Beleaguered church leader to meet with national officials

Author: Angela Blanchard
Date Published: 03/25/2008
Publication: KTUU (Anchorage AK)
Bishop Nikolai (KTUU-TV)
Bishop Nikolai (KTUU-TV)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Three weeks after being ordered to step down, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska says he’s finally going to meet with national church officials.

Bishop Nikolai Soraich says he’s traveling to New York Wednesday to discuss his status in the Alaska Diocese with leaders from the Orthodox Church of America.

Nikolai was placed on a mandatory leave of absence after national church officials received hundreds of letters accusing him of abuses of power, intimidation and disrespect for Native culture.

Unless the problem is solved this week, Nikolai says it could reach an international level — something he says will not be good for the church’s image.

The bishop maintains he will not step down without due process in a canonical court.

“I don’t know what’s in the heads of other people, you know, to try to make me out to be this monster and that I misappropriate things,” the Right Rev. said. “I will tell you this, that I’m squeaky clean.”

Meanwhile, Rev. Alexander Garklavs has been appointed administrator of the Alaska Diocese.

He has reportedly been meeting with church clergy and parishioners over the past several days. Attempts to contact Garklavs were unsuccessful.

Contact Angela Blanchard at ablanchard@ktuu.com