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Response to Antonina Dunn

December 13, 2011M

Antonina Kemilev Dunn
783 Windermere Avenue,
Toronto Ontario
M6S 3M5 Canada

Dear Ms. Dunn,

I am writing to you in my capacity as Secretary of the Holy Synod and also on behalf of the Synodal Commission for the Investigation of the Allegations Against Archbishop Seraphim in order to respond to the questions you have raised in your letter of October 5, 2011.

First, I would like to thank you for your expressions of love and concern for Archbishop SERAPHIM. The members of the Holy Synod are also deeply concerned about their brother bishop and are praying for a resolution to this difficult situation. Several of your questions and concerns have, in fact, been addressed by the Holy Synod in a letter to the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese of Canada. We would ask you to refer to that letter, when it is published.

Following the suspension of Archbishop SERAPHIM, a Synodal Commission was appointed to investigate the allegations as well as to determine if the Church had responded properly in this matter. The Synodal Commission has been operational since January 2011, holding meetings by teleconference every two or three weeks. Contrary to what has been reported elsewhere, there has been only one change in membership. Fr. Richard Hawrish has been given the blessing to change his status from Commission member to consultant. The Holy Synod at its most recent meeting has blessed the assignment of Fr. Andrew Jarmus as Commission Member to replace Fr. Richard.

The Commission has reviewed whatever documents it has been able to locate and has conducted some interviews of people that have, or could have, knowledge of what transpired. The Synodal Commission is fully aware that not every person interviewed will have the same level of knowledge or credibility and it is another responsibility of the Commission to establish this as well.

In addition, progress in interviewing people has been hampered by the fact that the case is before the courts. Many people that the Synodal Commission would like to talk to are also witnesses in the legal proceedings and have been advised by their legal counsel not to talk about the case outside of court.

With regards to the lack of a public report, I believe you can appreciate that we are dealing with a very sensitive issue. The Synodal Commission believes that publishing anything that would constitute partial findings would be completely
inappropriate. In addition, it is the mandate of the Commission that the final report be made to the Holy Synod at the conclusion of its investigation.

I am sorry I cannot be more explicit, but this is the reality of this difficult situation. I would like to assure you, however, that the Holy Synod has not “already judged and condemned His Eminence Seraphim” as you state in your letter. Every action taken, whether it was the removal of his picture from the website or the needed distinction between private and Church funds used for the defense of His Eminence, was based on previous precedents within the Church and was also taken under the advice of legal counsel.

The Holy Synod is aware that many of its actions can be perceived as unfair or biased. It is not our intention to be so and we are continually reviewing the manner in which we respond to these matters so that our response is fair for all concerned.

We thank you for your love and concern for His Eminence, Archbishop SERAPHIM and for the Church and we pray that the Lord will continue to bless your good work.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Bishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania
Secretary of the Holy Synod
Chair of the Synodal Commission