+Nikolai Refuses To Leave
• Synod May Be Forced to Suspend Bishop
• Vansuch Declines Administrator Position
The drama in Alaska continues. Bishop Nikolai, in an interview with Channel 2, KTUU- TV, a NBC affiliate in Anchorage, announced he would not leave the diocese despite an order from the Synod of Bishops to do so. The story by reporter Maria Downey as posted on the KTUU-TV website reads:
“ Tensions are mounting for the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska.
The Right Rev. NIKOLAI says he “refuses” to take a leave of absence after receiving national orders to step aside as Alaska’s Russian Orthodox leader.
The order came down from the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America after Alaska church leaders complained about the bishop’s leadership.
The church first asked the bishop to take a temporary leave of absence while the investigation was underway but he wouldn’t step down.
Bishop NIKOLAI said Friday that even though he’s been ordered to step aside he still will not leave.
The bishop says proper procedures are not being followed by the church in its decision.
He says no one has the authority to remove him since there are no charges or no trial.
Archpriest Eugene Vansuch has been appointed to temporarily run the Alaska diocese.”
Synod Now On The Spot
The Bishop is serving this weekend in Ekutna, outside Anchorage. The Synod has already made it clear that failure to comply with its order placing the Bishop on mandatory leave and requiring him to physically quit the diocese while an investigation is conducted would be considered “wilful disobedience”. When he was consecrated bishop +Nikolai pledged obedience to the Holy Synod. Thus, his refusal to leave is a breach of church discipline that could lead to his suspension, regardless of the findings of any investigation.
The confusion surrounding Alaska deepened today, if possible, as informed sources related to OCANews.org that Fr. Eugene Vansuch, who was appointed as the Administrator of the Alaskan diocese by the Metropolitan on Friday, has declined the appointment. Vansuch, who had been a loyal supporter of Bishop Nikolai on the board of St. Herman’s Seminary, was just appointed Rector of St. Vladimir’s Church in Trenton, NJ, on January 1, 2008.
Syosset has offered no comment on the Bishop’s latest refusal, nor on Fr. Vansuch’s either. It is reported that an alternative administrator has been chosen, but that his name will not be released at this time.
- Mark Stokoe