This news will only matter to members of the Orthodox Church in America, and especially those in the Diocese of the South. But if true, it’s big news.
I have it from two independent sources this afternoon that Archbishop Nikon, the locum tenens of the DOS, has cancelled the planned election of a new bishop of the Diocese of the South, set for a Miami meeting later this month. Why? I am told that a letter he sent to DOS priests — a letter I have not seen, but am trying to get my hands on (e-mail it to me at rod (at) amconmag.com if you have it) — asserts that Fr Gerasim Eliel, one of the two candidates for the position, was not properly vetted by the Holy Synod.
Gerasim is the candidate favored by most of the DOS. The other candidate, Bishop Mark Maymon, widely understood to be the Holy Synod’s favorite, is deeply mistrusted and even despised by very many people of the DOS, because of his shocking actions at the cathedral in Dallas (see here for more information on that). The Diocesan Council earlier this spring put forth a single name for its bishop’s election: Gerasim’s. It looked like Gerasim would be elected bishop of the DOS later this month. According to OCA rules, the victor of that election would have his name sent to the Holy Synod for confirmation or rejection. The final decision is with the Synod.
But now that vote has been cancelled by the Archbishop who has temporary oversight of the DOS. It’s an utterly shocking move, one that has the potential to destroy the DOS. Gerasim was, in fact, thoroughly vetted by the Synod several years ago when his name was put forth as a candidate for Bishop of Alaska. What do they know now that they didn’t know then?
It is possible, of course, that some startling and compromising new information has come to light. The question, though, is why Abp Nikon felt compelled to cancel, at virtually the last minute, this scheduled election? If the Synod felt in good conscience — I know, don’t laugh — that Gerasim was unfit for the post, then it has the right to refuse to confirm him. But to do that, they would almost certainly have had to overturn the results of the vote in Miami, which was set to be a resounding ballot for Gerasim.
Again, I caution that this information comes to me from two separate reputable sources, and it originates in a letter Nikon has sent to the priests of the DOS. I have not seen the letter myself, but can report that two priests who have are devastated by it, and the high-stakes politics that are being played here by the Synod.
I will post more information, including the text of Nikon’s letter, as it becomes available.
UPDATE: Further information from other sources indicates that Nikon has only cancelled the part of the diocesan assembly that was to vote on the next Diocese of the South bishop. The rest of it will go on. I cannot imagine why anyone would go to Miami to participate in that sham. This Synod will destroy the Diocese of the South yet.
UPDATE.2: Here’s the letter:
Dear Brothers,Originally as Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South I had scheduled a Special Assembly this month (July) in order for a candidate to be selected and proposed to us for canonical election to fill the vacancy of the archpastor of this widowed diocese.Two candidates to date were probably going to appear on the ballot and one name would be sent to us. Both are controversial in different ways. One Bishop Mark Maymon within the diocese due to some unfortunate incidences and the other outside of the diocese Fr Gerasim Eliel that several of you have indicated have serious questions or concerns.The problem is that one of them has never met any of us. Although there was a rudimentary vetting of Fr. Grasim a number of years ago but the make up of the Synod at that time was different than today and several of you have expressed serious concerns and have questions that they would like to have answered should his name be placed before us.Therefore I am postponing the special assembly and suggest that Fr Gerasim be invited to the Fall session of the Holy Synod so that he may be properly vetted by the current members of the whole Synod and answer any questions and address any concernsyou may have.In all fairness to us and to the Diocese of the South, we cannot expect the Synod to elect someone they do not know and further, should the special election take place now, and the name be unacceptable to the majority of the Synod members, this would then place us in the precarious position of “appointing” an arch pastor who either may or may not be known to the diocese. In effect the diocese would have forfeited there election process. This is something that cannot and should not occur as we, both the synod and the diocese choose a successor to Archbishop Dmitri, of Blessed memory.+ NIKON