Words and Deeds: How To Govern The Orthodox Way

March 26, 2010

Orthodox writer Rod Dreher contrasts the way the institutional Catholic Church is struggling to deal with its problem bishops, versus the way the Orthodox Church in America (Dreher’s church) has done it recently. One of Dreher’s comments was on Bishop Jonah’s response to recent church scandal (+Jonah was given only three minutes to prepare before speaking):

I remember standing in my kitchen in Dallas listening to it. Jonah, who had only recently left the monastery of which he was abbot, spoke with a gentle but firm voice, but he said things that that landed like thunderclaps. He said the two previous Metropolitans were “corrupt,” and had “raped the church.” He said that the OCA had been without leadership for 30 years. He said that had to end, and it was going to end. He said that if the church is only about beautiful liturgy, nobody should care about it. And then he said:

“Authority is responsibility. Authority is accountability. It’s not power.”

A friend of mine in the audience said as he spoke, you could feel the atmosphere in the room changing. Suddenly, people had hope, and could see the way clear. Shortly thereafter, his brother bishops elected him the next Metropolitan.

He has had a very, very difficult time trying to clean up the filthy messes his predecessors left. But his view of the primate as a servant of Christ and his people, and not as an enabler of episcopal power exercised for its own sake, and in service to lavish episcopal lifestyles, was not only the correct one, but had the power to renew a church in despair over decadence among its bishops. Jonah spoke the truth — and it changed everything. But if his were only words, and had not been accompanied by the Synod, under fire from the laity and the lower clergy, forcing Herman to resign, they would likely have made people cynical.

Words and deeds. Humility. Authority inseparable from accountability. That’s what a true servant-leader of mine or any church should be about. With great power comes great responsibility.

Read the full article here: http://blog.beliefnet.com/roddreher/2010/03/how-to-govern-a-church-a-case-study.html

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