Thursday, July 5, 2012

Rod Dreher goes cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs

Rod Dreher has recently posted an article entitled "Abp Nikon Cancels DOS Bishop Election." It is obvious to even the most casual observer that the Diocese of the South is not in a happy place where the episcopacy is concerned, but do they need more "analysis" like this to further enflame the situation? In response to it I commented there, and I repost here, the following:

So… I think this is a hyperbole laden bit of “reporting.” You think delaying a vote to vet someone might “destroy” the entire diocese?

How many votes in recent OCA memory have gone smoothly or as expected? Even Abp. Dmitri of blessed memory was not on the winning side of an elevation to be metropolitan when the synod got involved. OCA electioneering is volatile. I doubt very much this will “destroy” the diocese. You do the people of the diocese a disservice by making this rather unwholesome foray into demagoguery.

The article itself:

This news will only matter to members of the Orthodox Church in America, and especially those in the Diocese of the South. But if true, it’s big news.

I have it from two independent sources this afternoon that Archbishop Nikon, the locum tenens of the DOS, has cancelled the planned election of a new bishop of the Diocese of the South, set for a Miami meeting later this month. Why? I am told that a letter he sent to DOS priests — a letter I have not seen, but am trying to get my hands on (e-mail it to me at rod (at) if you have it) — asserts that Fr Gerasim Eliel, one of the two candidates for the position, was not properly vetted by the Holy Synod.

Gerasim is the candidate favored by most of the DOS. The other candidate, Bishop Mark Maymon, widely understood to be the Holy Synod’s favorite, is deeply mistrusted and even despised by very many people of the DOS, because of his shocking actions at the cathedral in Dallas (see here for more information on that). The Diocesan Council earlier this spring put forth a single name for its bishop’s election: Gerasim’s. It looked like Gerasim would be elected bishop of the DOS later this month. According to OCA rules, the victor of that election would have his name sent to the Holy Synod for confirmation or rejection. The final decision is with the Synod...

Complete post here.


  1. It would have been better had he waited for the letter, as it spells out reasonable reasons to delay the vote:

    "[Arch. Gerasim] has never met any of [the Holy Synod]. Although there was a rudimentary vetting of Fr. Grasim a number of years ago but the make up of the Synod at that time was different than today."

    This seems a stretch since Arch Gerasim know Met. Jonah well and has presumably at least met another bishop or two on the Synod. The fact that the Synod make-up has changed at all is important in that they seem to attempt to make decisions more by consensus lately.

    This is also important:

    "we cannot expect the Synod to elect someone they do not know and further, should the special election take place now, and the name be unacceptable to the majority of the Synod members, this would then place us in the precarious position of “appointing” an arch pastor who either may or may not be known to the diocese. In effect the diocese would have forfeited there election process."

    the OCA Statute clearly balances the prerogatives of the Diocese and the Synod in the matter of episcopal election. I made the same statements re Stokoe's complaints about the process in NY/NJ and the Midwest. The diocese does not elect its own bishop, it elects a nominee that is then either elected or not by the Synod. It is in the diocese's best interest to elect someone the Synod will approve of, and it is in the Synod's interest to not allow the nomination of someone it cannot elect thus going against the will of the diocese in question. This is sobornost, working together.

    There are, in fact, serious questions about Arch. Gerasim and his involvement with scandal at the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery surrounding its former abbot. What did he know, and when did he know it sorts of things. Given the Abp Seraphim saga, the OCA must be very careful in electing a bishop should his response to sexual impropriety in the past be less than stellar. At the same time, it should be noted that Fr. Gerasim was a driving force in regularizing the Monastery's canonical status, as well as that of the entire Christ the Saviour Brotherhood - while, in an unclear sense, breaking ranks with his previous (?) spiritual father, the co-founder (and owner! at least then) of the Monastery. That's not nothing.

    It does no one any good to simply ignore the complaints and concerns and fear surrounding these episodes in Fr. Gerasim's past. Should he be elected bishop, there needs to be a full, clear accounting of the situation - preferably not just by those on one side of the issue who really like Fr. Gerasim and Platina.

  2. I don't know why the OCA and the DOS permits a six-year convert to be its spokesperson.

  3. Kirk, anyone can put on the internet anything they want. Rod Dreher is in no way a spokesperson for the OCA, the DOS or anyone other than himself.

  4. Archimandrite Lev (Gillet), 'Sunday letter' to parishioners, 12 September 1937, quoted in Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, Lev Gillet: A Monk of the Eastern Church (Fellowship of St Alban and St Fergus, 1999), pp. 229-30:

    "'And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly on [Stephen], saw his face as it had been an angel.' (Acts 6:15)

    O rare thing: it was in the midst of dispute, in the heat of an argument, that Stephen's face was transfigured and became angelic, even to the eyes of his opponents. Alas! How many times does argument produce an opposite effect even on those who believe they are defending a good cause! Whether it is in a council, an assembly of theologians or a simple private discussion, it happens that he who is 'right' and who perhaps believes he is serving God, loses all love? From that moment on, he is only fighting for himself. His words conceal a subtle dishonesty of which he is not aware. My child, when you contradict the opinion of another man, think of my servant Stephen's face, shining like that of an angel, in the midst of the council. Because love was in his heart, Stephen bore true witness to me."

  5. I'm a little disappointed you've given voice to his drivel by reposting it :-), but agreed all the same!

  6. In the comments section of Rod’s original article he answers a poster, in part, with these words:

    "I took care when I became Orthodox never to allow myself to believe that the hapless bench of bishops in the OCA was anything more than a necessary evil. Cynical? Sure. But it’s been a useful insurance policy against disappointment."

    The OCA bishops are “a necessary evil?” I don’t see how one can simultaneously believe that Orthodoxy is the faith once for all delivered to the saints, and yet hold in such contempt those charged with leading the faithful. It is one thing to find fault with a particular bishop on a specific issue, it is quite another to refer to them all in such a cavalier and disrespectful manner. (Unless, of course, I am misunderstanding what he means by “the hapless bench of bishops in the OCA.”)