Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Crisis in the OCA

Back in May I opined that the OCA was moving into a situation where the continued leadership of Met. +Herman might well be openly challenged. In that post I sharply criticized some of the actions His Beatitude had taken in regards the recent scandals in the central administration. With a view to his suspension of the special committee investigating those scandals (from which all but two of its members subsequently resigned in protest), I suggested that a possible response might include a formal vote of "No Confidence" by the Metropolitan Council.

In the last few weeks the Diocese of the Midwest whose Archbishop (+Job) has been at the forefront of the demands for full disclosure, actually did in fact pass a No Confidence resolution, among others. This weekend the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania followed with their own vote calling for +Herman to be replaced. Both dioceses also have now voted to withhold vital funds from the central administration of the church pending sweeping reforms.

I will refrain from making any judgments beyond what I have posted elsewhere. However it is now clear that what was a scandal is becoming a moderately serious crisis in the OCA. There are at present two dioceses that have openly declared their lack of trust in the leadership of our primate. These sentiments are almost certainly felt in many other quarters of the OCA where diocesan conventions are not currently meeting. This is the situation which confronts the Holy Synod as it prepares to meet this week.

Setting aside for now all of the questions which have been raised about +Herman's actions in response to the scandals, the most serious issue is whether or not the Metropolitan can continue to effectively lead a church which is increasingly and openly hostile to his primacy. The central administration is in something close to extremis financially. You have two diocese withholding funds. At least one hierarch (+Job) has openly called for +Herman to resign and the same two dioceses have passed No Confidence resolutions. Of course as I noted in my earlier post suggesting this course of action, we are not a democracy. The Holy Synod makes these decisions. But the bishops must be aware that it is one thing to say "we accept him as our primate." It is an entirely different matter to govern the church effectively when the faithful do not also accept him as their primate.

How can the Holy Synod force people to send money to Syosset? How can they prevent next years All American meeting of the OCA from becoming a highly contentious event? The answer may well be learned at the conclusion of this weeks meeting of the Holy Synod. As I said before I will make no judgments in this matter beyond my previously expressed concern over some of the decisions made by Met. +Herman in dealing with the scandals. I hold no office of responsibility beyond a seat on my parish council so it is not my place to pass judgments (for which I thank God). But I feel that events may be moving at long last to some sort of decisive moment in the life of the church. Frankly I would not be terribly surprised if His Beatitude announced his retirement at this meeting. There have been some hints that the Synod may have concluded that the time has come for a change.

Should this in fact happen we must take great care to avoid the sin of triumphalism. This is especially true for those of us who in the past have been critical of the central administration and the Primate's handling of things. The issues confronting our church will not vanish with the departure of any hierarch. And I think we should also all be deeply mindful of our own shortcomings and failings before judging someone who has born the heavy cross of office like Met. +Herman.

In closing I ask all who may have occasion to read these words for your prayers for the OCA and its Synod. These are challenging times and it is doubtful that there has been a meeting of the Holy Synod since receiving autocephaly that has been faced with decisions of such moment. Let us all pray that God will grant to our bishops the wisdom to discern right from wrong, and the strength to act for the right.


Benjamin said...

Amen. I think you've written a fair assessment of the situation here.

Vir Speluncae Orthodoxae said...

Met. Herman has to go.

DebD said...

Amen. I am also in the OCA. I fear its going to get worse before it gets better.

(I can't remember how I found your blog but I've been following it for a bit now).