Chicago native quits as leader of American Orthodox Church
By Manya Brachear Tribune reporter
9:17 a.m. CDT, July 9, 2012
The Chicago native elected to the helm of the Orthodox Church in America
resigned this weekend, saying in a letter that he has "neither the
personality nor the temperament" to lead the church.
Metropolitan Jonah submitted his resignation during a conference call on
Saturday with other primates of the church. In his letter of
resignation, he said he was leaving the post in response to the
unanimous request of the primates.
"I had come to the realization long ago that I have neither the
personality nor the temperament for the position of primate, a position
I never sought nor desired," he wrote in a letter of resignation.
The letter was written Friday in his Washington, D.C. home and witnessed
by the Orthodox Church in America's chancellor, according to a statement
from the church.
Elected in 2008 to lead the main branch of Orthodox Christianity in the
United States, Metropolitan Jonah became primate under a banner of
reform after his predecessor, Archbishop Herman, retired amid
allegations that leaders of the 400,000-member denomination used
millions of dollars from church coffers to cover personal expenses.
The Orthodox Church in America is part of a constellation of churches
separate from the Roman Catholic Church since the 11th Century.
Born James Paffhausen and raised on Chicago's Near North Side, he was
baptized at St. Chrysostom's Episcopal Church.
He discovered the Orthodox strand of Christianity during college at the
University of California at San Diego. A book about mystical theology
affirmed his concerns about the ordination of women in the Episcopal
Church in 1978 and led him to convert that same year.
"A church should be stable. There shouldn't be that kind of turmoil,"
Metropolitan Jonah said during an interview with the Tribune in July
2009. "Intuitively, I had to become Orthodox."
His family was "horrified" by his choice, he said. While working in
Russia as a doctoral candidate, he fell in love with the wholesale
commitment of monasticism. He eventually established monasteries and
missions in California and Hawaii.
"I'd come to the realization that I really didn't care about pursuing a
position of money and power," he said. "I was raised to be a corporate
executive like my father and grandfather. I found it empty."
In his letter over the weekend, Metropolitan Jonah asked the primates to
consider his financial situation when making another assignment since he
supports his parents and sister.
"I will appreciate your consideration in this, and beg forgiveness for
however I have offended you, and for whatever difficulties have arisen
from my own inadequacies and mistakes in judgment."