KDM: OCA leader calls for April mtg to discuss Alaska diocese
- OCA leader calls for April meeting to discuss Alaska diocese
Article published on Tuesday, April 8th, 2008, in the Kodiak Daily
By RALPH GIBBS
The Most Rev. Nathaniel, archbishop of Detroit and the Romanian
Episcopate, and the Right Rev. Tikhon, bishop of Philadelphia and
Eastern Pennsylvania, returned to Anchorage over the weekend.
Both visited Kodiak over the weekend continuing their investigation
into allegations that Alaska diocese leader Bishop Nikolai Soraich
has ruled in Alaska for the last seven years under a blanket of
intimidations and abuse.
Bishop Nikolai denies the charge, although he does acknowledge on his
diocese Web site that he needs to become a better leader.
"Believe me, I have shortcomings and one of them is that (it is)
necessary for me to improve how I'm perceived as (being) too strict,"
he said in answer to a question from a supporter.
Whether he will be allowed to overcome those shortcomings in Alaska
may be answered sooner rather than later.
Orthodox Church in America leader Metropolitan Herman, under
increasing pressure from within, moved up the Holy Synod of Bishop
meeting in order to discuss the situation in Alaska. The meeting will
now take place at the end of April instead of the end of May.
Last week, the OCA Metropolitan Council, the permanent executive body
of the church, voted unanimously to ask the Holy Synod of Bishops to
reverse its decision to lift Bishop Nikolai's suspension.
"Taking account of the anxieties, fears and pain of the Orthodox
faithful of Alaska, and the deep concern expressed by all the
faithful of the Orthodox Church in America, the Metropolitan Council
is profoundly disappointed by the Holy Synod's decision to lift the
leave of absence of His Grace, Bishop Nikolai before a proper
solution has been determined, and respectfully asks our hierarchs �
in faith, hope and love � to immediately reverse this decision," the
council's statement read.
Demands to resolve the matter have come from other corners of the
The faculty of St. Vladimir's Theological Seminary in New York issued
a statement in support of addressing the situation in Alaska, marking
the first time the school has issued a public statement.
"Until now we have not spoken out, hoping that the regular ecclesial
structures of the church would be able to restore peace and
stability," the statement read. "The continued suffering of our
church, however, and now the plight of the Alaskan faithful, our
brothers and sisters in Christ, have both alarmed us and deeply
pained us to the point where we feel compelled to speak."
They concluded by saying they were anxiously waiting the outcome of
the next synod meeting.
However, they were not the ones who convinced the OCA leader to move
up the meeting time.
The strongest appeal came from the Most Rev. Job, archbishop of
Chicago and the Midwest, who took exception to the recent statements
by Bishop Nikolai in an interview with KTUU television in Anchorage
comparing his ordeal with that of Jesus.
"I felt very much like Christ; going to the cross and being abandoned
and pushed aside and no one there for him," the bishop said in that
It's not the only thing that the bishop has done since returning to
Alaska that has angered many Orthodox clergy, including Archbishop
One of the first actions taken by Bishop Nikolai upon his return to
Alaska after meeting with the synod, which lifted his mandatory leave
of absence, was dismiss Archpriest Michael Oleksa and Mother
Capitolina from the Metropolitan Council.
Both were elected by a unanimous vote during a gathering of clergy in
Anchorage two weeks ago. Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, who was then
the administrator of the Alaska diocese while Bishop Nikolai defied a
mandatory leave of absence, called the meeting to talk about the
situation in Alaska.
During his time in Alaska, Fr. Alexander, under the direction of
Metropolitan Herman, gathered testimony to present to the Holy Synod
However, upon his return he was not allowed by the metropolitan to
present his testimony, prompting an e-mail of support to the Alaska
"I will not abandon your cause nor forget your noble courage," Fr.
Alexander wrote. "I assure you that almost all of your clergy
brothers here in the `lower 48' stand behind you completely. And, if
necessary, we will come to Alaska on our own resources to stand next
to you during your times of trail."
The e-mail angered Bishop Nikolai, who has demanded that Archpriest
Alexander be fired from his position of leadership in the OCA. That
prompted an angry retort from long-time opponent of Bishop Nikolai,
"Since his return to Alaska, he has humiliated the church by his
atrocious comparison of himself to the suffering (of the) King of
Glory and his shameful vilifications of his brother bishops," Job
wrote. "He immediately launched a persecution of Archpriest Alexander
Garklavs and Archpriest Michael Oleksa, disregarding the will and
convictions of the Alaskan clergy regarding their chosen
representative to the Metropolitan Council."
Archbishop Job requested that the Holy Synod take up the issue of
Alaska as soon as possible and the metropolitan agreed.
The Holy Synod of Bishops will meet at the end of April, when many
hope the situation in Alaska will be resolved.
Mirror writer Ralph Gibbs can be reached by e-mail at
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