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In Response to the OCANews.org Editorial of August 3, 2009

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  • Nina_Dimas_42
    Reflection: In Response to the OCANews.org Editorial of August 3, 2009 Shame, Shame, Shame, Shame The Diocese of New York and New Jersey is in the process of
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 2009
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      In Response to the OCANews.org Editorial of August 3, 2009

      "Shame, Shame, Shame, Shame"

      The Diocese of New York and New Jersey is in the process of nominating
      the man who will be elected, by conciliar Assembly and the concurrence
      of the Holy Synod, its ruling hierarch: a Diocesan Bishop. The process employed was through the decision of the Locum tenens, Metropolitan +Jonah, in consultation with the three elected Deans (New York Deanery, New York City Deanery, New Jersey Deanery) and Chancellor of the Diocese. The process was presented and accepted by the elected members of the Diocesan Council. The process is governed by the Holy Canons, the Statutes of the Orthodox Church in America, and the Holy Synod's "Instructions Concerning the Election of the Ruling Hierarch" (Approved & Revised 1972). Several communications have been released for full dissemination among the clergy and laity of the diocese. Those tasked with implementing the process, and those aforementioned in approving the process, have promised an open, inclusive, conciliar approach to the fullest extent possible. Are there disagreements as to the exact nature of the process, the fullness of conciliarity, the desired level ofopenness, or other questions? Probably. Imperfections and human limitation abound. No process is perfect; all things can be improved; we are sinners, all. I am confident that such concerns and, hopefully, lessons learned will surface at our upcoming Extraordinary Diocesan
      Assembly. That's a good thing. But, it is hardly a conciliar
      principle amongst brothers dwelling in unity for one with a "loud
      voice" to shout from beyond the boundaries of the Diocese (the
      conciliar body, in this case) that all involved in the process of
      electing their diocesan hierarch are liars, deceivers, betrayers of the
      conciliar principle and worthy of shame. If anyone thinks I have
      incorrectly summarized the accusations published in the recent
      OCANews.org editorial, read it for yourself and choose your own words to
      describe the direct and implied accusations. Editor Mark Stokoe
      pronounced four "Shame on you" declarations, the last of which
      is directed at my faithful parishioners. Quite bold, I'd say!
      Saint Seraphim of Sarov taught me that any cursing directed against me
      is a blessing because I just might learn humility, and humility is my
      only hope of salvation. So, thanks – to Mark Stokoe – for the
      personal blessing. But when he points his "shame on you" finger
      at my beloved and faithful flock, I am not inclined to think of him

      As for my parish, everyone is expressing amazement and joy at how open
      the process is and they are eagerly awaiting more information as we
      prepare for the Assembly. It ought to be clear to anyone with a modicum
      of sense and propriety that a full and unrestricted release of candidate
      names, bios, reputations, and histories to "all and for all" followed by
      a free-for-all race to the Golden Omophor in front of cheering & jeering
      crowds would be a disgraceful (and un-grace-filled) spectacle unto our
      legitimate shame. That was – and I know it to be so – the
      meaning behind the singular word "non-competitive" lifted from
      the recent Diocesan Search Committee memorandum and ridiculed by Mr.
      Stokoe as a sign of the continuation of the "dysfunctional diocesan
      administration under Metropolitan Herman" (his words, not mine). My
      goodness! -- talk about petty trivialities in search of substance!
      There is also a matter of privacy and confidentiality involved, after
      all. I wonder if Father Michael Dahulich enjoyed the banner-headline
      and reporting on OCANews.org pronouncing him as the singular candidate
      and chosen-one to ascend as Bishop of New York and New Jersey by decree
      of the Holy Synod with the blind acceptance of the diocesan peasants
      errantly presuming themselves to be "parish delegates." Was
      there any editorial concern, I wonder, regarding the impact such
      reporting (as fact) may have on – oh, let's say – the
      Seminary of which he is currently dean? And, while any simpleton could
      come up with a broad list of those potentially affected by such
      reporting, it is – as all gossips claim – "what reliable
      inside sources say." While I am not troubled by what OCANews.org
      reports, neither do I fret over the National Enquirer at the supermarket
      checkout, it is bothersome to know that many people accept what is
      presented there, and the unwavering courage and integrity of the source,
      as "gospel." Example? When our diocesan process was just
      beginning, I was visited by a relative from the Diocese of the Mid West.
      I explained to her how excited we were to be engaged in prayerfully
      discerning the future of our diocese and the election of a Bishop.
      "You know," she said, "the Synod of Bishops has already
      decided and you have no say in it." "Really," said I.
      "My priest said so, and he knows people who know." Wow! I
      didn't know her priest was "on-line!" But if he got it
      "on-line" it is, most assuredly, the truth. I must be a real
      dope and dupe, because I'm kind of in the middle of this thing and
      that particular "clue bird" has not yet landed on my shoulder!
      Needless to say, it was not my place to correct my relative or, worse,
      suggest that her priest was either uninformed, wrong, or a liar. It
      would be nice, I must admit, if some others would also refrain from
      pronouncing such judgments – especially while throwing them up into
      the Internet wind.

      Does Mr. Stokoe not know, or does he intentionally choose to ignore,
      that the three Deans comprising the Selection Committee (along with the
      Chancellor installed and blessed by Metropolitan +Jonah) are duly
      elected by the priests of their respective deaneries? Does he have
      "reliable inside sources" leaking information regarding
      instances of corruption and behind-the-curtain deals of evil intent
      fomenting in the countless meetings conducted by the Search Committee?
      Is he prepared to present "the case" behind his innuendo that
      these priests – our Deans – are justifiably to be labeled as
      "stooges?" (sorry, but given Mr. Stokoe's artful and
      creative skill with the written word I couldn't resist the
      "Three Stooges" reference for his amusement). I laughed
      hysterically when, many years ago, a movie of the same title featured
      the lines: "The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!"
      Now, in the world according to Mr. Stokoe, it seems that instead of
      Russian Communists the "Hermonites" have not only come but
      infiltrated every parish and deanery of the New York and New Jersey
      Diocese. So, with McCarthy-like precision, they must be "outed"
      and labeled with every manner of distrustful accusation, questioning of
      motives, and general disdain. As one who not only voted for our Dean,
      but who respects and trusts him implicitly in this Search Process, and
      who thanks God for our priestly brotherhood, I am personally offended
      and refuse to accept a "shame on you" from a man in Ohio whom I
      neither know nor have reason to regard as my judge. It has become
      evident that Mr. Stokoe seeks to rouse the keyboard masses within his
      limited yet boastful sphere of influence, with himself the
      self-appointed, irreproachable, pure, "man of the common
      people," keyboard wizard. The arrogance, mistrust, proclivity to
      judge, and self-absorbed grandeur exuding from his website – and the
      long line of bloggers (my guess is that among the usual suspects are
      12-16 keyboard commentators who repeatedly, and most often anonymously,
      share profundities) -- is amazing and a wonderment: so much so that
      though I try to avoid it as much as possible for my spiritual
      well-being, the temptation to salaciousness sometimes becomes so great
      that I "log-on." The encounter, I confess, always leaves me
      feeling uneasy as flashbacks of my youth and that "deeply
      concerned" group of Church gossips comes to mind. The experience
      makes me feel, well – to use Mr. Stokoe's word –

      I can't help but see in this a grievously sickened form of spiritual
      McCarthyism through which the dreaded "communists" are replaced
      by "Hermonites" -- conspirators who clothe themselves in
      priestly vestments while surreptitiously using positions of ecclesial
      leadership to subvert and destroy the blessed conciliarity (democracy)
      of the Church. Faithful to the legacy of Joe McCarthy, this movement is
      founded on the endless pursuit of traitors and agents of evil,
      maintained by an ever-flowing stream of "anonymous" sources,
      allegations, and ever-so-nuanced gossip heralded as transparency,
      accountability, and truth, while all the while serving the purpose of
      self-righteous discourse. I recall some people -- call them gossips --
      in our parish when I was growing up. The best of them always said,
      "Well, it's the truth, you know!" True or not, that simple
      formula vindicated their words and actions, lifted them above the sin of
      false witnessing, and mitigated all of the turmoil, suspicions,
      mistrust, fracturing of love, and dissolution of mercy they sowed while
      always – always – presenting a smile of self-assurance and
      "journalistic" dignity. Even as a young boy, they saddened me.

      What I know is this: I respect, trust, and love the members
      of our Diocesan Search Committee. My parish is excited and enthused by
      the process and openness they have espoused, and the manner by which
      they have labored diligently to carry out their difficult task. I
      believe they have earnestly considered the many names submitted for
      their consideration, honoring both the sincerity of the nomination and
      the personal dignity and confidentiality of each nominee. I do not see
      a "Hermonite" lurking behind every bush. In our parish, we
      – yes, in a conciliar process -- are engaged and prepared to
      prayerfully consider the nominees for the high office of diocesan
      hierarch and -- with faith, hope, and love – to send our delegates
      to the Extraordinary Diocesan Assembly on August 31st where we believe
      the grace of the Holy Spirit will assemble us. In response to Mr.
      Stokoe's pronouncement, "we are not ashamed."

      Fr. Ken James Stavrevsky
      Saint John the Baptist Church
      Rochester NY
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