CHICAGO, IL [MW Diocese Communications] -- His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, presided at the meeting of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the Midwest at Christ the Savior Church here on Tuesday, February 19, 2013. Also attending the meeting were His Grace, Bishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania and His Grace, Bishop Alexander of Toledo and the Bulgarian Diocese.
At the outset of the meeting, Metropolitan Tikhon explained that he and the other hierarchs were present to listen to the Council members' concerns with regard to issues surrounding His Grace, Bishop Matthias of Chicago and the Midwest, who has been on a leave of absence since August 2012.
Each Diocesan Council member was asked to share his or her views on the matter. While there was no consensus among the members as to whether Bishop Matthias should return to active ministry within the Diocese, all of them agreed that the diocese was experiencing a division that must be healed and that the diocese was in need of episcopal oversight.
Archpriest John Zdinak, Chancellor and Temporary Administrator of the Diocese, reported that the Diocesan Deans also had met with Metropolitan Tikhon and Bishops Melchisedek and Alexander on Monday, February 18.
Bishop Matthias was invited to address the Council members, sharing his experience at a Georgia institution at which he underwent evaluations and counseling. He quoted from the evaluation’s summary report the following that, “the evaluation concluded that he [Bp. Matthias] was not a sexual predator, and we do not see him as a danger to the church in this regard.” The report indicated, and Bp. Matthias agreed, that he had crossed appropriate emotional boundaries. Bp. Matthias is voluntarily seeking additional counseling, chosen from a group of recommended therapists. He also spoke of his two week stay at Saint Tikhon's Seminary and Monastery, during which he consulted closely with His Grace, Bishop Mark of Baltimore. Bishop Matthias apologized to the Council for his actions and asked for everyone’s forgiveness, after which each Council member once again was asked to share his or her views on reaching a resolution.
In his closing remarks, Metropolitan Tikhon thanked the Council members and stated that he would share all that he had heard with the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops at their Spring 2013 Session.
In other matters, Priest Stephen Hrycyniak offered a preliminary report on efforts underway to explore alternatives to the current assessment system. At the November 2012 Diocesan Assembly, a motion was made to study the possibility of instituting a percentage-of-income-based method of funding. As a first step, Father Stephen reported that financial reports and data from one third of the diocese's parishes had been reviewed in detail. The remainder will be studied as data is received. Based on conclusions drawn, proposals will be presented at the Diocesan Assembly, slated to convene in Chicago in October 2013.
Council members also decided to designate one month in the fall as "Seminarians Month," during which funds to assist diocesan members studying in seminary would be collected. A three-person committee was established to develop an appeal that will be reviewed at the Council's next meeting.