Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fr. Oliver Herbal On Met. Jonah's Resignation

I think this is an excellent post on the matter.


Michael said...

Hi, John;

I agree, this is a good post, and his perspective is close to my own. I worship and serve at a Serbian church "Down Under," so here is my perspective, for what it is worth.

In the Serbian Church, a bishop can only be elected Patriarch if he (a) is at least 50 years old and (b) has served as a diocesan bishop for a minimum of five years. Having said that, I can just about assure you that any 50 year old bishop who has only been on the job for five years will be considered too young and too inexperienced for the top job in the Serbian Church. The senior hierarchs in that Synod are all in their late sixties and older.

Metropolitan Jonah was 49 years old at the time of his election, and had only been a bishop for eleven days (!). In other words, he was thrown into the deep end of the pool before he had so much as learned how to dog-paddle.

I supported him (and still do) because I consider Jonah to be a true monk, and a very holy and spiritual man. It had originally been my hope that, as he matured into his seventies, that he would become the American equivalent of Patriarch Pavle of Serbia.

However, it was evident to me, even from half a world away, that he was visibly floundering in the top job, and that he was in far over his head. If he had been installed as Archbishop Dmitri's deputy in Fort Worth (as originally planned), had made all his rookie bishop's mistakes under Dmitri's benevolent and watchful eye, and had succeeded Dmitri as Bishop of the South, then I think he would have been able to make a huge contribution as a bishop, whether or not he ultimately became Primate.

This debacle is a huge tragedy in my eyes. I say this, not on account of any conspiracy against Jonah (which may or may not have existed - I am in no position to know). I say this, because Jonah's reputation has been severely damaged by being hurled into a job he was not prepared for. His failure at that job will taint his credibility in other areas for the rest of his life. Every time he opens his mouth to teach, people will remember that he was ousted as Metropolitan. Thus, I think he will not be listened to, even in areas where he should be and where his influence could otherwise do a lot of good.

If I were in Jonah's position, I would do as St. Theophan the Recluse did. I would resign the episcopacy, and go back to being an abbot at a monastery. If Jonah does this, he can still do a lot of good, and retain spiritual influence, as St. Theophan did. I suspect if St. Theophan had remained a bishop, he would not subsequently have been glorified by the Russian Church.

Jonah has been in my daily prayers for years, and remains so. I hope he can come to visit my part of the world someday.

August said...

I probably would have resigned earlier rather than undergo any psychological assessment. I am certainly less likely than I was a year or so ago to believe wild conspiracy theories, but it would be preferable to simply list numerous incidences in which already existing practices were flouted. By insisting on these sort of psych tests and then being coy, insanity is implied.