Monday, October 31, 2011

OCA: Met. Jonah vs The Metropolitan Council and the Synod

I haven't posted on this subject because I try to avoid church politics, and that is pretty much what this is.  There are no real allegations that I am aware of that rise to the level of scandal.  That said there has been a nasty round of backbiting and intrigue in the higher levels of the OCA.  Of course when has there not been in the 2000 year history of the Church?  The Fathers repeatedly warn and complain about bad bishops.  Sigh. 

Anyway for those not familiar with the saga my suggestion is just skip this post and move on.  There is nothing edifying here.  However for those who have been following things and or those who can't avert their eyes from the proverbial car wreck, you may click here to read the AAC report from the Diocese of the West.  The salient parts run from pages 3 to 4.  There have been a lot of efforts on the part of some to make this out to be Jonah fighting for the soul of the OCA against creeping quasi-Episcopalian liberalism.  Rubbish.  The problem is (mainly) that His Beatitude does not play and get along well with others.  He needs to learn to do so, or his tenure as our primate is going to be one very long headache.

HT: Bill (aka The Godfather)


Anonymous said...

John, you are the first blogger I've seen to get this right - and to do so without getting your shorts in a knot. Wish all OCA members would follow your wise example.

Subdeacon David Gould said...

The OCA is thousands of miles away from Australia, since ROCOR was given responsibility for the Aussie OCA parishes. That being said, given that the autocephalous status of the OCA is a historical anomaly, a product of the Cold War Soviet control of the Russian Church, I can't help but think that reverting to augtonomous status, like ROCOR would show humility, leadership and wisdom, and I think in aspiring to this, that His Beautitide is spot on.

Fr Theodore said...

Having had experience of Jonah as an abbot, I believe that His Beatitude is a good, devout, and well-intentioned man, a visionary on a white charger -- but he is not a day to day, administrative leader who can tangle with the devil in the details. He expects that when he "leads," others will hasten to "follow." Those who fail to do so, risk being counted out and left behind.

His understanding of his office seems to be formed according to the heavily centralized Russian model, coupled with years of direct, abbatial rule. Some of what he wants and is criticized for saying or doing may well be the ideal thing to do or to challenge. But unlike in the monastery, as a Primate he cannot do or pronounce them alone, and he is simply not trained in dealing with peers, councils, and committees that have actual authority (not to mention their own internal dynamics).

He might have learned some of this as a diocesan bishop, but the AAC and Holy Synod denied him such an apprenticeship and made him Primate before he was ever a local ruling hierarch with experience of budgets, committees, employee hiring and management, or balancing "local" versus "regional" interests and needs.

The Council and Synod choose Jonah because, in a time of crisis, he was not afraid to speak out and say what he thought, no matter who might not like it. Now, we see the flip side of the coin, as His Beatitude continues to "lead" as he always has -- and it doesn't work so well in his current office.

Prior to his election, he himself warned -- in the acclaimed speech that got him elected -- about what happens to men who get dolled up in imperial crowns, are bowed to, fawned upon and fed upon constant banquets, etc, etc. Predictably, he has not remained immune. Add to this the usual human reaction to resistance and opposition, and one can develop a deepening entrenchment against those who are "against me."

John said, "He needs to learn [to play well with others], or his tenure as our primate is going to be one very long headache."

I believe in miracles and the human ability to learn. But something tells me, in this instance, that were I still in the OCA, I would stock up on ibuprofen, just in case.

Visibilium said...

The Met's ambitions fit well with Putin's foreign policy, and Moscow would be willing to bankroll his efforts in exchange for handing back autocephaly. Remaining humble and autocephalous, however, has its advantages. All of us who live in America are better off with some kind of autocephalous jurisdiction no matter how legitimate the complaints may be about its origin and status. Like it or not, the OCA is the only home team in town.