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Mischief in Moscow, Aporia in Syosset

Various Russian websites are reporting that Archimandrite Zaccheaus (Wood), the former OCA representative to the Moscow Patriarchate who had been officially placed on Leave of Absence and recalled to the United States in the wake of allegations of misconduct late last month, served the Divine Liturgy at his former parish at St. Catherine’s in the Fields last Sunday (August 21). According to these websites Fr. Zacchaeus “...reported in his sermon after the Liturgy, (that) he celebrated the Liturgy with the blessing of the Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Jonah.”

The unexpected development in Moscow, and the reasons given, prompted some overseas Orthodox bloggers to suggest intrigues, from the promotion of the “Russian World” to yet another chapter in a “power struggle” within the OCA.

The sad reality is much less conspiratorial.

If the Archimandrite’s claims prove to be true (and there is no reason to doubt his veracity on something that can be so easily ascertained) his actions represent no conspiracies, foreign or domestic, but only the latest situation in which Metropolitan Jonah has once again acted unilaterally and secretly, against the decisions of his Synod, the counsel of the OCA’s professional and legal advisors, ignored the concerns of alleged victims and overturned the established policies and procedures of the OCA. In so doing, he has one again put the OCA at potential legal risk.

The Metropolitan’s apparent “about-face” concerning the Archimandrite -- who has hired a lawyer, contested the misconduct allegations, threatened lawsuits and repeatedly refused instructions of the Metropolitan to return to the United States so an official investigation could begin (all the while claiming he was indisposed for medical reasons that seem to have required hospitalization shortly after he was placed on Leave) -- has left the Synod of Bishops, the Metropolitan’s Council’s Legal Affairs Committee, and the Synod’s Sexual Misconduct Panel Advisory Committee in what can only be called ”aporia”.

In Greek philosophy, "aporia" is a seemingly insoluble impasse. The only way beyond " aporia" is to make a conscious decision -- to abandon the problem altogether, or overcome it by re-examining one's presuppositions.

The Metropolitan,for his part, choose to abandon the country and leave for an eight day trip to Prague today.. The visit to the Church of the Czech and Slovak Lands is at the invitation of Metropolitan Christopher of Prague, and includes Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco. The Synod, based on past experience, prefers another bishop accompany the Metropolitan whenever he is abroad.

- Mark Stokoe

(Update 8.24.11: Given Archbishop Dmitri's worsening condition, Metropolitan Jonah decided not to leave for Prague as scheduled with Bishop Benjamin and Fr. Eric Tosi, OCA Secretary. Rather, he flew to Dallas to visit the ailing hierarch, and will now join the OCA delegation on Friday.)


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