Bishop orders Alaska clergy not to obey national leader

Author: Ralph Gibbs
Date Published: 03/12/2008

The Orthodox Church in America is in chaos as the power struggle between church leaders and Alaska Diocese leader Bishop Nikolai Soraich continues to unfold.

The eventual winner of the struggle will receive as a prize Alaska, the birthplace of the OCA in America with its nearly 100 parishes, missions and institutions, more than 40 clergy and 25,000 members.

The latest development adding to the confusion is an open letter by Bishop Nikolai to the clergy of Alaska ordering them not to obey Metropolitan Herman, the OCA leader.

On Friday, the Metropolitan informed the Alaskan clergy that Bishop Nikolai had been placed on a mandatory leave of absence and to cease the commemoration of the bishop.

“You have received instructions (albeit through Internet postings and newspaper reports) from His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman to cease the commemoration of your Bishop in the Divine Liturgy,” Bishop Nikolai said in his letter. “Let me be clear: all clergy of the Diocese should continue the current practice, maintain the commemoration of their Diocesan Bishop in the celebration of the Divine Services our Church, and not accept as canonical or biblical recent innovations announced by Metropolitan Herman.”

In his letter Nikolai argues the church does not have the authority to remove him from his position without first going through procedures outlined in the Church Canons, established in the 4th century during the First Ecumenical Council.

“The church protects the voice of all Orthodox persons who are accused,” the Bishop said. “The church has determined the voice of the accused will be heard before judgment is passed. The means by which the church has protected the voice of accused persons are The Holy Scriptures and Canon Law