On the morning of Tuesday, October 16, 2007, His Beatitude
Metropolitan Herman celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. Sergius of Radonezh
Chapel, located at the OCA Chancery in Syosset, NY. The occasion for the
service was the opening of the fall sessions of the Holy Synod of Bishops and
the Metropolitan Council. The Holy Synod will be meeting from Tuesday, October
16, to Thursday, October 18. The Metropolitan Council will meet Tuesday and
Wednesday. On Wednesday, there will be a joint session of the Holy Synod and
the Metropolitan Council.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan
Herman addressed all gathered members of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the
Metropolitan Council. The text of His Beatitude’s address is as follows.
ADDRESS OF HIS BEATITUDE, METROPOLITAN HERMAN
to the members of the Holy
Synod and Metropolitan CouncilTuesday, October 16, 2007
“I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (I Corinthians 1:10).
With these words, Apostle Paul challenges the members of the Church in Corinth to abstain from strife and party spirit, and every impulse that divides the body of Christ. Submitting ourselves to one another out of love for Christ is obligatory. Our meetings for today, tomorrow and for the Holy Synod of Bishops on Thursday as well, require us to remember our high calling at all times. Otherwise, with the best intentions, we may find ourselves individually or corporately struggling against the very Church we claim to love and serve.
We are all suffering in various ways since the fall of 2005 when allegations of financial mismanagement were leveled. Personally, I have suffered and will continue to suffer as long as there is division among us that separates us from the love of God and one another.
On many occasions, my words and deeds have been misunderstood or deliberately distorted or misinterpreted. Most recently, I have been accused of trying to deceive the Church and cover up the truth in order to protect myself.
Before we depart from this Divine Liturgy, I would like to share with you some of my thoughts concerning two critical issues that will be a part of our deliberations.
THE SPECIAL INVESTIGATION COMMITTEE AND THE CHURCH COURT
I gave direction to the Special Investigation Committee established at our December 2006 Joint Meeting in my letter addressed to the chair on January 12, 2007.
The Committee began their work and responded with a Preliminary Report presented to the Metropolitan Council and then to the Holy Synod of Bishops in March. As Metropolitan, I withheld my blessing to make public the contents of the preliminary report for only one reason: to offer the appropriate dignity and impartial setting for the Church Court to hear the case of our former chancellor.
After hearing the accusations that were based upon the findings of the attorneys, accountants as well as the Special Investigation Committee, the Church Court recommended that the former chancellor be deposed from the Holy Priesthood. At the July 31-August 1 meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops, the Committee’s recommendation was presented to the Holy Synod of Bishops. They concurred with the recommendation of the Church Court. The former chancellor was appropriately notified of this decision. He subsequently requested that his deposition be reconsidered. The Holy Synod of Bishops will act as a Court of Appeal today in accordance with the Statutes of our Orthodox Church in America.
Following today’s Court of Appeal, the information from the Preliminary Report of the Special Investigation Committee utilized in the Church Court proceedings will be made public.
CONTINUING THE WORK OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE
In a letter dated September 14, 2007 I was informed that the chair, two members and one former member appointed to the Special Investigation Committee last December offered their resignation.
In a letter from me dated September 18, 2007, I acknowledged the submission of their resignation.
Because His Grace, Bishop Benjamin, a member of the original committee, had not resigned, in order to move the investigation forward, I considered the possibility and after consultation, appointed him as chair of a new Special Investigative Committee responsible for continuing the work begun earlier this year. My decision was communicated to His Grace, Bishop Benjamin in my letter of October 5, 2007. In the letter, I also recommended that he contact a former member of the original committee as well as the four priests who served on the Church Court to participate.
The letter concluded with the following statement:
“No witnesses are off limits, including myself, and I would expect that you and the Committee would follow the evidence wherever it leads you.”
After the letter was made public, I was informed that in spite of its content, there are those who doubt my sincerity and continue to make false accusations concerning my motives and methods during these trying times.
When we gather tomorrow for our Joint Meeting, with Bishop Benjamin as the appointed chair of the new Special Investigative Committee, the clergy and lay membership of the Committee will be determined through open discussion with one exception; those who served previously and resigned are not eligible to serve on the new Committee.
As we begin our work to discern God’s Will for our lives and for that part of the Orthodox Church in this world that He entrusts to our care, I would like to conclude my words this morning, with a challenging message taken from the Letter of St. Peter
(Chapter 3, Verses 8 to 12):
“Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind. Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing. “For he that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; “Let him turn away from evil and do right; let him seek peace and pursue it. “For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those that do evil.”