Orthodox Church leaders retire Alaska bishop
Leaders of the Orthodox Church of America said they decided Tuesday night to retire their controversial Alaska bishop.
The bishop, Nikolai Soraich, head of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska, left Alaska last week, having agreed to take a leave of absence last month after he heard preliminary results of an internal investigation of his leadership.
The Holy Synod of Bishops announced Tuesday on the national church’s Web site that they are retiring Soraich from service in Alaska with the title “Former Bishop of Sitka.”
The synod appointed the national church’s top official, Metropolitan Herman, interim head of the diocese and appointed the Rev. Benjamin, bishop of San Francisco and the West, administrator for the diocese.
The Alaska diocese has been in turmoil since last year, when an Orthodox missionary staying on Kodiak Island accused its second-ranking official, Chancellor Archimandrite Isidore, of sexual misconduct.
In recent months, many Orthodox priests around the state have sent written complaints to national church leaders about Soraich, saying his leadership style was too harsh and that he was disrespectful of Native culture.
Soraich had requested that Isidore and another diocese official, Hierodeacon Panteleimon, be transferred to the Serbian Orthodox Church, according to the synod.
On Tuesday, the bishops said church rules prevented them from approving those transfers and that Isidore and Pateleimon will remain clerics in the diocese.
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