First of all, I want to thank everybody for the kind words regarding the recent passing of my father-in-law. The obituary I wrote didn’t do him justice. Fortunately, his eternal salvation is not dependent upon my foolish words. He stands before the True Judge who alone knows his faith and works. If I could prove to be one-half the man he was then I’ll be fortunate indeed.
This has been a busy month for me and my family. Before my father-in-law’s passing, my sons and I went on a much-needed vacation to the United Kingdom. I’m going to be writing my thoughts about the Sceptered Isle in due time (hopefully with pictures and commentary). For now, let me just say that it was a glorious time and I have a lifetime of memories.
Anyway, while I was away attending to personal business, we found out that the OCA has some real bishops. I truly believe that the tide has turned and the bullying that His Beatitude has been subjected is finally going to come to an end. The recent actions by Bishop +Matthias show us the way a real bishop acts when the Gospel in his diocese is threatened. It gives me hope at least for the future of the OCA.
Are there going to be repercussions? Probably. For one thing, I don’t think that true administrative unity is going to happen anytime soon. Why do I say this? Because His Grace lanced the boil of “tolerance” and put an end to game-playing. He acted like a real bishop, something we haven’t been used to for a long time. Let me be plain: I don’t think that real unity can happen with the current crop of GOA “metropolitans.” For this, we should be thankful. Instead, we shall probably see ROCOR, the MP parishes, and the Antiochians seek ways to unite with the OCA. They’ve never been subjected to the Tyranny of Tolerance and now we in the OCA don’t have to either. On a certain level it pains me to see unification delayed for another generation but that’s OK. Many of us have long suspected that the entire Episcopal Assembly regime was nothing but a ruse by Istanbul to bring the American Church under its stranglehold. And we know that the present Phanariote regime –since at least the time of Meletius IV Metaxakis–has made its peace with the world.
Of course this is unfortunate but the loss of genuine creativity, the spiritual lethargy, and continued gamesmanship that presently characterizes the GOA since the repose of +Iakovos Coucouzis is plain to see. Of this, we’ll write more later. For now, we can say that until the largest of the jurisdictions puts their house in order, any unity would be half-hearted and doomed to fail. After all, we cannot forget that the persecution that is going to be visited on our Church will come from those who despise Tradition and speak in the name of Tolerance. We cannot have a Holy Synod that upholds immorality on the one hand and Orthopraxy on the other. “Dialogue” will always result in the expulsion of the resolute as we can see in the example of the Episcopalian Church. For now we can be glad that the Traditionalist vision of +Jonah appears to be prevailing in the OCA. It’s a start for a true American Orthodoxy and for this we can be thankful. But much more needs to be done.
We must remember that what started this unpleasant turn of events was the genuinely criminal, unethical, and immoral actions that Stokoe’s conspirators took in their attempt to remove a genuinely good man as Primate of our Church. For this we can’t blame OCANews alone. The first e-mail which detailed this illicit coup was written by Stokoe to three priests who chose not to repudiate its sinful intent upon its exposure. They must now give an account of their actions. Then there was the Chancellor of the Church, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to undermine His Beatitude. In this he was enabled by the Bishop of Pittsburgh who surreptitiously took over as Acting Chancellor and continued to keep this priest in place even though he was fired by the Holy Synod. Indeed, the entire central Chancery seems to have been complicit in one way or another. In addition, one of the bishops broke synodal confidentiality when he leaked +Jonah’s speech to OCANews. He must be identified and made to answer for his unethical and uncanonical behavior. Nor can we forget Bp Mark Maymon, who hacked into a former employee’s private e-mail account and gave the entire contents to OCANews, divulging private confidences between Fr Joseph Fester and several of his spiritual children.
The above are all ethically compromised men. Perhaps by corporate standards some may even be guilty of crimes. We’ll leave that to the lawyers. But what of Frs. Hopko and Oleksa, both of whom upheld the supposed veracity of OCANews? Fr Hopko himself did far worse when he all but branded the Metropolitan as clinically insane. Nothing criminal here but certainly unChristian acts unbecoming priests of God. Then there were certain priests who took the side of OCANews on this website. What do they have to say now?
As for OCANews I don’t believe that it will go quietly into that good night. Far from it. Let me interject here one more time that I cared not a whit for the alleged personal life of Mark Stokoe. (Although I must say that I am genuinely surprised to the extent that he became the focus of this entire scandal rather than +Jonah.) I can’t judge him because I am the chief of sinners. What I could judge was the clear conflict of interest that Stokoe exhibited by being both an anti-+Jonah jihadist and an administrator of the Church as well as the personal wreckage that he perpetrated on people who ran afoul of him. It is quite possible that by his actions he has set in motion the demolition of the entire Metropolitan Council but that’s a story for another day. In any event, we can all be grateful to Fr Alexander Webster who in his detailed ethics complaint pointed out the glaringly obvious. I fervently believe that OCANews will now feel emboldened to continue its cause in pursuit of a liberal, Episcopalianized Orthodox Church. The difference is that now it will have all the cache and credibility of a certain other hysterical website propagated by a genuinely strange deviant.
Does Stokoe still have his partisans on the Metropolitan Council and dare I say it, the Holy Synod? To a certain extent yes; after all, he is not the only person in the Church who has pursued Tolerance. Frs Bobosh, Arida, and Vinogradsky have clearly accepted this apologetic and have written eloquently in its favor. And then of course there’s Inga Leonova’s strange little group of immature wannabes. That being said, I never really believed that there was an episcopal “Appaled Four” but I do think that there is a Deceitful Duo that continues to hate His Beatitude and will work at every turn against him. And if nothing else his claimed knowledge of the past (going all the way back to the early 1990s) certainly will make some people in Syosset sleep fitfully at night. Well, too bad for them. This is what happens when you lie down with dogs. (Again I ask: is it too much to ask that we have moral men in positions of leadership?)
As for +Jonah, he certainly made mistakes. He will probably continue to do so. After all, he’s a human being. But one thing he won’t do is seek revenge. I certainly don’t seek revenge, however justice is another thing altogether. The people who engaged in these unChristian, immoral, and unethical actions should be removed from office and allowed to work out their repentance after they have made restitution to the Church.