I am unsure of how to address this issue, but for the sake of honesty to my few readers I feel I must. My friend TMatt forced my hand in his comment on the previous post. It’s probably a good thing. I do not want to hide any aspect of my journey in this faith.
I left the American Archdiocese of the Antiochian Orthodox Church. I was not alone. I have not left Orthodoxy. I would never leave Orthodoxy. But I have left the Antiochian Church.
The reasons are numerous, and tragic. And it was not an easy decision for those of us who left. We could no longer stand by and watch those with power destroy those with none. We could not be silent as our priest was slandered, abused, and removed. And we could not contribute financially any longer to those who did the slandering, abusing, and removing.
The closest analogy I can come up with for this situation is a teacher having trouble with four or five students in a class of 25. Unable to get them to comply or their parents to care, the teacher asks the principal and superintendent for help. The administrators go to the classroom, watch the misbehavior, and then decide to remove the teacher rather than sanctioning the students.
I can’t study in that classroom any more.
Other parishes in our community have offered to help those of us who left, recognizing that we have not left Orthodoxy. This was not some silly split over the color of carpet in the foyer, but the necessary action in the face of obscene injustice. The Church is not without examples of laity standing in the face of corruption or guarding the faith in the face of capitulation to outside influences.
To those who still remain at my beloved church, I wish you well, but I have little hope for any change apart from a miraculous work of God. That church has had nine priests in 25 years…that’s not a great batting average. Those guilty of the slander and Simony do not want to change, and without pressure from above (which has shown no signs of coming) or Divine Intervention, they will not change.
To those “in charge” who are not willing, for whatever reason, to stop feeding the beast of ego and greed: beware, it will ultimately bite you too.
I do not believe that our struggles were isolated. I know of other parishes with similar struggles, and I know of other priests abused for doing nothing more than preaching the Gospel of Christ and administering the Sacraments.
It is not my intention to spark debate, though I am sure that will likely follow our action. I only post this because I desire to be transparent, particularly to those who are studying Orthodoxy, which while possessing the fullness of truth, remains the home of sinful people. And I am no different.
Right now, I travel. I am visiting other parishes, worshiping with the other Orthodox Christians in my community and alongside these who left–the godly men and women of our parish council, my fellow converts, my cradle brothers and sisters, my Orthodox family. I will blog a bit about this journey, dispatches from other stops along the Orthodox Way.
I will keep blogging about this faith, if for no other reason than to remind myself of its Holy Truths and its eternal beauty.