Reflections On The Scandal
What is Truth?
by Chaplain (MAJ) Nicholas A. Czaruk,
US Army Retired, Fayetteville NC
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 18, verse 37-38, Pilate asks Jesus: "So you are a King?" Jesus responds: "You say that I am a King. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the Truth. Everyone who is of the Truth hears My voice." Then Pilate asks Jesus again: "What is truth?"
Having completed Great Lent, Holy Week, and the Feast of PASCHA, the Church asks the same question to our Bishops: “What is Truth?”
For the past year we have asked, and now we are wondering why it is so hard for Bishops, Priests and the Laity to tell the "Truth"? After all are we not to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ who said to Thomas, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also…” John Chapter 14, verses 6-7. If we are followers of Christ, should we not want to know the Truth about what has happened to bring this scandal to our Church? How can we proclaim that we are bearers of the True Faith, when we can not be truthful among ourselves as Bishops, Clergy and Laity?
We have a scandal in the Church with the cover up of misuse of funds, allegations of sexual misconduct, and who knows what else because few are willing to come out and tell the Truth. Rumors abound in the Church among clergy and laity that we all realize may be true, yet no one has come out who are true witnesses to the events that have taken place and have repented and said "This is what has happened, and I have done wrong..." to ask for “Forgiveness” from the Church.
As Orthodox we go to Confession to cleanse our soul of the wrongs we have done and renew out journey in Christ, yet it is apparent that for some Confession in private has caused such scandal in the Church that many are now asking “Why has this happened and why are we hearing about it now? The time has come for those Bishops, Clergy and Laity alike to "confess to the CHURCH" those wrongs that many have hidden so we can begin anew our journey as a Church in proclaiming the Gospel in America.
I have heard of rumors about "Twinkle Toes", allegations of sexual misconduct among certain Bishops, funds of the church used to pay off blackmail payments, misuse of large amounts of Church funds that can not be accounted for, even before this whole situation was brought to light within the past year. At first I thought that they were just rumors and gossip, but where there is smoke there is fire, and the fires are now being stoked by many.The "Truth" is starting to come out, a little at a time.
When will those who are responsible for the “sin” in their lives be truthful with themselves and the Church, and begin to “confess their sin” and remove themselves from the active life of the Church to live a “Life of Repentance” as did Saint Mary of Egypt? When the Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete was read, was it mere words to read or thoughts to ponder and compare one’s life to? When will they be truthful to God and themselves?
I have always remembered the saying "When you tell the Truth, you do not have to remember what you have said as it will always be the same thing." If you tell the "Truth" and have done nothing wrong, you do not need a lawyer; but to tell a "Lie" and represent it as "Truth" you certainly do need a lawyer.
Our Church is in debt because those who were in charge has been telling us lies, misusing funds, covering up sin and misdeeds among themselves and those around them, and even now they are unable to be Truthful among themselves and even our Lord. If they are truly repentant and sorry for their sins and transgressions, we would not have any websites or rumors about these things. Bishops would be retired, monies replaced, and they would own up to their sin, and repentance and forgiveness, such as we heard in the Gospel reading at the beginning of the Great Fast on the Sunday of Zacchaeus, Zacchaeus show true repentance for he was a sinner and made haste to be with Jesus and said "Behold Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." Can those involved in this show repentance like Zacchaeus and admit their faults and restore that which was taken to the Church?
Will we ever hear the Truth in the Orthodox Church in America, from those who misused the funds? Would they even admit it that they have taken from the Church? Now is the time for all to stop hiding the Truth. We have heard many rumors and innuendos among the clergy and the laity; will the “Truth” be too much to hear?
The first Gospel read at the Matins for Holy Friday is from Saint John where Jesus prays for His Disciples before His suffering, death and resurrection that they may have strength and courage during the coming events. It would be good for all of us to really read and listen to the words as they proclaim that we need the strength and courage to overcome the sin that has manifested itself in our Church because of a few.
“Now, I am coming to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Thy Word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through Thy Truth: Thy Word is Truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the Truth.” Gospel of John, Chapter 18, verses 14-19.
As the Church we must remove all who have been instrumental in this cover up and that includes Bishops, clergy, and laity from any and all positions of authority and power in the administration and running of our Church. Only when those who have deceived us for so long are gone, and the “Truth” has been told, can the Church renew its life in Christ.
When I was attending Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, during the hymns that are sung for the Matins of Great and Holy Monday evening we hear “Come, you faithful, let us work earnestly for the Master, for He distributes His wealth to His servants. Let us therefore, each according to his power, increase our talent of grace. Let one have a care for wisdom through good works; let another celebrate a service of splendor; let another faithfully communicate the Word to the ignorant; let another scatter his wealth to the poor; for thus we increase our debt, and as faithful stewards of the grace given, we may be rendered more worthy of our Master’s favor. Of this, of They mercy, do Thou, O Christ our God, deem us worthy.” After this verse was sung, I heard Father Alexander Schmemann say aloud, “Just think how much this world would change, if we applied this words to our lives!” His words have remained with me since then, and I have tried to apply them in my life and ministry. Let us the faithful of the Church apply these words to our lives and our Church, so that we can change the world as we are called to do.