Sunday, May 1, 2011

From: Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko cc: Holy Synod of Bishops

March 19, 2011


The blunders of disorganization, corruption and ineptitude that had plagued the OCA is clearly noted and delineated by Fr. Thomas Hopko's in his letter addressed  to the Metropolitan and the Metropolitan Council. It is impossible to attempt character assassination of this notable figure so perhaps someone will take the helm and stop distracting members with concerns about ethnicity and jurisdiction and start cleaning their own house; something which is long over due and which might actually help.

Your Beatitude, Reverend Fathers,
Brothers and Sisters,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

I ask Your Beatitude's blessing.

Given the present condition in our Orthodox Church in America, the hour has clearly come for Your Beatitude and the Metropolitan Council to insist upon a carefully organized and in-depth analysis and discussion of what happened to our beloved church that has resulted in:

• the financial scandal we are suffering
• the financial crisis we are now facing
• the divisions in the Holy Synod and the church we are now witnessing
• the lack of communion and communication we are now enduring
• the anger, frustration, depression and outright cynicism among the clergy and informed lay people we are now experiencing
• the disagreements that exist among us about the nature of episcopacy, authority and decision-making in the church (including our disagreement about the relationship between bishops, priests and lay people, the function of Orthodoxy in a pluralistic democratic society and the significance for our church of the 1917-1918 All Russian Church Council)
• our church's failure to integrate our archdioceses and dioceses into one cohesive, fully cooperating, ecclesial body
• our church's failure to be a powerful and effective force for the administrative and structural unity of Orthodoxy in North America
• a synod of Bishops that refuses to respond to questions and requests of the faithful, including a formal appeal of 70 highly respected senior priests
• a synod of Bishops that appears to have no need for the counsel of others in the church, including the church's priests, monastics, scholars and thinkers
• the reluctance and often outright refusal of some bishops to speak face to face with their priests and people about church doctrine, liturgical practices and parochial, pastoral and personal problems
• the failure of our bishops to meet together, and the priests to meet with each other, for the purpose of giving an account of their ministry, receiving and answering questions, and fostering unity of teaching and practice
• the impossibility to get a serious discussion on practically any church issue among the church's bishops and priests, and between the clergy and lay people
• the ordination of men to the clergy and the appointment of people to church positions lacking the ability needed to conduct their ministries fruitfully
• the absence of a system of formal performance assessment, continuing education and 'on the job training' of our clergy and church workers
• our church's failure to care for its trouble clergy and their families
• the virtual reduction of church life among many clergy to liturgical services and ritual practices, with uncritical imitations of old world practices and subjective alterations of our received rites and texts
• the virtual reduction of supra-parochial church life to liturgical services, ecclesiastical celebrations and social events
• our church's failure to attract American born Orthodox young people to our seminaries and monasteries (for if we did not have the converts, those born abroad, and the clergy children that we do in our seminaries and monasteries, we would have almost no seminarians and monastics at all!)
• the failure of our seminaries and monasteries to interact and cooperate with each other as a matter
of normal policy
• our church's failure to support and foster a vibrant monastic and missionary movement
• the disagreement among us about how our church and its parishes, institutions and faithful members should relate to non-Orthodox people, especially to Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians of various kinds
• the confusion among us about how we are to deal as a church and as individual believers with contemporary social, political, military, economic, sexual and bioethical issues
• the misrepresentation in and outside the church of its statistical figures (such as that our church has 400,00 members when less than 30,000 identify themselves as members)
• dioceses that have fewer members than their cathedral churches alone had 50 years ago
• the point where a church of 200 people is considered to be large
• the loss of the influence and respect that our church and many of its leaders once hand among Orthodox and non-Orthodox in North American and abroad.

These are just some of the most obvious issues and conditions in our church that require detailed, study, analysis and debate. Why are things the way they now are? Why do our bishops, clergy, and lay people think and act as they do? What has happened? How did it happened? Why has it happened? And what should we do about it?

An in-depth study and debate on such questions as these will hardly be pleasant or easy. But it must be done. And it must be long, serious, free, candid, patient and charitable. The life of our church, and indeed, our eternal lives with God, depend on it.

Your Beatitude and respected members of the Metropolitan Council: Please do whatever it takes to see that such a study and debate take place. Do it for the clergy and lay people who elected you. Do it for our whole church, especially our children and grand- children. Do it for the people desiring to join the Orthodox Church. And do it for all Orthodox Christians and, indeed, for all Christians and all people who are suffering in their own ways as we are now suffering in our dear Orthodox Church in America.

I ask for your forgiveness and prayers.

May the Lord's Will be done.

Yours in Our Saviour,
Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko
cc: Holy Synod of Bishops

12 comments:

Jeremiah said...

You should read Fr Thomas more carefully and thoughtfully. He advised that a debate within the Church should be "serious, free, candid, patient and charitable."
As a matter of fact, he asked the forgiveness of HB and the Synod at the end of the letter.
I think his direct manner of speaking, coupled with his humility and charity is what is needed in the Church. This Fox News/Glenn Beck style blog nonsense is not only a symptom of the problems he spoke of, but a part of the problem. Forgive me for speaking so directly, but if we do not show humility and kindness in the face of other's sins, we are like flies drawn to filth.
In one of Fr Thomas' recent podcasts he spoke of how we ought to treat those outside the Church and our enemies. He shared the words of Christ, that we are to clothe, feed and show mercy. He reminded us that if we are to do that to our enemies, how much more charity ought we to extend to our fellow Orthodox, though they have sinned.

Angela Damianakis m.s.w said...

Jeremiah, Interesting that you seek to immediatly disparage me in a mud slinging style by trying to discredit me by refering to Glen Beck. I will not comment on Beck futher. My article did not put Fr. Hopko down at all. I simply pointed out that 'even he' who is 'beyond reproach' as it were sees what I've been speaking about. Jeremiah it would appear that you simply don't want anyone speaking other then those seeking to drip honey in your hear and who whisper sweet nothings. In fact you should focus your efforts on OCA Truth for there extremist mode of operation.

The Orthodox Church said...

Angela, Jeremiah's confusion stems from his inablilty to "seriously" direct the issues at hand:
-sexual molestation and cover ups
-Leaking of the s.m. reports
-inability to find seminarian
-attacking ones sexual orientation
-financial crisis
-Synodical anamolies
-clergy/laity depression
-synod of bishops
and so much more...
However Jeremiah's comprehension of Glen Beck style and his humble and kind attack of you because you have the audacity to speak of it. Perhaps if Jer pulls his head out of his ass he'll see the light. Jer is more affended by you posting a blog than the perversion and incompitency of his (OCA) leadership.

Jeremiah said...

I don't know what version of reality you two are operating from, but I highly doubt it is Orthodox. Maybe on the surface (i.e. iconography and the Order of St Andrew, etc) but not in reality.
I do not desire to hear sweet nothings, nor do I have my head up my arse (nice one Elias) on this issue. I may have my head up there on a great many things, but not this one.
I find the ability of you two to completely misunderstand what I have said, and then only respond to one aspect of it quite amusing. If you read my comments about Fr Thomas more carefully you would see that I never accused you of putting him down. I said you should pay closer attention to what he says and how he says it.
He exposes the truth, but is not brutal. He calls for change, but is humble. He has the kind of mind and heart needed for real change in the Orthodox Church.
How can accuse me of disparaging? Do you actually read your own stuff?
I will agree that honey and sweet nothings are junk. But that is not what I am speaking of (nice try though). I suggest rereading Fr THomas' letter and learn something from him.

The Orthodox Church said...

Jeremiah you were a bullfrog, now you're just a toad!

In your poisition only firemen can put out fires. I'd love to see you go after a fire with the same humble, meek and pious perspective. The entire Westcoast would burn down.

You have the audacity to lecture me on my veneer yet you survive unevenly yoked.

Evidently it is nice and warm in your cavern though it must be crowded with all your wisdom crammed in there with you.

Hopko rakes them over the coals yet he is humble I blog abit about it and you question my tactics and commitment to my faith. You offer a pass to the guilty leadership and call me out on my tone.

My comments offend you but the bishops sexual proclivities with boys get a pass because he did it humbly.

You are an ass! In a biblical sense.

You are awfully prideful to think the church discovered you... Orthodox for for less time than my TVs warrenty and you lecture me who has commited my entire life 35 years to the church. Evidently I'm doing something correct if the Church has acknowledged my service.

Why not try learning something before you try to correct everything including Orthodoxy.

Go defend your unions and I'll defend the church.

Jeremiah said...

Thank you Elias for proving my point.

Jeremiah said...

And in no way am I giving a pass to the sins within the Church. I'm simply saying you and your wife's venomous approach isn't the right way. Fr Thomas has the character to speak TO them, not spread their sins for all to see without daring the truly uncomfortable working of addressing someone directly.
It wouldn't even be inappropriate to let people know what's going on for the purpose of motivating Christians to confront the issues directly, yet remembering to pray for their fallen leaders. If people are motivated to do what Fr Thomas has done (ie his letter to the synod and Met Jonah) and pray for the repentance of those who have sinned, then good.
I simply disagree with your approach, and Angela's.
And, when I said Orthodoxy discovered me, it was in the same sense St Paul wrote the we know God, yet really He knows us. I don't think I was so brilliant I discovered Orthodoxy and found it worthy to join. I believe the Holy Spirit hunted me down (so to speak) through The Church. Not because I am some kind of "find", but simply because Christ seeks and saves that which is lost. I was emphasizing the greatness of the Church, not myself.
And I'm the "biblical" ass...
Okay, sure. I'll take that.

Angela Damianakis m.s.w said...

Jeremiah, Please do everyone a favor because you seem to know the right way to address these concerns please contact the Hierarchy of the OCA including their Public Relation team to include the groups already noted and make your concerns known. You seem to conflate direct and honest with disparaging and inappropriate. If you think that this is the first and only forum that I am working on this corruption you would have wrongly under estimated me. This is one way of applying pressure. I have offered support in the local and national level with individuals (clerics, bishops and victims [laity], communities and diocese. Please don't preach to this choir and remember something I am posting this on my blog not in someone else's backyard.

Jeremiah said...

Then I apologize. Well done for taking care of business.

Angela Damianakis m.s.w said...

It would seem Jeremiah that you have not given me the benefit of the doubt. Keep enjoying the videos

Jeremiah said...

Then forgive this sinner, you and Elias both, I pray.

Angela Damianakis m.s.w said...

God forgives. Christ is risen. I look foward to many robust discussions as each of us try and tend to the garden of our beloved Orthodox Church.