In the article excerpted from below, Rod Dreher is writing specifically about the culture of the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore many of the points that he and the priests he quotes make do not apply to the Orthodox Church. However, to the extent that the problem is really about power, then any institution similarly constituted is similarly vulnerable to fostering an unhealthy culture of conformity and silence. This is why Fr. John Peck and I recommend that priests practice (or have the capability of practicing) tent-making. It is also why it is vital that a priest’s fundamental loyalty is to Christ and His Church; with dedication to the Church’s bishops being derived and dependent on that fundamental loyalty – not vice versa. Please note that the article is about how hard it is to speak out against an abusive culture (which is difficult and rarely worth the risk so is rarely done) NOT about how hard it is to speak out against uncanonical, illegal, or obviously immoral activities (which is difficult but everyone agrees should always be done!!!). As to the question of whether such coercion exists within Orthodoxy, glory to God that we have God-fearing bishops that support their priests! But if there really was a problem, please note that the indicators would mostly be …. silence. – Fr. Anthony Perkins
A huge part of the problem [of coerced silence/conformity – .ed] is priests are stuck in their career as priests. I realize “stuck” is a strange word here. But given our relatively low pay we don’t have the ability to move to another career should the difficulties as a priest become too grave. If you don’t have any other options, then the people in authority over you have quite a bit of coercive power. The bishop has financial power over you, spiritual power, power of assignment, power to suspend, power to send for psychological assessment, etc. Now ideally, if a bishop is righteous, this would all work out for the good of the priest. But what if he isn’t? Or what if the priests in his curia who are advising him are corrupt? If you are a priest in such a diocese what are you to do?
If you are in your 30s you might leave knowing you can start over, but if you are in your 50s? …
My point here is, given the backlash a priest knows he very likely will receive by exposing corruption, he will either have to be willing to put up with persecution for possibly the rest of his life or he has to be willing to leave the priesthood. This makes the stakes rather high. …
[Again, read the whole thing. – ed.]
About Rod Dreher
Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in St. Francisville, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.