of my observations about the DOS that I made elsewhere yesterday. Thanks for the confirmation.

        You are right that the Chancery is involved to a dismaying level in what should be intra-diocesan matters of clergy discipline, as I have observed. Yet I have also known of one instance of a wrongly disciplined clergyman who, when he appealed outside his diocese for help, was told there was nothing that could be done. I am not sure that anyone really knows who’s in charge.

      • Daniel E Fall says

        You are overgeneralizing to make your point, failing to cite one specific to make your argument seem weightier while slamming the OCA leaders under the name Birch.


      • Birch:

        No bishop has the right to interfere in domestic diocesan matters, yet the current OCA Synod has abused this canonical reality time after time. Syosset has ignored diocesan spiritual courts when diocesan clergy have been exonerated of charges.

        Can Birch provide specifics for these claims? When has Syosset EVER “ignored” a diocesan spiritual court, and in what manner have they done so?

  24. Carl Kraeff says

    Birch wrote: “Orthodox ecclesiology is very clear The diocesan bishop is responsible for the life of his diocese. That is without question or debate. Yet, the suggested revisions to the OCA Statute is attempting to cede authority away from the diocesan bishop when it comes to discipline of his clergy by setting up an uber-prokurator system that decides questions of clergy discipline. This is outside the bounds of established Orthodoxy.”

    Birch is wrong. Let me say it again a different way: Birch is apparently ignorant of the Apostolic Canon 34 that is the most applicable canon on the books. It says:

    “The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first among them and account him as their head, and do nothing of consequence without his consent; but each may do those things only which concern his own parish, and the country places which belong to it. But neither let him (who is the first) do anything without the consent of all; for so there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.” (My emphasis)

    This is a critical exception to the rule: if any matter affects the entire church, the local bishop does not have free rein. So, there are matters that may indeed be decided not at the diocesan level but higher. So, unless Mr. Birch provide us with specific examples to bolster his reckless accusation, he needs to retract his statement.