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Judgement Day

The SIC Report into the OCA makes grim reading. The cellphone video, the threats, the blackmail, the holidays in the Caymans, the failure to do anything year in year out, the sidelining of truth-tellers and whistleblowers, the compromising material about sexual weaknesses and chemical addictions hold no surprise. They simply and boringly confirm everything that we have known for twenty and thirty years. Nothing new, but at last it is out in the open, made official.

The sorry saga illustrates two fundamental errors and one fundamental cause:

The errors:

1)Bishops and senior clergy should live the faith inwardly, not simply use it as a career, outward system or ideology.

2)Bishops and senior clergy should not ignore the grassroots, let alone despise them, as has happened here.

The cause:

1)The cause of all this is in the lack of living and traditional monastic life and canonical practices, which true bishops observe.

The above facts must cast doubt on the continued existence of the OCA in its present form and the Tomos, issued during the Cold War, on which the OCA was founded. The top-down foundation ideology on which the OCA was based always did seem dubious. There will now be calls for the complete and long overdue reconstruction and reconfiguration of what constitutes the OCA and apologies to all who have suffered so much over the decades, since the OCA’s very inception indeed.

In balance and to be fair, it must be said that there also exist many very sincere clergy and people in North America who have been betrayed. They have suffered for far too long, sometimes being forced to flee to other jurisdictions in order to find justice. Struggling clerical families, who have not been on holiday at all, let alone to the Cayman Islands or Aruba, can at least thank God that they are so poor that they do not face the temptations of large amounts of money. And there are many, perhaps especially Archbishop Job, who come out of this sorry story not only clean, but almost saintly.

Jurisdictions of other Local Churches need not feel superior. During the Cold War all sorts of injustices were done, all sorts of scandals took place, and not only in North America. At least the OCA has had the honesty to start dealing with its scandals and injustices. Others have swept everything under the carpet. In Western Europe, the scandals were heartbreaking and here too many were forced to flee to other jurisdictions to find justice, even though they also found poverty. Much long overdue house-cleaning from the Cold War period has to be done by the Slav Orthodox jurisdictions. As for the Greek and Middle Eastern jurisdictions, simony will be the first issue to be dealt with. Many are the apologies to come for the persecution and unimaginable slander undergone, the decades wasted. However, the impunity of old must now be met not only with justice, it must also be tempered with mercy.

Today and tomorrow, some will be quaking in their shoes. But there is worse. The real pity is for those who have already passed on and face Judgement Day, relying only on the prayers of those who remember them with love and forgiveness for their crimes. Clerical ranks, titles and awards are as nothing before the face of Eternity. We should all pray for one another. The Day of Judgement is coming for us all.

Priest Andrew Phillips

22 August/ 4 September
New Hieromartyr John (Vostorgov), martyred under the Communists (1918)
New Hieromartyr Gorazd, Bishop of Prague, martyred under the Fascists (1942)

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