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Author Topic: Bishop Nikolai and the "Russian" Orthodox church of Alaska?  (Read 50233 times) Average Rating: 0
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Thomas
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« Reply #90 on: March 13, 2008, 08:52:50 AM »

The canons also have not addressed the issues that currently face the OCA and to which the current by-laws are a product of those  issues.  The local synod (OCA) has established an expansion of the canons that address issues not covered by the canons.  In the past you were generally called before a synod and kept or fired, the current model allows for a defusion of the tension by allowing a quiet and steady investigation of the matter, rather than the  very legnthy  and turmoiled filled experiences iin the past that the canons are based upon (often done long distance with  years involved with travel, death of witnesses by natural cause translation issues, and political agendas of the empire) and then if there are grounds a court can be called. Otherwise it is a moot point and the Bishop  knows the charges are ungrounded and returns from his leave able to direct his diocese. 

It seems to me unusual that with all the calls for accountability that are being leveled at orthodox Churches in the US, that once a jurisdiction actually starts being accountable that onjections are  raised and the canons called into question, I thought we are to be a house of order---by-laws either have the stregnth of  local council authority or they are useless.

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« Reply #91 on: March 13, 2008, 10:12:17 AM »

If recourse can't be made to canon law, then there should be a statute or rule to spell out what to do in a situation like this.  If there is no stated policy about what to do, there's a problem.
Isn't that one of the reasons why the Holy Spirit came to guide us?
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« Reply #92 on: March 13, 2008, 11:11:32 AM »

My initial response was too curt so I tried to modify it. I could go through each of those cases and explain the reasoning behind them (I think some of those canons are still valid btw) but that is not the point. I perceive--and could be wrong--that you are following the line that canons are just guides.  I am saying that they are rules, authoritative, but they must be applied. They are not just suggestions in that if a bishop applies them in an inappropriate way, he has to answer to God for it. Ugh I am tired and probably not making a lot of sense right now.

I know very little about canon law except from my observations of how canon laws are applied by Orthodox bishops in all the patriarchates. It seems most all have ignored or modified them to fit the needs or desires depending on the situation so they appear to me to be very flexible.
However, Arimethea brought up an interesting point that the canons should be viewed as a medical reference book and need a canonical expert to intrepret them. I am wondering where he heard of that analogy? Guess I will try to look up the canon of Trullo he mentions in his message.
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« Reply #93 on: March 13, 2008, 11:18:37 AM »

...
There are maybe 20 or so people in the United States and Canada who are really qualified to give canonical interpretations with any expertise and non of them are bishops in the OCA. The only OCA Bishop who was ever qualified use to say in French accent "Everyone else asks my opinion on matters of canon law except my own synod."
...

Care to name them...and that OCA bishop who was qualified? Wink
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« Reply #94 on: March 13, 2008, 11:24:44 AM »

I know very little about canon law except from my observations of how canon laws are applied by Orthodox bishops in all the patriarchates. It seems most all have ignored or modified them to fit the needs or desires depending on the situation so they appear to me to be very flexible.
...

Me thinks that they have been ignored or modifed both too liberally and followed too strictly in North America over the years, unfortunately.
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« Reply #95 on: March 13, 2008, 12:49:25 PM »

Isn't that one of the reasons why the Holy Spirit came to guide us?

Problems arise whether we like it or not, and we should have plans to deal with them.  Whether that's somebody hiding behind the intricicies of the canons, irregularity with money, or the fact that we have to deal with the reality of sexual impropriety and God forbid abuse.  The Holy Spirit should move us to put in place what needs to be done when these things happen so that there is no confusion and hesitation.
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« Reply #96 on: March 13, 2008, 04:22:51 PM »

There are interesting documents posted online now including a canonical commentary:

http://www.dioceseofalaska.org/pdf/docs/docs.html

There's also a comment section:

http://www.dioceseofalaska.org/askvladyka/

I also noticed in his reply that Bishop Nikolai copied Constantinople and Moscow.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2008, 04:29:46 PM by AMM » Logged
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« Reply #97 on: March 17, 2008, 01:09:47 AM »

The Reverend Innocent Dresdow
Rector Dean
Holy Resurrection Cathedral
Kodiak, Alaska


My Dear Flock:

I love you and I write this letter as an expression of that love. My full intent is to serve you by offering my perspective and facts regarding the dilemma in which we find ourselves. I do not know the short term outcome of these issues. I do know the ultimate outcome: God will build His Church and He will be glorified.

I want to address the following items in this letter:

1. The commemoration of His Grace, Bishop NIKOLAI

2. My participation in the investigation of Father Isidore

3. What action should we take now?

The Commemoration of His Grace, Bishop NIKOLAI

I am commemorating His Grace, Bishop NIKOLAI because I have been offered no canonical or biblical reason for doing otherwise. Now let me be more specific.
Priests and laity alike have been placed on the horns of a dilemma: either obey our Bishop or obey the Holy Synod of Bishops.

I believe that our Bishop and the Holy Synod of Bishops are truly concerned for the well-being of the clergy and faithful of Alaska.
I believe all true clergy want to do what will most benefit the faithful of Christ’s Church.
All clergy in the OCA have taken an oath to obey the Holy Synod of Bishops… and this synod now asks us not to commemorate His Grace, Bishop NIKOLAI .
All clergy have taken an oath to obey our diocesan Bishop… and our Bishop asks us to proceed per normal Church practice unless there is a canonical reason to do otherwise… and no such canonical process has begun, let alone been concluded.
Although it is true that various communiqués have been posted on various websites, including the OCA website, I have received no official instructions from The Holy Synod with regard to the commemoration of His Grace, Bishop NIKOLAI. This is an important distinction: all of the official directives of the OCA as it impacts this parish have come to me in the mail and in hard copy, for example, Pastoral Letters, assignments, etc. No such communiqué has come to me through an Internet posting. Therefore I assume that something so significant as ceasing to commemorate a bishop would be afforded at least the same level of orderliness and decorum. Put simply, it would be irresponsible and imprudent for me to conduct the business of the church without official notice.

In the absence of agreement between our Bishop and The Holy Synod, I must rely on the canons, the history of The Church, and on the oath I took when I became a priest. Nowhere in the history of the Ecumenical Councils do we see a Synod first remove a bishop from his diocese without any formal charges so that they can conduct an “impartial investigation.” I will not, therefore, be even a passive party to a breech in the decent and orderly affairs of The Church.  Let me be very clear: I am not saying Bishop NIKOLAI is without fault any more than I am saying that The Holy Synod is without fault. I am saying that the way to determine those faults is to implement Church law. I beg the Holy Synod to take the time to pursue this issue in a calm and disciplined way and according to the oath taken by every bishop. If, having done that, there is a canonical trial called for and if Bishop NIKOLAI is found to be guilty, then I will support the actions of The Holy Synod.  I am deadly serious about this. I have been willing and am willing to suffer slander, insinuation, false accusation, and potentially the loss of my priesthood in order to defend the integrity of the Church. And beyond this, I have been willing and continue to be willing for my dear wife and two beautiful children to suffer ostracism and unkind whispers as a result of the stand I have taken.
What is at stake here is not a war between personalities or bishops. What is at stake here is whether or not The Church will function as it has functioned for two thousand years… or whether it will decline into the ordinary and ungodly. For The Church to continue in the tradition of The Fathers, some must have the courage and humility to admit to having mismanaged the process and to correct that mistake.

My Participation in The Investigation of Father Isidore

Many are asking, “Who told the truth? Paul Sidebottom or Father Innocent?”
Paul Sidebottom is the only person who can speak to the veracity of what he has said. I tell you clearly and plainly, I told the truth:

Father Isidore was intoxicated the night in question.
I saw no occurrence of any behavior on the part of Father Isidore that even suggested sexual harassment or “inappropriate touching.”
But even if you don’t believe me, then consider this: Archpriest Alexei Karlgut, the OCA investigator assured Bishop NIKOLAI as far back as November 2, 2007, that none of the allegations made against Father Isidore were substantiated and that Farther Isidore could return to service immediately.
Although the Office of The Diocese of Alaska has released these findings, the findings of the OCA investigator have not been released to the public by the OCA, despite repeated appeals by Bishop NIKOLAI. The failure of the OCA office to exonerate a fellow priest who has been accused and investigated and cleared by that office seems to lack any sense of mercy. This is tragic, if not worse, inasmuch as a great deal of the discontent in our diocese is a result of the assumption that Father Isidore is guilty of sexual misconduct and/or that there is a cover-up led by Bishop NIKOLAI. Nothing could be further from the truth!

I did not corroborate Paul Sidebottom’s allegation of sexual misconduct attributed to Father Isidore. Rather, it was my sin –the sin of letting myself participate in gossip and unsubstantiated allegations—that gave Paul Sidebottom the opportunity to assume I could corroborate his allegations.

What Action Should We Take Now

We must fervently pray for those in authority over us.
We must appeal to The Holy Synod to energetically and precisely apply the rules of the Canons of The Church and let the consequences fall where they will.
We must be hopeful and dwell on that which is holy, pure and peaceable, asking for and seeking the discernment of the Holy Spirit
We must put into practice the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian asking for the grace to not condemn our brothers and sisters, but to be given the grace to confess our own sins
We must continue the good work that has begone here at Holy Resurrection Cathedral. Continue to encourage one another to be involved and to grow in our faith. To involve ourselves in the many classess and ministries offered each week by the church.
Finally, to not lose sight of the fact that the church is a spiritual hospital, that means we are all ill with the sickness of sin, and we must come with the expectation of healing, even if the medicine is not what we want to take.

Concluding Comments
“I came here to die…” With those words I opened my first homily of instruction to you upon my arrival in Kodiak on the Feast of The Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You are witnessing that death. I pray, this is a God-pleasing sacrifice.
As your parish priest, I’ve labored over the last three years to be a living example of a sinful man struggling to lay down the whole of his life for the sake of Jesus Christ. I’ve made a multitude of errors, and caused a multitude of offenses.
Today I am a different person than I was the day I arrived in Kodiak… I have done a lot of dieing. God has blessed me to endure sufferings that humanly I don’t want to endure, but that He deems necessary for my salvation. The only way I can be an effective pastor to you is by dying. There is no other way.

My accountability before God is this:

I promise to uphold the teachings of truth and other pastoral instructions
according to the teachings of the Holy Orthodox, Catholic and Apostolic
Church and the Holy Fathers; to endeavor with my mind, heart and soul to
protect the souls of the faithful entrusted to my care, against every heresy
and schism, and to labor with every means available to return the True
Flock of Christ those who may have strayed from His path;…”
(Oath of Allegiance to the Holy Priesthood)

At the dread judgment seat I will be held accountable for that oath… the very thought of it terrifies me. It is, in part, for that reason that I am giving all that I have in service to you in reliance on God to give me the grace to make up that which is lacking in me.
I do not possess an adequate human capacity to love when insulted, to communicate directly when confronted, to keep my lips from speaking evil of another person, to adequately comfort the afflicted and visit the oppressed. I can do these only if I allow Christ to work through me… that is to say, I can do this only if I die to myself.

I have striven to be a living example of forgiveness and healing. It is with great sadness of heart that I am witnessing the current upheaval in our beloved Church and the lack of love and forgiveness. The evil one alone is to blame for this.

Therefore, glory be to God!

Glory be to God because greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world!

The unworthy Priest Innocent

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« Reply #98 on: March 17, 2008, 01:51:12 AM »

I have no desire to comment on the tragic situation in Alaska for which I am not qualified to give an opinion.  However, this letter should be an example to all of us of the amazing and Godly men that serve the Church as priests.  I don't know Fr. Innocent, but reading this letter is such a poignant and moving example of the kind of burden and responsibility that weighs on every priest that is giving their lives every day for each of us and the Holy Church.  I think we often take our priests for granted and don't stop and consider what the priesthood actually means.   We should be praying every day for our priests.  If you haven't done so in a while, tell your priest you appreciate the hard work he's called to do and offer to help more around the parish.  And, if you don't like your priest (his serving style, his administrative skills, his sermons, his whatever) stop * bellyaching * and start praying even harder.  Thank God that at least you have a priest, when so many of his Alaska servants are discouraged and threatened with losing their own vocations.


EDIT:  Inappropriate language cleaned up a bit.  - PtA
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« Reply #99 on: March 17, 2008, 09:49:42 AM »

It seems like a very reasonable, pastoral, open, and mature letter.  Good for him!  I hope everyone in that diocese is able to maturely discuss their stand on this issue and inform their parish about it, as he did.
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« Reply #100 on: March 17, 2008, 12:05:05 PM »

I don't know anything about this priest but according to former members of his parish, he may soon have very few members left to pastor. Because of the bishop's behavior, so many refuse to attend out of fear.

According to OCAnews only the two cathedrals are commemorating the bishop. All other parishes in Alaska are commemorating Met. Herman. You can read it here:
http://www.ocanews.org/news/WarofWOrds-Alaska3.17.08.html

3.17.0

INVESTIGATIVE MEMO CONTRADICTS +NIKOLAI

"Reports indicate that with the exceptions of the cathedrals in Kodiak and
Anchorage, Metropolitan Herman, not Bishop Nikolai, is being commemorated during
services, as per the Metropolitan's instructions. It appears the Bishop's writ
extends no further than his presence."

Here is a letter from one of the parishioners of this particular cathedral written to the Holy Synod.


My letter to the Metropolitan and Holy Synod:

March 2, 2008

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman
and to the Holy Synod of Bishops
Orthodox Church in America

I have just returned from liturgy at Holy Resurrection Cathedral in
Kodiak where the mood was joyous for the first time in many years.
This joyousness stems from the knowledge that the Alaskan priests
have strongly spoken out and the belief that you and our Holy Synod
will act to remove Bishop Nikolai from this diocese immediately.
Further, Bishop Nikolai's lieutenant, Fr. Innocent Dresdow, was out
of town, enabling people to relax and speak freely. Our people have
reached the breaking point; we must be free from Bishop Nikolai one
way or the other.

I stand in full support of the priests and laity who have spoken out
again Bishop Nikolai, and pray that you act honorably and remove
Bishop Nikolai from this diocese immediately.

Asking your blessings, In Christ,

Kathleen Carlsen
Holy Resurrection Cathedral
Kodiak, Alaska



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« Reply #101 on: March 17, 2008, 12:26:07 PM »

EDIT:  Inappropriate language cleaned up a bit.  - PtA

My sincere apologies to the Board and the Moderator. 
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« Reply #102 on: March 17, 2008, 08:46:05 PM »


The Moscow Patriarchate is following the Alaska situation - "OCA
Chancellor warns Alaskan bishop of 'serious canonical
consequences...'"
http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/380676.html   (this site is in Russian)
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« Reply #103 on: March 17, 2008, 11:05:21 PM »

I have been told that the Moscow Patriarchate has been following alot of what has been going on in the OCA and is not happy about it.
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« Reply #104 on: March 17, 2008, 11:23:46 PM »

^  I will have to say that I find Bishop Nikolai's interpretation of the canons against undue removal of hierarchs rather interesting and tenuous at best.  First off, he has not been suspended nor deposed from his episcopal office, so he can't say that he's been removed--he's simply been instructed by the chair of the Holy Synod to step aside and let others handle the affairs of the Diocese of Alaska until after a formal investigation is complete.  If he is not indicted by the OCA authorities, or he is and is later acquitted of all charges, then he will be allowed to return to his see.  The Synod also needs to recognize that anyone alleged to have abused his authority over the course of many years will very likely continue to abuse his authority to obstruct an impartial investigation and threaten reprisal against subordinate clergy who cooperate with investigators.  Even if there is no canonical precedent for such a move as a mandatory leave of absence, the practical concerns of a formal inquiry into his hierarchical actions require that Bishop Nikolai be ordered to step aside for the duration of the inquest.
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« Reply #105 on: March 17, 2008, 11:42:34 PM »

PeterTheAleut,
I completely agree.
Even if there is no canonical precedent for such a move as a mandatory leave of absence, the practical concerns of a formal inquiry into his hierarchical actions require that Bishop Nikolai be ordered to step aside for the duration of the inquest.

Exactly. Most, if not all canons, were developed as a reaction of the Church to some particular situation(s).
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« Reply #106 on: March 17, 2008, 11:44:41 PM »

PeterTheAleut,
I completely agree.
Exactly. Most, if not all canons, were developed as a reaction of the Church to some particular situation(s).
And I'd be willing to wager that many of them had no precedent in earlier canons, either.
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« Reply #107 on: March 17, 2008, 11:54:14 PM »

 
And I'd be willing to wager that many of them had no precedent in earlier canons, either.

Yes, you are right with this description as well.
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« Reply #108 on: March 18, 2008, 12:04:17 AM »

And I'd be willing to wager that many of them had no precedent in earlier canons, either.

The concept of precedent does not exist in the Orthodox Canonical Tradition.
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« Reply #109 on: March 18, 2008, 01:02:07 PM »

From an Antiochian Orthodox priest:


I do agree this matter requires a great deal of prayer by all of us, out of love
and compassion for all those struck by recent events.

Lord, have mercy!

From the various documents I have read:

- The OCA Holy Synod established a practice regarding sex offenders and their
status within the jurisdiction.  There is a common opinion (a ‘local canon’ if
you dare) that registered/convicted sex offenders are not to be tonsured to
minor offices or ordained to Holy Orders.
- Bishop Nikolai tonsured a sex offender as Reader against the policies of the
Holy Synod.
- When he refused to take action, Metropolitan Herman suspended the Reader
(c.f. http://www.oca.org/news.asp?ID=1451&SID=19)
- Bishop Nikolai publicly served Theophany with the Reader and posted photos
on his website to confirm the event (c.f.
http://www.dioceseofalaska.org/images/theophany08/IMG_0103.gif)
- The bishops of the Holy Synod were contacted regarding accusations and
complaints from long-serving clergy at the request of Bishop Nikolai (c.f. 4
March 2008 letter from the Holy Synod).
- They *unanimously* agreed that Bishop Nikolai take a voluntary Leave-of-
absence in keeping with the Statutes of the OCA (c.f. ibid.).
- Bishop Nikolai then violated his consecration oath by refusing to obey his
Synod (c.f. Third Consecration Oath of a Bishop versus his 5 March 2008
letter).

Therefore, even if the actions were not in keeping with the letter of the
canons, Bishop Nikolai’s obstinate behavior is highly problematic from a
canonical perspective.  He should have obeyed and appealed the action
through the normal channels rather than refusing a rightful instruction of the
Holy Synod.

His Grace, Bishop Tikhon, knows full well that two wrongs do not make a right,
and that returning evil with evil is not godly to say the least.  The Holy Synod
has hardly slipped into heresy or done some such thing that would require
such drastic actions as Bishop Nikolai has taken in disobeying the Holy Synod
over a procedural problem.  Despite what Bishop Nikolai said in his press
conference, the Holy Synod is not slipping into heresy.  Many Synods practice
far wilder matters of hierarchical discipline: Moscow and Constantinople, to
whom he has appealed, normally shuffle bishops without concern.  Why does
he think that they would handle this matter any different?

Perhaps His Grace has forgotten that, should such behavior as Bishop Nikolai
be held us as a model, then presbyters could then disobey their bishop should
they, on their own, determine that the bishop is behaving in an uncanonical
manner.  Instead, we clergy obey and hope for God’s vindication through the
normal canonical process, even when strict adherence to the canons is not
what is shown to us.

Bishop Nikolai stated that the clergy should have come to him first.  I then
think of his own words:

“I liken this to a family where there’s an adolescent acting out,” Bishop Nikolai
said. “I think when you were an adolescent, like I was, we at one point
decided our parents are stupid, they didn’t know anything, we knew much
more and we could do it better. And there’s a rebellious part of that too, I
suppose.”  (http://kodiakdailymirror.com/?pid=19&id=5899)

"I beg you, confront me with my sin and I will repent. But confront me
with 'bad press' or an abrasive 'leadership style,' and the most I can do is
become a slick politician or politically correct bureaucrat ... and that I refuse
to do," the bishop wrote. (http://www.adn.com/life/religion/story/338612.html)

Bishop Nikolai's statements here indicate he is not open to discussion
regarding his behavior.  He has contempt for those to criticize his harshness,
which is what brought the groundswell against him.  However, the popular
opinion against him is only one part of this complicated matter.

Obedience is one’s disposition towards admonishment prior to receiving the
instructions.  Should Bishop Nikolai pick and choose when he will follow
instruction and when he will not, then he is hardly being obedient.  He
certainly would not tolerate such selective obedience shown to him, would he?

Bishop Nikolai was placed on leave according the OCA Statutes which he was
fully aware of when he was consecrated.  If he had a problem with them, he
should have registered his apprehension prior to consecration.  You don’t get
to change the rules in the middle of the game.  The statute permits the Holy
Synod to take the course of action as it did to prepare charges against Bishop
Nikolai if the investigation finds grounds.

A suspension is hardly a deposition, but merely a necessary step in preparing a
fair investigation.  Had the Holy Synod have issued charges against Bishop
Nikolai at this time, he would have complained of (and been right to do so) of
the haste.  The Holy Synod took a merciful step in allowing him to go quietly
into a leave that may have resulted in his being pardoned.  Now, he has
violated the canons apart from whatever the Holy Synod’s investigation would
have otherwise uncovered.

We must remember that the canons and the consecration oath proclaim
obedience to the Holy Synod as being primary.  Without obedience, the entire
Church slips into the very disorder Bishop Nikolai decries.

The fact that Bishop Nikolai cites his conscience has no canonical standing
apart from his brethren, which he is called to be of one mind with.  The fact
that he is so far removed from the common thinking of all his brethren appears
to me to indication that there is a serious problem.

If Bishop Nikolai were to follow the example given to us by such great saints
at St. Nektarios and countless martyrs who suffered after the manner of our
Lord, he would have quietly obeyed.  Instead, he has chosen to go to war
against the unanimous decision of his long-suffering brethren.

Given Bishop Nikolai’s break in obedience with the Holy Synod, I do not think
that it is irregular for the clergy of Alaska, being, after all, under the
jurisdiction of the OCA, to cease commemoration of a hierarch who has stated
his unwillingness to be of one mind with the Synod.  Again, this is akin to
permitting a presbyter to continue to serve at the altar after he refuses to
acknowledge his bishop’s right to call him to obedience.  I am certain Bishop
Tikhon would not expect Orthodox priests to follow after a bishop who has
broken from his Synod?

I think we can agree that the Holy Synod has indeed been longsuffering,
knowing of Bishop Nikolai’s break with them yet still refusing to give up on him
entirely.  The Holy Synod could have declared the obvious and announced
Bishop Nikolai’s break with them.  In a way, instructing the clergy not to
commemorate Bishop Nikolai is in keeping with common sense: how can the
clergy commemorate Metropolitan Herman and Bishop Nikolai at the same time,
when Bishop Nikolai has, effectively, broken with his Synod?

If he will not obey the Synod, he undoes himself.  One could go as far as to
say that, by renouncing obedience, he is effectively no longer a bishop at all,
as a bishop is not a bishop merely by being consecrated, but through his
membership in a Synod.  He can’t be a member of a Synod unless he submits
himself to it, even when he disagrees and could even have very valid points.

The big question, then, is whether a bishop can be a bishop without
obedience to his Synod.  Perhaps His Grace can enlighten us on how that
works, canonically speaking of course.  From my reading of the canons, the
episcopate is fundamentally and ontologically bound to the concept of
obedience to a Synod.

This is what Bishop Nikolai swore to, and what he now violates.  I say this
with sorrow, bearing him no hatred or ill-will.  My sorrow is for everyone
involved.  Don’t think that I do not pray for Bishop Nikolai, and the clergy and
people of Alaska, because they are my brethren in the Lord.

It is so sad that all of this must be trammeled out on the internet.

Bishop Tikhon’s letter, while sad, is very illuminating.  It is also problematic in
its own right.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2008, 01:05:25 PM by Tamara » Logged
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« Reply #110 on: March 18, 2008, 01:16:40 PM »

Which letter of Bishop Tikhon?  I'm confused.

Has Fr. Garklavs gone to Alaska yet?
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« Reply #111 on: March 18, 2008, 01:23:58 PM »

Hi AMM,

I PM'ed the link to his letter.

Tamara
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« Reply #112 on: March 19, 2008, 10:46:00 AM »

Mark Stokoe refuses to post Fr. Innocent's letter on his website.  That web site is too one-sided.

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« Reply #113 on: March 19, 2008, 11:03:02 AM »

Mark Stokoe refuses to post Fr. Innocent's letter on his website.  That web site is too one-sided.



And what website can you honestly say is not to some degree one-sided?

-Nick
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« Reply #114 on: March 19, 2008, 01:32:50 PM »

This one seems to have a generally good balance.

At least it's not edited for content like that other web site.
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« Reply #115 on: March 19, 2008, 01:46:19 PM »

SYNOD CALLS EXTRAORDINARY MEETING

The Synod of Bishops of the OCA will hold an extraordinary meeting on March 27th to address the crisis in Alaska. It is the second special session of the Synod to be held within four months. The previous special meeting, held December 12-13, 2007, confirmed the deposition from the priesthood of former OCA Chancellor Robert Kondratick. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Synod is in May.

Bishop Nikolai has been invited to attend this meeting, although he is officially on a mandatory leave of absence. At this time it is not known if Bishop Nikolai of Alaska will attend this meeting. +Nikolai refused to attend the last synodal meeting held in Lent, citing canonical reasons.

Rest of the article here: http://www.ocanews.org/news/Extraordinarymeeting3.19.08.html
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« Reply #116 on: March 19, 2008, 02:33:45 PM »

This one seems to have a generally good balance.

At least it's not edited for content like that other web site.

This isn't a news oriented website, it's a web-board, we're interested in discussion and opinion, not representing facts or truth.

-Nick
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« Reply #117 on: March 19, 2008, 02:45:59 PM »

whether news oriented or not, I'd expect the discussion and opinion to be truthful.
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« Reply #118 on: March 19, 2008, 04:13:37 PM »

whether news oriented or not, I'd expect the discussion and opinion to be truthful.

I hope you find it here.  Welcome!
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« Reply #119 on: March 19, 2008, 04:44:38 PM »

whether news oriented or not, I'd expect the discussion and opinion to be truthful.

The truth of the matter is that Fr. Dresdow seems to be one of Bishop Nikolai's underlings and willing to follow him to the end like a good underling. Why does OCAnews.org or this web-board even, need more propoganda?

-Nick

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« Reply #120 on: March 19, 2008, 04:51:14 PM »

The truth of the matter is that Fr. Dresdow seems to be one of Bishop Nikolai's underlings and willing to follow him to the end like a good underling. 

If that's the case then people will see it for what it is.  Reporting both sides isn't a bad idea - we've had more posts (by far) with information from those who are supporting the Metropolitan's actions than from those who are supporting Bishop Nikolai's actions.  And if you really disagree with the Bishop's actions, then you need to know exactly what is being said by those who support him - information is key to diffusing the situation and ensuring justice.
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« Reply #121 on: March 19, 2008, 05:09:57 PM »

If that's the case then people will see it for what it is.  Reporting both sides isn't a bad idea - we've had more posts (by far) with information from those who are supporting the Metropolitan's actions than from those who are supporting Bishop Nikolai's actions.  And if you really disagree with the Bishop's actions, then you need to know exactly what is being said by those who support him - information is key to diffusing the situation and ensuring justice.

I agree with you Cleveland, but at the same time, I don't think that news reporting (like the type that OCAnews.org does) is ever intended to be balanced. Journalism is always wrought with the opinions of the journalist.

-Nick
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« Reply #122 on: March 19, 2008, 05:23:49 PM »

Fr. Innocent is obviously one of Bishop Nikolai's supporters.  (They finally posted his letter on that other site.)  His letter helped me.  I'm torn as well, not knowing who to believe...Metropolitan or Bishop?

As far as I'm concerned, the Bishop has the stronger case. 

Since there are no charges against Bishop Nikolai, he shouldn't leave and abandon the diocese.  He's supposed to be protecting us.  All of those involved need to play by the rules or this is going to get even more confusing.  I suspect if Bishop Nikolai can hold on, he will make amends to all those concerned; he expressed that very view to us in church a couple of weeks ago. I heard it with my own ears.  I hope so.

Most of the issues seem like big misunderstandings, like accommodating priests and their subsistence lifestyle; being sensitive to native culture; etc.  Nothing that can't be fixed.  But there are some definite hot heads (Ted P. and Moses the T. on that other website for sure) who seem too far gone...

Actions really do speak alot too.  Funny that +BN hasn't retaliated against any of these priests who are speaking out against him.  He did boot Fr. Oleksa out of the seminary teacing job but I suspect that was because he was continuing to speak out against the Bishop to the students there and stirring up trouble.  It's also funny (speaking of actions) that Fr. Oleksa apparently chose to speak out against +BN in public on the internet instead of dealing with the Bishop directly.  I wonder what his motives are?  I find it hard to believe that all of these priest were too scared to make comments directly to their Bishop.  Who knows?

It goes on and on...what a mess.
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« Reply #123 on: March 19, 2008, 05:39:25 PM »

Read very carefully, the diocese is not being abandoned. There is an administrator there to take Bishop Nikolai's place. The fact of the matter now is that Bishop Nikolai is treading on thin ice by refusing to acknowledge his piers as has been pointed out in numerous places. At any rate, I believe that OCAnews.org is reporting the events accurately and certain people don't want to face the music.

-nick
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« Reply #124 on: March 19, 2008, 05:47:57 PM »

True. 

The diocese existence does not depend on whether Bishop Nikolai stays or goes.

It's just a shame that they can't work this out without being so drastic.

That's all.
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« Reply #125 on: March 20, 2008, 12:22:22 AM »

Our bishop died (may his memory be eternal).
We are not abandoned, just in transition.

Look, the Orthodox mission in Alaska and its sensitivity to native culture is one of the halmark achievements of Orthodoxy in America.

I read Tony Horowitz's (author of Confederates in the Attic) book, the Blue Latitiudes about the voyages of Captain Cook and the protestant missionaries in the south sea islands get excoriated. But the Othodox mission to Alaska gets praised, especially by native Alaskans. To undo this great history in a few years by a culturally insensitive bishop IS a BIG DEAL and that alone is grounds for dismissal or re-assignment.

Sins committed by the Church against whole cultures can become unforgiveable, from a human standpoint. The Church never is then able to gain a foothold in that culture. This is not a small matter and the damage done can become irrevocable in less than a generation.

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« Reply #126 on: March 20, 2008, 01:34:51 AM »

Fr. Innocent is obviously one of Bishop Nikolai's supporters.  (They finally posted his letter on that other site.)  His letter helped me.  I'm torn as well, not knowing who to believe...Metropolitan or Bishop?

As far as I'm concerned, the Bishop has the stronger case. 

Since there are no charges against Bishop Nikolai, he shouldn't leave and abandon the diocese.  He's supposed to be protecting us.  All of those involved need to play by the rules or this is going to get even more confusing.  I suspect if Bishop Nikolai can hold on, he will make amends to all those concerned; he expressed that very view to us in church a couple of weeks ago. I heard it with my own ears.  I hope so.
What really bothers me is that, even though Bishop Nikolai may have a good canonical reason for refusing to take a leave of absence--as I've explained earlier, I really don't think he does--his alleged actions show a rather obvious double standard.  He reportedly demands complete, even blind, obedience from his subordinates, yet he will offer no obedience whatsoever to the Holy Synod to whom he has sworn to subordinate himself.  Maybe the Synod's actions are uncanonical, but for the sake of peace in the Church, shouldn't Bishop Nikolai just submit humbly to being wronged and step aside anyway?  What does he have to prove or hide by raising such a stink?  Does he not realize that the Holy Synod probably has the canonical authority to suspend/depose him now for no other reason than disobedience to their synodal authority?
« Last Edit: March 20, 2008, 01:35:55 AM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #127 on: March 20, 2008, 05:42:26 AM »

I am praying  angel for both Bishop Nikolai and the Synod during this season of Lent.  That is all I can say about this.  Who am I as a lay person to comment about the world of bishops--only the holiest of all saints and righteous ascetics dared to call hierarchs to repentance in the past--I am only a sinner and can only speak of my sins, that is all I will do.  Lord have mercy!

Alexis, Greatest Sinner
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« Reply #128 on: March 20, 2008, 08:25:59 PM »

http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com/?pid=19&id=5977

Alaska diocese official visits Kodiak as worshippers continue to commemorate
bishop put on leave

Article published on Thursday, March 20th, 2008
By RALPH GIBBS
Mirror Writer

Orthodox Church in America officials confirmed Wednesday that Archpriest
Alexander Garklavs is now in Alaska and one of his first stops was Kodiak.

Church leader Metropolitan Herman appointed Fr. Garklavs administrator of the
Alaska diocese on March 8, after Bishop Nikolai Soraich was put on mandatory
leave for refusing to depart Alaska during an investigation into alleged charges
of abuse.

The bishop, who still refuses to leave, said on Wednesday that he would be happy
to meet with Fr. Garklavs, but hasn’t as of Wednesday.

Garklavs likely stopped in Kodiak first because the island is one of the few
Orthodox parishes in Alaska that defied Metropolitan Herman’s order to stop
commemorating Bishop Nikolai in services.

In a recent letter addressed to his congregation, Rev. Innocent Dresdow said he
would continue to commemorate Bishop Nikolai because he has been offered no
canonical reason or official notification to do otherwise.

“Although it is true that various communiqués have been posted on various Web
sites, including the OCA Web site, I have received no official instructions from
The Holy Synod,” Innocent wrote in the letter. “All of the official directives
of the OCA, as it impacts this parish, have come to me in the mail and in hard
copy. Therefore, I assume that something so significant as ceasing to
commemorate a bishop would be afforded at least the same level of orderliness
and decorum.”

Fr. Innocent said he would defend his stance even at the cost of his priesthood.
“I have been willing and am willing to suffer slander, insinuation, false
accusation and potentially the loss of my priesthood in order to defend the
integrity of the church,” he wrote. “What is at stake here is not a war between
personalities or bishops. What is at stake here is whether or not the church
will function as it has functioned for 2,000 years or whether it will decline
into the ordinary and ungodly.”

It is unknown if Fr. Garklavs delivered written orders to Fr. Innocent. Fr.
Innocent didn’t return phone calls and Fr. Garklavs could not be reached
Wednesday.

In other developments, The Holy Synod of Bishops will hold a special session on
March 27 in New York to address the situation in Alaska. Bishop Nikolai, who
feels angry and betrayed by the actions of his fellow bishops, said he welcomes
the meeting and confirmed he will attend.

“I sent a letter asking for the bishops’ help (regarding the situation in
Alaska) and their response was to tell me to get out of town,” the bishop said.
“I think (the meeting is) important and things need to be discussed in my
presence to talk about all of these things.”

Bishop Nikolai reiterated that he has no plans to step down and that the church
has no grounds to remove him.

“You have to follow the rules with how they’re written,” Bishop Nikolai said.
“If I was to comply with something that was not right, then I’m accepting the
fact that we’re breaking the rules and that every other rule can be broken,
too.”

He said there is a process and he’s happy to follow the process “in every
detail.”

Mirror writer Ralph Gibbs can be reached via e-mail at
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« Reply #129 on: March 21, 2008, 01:01:26 PM »

What really bothers me is that, even though Bishop Nikolai may have a good canonical reason for refusing to take a leave of absence--as I've explained earlier, I really don't think he does--his alleged actions show a rather obvious double standard.  He reportedly demands complete, even blind, obedience from his subordinates, yet he will offer no obedience whatsoever to the Holy Synod to whom he has sworn to subordinate himself.  Maybe the Synod's actions are uncanonical, but for the sake of peace in the Church, shouldn't Bishop Nikolai just submit humbly to being wronged and step aside anyway?  What does he have to prove or hide by raising such a stink?  Does he not realize that the Holy Synod probably has the canonical authority to suspend/depose him now for no other reason than disobedience to their synodal authority?


On another site someone wrote that in the ROCOR, if there are accusations against a member of the clergy, there is an investigation. Should there be sufficient grounds for canonical charges to be brought against a clergyman, formal charges are made and the clergyman is suspended from serving so that he can have time to prepare his defense against the stated charges and to prepare for a canonical trial.

It does make more sense to conduct an investigation first before the synod makes any charges. From what I understand the Bishop is demanding that the Holy Synod charge him now before they investigate. But how can they charge him without first conducting an investigation? That would seem to be putting the cart before the horse.
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« Reply #130 on: March 25, 2008, 12:51:25 AM »

Perhaps if people have been severely wounded in spirit, psyche and otherwise and feel intimidated, his immediate removal from the dioceses is warranted, for their healing and restoration.

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« Reply #131 on: March 25, 2008, 07:31:30 PM »

An interesting report from Kodiak to Fr. Alexander Garklavs and The Holy Synod of the OCA

http://www.dioceseofalaska.org/pdf/docs/docs2.html
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« Reply #132 on: March 25, 2008, 08:23:47 PM »

An interesting report from Kodiak to Fr. Alexander Garklavs and The Holy Synod of the OCA

http://www.dioceseofalaska.org/pdf/docs/docs2.html


It was pointed out on another forum the author of this letter is an appointed parish Council member in Kodiak, not elected by the parish. He is a newcomer to Kodiak, and a recent convert.

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« Reply #133 on: March 25, 2008, 11:30:06 PM »

whether appointed or elected I think the report makes some very good points.
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« Reply #134 on: March 25, 2008, 11:53:09 PM »

whether appointed or elected I think the report makes some very good points.

We have know way of corroborating the accuracy of his report.
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