August 22, 2014

Catholic Online: Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America Suddenly Resigns His Office: Why?


Unbeknownst to most Orthodox, Met. Jonah was the voice of Orthodoxy in the other Christian communions. His words reached into Baptist meetings, Episcopal assemblies, even the Vatican. He traveled these halls effortlessly because he held to the simple teaching of the Gospel but in the fullness of the Orthodox moral tradition. That enabled him to be heard by our non-Orthodox brethren and strengthen them at the same time for he was able to impart a depth and wisdom that many were looking for but had yet to discover. Met. Jonah's successes, as well as the genuine fondness and respect shown him by Christians of other communions, shows us that Orthodoxy can speak to the larger culture and that it has some very important things to say. It also shows, as his forced retirement this week makes clear, that the afflictions borne by other other communions afflict us as well. From the article: There is another element in this which is of immediate importance, and directly follows on … [Read more...]

Get Religion: Covering Warfare in a Byzantine Maze – Literally


Terry Mattingly’s advice for journalists about the coup in the OCA. A key quote: Of course, it is “politics” when an Orthodox leader defends the church’s doctrines in public. It is not “politics” when liberal activists inside the church work to silence the voice of the church, while quietly lobbying in seminaries and elsewhere to redefine those same doctrines. H/T Source: Get Religion | By Terry Mattingly It goes without saying that I have received quite a bit of email from GetReligion readers, and others, wanting to know my take on last Friday’s resignation, and now the ongoing humiliation, of Metropolitan JONAH of the Orthodox Church in America. In a way, this news was rather shocking, yet not all that shocking because the bitter infighting between the OCA’s old guard and its idealistic young leader has been building for more than a year. If you need a refresher course on the borders of this truly Byzantine scandal, then click here for the … [Read more...]

Fr. Alexander Webster: Open Letter to the Ethics Committee of the Metropolitan Council, Orthodox Church in America

Archpriest Alexander F C Webster

Archpriest Alexander Webster Ph.D. of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) recently filed an ethics complaint against Mark Stokoe, the editor of and member of the OCA Metropolitan Council, a governing body of the OCA. The complaint concerns the publication of private documents including stolen emails from former OCA priest Fr. Joseph Fester, the confidential correspondence of Met. Jonah, and the private correspondence of retired Bishop Nikolai (Soraich) by Mr. Stokoe on his blog. Fr. Webster argues that Mr. Stokoe's actions violate the OCA Best Practice Principles that require “the highest standards of honesty and the conduct of their duties.” The Ethics Committee refused to act on his complaint. Fr. Webster responds below. The timeline of the complaint process with supporting documents: 1. May 15, 2011, First Letter to the Ethics Committee (pdf here). 2. May 23, 2011, Second Letter to the Ethics Committee (pdf here). 3. June 9, 2011, … [Read more...]

Met. Hilarion Confident Pan-Orthodox Synod will Resume in “Near Future”


Source: Russian Orthodox Church Department for External Church Relations Your Eminence! You have recently led a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church at the meeting of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission held in Chambesy near Geneva. Which questions did you discuss? The Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission is a working body which prepares the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church. It elaborates items included in the Council’s agenda. The catalogue of the items was compiled in 1976 and includes ten topics demanding the elaboration of common position of the Orthodox Church. According to the regulation, proposals made by the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission are to be approved by the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference. The major part of the mentioned catalogue has been elaborated in the last decades, while in 2009 the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference approved the decisions on the ordering of cooperation among the Churches in Orthodox diaspora. That … [Read more...]

Fr. Gregory Jenson: The Orthodox Church and Civil Society


Source: Koinonia Much like the Catholic Church, Mainline Protestant denominations and Evangelical Christians, the Orthodox Church is struggle to decide whether or not Christ has called us to take an active or a passive role in the world. By his example, Metropolitan Jonah has said we should be active–even proactive–while his critics, either out of fear of, or agreement with, the spirit of the age have opted for passivity. This at least is the conclusion that I would draw from the recent Washington Post profile piece about his Beatitude (you can read it here and my post on it here). It seems clear that the Orthodox Church in America is internally divided between those who would rather not step out into the public square with the Gospel and those like his Beatitude are ready, willing and eager to do so. As in every human decision, people do or don’t do for a mix of reasons and just because two people agree on a course of action doesn’t mean they have the same … [Read more...]

WAPO: Metropolitan Jonah goes to Washington


Source: Washington Post | Julia Duin | Sunday, March 20, 11:13 AM They appeared at the edge of the crowd on the Mall, a group of men seemingly out of a distant century. Their heads were crowned with klobuks, the distinctive headgear of Orthodox clergy. Sporting black cassocks and untrimmed gray beards, with golden icons dangling from their necks on long chains, these visitors stood out among the crowd clad in jeans and winter coats. The man in their center carried a bejeweled walking stick. Metropolitan Jonah, 51, leads the Orthodox Church in America, the second-largest Eastern Orthodox body in the United States. He was there to rally the huddled masses waiting in the freezing air to begin the March for Life, the annual demonstration protesting the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide. His aim was to boost Orthodox participation in political issues. But his efforts to change the OCA would spark a ferocious reaction from his own bishops one month later. At … [Read more...]

OCA summarizes Met. Hilarion’s visit

Note (from the release): "Metropolitan Hilarion affirmed the Russian Orthodox Church's commitment to uphold its granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America in 1970," said Father Alexander Garklavs after the meeting. My question: While I welcome the affirmation, does the Church that grants autocephaly actually have the power to rescind it? I wouldn't think so. The granting of autocephaly is not conditional. If it were, autocephaly would be something other than independence. HT: Byzantine TX SYOSSET, NY (OCA) - On Tuesday, August 31, 2010, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion [Alfeyev] of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, and permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate, concluded his three-day working visit to New York at the invitation of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah of All America and Canada. A member of the Board of Trustees of Saint Vladimir's Seminary, Crestwood, NY, … [Read more...]

From the OCA Strategic Planning Committee:

Dear Fr. Johannes, On behalf of the OCA Strategic Planning Committee, thank you for posting our Draft Plan, and thanks also to those of your readers who have posted their thoughtful comments. When the Special Investigating Committee recommended that the OCA engage in this process, this is exactly the kind of openness and dialogue for which we prayed. The Strategic Planning Committee is now at the stage of seeking the broadest possible input on our work. We will make presentations at Diocesan Assemblies, seminaries, monasteries, parishes and anywhere else we can for this purpose. While our ideas may have some merit, it is the Church which must shape its future, for which the Plan is but one tool. Everyone's engagement is critical. I will personally convey comments on your blog to the Committee, and each will be seriously discussed. We can also be contacted directly at Again, our thanks to you and to your dedicated readers. In Christ, Dr. Dmitri … [Read more...]

How the self governance of the OCA has benefitted Orthodox Christians on this continent


Fr. Michael Oleska, dean of St. Innocent Orthodox Cathedral in Anchorage, Alaska, writes that self-governance of the church also has an important practical dimension: corrupt bishops can be removed through the combined action of priests and laity. Self-governance in other words provides an essential check and balance that is lacking in the monarchical model of the episcopacy that emerged under submission to the Ottomans on the Byzantine side, and under submission and dependency on the state on the Russian side. The past leadership of the OCA invoked this putative authority to intimidate priests and laity who refused to accept the rampant corruption that afflicted the OCA. In the GOA, the monarchical model has been imposed in greater measure ever since the Bishops were elevated to Metropolitans and the dioceses began to function as fiefdoms of Constantinople. This late development has its committed defenders as well (see: GOA Deacon responds to Dn. Eric Wheeler) although the … [Read more...]

In Memoriam: His Eminence Archbishop Job, Archbishop of Chicago and the Midwest

Archbishop Job

Posted 12/18 SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] -- On Friday, December 18, 2009, His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest unexpectedly fell asleep in the Lord. His Eminence, Archbishop Job was born Richard John Osacky in Chicago on March 18, 1946. He completed university studies at Northern Illinois University and, after graduating from Saint Tikhon Seminary, South Canaan, PA, in 1970, he served as cantor and youth director at Saint John the Baptist Church in Black Lick, Pennsylvania. He assumed responsibilities in leading Divine Services in the prescribed manner for readers, conducting religious education and youth work, and painting icons. It was his extraordinary affinity with Orthodox youth that gained him the recognition of the Church at large. In 1973 Reader John was ordained to the holy diaconate and consequently to the holy priesthood by Bishop Theodosius of Pittsburgh [later Metropolitan Theodosius of All American and Canada]. He was assigned to the … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Jonah on Orthodox Christian unity

The Orthodox Church in America's communications department has published a summary of Metropolitan Jonah's remarks at Orthodox Christian Laity's recently concluded Road to Unity conference. Highlights: Central to the fabric of a united Church, Metropolitan Jonah added, is the need to "be missionary in every aspect of its existence, reaching out to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its patristic and Orthodox integrity to the peoples of North America, incarnating the Orthodox Church in North America, and enculturating North Americans into Orthodoxy. "Each [North American] church, jurisdiction, and community has done this to its own degree, individually," Metropolitan Jonah observed. "Now we must put it all together, keeping in mind the essential goal of the sanctification of our people, our communities, our nations. Each community has something of utmost value to offer to the whole. Each community has come into existence in America through tremendous struggle, hardship … [Read more...]

Alaskan Diocesan Assembly passes resolution on the environment

H/T: Orrologion ANCHORAGE, AK [Diocese of Alaska/ October 21, 2009] -- The Orthodox Diocese of Alaska, meeting at its annual Assembly at Saomt Innocent Cathedral here, passed a unanimous resolution today, calling on state and federal agencies to deny permits to any "commercial or economic project" that threatens to damage or pollute the natural environment. The basis for the Church's opposition to any "development" derives from a spiritual and theological concern, rather than political considerations. The resolution first cites the traditional reverential attitude Alaska Native peoples have always had toward their environment, and then lists the Biblical sources for the belief that God blessed the world at the time of creation and that, despite human greed, waste and sin, He now is renewing it, restoring it, blessing and sanctifying it. Central to the Church's declaration is its affirmation that for over 200 years, parishes along the lakes and rivers have been performing … [Read more...]