Ed. Fr. Andrew Moore, a priest of the Orthodox Church of America (OCA) argues that the appointment of Bp. Hilarion Alfeyev to Metropolitan will help reverse the leadership crisis in the OCA.
Dearest to Christ,
Masters, Fathers, Mothers, Brothers and Sisters:
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!
We have spent these last three years wading thorough the muck and mire that the leadership of the OCA has made for us. Some of the crimes of the bishops and priests go back over twenty years. There is much to clean up. We have developed a trickle-down culture where gifts and favors are expected - and accountability is not. We have seen our leadership fleecing Alaska, NY/NJ, widows, 911 victims, orphans, and Syosset et al. with no threat of penalty or prosecution. Not one of the guilty has to date been called to account or seriously disciplined. We have seen our leadership again and again make excuses, false testimony, slander, and lies. They have been willing to be fooled over and over, and then participate in the defense of those who were being dishonest.
We are now asked to pick our next Metropolitan from those who are either criminally inactive, incompetent or broken to the point of occasional despair.
The best amongst them has admitted to being blind; the others, in their own mind, are not guilty at all. We have seen those set over us fail in their self-love, and discernment and allowed the Holy Church to become little more than a criminal enterprise to the sadness and despair of all the faithful. While no Godly-leadership was being offered these last three years, brother turned against brother, and our love for one another has grown very cold. Those who spoke out were reviled as the problem, and those who were silent were challenged as if they were co-conspirators. Most of the time neither one was true.
The crisis of leadership has caused some of our respected pastors to call for the resignation of all the Bishops. This sadly does not seem to a serious consideration by any of those occupying the chanceries of the Orthodox Church in America. So we are being asked to choose a Bishop on the basis of who has done the least amount of harm to the OCA.
Our synod of bishops has not given evidence of an awareness concerning the magnitude of the situation that they themselves created, even to this day. Their instincts have led them to attack the very people who were working and acting for the truth. This has not happened just once, but many times. The synod of Bishops have inexplicably trusted those who they had sound evidence could not be trusted. They have corporately failed to protect the sheep entrusted to their care and even attacked them. This again is not a one-time failure in judgment but an ongoing, systemic, corporate, failure to live and perceive reality. This type of delusion is inexcusable for those who are to be caring and saving souls.
The only one of them that spoke up has little fight left in him. The rest of the bishops have little respect for him. So little, that to a man, they stood silently by while he was attacked unjustly and said nothing. This Bishop wants to retire to his home, paint icons, and be again a parish priest. By his own admission he was slow to the realize the truth and feels the guilt of that fact. He still to this day defends the character of His fellow bishops and has said nothing against them. This also I believe is a blindness caused by his kindness. A wolf must be seen by a shepherd for what he is. A wolf is a destroyer of the lambs belonging to God. No one on the Synod saw the wolves even as their sheep clothing kept slipping off, even as lambs kept being devoured.
When looking for our next Metropolitan we must not miss the reality of our current situation. For this and other reasons I believe that we must look outside of this current group of Bishops for our next Metropolitan. We must be willing to look outside of our corporate self. This will require humility on our part as well as an awareness of the fullness of Orthodoxy as it exists in America. The type of Metropolitan we get (choose) is a real question of salvation for all of us. This includes the current Bishops, priests, clergy, and faithful people of the OCA as well as the criminals in our midst. It will demand the prayers and the discernment of each of us who approach the AAC. Will we cling to this delusion of leadership we currently have? Will we cry out to God and demand a king or will we humbly request a real shepherd?
We cannot give a promotion to those who have proven they are not up for the job they currently have. We cannot ask God to define His office downward. We cannot give the white hat to those who have shown themselves deaf, blind, and paralyzed to hearing the truth, speaking the truth, and doing the right thing.
These men have even lately voted confidently for an obvious evil and thereby shown themselves in the dark about a great many things. Margaret Thatcher once said that "Consensus is the absence of leadership". She is right. The OCA needs a shepherd who does not have to ask the sheep where they want to go or wait for consensus to develop. In other words we do not need a Metropolitan who needs a chancellor to tell him what will be done today as Metropolitan. Does not Christ himself inform the office and define the daily, pastoral, administrative and necessary functions of it? Did the prophets in Israel wait for consensus amongst the people before preaching and doing the right thing? We have had those who trusted to a fault and now we need a shepherd who knows how to protect sheep when the wolves are around and discern which are the wolves and which are the sheep.
The OCA needs a Metropolitan with a vision towards jurisdictional unity and outreach in America. The OCA has had men in oversight who have done little to promote this unity precisely because this would end the future of the criminal enterprise for which they held office. This latest criminal happenings culminating in the SIC report were only the most recent criminal happenings. Before that there was the theft in NY/NJ diocese. Before that there was the stealing of Alaskan money and land. Not one of those involved in this ongoing pattern has been disciplined or otherwise brought to justice. NOT ONE! In a consistent manner now the Bishops suggest that being publicly outed for their crimes is enough punishment after receiving the recent SIC report.
We must have a Metropolitan who is a proven gentle shepherd but capable of leadership even when Christ-like action is not popular. We need someone with proven integrity who is not compromised by years of ineffective cooperation with the same few blind guides. We need someone who cannot be controlled or manipulated because of their past offenses and friendships. If we look with-in the OCA for the Metropolitan we will get a predictable, controllable, very familiar Metropolitan.
I am glad that there will be repentance for some of the past misdeeds and past incompetence. So far the only specific repentance is from the very Bishop who has in this case caused the least offense. For these leaders to make real change it will take years of Orthodox therapy, which will include an increase of repentance, prayer, fasting, and alms to just, begin to recover. I pray that they and each of us will in time fully recover through the same. We need a healthy Metropolitan the day the white hat is put on his head.
The office of Bishop beautifully manifests who Christ is and how he loves mankind. The action/inaction of these men have taken away much of the splendor and majesty that is the Office of Christ known as Bishop! If I did in my parish what has been done by the leadership of the OCA, my wife would be gone and we would be divorced, my children rebellious and alienated from me, and I would be making new friends amongst my fellow inmates within my cell block. I would not, I am sure, be eligible for a promotion!
For these reasons I am asking each priest and parish representative to prayerfully consider and vote witout reservation on the first ballot for Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev to be the next Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America.
Born in 1966, Hilarion Alfeyev received his initial education in music, studying violin, piano and composition, at the Moscow Gnessins School and the Moscow State Conservatory.
After military service from 1984-86, he entered, in January 1987, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he was tonsured a monk on 19 June, ordained deacon on 21 June and ordained priest on 19 August the same year.
In 1989 he graduated from the Moscow Theological Seminary and in 1991 from the Moscow Theological Academy. From 1991 to 1993 he taught Homiletics, Dogmatic Theology, New Testament Studies and Byzantine Greek at the Moscow Theological Schools. In 1995 he completed his doctoral thesis on ‘St Symeon the New Theologian and Orthodox Tradition’ at Oxford University, Great Britain, under the supervision of Bishop Kallistos Ware.
From 1995 to 2001 he served as Secretary for Inter-Christian Affairs of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. On 27 December 2001 he was elected Bishop, and on 14 January 2002 consecrated by His Holiness Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, and 10 other bishops. He served as an Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Sourozh in Great Britain until his nomination, on 17 July 2002, as Head of the Representation of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions.
On 7 May 2003 he was appointed Bishop of Vienna and Austria, as well as temporary administrator of the Diocese of Budapest and Hungary, in addition to his position as the Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions in Brussels.
Bishop Hilarion is the author of more than 300 publications, including numerous books in Russian, English, French, Italian, German and Finnish.Apart from his doctoral degree in philosophy from Oxford, he also holds a doctorate in theology from St Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris.
I believe that Bp. Hilarion has a world view that will allow him to see the several tradions woven together in American Orthodoxy and have a love for each. His education under Bp. Kallistos and work amongst the Europeans has prepared him to be Orthodox in a land that is dominated by Western theology.
We need to pray and cry out to Holy God that the Moscow Patriarchate will let him come to serve us. And, that we let him know by our prayers that he is needed here.
I ask the prayers and forgiveness of all.
Fr Andrew Moore
St Thomas the Apostle Orthodox Church