Synod Minutes Reveal +Jonah Placed “On Leave”

March 2, 2011

In a February 27 address to the Archdiocese of Washington recorded on video here and transcribed here, Metropolitan Jonah read a prepared statement regarding reports of his rumored leave of absence following the recent Synod meeting:

“…due to inaccurate reporting on the Internet stating that I had been deposed, that I had resigned, that I am on a leave of absence, rumors that have spread worldwide and have caused great concern among many. I owe you the faithful of this diocese clarification of the facts…The reports are not true. I am merely taking a retreat, a time for reflection. I have requested a time of rest.”

OCANews.org then reported the following on yesterday March 1:

The official OCA press release, posted shortly after 10 PM this evening, was brief, but its message clear: “Upon instruction of the Holy Synod of Bishops, minutes from the pre-lenten retreat in which they participated February 22-25, 2011 in Santa Fe, NM are now available in PDF format here.”

What the 6 pages of Minutes make clear is that Metropolitan Jonah was indeed placed on an official “Leave of Absence” by the Synod last week in Santa Fe, that the Metropolitan agreed to the Leave, and further, the Metropolitan agreed he would abide by this decision of the Bishops. (Source)

Read the OCA minutes issued upon instruction of the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops which describe the leave of absence here and here.

According to OCANews.org, one contributing factor leading the Synod to place +Jonah on a leave of absence was +Jonah’s mishandling of clergy sexual misconduct issues. This report describes the OCA’s Sexual Misconduct Advisory Committee concerns:

According to sources close to the Committee, the Committee has discussed mass resignation in protest at least twice in the past year due to the actions — and inaction — of Metropolitan Jonah regarding these issues. In both instances, Fr. Garklavs has been outspoken in dissuading the Committee from such a course, citing the “harm” it would do to the Church. Rather than resign, the Committee has spent the last weeks writing a confidential report on Jonah’s actions, and inactions, addressing their concerns to the Synod. (Source)

The Synod minutes confirm that the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops did in fact review a special report from the OCA’s Sexual Misconduct Advisory Committee (SMPAC), and that this discussion preceded the Synod placing +Jonah on a leave of absence. OCANews.org had earlier listed some of the specific clergy sexual misconduct topics discussed at the Synod meeting:

Among the topics covered were issues relating to the allegations against Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa; issues surrounding Fr. Symeon Kharon, a monastic who, together with and a group of nuns from Greece, was brought by the Metropolitan to start a monastery in the DC area; issues surrounding Archimandrite Isidore (Brittain); the Committee’s concern with the Metropolitan’s unilateral appointment of an investigator for clergy sexual misconduct they felt was unqualified; and other, related concerns. (Source)

Fr. Ted Bobosh, who is a member of the OCA’s Sexual Misconduct Advisory Committee, summed up recent events on his blog:

The minutes show clearly that the Synod was putting the Metropolitan on Leave of Absence for unnamed health reasons, but respectfully gave him opportunity to request the leave.   The Minutes clearly show the Metropolitan agreeing to the terms of the Leave effective immediately (February 25).

The confusion grew when an OCA press release, Holy Synod Announces Changes, said the metropolitan was taking time off for a “personal retreat and time of spiritual renewal.”  This was followed by Metropolitan Jonah in a public announcement at the OCA’s St. Nicholas Cathedral claiming he was taking “an extended period of rest.”  He publicly denied that he was on Leave of Absence. The Metropolitan then in the last few days engaged in a flurry of activities including postponing the annual Spring meeting of the Holy Synod and of the Metropolitan Council.

The released minutes clearly contradict the Metropolitan’s announcement and denial of being on Leave of Absence. They also would call into question all of his decisions and announcements of the past few days, since he already was to be on Leave of Absence and relieved of his duties.

The crisis provoked by the Metropolitan, will now hopefully be addressed by the Synod to whom he is mutually accountable and obedient. The status of his recent actions require clarification, and the effects of his recent actions will certainly become the focus of discussions within the Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council, and between them. (Source)

OCANews.org has announced it will report further details tomorrow regarding Metropolitan Jonah’s response to this recent Synod decision (read more here).

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