News From Across the OCA
• Syosset, NY
Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, was quoted in an OCA press release on Friday, March 25, 2011, “that the work of the Church, especially with regard to the Holy Synod of Bishops, continues uninterrupted. There is no doubt that we are facing challenging times, countless rumors, and less-than-accurate accounts of Church life at this time.” The OCA announced that the Synod of Bishops will meet May 2-4, 2011, while the Metropolitan Council will gather May 4-6. Both meetings will take place at the Diocese of the Midwest’s Center in Chicago. The OCA describes the agenda as concerning “ongoing internal issues”.
• Dallas, Texas
The “countless rumurs, and less-than-accurate accounts of Church life” center on the conspiracy theories at the anonymous website, OCATruth.com, which continues to promulgate the idea that Metropolitan Jonah is not being held accountable for his actions (or inactions) by the Synod, but rather is the “victim” of a massive “conspiracy” by the Synod, the Metropolitan Council, unidentified leftists, gays and feminists on the East and West Coast, etc., all determined to prevent the Metropolitan from speaking out “in the public square” so as to facilitate the changing of the teachings of the Orthodox Church regarding social issues of the day, most notably, abortion and homosexuality. +Jonah’s supporters at OCATruth.com offer no evidence for these assertions, just ad hominem attacks, amid continuing cries for clergy and laity to “Rise Up” against the “plot”. In three weeks some 100 lay men and women have signed the “I support +Jonah” tab on the site, mainly from +Jonah’s present and former Cathedrals in DC and Dallas; while less than 20 OCA clergy, almost all from the Diocese of the South, have put their names to a parallel clergy tab.
The “conspiracy” theory, like a Mexican Telenovella, with its scores of villans and beleagured “hero”, has now taken yet another turn. According to OCATruth, which published, and then took down the following article this past week, +Jonah is now in danger of being “outflanked”.
The latest “conspiracy” by unnamed Bishops reads:
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.”
In fact, the Diocese of the South has been vacant for almost two years: in that same time the vacant Diocese of the Midwest has searched, nominated and elected a bishop; the Bulgarian Diocese has searched, selected candidates, and scheduled a nominating assembly; and the Diocese of Alaska, which has yet to officially announce its candidates, has scheduled a nominating assembly and even a consecration date for its new hierarch following the Seattle AAC in November 2011. The question, it would appear, is not why the Synod has a sudden “new interest in the urgency of filling that post”; but why has +Jonah, the Metropolitan and locum tenens of the South for the past two years felt none?
Meanwhile, the anonymously-authored site has posted a disclaimer that it has nothing to do with Metropolitan Jonah, even as it calls for people to “defend” him, in this “moment of crisis”. The disclaimer reads:
“This site was initiated and is currently run by a group of laymen. Other than what has been sent to us after the site and email address were initially set up (i.e. letters, emails, suggestions, etc.), none of the content on this site has been blessed or commissioned by clergy. Metropolitan Jonah has not been consulted or interviewed regarding anything on this site, nor has he offered the site any suggestions or information. Though this site supports him as the Primate of the OCA, it is in no way affiliated with Metropolitan Jonah.”
In short, rebellious clergy have anything to do with the site – except for the suggestions and emails they send.
• Washington DC
Meanwhile, in another act of defiance, Metropolitan Jonah tonsured a nun to the Great Schema this past week for what its literature describes as “….the newly established Orthodox Community in Washington DC, The Entrance of the Holy Theotokos into the Temple.” +Jonah’s continuing involvement with the nuns is sure to be a topic at the next Synod meeting, as is his continuing support. (The “community” is presently housed in buildings belonging to Jonah’s Washington Cathedral.) Based on a recent investigation and report by Bishop Michael of New York in a related matter, the Synod had already agreed not to accept the nuns into the OCA. ( They are presently canonically dependent on a monastery in Greece, from which their local Bishop has refused to release them .) Moreover, the Synod had already explicitly refused to bless the establishment of a new convent in DC for them.
• Ottawa, Canada
Fr. Mirone Klysh has resigned from the Synodal Investigative Commission charged with the internal OCA investigation of allegations against Archbishop Seraphim. In a strongly worded letter to Metropolitan Jonah, Fr. Klysh, an OCA Romanian priest and instructor at the St. Arseny Orthodox Christian Theological Institute in Winnipeg objected to the Metropolitan’s recent dismissal of Fr. Garklavs. Fr. Klysh, it is reported, questioned the purpose of any priest serving on a commission if so doing only results in one’s dismissal.
The Synodal Investigative Commission was formed by the OCA’s Synod of Bishops on October 13, 2010, in accordance with the Policies, Standards, and Procedure of the Orthodox Church of America on Sexual Misconduct, adopted by the Synod of Bishops in 2003. The remaining members of the Commission include four other Canadians: Archpriest Richard Hawrish, a practicing attorney, Dr. Lila Amirali, MD, Dr. Thomas Kolivakis MD and Mr. David Grier, a former member of the Metropolitan Council.
The Archbishop, currently on a Leave of Absence, is awaiting trial in Winnepeg on two counts of Sexual Assault. No firm trial date has been announced.
• Toledo, OH
As mentioned earlier, and almost unnoticed amid the recent turmoil surrounding +Jonah, the Bulgarian Diocese announced on March 5th the names of two candidates to replace the late Archbishop Kyrill. In August 2010, 22 possible episcopal candidates, nominated from the Diocese and the Synod, were reviewed and a short list of eight names created by the Diocesan Search Committee. After a second review, the Committee, composed of 5 priests, a deacon, and two laymen, reduced the list to six names, all of whom were contacted. The Committee’s final two choices will be presented for nomination at a Diocesan Congress-Sobor to be held in July 2011 at Saint Nicholas Church, Fort Wayne, IN. The candidates are:
• Archpriest Paul Gassios. A 1994 graduate of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Father Paul served as a priest in the OCA Diocese of the Midwest for almost 12 years in Kokomo, IN and St. Louis, MO. During this time, Fr. Paul, a celibate priest, developed an ongoing relationship with Saint Gregory Palamas Monastery, Perrysville, OH. In 2007, he was transferred into the Bulgarian Diocese and was assigned to Saint George Cathedral, Toledo, OH, where he serves today. Fr. Paul was recently one of the finalists in the search process for the Midwest Diocese.
• Archimandrite Alexander Golitzin. A graduate of St. Vladimir’s, Fr. Alexander, received his D. Phil.at Oxford University in England under His Eminence, Metropolitan Kallistos [Ware]. During this time, he also spent two years in Greece, including one year at Simonos Petras Monastery on Mount Athos. He was ordained to the diaconate in January 1982 and to the priesthood in 1984. In 1986, he was tonsured to monastic orders.. In 1989, he took a full time teaching position in the Theology Department of Marquette University, a position which he continues to hold.