Letters to the Editor: Stop Attacking HOCNA

A reader writes:
I am a priest in HOCNA. Let it be known that our church has no dealings with Bishop Gregory Lourie. His sharing in Communion at HTM was a mistake. I was assured it will never happen again. Please choose your words carefully when discussing sensitive ecclesiastic matters. There is always the danger that you will show someone in a poor light. What you say may be a lie, but the harm has been done when the information is printed as the truth. In the future, if you have anything to say about HOCNA, please confirm with the Holy Transfiguration in Brookline, Mass.

(Name Witheld: Editor)

Dear Father, 

Evlogite. We appreciate your letter and thank you for taking the time to write it. I am a bit confused as to why a story approaching a year old worries you. That said, there are a few things which I’d like to address quickly.

In the first place, we didn’t lie. We reprinted and reported on information about confusion sowed by soi-disant “Bishop” Gregory Lourie communing at HTM. That was not an accident or a mistake. We did not reprint much of the information we received, including a four page letter from a ranking priest of HOCNA denouncing, on behalf of himself and others, what was clearly a planned and largely unconsulted action on the part of the monastery in communing Lourie. 

Within a day of the first article being written, the Bishops of HOCNA issued a letter– which was then posted to NFTU as a comment on our old commenting system and then as an article— saying that they took no sides on the matter of name-worshipping, and that their original action, which was done with the goal of improving True Orthodox relations, was possibly ill-advised, justifying it on the basis that they made mistakes as did St Philaret and Abp Auxentios of Athens, a comparison which personally struck me–as the general editor and a former HOCNA parishioner– as incredibly arrogant. When most people make mistakes that scandalize the faithful they consider themselves among the ranks of the wrongdoers, not the saints.

Further, we received emails accusing a specific Bishop in HOCNA of having sympathy for Lourie. Having no documentation for such a claim we did not put up the story. We have at times been asked to report on issues which could have needlessly harmed others even though they had little practical value to our readers. We’ve declined. We do actually review our leads. 

We have reported positively on HOCNA before on NFTU, and we are glad to report good news from HOCNA– and have been since the site started. NFTU is not a place where we get into jurisdictional argument about who’s more right (with the exception of the open forum, which is a discussion forum). However, if something bad happens– and this policy is not exclusive to HOCNA– we report it if only because there aren’t any other True Orthodox news sources that are basically free to so report. I’ve had complaints about NFTU from members of at least five Synods I can think of off the top of my head, not including people in my own. That is outweighed from the compliments, thanks and notes of appreciation we each receive for trying to be balanced in a world where that doesn’t make you any friends.

A great quote from George Orwell recently making the rounds of the Internet came to mind when I read this letter: Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.” I can only say that when people who have a rank and station that puts them in the public view and public record, such as say, a priest of a large parish, or say, a Bishop, they are usually watched and evaluated publicly. As they say, please don’t shoot the messenger.

Thank you again for writing. I hope that this has helped clarify in terms of how we do reporting in controversial cases and I apologize for causing any offense or confusion.

Respectfully asking your prayers and blessing,
Dcn Joseph Suaiden, General Editor, NFTU 

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