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Given Official Silence, Misinformation and Speculation Abounds

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://ocanews.org/news/ZacchaeusMisinformation8.8.11.html *8.8.11* * Given Official Silence, Misinformation and Speculation Abounds * The recall of
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 8, 2011
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      Given Official Silence, Misinformation and Speculation Abounds *

      The recall of Archimandrite Zacchaeus (Wood), the former Representative
      of the OCA to the Patriarchate of Moscow, without official explanation,
      and his failure to return to the United States as ordered, has led to
      widespread speculation, and much misinformation, in both the USA and

      According to an Interfax posting on August 2, quoting an unnamed source
      at Zacchaeus' St. Catherine's parish in Moscow, the reason for Wood's
      being placed on leave /"....may be related to some internal developments
      in the Orthodox Church in America."/ Other Russian websites (often
      citing unnamed American Orthodox websites) have suggested that the
      recall was/"...the result of Fr. Zacchaeus's being a close friend Fr.
      Tikhon (Shevkunov) - 'Putin's confessor,' which means 'he worked for the
      Russian secret services." /Other theories suggested Fr. Zacchaeus
      had/"....enjoined the sites Pravmir.ru and Pravoslavie.ru to publish
      compromising materials against the OCA"/, and so was recalled.

      If the reason for Wood's recall is the subject of speculation, so too is
      the reason why he has failed to return to the United States. Interfax,
      citing the same unnamed source at St. Catherine's suggests Fr. Zacchaeus
      is /" ...currently under medical examination in a Moscow clinic. 'He had
      his gallbladder removed before and now the decease [sic] exacerbated' ,
      the source said." /According to another Russian website Fr. Zacchaeus
      was indeed in a hospital in Moscow /"... where he was taken after a
      heart attack that occurred on July 24. For this reason, Fr. Zacchaeus
      did not use the airline ticket in the U.S." /According to a letter to
      Metropolitan Jonah from a group of concerned parishoners at St.
      Catherine's, also posted August 2nd "/....our dear pastor has been taken
      to hospital (infectious disease ward) and thereafter transferred to
      another hospital for therapy -- where is now able to receive visitors." /

      According to documents obtained by OCANews.org., little of the above is

      In a letter signed by Metropolitan Jonah to Fr. Zacchaeus, dated July
      29th, the Metropolitan stated the reason for his being placed on a leave
      of absence and recalled: /"On July 21, 2011, you were sent an email, on
      my behalf, by the Interim Chancellor, Bishop Melchisedek, wherein you
      were informed that you were named as as the subject of allegations of
      misconduct and therefore placed on a leave of absence, effective July
      21, 2011. You were also directed to return to the United States, and in
      an email, on July 22, 2011, given information that the Orthodox Church
      in American purchased you a ticket on a flight from Moscow to New York
      on July 25, 2011. Although you acknowledged receiving that information,
      you did not arrive on July 25, and have not replied to subsequent
      messages from Church representatives."/

      In a July 24th response to the Metropolitan's earlier email, Fr.
      Zacchaeus' Moscow lawyer, Vladimir Berezansky, more fully described the
      /"allegations of misconduct"/as a "/...vaguely worded allegation (or
      allegations) of sexual misconduct." /Thus, despite Berezansky's
      subsequent complaint that the leave and recall were /"unprecedented
      punishments",/ the fact is that OCA policy dictates that any cleric
      accused of sexual misconduct will be placed on paid leave of absence
      until an investigation has taken place. The OCA asserts that an
      investigation cannot begin until Fr. Zacchaeus returns from Moscow

      In his July 24th response Berezanky relates that Fr. Zacchaeus is
      currently /"...unable to travel - especially on short notice - for
      health related reasons. I will be forwarding a medical conclusion from a
      duly licensed Russian physician confirming that Fr. Zaccheaus' health
      related complications prevent him from travelling at least in the near
      term future. We will advise you of any relevant change to his health,
      and suitability for lengthy travel of the sort that you suggest he
      undertake." /

      Pressed to disclose the nature of his condition Fr. Zaccheaus has since
      confirmed to Syosset that the "health-related reasons" involved a
      colonoscopy. It is unclear when, or even if, he plans to return in the
      /"near term future"./

      This matter of monastic and canonical obedience has been further
      complicated by the actions of Metropolitan Jonah. Metropolitan Jonah,
      according to sources close to Syosset, forwarded the e-mails of the
      Synod, members of OCA Sexual Misconduct Panel Advisory Committee and the
      MC's Legal Affairs Committee discussing this situation -- to Berezansky.
      The Metropolitan claimed the posting of the confidential email
      discussion thread was an "accident".

      The Metropolitan then recused himself from the entire matter citing his
      /"... close, confessional relationship" /with Fr. Zacchaeus.

      However, there are indications, and thus questions, as to whether
      contact between the two has actually ceased. In his August 1st response
      to +Melchisedek's July 29th letter to Zaccheaus directing him to return
      to the United States, Berezansky claims: /" The Metropolitan did not
      instruct or authorize you ( +Melchizesek) to send the letter attached to
      your e-mail message. Indeed, the Metropolitan was only vaguely aware of
      an early draft of the letter attributed to him. Please ask him
      yourself." /The question is not whether +Jonah authorized the letter -
      his signature is clearly visible. The real concern is why would
      Berezansky even make such a claim and challenge, if he had not been so
      told that by the Metropolitan? And if he was indeed told such by the
      Metropolitan, for what purpose would the Metropolitan be working against
      the OCA's Synod, policies and his own administration?

      - Mark Stokoe

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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