KODIAK - The Orthodox Church in Alaska has appointed a new administrator to replace its bishop, who is on mandatory leave while church officials investigate allegations that he abused his office.
Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, was appointed for the diocese after the church ordered Bishop Nikolai Soraich to leave Alaska during the investigation.
"(Bishop Nikolai's) name is not to be elevated at any service and he has been released of all responsibilities in the administration of the diocese and St. Herman's Seminary," Metropolitan Herman, leader of the OCA in America and Canada wrote in a letter published on the church Web site.
Garklavs said he could not arrive in Alaska until Bishop Nikolai is gone, however, Bishop Nikolai refuses to leave. He said he will aid the investigation into the allegations by traveling and listening to members.
"There is no prejudgment on him, his character or his administration," Garklavs said. "Rather, I would say the church is attempting to investigate the situation in Alaska in an impartial and objective manner, which really cannot be done while Bishop Nikolai is in Alaska."
Garklavs said he hoped the situation would be resolved soon so that the church and its members can put this situation behind them.
"Churches are not exempt from problems that exist in the world and so we're here facing this difficult and painful situation," he said.
Bishop Nikolai did not immediately return calls for comment.