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6115Re: Vladyka Alypy & Fr. Lebedeff's Letter

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  • szmyte
    Aug 7 7:37 AM
      I am deeply appalled at the current state of affairs in my parish,
      the Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois.
      Unfortunately, I find Reverend Father Alexander Lebedeff's letter to
      be of little consolation, and, on the contrary, more of a
      contribution to the controversy and confusion among the faithful.

      Father Alexander's letter is quite persuasively written, if one were
      to accept the premise that Archbishop Alypy is of questionable mental
      health. This seems to be the foundation of Father's commentary.
      This view is presented early in the letter with a tone imploring the
      reader – ironically enough – to show compassion and empathize: "…it
      is necessary to understand the physical and emotional trauma that
      Archbishop Alypy is going through." Father continues to hint at this
      dubious state of mind by suggesting that sawing branches at seventy-
      five shows poor judgement. This comes despite the later
      acknowledgement (to contrast how distraught Vladyka must feel now)
      that Vladyka was always fiercely independent and took care of his own
      needs. This theme is carried throughout the letter, ultimately
      degrading into the suggestion that parishioners are influencing our
      Archbishop and finally knotting itself into a tautology, in which any
      action by Vladyka Alypy can be construed as proof of emotional
      imbalance.

      Apparently the only sane choice Vladyka was expected to make would
      have been to allow questionable (certainly not compassionate,
      disputably empathetic, allegedly illegal) behavior to continue
      unanswered. As for the way in which Vladyka expressed this, I can
      only say that in my shock over reading our Archbishop's letter, I
      recalled the shocking manner in which our Lord Jesus Christ dealt
      with deplorable behavior at the temple. In light of this, there may
      be a case for such a method to expose shameless conduct. I, myself,
      am weary of such comparisons and the objections some may have to
      them, but if I can clarify…What type of conduct is there at our
      temple? As an example, on 4 August 2002, armed police were summoned
      into our temple during Divine Liturgy in accordance with restraining
      orders placed on parishioners during this "temporary
      administration". If this is a sign of things to come with our
      provisional "deanery" with Father Paul Iwaszewicz, ** in absentia
      already for weeks **, I can only implore your prayers. In addition,
      heated talk of physical violence could be heard on the parish grounds
      against those that support Archbishop Alypy and empathize with his
      situation. Is this the preferred state of affairs for Orthodox
      Christians in our Diocese? I should hope this is not what the Most
      Reverend Synod of Bishops had in mind during their, as Father
      Lebedeff put it, prudent course-charting.

      Administrative appointments aside, if Vladyka's residence was deemed
      unsuitable for his medical condition, what bothers me as a simple
      parishioner is to what extent research was done into improving it and
      making it an acceptable location. Everyone in our parish can
      speculate at the great costs the parish recently incurred for the
      extensive improvements in making Father Paul Iwaszewicz's residence
      suitable for his large family of eight. Vladyka's situation seems to
      be improving so rapidly that, by contrast, some investments (house or
      care) would be likely both small and temporary. Some sort of trial
      period could have been postulated at minimum. Instead, it seems
      there was an air of secrecy and hurriedness about this decision to
      keep Vladyka out of his own home (let alone cathedral) for whatever
      reasons. From what one can hear, and from physically seeing and
      hearing Vladyka and listening to his sermons, I can at least
      sympathize with Vladyka's conclusions. If the real issue is
      Vladyka's physical condition, why then is there the impression from
      Vladyka's reaction that he, a high ranking member of the Synod of
      Bishops, was not consulted with about his own future? It seems this
      is more of a riddle (from which certain logical, albeit unproven,
      conclusions can be made) rather than canonical statute?

      I'd like to add that my own father reposed after fighting Alzheimer's
      disease for over 6 years and it was not for several years and total
      incapacitation that the thought of displacing him from his residence
      even occurred to our family. Maybe this is extreme, but something
      approximating this should be the way we treat our spiritual fathers
      as well. Surely not after two months and in such health!

      I believe the details of events outlined in Father Alexander
      Lebedeff's letter are crucial and, frankly, missing. This is likely
      because they are largely unclear to him. This is obviated by the
      speculation at the end that Vladyka was "helped" in writing his
      letter and even-if-he-wasn't-but-says-he-was logic, etc. I believe
      Father's intention to explain this complicated issue from afar only
      served to perpetuate the speculation and forward the already much
      propagandized view against the Right Reverend Archbishop Alypy – a
      view Vladyka is so emphatically trying to expose as an injustice,
      that it is irresponsible not to listen to or investigate what he is
      saying simply because of the way he is saying it.
      I invoke the lesson of my patron Saint Thomas not just to believe,
      but to verify as well.

      I ask for your sincere prayers for Vladyka Alypy, our cathedral, the
      entirety of its clergy and parishioners, and for the Chicago-Detroit
      Episcopate.

      Eric (Thomas) Szmyt




      --- In orthodox-synod@y..., "Fr. Alexander Lebedeff" <lebedeff@w...>
      wrote:
      > I would like to make some comments on this situation, which is
      causing a
      > great deal of controversy and confusion among the faithful.
      >
      > First of all, I must state that I know Archbishop Alypy for almost
      forty
      > years and have always been very devoted to him. When I was a
      Seminarian, I
      > used to accompany Fr. Alypy every weekend to the parish in
      Schenectady,
      > which he served, to read and sing (and conduct the choir). Later,
      we were
      > graduate students together at Norwich University for several
      summers.
      >
      > Just before the tragic accident, I had come to Chicago as the guest
      speaker
      > at the Pastoral Conference of the Chicago Archdiocese and spent
      several
      > days with Archbishop Alypy while participating in the Conference
      and while
      > present at the Diocesan Council meeting that followed.
      >
      > Regarding his current situation, I believe it is necessary to
      understand
      > the physical and emotional trauma that Archbishop Alypy is going
      through.
      > Although an exemplary monk and spiritual leader, Archbishop Alypy
      is not
      > exempt from the natural human emotions that going through such a
      tragedy
      > bring forth. The classic stages of denial, anger, and depression on
      the
      > path to final acceptance must all be gone through, especially since
      the
      > accident was clearly one that resulted from a personal choice made
      by
      > Archbishop Alypy, who himself decided that he would climb a twelve-
      foot
      > ladder with a saw in order to clear some branches--not a normal
      task for a
      > seventy-five year old Archbishop. When one adds to this the fact
      that
      > Archbishop Alypy, having fallen on his head onto concrete from a
      > twelve-foot height, suffered a major concussion with all of the
      physical
      > consequences of that head trauma, then the situation becomes even
      more
      > complicated. And, finally, one must remember that Archbishop Alypy,
      who had
      > always been a fiercely independent person, who always took care of
      his own
      > needs, now, being semi-paralyzed from the waist down, must suffer
      the
      > required personal care performed by others.
      >
      > All this has, undoubtedly, affected him, as it would every one of
      us in a
      > similar situation.
      >
      > What is clear is that a person in such a vulnerable emotional state
      is
      > particularly susceptible to influence. Certain individuals, among
      them some
      > that Archbishop Alypy had perviously removed from all parish
      > responsibilites began to visit him and to persuade him that he
      should not
      > trust the clergy that had been taking care of him, that they were
      > attempting to remove him and take over, and that the clergy were
      preventing
      > the Archbishop from returning to his home.
      >
      > These individuals were able to influence Archbishop Alypy to the
      point that
      > he signed a document appointing some lay person as his personal
      > Representative for Health Care, and removing all of the clergy that
      had
      > been involved in his care previously from being involved in any
      decisions
      > regarding his care, or even receiving reports about his medical
      condition.
      >
      > A certain clergyman who had been officially suspended for serious
      issues,
      > came to Archbishop Alypy and was able to get him to sign a document
      that
      > this clergyman had prepared reversing the suspension.
      >
      > It should be noted that Metropolitan Laurus personally visited
      Archbishop
      > Alypy to express his prayers and support, and to better understand
      his
      > condition. Metropolitan Laurus knows Archbishop Alypy for almost 60
      years,
      > so there is no one who knows him better.
      >
      > Metropolitan Laurus expressed his observations to the Synod of
      Bishops--he
      > noticed that Archbishop Alypy demonstrated signs of short-term
      memory loss
      > and some confusion--he would repeat himself and would forget what
      he had
      > just said.
      >
      > In order to better understand Archbishop Alypy's condition, the
      Synod
      > decided on a prudent course--to have an assessment made by an
      independent
      > team of neurologists and other medical experts as to the condition,
      the
      > course of further treatment required and the final prognosis. This
      medical
      > team also evaluated the suitability of the Archbishop's residence
      on Lee
      > Street for someone in his condition.
      >
      > It was the assessment of the medical commission that Archbishop
      Alypy
      > required more extensive medical care than that which could be
      provided at
      > his home, and that the residence was not the best place for him to
      be.
      >
      > This is actually supported in the Letter of Archbishop Alypy, in
      which he
      > describes how he, upon his return to the residence against the
      advice of
      > this medical condition, had to be carried up and down stairs in a
      wheel
      > chair, which was a grave danger to himself, as well as those
      carrying him.
      > What would have happened if someone carrying him slipped or lost
      his grip?
      > There individuals, in fact, placed him in mortal danger--certainly
      not the
      > best care that he could be given.
      >
      > Many people who have written on this issue seem not to understand
      the
      > established procedure in the Orthodox Church (in particular, the
      Statutes
      > of the Russian Orthodox Church) regarding what must be done in the
      case of
      > the incapacity of a Ruling Bishop.
      >
      > The Statutes require that in the case of a Ruling Bishop being
      > incapacitated for longer than two months, the Synod must appoint
      another
      > Bishop to have responsibility for the administration of the
      Diocese. The
      > Synod also, typically appoints a senior priest in the Diocese to
      be the
      > temporary administrator of the Diocese to manage the day to day
      affairs
      > that do not require episcopal intervention.
      >
      > If the incapacity continues for six months or more, the Synod has
      the
      > authority to retire the Ruling Bishop for health reasons and
      appoint another.
      >
      > And, contrary to what some may have understood, incapacity in the
      eyes of
      > the Church does not mean unconciousness or mental disability, in
      addition
      > to severe physical disability. It means, simply, being unable to
      perform
      > the duties of a Ruling Bishop--among which a primary one is the
      ability to
      > serve Liturgy, without which the bishop cannot perform ordinations.
      >
      > Very simply, a bishop who cannot serve Divine Liturgy **cannot**,
      by Church
      > rules, continue to be a Ruling Bishop, no matter how clear his head
      may be.
      >
      > This situation was also the same in the case of Metropolitan
      Vitaly, who,
      > for reasons of health, was unable to serve Divine Liturgy for a
      period of
      > two or three years before his retirement.
      >
      > In the case of Archbishop Alypy, the appointment by the Synod of
      Fr. Pablo
      > Iwasciewiec as Diocesan Administrator was completely canonical,
      and, in
      > fact, required by the Statutes. It was in no way an attempt by
      Bishop
      > Gabriel or Fr. Pablo to "take over the Diocese" or to "get rid of
      > Archbsihop Alypy,"--simply a statutory administrative requirement,
      one
      > which Archbishop Alypy knew about and had seen being executed in
      other
      > dioceses many times over the past decades.
      >
      > The Letter of Archbishop Alypy that has been recently posted to the
      > Internet is troublesome on many levels.
      >
      > I know Archbishop Alypy well, and I am convinced that Archbishop
      Alypy, if
      > he were not in a vulnerable emotional state caused by his physical
      > disability, would never have written such a letter.
      >
      > He has always been a most obedient monastic and totally loyal to
      the Synod
      > of Bishops and he would never have threatened legal action against
      it.
      >
      > He would never allow anyone in the parish to see or receive copies
      of a
      > letter that he sent to the Synod of Bishops complaining of any
      perceived
      > injustice being done to him. He would consider such problems as
      being
      > solely between him and his brother bishops--and not something that
      was to
      > be brought out into the forum of public opinion.
      >
      > For this reason, the letter itself is a convincing testament to the
      fragile
      > emotional state of Archbishop Alypy.
      >
      > If he was "helped" to write this letter by others, then he is
      clearly
      > susceptible to their influence. Even if he himself, when asked,
      states that
      > this letter is genuine, this cannot, in such a case, be accepted as
      a true
      > validation.
      >
      > If he wrote it himself, then this proves that his emotional state
      is even
      > more vulnerable, since he, in his normal pre-trauma state, would
      never have
      > dreamed of writing a letter attacking his Synod, his fellow
      bishops, his
      > own clergy, threatening legal action, and, especially, violating
      the
      > confidentiality of inter-episcopal communication, allowing this
      letter to
      > be disseminated among the flock.
      >
      > With love in Christ,
      >
      > Prot. Alexander Lebedeff
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