Thursday, December 2, 2010

Clarifications about Archbishop Seraphim's Suspension

In accordance with the policies of the OCA concerning allegations of sexual misconduct by clergy, if a clergyman is charged by the civil authorities - i.e. the police, he cannot continue to function publically until the matter is settled and, in the case of a bishop, a formal decision is reached by the OCA Synod of Bishops to lift the suspension.

This procedure is in place so as to allow both the Church and civil investigations to proceed in due process, with proper neutrality, and without any prejudice one way or another.

Such a suspension does NOT imply guilt - it is purely an administrative procedure while formal charges and/or court proceedings are in place or pending. The suspension relieves Archbishop Seraphim of all functions, duties, responsibilities and authority as a bishop until the case is closed, and he is either exonerated or disciplined as per the final outcome of the case.

The mention of a bishop's name in the hierarchical commemorations in the Liturgy, also known as the 'dyptics', is related only to his being in a position of canonical function and authority in a given jurisdiction e.g. the Archdiocese. It does NOT indicate that we cannot pray for Archbishop Seraphim. We will be doing so in the Liturgies of our parish at the appropriate times as we would any prayer intention.

In short, at this time, Archbishop Seraphim is not functioning as a ruling/administrative or other formally serving hierarch/cleric in the Archdiocese.

The whole matter has indeed taken on a new and more serious phase due to the pressing of formal charges, (all the more reason for our prayers). Because of that, it is no longer a matter of a sick-leave as it were. He is personally, however, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt.

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