Seventy Senior Clergy Call For Investigation in Letter to OCA Holy Synod
Seventy senior clergy sent a joint email last Tuesday evening, 21 February, to members of the Holy Synod, exhorting the Bishops "to take swift action now to restore good order, confidence and trust in the OCA's administration". In the letter, described by signers as "a serious and crucial plea to the Holy Synod", the clerics called for a commission of Bishops, priests and laity to conduct a full investigation into the allegations of financial misconduct currently roiling the OCA.
According to the letter, first published on the Orthodox
Forum, the list of signers includes some of the most distinguished, well-known and respected names in the OCA, both active and retired. Among them are a former OCA Chancellor, several current and former
Diocesan Chancellors, several current and former members of the Metropolitan Council, the former Dean of St. Herman's Theological Seminary, many current and former members of various Diocesan Councils,
and more than twenty current and former Deans. The joint letter was signed by one Igumen, one Archimandrite, two Protopresbyters, 63Archpriests, two Priests and one Archdeacon – each with more than 20 years of pastoral experience. Read the letter and alphabetical list of signatories here
The senior clergy state that they are responding to "damaging allegations, documents and discussions" that are threatening to drag the OCA deeper and deeper into disrepute and disorder." Not only concern for public scandal, but the fear of repression, led these
priests to assume a leadership role. "Many of us", the clergy write, "have been approached by younger clergy who dare not speak out." As a result, only the most senior OCA clergy were asked to sign the letter.
While the letter specifically mentions that "Good people who have raised honest questions have been vilified or silenced", the clergy also recognized that "those implicated by the allegations have also been subjected to summary judgments and attacks." "The longer this is
allowed to go on," the clergy warn, "the more factions develop among us. While perhaps many of our parishioners are still unaware of all of this, there is little doubt that the crisis risks becoming a very public scandal." "Sadly," the letter states, "attempts by the Holy Synod to resolve this matter have thus far been inadequate." Therefore the clergy "...ask that the Holy Synod put in place a fair and transparent process to investigate the allegations."
(Ed.note: As regards public scandal, events seem to have overtaken the letter. On Monday, February 20, the Bergen Record, a major newspaper in northern New Jersey with a circulation of 650,000 published a front-page story on the OCA Crisis.) Read the Bergen Record article here
The senior clergy letter concludes irenically: "We also believe that in the end there should be mercy enough for all. The OCA should not only be restored to good order but to that mutual love which covers a multitude of sins and which alone is the sign that Christ is in our midst."
This new national letter follows a similar letter from 55 clerics in the Diocese of the Midwest, asking for a full investigation, that was mailed to the Holy Synod two weeks ago. Several senior Midwest clerics
who had not attended the Midwest convocation, and therefore had not signed the previous letter, signed this new letter. The Midwest letter has not, as yet, received an answer. Read the Midwest clergy letter here
The Holy Synod has scheduled an extraordinary meeting on March 1, 2006 in Syosset, where it is anticipated these concerns will be addressed.