Father Vasile Susan Wins Critical Motions in Civil Suit
OCA Spends $20,000 Trying to Quash Subpoena
On December 3, 2010, Judge Dorothy Kirie Kinnaird ruled that the Chancery Court of Cook County, Illinois, had subject matter jurisdiction over the lawsuit filed by Father Vasile Susan against the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America (ROEA) and Archbishop Nathanial Popp. Kinnaird also refused to quash the subpoena that Susan’s attorneys had served on the metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), Jonah Paffhausen.
Commenting on his victory, Susan told Pokrov.org, “In the USA the civil court proceedings and documents are showing transparency, openness and are records for the interested public. This is the reason why I think that it will be in the best interest of the ROEA and OCA membership, as clergy and laity, to know the hidden truth. We truly believe in God, and we trust our American Justice System. Our transparency demonstrates our openness for the truth which will set us free.”
In the order denying the ROEA and Popp’s request to reconsider whether the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine applied in this case, Kinnaird not only explained why the court had jurisdiction, but also reminded the defendants that this was the fifth time that the court had made such a ruling.
The judge also said that, for the same reasons that the court had jurisdiction over the case, the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine could not be used to quash Paffhausen’s subpoena. The complete text of the ruling is linked above.
The case was set for a status hearing on December 15th, which was later moved to the 17th. Susan attended the hearing on the 17th. He reported to Pokrov.org that the new judge in the case emphasized to the defendants that the court had made its decision on the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine. According to the priest, the judge frankly told the defendants that as long as the case was before the court the five rulings asserting jurisdiction would stand. The next hearing date in the case was set for January 20, 2011 at 2:00 P.M.
Susan also sent Pokrov.org copies of emails he had received from OCA chancellor Father Alexander Garklavs pertaining to the civil suit. Those emails are also linked above. According to an email from Garklavs dated October 30, 2010, the OCA had, as of that date, spent $20,000 attempting to quash the subpoena served on Metropolitan Jonah.
Susan is an OCA priest in good standing. Until 2004, he served in the OCA’s Romanian Episcopate. That year Susan was removed from his parish in Chicago by Popp, head of that diocese. He has never been assigned to another parish.
While Susan was never given a reason for his dismissal, he believes that he was removed from his parish when he spoke out about another OCA clergyman who was actively homosexual. When the Romanian Episcopate refused to apply its internal disciplinary provisions to Susan’s case, the priest filed suit in 2005.