Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa on Leave of Absence

There is no joy in reading news like this, but in as much as I serve on the  OCA’s Metropolitan Council and also do work with a committee forming the sexual misconduct policies for the OCA, I think it important that we all see a certain maturity happening in the OCA in grappling with these issues, in forming policies to deal with such allegations, and in enforcing those policies.  It has been a slow growth and learning process for the OCA in dealing with these issues.  We can hope that this public admission of allegations and an investigation is a sign that there has been a real change in the corporate culture of the OCA.

Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa on Leave of Absence

Posted 10/03

SYOSSET, NY [OCA] — The Lesser Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, meeting at the OCA Chancery in Oyster Bay Cove, NY, September 21 – 24, 2010, heard an official report that police in Canada have received a complaint alleging misconduct committed by His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada some 30 years ago.

An investigation is now is progress.

In response to this, Archbishop Seraphim requested a leave of absence.

On behalf of the Holy Synod of Bishops, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, made the following statement: “I have blessed the Church’s Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations to work in conjunction with the Canadian police authorities and to comply with the Orthodox Church in America’s policies and procedures in order to obtain the necessary information needed to bring about a proper resolution. We offer our heartfelt prayers to the Great Shepherd and Healer, Our Lord Jesus Christ, that all parties involved in this will be blessed with God’s peace, love and healing. During Archbishop Seraphim’s leave of absence, His Grace, Bishop Irénée of Quebec City will function as the Administrator of the Archdiocese of Canada.”

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16 Responses to Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa on Leave of Absence

  1. Harry Coin says:

    Fr. Ted: Note the request posted in the official Canadian website says the leave regards attention to medical issues.

    http://www.archdiocese.ca/news/2010/20101001-Leave-of-absence.htm

    • Fr. Ted says:

      Yes, that is Archbishop Seraphim’s story, but not corroborated by the OCA’s press release.

      • Mike says:

        It is, however corroborated by his family, who said he was preparing to take a leave of absence for medical reasons prior to the allogations. My guess is that his family is telling the truth (I see no reason to think otherwise) and the archbishop felt it best to leave informing the rest of the OCA about these horrible accusations to other OCA leaders. This would explain both the mention of having seen his doctor and the absence of mentioning anything about the accusations.

  2. Anna says:

    These accusations are absurd. I am a niece of Bishop Seraphim, I am 31 years old, and my brothers, sisters and cousin are all younger than me, and this NEVER happened to us, or anyone we know that had contact with my uncle. My uncle is absolutely loved and respected in my family and in this church. It is so dangerous when people are allowed to make accusations like this, and devastate people’s lives. I encourage everyone, all people who know my uncle and know that he is innocent to stand up and say so, so that the agenda of these two accusers may be exposed.
    My brothers and sisters and I would be bouncing off of the walls with delight when my uncle Ken would come and visit, it meant we would get big hugs, stories read to us and the piano played to us.

    Please please please, people, defend my uncle, he is innocent.
    Anna
    Catherine
    Bethiah
    John
    Paul
    Evangeline

    • Fr. Ted says:

      My prayers are with all of you. We do trust God to guide all things – including the investigation into the allegations. A defense is to cooperate with the investigation so that they can come to an unhindered, fair and clear understanding of what has happened.
      While the investigation is ongoing, we have to pray with the Pslamist to “Wait on the Lord.” Patience is needed; time must be taken to allow the investigation to come to completion. Let us pray that what can be known will be revealed to all.

    • Gabriela says:

      Lord have mercy!

      My 6 years in an OCA parish (All Saints of Alaska and St Arseny of Canada) meant living under the LOVE and CARE of Vladyka Seraphim, who supported my beloved priest to get through happy and difficult times.

      After moving back to Europe, we yearned and missed Vladyka so much, dreamed to have him visit our parishes in Europe, travel with him, show him what we were the proudest of, ask his advice (which was always delivered with the deepest understanding of the level of the person, but with the rigor of a big Staretz, like coming directly from the Patericon)…

      We are in peace, the allegations are not true, we are convinced, his hugs until you melted in his Fatherly love do not lie… his visits, common services and prayers, care for each of us do not lie… there was love and shepherdly rigor in all he did.

      But these events do not surprise me, our Lord allowed them to test us, our Vladyka’s flock, on our faith and love. Also, Vladyka’s love could not have but infuriate the enemy — just makes me think at another beloved Vladyka, St John of Shanghai, San Francisco, Brussels, Paris and the Hague, who was tried just the same. Two Vladykas who are tried in the purification fire which brings humility and separations of this corrupted world cares, two communities brought to faith’s maturity.

      Glory to Jesus Christ! Lord grant us endurance, love and salvation!

    • Evelyn Myers says:

      We have known and loved Vladyka for almost 40 years and will continue to stand by him and pray for him. The media cannot wait to get their hands on something that is grist for the sleazy gossip that passes for news. We are all deeply saddened.
      God bless his family and all who love and honour him.

      Yours in Çhrist Evelyn Myers

  3. Gordon says:

    I too met Bishop Seraphim as a child and the only thing I recognized in him was holiness, compassion and understanding. He was instrumental in my journey to Christ and I must admit the in my ignorance I once called him pope. I pray that God will watch over him and this investigation to provide clarity. I must admit that I am frustrated with the way these cases are handled when the church is involved it seems names are not released prior to investigations in secular cases.

    • Fr. Ted says:

      I am not totally sure how cases are handled in other situations, but when it comes to allegations of child abuse, those stories do make the press. Some of this is because of a sense that if the allegations are true, other children need to be protected from abuse. Of course some of it results from sensationalism, and the press in general loves to expose the sins of the Church.

      These situations present great problems for the church: how to handle the allegations, how to protect others from potential abuse, how to maintain a balance of concern for the victims and the alleged perpetrator of the crime, how to protect privacy. There are legal and moral issues which are often oppositional in their demands. The Churuch has its own needs and temptations – to tell the truth, to defend its flock, to defend the institution from attack, to treat victim and the accused pastorally, to deny, to minimize, to silence, to avoid, to shame, etc.

      Standards today, rightfully, demand that the church take every allegation seriously. This means in real terms that the church has to view the stories of the accusers and the accused with the same degree of neutrality – take the steps assuming the truth is being told by the accusers while responding pastorally to the accused (and their families, friends, parishes, etc). In the past the church often moved to defend the clergy and the church. But as seen in the Roman Catholic Church, this is not necessarily the right response. Accusers have a story to tell and their stories must be considered seriously and fairly.

      While it is true that the accused often have done many wonderful things, and always were selective in their abuse, the allegations still must be completely investigated.

      At the end of the investigation by civil authorities and by the church itself, the church needs also to review its own process in how it handled the events.

  4. Mike says:

    This situation distresses me. Immensely. I saw the report on TV while at work and my mind, God forgive me, worked as follows. First, I thought “oh man, not another Catholic priest.” Next, I thought “Oh man, this guy’s from the OCA?” Then a picture of Archbishop Seraphim flashed very briefly on the screen and I was greatly (!) annoyed that the media got the wrong picture and wondered if I knew the person it actually was. Back at my desk, the images from the TV flittered around looking to gain entrance into my conscious mind until, with a foot in the door, they directed me to Google. I broke down.

    I realized a horrible truth about myself that day: when it comes to sexual assault allegations, especially against clergy, I assume guilt – not innocence. Whether this is a result of media conditioning or not is irrelevant. It’s my sin. A sin that has broken me now that someone I would gladly lay down my life for stands accused. Lord have mercy.

    I, myself, have both been a victim of sexual assault and falsely accused of it as well. In terms of dealing with it, I was fortunate to have grown up in a loving, caring, Godly home. Forgiveness, eventually, came. In terms of being falsely accused of rape, it ruined my life at the church I was attending. I felt I could not go back. No one who knew me believed any of it, but with the thought placed in people’s minds that this might be a possibility, however remote, I could no longer worship there. This is the saddest part about this for me: that my beloved Vladyka will likely no longer serve the OCA, regardless of whether he is found innocent or not. Suspicions have been cast, and that is all that is needed to remove a clergy member from his post.

    Is it fair? Is it just? So why is it that this is the way it is? Because of people like me. People who, upon hearing these kinds of accusations, assume guilt.

    • Fr. Ted says:

      Mike,

      Very sorry to hear of your own traumatic experiences.

      Your situation shows what a complex world we have to deal with. If allegations are made, we as church must take them seriously and not ignore or deny them. They must be investigated, and everyone must be dealt with pastorally. Obviously, taking allegations seriously means actions must be taken as if the allegations were or could be true. There is no alternative here. The best plan for the church however is to take all allegations seriously and investigate them. If church members can feel assured that all allegations will be taken seriously and that all allegations will be investigated fairly and thoroughly, then there wouldn’t be the the temptation to deny allegations without even investigating, nor would a man’s life be ruined by false allegations. For now we must trust the investigative process to discover the truth for us.

      It is neither fair nor just that abuse happens, but it does. It is neither fair nor just that the accused are condemned before an investigation is done. It is not fair nor just that some abuse goes unreported because some people attack the accusers rather than investigating their complaints.

      The OCA like all churches today has to work hard to make its policies and procedures in dealing with allgeations to be followed and to be effective. Pray that the truth will be made known, and that all of those in need of healing will be healed by Christ, and that all those in need of repentance will change their lives for Christ.

  5. Daniel says:

    God forgive us all. Thank you Father Ted for your counsel. May we all add ArchBishop Seraphim, his accusers, his flock and the entire OCA to our personal prayer lists. As His Eminence Seraphim would say now is the time for prayer and the healing that comes from our saviour Jesus Christ. May our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of us in our sorrow.

  6. I am very saddened to hear about the allegations made against Archbishop Seraphim. It was my honor last summer to attend the OCA clergy retreat, at Vladyka’ invitation, in Western Canada. I was with Vladyka Seraphim for several days and even interviewed him for my PhD dissertation. I have alway felt very comfortable around him and noticed how much his priests and deacons loved him. I trust and pray for his full exoneration and his speedy return as the hierarch of the OCA in Canada.

  7. Nicholas Pantelopoulos says:

    I have met Vladyka Seraphim occasionally at colloquiums and meets in Montreal. Although I do not know him personally, Vladyka struck me as a man of sobriety and moderation, with profound piety and faith. In short, Vladyka is an authentic human being. Perhaps for some I am too over-confident and trust my gut feelings. Vladyka does not fit the profile –period! I lack the humility to know why the Lord has permitted him to be tempted in such a way, that only a man of great humility can endure. God save us. I know that God has good plans for Vladyka. He now needs to pray for us…

  8. Pingback: 2010 in review | Fr. Ted's Blog

  9. Charlotte Rodziewicz says:

    I believe you.

    Seraphima

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