Dear Fr. Gyrus,
A few points.
1. I don't expect complete transparency in every particular. I realize issues of privacy can preclude complete disclosure. However I do expect some transparency over a matter so important to so many, and I expect honesty in the Holy Synod's dealings. The optics of the present situation strongly suggest something badly amiss on the Holy Synods part in this. This is evidence most recently by His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow gently, diplomatically reminding our newly chosen Metropolitan and the Holy Synod to treat and provide for Metropolitan Jonah with dignity…an encouragement that would not have been needed if all that had been done was done decently and in order. I also don't expect what seems to an imperious silence and stonewalling, rather I expect a more pastoral approach that lets us know our concerns are heard and that they are willing to address them.
2. With respect to Metropolitan Jonah not speaking up or giving his side of the story, right now we cannot know for sure in the present scarcity of information, but the presumption is that he has been bridled, warned on the QT that telling his side of it could endanger his already precarious fiscal and vocational situation. This would explain the need to lawyer up. It was a defensive move, not offensive.
3. Having little charity towards the Holy Synod: My charitable feelings toward the Holy Synod are mixed, but little is as appropriate a term as any…of course that wasn't always so. I admit to having a long standing personal bias in favor of Metropolitan Jonah since the day he was tapped to be a bishop. When he unloaded on the Holy Synod in Santa Fe, I was very much on his side of the narrative. So news of his resignation came, I wondered what mischief the Synod was up to now. Yet, when they first published their minimalist account, they presented one big item that I had to agree was sufficient reason to ask for his resignation. I gave them the benefit of the doubt. It was that particular in that account that plastered Metropolitan Jonah's account in national newspapers in association with the cover up of a sexual scandal. It was very sad to see.
But then over the next few weeks the narrative of this letter began to unravel, first it's timeline, then the question on where OCA statues stood at the time and what was the procedure, and it began to look as if he did do what the standards of that time called for, then it became know there was a dispute in the account of the "rape" that Metropolitan Jonah had allegedly mishandled. Then the very woman, the nun, who was supposed to have been the one "raped/abused" went on record utterly repudiating the alleged event. There was no rape…nothing such as had been insinuated in that letter. And to my surprise, the Holy Synod did nothing. It let a report stand from the OCA that contained a malicious falsehood that had been closely associated with Metropolitan Jonah's name, even going to far as to draw parallels with the pedophilic predations of Sandusky.
Then noted scholars examined the letter and what it was based on, found a great deal questionable in it. It was riddled with problems that again did not put the Holy Synod in a good light.
They let their own brother bishop's named be smeared in the public eye over a proven falsehood, and said nothing, did not lift a finger to correct the public record, and have remained silent to this day on the matter.
So why my little charity, not because the Holy Synod found Metropolitan Jonah too difficult to work with, not because they were not as warm towards his vision of the OCA as I would have preferred, not because they asked for his resignation, but because they have permitted a brother bishop to be shamed and vilified in the public eye, associated his alleged failings with the coverup of a notorious serial pedophile, and have done so under the color of an alleged mishandling of a "situation" that as oxymoronic as it sounds, wasn't mishandled, and does not exist. In other words…a falsehood. They said he exposed the OCA to serious legal consequences. Tell me, Father, what are the legal consequences of not covering up a rape that did not happen? Even if he did bumble the handling of this priest in some way, what is the legal consequence of "mishandling"/covering up a rape that did not happen?
That is the foundation of my profound disappointment with the conduct of the Holy Synod in this matter. And unless some better information comes forward from somewhere trustworthy, based on everything known now, my mind is quite made up.
For all that, the world has spun. We have a new metropolitan now, and from all I have heard he is a good and decent man, and an able administrator, though he is much quieter in his manner, less demonstrative than our former, and in some quarters still beloved Metropolitan. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill has weighed in on the side of a dignified exit for Metropolitan Jonah, and if that much comes to pass, then it will have to be enough, though a Synodal explanation/apology together with Metropolitan's Jonah's side of the story would be well from my perspective. I'm not holding my breath on that last little bit though.
Having talked to our priests upon their return from Parma, I also am less worried at present about the future of the Diocese of the South. Several priests from the DoS, known to the Metropolitan from his time as an instructor and confessor at St. Tikhon's approached him and asked his help in securing a suitable candidate to which he seemed most amenable. Not quite a guarantee, but much better than the status quo of the past few years.
As for the Holy Synod, it's not a fixed body, those on it will change as the years go by. New men will be ordained. The Church will endure. I take this view on it. The Holy Synod and Patriarch that did so horribly by Metropolitan St. Nektarios did not cease to be an Orthodox synod for all their mistreatment of him, rather they enabled him to grow in grace and eventually so grow as to be reckoned among our most beloved of modern saints. Perhaps this is part of Metropolitan Jonah's journey of faith as well….an injustice to be endured for Christ's sake, just like St. Nectarios, just like his own patron saint. And maybe a hundred years hence a future synod of the OCA or whatever Orthodox governing body follows it will make apology just like St. Nektario's old synod eventually did roughly a hundred years after his humiliation and ouster.
But unless they are determined to make Metropolitan Jonah's life harder, the matter for all intents and purposes is closed. If they do by him as the MP asks, it will be well. We have a new metropolitan. It's time to move forward, perhaps the Holy Synod has learned from all this and is the better for it and will do better in the future because of it. We'll see. They've a lot of work to do to restore the trust and confidence of so many that they have lost. It will be a long task and hard one, but it's not impossible to repair the damage…even with the likes of a scoundrel like me.