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OCANews: "The Brum Doctrine"

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  • Nina_Dimas_42
    12.02.06 The Brum Doctrine At this point I must emphasize that, as the Primate of The Orthodox Church in America and in light of the fact that I have taken
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 2006
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      The Brum Doctrine

      "At this point I must emphasize that, as the Primate of The Orthodox
      Church in America and in light of the fact that I have taken full
      responsibility for all that has happened and is now happening, I
      will not be apologetic for exercising the leadership prerogatives
      afforded to the Primate as described in the Statute of The Orthodox
      Church in America."

      Metropolitan Herman to the OCA Metropolitan Council, June 16, 2006

      To grasp what Metropolitan Herman intends by the phrase "leadership
      prerogatives afforded to the Primate" the unwary reader might turn
      to the Statute of the OCA. But that would be a mistake; for what the
      Metropolitan grounds his actions upon will not be found among the
      many duties and responsibilities the Statute enumerates. The reader
      will be better served turning towards two more closely held
      documents; documents that have not been widely circulated, nor
      widely discussed, but each of which helps explain a great deal of
      what has been happening in the OCA since their appearance in
      January, 1999.

      Written by Archpriest David Brum*, secretary to Metropolitan
      Theodosius and until recently Metropolitan Herman as well, the
      documents provided the basis for Metropolitan Theodosius' refusal to
      disclose either his or Fr. Kondratick's secret accounts in July
      1999; Metropolitan Herman's later refusal to do the same;
      Metropolitan Herman's summary dismissal of Fr. Kondratick in March,
      2005, and most recently the Metropolitan's decision to 'reorganize'
      the administration of the Church without consultation with the Synod
      or Metropolitan Council.

      The Primate in Perspective

      The first document is entitled 'The Primate of the Orthodox Church
      in America and Those Who Assist Him in Church Administration: A
      Canonical Perspective.' In its concluding summary the document

      "The governing documents of the Orthodox Church in America provide
      neither the job descriptions, scope of competence, nor channels of
      accountability of those who hold the various positions which exist
      within the Church's administrative offices. These offices are
      clearly an extension of the metropolitan's administrative ministry,
      are under his direct or delegated supervision, and exist within the
      Church (apart from their role in the fulfillment of civil law
      requirements) solely for the purpose of assisting him in his
      canonical duty to act as chief overseer of the internal and external
      life of the Church. Therefore, the nature, role, functions and
      accountability structure of these offices are determined by the
      Metropolitan, to whom they are subject.

      Preeminent among those who assist the Metropolitan in his
      administrative duties is the Chancellor. If so delegated by the
      Metropolitan, he may assume total management of the day-to-day
      administration of the Church and may exercise direct supervision
      over all other Church administrative offices, including the above-
      mentioned offices of Secretary and Treasurer.

      Clearly, by virtue of their being exercised in an ecclesial context,
      these administrative offices, indeed, all positions in Church
      administration, do not exist for their own sake and never function
      in isolation from or independent of Church administration in its
      totality. Rather, their very raison d'etre is to serve the Church by
      assisting the Metropolitan in his canonically-assigned task of
      supervising and administering the life, affairs, and concerns of the

      (The document may be read in full here.)

      If this first document reduces all authority in Church
      administration to a function of the Primate - an authority which can
      be devolved to the Chancellor at his discretion - the second,
      shorter states that position even more clearly. It is entitled 'The
      Primate And The Administration Of Church Finances' and reads, in
      full, as follows:

      "When addressing the question of the rights, responsibilities, and
      prerogatives of the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, ('The
      Metropolitan'), it is to be noted that the primatial role is
      defined, most comprehensively, as the supervision of the internal
      and external life and welfare of the Church (OCA Statute, Article
      II, Section 2,4.6 & &; Article III, Sections 2 & 12; Article IV,
      Sections 1 & 2; Article V, Sections 1,2, & 4).

      While the Metropolitan may invite others to assist him by their
      advice and counsel and may delegate others to share in the general
      oversight or administration of various aspects of Church life, he
      may never abdicate his canonically-assigned personal authority and
      responsibility. His is the ultimate authority in the overall
      administration of Church life and his is the decisive voice in
      providing direction for that administration.

      One of the most highly controversial areas] of Church life has
      always been the area of Church finances and financial
      administration. Within recent history, the Orthodox Church in
      America has been called into civil courts to defend itself and its
      financial investments and properties against those who have
      questioned the authority of its priests, bishops, and, indeed, the
      authority of the Church itself.

      The tone and tenor of American culture and society at the beginning
      of the twenty-first century seems to demand that everyone, at all
      levels of society, have a voice in how policies are formulated, how
      tasks are assigned or delegated, how funds are administered, etc.
      This questioning eventually presents itself as a challenge to
      authority itself. This perceived 'right'
      to question legitimate authority has even manifested itself in the
      Church, as persons in various forums challenge the Metropolitan's
      right to exercise his canonical authority in all areas of Church
      administration, including the area of financial administration.

      In spite of the pressures which may be placed upon the Church to
      develop into a 'corporate' organization with a board of directors in
      which ultimate authority is vested or the pressure to act as a
      democratic society in which everyone has a vote as to how the
      society shall function, the Church remains true to its hierarchical
      structure and to the canonical principles which protect that
      structure. In the question of the Metropolitan's authority to
      administer all areas of Church life, including the use and
      administration of Church finances, it is clear from the Church's
      canonical tradition that he is the authoritative voice and the one
      who makes ultimate decisions, always taking into account the advice
      and counsel of the members of the Holy Synod (c. 34 of the Apostles;
      c. 9 of Antioch)."

      The Brum Doctrine

      The two documents make clear that the operative perspective in
      Syosset has been that all authority and power in the Church are
      concentrated in the Metropolitan; and that all other bodies, the
      Synod, the Metropolitan Council, indeed the All American Council
      itself, are as Fr. Brum's last line makes clear,
      simply "consultative". According to Fr. Brum, whatever authority
      they possess is nothing more than what they derive from their role
      in helping the Metropolitan express the fullness of authority in the
      Church he alone possesses.

      Given this perspective it is clear to see how Fr. Kondratick,
      Metropolitan Theodosius and later Metropolitan Herman were
      successfully emboldened to reject all attempts at oversight or
      questioning of their activities for years. Indeed it is no
      coincidence that these essays were penned and presented to Fr.
      Kondratick and Metropolitan Theodosius in the months of tension that
      directly followed Protodeacon Eric Wheeler's questioning of the ADM
      funds. It helps explain the impunity with which they reorganized the
      chancery administration (such as eliminating the office of Treasurer
      when the Treasurer began asking difficult questions, and
      reinstituting it a year later when a more compliant Treasurer could
      be appointed); rejecting any attempts by the Church Auditors to
      review their secret accounts; diverting charity funds, delaying All -
      American Councils, etc. Nor did any bishops publicly object - until
      March 2006, with the summary dismissal of Fr. Kondratick, the
      widening of the audits and the appointment of Proskauer Rose to
      investigate the Central Church Administration as a whole. Only then
      did now-retired Bishop Tikhon of Los Angeles andBishop Nikolai
      publicly criticize the Metropolitan when they realized they
      themselves were in danger of being sidelined by the "Brum Doctrine".

      The +Herman Corollary

      Indeed they were being sidelined. For in March 2006 the
      authoritarian positions of Fr. Brum, that is, that all authority in
      the OCA belongs solely to the Metropolitan by virtue of his office,
      was substantially widened by what can only be called the "+Herman
      Corollary". This corollary makes the reduction of all the
      administrative bodies of the Church complete. In March 2006 the
      Metropolitan in effect asserted that all powers not specifically
      denied the Metropolitan by Statute are his. It was an extraordinary
      assertion that significantly reduces the scope of the Statute to
      only that which is specifically enumerated - with all other
      authority being claimed by the Metropolitan alone. In the context of
      the dramatic events of March 2006 many people might be excused for
      overlooking this assertion or grasping its full implications.
      However, it now lies at the center of the current debate over what
      the Metropolitan himself calls 'competing ecclesiologies' in the

      Competing Ecclesiologies

      It is not clear how the Church can "move forward" as the
      Metropolitan continually demands, given the three ecclesiological
      visions currently abroad in the OCA; visions that are at sharp odds
      with each other as to the solution, not to mention the nature and
      meaning, of the current scandal. The Metropolitan's authoritarian
      position is clear; we are simply to move forward with a promise
      the "errors, mistakes and sins" of the past are now in the process
      of being corrected. But this "forward movement" addresses none of
      the underlying causes that led to the scandal, leaves in place many
      of the people who engendered the crisis, and can only be funded by
      increasing debt. Like an amnesiac, the OCA is to simply begin a new
      life, without reference to its past.

      Bishops Tikhon and Nikolai's "Restorationist" vision differs from
      the above only in that they simply abrogate all authority and powers
      to the Synod of Bishops, rather than the Metropolitan alone. They do
      not fundamentally disagree with their protege Fr. Brum, only where
      the locus of power should be. That is, authority in the Church does
      not rest with the Metropolitan, nor with the Statute, nor the All-
      American Council, nor its continuation - the Metropolitan Council -
      or some combination of the above, but with the Synod of Bishops
      alone. This position has little overt support beyond those two, and
      those clergy and laity who directly benefitted from Fr. Kondratick's
      largesse. It offers no way forward beyond the unseemly "business as
      usual" that has led us into this impasse.

      The third option finds an increasing number of episcopal, clerical
      and lay supporters coalescing around the desire for a more open
      culture in the OCA, a return to the Statute, and the holding of a
      All-American Council, sooner rather than later, as the best means
      for discovering a common solution to the problems we face. It seeks
      a return to mutual oversight and responsibilities between the
      hierarchy, clergy and laity. Authority is not the sole prerogative
      of the hierarchs, clergy or laity, but a shared responsibility in a
      conciliar structure that balances hierarchy and participation of the
      cerlgy and laity. The only means of restoring integrity to the
      central administration of the OCA is to fully confess the mistakes
      of the past, to deal openly and honestly with the problems of the
      present, and move solidly into a participatory future. More
      importantly this is the only means whereby we can "move forward"
      without burdensome debt, coercion or selective amnesia.

      At The Crossroads

      Unfortunately, the very diversity of those sharing the conciliar
      perspective may hinder the concerted action required to alter the
      current impasse. Looming on the horizon, however, are factors which
      may alter the current equation: the results of the Rose
      investigation, possible governmental intervention, etc. In the
      coming year there will certainly be one new Bishop on the Synod, if
      not more. Any combination of the above could change the status quo
      dramatically as the OCA goes forward. The choice is whether we
      choose to do so under the Brum Doctrine & +Herman Corollary - or

      -Mark Stokoe


      * Upon being received into the Orthodox Church by Bishop Tikhon from
      the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno in 1997, Fr. Brum quickly rose
      to prominence in the OCA, culminating in being appointed Secretary
      to Metropolitan Theodosius in 1999. According to his resume:

      • Fr, Brum graduated with a B.A., Humanities, Saint Joseph's
      College, Mountain View, CA 1977, received a Certificate in Pastoral
      Counseling from Saint Patrick's Seminary, Menlo Park, CA. in 1980,
      and his
      M. Div. from the same seminary in 1981. He received a Licentiate in
      Canon Law, (JCL) from the Catholic University of America,
      Washington, D.C. in 1995.

      • Fr. Brum was ordained a Priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of
      Fresno September 1981, and served increasingly larger parishes in
      that Diocese from 1981 on, as well as becoming that Diocese's
      director of vocations. His 1995 dissertation-for the Catholic
      University of America was entitled "The Participation of the Lay
      Christian Faithful in Canonically-Established Consultative Bodies."

      • In November 1996 Fr. Brum was appointed Director of the Diocesan
      Tribunal, Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno. The appointment was to
      be effective on January 1997 after the appointment letter was signed
      and the customary profession of faith was received. In April 1997 he
      was received by vesting into the OCA at St. Eugene's Hermitage (CA)
      by Bishop Tikhon, and appointed to St. Nicholas Church, Saratoga, CA.

      • In August 1997 he was appointed at the second priest at St. Paul
      Church in Las Vegas, Nevada under then Fr. Nicholas Soraich, later
      Bishop Nikolai of Alaska.

      • One year later, in August 1998 he was released to the NY/NJ
      Diocese; and appointed to St. Gregory Palamas Mission, Stanton, NJ.
      It was during this period that he wrote the two documents reprinted

      • In June 2000 he was released from St. Gregory Palamas Mission and
      attached to St. Sergius Chapel, Syosset to serve as Secretary to
      Metropolitan Theodosius. He served in this position until July 2002,
      and was then appointed as Secretary to Metropolitan Herman from July
      2002 to July 2006.

      Following the dismissal of Fr. Kondratick in March 2006, Fr. Brum
      submitted his resignation. He has now returned to parish ministry
      and is currently serving in a parish in Phoenix, Arizona. According
      to sources in Alaska, Fr. Brum is currently on the short list to
      replace Fr. Chad Hatfield as the Dean of St. Herman's Seminary when
      Fr. Hatfield takes up his new position at St. Vladimir's in New York
      next year.

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