HAVE WE LEARNED NOTHING?
by Dr. Dmitri Solodow, CA
One cannot help but wonder if the recent revelations of abuse of power; of stubborn adherence to the asserting of “rights;” and of lack of transparency, openness and conciliarity have had any long-lasting impact on our Church.
Are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes? Has our new leadership decided to take the foolhardy and disruptive path of their predecessors? Must we still “fight” to get the right thing to be done?
Have we learned nothing?
Consider the following:
• The Diocese of Western PA creates an open, conciliatory process to select a nominee to fill the position of its Ruling Hierarch.
• Metropolitan Jonah commends the process and the Holy Synod elevates the nominee to the episcopate.
• Metropolitan Jonah, as locum tenens of the Dioceses of the South and of NY/NJ, creates search committees in those dioceses to nominate candidates for Ruling Hierarchs. Having before him the Western PA model, he designates the chancellors and deans of each diocese to be the search committees.
• The NY/NJ search committee writes to the clergy and laity of the diocese, telling them that it “felt strongly that all the clergy and laity in our diocese should be engaged (if by no other means, certainly in prayer), thus apparently believing that this makes the process “conciliar.”
• The search committee reveals its process has yielded two nominees, who will remain unknown until mid-August.
• The search committee releases the names of three nominees.
• Responding to “whirlwinds of Internet ‘chatter’ of suspicious origins, dubious character, and vacuous value on this subject” (the nomination of Fr. David Brum), the committee asks Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, in his role as Chair of the former SIC, if Fr. Brum was found guilty of anything by the SIC and if Fr. Brum was found to be part of the “inner circle” that misappropriated funds in the OCA. His Grace is reported to have answered “no” to both questions. Then, the committee gratuitously and against its own rules regarding campaigning for a candidate, quotes Bishop Benjamin’s many positive statements regarding the “excellent pastoral and administrative work of Father David Brum....”
The other four members of the SIC write to the search committee clarifying the SIC’s process and findings, concluding with their belief that Fr. Brum not be considered for elevation to any higher Church office at this time.
• Fr. Alexy Karlgut responds me, in an email he copies to the three members of the search committee and Metropolitan Jonah, that, amongst other things, the SIC members “are not members of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey and as such have no say in the process of nomination of Diocesan Hierarch.” Seemingly, only SIC members who support Fr. Brum are exempt from this prohibition.
• The four members of the SIC respond to Fr. Karlgut, reminding him that it was he who opened the dialogue regarding Fr. Brum, and that they stand by their right to notify the clergy and laity of the diocese of their views, which remain unchanged.
• Fr. Karlgut replies, miscategorizing his earlier response to me as “confidential” and then attacking the messenger while ignoring the message. This was a common tactic widely in use during the Theodosius/Herman/RSK era -and widely condemned even then.
• Eric Wheeler reveals the existence of documents, not shared with the SIC, which clearly demonstrate Fr. Brum’s role the Protodeacon’s termination, and thus as part of the “inner circle.”
Given all this, who benefits from the flawed process going forward?
• the search committee will be seen as having proceeded in a process which is severely flawed, and questions will be raised about how and by whom they were vetted regarding their impartiality.
• Metropolitan Jonah will be seen as a leader who does not listen to the clergy and laity who have spoken out. The Holy Synod will be seen as, at best, “tone deaf” to the realities of the situation.
• Fr. Brum will be seen as someone under a cloud, who puts his own interests above those of the Church.
Why must this flawed process and its three month timetable be insisted upon?
Is it more important to those in charge that they assert their right to make the decision rather than to make the right decision?
Have we learned nothing?
Dr. Dmitri Solodow