Friday, November 5, 2010

An Open Letter from Metropolitan JONAH regarding the Investigation

SYOSSET, NY [OCA] -- In a letter dated Friday, November 5, 2010, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, addressed issues surrounding the investigation of allegations made against His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada.

The text of the letter reads as follows.

"To the Clergy and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

"Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!

"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

"We are taught by Our Lord that the truth will set us free. We welcome the truth as the only basis for compassion and the sole means by which the healing of all those affected may take place. Love, mercy, compassion and truth are the fundamental principles of our response to one another. May we be so graced to seek that truth, to accept it, and to see in it yet another opportunity to refocus our attention on 'the life of the world to come.'

"As you know, His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of the Archdiocese of Canada, is on a leave of absence. As has been reported by the Church, he is the subject of a recent investigation into allegations of events which date back many years. To date, no formal charges have been filed.

"With regard to sexual misconduct, the Church is clear. It is an aberration, a tragedy that cannot be tolerated. Our goal as Church is to investigate all allegations within the limitations imposed on us by the circumstances of each case and to cooperate fully with the appropriate authorities.

"It is critical for us to focus on pastoral responses that are free of speculation regarding the outcome of the allegations. We must show compassion to all parties -- the victims and the accused, their families, and the entire Church community. We must neither speculate nor prejudge the results of any investigation. At the same time, it is essential for us as a Church to focus on the pastoral care of all parties involved and all those affected by this situation. Even when we deal with situations in which various people in the Church are in adversarial positions, we must show compassion and love to all parties.

"On October 3, 2010, I blessed the Church's Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations to work in conjunction with the Canadian authorities and to comply with the Orthodox Church in America's policies and procedures in order to obtain the necessary information required to bring about a proper resolution. After review by the Office and in consultation with its members, the Holy Synod of Bishops appointed a Commission to devote particular attention to the specific allegations against Archbishop Seraphim. The membership of that Commission have been announced publicly. Anyone with relevant information will be given access to the Commission directly. We must be prepared to receive the results of the investigation, regardless of what they may be. And, as Church, we must resolve the matter in a manner that benefits the salvation of everyone involved, regardless of the outcome.

"Despite the depth of the pain this matter has engendered throughout the Orthodox Church in America, we are coming together with faith and love. I especially want to assure the faithful of the Archdiocese of Canada that the depth of their pain is felt by the entire People of God. For a quarter of a century, the Archdiocese of Canada has grown spiritually under Archbishop Seraphim. The unswerving faith of the Archdiocese's faithful, coupled with the Archpastoral guidance of Bishop Irenee, will only serve to hasten the healing process.

"In conclusion, the investigations are in the competent hands of the appropriate civil authorities and the Church’s Synodal Commission. The Archdiocese of Canada is in the good hands of Bishop Irenee. We pray for the patience required to allow them to complete their work.

"We need to pray for everyone involved – for the authorities, the Commission, the accusers, the Archdiocese of Canada, Bishop Irenee, Archbishop Seraphim, the families of all involved and for each other, that all will be blessed with God's peace, love and healing."

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