Source: Chicago Tribune | By Manya A. Brachear
The Chicago native elected to the helm of the Orthodox Church in America resigned over the weekend, saying in a letter that he has “neither the personality nor the temperament” to lead the church.
Elected in late 2008 to lead one of several branches of Orthodox Christianity in the United States, Metropolitan Jonah had been a bishop for 12 days when he became primate. Parishioners looked to him for reforms after his predecessor retired amid allegations that millions of church dollars were used to cover personal expenses.
“People were looking for that new wind of leadership that he seemed to embody,” said the Rev. John Adamcio, rector at Holy Trinity Cathedral, the seat of the Chicago Diocese. “He was under an awful lot of pressure to right the ship and keep the church on course.”
He insisted on amplifying the church’s voice in the public square, moving the church’s headquarters from Syosset, N.Y., to Washington and speaking up against abortion rights. In 2009 he led a handful of Orthodox clergy to sign the Manhattan Declaration, a pledge to disobey laws that could force religious institutions to participate in abortions or bless same-sex couples.
The Rev. Mark Arey, director of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, said Metropolitan Jonah’s approach was not typical of Orthodox Christianity. “Orthodoxy is not in favor of abortion, but we don’t campaign in the same way you see evangelical groups,” Arey said.
But the Rev. Johannes Jacobse, president of the American Orthodox Institute, agreed with the primate’s foray into politics.
“He saw what needed to be said, and he wasn’t afraid to say it,” said Jacobse, an Antiochian Orthodox priest. “That kind of independence is threatening to a church that has operated by the same rules and assumptions for a long time. Part of this, too, was he represented a cultural shift inside the church that some thought should not have taken place.”
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