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Archive for March, 2011

Accuracy in Reporting?

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“Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.” -Deuteronomy 5:33

Perhaps I missed it, but which of the big players – the hierarchs comprising the Holy Synod, the OCA’s officers, the members of the Metropolitan Council – in the current difficulty has suggested that anyone is crazy (or less than sane)? I don’t recall seeing anyone in a significant role doing that. Or is this like the same folks’ talk about deposition, when it was the Metropolitan himself who first mentioned deposition, with OCATruth repeating it further?

A request for a mental health evaluation carries no implication of madness, certainly not in the year 2011, when we now regard a huge spectrum of behaviors not as disqualifying handicaps but rather as conditions to be managed with a large variety of treatments: mental, physical, and spiritual. [UPDATE 5:13pm EDT: Further, the minutes from the Santa Fe meeting make no mention of anything other than concerns about physical and spiritual health. So, how is it that this is transformed into these other claims?]

Honest leadership (and I emphasize honest) requires that people understand the positions of those who agree and disagree with them and then recount them accurately in discussion and argument. Doing otherwise is a violation of the ninth commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” That’s even in the Bible, in Exodus 20:16. One common set of questions for self-examination prior to confession (from the Antiochian Archdiocese’s pocket prayer book) reads as follows, italics mine:

Have I told lies, or added to or subtracted from the truth? Have I made careless statements or spoken evil of anyone? Have I told any secrets entrusted to me, or betrayed anyone? Have I gossiped about anyone or harmed their reputation? Have I concealed the truth, assisted in carrying out a lie, or pretended to commit a sin of which I was not guilty? Have I tried to see the good in others rather than their shortcomings?

It’s impossible to lead without the willingness to give sufficient attention to what is being said. Sometimes it even means reviewing what exactly was said, to ensure that our memories are correct. Otherwise, we end up tilting at windmills, and, worse,  bearing false witness against our neighbor by attributing to him things he did not say.

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

March 31st, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Iniquity for the Children

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“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” -1 Corinthians 14:33

I start today’s brief post with a couple of Scripture passages that pertain to our current situation in the OCA. Please read them now, rather than skipping over them to get to my comments below. If you’re not reading the Scriptures regularly, you’ve got no business even thinking about this situation.

And the Lord passed by before [Moses], and proclaimed, “he Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” -Exodus 34:6-7

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  –Ephesians 4:1-3

Most of the readers here already know of the situation that has developed between Metropolitan Jonah, the Holy Synod, and the Metropolitan Council. Like me, most readers know little beyond what has been produced by two web sites and a couple of less-than-edifying mailing lists.

The basic trajectory was an internal dispute within the Holy Synod, followed by a leak by a former bishop with less than honorable intentions, a lot of other chatter and documents, and, in the end, the Metropolitan himself postponing the spring meetings of both the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council. Since that time, the Holy Synod has been quiet, as has the Metropolitan Council. Perhaps they’re all talking privately, but that’s generally no problem (absent a legal gag order).

Nonetheless, the continuing spitefulness from the retired bishop in a public forum, the ongoing conjectures and accusations from a site claiming to be committed to the truth, resolutions from a diocesan council, more negative gossip in the various mailing lists and discussion fora, has served only to sow discord and distrust in many corners of the Orthodox Church in America.

This discord is already having tragic consequences. The distrust is daily making it more difficult for our leaders – the bishops of the Holy Synod, the esteemed members of the Metropolitan Council, the officers and administrators in Syosset – to be reconciled. His Beatitude talked pointedly about the role of discord prior to his selection as Metropolitan: “If we can build that community of love and respect, seeing how our passions have distracted us from that living communion with God, have turned us against one another, and have created all sorts of hostility between–well, we just saw it, between the body of the All-American Council and the Synod of the Bishops. … Between the Synod of the Bishops and the Metropolitan Council–talk about a sick dysfunctional situation!”

Indeed. We are quickly moving to a position where each of us will be at each other’s throats, every part of it built on suspicion, accusation, and, saddest of all, falsehood. Such would be a position that makes reconciliation and resolution nearly impossible. (Of course, all is possible with the Holy Spirit, but human freedom can and does interfere.)

In spite of the difficulties within the Holy Synod, our bishops appear more united, and more cohesive, than they have been in decades. But, if this continues, we can expect a return to the old order of parochialism, meanness, and dysfunction. We can expect a return of the manipulators and thieves who stand ready to gorge themselves on money and sin amid the chaos. They will not be easily pushed out, if the last go-round was any indication. Once again, our own children will grow up distrustful of Christ’s own Church, and even more individuals – men, women, boys, girls, those enslaved to their passions, those who’ve never known a god willing to take on human flesh – will not hear the Gospel. Our sins will be visited upon our children, and our children’s children.

Lent is half over. We have spent these preceding weeks listening to all of this, distracting ourselves from holy things in favor of the trashy fare of the checkout lane.  It’s time for us to let our leaders pray (and even repent) rather than respond to the darts being hurled at them. It’s time for us to pray ourselves. I encourage each of us to add twelve metanias (prostrations) and accompanying prayers to our prayer rule for each time we think on this affair in the course of the day, simply to ensure that prayer is part of our deliberations.

I have written this in haste, and I ask your forgiveness for editorial sins and for any offense it causes. Kyrie eleison.

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

March 31st, 2011 at 9:26 am

Orthodox Leader Policy Change

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Back when I started this blog (see the first post), I wanted to encourage a more fruitful participation by readers through the requirement that individuals use real names. After all, in a face-to-face conversation, all parties know who their interlocutors are, if only to recognize them as individuals, as human beings worthy of respectful conversation.

What is clear here is that, for whatever reason, readers of this blog are overwhelmingly timid about making statements with their full names attached. Since the goal is for a greater discussion of the leadership challenges in North American Orthodoxy, the original requirement for full, real names is an impediment.

For at least the next month or so, this requirement is lifted, with the possibility of the change becoming permanent. I still think the use of real names shows maturity and a willingness to engage in Christian dialog even when there is disagreement. Thus, I encourage, in decreasing order of preference, the use of one’s full name, first name and last or middle initial, or first name only. Of course, it’s hard for me to tell if you’re using a pseudonym, if that’s really the way it has to be. An email address (which will never be disclosed, sold, bartered, or otherwise used for any purpose other than contacting you in relation to Orthodox Leader discussions) is still required.

Under no circumstances will I edit a comment. If it’s a minor problem and I have the time, I’ll ask you to fix it and resubmit. If it’s a major problem (to include name calling, invective, foul language, legal issues, etc.), I’ll just delete it.

Thanks in advance to those of you who have taken the time to read my meager words and especially to those who have taken the time to comment.

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

March 29th, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Site policies

Conciliarity is Obedience

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“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” -Philippians 2:8

A post from a few days ago included some excerpts from then-Bishop Jonah’s address at the last All-American Council. It is no overstatement to say that this address was the primary cause of the council delegates’ sending his name to the Holy Synod. In repudiating the corruption, the secrecy, the autocracy, and the paralysis that had come before, it proposed returning to an ancient image for leadership, in both style and substance, within the Orthodox Church in America.

Within that address, the line that garnered the greatest applause was the monumental declaration, “Authority is responsibility. Authority is accountability, it is not power.” However, another equivalency can be derived from +Jonah’s address: “Conciliarity is obedience.”

Consider then-Bishop Jonah’s words:

But the leadership that is within the Church, the leadership of bishops and the dioceses of the Metropolitan among the Synod–because what it the Metropolitan? He is the chairman of the Synod. The leadership of a parish priest in his parish: If you sit there and you lord it over your parishioners that ‘I am the priest and I can do whatever I want and I can spend the money however I want without accountability and without…’ you are not going to go very far. In fact you are likely to get thrown out because you will get into all sorts of problems.

“[Our leadership] has to be a voluntary cooperation. And obedience, within that context, is not some kind of, some guy, who can lord it over you and make you do what he wants you to and you are going to get in trouble one way or another. Obedience is cooperation out of love and respect.”

Using these statements as a basis, one can then say that proper Christian leadership is ascetic, inasmuch as it is a denial of self and the setting aside of personal desires in exchange for the edification (in Christ!), harmony, and cooperation (synergy) of the whole. This does not lead to democracy, for it does not represent a transfer of authority from one individual to many. Instead, it is an authority that finds its force in persuasion and meekness rather than in personal fiat or coercion, an authority working to achieve unity and harmony rather than discord and resentment. (For the record, meekness is not the quality of weakness, but rather the strength of bearing insult and injury without resentment and violence.)

It is in this spirit that our diocesan bishops, even the primate, promise to live in obedience to the Holy Synod. It is in this spirit that the OCA Statute describes the relationship between the parish priest and flock: “No activities in the parish can be initiated without his knowledge, approval, and blessing; neither should he do anything pertaining to the parish without the knowledge of his parishioners and parish organs elected by them, so that always and everywhere there may be unity, mutual trust, cooperation, and love.” (OCA Statute X.4) And if this applies to the priests, how much more should it apply to the bishops of the Church.

Of course, many of us already know of St. Ignatius’s exhortations that the faithful be obedient to the bishop and presbyters (priests), as demonstrated by his epistle to the Trallians (in but one instance among many):

…Let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ, and the bishop as Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father, and the presbyters as the sanhedrim of God, and assembly of the apostles. –Ep. Trallians III

Not only is there the simple comparison of the bishop with Christ and the presbyters as the apostles, but there is also the depiction of the presbyters as the “Sanhedrin” of God(*), which is to say they form a consultative body established by the Holy Spirit, arrayed around the master. While the reading of St. Ignatius is complicated slightly by the difficulty of understanding the precise historical relationship between the offices of bishop and presbyter(**), the imagery is absolutely clear.

Further, in the same chapter, Ignatius emphasizes that the bishop’s authority is not wielded as a club (italics added):

For I have received the manifestation of your love, and still have it with me, in your bishop, whose very appearance is highly instructive, and his meekness of itself a power; whom I imagine even the ungodly must reverence.

Indeed, the life in imitation of Christ’s meekness is not the property of a single bishop, but is instead shared abroad among all those who hold the office. This life is led in a spirit of service that is willing not only to give spiritual admonishment but also to receive it from the lives and words of others (italics added):

I do not issue orders to you, as if I were some great person. For though I am bound for His name, I am not yet perfect in Jesus Christ. For now I begin to be a disciple, and I speak to you as my fellow-servants. For it was needful for me to have been admonished by you in faith, exhortation, patience, and long-suffering. But inasmuch as love suffers me not to be silent in regard to you, I have therefore taken upon me first to exhort you that ye would run together in accordance with the will of God. –Ep. Ephesians III

Conciliarity is obedience, according to both Metropolitan Jonah and St. Ignatius. For a bishop, this kind of conciliarity is maintained particularly by communion, reciprocity, and mutual consideration – “voluntary cooperation” in the Metropolitan’s words – with his brother bishops, and secondarily in the shared prayerful deliberation with his flock. If the parish priest is exhorted not to say, “I am the priest and I can do whatever I want and I can spend the money however I want without accountability and without…,” what exhortation is to be given to our hierarchs?

As for the applicability of this understanding in our current situation in the Orthodox Church in America, more on that soon.

(*)The Sanhedrin functioned as the supreme court of Jewish life.

(**) St. Ignatius maintains a greater distinction between the offices of bishop and presbyter than the New Testament and patristic writers before him, but the presence of at least one bishop in each city leads to a natural conclusion that an individual bishop’s authority had a narrower geographical scope in the post-apostolic period than now.

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

March 28th, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Style vs. Substance

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In our current OCA conflict, commentators are taking opposing sides to the argument of whether actions of individual hierarchs, particularly Metropolitan Jonah, are matters of style or substance.

I offer up the following leadership behaviors questions for reflection by both sides in this conflict.  Nearly all of these are actual situations I’m familiar with, unrelated to our OCA conflict. For each one, consider whether it’s “style” or “substance.” I’d encourage readers to think about the “why” of each answer.

  1. A manager prefers email conversations to conference calls or in-person meetings. Is the manager’s preferred communication best attributed to style or substance?
  2. A corporate executive has no trouble making most decisions, but some of them, particularly those involving difficult interpersonal situations, has him regularly deferring those decisions until they’re critical. Is his procrastination a matter of style or substance?
  3. A team member absolute hates dealing with the rest of his team. He is hard to reach by telephone, responds to emails not more than twice per week, and provides only minimal information in response, so as to guard his standing on the team. Is his refusal to engage a matter of style or substance?
  4. Steve Jobs (Founder and CEO of Apple Inc) and Bobby Knight (legendary basketball coach) both have well-established reputations for screaming, table-pounding fits of passion when dealing with members of their teams who are not doing what they want. Is this method of dealing with disappointment or disagreement style or substance?
  5. A company CEO prefers the counsel of his trusted advisors to the counsel of paid professionals and senior managers brought in by his peers, accepting guidance from the former but rejecting the latter. Is the CEO’s decision to trust his own advisors a matter of style or substance?
  6. Former President Clinton preferred appointing trusted friends to sensitive positions, even when the friends appeared to lack the necessary qualifications and senior advisors questioned the wisdom of such appointments. Did Clinton’s actions qualify as style, or substance?
  7. A manager in a corporation learns of intimidation and abuse taking place within his team. He chooses to speak privately with the problem employee, failing to mention it in the human resources file in violation of corporate policies, in order to minimize the consequences for what he perceives as a minor transgression. Is the manager’s decision style or substance?
  8. Roman Catholic Monsignor William Lynn has been indicted with the accusation that he routinely transferred priests known to be molesting young men and boys to other parishes in order to cover up the abuse, protect the priests, and avoid embarrassing questions. If true, are Msgr. Lynn’s actions style or substance?
  9. A leader thinks some actions are critical to the success of the group, but, lacking a budget, plan, or management consensus to carry them out, nonetheless presents them to the entire organization as a certainty. Is the leader’s determination to proceed a matter of style or substance?
  10. A recent Presidential candidate campaigned on a platform of honesty and transparency in his administration, along with promises to continue holding corrupt elements in previous administrations responsible for their actions. Upon his election, the new President continued speaking of these things. After comparing his actions to the previous administration’s, it was determined that policies had seen no significant changes, and numerous questionable figures continued their service for the new President. Are the President’s actions style or substance?
  11. A school superintendent is arrested around 8 a.m. on a school day, with a blood alcohol content in excess of .25% and a woman in his car who is not his wife. After deliberations, the school board asked for the superintendent’s resignation. Was his behavior style or substance?

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

March 26th, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Authority is Responsibility

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“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” –Luke 1:38

For those celebrating Annuncation today: Blessings with the feast!

I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I think it is worth remembering Metropolitan Jonah’s statements made in his epochal speech on November 18, 2008, the eve of his selection as primate. I encourage readers to consider the degree to which the metropolitan’s words do or do not reflect our current situation and the events leading up to it.

On conciliarity:

“I would assert first and foremost as Orthodox Christians our leadership, the leadership of the Church, that element that comes from above, is the divine element. But the leadership that is within the Church, the leadership of bishops and the dioceses of the Metropolitan among the Synod–because what it the Metropolitan? He is the chairman of the Synod. The leadership of a parish priest in his parish: If you sit there and you lord it over your parishioners that ‘I am the priest and I can do whatever I want and I can spend the money however I want without accountability and without…’ you are not going to go very far. In fact you are likely to get thrown out because you will get into all sorts of problems. And I think that form of leadership is over. (Applause )”

On obedience:

“Our leadership is leadership within; and underlying this is the essential theological principle that is in every aspect of our theology. It underlies our soteriology, it underlies our Christology, it underlies our ecclesiology–and that’s the principle in the word of St. Paul of ‘synergy’, of cooperation. And it has to be a voluntary cooperation. And obedience, within that context, is not some kind of, some guy, who can lord it over you and make you do what he wants you to and you are going to get in trouble one way or another. Obedience is cooperation out of love and respect. Monasticism is the sacrament of obedience. You see what it is, incarnate, when you experience that communion of a brotherhood, with its spiritual father, in a spirit of love and respect.”

On discord:

“If we can build that community of love and respect, seeing how our passions have distracted us from that living communion with God, have turned us against one another, and have created all sorts of hostility between–well, we just saw it, between the body of the All-American Council and the Synod of the Bishops. … Between the Synod of the Bishops and the Metropolitan Council–talk about a sick dysfunctional situation! Why? Because, our passions have gone awry. Yes, we were betrayed. Yes, we were raped. It’s over. It’s over. Let it be in the past, so that we can heal.”

On authority and responsibility:

“The Holy Synod needs a chance to function normally with a leader who is engaged, who’s not drunk, who’s not preoccupied, with somebody who is engaged, who is engaged in building that synergy and building that communion and working . And it’s not about just that particular Metropolitan or that particular leader, it’s about every about one of us. And you, all of you here, you are the leaders of the Church. Every priest here has probably dozens or hundreds of people who look to you. And your authority is based, it’s founded on that responsibility to convey the Gospel, to convey the message of Christ–95% by your actions and by your attitudes and 5% by your words.

Authority is responsibility. Authority is accountability, it is not power. (Applause)

So we look at some of these questions: Was the Holy Synod leaderless?

Yes, for 30 years, 30 years [under] Metropolitan Herman and Metropolitan Theodosius.

We need to give [the Synod] a chance, with the full complete voluntary, willful support of the church. Let them and help them bear their responsibility, so that you can bear your responsibility. Hierarchy is only about responsibility. It’s not all this imperial nonsense.”

“How do we re-establish trust? There’s only one way. It’s to choose to love. It is the only way. There is no other way. There’s no organizational methods, no kinds of business practices we can invoke, no corporate ideologies, none of that. If we are Christians, we have the choice: Do we choose to enter into the love of Jesus Christ for one another — including our hierarchs, including our priests, including those who have betrayed us, including those who have failed us miserably, including those whom we judge and criticize and — all to own damnation?”

You can listen to audio portion of the recorded speech here, or watch:

Or, read the transcript at

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

March 25th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Suspicious Minds

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“Why can’t you see what you’re doing to me when you don’t believe a word I say?” –”Suspicious Minds,” sung by Elvis Presley, written by Mark James

In the last post, I made reference to the suspicious minds behind the uncharitable motives credited to everyone viewed as enemies of Metropolitan Jonah. Just a couple of hours ago (around 3 p.m. Eastern), the following post was published at It was pulled down within the hour. (It may still be available in Google’s feed reader cache.)  [UPDATE: 7:30 pm Eastern: The post is back up, in slightly modified form, here, with new and improved references to "Machiavellians."]

Outflanking +Jonah
via OCA Truth by Muzhik on 3/24/11

The following e-mail went out to priests of the Southwest Deanery of the Diocese of the South:

To: SW Deanery List
Sent: Thu, Mar 24, 2011 10:18 am
Subject: [Swdeanery] Nominations for Bishop

Brother Concelebrants of the Southwest Deanery,

The nomination committee of the Diocese of the South is being strongly urged by two bishops on the Holy Synod to move ahead on nominating candidates to fill the vacant post of bishop for the DOS.

The committee, which is the Diocesan Council, will have a conference call this coming Monday to discuss the matter.

I trust that we all have been praying for God’s provision of a faithful bishop to shepherd His flock in the DOS.

If any of you wish to discuss this matter with one another on this list, put forward names for consideration by the committee, and so for, now is the time.

May God grant us his wisdom to discern the man He has called for this ministry.

Love in Christ,

Priest Justin Frederick, Dean

This is interesting. While the DOS really needs a bishop, it is striking to me that two bishops on the Synod have a strange new interest in the urgency of filling that post. Wonder why? There has been some wishful speculation lately among the faithful of the DOS that His Beatitude might be willing to leave the primatial role and return to Dallas, where he is loved, to serve as the DOS bishop. Don’t get me wrong, I have heard nothing from my sources indicating that this might even be a possibility. It’s just the thinking of laity who love His Beatitude and want him to live and to work where he is loved and valued.

I told someone just last night that the Synod would never let that happen, because they would see +Jonah in the South as a threat to them. Call me cynical, but I interpret the renewed interest in these two unnamed bishops in getting someone named to the DOS episcopate, especially while HB is sidelined on his retreat, as an attempt to close off the possibility that +Jonah might establish a Southern stronghold. These two bishops — who do you think they are? — are trying hard to outflank +Jonah. Under these suspicious conditions, the episcopate of the South could be a poisoned chalice.

Hmmm. Maybe it’s because the Diocese of the South has been vacant since early in 2009? I can almost imagine the Church Lady writing that last paragraph.

It’s likely superfluous to note this, but when one’s entire worldview is (apparently) predicated on the notion that the entire OCA administration,the entire Holy Synod, and (at a minimum) a solid majority of the Metropolitan Council is out to “get” Your Guy, maybe it’s time to step back, take a deep breath, say “Lord, Have Mercy” a dozen times with prostrations, and reflect on the significance of the word “paranoia.”

Here’s some mood music to help (unfortunately, Sony might insist you watch it on YouTube):

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

March 24th, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Charity or Suspicion?

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“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves; for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” –1 Peter 4:8

Like many others, I have watched the tumult within the Orthodox Church in America’s Holy Synod unfold over the course of the past month. Also like many others, I have no secret information, or access to the deliberations of the Holy Synod or Metropolitan Council.(*) What has come to concern me most in this affair is the remarkable lack of simple charity.

The sequence of events is well-documented elsewhere, so I won’t rehash them. What I will say is that the following all represent the least amount of charity:

  • Interpreting the decisions by the Holy Synod in Santa Fe as giving Metropolitan Jonah the “’Bishop Nikolai’ treatment,” as retired Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) of the West put it.
  • Interpreting the alleged “smoking gun” email from Mark Stokoe as evidence of a coup, rather than as a heated and hasty response to a “What is going ON?!” email from another Metropolitan Council member. (And what is the source of the information that “four of the recipients of this e-mail were bishops”? +Tikhon (Fitzgerald) certainly didn’t mention that.)
  • Regarding the minutes of the Holy Synod’s Santa Fe meeting as deceptive.
  • Understanding the motives of the bishops on the Holy Synod as other than what they claim to be, absent other evidence.

If those are least charitable interpretations, it’s downright malicious to suggest, repeatedly, that the Holy Synod desires to depose—as in “to remove from clerical rank”—Metropolitan Jonah. It’s malicious because it gives cause for alarm without any support whatsoever. The only place this suggestion has appeared, that I can find, is (see this, for example). I suspect that if we know which of the anonymous cowards first introduced this term into the discussion, we will know who is really behind the tumult.

Worse still are the accusations of active homosexuality by Mark Stokoe and of tolerance of (or support for) it by his priest, Fr. Ted Bobosh. If there’s clear evidence of the former, please send it to Bishop Tikhon (Mollard) of South Canaan, PA, the locum tenens of Mark Stokoe’s diocese. (Charity, not to mention Matthew 18:15, would have you contacting Mark directly about it first.) “Clear evidence” does not include an obituary and an address, nor does it include an accusation seen on another website. Repetition adds nothing to the truth.

This is a leadership blog, not a news blog, nor a “defend someone’s side” blog, which is why I’m not slogging through every point like a lawyer. Other people are doing that. However, a dear friend, early on in this particular scandal, gave me pastoral advice to avoid having a “suspicious mind” (which makes me think of Elvis, but I digress). The suspicious minds at this point are those attributing evil motives to the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Council, and all those who are rightly concerned about Metropolitan Jonah’s actions since his enthronement as primate. The suspicious minds are the ones suggesting actions (e.g., deposition, or forced retirement) that no one is talking about. The suspicious minds are the ones framing this as a “culture war” between liberal/pro-gay/pro-abortion Orthodox from the Northeast and Midwest and conservative/anti-gay/pro-life Orthodox from the South and West.

We would all benefit from recognizing that the bishops on the Holy Synod today, in 2011, have almost nothing in common with the Holy Synod of even three years ago. Each of them received (and, it is hoped, continues to receive) the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the cheirotonia of his office, in no less fashion than Metropolitan Jonah. Contrary to some commentators, His Beatitude is not the only “real” monk among them.

The Holy Synod is clearly concerned about more than leadership style. I can’t believe they care about whether he prefers the telephone to email, or top-down versus bottom-up management. I do think they are concerned about specific acts and failures to act that have only increased scandal, legal exposure, financial liability, and doubts about the future of the OCA. A little bit of charity in understanding their motives and situation and a lot less malice in presenting them would go a long way toward seeing us through our current plight.

(*) In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll note that I work closely with Archpriest John Reeves, a member of the Metropolitan Council, as I am his assistant rector. However, he never breaches confidentiality.

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

March 24th, 2011 at 12:20 am

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