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8.18.08

A Reply to Archbishop Job

 

Your Eminence,

Christ is in our midst!

As so often happens in times of crisis, words lose their meanings. Sometimes this loss is from being forgotten or misplaced; in the moment we cannot say everything, and so important things are left unsaid. Sometimes meaning is worn away by repetition, so that what was once meaningful is reduced to an expected formula. Sometimes meanings are switched, and the old meaning is gone, and a new, horrible one is left, like a changeling. And sometimes meaning, like hope, just seems to evaporate.

At the same time, in a crisis, the right word, at the right time can be life-giving; returning hope like a gentle rain in a parched land. So it was with your note. In one sense it was a personal note regarding a situation many years in the past; on the other hand, it concerned very public events. The world would have said your words were largely unnecessary as life had 'moved on'. What's done was done, and things are better now. What's the point of bringing up unfortunate events once again? Not a few in the Church hold the same perspective. "Confession", "repentance"; for many these words have been misplaced, or reduced to mere formulas. "Accountability" is changed into retribution. "Responsibility" has evaporated. For such as these, the meaningful words are few - obedience, authority, status quo...

So I do not think it coincidence that I received your note less than an hour after Professor Bouteneff sent me his reflection on the Church's repentance. His is a call to restore repentance to our crisis, and meaning to repentance. Yours is an example of it. I did not ask him to write; nor did I expect your note. And yet both are more precious since each was unlooked for.

Vladkya, I am grateful for your words and appreciate them on so many levels. I never sought an apology, nor expected one - so few my expectations these days and so weak is my faith. But your words and example makes clear to me, yet again, that the way forward is not in forgetfulness, but attention; not in expecting the minimum, but striving to be Christ-like in all that we do.

I will, however, take exception with one thing your wrote. You stated "My conscience tells me that I have been more a part of the problem than I would ever want to admit, and I am precluded from being part of the solution." The first clause is life-giving; the second, dead wrong.

Recognizing your personal role in the creation and extension of the crisis, and repenting of it, as you have done in word and deed, these past three years, has in no way "precluded you from being part of the solution". Quite the opposite, Vladyka. You have been showing the solution for us all. By admitting and accepting your own personal role in this crisis, asking the further question, seeking full disclosure, challenging those around you to do the same, and accepting responsibility and the consequences proper to your role, you have been, and remain, an integral part of the resolution we all seek.

One can only hope that you continue to show us the way forward, in whatever capacity God calls you.

With deep respect,

Mark Stokoe

 
 

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