The following is a statement from the AOA website itself. This coming from a place where reports keep coming out of threats of violence, et cetera et cetera. You have to applaud ocanews.org’s Mark Stokoe’s bravery in the face of the threats he’s dealt with. Still, what’s happening to him is instructive of what happens when you go against entrenched corruption. There is a fine line, though, in a situation like this: what do you do when you eventually find out that in your quest to root out corruption in the system– that the corruption is the system? Well, we wish him the best anyway of luck. Our question is: after reading this, what is Philip saying about Holy Cross’ priestly formation program? NFTU
…His Eminence indicated that the most important thing would be to train the students to be real pastors, and not to gossip and criticize the Metropolitan and the bishops. The primary goal of attending the seminary is to learn how to pray and to preach, but not to live in an ivory tower. He does not want the graduates to behave like “mini” theologians. [Not even “mini”?– NFTU]
His Eminence expects the OCA to put a stop to the attacks against him from Mark Stokoe on his website, especially in light of the fact that Mark Stokoe is a member of the Metropolitan Council of the OCA. He has made this request already and nothing has been done about it. He made it clear that if a member of the Antiochian Board of Trustees behaved in this way toward Metropolitan Jonah, His Eminence would remove that member immediately. He made it clear that the financial situation in the Antiochian Archdiocese is not similar to the financial situation that existed in the OCA. His Eminence said that this Archdiocese reports its income and expenditures in a financial report each year. The suggestion to conduct an audit was made at the convention, and this suggestion will be raised with the Board of Trustees. Someone needs to stop Mark Stokoe for the sake of the people of the Antiochian Archdiocese and other Orthodox jurisdictions who are greatly upset.
Fr. John Behr indicated that the Seminary is working on the issue of pastoral formation, and this work is ongoing, including applied theology and the need to refrain from criticizing the bishop. He reviewed some of the actions that are being taken, including changes to the curriculum that direct the Antiochian students receive training in Byzantine chant for all 3 years. They have increased the number of Antiochian services in the chapel. They are looking to the possibility of hiring a full-time faculty member to focus on these issues.
Mrs. Anne Mackoul indicated that they have been inviting bishops to spend more time on campus as a way of building a stronger relationship between the students and the hierarchs. His Eminence said that there may be some contribution from the fact that some of the students are coming from backgrounds which do not have a hierarchical structure, and they may not understand the concept. Fr. Chad Hatfield indicated that they will address the issue of social networking on the web at the upcoming student meeting for the first time.
Fr. John Behr said that they will be opening their own discussion group on the seminary website over the next few weeks pertaining to the postings of papers and other articles. They will be making a very strong statement about what behavior is allowed in terms of proper website etiquette.
His Eminence asked the seminary leadership to convey to Metropolitan Jonah our love for him and our brethren in the OCA, and also to convey how we feel about the Mark Stokoe situation. His Eminence made it very clear that he expects the OCA leadership and the seminary leadership to condemn the actions of Mark Stokoe, and to make it very clear that this type of behavior will not be tolerated, especially from a member of the Metropolitan Council of the OCA. The current situation with Mark Stokoe cannot contribute to any unity, but can only detract from the good relationship that we enjoy. We want to continue to build upon this very good relationship. His Eminence indicated that the Antiochian Archdiocese has the wherewithal to start a seminary, but why should we duplicate what already exists.