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Reflections On The Scandal

3.10.07

THE EMPEROR'S CLOTHES

by Robert Czech

Whatever the outcome, episodes such as this party, and those items with which Mark began his editorial, all lead to the result that +Herman has lost the moral leadership that he was entrusted with, and has lost the respect and the confidence of those that look to him for spiritual guidance.  Unless there is a profound change in +Herman's attitude and thought processes, that respect will never been regained; therefore he stays on as Metropolitan merely for the sake of the image that matters to him.  That image is that he stuck it out - everything else be damned.
 
The amazing thing is that it is apparent while we may think +Herman doesn't understand that images matter and this party was a serious lack of understanding of the situation, and gross misjudgment, the truth is that he all too well knows what image means.  This party was an attempt by him to give an image of 250 people (they will have to turn people away) spending $100 at one of the poshest places in one the most poshest of locations in New York to honor him.  Further, there will be 250 people on a work day  who will have to take off two days to come down, regardless of expense, to show that +Herman is loved and respected.  That is what this is about.  It is all about +Herman and his handlers wanting you to believe that all is well and that he is loved and respected and this is just the rantings of a bunch of misfits who want to take down the Church for personal reasons.  It’s just very convienent that he also turns 75.  That's the image he wants to portray.  At a time when he doesn't appear to be making appearances outside the diocese and people are questioning his every move and asking for his retirement, resignation, or defrocking, what better way to show that those people are in the minority than to have a grand, opulent affair where the image that he maintains is the image that will be presented in pictures and by those that attend and spread around.  Money and good will will be flowing and the people love their Metropolitan.
 
Well, the Emperor has no clothes!
 
All this shows how misguided this man is and how he is suffering delusions of grandeur.  Rebecca (Matovic, in the Comments section) is right to the core.  +Herman was probably very pious and that's why he went into the ministry and became a faithful priest.  But as he steadily rose through the ranks he came into situations that a boy from Pennsylvania never thought existed.  There was money.  There were people lining up to kiss your hand and fall at your feet.  Everyone wants to be near the Bishop.  Maybe he'll remember me in the future they think.  People feed him continually and fatten up an ego that initially probably wasn't there.  He goes higher, gains more power, and gets snarled in processes where keeping him happy allows other corrupt things to happen.  So the powers that be make sure the Bishops are treated like royalty.  They travel in entourages and travel first class walking on the plane before anybody else.  They have Lincolns and are placed in suites.  After a while this privilege becomes entitlement.  There he is right next to the Patriarch of Moscow in Christ the Savior Church!  A humble boy from Pennsylvania.  They start to lose their souls and the reason why they went into the ministry is lost.  +Herman desired to be Metropolitan.  In fact, he probably downright thought it was entitled to him for all his years and service and his work at the Chancery in the 90's.  He probably thought that he was the perfect choice knowing how the place worked.  The corrupting began there, but then when he became Metropolitan, the corruption became complete.  Pious, faithful, Fr. Joe, became the leader of an autocephalous Church.  He was now in the circle of big leaders through out the world.  Presidents invite you to the Oval Office, you are listened to when you talk (big assumption) to other major Church leaders.  You're someone.  You command respect.  The parishioners line up deeper in formation to greet you and fall at your feet.  People want to hear words from their Metropolitan.  They will accept anything you do as right because you're their beloved Metropolitan.  You talk up numbers of over a million people that you spiritually lead.  For a humble boy from Pennsylvania who had never dreamt of this, it’s all a bit too much to handle and starts to become an end in itself.
 
Then someone yells out that the Emperor has no clothes.
 
You've been caught like a deer in the headlights.  The people who were your enablers are now those that demand your scalp.  You're confused and bewildered.  What do you do?  You try to beat back into them that you are the leader; that you've been entrusted in the apostolic succession, that you should be afforded respect because of what you are and not what you do or have done.  It’s not important they know anything other than you're their Metropolitan and you're in charge.  You feel it’s all a process of personal destruction against you.  You hire lawyers.  People stop donating, but you feel that THEY are wrong.  People start talking amongst themselves of the things they hear.  You command them to be quiet because you're their leader and all this talk may reveal how you've gone astray and it gnaws at you, but they don't listen.  When the lawyers tell you that you are safe from civil or criminal actions, you feel as if you've won and been vindicated, and people will return.  You make superficial changes to show that you're a man of action and will right a wrong ship - but wait, you were on the bridge at the wheel when it hit the iceberg.  You do everything but change your internal direction.  You're making changes based on a compass that has turned 180 degrees from where it started and where it should be.  But you don't see that.  You're the Metropolitan!
 
You no longer fear God.  You fear the IRS.  You fear the FBI.  You fear jail.  Others are at fault for your failures and lost way.  You fail to see where you came from and are no longer that man you were when you started and then the realization hits.  You can't go back and admit defeat, you're too great and you’re the Metropolitan.  So you try to give images that you're still the great and holy man as you started out, and that people always said you were.  You organize a posh party.  You say that it’s limited to 250 people because you want to say that you had to turn people away.
 
The Emperor has no clothes.
 
A man who was true to his calling and to God and to himself would step out of the way and realize that he can never be part of the solution, and let others who still have the confidence and respect of the people bring us out of this crisis.  A man who was true to his calling would walk away and start the slow agonizing rehabilitation which he needs.  A man who was true to his calling would have the humility of the monk that he is to know what needs to be done and accept it and cheerfully do it because he knows that its not about him, its about HIM!  It’s not about Metropolitan Herman, its about the Church, its about God.
 
Metropolitan Herman, we implore you:  Leave on a high note.  Let your legacy be that you knew when enough was enough; and, for the good of the Church that you have spent your life serving, for the good of yourself, walk away.  Go back to being the humble, pious Fr. Joe that many people remember.  Take a step back and leave that which has corrupted you.  Let people become acquainted again with the old Fr. Joe and Bishop Herman and regain that respect which has been lost.  Spend time at the Seminary training new priests on what's right and good being an example to them that there's everything more than one's self.  Put the Church before yourself.  Ask yourself, "What would God want?"  You may get the lawyers to protect you on this earth, but you're losing everything else.  There's still time to be at peace with yourself and with God and win back the respect of the people that you so much depend upon and which at one point you loved so dearly that you entered the ministry.  We'll forgive that you got caught up in the trappings of power.  We'll forgive, that like us all, you lost your way.  There's much respect to be gained by making the right decision.  Walk away and take a well deserved retirement.  Trust in those that you've helped raise spiritually.  They won't let you down.

- Bob Czech

(Robert Czech is a layman from St. John the Baptist Church in Passaic, NJ. A technology consultant for a major investment bank in New York, Mr. Czech was a volunteer in Syosset throughout 2000-2002 upgrading their computer systems. )

 
 

 

Other Reflections:

Fr. Michael Simerick
SS. Peter & Paul Detroit MI,
(reposted with permission)

Fr. Paul Harrilchak
Holy Trinity, Reston VA

Cyril
(reposted with permission)

Gregg Nescott, PA
(Reprinted with permission)

Fr. Jason Kappanadze
Holy Trinity, Elmira Hghts. NY
(Reprinted with permission.)

Fr. Ted Bobosh
St. Paul, Dayton OH

Otche M 
Special to OCAnews.org

Fr. Alexy Karlgut
Special to OCAnews.org

Fr. Robert Arida
Special to OCANews

Alexander Brody
Special to OCANews

Mark Warns, WA
Special to OCANews

Elena Andrusezko, NY
Special to OCANews

Fr. Robert Arida
Holy Trinity, Boston

Harry Coin
Special to OCA News

Inga Leonova, MA
Special to OCA News

Fr. Michael Plekon, NY
On Being The Church

Gregg Nescott, PA
Reprinted with Permission

Fr. Robert Arida, MA
Special to OCA News

Fr. Alexander Schmemann
On What Is Important (1949)