Jonah in His Own Words. AXIOS!

Metropolitan Jonah

Metropolitan Jonah

For anybody who’s ever doubted the mettle of His Beatitude and whether he understands what it means to be a true bishop, this speech forever put such doubts to rest. It is a breath of fresh air, given by a man who understands what is at stake; a man who has seen the Toxic Culture up close and personal, and who is not afraid to take it on.

AXIOS!

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This is a critical time of judgment for us as the OCA. Do we want a church that is led by the bishops, with advice from the clergy and lay. Or do we want a church controlled by the Metropolitan Council, its committees and officers, criticizing and marginalizing the bishops?

Do we want an all powerful chancellor who controls the Metropolitan, Synod, MC? Or do we want the Metropolitan to determine the policy with the Synod, advised by the Synod and his staff? Do we want a church controlled by a consistory, or by a Synod?

Even more so, are we going to permit the Church to continue to be torn apart by endless controversies, endless investigations and reports which destroy mutual trust? Are going to cede episcopal responsibility to self-appointed watchdogs, wolves without even a shred of sheep’s clothing, that have their own personal power as their sole agenda? Stirring up endless controversies where they can become the great saviours of the Church? Only Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the Church, and He did not operate this way. The entire Orthodox world is watching. The rest of the Church in North America is watching.

Our task is to take back the leadership of this Church. We are ordained for that. It is the task given to us by God. It is our responsibility before Him, and how we handle it will be the criterion of our judgment. For that to happen, we need a united Synod. We need to come together in real love, as true disciples of Jesus Christ, and freely debate one another, freely disagree and argue, until we come to a consensus we can all live with.

We must unite together under my leadership as the Metropolitan. Whether I like it or not, I am not going anywhere. You put me in this position, and it is your responsibility to support me in it. You are free to disagree, free to oppose me to my face. But it is unconscienceable, for the sake of the Church for us to undermine our episcopal leadership by gossip or tearing one another down to anyone. It is self-destructive, and leads to the paralysis we now see. Our disagreements must stay among ourselves, and we must present to the entire Church, and everyone in it, a basic image of unity. Because it is the unity of the Church that is at stake.

I am not in any way saying that I am without fault, or in anyway have not made numerous mistakes. I see my mistakes and misjudgments, my inaction regarding certain things, and my unadvised deliberate actions, and I try to learn from them.

It is not me, as an individual that is demanding this respect, but the office of the Metropolitan. And it is not only me, and my office that are being definitively challenged; it is the episcopacy itself. And with it, the Orthodoxy, never mind the autocephaly, of the OCA. We must stand together, and we must understand the calling God has given us as a Church and as bishops. We each have a unique responsibility within the life of the Church, mainly our dioceses. Only I as Metropolitan have the responsibility for this Church as a whole, in the face of God. And is my responsibility to bring about and foster the unity between us, as my office is the icon of that unity. “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. I alone here have the responsibility to intervene in other dioceses where there is disorder. Yet, we all bear together the responsibility to work with one another, to listen to one another, and to be respectful of one another. We need to protect each other’s backs, as well as their faces. Otherwise, what are we doing? What kind of bishops are we? What kind of Christians are we?

When I took office just over two years ago, three months out of the monastery, this Church was in shambles. Angry, hurt, disunited, distrustful. Over the past two years there has been a tremendous amount of healing. Now we are at a critical crossroads: the last major piece of business from the past two decades. We’ve gotten through the Kondratick lawsuits, the +Nikolai lawsuit, and the SIC, the STIC and other crises.

There is one thing left: a small group of people in and around the MC are determined to undermine the Metropolitan; and the very nature of the episcopal authority. There is a conspiracy of several people who believes the MC should control the Church, and the bishops: that brags that they unseated two metropolitans, and they plan to get a third. They believe the officers of the Church work for them, and in this case, it is true. In the canon law of the Church, conspiracy against a bishop is a deposable offense (4th ecumenical council, canon 18). Some of these people were involved in the SIC report, others in various committees of the MC. They are bullies, asserting their own will , motivated by their passions, and tearing down and destroying everyone who opposes them. They have to be stopped dead in their tracks, and removed from any position of influence in the OCA.

Chancellor Alexander Garklavs

First among them is the Chancellor, Alexander Garklavs. For a year and a half he has been working to undermine my episcopacy, through deceit, slander, bullying employees, lies and misrepresentations. He has used the committees of the MC as his sounding board to undermine me with the members of the MC, telling the Strategic Planning Committee that I am “destroying the OCA”, slandering me at the Board of Trustees Meeting of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, among a very few cases; and to top it all off, is this SMPAC Memorandum. This document is not about how I handled cases of sexual misconduct, but rather, about him, and his power. It is about how I did or did not consult him,. And where I did, he takes it and twists it, making me sound incompetent.

I am not in any way incompetent. I resent the allegation.

You could say it is about how we disagree about management style. He does not like my management style. But I am the bishop and he is not. If he does not want to conform to my style, and accept the level of responsibility that was delegated to him, he should resign as the only honorable thing to do. There have been multiple instances in which I should have simply fired him. That is my great regret. I hope reconciliation would change things. Instead, he used it to buy time against me to complete this slanderous document against me.

The Sexual Misconduct Committee was under my episcopal authority. I blessed their work, and in fact, encouraged it. It was the duty of the chancellor, as the chair of the committee, to keep me informed of every action of the committee. Instead, this was done entirely behind my back, as a way of discrediting me; not once did he let me know something like this was brewing. Loyalty? Trust? No: betrayal and absolute insubordination. He has destroyed every last shred of trust. Would you demand anything but loyalty in a relationship of mutual trust from your chancellors? Would you even imagine they would do anything like this to you? Ian McKinnon, or John Kowalczyk, or John Kreta, or Alexander Pichach? No, it is unthinkable.

This constant undermining, slander and deceit is what created a tremendously toxic atmosphere at the chancery. It is a scandal known world wide, and the great question is: Why have I not simply fired these people? How can I continue to tolerate their presence, working against me in my own chancery? What is wrong with the OCA that you tolerate such insubordination? Because the reality is, that he and some other members of the staff have gossiped and complained to anyone they spoke with, including bishops and staff of other churches and jurisdictions, not to mention members of the MC. Whether it is deserved or not, personally, it is entirely unprofessional and supremely destructive. But there is an underlying temptation that is the core of this whole demonic prelest: lust for power and beneath that, rejection of authority.

What is the authority of the Metropolitan in regards to his Chancery Staff? The OCA Statute is very unclear. But, the Human Resources guide to Policies and Procedures is very clear: The Metropolitan has complete authority over his staff, and can fire them “at will” and without any stated cause. This document is signed by every hire in the OCA Chancery, was submitted by the MC, and approved by the Holy Synod. There is not a single word, in the Statute or the Policy Manual, about appeal to the Synod. I only granted it (Garklav’s scheduled appearance before the Synod the following day) for the sake of the unity of the Synod, no other reason. The officers are my stavropegial priests under the episcopal authority of the Metropolitan. They are my priests in my diocese, who owe me respect and obedience of any priest to his bishop. It is true their ministries have a broader scope, affecting the whole; thus they bear far greater responsibility than most to maintain a professional and Christian attitude. In this we have massive failure, insubordination and betrayal that has been going on for a year and half and now is bringing the Church to the brink of another scandal, based on lies and innuendo – for the sake of Garklav’s remaining in power. This must end by tomorrow.

You must support me in demanding Garklav’s resignation, for the sake of the good of the Church, and for the sake of maintaining some shred of the authority of the episcopacy in this church. It is the authority of the Metropolitan that he is challenging, by his appeal. But it also the authority of a bishop over a priest for whom he is responsible that is challenged. I should call him in and accept his resignation, without explanations, as a matter of supporting hierarchical authority. I do not want vengeance: I will give him a severance package and assign him to a nice parish, with a somewhat comparable salary ( though that will be difficult), if he resigns. If we do not demand his resignation, we are committing ecclesiastical suicide.

There is the further question of the authority of the Metropolitan vis-a-vis the Synod, in relation to the officers of the Church. While the Statute is vague, it only says that the Synod appoints the officers, after recommendation by the MC. The whole question of the officers is vague in the Statute. Whom do they work for? At least in the Policies guide, it is absolutely clear: they work for the Metropolitan, as his staff. Not for the Synod; and not for the MC; though they interface with both. By Synodal approval, those policies have the same effect as the Statute.

This issue is not just about me. This is about you, because you are next, if we not stop this whole process in its tracks.

SMPAC Memorandum

The SMPAC Memorandum is a monument to the dysfunctional relationship between the Metropolitan and the Chancellor, and little else. It is a purely political document, aimed at discrediting me. It is all about the power and authority of the chancellor, and how the Metropolitan has not submitted to the chancellor. And most of it is a twisted subversion of the truth. It begins by flattery of the Synod, and then becomes an essay of disrespect of the authority of the Metropolitan. In tearing down the Metropolitan, it also undermines the authority of the Episcopacy. Using false information and twisted facts, it disseminates mistrust in the Metropolitan, his office and the bishops. There is not one instance of actual violation of policies or the Sexual Misconduct guidelines cited. Nor is there even one violation of the canons cited. Rather, it is impressions and opinions, but no actual facts. There is no evidence brought forth. I supply the evidence and most of the letters quoted in my response, and they do not support the Memo’s allegations. There are disagreements evidence, but they are about management style. Is the Metropolitan supposed to conform to the chancellor and submit to him, or is it the other way around. The canons specify the latter.

As to the impressions and opinions, I have had little personal contact with most the Sexual Misconduct Committee members that signed this letter. Where would they get such information about personal reactions that they could form such opinions? It was almost entirely through Garklavs. Every piece of information came through him, and my reaction or response was conveyed through him, and interpreted to them.

I did not want to interfere in their work: I thought they were competent professionals, and I did not interfere when their mission morphed from revising guidelines to an investigative oversight committee. I was also advised to keep investigations at arms length. My administrative style is to leave what requires professional knowledge and experience to the professionally competent. I certainly misjudged this one.

This Committee was under my authority, and this report was compiled secretly, behind my back. That is insubordination. Transparency? Accountability? Absolutely none. It was the responsibility of the Chancellor to not only let me know how my actions were being interpreted, but to inform me of the necessary steps to explain my actions. Would you demand anything less of your chancellors? He failed in that, and in fact, nurtured these misperceptions for his own reasons, and to his own perceived benefit. This is complete betrayal of trust, and of his basic responsibility to support the Metropolitan, rather than tear him down.

As Metropolitan, I definitively reject this report, and seeking the support of the Holy Synod, demand its retraction and consign it to permanent confidentiality.

The Metropolitan Council and the Cabal

The Metropolitan Council is a body that has as its primary statutory responsibility to care and provide for the financial support of the central church administration, but also to create and support charitable institutions. It needs to be confined to these essential tasks, and stop trying to run the Church. I have had several members tell me that the Synod needs to take back the leadership of the Church. The MC is to carry out the decisions of the AAC, and assist the Synod and Metropolitan in doing so; but it is not and does not have the authority of the AAC.

There is a small group that has been around a long time, which has a congregationalist idea of the Church; that it should be controlled by the MC and its committees, and all other functionaries including bishops are subordinate to it. It is a false idea of conciliarity. This came as a result of the abrogation of the responsibility by the previous Metropolitan and the Synod, where the MC stepped in to fill the power vacuum. My assertion of episcopal and canonical authority within the church is creating great opposition within this group. It is for this reason, I think, that they are mustering their forces against me, to try to force me to resign and take a leave. I will not. They want someone they can manipulate, who will submit to them, and like Theodosius, be so weak every word is scripted and every appearance stage managed, with the chancellor running the real show. At least they made Theodosius look good; me, they have trashed. But in the end, especially if he has some kind of will, they would throw him out as well.

There is the idea being put forth that the officers and the MC members are equal with the bishops and should have equal authority. After all, the officers make more money than the Metropolitan ( and can cut his salary without even the courtesy of informing him, much less his consultation), so they are his superiors, to whom he must submit.

The MC works so hard, and the bishops must be compelled to obey these committees and their reports. The Metropolitan must be accountable to the Chancellor and the MC, not they to him. The bishops must submit. This is an old demon, the spirit of congregationalism, which has afflicted this church for a century. We have to exorcise this demon. Otherwise, it will destroy the OCA.

In short, we have a conspiracy with an agenda that will destroy the Church. We cannot live through another scandal. If their agenda goes forward, the OCA will become more a isolated and marginalized in the Orthodox world until everyone leaves. We cannot live outside the Orthodox Church. Underlying this is a very bitter subtext, the gay agenda, which demands one type of moral code for clergy, another for the laity accepting that agenda. I will not stand for this.

This group is a bunch of bullies, who are willing to use any means to advance their agenda and rip apart their enemies. First among these means is the internet, and Mr. Stokoe’s ocanews.org. Through intimidation and the threat of exposure, of, for example, this supposedly confidential document — they try to manipulate the bishops and Metropolitan. How often do we hold back on a decision wondering how it will be spun on ocanews.org? And what would be the reaction of the general parishoners, as they find another metropolitan being dragged through the mud?

How many of us have been bullied by this threat of exposure? How many of us have been manipulated by fear of the media? Several of us have been bullied and abused by bishops. We need to put this kind of abuse of the Church behind us. It destroys our self-confidence. But it also puts us in a state of fear, and being subject to intimidation. Somehow, this must be exposed, and the people dismissed from service.

All this is really a distraction from the real work to which we are called. We are not dealing with evil people, but people in prelest from the demons.

We must give the MC a charter as to what to do, and reign them in on the things which they are off base on. God knows we need development work.

We must redefine the office of chancellor, as the old models do not work. We need an auxiliary bishop to have that position of support to the Met.

Much more than all this, we need to focus on the future, on the AAC, and what message we want to put out, how to rally the faithful, and convey the fact that the real life of the Church, the parishes and dioceses, are doing very well, and that there is great hope for the future.

Comments

  1. Ian James says:

    AXIOS +Jonah!

    This group is a bunch of bullies, who are willing to use any means to advance their agenda and rip apart their enemies. First among these means is the internet, and Mr. Stokoe’s ocanews.org. Through intimidation and the threat of exposure, of, for example, this supposedly confidential document — they try to manipulate the bishops and Metropolitan. How often do we hold back on a decision wondering how it will be spun on ocanews.org? And what would be the reaction of the general parishoners, as they find another metropolitan being dragged through the mud?

    The Leaked Email Implicating Stokoe

    Stokoe and cohorts conspired from the beginning to throw +Jonah out. The proof is the email leaked to +Tikhon: The fix was in from the beginning.

    Stokoe used his blog to drive public opinion against +Jonah. Proof: Read Stokoe’s “press release” that came out the day after Stokoe’s group tried to commit +Jonah to a rehab facility. Look at the first two paragraphs. Then look at the third paragraph on down. The first two are contemporaneous. The third on down was prepared beforehand. Stokoe’s “reporting” was clearly part of the plot revealed in the leaked email. (February 25, 2011)

    When +Jonah refused to go into a rehab facility the plan threatened to unravel. Stokoe doubled down:

    SYNOD MINUTES REVEAL DECISION:+JONAH “ON LEAVE” (March 1, 2011);

    +Jonah Pushes Back (March 2, 2011)

    +Jonah Goes Rogue (March 5, 2011)

    Look at how Stokoe tried to portray +Jonah as unstable. Look at the words he used to describe +Jonah. Stokoe and cohorts lost that round despite Stokoe’s Herculean efforts at yellow journalism.

    Members of the original hit team identified in the email leaked to +Tikhon are: Mark Stokoe, Robert Solodow, John M Reeves, Faith Skordinski. They have yet to be called to account.

    Stealing Fr. Fester’s Emails

    Next up is stealing Fr. Fester’s emails with +Maymon. Stokoe said he had confidential sources but then Maymon confessed to stealing the emails. Now we know that Stokoe and Maymon were collaborating since Stokoe’s war against +Phillip. Screenshots provided by Fr. Fester show the emails were forwarded directly from Fester’s Gmail account to Irongate Reality where Stokoe works. Stokoe knew the emails were stolen but published them anyway.

    Also in Stokoe’s possession are the private comments of people who confided to Fr. Fester that were contained in the stolen emails. The Stokoe – Maymon collaboration has created an ethical breach as wide as the Grand Canyon. Essential presumptions of confidentiality were violated. Maymon is being called to account for this. Stokoe has not.

  2. JDWatton says:

    Supposedly this speech is from the Santa Fe retreat in February 2011. Is it? Was it ever actually delivered? Or did it exist only as notes on a computer or an email exchange with +Jonah’s advisers? I find it incredible that HB could read this speech and then at the same Santa Fe retreat somehow be talked into the Leave of Absence. It doesn’t make sense, something is missing. To me this speech makes more sense as one prepared for Chicago – after the MC cabal and Mr. Stokoe’s personnel home life details emerged.

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

      Why not ask His Beatitude if he did deliver this speech?

      • Tiresia says:

        My guess is he gave it to his brother bishops in written form and asked them to consider it. However, judging from the events in Chicago, it does not appear, for the present, to have the desired effect.

        Tiresias

        • Doesn't Matter says:

          Someone reading and commenting here must have easy access to their bishop by telephone and can ask a simple question that should yield a simple answer – was this speech delivered by the metropolitan orally or in written form to the synod in Santa Fe?

          • Does it matter? 🙂

            • Doesn't Matter says:

              Yes, it is important that someone on the synod corroborate the claim that this speech/letter was originally delivered by the metropolitan, that it is neither a fabrication nor an undelivered draft. It is important that at least one member of the synod admit that he heard/read the metropolitan’s words above, so that we may conclude that he decided for himself that the best response to the metropolitan’s allegations was what we’ve seen come out of the last two synod meetings. So far, the synod benefits from diffusion of responsibility. I’d like to poll the jury.

              • you missed the funny . . .

                • No, I didn’t. I caught it on both levels. I’ve just exhausted my sense of humor watching this checkers match between OCA bishops play out (as well as the chess match between patriarchs taking place in the background). At first, you have to laugh or cry. Then there isn’t anything to laugh about. Then you’re all cried out and numb. Then Liturgy looks like empty ritual. Then you walk away because, no, it doesn’t matter.

                  • Didn’t intend for you to change your name. But if you must, how about Eeyore? Sure it requires a sense of humor, but that might do you some good in the long run.

                    • I changed it because I got tired of typing out the long version, especially after I saw that two letters worked just as well for another more distinguished commenter. But thanks for noticing me.

    • Geo Michalopulos says:

      JD, wondering the same thing myself. I think MS really screwed the pooch on this one. Basically, it makes +Jonah look really good and courageous. I wonder if any of the bishops would disavow anything he says in it.

      Regardless, MS’s commentary is a really obvious, lame attempt to somehow make HB look bad. In reading it, one should imagine the narrator is Vincent Price and sinister organ music is played in the background. Something from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

      • Perhaps it was a strategic mistake.

        Or perhaps he knows how weak (small in number, confused, compromised, unfocused, and disorganized) his enemy truly is.

        Remember, his side has a single ultimate objective. This makes it easy to mobilize large numbers of people quickly. He just sent out the marching orders: Jonah must go. Ninety percent of his base understands clearly and agrees passionately.

        The rest of you have as many objectives as you have people, and even the most talented among you are greenhorns. All he has to do is drive a wedge between the 1/3 who are against him and the 1/3 who are undecided, then enlist about half of the undecideds temporarily, just long enough to win this one battle. He might be over-confident; but from what I’ve observed, the odds are in his favor.

    • Met. Jonah’s words about firing Fr. Garklavs lead me to believe it was indeed delivered in Santa Fe, or at least this copy was written for it.

      The most likely source for the text is Fr. Fester’s email. I can imagine a handful of associates and friends who Metropolitan Jonah would probably send it to, and I can imagine a handful of people who would be willing to send a private speech of the Metropolitan’s to Mark Stokoe, but the two groups don’t really overlap. Considering how incredibly not damning this speech is, though, it’s possible that whoever sent it to Stokoe may have done so in order to support +Jonah.

      Sadly, it doesn’t look like a lot of Stokovites are listening. They call His Beatitude “desperate,” “sad,” “paranoid”, and “power hungry”… were they reading the same speech? I can see sad, maybe even a little desperate, but I think the sadness and desperation are because the inmates have taken over the insane asylum and are calling their doctor the crazy one.

  3. I would just like to mention that while Stokoe was preparing his latest salvo, Metropolitan Jonah was doing this.

    There are plenty of new comments on OCAN lauding Stokoe for his “service”, but it’s easy for me to see who’s really been serving the Church all along.

    • Eleni Palmos says:

      Thank you.

      What is it – exactly – that is Stokoe’s claim to fame, ministry-wise?

      How did he get on MC in the first place? What was his great spiritual service to the Church? Syndesmos does not cut it, as an achievement, sorry.

      I have over 16 years volunteer service to the Church – in Greece, in Jerusalem and in the US. This is why my first question burns me to ask. In the years that I have been reading ocanews.org, what Orthodox ministry (not administrative) he serves, or ever served is unclear. How did he serve youth? Did he teach? Organize excursions? What was it?

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

        I would like to know that as well.

        • Uh…..Who, in their right mind, would promote and hire a young gay man to be the National Youth Director of the Church?

          Oh. Never mind.

  4. Ivan Vasiliev says:

    When was this speech given? If it was during the February Politiburo meeting, then we all know how things ended. If it was given later, then it looks like His Beatitude may not be quite finished off by the apparatchiks on the Metropolitan Soviet and their toadies in the Politburo. (I never thought I’d be using those well worn Leninist terms again, but it goes to show you that though the USSR may have died on the Eurasian continent, it has experienced something of a (pitiable) resurrection in our good old OCA).
    Timing makes all the difference.

    • Geo Michalopulos says:

      That’s a very good point, Ivan. Still, I think the words speak for themselves. Clearly, this is not an insane or “gravely troubled” man as Fr. Hopko fantasized.

      If I were +Jonah, I would make speeches like this regularly. Besides being an excellent polemic against the Stokovite vision of the Church, it’s a starting point to address cultural issues.

  5. Matt Redard says:

    Stokoe founders on reality . . .

    • I read Metropolitan Jonah’s statement twice. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out which parts are improper or unbecoming of a Metropolitan of the OCA. I felt like I wanted to stand up at my computer and clap at the end. I’m scratching my head on why Stokoe posted this..

      • Tiresia says:

        Why would Mr. Stokoe post this? To stir the pot; to give his website the look appearance of fairness, accuracy and completeness. To build his case that ++Jonah was paranoid and that he was compelled after all to accept the desired leave of absence and was without power or conviction to refuse it. Just a few possibilties . . .

        Tiresias

        • Call it code if you will, but the message is crystal clear to those who care: Gay rights are on the line.

          The cry is not ‘axios’ but: Andele!

          You’ve already had a foretaste, but this is where you see logic, reason, conventional ethics, and any pretense of fair play abandoned in pursuit of the one true cause. Nothing but nothing will stand in the way.

          War is hell … but there is no avoiding it now. It has been officially declared.

          So it begins … My heart goes out to you all.

      • Jane Rachel says:

        Because a lot of people are so completely convinced he can’t do wrong that they will believe anything and everything he says and disregard everything else. It makes no difference what the truth is. None whatsoever. What truth? Mark’s truth is the only truth. He gives us two links, as if to say, “To be fair and open and honest, here is a link to a version without spin, and after you’re done reading that, go back and read the one with my spin and then decide what I say.”

        • colette says:

          Yep that’s right. It’s sick. And he’s laughing at us all. Mark doesn’t give a rip what he does to the Church or what he does to individuals. And yet he writes on . . . .

    • Tiresia says:

      Ah be he still sits on the MC along with a numbe of his “partners in crime” . . .

      Tiresias

  6. This was the Sante Fe report of the Metropolitan. But how did a private report by Jonah get into the hands of Mrs Stokoe-Brown?

    Could it be Stokoe’s boy, Maymon? He fed Stokoe the information on +Philip, he stole Fester’s emails and he turned on Jonah in Santa Fe, the stolen emails prove that. And this man travels the DOS and really thinks he can be our bishop.

    In any case this Synod no matter who leaked it to Stokoe is without honor. They should all step down.

    • Antonia Colias says:

      For that matter, how did the speech get “into the hands of” this blog ??

      Only if it is public record text, accessible by any individual through publicly-available, non-blog channels, is it licit for me to read.

      • Tiresia says:

        Antonia, I’m presuming George got this off of OCANews, which made it public. The question then is how it ended up there. Someone on the Synod must have provided to Mr. Stokoe . . .

        Tiresias

        • Antonia Colias says:

          Thanks, Tiresias. My viewpoint remains that if a grubby website (e.g. OCA”News”) purloins information, it is equally irresponsible to repost it elsewhere. OCA”News” is a blog for personal opinions, as is this website.

          • I take your point, Antonia, but once Stokoe posted the speech, there was no putting the toothpaste back in the tube. It’s out now, and we might as well deal with it.

          • Antonia Colias says:

            I appreciate that some took time to answer my post. I’ll stand with what I wrote, though. We could have read the wrongly-obtained information at the original cesspool, and that location would suffice.

            Rational discussion of the topic is, of course, appropriate. (Discussion which includes correct titles for priests, bishops, and laypeople. The playground rhetoric of some posts here and everywhere on the Internet presents American Orthodox people as puerile, and not a group to take seriously.)

      • A cut and paste from Mrs Stokoe-Brown’s site.

        • Two earnest requests:

          (1) Please stop with the “Mrs.”

          (2) Please stop with the “Stokoe-Brown”

          Reasons: proper decorum, charity, it causes one and one’s affiliates to look ignorant, it distracts from one’s message, and it does not benefit anyone.

      • George Michalopulos says:

        Antonia, I will answer this way: at least I did not steal this speech or otherwise hack into somebody else’s personal e-mail OK, enough sarcasm, it was a private speech given by HB to the members of the HS in Santa Fe, one of whom decided to turn it over to his overlord, Mark Stokoe, the Ober-prokurer of the OCA.

    • Pox on All Houses says:

      Could it be Stokoe’s boy, Maymon? He fed Stokoe the information on +Philip, he stole Fester’s emails and he turned on Jonah in Santa Fe, the stolen emails prove that. And this man travels the DOS and really thinks he can be our bishop.

      It does have that peculiar reek.

  7. Carl Kraeff says:

    Interesting that two conservatives like George and I would look upon this very revealing presentation by the Metropolitan in two diametrically opposed ways. No wonder the Synod put him on leave… No wonder Father Hopko wrote his letter… It must be bitter for many to see that Mark Stokoe has been vindicated once again–this time by the Metropolitan himself. Axios! indeed for all of the bishops of the Holy Synod.

    • Mark from the DOS says:

      Carl,

      What specifically are you upset about in the speech?

      Do you support Bishop Mark to be the next bishop of the DOS?

    • Tiresia says:

      A curious, but not particularly illuminating, comment, Carl.
      What, after all is a “conservative”? and how exactly are you one?
      And what are the statements in this document attributed to ++Jonah to which you (as a “conservative”) take exception?

      Tiresieas

      • Tiresias says:

        George,

        I see a slew of my comments–dashed off all-too-hurriedly this morning–are “awaiting moderation.” No wonder, I am apparently dactylographically challenged and, in addition to a number of other typos, can’t even spell the pseudonym right–and no it wasn’t intended to make it look like was another participant here and puff the numbers. Just lazy and dyslexic fingers.

        To you, George, and to all, my apologies. I’ll try to proceed more carefully in the future, proof, and avoid errors that cause confusion. Oh, that I could fix them now . . .

        Such mistakes do have this merit: they bring shame-faced humility to the who made them.

        Tiresias

    • Geo Michalopulos says:

      Carl, what exactly is in this speech that shows +Jonah to be insane? Please quote the offending passages verbatim, then apply the commentary afterwards.

      An example would be something like this:

      A. “I am Metropolitan +Jonah and I’m wonderful.” [Commentary: “he’s an egomaniac.’]

      Not:

      B. “I have been elected to be your Metropollitan…” [Commentary: “I’m the be-all and end-all of existence.]

      In other words Carl, please try to stay as close as possible to model “A”, not “B”.

      I thank you in anticipation of your efforts.

      • Carl Kraeff says:

        I will try to “flesh out” my issues with +Jonah’s presentation.

        First, I should answer the question about my self-proclaimed conservative credentials. Politically, I have been so ever since I can remember (Bill Buckley type). I also signed the Manhattan Declaration and am a life-long Republican. In religion, I like the Paris School (Father Schmemann in particular) with the emphasis on Holy Tradition with a capital T. I am in the OCA, attending a very traditional DOS congregation. I am an ardent advocate for an autocephalous Church in North America, that is, one that is not an appendage to foreign bishops in foreign lands.

        My objections to the Metropolitan’s presentation is multi-faceted. First, it is easy to appear courageous when one is attacking easy to attack straw horses. I will give couple of examples, with the first from the very start of the speech.

        1. He said “This is a critical time of judgment for us as the OCA. Do we want a church that is led by the bishops, with advice from the clergy and lay. Or do we want a church controlled by the Metropolitan Council, its committees and officers, criticizing and marginalizing the bishops?” First, this OCA has never been, is not, nor shall ever be controlled by the MC, its committees and officers. Second, the Holy Scriptures and the canons make it very clear that if criticism is warranted, it should be made. I find in this straw horse a strong whiff of clericalism and monarchical hierarchy gone amok. The Church is indeed hierarchical, as Father Alexander of thrice-blessed memory forcefully argued. But, unlike any other Orthodox Church, our OCA is uniquely conciliar, per its Statute that was based on the model that Saint Tikhon and fellow reformers had been working on 1917.

        2. Later he continued to attack this non-existant problem by saying ” There is a small group that has been around a long time, which has a congregationalist idea of the Church; that it should be controlled by the MC and its committees, and all other functionaries including bishops are subordinate to it. It is a false idea of conciliarity. There is the idea being put forth that the officers and the MC members are equal with the bishops and should have equal authority. This is an old demon, the spirit of congregationalism, which has afflicted this church for a century. We have to exorcise this demon. Otherwise, it will destroy the OCA.” Please note that I do not see a paranoid making these statements; I never used the word “insane,” George did. Again, IF what +Jonah said were true, the argument would make sense. But, I do not know of anyone, to include the much-maligned Stokoe, who has ever believed in thinking that they are the equals of bishops.

        Second, the presentation aims to rewrite the canons and the OCA constitution. I am not saying that we, as a local church, cannot revise our own statute and establish our own canonical interpretations. The problem I see here is that +Jonah is trying to do so by fiat, without regard to due process (another one of those pesky conservative principles, eh George?) having disregarded the Apostolic Canon 34’s requirement for consensus, he is now trying to overturn it by arguing that what he had done was perfectly acceptable. Sounds like poor argumentation and deeply dishonest. His arguments also have the acrid odor of pretentions unbecoming an Orthodox bishop because he seems to be saying that the Metropolitan is a super bishop of sorts. He said: “We each have a unique responsibility within the life of the Church, mainly our dioceses. Only I as Metropolitan have the responsibility for this Church as a whole.” I guess he must have been absent the day that they explained the roles and responsibilities of the Holy Synod. Unbelievable!

        Third, his attack on Father Garklavs diminishes not the target but +Jonah himself. He said “For a year and a half he has been working to undermine my episcopacy, through deceit, slander, bullying employees, lies and misrepresentations. He has used the committees of the MC as his sounding board to undermine me with the members of the MC, telling the Strategic Planning Committee that I am “destroying the OCA”, slandering me at the Board of Trustees Meeting of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, among a very few cases; and to top it all off, is this SMPAC Memorandum. This document is not about how I handled cases of sexual misconduct, but rather, about him, and his power. It is about how I did or did not consult him,. And where I did, he takes it and twists it, making me sound incompetent.” Well, if the shoe fits dear Metropolitan, please wear it! This is a very skewed view of the Father, who received a standing ovation at the Chicago meeting–the proof of the pudding, that is, evidence of highest order that the members of the Holy Synod and of the Metropolitan Council all disagreed with the Metropolitan’s depiction of Father Garklavs as a knave.

        Fourth, and this is the thing that irks me the most, is +Jonah’s resort to formal authority in lieu of personal authority. He started with such promise, having more personal authority than any other bishop and more than the past two metropolitans. He has squandered all of that personal authority (except of course amongst a handful of his supporters on this site and elsewhere). Tragic and entirely due to his incompetence, which he can resent all that he wants but remains true.

        Fifth, he said “The SMPAC Memorandum is a monument to the dysfunctional relationship between the Metropolitan and the Chancellor, and little else. It is a purely political document, aimed at discrediting me. It is all about the power and authority of the chancellor, and how the Metropolitan has not submitted to the chancellor. And most of it is a twisted subversion of the truth…As Metropolitan, I definitively reject this report, and seeking the support of the Holy Synod, demand its retraction and consign it to permanent confidentiality.” When I read this, I must admit that I thought for a split second that this is how the paranoid mind expresses itself. Upon further reflection, I think that +Jonah has a thin skin and may be concentrating a bit much on himself, his authority and his comfort. In any case, he is completely wrong on this report and the functions of the committee that he himself set up. The committee’s mission included review and critique of all Church officers who have a part in accordance with the policy. That includes the Metropolitan. Now, if the review found problems with his compliance with the official policy of the Church, the Committee could not have given it to the Metropolitan for his edit or for further distribution. It is plainly wrong for the Metropolitan to claim otherwise.

        The bottom is this: +Jonah has acted as if he is above the very same canons and OCA statute and policies that he swore to abide by. We should all expect any person in the Church, no matter his rank, to respect the source documents and not to act capriciously. After all, we are all supposed to accoding to His will not our own.

        • Nick Katich says:

          Carl: To quote my friend George, if I might, “Axios”! Well put.

        • Mark from the DOS says:

          Carl, thank you for taking the time to lay out your opinions. I guess I just read the speech and perceive it differently. To your points:

          1. I view the example of the DOW resolution as exactly the kind of thing that Met. Jonah warns off. If we can’t force a bishop out, we can control him by confining him by rule and budget to the point of irrelevance.

          2. I have clearly read commenters on OCA News urging the MC to put the HS or Metropolitan Jonah in check; to reign them in; to set policy for the church. That strikes me as exactly what Jonah warns against. I do not read the speech as seeking to personally reinterpret or amend the statutes. I see it as seeking consensus amongst his fellow bishops. He does not declare any fiats or issue and personal amendments to the statute. The speech exhorts the Synod to action. You know, that old Apostolic Canon 34 that everyone says is being violated, but can’t seem to point to anything concrete as an example.

          3. Why did the Holy Synod ask for and receive Fr. Garklav’s resignation?

          4. Regarding the SMPAC report, I haven’t seen it and I gather you haven’t either, so I don’t know how any of us can comment on +Jonah’s characterizations of the report.

          5. I think you are right that Metropolitan Jonah has thin skin. Maybe it has been worn down over time. But being a poor administrator does not strike me has grounds for deposition, removal or consignment to the loony bin.

          Metropolitan Jonah has strong opinions and he voices them. This has clearly rankled some people. Others seem not to be bothered by it. I frankly just don’t see anything in that speech, or anything that has been printed since February that justifies Stokoe’s three month cyber-tantrum. If he could just once provide a balanced report, I might be able to take him more seriously. However, his agenda is so obvious, and the personal nature of his campaign is so strident, I can’t take a word he write seriously when that is my source of news . . .

          • Nick Katich says:

            Mark from the DOS (Disk Operating System?< I presume):

            The three month "cybertrantum" has been criticized here for long gaps in silence. Let's be fair and charitable. There have been more posts and reponses here than there over the last three months. Can't eat your cake and have it too. See. I got the sequence of eat and have right. Most get it wrong: i.e. have and eat, which makes no sense in English.

            • Mark from the DOS says:

              Yes but how broad is the audience and how loud is the screaming? Most every comment I read here admit that Metropolitan Jonah has his faults. By contrast, on OCANews, one would be hard pressed to find a suggestion that he has any redeeming qualities.

              • Nick Katich says:

                Mark Disc Operating System: The loud screaming here is a paltry handful as is the loud screaming on OCAN as is the loud screaming on OCANT. We are a bunch of blog-junkies. Nothing more and nothing less.

                • colette says:

                  You’d be wrong about that. You don’t realise the things that are brewing because of all the chat on the blogs. People are creative and when pushed, as we have been pushed, will come up with surprising ideas and leadership. The very few on these blogs (as you say) don’t keep the ideas on these blogs to themselves.

        • Geo Michalopulos says:

          Carl, thank you for being balanced about this. I’m under a time constraint at present so I will only take issue with your first point for now. The OCA is now, and has been for quite awhile, very much controlled by the MC. That is obvious from the fact that their boy, Garklavs, still has his job, even though the HS fired him. This is not a minor quibble but demolishes your point.

          That would be no different than your boss firing you and you still showing up for work, drawing a paycheck, and writing internal memos saying what a terrible person he is.

          • Nick Katich says:

            George: I disagree. The MC has been castrated for a long time.

            • George Michalopulos says:

              Yeah, Nick, I see that. So explain to me how Garklavs still has his job. I’m not following the logic there.

              • Nick Katich says:

                George: If the MC had not been castrated, Herman would not have been,

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                  There are very clearly e-mails that not only strongly suggest, but make it quite evident that a scheme or plan was in place, by members of the MC, to remove Met. Jonah. The e-mails are very clear. However, I can stand corrected in failing to see a plot by the MC to remove Met. Jonah, but you have to address the contents of those e-mails and their plans to place Met. Jonah on either a leave or to to make a motion of no cofidence in the Metropolitan.

                  It was only Met. Jonah’s actions, along with others on the internet, that stopped these plans from removing the Metropolitan or placing him on an extended leave. These e-mails have always been the smoking gun, but no one comments on them. I find that very interesting.

                  Further, if Met. Jonah was not removed, but now he has been , “apparently,” limited in power. I would disagree with this because this has just set up the overall battle at the AAC.

                  This is all so sad. Why can no one just check their egos for a moment for the good of the Gospel? Pride truly cometh before the fall. Jonah is your metropolitan NOT a super-bishop. Jonah is your episcopal leader acting in accordance with the Synod, which should be acting in accordance with the Gospel Per Apostolic Canon 35.

                  Still, to this day, no official indictment againt Met. Jonah has issued from the HS. Aside what axes Carl and Nick have to grind, nothing official has even been forward as to any uncanonical actions by Met. Jonah. Again, why do you hate the man so?

                  “What happend before is happening again!” This time his name is Jonah, and its in the OCA. There should be no gloating, just sadness. I hope and pray that something good comes out of this. May God’s will be done.

                  Peter

        • Carl,

          Stokoe is on record scheming with other MC members to remove Jonah via false pretenses.

          This fact alone refutes every last jot and tittle of your laborious and disingenuous “arguments”.

          You are well aware of this.

          Your own words condemn you.

          There can be no honest dialogue or relationship with a man so committed to deceit.

          • Carl Kraeff says:

            Take it easy “Um”! Take a deep breath and reconsider the premises and logical flow of your argument. Folks here are repeating the mantra of schemes and conspiracies to remove the Metropolitan under or via false pretenses. You cannot have a conspiracy of the entire Synod and MC members (sans the Metropolitan of course). Wikipedia lists four types of conspiracies.

            1. Cabal, an association between religious, political, or tribal officials to further their own ends, usually by intrigue. Further detail: A cabal is a group of people united in some close design together, usually to promote their private views and interests in a church, state, or other community, often by intrigue. Cabals are sometimes secret societies composed of a few designing persons, and at other times are manifestations of emergent behavior in society or governance on the part of a community of persons who have well established public affiliation or kinship. The term can also be used to refer to the designs of such persons or to the practical consequences of their emergent behavior, and also holds a general meaning of intrigue and conspiracy. Its usage carries strong connotations of shadowy corners, back rooms and insidious influence; a cabal is more evil and selective than, say, a faction, which is simply selfish; because of this negative connotation, few organizations use the term to refer to themselves or their internal subdivisions.

            ME: It is evident from the above that a cabal cannot be the majority or vast majority in any organization, unless of course it is the King vs. everybody else. So unless you are prepared to say that +Jonah, like the Pope of Rome, has a unique status, such that he embodies the Church, you cannot accuse his fellow bishops and the Metropolitan Council to constitute a cabal. I will address the issue of disagreements and internal coordination later. Right now, it may be useful to read what the OCA Statute says about the MC:

            “The Metropolitan Council is the permanent executive body of the Church Administration Which exists for the purpose of implementing the decisions of the All-American Council and continuing its work between sessions. It shall consist of the Metropolitan as Chairman, the Chancellor, the Secretary, the Treasurer, two representatives from each diocese, one priest and one layman to be elected by the Diocesan Assemblies, three priests and three laymen elected by the All-American Council.”

            2. Conspiracy (civil), an agreement between persons to deceive, mislead, or defraud others of their legal rights, or to gain an unfair advantage. Further detail: A civil conspiracy or collusion is an agreement between two or more parties to deprive a third party of legal rights or deceive a third party to obtain an illegal objective.[1] A conspiracy may also refer to a group of people who make an agreement to form a partnership in which each member becomes the agent or partner of every other member and engage in planning or agreeing to commit some act. It is not necessary that the conspirators be involved in all stages of planning or be aware of all details. Any voluntary agreement and some overt act by one conspirator in furthance of the plan are the main elements necessary to prove a conspiracy. A conspiracy may exist whether legal means are used to accomplish illegal results, or illegal means used to accomplish something legal.] “Even when no crime is involved, a civil action for conspiracy may be brought by the persons who were damaged.”

            In the law of tort, the legal elements necessary to establish a civil conspiracy are substantially the same as for establishing a criminal conspiracy, i.e. there is an agreement between two or more natural persons to break the law at some time in the future or to achieve a lawful aim by unlawful means. The criminal law often requires one of the conspirators to take an overt step to accomplish the illegal act to demonstrate the reality of their intention to break the law, whereas in a civil conspiracy, an overt act towards accomplishing the wrongful goal may not be required. Etymologically, the term comes from Latin con- “with, together”, and spirare “to breathe”.

            ME: So, it boils down you must have some illegality here. Were the actions of members of the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council (1) intended to achieve illegal results or (b) used illegal means to achieve a legal end? These folks did not use use illegal means when they talked to each other to criticize the Metropolitan or to plan for his removal. The end goal, which some of these “conspirators” aimed at, the removal of the Metropolitan, is not in itself an illegal act. Neither is it an uncanonical act. So, the issue is whether these folks had the right to consult with each other and to coordinate a plan to that end. I fail to see illegal activity in their efforts, except may be in the obtaining and publicization of other individuals’ emails. Please note, however, that these email shenanigans occurred well after the so-called conspiracy was under way.

            3. Conspiracy (crime), an agreement between persons to break the law in the future, in some cases having committed an act to further that agreement. Not applicable. Please see above.

            4. Conspiracy (political), the overthrow of a government. Again not applicable and see above.

            Now, to say that a conspiracy disproves what I have argued is an illogical argument, this is more like an ad hominem but instead of against the person, it is against a related concept. Indeed, since this “conspiracy” exists only in your fevered imagination, it is a false premise to use in any case. I hope this helps.

            • 1. CABAL

              It is evident from the above that a cabal cannot be the majority or vast majority in any organization

              I believe you mean to say “marjority of leadership in any organization”. Obviously you have a representative government in your church, and less than half of the organization is included in the leadership.

              But of course large factions and even majorities within the leadership can be “united in some close design together, usually to promote their private views and interests in a church … often by intrigue”. This is particularly likely in a church or religious organization where the leaders in question might not support the official teachings or cultural values of the organization, which is the case with most gay rights cabals in most Christian churches even yet; though of course in many churches these groups are coming out of the shadows to openly state their objectives and so are no longer cabals in any meaningful sense. The OCA is apparently “not ready” for open support of the gay rights movement within its leadership, whether the supporters constitute a minority, majority, or super majority is irrelevant.

              CONCLUSION: Of course this can be cabal.

            • 2, 3, & 4. CONSPIRACY

              Your definition:

              an agreement between persons to deceive, mislead, or defraud others of their legal rights, or to gain an unfair advantage…. Even when no crime is involved, a civil action for conspiracy may be brought by the persons who were damaged.

              Your comment:

              So, it boils down you must have some illegality here.

              My reply:

              While I can appreciate the time invested in your lengthy message, your conclusion is clearly incorrect. But you didn’t really need me to point this out, did you?

              CONCLUSION: Of course conspiracy need not entail illegality.

              • Carl Kraeff says:

                You missed this little gem from my earlier posting: “A conspiracy may exist whether legal means are used to accomplish illegal results, or illegal means used to accomplish something legal.” So, yes there must be either illegal means used or the aim is to obtain illegal results. I will grant you that some folks misapply this term in popular usage, but we are not bound by erroneous definitions are we?

                • Now I’m confused, because your definition specifically says:

                  Even when no crime is involved, a civil action for conspiracy may be brought by the persons who were damaged.

            • CRIME

              Now you do bring up an interesting point, perhaps this matter of attempting to remove Jonah from his position should be taken to criminal or civil court, as a separate issue form the stolen emails. If I was a lay person with money to invest in a church I cared about, I would hire some lawyers to look into it. The fact that a criminal act (stealing emails) has now been used to further the conspiracy (“to gain an unfair advantage” against a third party), its seems there might be a criminal conspiracy case and not just a civil conspiracy case. In any event, the stolen emails do make a stronger civil case for conspiracy.

              Is using false pretenses to remove someone from a job a crime? How about using false pretenses to deny due process when using false pretenses to remove someone from a job? I don’t know employment law and nonprofit governance law, lawyers in these areas would have to speak to whether there is was a conspiracy to commit a crime in one of these areas.

              The threats to remove Jonah from his position, to redefine his position to take away responsibilities, and to reduce pay or compensation all point to the possibility of a free speech case as well. Is it legal in the US to make use of a criminal act in an attempt to curtail the free speech of a third party? This case would require the power to subpoena private communications, and I suspect no one cares enough about Jonah or the OCA to really look into these matters.

            • DUE PROCESS

              For there to be due process:

              (1) The actual reasons for seeking Jonah’s removal or silence must be the stated reasons. How can his natural right to self-defense be respected otherwise? The health of the institution also requires this kind of honesty in disciplinary matters.

              (2) In addition any grievance must be brought to and heard through the channel appropriate for the grievance in question. This is part of what it means to “follow the law of the land” which is an essential element to due process.

              (3) Finally, the corrective action must be related in a logical and necessary way to the alleged grievance (again following the spirit and the letter of “the law of the land”).

              So how do you grant Jonah due process?

              If the problem is speaking out publicly about Orthodox teaching on homosexuality, then address this through the AAC and Holy Synod. The decision-making process and the decision should be public so there is no hint of impropriety. There is no reason for secrecy here. No one benefits from secrecy in these matters, unless they have ulterior motives. The discussions might be heated, but the process and its outcome would be straightforward.

              If the problem has to do with suggesting that OCA autocephaly might be less important than a unified Orthodox province in North America, then this again can be addressed openly and honestly through similar channels. Again no reason for shame or secrecy. These are legitimate issues that your church can discuss and decide openly.

              If the problem is not working well with a committee, then an appropriate body within the church needs to hear the evidence and decide whether the committee or the overseer is at fault. Then corrective action can be taken. If the problem is determined to be (at least in part) the overseer, then the church has appropriate channels for assigning a new overseer or creating some other mechanism for oversight of the committee. This is really not a big deal.

              If a bishop or metropolitan needs to be removed from their position, there are procedures for doing so. Due process requires that these procedures be followed. They have not even been initiated.

              You understand this. Stop pretending otherwise. Stop supporting and perpetuating injustices in your church.

              • O Hamartolos says:

                Thank you for your contributions to our discussions here. Thank you for taking a stand for decorum, charity, and civility.

        • Kevin Allen says:

          I am an ardent advocate for an autocephalous Church in North America, that is, one that is not an appendage to foreign bishops in foreign lands.

          Which “foreign bishop(s) in foreign lands” would be naive (or worse) enough to cede control of the Orthodox Church to North Americans after seeing this debacle of management and leadership? This has cost the cause of a united, autocephalous Church in North America 25 years at minimum.

          • George Michalopulos says:

            That’s the sad thing, isn’t it Kevin? For the past 10 years I’ve been singing the praises of the OCA only to see the Stokovites lead them off the cliff. In the aftermath of Ligonier, we lost a good 15 years of wandering in the wilderness thanks to the demolition of the GOA by the Phanar, now that part of the OCA which is in thrall to the Stokovites is going to outdo them by committing ecclesiastical suicide.

            • Kevin Allen says:

              George,

              This whole thing is a terrible disappointment to all of us – in and outside the OCA. After reading the statement from + Jonah, there appears to this observer to be blame enough to go around. Yes, one of the terrible sadnesses in this mess is that it provides sufficient grounds for the Patriarchates to say with some justification: “You ‘Americans’ are not ready to run an autocephalous Church.” From what I have been reading and as much as I hate to believe this, maybe they are right.

              • Kevin:
                I agree with both your above two comments (for whatever my personal opinion may be worth)

          • Carl Kraeff says:

            You are sadly right. However, I suspect their reasons may be more nuanced than the mere fiasco that we are again experiencing (third in a row may be somewhat of a record). First, our conciliar form of governance seems to be unique. Second, there are existential reasons for a foreign patriarchate to hold on to her eparchies here: number of church members, funds, and the advantages of functioning in a democratic society. Third, the OCA may be undergoing the refiners fire, something that fills the others with dread.

        • Carl,

          Well said.

          Two additional points to make:

          1. If I understand things correctly, the 9-page SMPAC report that saw His Beatitude boarding a plane to New York almost immediately was the result of the frustration of the SMPAC members (all appointed by His Beatitude) at the Metropolitan’s interference with their work, and his action and inaction with regard to their efforts. (News reports of this are scant, apart from http://ocanews.org/news/JonahLeaveofAbsence2.25.11.html – search the page for “mass resignation”, but rumors have been circulating about this elsewhere for a while.) The options, apparently, were to resign in protest (leaving everyone wondering what happened, and likely leading to some kind of investigation) or to take their case to the Holy Synod, via this report. It should not be surprising, then, that the report had a primary focus on His Beatitude. The 650 pages of corroborating documentation (for the 9-page summary report) is either a gigantic smokescreen, intended to overwhelm those who’d challenge every point, or a demonstration of the seriousness of the issues. I doubt anyone (including myself) in this forum is competent to make that particular judgment, inasmuch as I don’t think anyone here (OCAT writers excepted) has read either of the documents.

          2. The statement, “This is a critical time of judgment for us as the OCA. Do we want a church that is led by the bishops, with advice from the clergy and lay. Or do we want a church controlled by the Metropolitan Council, its committees and officers, criticizing and marginalizing the bishops?” presents a false dichotomy. First, notice how it’s bishops who would “lead” but the Council/committees/officers who “control”, even though the Statute requires a hierarchical blessing (or several, in the form of the Holy Synod) for nearly everything the Council/committees/officers do. As for criticism, respectful criticism is part of healthy organizational life.

          The “Yes Man” culture we lived with for the past couple of decades — an accountability-free Chancellor embezzling millions while rolling and dividing the hierarchs, ensuring that their episcopal desires were met often enough to keep them compliant, and deceiving a largely fat-dumb-and-happy Metropolitan Council — didn’t work so well for us.

          This Holy Synod is fresh, mature, and, for the first time in ages, working together. I can see why they were taken aback by the tone of this speech. After all, it asserted an authority that requires a level of trust that takes a good, long while to earn. Of course, had the trust been there, the speech would’ve been superfluous.

          • Ian James says:

            “The “Yes Man” culture we lived with for the past couple of decades — an accountability-free Chancellor embezzling millions while rolling and dividing the hierarchs, ensuring that their episcopal desires were met often enough to keep them compliant, and deceiving a largely fat-dumb-and-happy Metropolitan Council — didn’t work so well for us.”

            So it’s going to work better this time around? They can’t even get to the bottom of Mark Stokoe’s conspiracy to remove HB. It makes them look really weak. You are an organization and leadership man. You know this indicates that a council within a council is at work. And because Stokoe and his friends have not be removed, you know the larger council is weak.

            Finally we get a Metropolitan who isn’t corrupt and all we see is the fat-dumb-and-happy bottoms are upset because their chairs got disturbed.

            Here’s how it really works. The MC is weakest whenever the Metropolitan and HS are weak. When you have a strong Metropolitan, you will get a stronger synod and an annoyed MC. The MC is inherently weak and will always be weak because it’s an ecclesiological anomaly. That makes it vulnerable to manipulation by people like Stokoe and his friends. They use it as a platform to force their agenda on the Church.

        • Michael Bauman says:

          Carl, just another case of reading one’s own bias and emotion into something not really any reasons or evidence presented.

          Bishops rule. It is best when they rule within the context of a community they serve (locally and regionally), but they still rule. That is not papist. God even using those terms emphasizes the protestant mentality with which we are infected. We protest everything, except the immorality of the world and our own sinfulness. Where don’t you see lust of power and the gay agenda?

          The whole problem with Orthodoxy in the US can be summed up in our fundamental rejection of hiearchical authority in favor of ‘democracy’**; our own will writ large instead of the the Apostolic authority. Disobedience comes easily to us, we breath, think and eat it every day.

          If Met. Jonah goes down, the OCA goes down and will increase its drive toward fancy dress protestantism until it becomes nothing. Stokoe and his allies are bullies, those that support his assassination of the episcopate are participating in the same bullying mentality. All for the ‘good’ of the Church to be sure.

          As to your resume, it seems to me that you are a devotee of various ideological positions that make you easy game for the the manipulators.

          **democracy itself is a receipe for rule by the passions, the exact oppisite of what the Orthodox Chrisitan way of life is supposed to be.

          God preserve us from ideology and have mercy on us!

          • Carl Kraeff says:

            Obviously we are not going to agree about the current unpleasantry regarding our Metropolitan, Holy Synod and out Church executive body.. However, is that sufficient reason for you belittle a lifetime of beliefs and activities when you remarked “As to your resume, it seems to me that you are a devotee of various ideological positions that make you easy game for the the manipulators.” Have I called you someone who is seeing gays behind every tree? Have I called you someone whose appreciation of simply concepts like democracy has been warped by an inordinate fear of gays? No, I have not. I am not a culture warrior type of a conservative as I am more interested in the realms of law, economics and foreign affairs. Nonetheless, as a signer of the Manhattan Declaration, I am indeed an ally.

            You said “The whole problem with Orthodoxy in the US can be summed up in our fundamental rejection of hiearchical authority in favor of ‘democracy’**; our own will writ large instead of the the Apostolic authority. Disobedience comes easily to us, we breath, think and eat it every day.” I cannot agree with such a simplistic explanation. We all (laity and clergy alike) are guilty of disobedience. Indeed, my biggest problem with +Jonah is his disobedience–toward his fellow bishops, the Holy Synod, the Apostolic Canon, etc… That is, his own will writ large instead of…

            • Ian James says:

              We all (laity and clergy alike) are guilty of disobedience. Indeed, my biggest problem with +Jonah is his disobedience–toward his fellow bishops…

              Everything kind of collapses in on itself doesn’t it, except that the sting of your criticism remains. +Jonah is disobedient but since you (and we) are too we can’t hold you accountable for the criticism! Nice.

              Just in case we didn’t get the point the first time around you end with, “That is, his own will writ large instead of…” Love the open ending. You make the charge but refuse to draw out the implications and absolve yourself of accountability once again.

              This is clever too:

              Have I called you someone who is seeing gays behind every tree? Have I called you someone whose appreciation of simply concepts like democracy has been warped by an inordinate fear of gays?

              The answer was no until your assertion that you never made the claim. Then it just switched to yes. If you never made the claim, why turn around and assert you didn’t make it?

              Bauman might be right here.

              • Carl Kraeff says:

                I think you are misreading me. I have not called Michael anything approaching what he insinuated that I may be. The rest was to reemphasize my main point. I did not complete the quote from Michael because I am not sure exactly what authority +Jonah had in mind; it could be “Apostolic authority” or it may not. I lean toward the latter as +Jonah seems to dismiss Apostolic Canon 34–certainly an Apostolic authority that is most germane.

                • Mark from the DOS says:

                  Carl –

                  I keep reading your citation to Apostolic Canon 34. How has +Jonah violated it?

                  • Carl Kraeff says:

                    He stands accused of unilaterally (that is without having obtained the consensus of the members of the Hoy Synod) in saying and taking actions that have affected the entire OCA:

                    1. The speech criticizing the Chief Secretary’s ill-advised speech (I agreed with him by the way on the speech but was surprised that he had done so in spite of internal opposition).

                    2. The various overtures regardingchanges to the autocephaly of OCA. In this matter, I am reminded of the decision by Metroplitan Philaret of ROCOR not publicly airing his great opposition to the OCA simply because he had not had consensus of his Holy Synod.

                    3. His decision to start implementing his ideas of changing the competencies of the Metropolitan Council (and the composition of the AACs). I have no problem with him floating the idea, I have a huge problem with him taking action on it without synodal decision (canon 34) or going through a formal revision of the Statute (due process and also fidelity to one’s oath).

                    4. And, while the above examples remain at the level of accusations, there is one action that clearly violated Canon 34. He had been put on an official leave of absence and his last minute request to participate in previously scheduled events had been denied. He had repeatedly agreed to the decision of his fellow Synodal members. He broke his own word and he acted against the formal decision of the Holy Synod subsequently. I don’t give a fig if the decisions were not signed; to me a man’s word should be his bond and if, as reported, he resorted to such sophomoric machinations to defy the Holy Synod, he clearly has some issues. So, canon 34 was indeed violated in this instance. He also may have violated other canonsd and Scriptural injunctions for him to be an honest man, a man of his word.

                    • Mark from the DOS says:

                      Get your two or three witnesses together and bring those charges to a spiritual court. Let’s stop with all this lay opinion. You have laid out the charges so I must assume you are much more of an expert on canon law than I, and can cite previous examples of policy speeches and unconsummated talks subjecting one to spiritual discipline and of course defining what it means to be a Primate on leave of absence while still a Diocesan bishop.

                      I am certain Mr. Stokoe will sign on with you and then we can have a good ole spiritual trial.

                    • All these accusations are substantiated by what source?

                      How do you have knowledge of private discussions within the Holy Synod?

                      How come no formal charges have been brought against the man?

                      And why in heaven’s name can’t anyone in your church submit these matters to due process? Is it possible because there is no case to bring?

                      Do you believe the Holy Synod is infallible?

                    • Harry Coin says:

                      Good old canon 34. Cancels the whole ‘Metropolitan trumps the synod’ Vaticanistic ‘theory of primacy’ drum beaten here so loudly

                      Should be instructive: if you want an outcome, persuade the members of the synod to choose it.

                      If there are those who don’t want your outcome, who you can show ought not be synod members, now would be your time to demonstrate why.

                    • Harry,

                      Get a grip man. No one here is threatening an “infallible” Holy Synod with deposition, role amendment, efforts to silence them, or anything else. They do not need your defense. Seriously, get a grip. They are all grown men (if photos on the oca.org website can be believed) and can certainly speak for themselves if they decide there is a need. They are choosing not to speak. Frankly some people would respect them more if they did speak to the current crisis, but it is their “infallible” decision not to.

                      I know it is a matter of religious principle for you that the Synod of Bishops of an autocephalous church can never be in error. It is a bizarre innovation as beliefs go, especially when applied to a Synod that is not unanimous, but for whatever reason you have it. Nevertheless, if Jonah is as far out of line as you insinuate, why would Stokoe and his cronies need to scheme up false pretenses to have him removed. Why not just trust due process?

                      Shouldn’t even a holy and infallible Synod of Bishops have to follow due process, not because God would want them to of course, but simply to avoid the appearance of impropriety in the eyes of an unbelieving outside world?

            • Carl,

              Support justice, and people will take all of your ideas more seriously.

              Continue to applaud and labor for injustice, and the sympathies of your audience will be exhausted.

              You don’t have to chose a particular side. Just support justice. Labor for it, and even those who disagree with you may eventually be won over to any insights you might have.

            • Michael Bauman says:

              Carl, I don’t fear homosexuals at all. It is quite likely that I have spent more time in the company of both male and female homosexuals than you since I spent a good part of my life participating in the performace of both theater and dance.

              I have said repeatedly that the biggest mover in the unjust bullying of Met. Jonah is not the homosexual issues, but rather the stated intent of Met. Jonah to reduce the influence and authority of the Metropolitan Council. His proposal would also move power down-stream into the diocease and away from Syosset. His desire to move out of Syosset is part of that. To me that is the real crux of the matter. Many people, it seems to me, would loose both power and perks, i.e. $$$$$.

              I have seen exactly zero convincing evidence that Met. Jonah has in anyway violated canon 34–just assertion, after assertion so therefore it must be true, right? The whole thing seems like an exercise in projection to me. Besides, you simply have no business deciding whether Met. Jonah has been disobedient to his brother bishops or not. That is their business and their business alone. Hierarchy, remember. Bishops have actual authority over you, whether you like it or not. They have acutal authority over the Church. You don’t get to decide what you believe doctrinally if you wish to be Orthodox. You don’t get to decide how the Church is structured either, becuase that is intimately tied up with the doctrine of whom the Church is. Democracy as a ruling principal is not, nor has it ever been a part of Church government. It is impossible to have a hierarchical democracy. The more democracy you have, the less hiearchy. The Church is hierarchical in nature. We Americans, by and large simply don’t like that. We are a rebellious and stiff-necked people.

              The attacks against Met. Jonah have been vitriolic, exceesive, bullying and completely beyond the pale.–allowed to continue, he will not be the last. The scapegoating will stop or it will destroy the OCA.

              I am pretty certain that if everyone would just say, OK, Met. Jonah let’s do it your way in a spirit of love, the OCA would flower beyond our wildest imaginines. Not because of Met. Jonah, but because of the Church acting like the Church for a change instead of acting like a bunch of petulant two year olds.

    • Re: 19
      Carl Kraeff:

      You have to poking fun at George, again, right?
      Otherwise, the stupidity, arrogance, prelest, and spin of you comment is simply overwhelming.
      (But then, what else can you expect from Stokoeites.)

      • Carl Kraeff says:

        Hi Nikos–I invite you to peruse my loner posting and to think about possible projection on your part. Thanks.

        • Carl K.:
          My reply was strictly in response to your reply 24 above where you said:

          No wonder the Synod put him on leave… No wonder Father Hopko wrote his letter… It must be bitter for many to see that Mark Stokoe has been vindicated once again–this time by the Metropolitan himself. Axios! indeed for all of the bishops of the Holy Synod.

          • Carl Kraeff says:

            I understood that. I responding to you saying “Otherwise, the stupidity, arrogance, prelest, and spin of you comment is simply overwhelming. (But then, what else can you expect from Stokoeites.)” I may indeed be guilty of all those shortcomings. Just as easily, you may have been projecting your own shortcomings onto me. Or, both may be true. Bottom line: we should all go to confession for we have all sinned and are sinning in this debate.

      • Philippa says:

        Re: # 54 – Is this kind of response really necessary? Oh how I wish for a discourse without rancor and pot shots.

        • Thank you, Philippa.
          I’ll try to be more civil in my disagreements from now on.

        • Carl Kraeff says:

          Philippa–I apologize for having offended your sensibilities. No matter how you assign the blame, this is indeed the third metropolinate in a row that has been marred by something or another.Perhaps the problem is not so much that the other Churches are purer and better than us but that they have been able to contain (hide) their quarrels and problems. In any case, I am confident that we will survive and actually grow stronger because of this trial by the refiner’s fire.

  8. Philippa says:

    There is a small group that has been around a long time, which has a congregationalist idea of the Church; that it should be controlled by the MC and its committees, and all other functionaries including bishops are subordinate to it. It is a false idea of conciliarity.

    There is the idea being put forth that the officers and the MC members are equal with the bishops and should have equal authority.

    This is an old demon, the spirit of congregationalism, which has afflicted this church for a century. We have to exorcise this demon. Otherwise, it will destroy the OCA.

    Out of everything His Eminence has said, the above, to me, is the crux of the matter. I’m glad he is continuing to fight the good fight. He admits his mistakes and seems to be using them to an advantage in order not to repeat them. That is a sign of a good leader. May it all be blessed.

    Has anyone noted when this His Eminence gave this speech? If it the question was answered, I missed it and would someone kindly point me to it. Thanks!

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Philippa, I think he should give it again and this time in front of a camera. It’s that good.

      • Philippa says:

        Agreed George. After further reading, I think this ‘speech’ was a draft of what was given in private at Santa Fe. Many people are afraid of leaders who have a backbone like His Eminence does – one that is strong and straight.

  9. Pox on All Houses says:

    It occurs to me that perhaps the converts to the OCA would do well to turn their backs on Savonarola, Calvin and Cromwell – particularly, the clerics. That sort of thing is far too ingrained in American culture, where the support of a scorning religious, economic and social Calvinism becomes the end goal of a Pharisaic form of evangelicalism.

    For all too many of the convert population, you’ve taken American fundamentalism and simply transplanted it to work within the framework of an Oriental liturgical structure, but without truly turning your backs on some of the most odious parts of that fundamentalism. It is a bad fit.

    I could go on and on about the extent of damage that American evangelical fundamentalism does to Christianity in this country as a whole – the “sheep stealing” from smaller congregations that pretends to be growth, the emphasis on materialism and business connections in the megachurches, the lack of genuine community fostered by the megachurches, the exclusionary nature of all too many ‘Murkan congregations, the random idiocy that doesn’t get soundly mocked (take, for instance, that idiot Camping this weekend). All of this stuff does damage, and while you still have a lot of American self-identification with Christianity, the number of genuinely enthusiastic participants is disappearing along with their smaller congregations.

    Don’t make Orthodoxy a statistic by trying to follow a model which is now failing at a spectacular rate.

    • Philippa says:

      PoaH, why do you think many ‘converts’ converted in the first place? To turn their back on what you suggested! I would suggest perhaps it is not the fault (I use this term loosely) of the convert who brings baggage into Orthodoxy but that of the (often little) time and teaching (here, read this book and come back with questions) provided during the catechumenate.

  10. Cathryn Tatusko says:

    Having read MS’s latest, I have many of the same questions others have raised (how he got his hands on this draft, whether this speech was ever given, and, if so, when, etc.). But to these questions I would add the following:

    If this is the speech that was given in Santa Fe and led the Synod to believe +Jonah needed a mental health break–in part, because of apparent “paranoia”–why did the Synod at the same time “accept the resignation” of Fr. Garklavs? Evidently, the members of the Synod saw more than Paranoia in +Jonah’s speech.

    MS suggests that this speech was at least delivered to a small group of intimates for feedback and “approbation.” How in the world does MS presume to get inside the Met’s head in order to know his motives in sharing this draft with others? And for that matter, hasn’t MS spent a great deal of energy building the case that the Met. always acts unilaterally? Yet here we have him seeking feedback before giving a speech. Again, we don’t know whether or when this speech was subsequently given.

    Finally, my understanding of the word paranoia is that it applies when there is unwarranted belief that others are out to discredit, destroy, etc. Yet this entire article by MS, along with so many others in the past few months, is written for the glaringly obvious purpose of embarrassing, discrediting, and destroying the Met. While I don’t think MS succeeds in this at all (though he has clearly found a new word, his twisted arguments founder in this purpose), the article did bring to mind a favorite old joke: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you :-)!

    MS seems out of control. Someone somewhere has to find the courage to unseat this man from the MC—he does not belong on that council. And I fervently hope that both he and +Mark will be slapped with legal suits in re the hacking of Fr. Fester’s email account. Enough is enough.

    In Christ,
    Cathy Tatusko

    • If this is the speech that was given in Santa Fe and led the Synod to believe +Jonah needed a mental health break–in part, because of apparent “paranoia”–why did the Synod at the same time “accept the resignation” of Fr. Garklavs? Evidently, the members of the Synod saw more than Paranoia in +Jonah’s speech.

      Great question, Cathy. Metropolitan Jonah’s description of Fr. Garklavs’s tenure as chancellor was appalling. Note also that shortly after this is when the false story of Metropolitan Jonah’s ‘resignation’ appeared on Romfea.

      Back when Metropolitan Herman fired Kondratick, I don’t recall anyone arguing over the Metropolitan’s authority to do that. Of course, if you bring that up with Stokoe and company, they’ll say, ‘we’ve improved things since then’. Never mind the double standard: if Stokoe and company had happened not to like Fr. Garklavs, I’m sure Metropolitan Jonah would have been able to fire him with nary a squeak from OCAN.

      the article did bring to mind a favorite old joke: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you :-)!

      Indeed! I feel awful for Metropolitan Jonah. At least he doesn’t have to deal with this in secret anymore.

      And I totally agree that Stokoe should be thrown off the council. He should not just be goaded into resigning as they are trying to do to the Metropolitan.

      • Geo Michalopulos says:

        I still stand by my gross metaphor that if +Jonah had “unilaterally” performed a gay commitment ceremony at St Nick’s MS would have pulled out all the stops and lionized HB as a “courageous” hierarch who “stood up” to the “dangerous right-wingers” in our Church. Ox. Gored. You get the drift.

      • Philippa says:

        Stokoe should be thrown off the council

        When does his term conclude? If soon, that is a nice and peaceful way to let him go into the good, quiet night so to speak. No need to provide fodder for an internet feeding frenzy by kicking him off, thus giving people additional opportunities to voice their ‘support’ and ‘unfair treatment’ he may have received (as perceived by said supporters), if you get my drift.

        • Philippa, I appreciate your graciousness and kindness towards Stokoe in wanting to allow him to save some face and let his term conclude naturally.

          I have not found anything that declares how long an MC term lasts, but a member named Dr. Alice Woog served on it for thirteen years before being removed. Also, even if his term expires, he can be reelected for another term. We cannot abide Stokoe being allowed to serve on the council for that long.

          Furthermore, Stokoe should have never been allowed to serve in the first place. He sits on the council in order to honor the request of the late Archbishop Job of blessed memory. I think Archbishop Job made a terrible mistake, either by overlooking Stokoe’s moral impediment and the conflict of interest created by OCANews, or by failing to vet him properly before allowing him to serve. Removing Stokoe from the council and forbidding him from future service corrects that mistake.

          I take your point about the potential for outrage that Stokoe’s supporters could create, but I think if most people in the OCA learn just what Stokoe has been up to, they too will demand his removal from the council. What he has done demands swift and fervent condemnation from the leadership, and it is sad that it has not been forthcoming.

  11. Fr. Stephen Lourie says:

    Re.: Pox on All Houses

    What? A long fly ball coming out of left field…

    • Pox on All Houses says:

      Not really. I’m expressing irritation with Calvinist American Dominionists having the habit of waltzing in and deciding to fight their beloved culture wars from Orthodox churches. I’m thinking that a lot more attention by OCA hierarchs and priests to their immediate flocks and less to political and social posturing may help resolve the OCA problems and issues a lot faster.

      As I always say, at the end of the day, there’s always another bill to be paid, a bereaved person to comfort, a confession to hear, a baby to baptize or a capital crisis in an expensive roof leak to be averted. Like it or not, the bulk of your congregations, convert and non-convert alike, will eventually judge you by that metric. You can put them off of that by all the thunderous rhetoric you want, but they eventually come down to how well you’re serving local need.
      By the bye, I’d also posit the OCA can forget ever becoming the core of a North American Patriarchate. You guys have way too much baggage and your hierarchy isn’t mature enough to handle the responsibility.

      • I’d also posit the OCA can forget ever becoming the core of a North American Patriarchate. You guys have way too much baggage

        I’m OCA but have to agree with that. If +Jonah “loses,” then I will have to put my hope in a rightful outcome of EA.

      • O Hamartolos says:

        Is it political posturing when your teenage daughter, in a moment of weekness, fell into sin with the result of becoming pregnant, and you teach her that the Church absolutely forbids abortion?

        Is it political, right-wing, nut-job when your teenage son comes to you and thinks he might be gay to tell him what the Church teaches and has taught on that issue?

        You might be right that bishops should not be so overtly political. I would hate for us to be grouped together with folks like focus on the family, hagee, etc. They may be right in principle, but in practice they are way off, in my opinion.

        But to clarify your position, and perhaps the position of others who have expressed similar attitudes, please answer these questions:

        1. Are you saying that we as Orthodox Christians should have an ambiguous stance when it comes to abortion, family, homosexuality, that is, to change and conform our teachings to the social and moral norms of our times that say, sex out side of marriage is fine, abortion is fine, homosexuality is fine?

        2. Or are you simply saying that we should uphold the traditional teaching of the Church on these subjects, but confine our preaching to our own flock, and never once raise any objection to it in the public arena.

        I get the feelings that most are saying #2, but I have heard here (I think) and on ocanews commentators arguing for #1, like Kenneth R. Tobin, and perhaps Daniel E. Fall.

        So, please, without getting mad, I ask you to address these two questions.

        • Pox on All Houses says:

          Fair queries.

          1. I’ve always felt that the church has been far more effective at encouraging and engaging people to be kinder, more decent, honorable in business and personal life than it does when it gets into culture war conversations. Were I to hazard a guess, I’d surmise that issues of trust, kindness, honesty and absence of betrayal are in fact universally positive values across all cultures, faiths and philosophies. To tell the truth, that’s the sort of stuff that impresses people who’ve not traditionally been involved.

          2. While there are definite church teachings regarding sexual conduct, there is also a limit to the effectiveness about preaching at people about them – you say your piece, and then move on. Those who engage in this conduct probably don’t take as kindly to the criticism as they do not see it as harmful to other sentience, inasmuch as they subjectively see themselves as engaging in either consensual conduct, or in the case of abortion, don’t see a working brain in the mix.

          3. My preference is for an always open door (as in, the prodigal son), and engaging in the culture wars on a grand scale closes that door whether you believe that or not. Besides, I’ve noticed a tendency on the part of the loudest culture warriors to be both hypocritical AND pharisaic, which portends doom to any religious order operating in an open society.

          • Nick Katich says:

            Pox:

            What you say leads to “complacency” and ultimately an acceptance of the new cultural drift. We have to be careful, admittedly, in the battles we chose to fight, but we cannot lose our soul by losing our dogma. There is a line that we cannot cross. Example, Humane Vitae; it no dobut led to the secular blessing of abortion in an unalterable sequence of logic. Query: Is abortion or birth control via the pill worse. There are unintended consequences. You paint with too broad a brush. Assimilating culture is Orthodox. Giving in to culture is not.

            • Tiresias says:

              Humanae vitae is the cause of the secular blessing of abortion???

              My friend, this assertion is utter nonsense.

              Not Margarget Sanger and her ilk? Not all the professors I personally heard in the late 60s and early 70s encouraging free love and experimental sex? Not Playboy and Penthouse and Hollywood?

              No, the Pope’s to blame???? I suppose I should not be shocked that prejudiced and biased thinking could to lead to such an outrageous conclusion. You are mistaken.

              I’ll tell you what is to blame: it is a culture that virtually exalts youth and personal pleasure and gratification over everything else, and cares little for the future and for children because they consume resources and cost too much. It is a culture in the process of committing suicide–and the Orthodox Church in the West–which is almost the only place it is with any significant numbers anymore–is infected with the same disease, our people having drunk deep at the well of secular materialism and craving after the same things their Western brothers have already sacrificed their souls for. Christ is weeping. It is time to wake up.

              Tiresias

              • George Michalopulos says:

                Nick, I think you’ve gone off the rails on this one. I’d find a way to walk it back if I were you. I know we Orthodox have our beefs with Catholicism (1204, the Ustashe, etc.) but even with all this bad blood, to blame the Pope for the abortion culture is like blaming Lenin for an outbreak of capitalism in the USSR.

                • Nick Katich says:

                  Tiresias and George:

                  There is a remarkable difference in saying “Humanae Vitae is the cause of the secular blessing of abortion” and saying ” Humane Vitae; it no dobut led to the secular blessing of abortion in an unalterable sequence of logic“. The first, which I did not say, is based on a rule of linear causality whose philosophical basis has been explored by Aristotle and his intellectual progeny ad nauseum. The latter, which I did say, was also explored by Aristotle but overlooked much too often. In describing the phenomenon, Aristotle also wrote: “”it is not necessary that of every affirmation and opposite negation one should be true and the other false”. This is commonly referred to as “future contingents”.

                  In “Slouching Toward Gomorrah”, a book all good culture warriors should read and re-read, Bork traces the decline in Western culture and quite convincingly attributes most of it to the loss of the Church’s (particularly, the Roman Church’s) loss of moral authority.

                  After the pill came out, the Vatican assembled a remarkably learned commission to engage the issue. The best scholarship believes that the commission (or a significant majority of it) would allow its use within the context of certain guidlines, restatements and clarification regarding the family and human reproduction centered around the family. The Pope rejected the commission’s proposed text and issued rather quickly Humane Vitae. The result rocked the Roman Church. It resulted in a wide-spread loss by the Vatican of the Church’s moral authority because most Catholics did not agree with it. In fact, over time, based on numerous studies, the overwhelming majority of Catholic women use artificial contraception.

                  Once moral authority is lost as a result of one issue vital to some, moral authority tends to be lost in many other areas. As more and more Catholics became disenchanted with Humane Vitae, more and more Catholics turned deaf ears on the Church’s teachings on abortion and other issues dealing with what they perceived to be ever increasingly “a private matter”.

                  A number of studies suggest that abortions among Catholic women are of similar or even greater proportions than the general population. And the skew may even be greater if such studies would factor in former Catholics who no longer identify themselves as such because they left their ancestral religion.

                  Go ahead and tell me that I am off the rails espousing utter nonsense. Aristotle has told me that I am logically demonstrating the operation of the concept of future contingents. I don’t think that anyone can possibly disagree that the Western Church’s loss of moral authority and that the concomitant rise of “modern liberalism” and its culture of death are related. You don’t have to agree that Humane Vitae played a role in that loss of moral authority. But don’t be so ready to disagree without reflecting more on whether there are a number of sets of rails leading together to the same destination.

                  ‘Nuff said.

                  NK

                  • lexcaritas says:

                    Dera to Christ Nick,

                    You are no doubt correct in noting that the Church’s (especially the RCC’s) loss of moral authority in the West has been accompanied by the rise of the culture of death, along with hedonism, materialsim and secularism, signs of which are seen in the epidemics of abortion, the growing acceptance of euthanasia and the rise in gender confusion.

                    But the loss of moral authority began long before Humanae vitae–maybe with corruption in the Church during the Rennaissance and then the Reformation and the Enlightenment, confiscation of Church properties and monasteries and putting priests, in many lands, on the payroll of the secular governments,

                    I am afraid that manny Orthodox are complely unaware of, or willfully blind to, the resurregence of faith and moral authority among Catholics since Humanae vitae and under the current and immediaetely preceding pontificate. No doubt, you are correct in noting the dissent among aging liberal and nominal Catholics of our generation to Humanae vitae and to the “magisterium” in general. But, these folks are “on the way out” and the youth who were inspired by JPII and Benedict and who, by the way, respect and follow Humanae vitae by use of natural family planning and a desire for larrger families are in the ascendancy. (Not a few evangelical Protestants and Charismatics are, too, by the way.) The blessings of Vatican II are being cultivated even as its mistakes are being rejected.

                    Re Humane vitae, I gather you think it was foolish; I happen to believe it was and is spot on. The dissent it provoked was there without it and so was the moral rot in the seminaries. It was not the cause of the sexual revolution of the late 60s any more than segregation in the south and the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War were, and the Vatican Council with its aggiornamento and ressourcement were–though all contributed. In any event, with regard to dissent and the rejection of authority, schisms and tears in the Body exist as spiritual realties before they fare ormalized by an actual institutional break.

                    There are two ways the Church has ever thrived and grown: conversions through evagelism and new births among the faithful. Muslims know this, by the way, and are fast a work to overwhlem us with sheer numbers. We Orthodox had better get with it. Christ is willing, after all, to the first born among many brethren and we are supposed to produce a multitude which no man could number out of every tribe and tongue and nation. To Him be all glory and honour in the Church, now and ever and unto ages of ages.

                    lexcaritas

        • Daniel E Fall says:

          Actually, I would be for #2 and I believe KRT would also agree with #2; definitely not #1. Neither he, nor I, have ever advocated for abortion or same sex marriage being embraced by the church. As a married father, the only sin you’ll be ready to accuse me of here is my liberal attitude. You see, I am willing to separate my personal belief in a higher power from the way I see society functioning best. Are there flaws in my logic? You bet. While I believe Roe v. Wade is the best overall law, its effect has been the overuse of abortion; something I find ghastly in my personal beliefs. By the way, as a liberal, I also don’t believe everyone should follow or be required to follow my beliefs either, so the logic doesn’t fall apart really. I don’t like the Manhattan Declaration because it uses the straw man argument. Why does the church (MJ) care about gay marriage; no government will make him marry gays, for example. My personal opinion on gay marriage is that marriage itself is a form of discrimination against unmarried persons; a position covertly supported by the Obama administration; be sure.

          And, for the record, I’m not gay, I’ve never been gay, and I don’t fancy the gay agenda. There is a gay activist agenda, but I don’t believe MS has one visavie the OCA. If MJ does anything to hurt Fr. Ted, let me tell you, the church will be further damaged, though. Fr. Ted has been a thoughtful, decent and good man for the OCA. Further, if it was just the gay agenda MS was working, why in the name of heaven would MS have ever started his blog? Yikes! Talk about logic flaws. Exposing Metropolitans to more negative press..

          To answer the questions so many of you pose about the reasons MS posted the speech by Jonah, let me just say this one thing. For the leader of our church to suggest anyone who disagrees with him is in prelest with demons is freakin’ bizarre. If MS has an agenda against MJ for conservative positions he takes; the Metropolitan certainly has made it easy with his wacky paranoia and shoot the messenger styled prelest with demons chatter. Furthermore, the SMPAC report can easily be inferred. Garklavs stopped reporting details of it to MJ because the report showed MJ failed to act. And Garklavs got fired for being honest by any reasonable perspective. What is the highest power achievable by a priest? So, he was on a power grab? Come on people. Use some sense. He couldn’t go any higher! Now, how many of you will suggest he was on a get a guy mission for MS? Yikes people.

          And for those of you who want to find a way to attack me personally, which I’m sure people will enjoy; I’ll make it simple for you. I don’t go to church much and some (MS, for example) might suggest that means I’ve personally excommuned, but I don’t see it that way. I still talk with Jesus; just don’t do it through Sunday Liturgy much. I truly love the church, though, and that is something you can all be sure about. Like Pox said, in an open society, it is a nail in the coffin to get into a culture war for religion. Do we really want to be like Westboro in the OCA? I don’t and there is my reason I wish MJ would back off on the culture war type rhetoric. I think the church should be a place where many can go and learn about Jesus.

          I don’t really fit this site well, so don’t expect a lot of return chatter from me. I just am not about to accept my name being associated with someone suggesting I’d like the church to behave differently or affiliating me with gay marriage; not so at all. My biggest reason for spending time on the Stokoe sight is I like accounting and I was really bothered the church didn’t bother to do any. I still hold that attitude; the leaders of the church must be accountable for actions that hurt the church and lauded for those that help..

          The servant is the ultimate master. Some guys have written about that before.

          I must sleep now.

          Teach people about Jesus, illuminate the cross.

          btw, this idea of a we versus them is also freakin bizarre

          • Jesse Cone says:

            btw, this idea of a we versus them is also freakin bizarre

            BTW, that may be the thing I find most distasteful about MS over the past several years: he’s castigates people using boundaries of his own creation.

          • colette says:

            Daniel,
            Demon talk bothers you? Does Scripture or the Fathers? Don’t visit any monasteries-because they talk like that there too. +MJ is monastic, this talk should not surprise anyone.
            -One is not being paranoid if someone is actually trying to get them, that’s being observant.
            -Read much on the Byzantine Church?-social issues were very much debated. Why should we change that?
            -If we care about society we should get involved. Especially when society creeps into the church. You want the gay agenda in your schools, taught to your kids? Well I don’t.
            -If you are not going to church and you feel you don’t need to because you talk with Jesus, I am wondering why are you Orthodox?

          • Mark from the DOS says:

            Colette is exactly right. The attacks of demons and their efforts at deception of the believers is well documented in the history of the church and the lives of the saints. To my mind, attributing the bizarre actions of Mr. Stokoe and his crew to demonic influence is actually merciful and bespeaks an open-mindedness about the intentions and conduct of Stokoe and his followers.

            But again, talk of demons is not approved of by the modernists in the Church. It might scare away people. Better that we hide or shade the historical teachings of the Church than ask people to accept them. Start that ball rolling downhill and the rest of the agenda comes easily.

            • James Morgan says:

              I heard a story some time ago:
              Satan was standing outside a church weeping bitterly. A person came up and asked him:
              “Why are you crying?”
              Satan replied: “I’m crying because they blame everything on me!”

      • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:
      • Michael Bauman says:

        Ah, yes, this post and the one by Daniel Fall that shows the incredible inroads of dualism in our hearts and minds. A dualism that separates Christians from culture, politics, life and even bifurcates the human being. Folks dualism of any kind is a heresy, a particular pernicious heresy. Unfortunately I could probably spend the next several hours listing the names of the vast multitude of dualistic heresies that have been propogated and believed. Rationalism is one however. The cult of reason.

        During the celebration of the Nativity we proclaim with our brothers and sisters throughout time: “Submit yourselves all ye nations for God is with us” We pray in the Trisagion Prayers daily that “God is everywhere present and fills all things”, but somehow in the political/cultural/economic realm He is not?

        Justinian rewrote the entire Roman code of law so that it would better reflect the teaching of the Church. If one reads the canons on marriage from that time (just to give one example) it is quite clear there was little separation between canon law and civil law. Where do you thing the so-called Calvinists got the idea in the first place.

        If you want to be a liberal protestant, there are thousands of ‘churches’ for you to join. O, I forgot, they have a poltical agenda too, don’t they? Maybe the Amish?

        • Daniel E Fall says:

          To suggest people that disagree with you are possessed with demons is hardly merciful; it is downright irrational and might get you put in a mental ward. Oh wait, that is what nearly happened. I give you sound reasons for why MS posted the speech and why people responded to MJ the way they did and you respond with approval of his statements accusing dissenting voices of being demonic? The shoot the messenger (this time possessed by demons) tactics of the prior administration are so well learned; everyone watches for it now. Wow, no wonder the Metropolitan is having a rough go; with friends like these, who would need an enemy.

          Sorry Colette, this story isn’t about me, but nice try with the spin. I gave you some ammo and you took it and fired at me. Next time, play it smart and stick to the subject (clue: not Dan Fall). I knew someone would bite; just knew it.

          And Michael, just because I don’t want to thrust my ideology upon others doesn’t mean I’m a heretic; nor does it mean I should change my church. Last time I checked, this was America, land of the free. It hardly bifurcates me to believe in Jesus as God and try however poorly I might to practice Orthodoxy while accepting others will not. I might practice poorly for good reason, btw.

          Jesse, you and I probably agree more than you know, but if what you say is true, why OCATRUTH? If MS was completely a bad guy, wouldn’t he implode on his own? People are smart; they can see through stuff. I’ve recognized a bias; there is one, but it isn’t any uglier than suggesting the Metropolitan is under attack from the purple mafia; he isn’t.

          And George, you are going to allow Mrs. Stokoe-Brown to get posted? While a high school boy, I might have laughed, but 25 years has matured me enough to realize how wrong it is… and how wrong it is to mistreat gays; guess not here. I keep that in mind when I consider conservative viewpoints as wise.

          Personally, I don’t think the Metropolitan’s fan club is helping him. Could be the firing of Fester is the first realization of that by MJ; just a guess.

          Just for sake of discussion. When was the last time MJ took some good advice from a critic? Or is any criticism bad? And where are the pictures of MJ eating peroghies? I mean, really people. Why must everything be such heavy subject matter?

          I’ll share with you a final thought. More peroghies for the Metropolitan, less gay demon bifurcated dualistic name calling turd smoking out violet conservative liberal mafia wars.

          Good night all. I’m still praying for the Metropolitan, as some of my critics once told me, to ‘lighten up’.

          • Mark from the DOS says:

            Being in prelest is merely being under spiritual deception of the demons. It is not the same as demonic possession. As one bishop has said “Spiritual deception is the state of all men without exception, and it has been made possible by the fall of our original parents. All of us are subject to spiritual deception.”

            I say it is merciful in that what the Metropolitan considers improper conduct by those who are attacking him he attributes not to any innate defect or evil in his accusers, but to the work of demons.

            But as is apparent in your posts, we shouldn’t speak of demons in the USA today because that’s just crazy talk. So send me to the loony bin I guess; but I’ll trust the sainted monks and fathers of the church who warned us of the work of demons and reported being attacked themselves.

          • Dan,
            I asked you an honest question . . .

          • Michael Bauman says:

            Don’t see anyone saying that Stokoe is/was possesed by demons just influenced by demonic ideas. Big difference.

            Daniel, I was merely taking your own words which seem to indicate that you don’t need the sacarmental reality of the Church or the community-just Jesus. That’s not Orthodox and if fact if you have not attended the sacrements for some time without leave from a bishop or for a clear and good reason, you have excommunicated yourself. That’s pretty basic.

            Many of the other positions you mention simply fly in the face of traditional Orthodox belief and would fit much easier in Protestantism.

            I’ve never understood folks who proclaim membership in some religious or even political organization but don’t really believe anything for which the organization stands.

            You’re statment on American’s believing whatever they want shows the descent into egalitarianism that is incompatible with Christianity as it is a strong temptation to those raised in a ‘democratic’ society. Not all beliefs have the same value, not all beliefs are salvific.

            You can believe whatever you wish, you just can’t believe whatever you wish and be Orthodox.

            • Daniel E Fall says:

              Two comments.

              Michael: In all my years learning about the Orthodox church; noone ever told me everyone in America needed to think like me and be Orthodox or there was a problem. If you told me I had to be Muslim to live in America; you’d get a far less civil response. One person told me only Orthodox people would go to heaven years ago and I discounted that as wierd or immature (it wasn’t clergy). And as a child in Sunday school, noone told me I needed to review different theologies and decide which church I ought join, so why don’t you knock it off already with the refitting. I love the church and frankly would like to see many more Orthodox churches.

              Colette: You didn’t ask me a question, you asked several questions in a short response which is easily taken as rhetorical. And frankly, I wasn’t sure you deserved this response, so don’t expect me to answer.

              Shame on this website for bashing gays. If you left that Mrs. stuff out; part of the things said might be credible. It’d be wise to recognize that George. My days of bashing homosexuals are over and I bring darkness to those who will.

              I’m gone; eat more peroghies.

              • I agree on the prohibition against the “Mrs” stuff. It really needs to stop.

                It is hard when people are facing the gay rights movement for the first time. You have to figure out how to not “bash gays” but still stand strong against a relentless attack. It is a very tough balancing act, and it doesn’t seem fair because the other side just goes for the jugular.

                So I do have some empathy for those who forget charity in the midst of being attacked (and I think you should too Daniel), but I definitely agree the Mrs. stuff needs to stop and should have stopped a long time ago.

                Having said that, it is a stretch to say this entire website is bashing gays. This is not a top down project orchestrated by a single person, as you know if you have posted here yourself.

          • Jane Rachel says:

            Daniel wrote: “If MS was completely a bad guy, wouldn’t he implode on his own?”

            Are you finally having doubts after all this time? I hope so.

            Then you wrote: “People are smart; they can see through stuff.”

            Nope. That’s not true, Daniel E. Fall. Absolutely, positively not true. Apparently, you haven’t learned this hard lesson in all your decades of living. This is not one of those snide remarks people make online. This is me telling you what I’ve observed after reading your comments for more than five years. Not to say that you are not smart, but overall, people aren’t smart, and they can’t “see through stuff.” Especially if they “think” they are smart and they “think” they can.

            And then, having arrived at the conclusion that this blog attacks gays, you write: “My days of bashing homosexuals are over … ”

            Daniel, can’t you see? The driving force behind this blog and the majority of those who post here is to counteract the darkness that is threatening the OCA. Just having a free forum where people can say what they want to and feel safe (relatively, this is an open, online forum), is so refreshing and so vital. You can feel safe to keep posting here, just take it easy and don’t get too worked up.

            Finally, you wrote: “…and I bring darkness to those who will.”

            Daniel, darkness doesn’t heal; it’s light that heals. Too many leaders in the OCA, including some of the “much-loved” bishops, have been practicing h…ypocrites and getting away with it for too long. The Church can’t function as the Light of the World if we are not healthy. If the head is sick, the whole body suffers. The leaders are called to be icons of Christ. Sit back, think a while. Give our Metropolitan some breathing room, hang out here, and watch what happens.

  12. A. Arganda (Rymlianin) says:

    The ones who have been in need of commital to a psychiatric facility would appear to be several members of the HS and a handful of members of the MC. Our metropolitan is speaking with the support of the Fathers of the Church , the community of Orthodox Christians and ,obviously , the support of Moscow.

    Ἂξιος!

    • lexcaritas says:

      Truly spoken AAR, but the ones to whom you refer still sit on the Synod and on the MC, and it remains to be seen whether the predictions of intervention by the MP represent reality or wishful thinking. I’m not holding my breath. Meanwhile, ++Jonah is limited to sheperhding a handful of parishes and missions in a very small geographic area and is no longer permitted to say much without approval from at least the small synod. The words we have been discussing, obtained from OCA News were apparently written before Santa Fe and nothing like them has been uttered since.

      We had believed and hoped that the OCA under ++Jonah would evangelize America with the clear and unremitting message, “Glory be to Jesus Christ” and to Him crucified, and would show the way by Orthodoxy in worship, doctrine and way of life, knit together in the bond of peace and love, being of one heart and mind and full of the Holy Spirit. What we have seen this year has been nothing of the kind.

      With Pentecost approaching, one might consider what the apostles and disciples were doing between Ascension Day and that mornimg when the Holy Ghost fell upon them as fire, cloven tongues like the hooves of the Serphim themselves coming to rest on each of them, and what He gave them to utter in other tongues if not the wonderous works of God in Whom all things are possible and with Whom none may fear what man can do to him. They were praying all together in one place and were of one accord knit in a communioin of love in which they held all things in common, and it was under such conditiions that they were divinized. But we . . . we are distracted, timid and unwilling to purge out the old leaven of malice and wickeness–and disordered living–and be a new lump characterized by sincerity and truth.

      May Christ call us to repentance, individually and corporately, and give us grace by our lives to glorify Him, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, unto Whom alone be all honour and glory unto ages of ages.

      lexcaritas

      PS Sin by its nature sunders. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Pride cometh before the fall and haughty spirit before destruction. Satan as ho diabolos strives to divide, and schism exists spiritually before it becomes manifest physically or organically. Who can unite us but He Who is Lovingkindness and Truth, the Father of Lights in Whom there is no darkness at all, neither shadow of turning? It is to Him that we must turn and to Him we must cling.

      • Nick Katich says:

        Lexcaritas:

        [I]t remains to be seen whether the predictions of intervention by the MP represent reality or wishful thinking.

        I’m glad you brought this up at this time since I was going to comment on it earlier and decided not to in case I was wrong in my analysis. I do think it is or was wishful thinking on the part of many at this blog. Let me explain.

        This whole idea was first suggested on StanVara’s blog within a day of Santa Fe. Somehow the idea was picked up by OCAT. It then worked its way here and elsewhere.

        It was also suggested by some of my sources (which, in hind sight, I now realize have closer connections to Jonah than I realized then) concerning an imminent intervention by the MP. However, you will recall that it took Hilarion quite a while to get here. And, when he finally did, he met with the Synod first sans Jonah. He then met with Jonah sans Synod.

        If he came to support Jonah, logical says that he would have met with Jonah first to get more detail and then met with the Synod to scold the Synod. When he met with the Synod first and then with Jonah, I soon concluded that he met with the Synod first to get more detail and then met with Jonah to scold Jonah. This conclusion makes sense in light of the fact that, since the Hilarion/Jonah meeting, Jonah has been silent, reserved and publicly acquiesent in the Chicago meetings rather than conducting a full blown mortar attack against the Synod.

        Think about the fact that the Jonah post Hilarion meeting is not the Jonah of the presumptive Santa Fe speech.

        Bottom line: the MP is not on the ring apron as a partner in a tag team match. It is probably not in the main floor of the area but is probably at the hot dog stand outside occasionally looking up at the TV monitor.

        • Nick Katich says:

          “Lexcaritas”

          Possible translation: Virtuous Lawyer. Greetings brother! Ooops. I didn’t mean to append virtuous as an appellation to me.

    • Indeed, Metropolitan Jonah has full support from Moscow, even though there are those that do not believe this — it is true.

      • Nick Katich says:

        Madam: How do you know?

        • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

          Nick, read previous comments by Madam and you’ll get your answer.

        • Martin Pendergrass says:

          is it not possible that +Jonah and +Hilarion speak on the phone? Also, this all did not happen at or just after Santa Fe. It seems to me +Jonah and +Hilarion spent quite a good amount of time together toward the end of January when +Hilarion was here for his Passion concert in NYC.

          • Not to mention the Passion concert in Dallas…….

            • Don’t forget +Hilarion’s Schmemann lecture at SVS, and the liturgy at the MP cathedral in New York.

          • Jesse Cone says:

            Do you think the MP would support a bureaucratic/ authority structure similiar to that of the OCA? Do you think the MP would long abide a Stokoe?

            One possible critique of HB is that he is taking his cues on what a Metropolitan is from Russia and the other autocephalus Churches. MS did this when HB delivered his report about his most recent trip to Russia. (Clearly they fell for “The Brum Doctrine” some time ago.) But considering the fact that he has not violated the Statute this critique doesn’t have teeth. If you want to take issue with his “vision” as expressed by the inexplicable Mr. Stokoe, I suppose you may. Honestly, this is the sort of disagreement I would welcome from us armchair church leaders… it might actually be profitable.

    • Carl Kraeff says:

      Rubbish. Prove your assertions by citing chapter and verse from the source documents. Opinions are like belly buttons, as all of us have them, and do not signify much. Please argue your point and quite flinging about nonsense.

  13. Sergius says:

    This must have been the speech +Jonah gave in Santa Fe. Stokoe says he got both the text and Father Fester’s notes on the text — something that only could have been leaked by Maymon. So you have here a bishop of the OCA leaking to a well-known public enemy of the Metropolitan the private correspondence between the Metropolitan and a priest. That is the kind of man he is: he will stop at nothing to gain power. That’s what he stands for. That’s what they all do.

    Be that as it may, friends, if Jonah gave this speech in Santa Fe, then it really is, as they saying goes, all over but the shouting. He has been crushed by the Synod and Mark Stokoe. Maybe things will turn out differently at the AAC, but it’s hard to see how Jonah will pull victory out of the jaws of such a humiliating defeat.

    For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t trust this pack of bishops with my nephew’s lunch money, much less with my spiritual welfare. They do not know that ye cannot serve both God and Maymon.

  14. Can anyone please post a link to Father Hopko’s Forgiveness Sunday comments? They are referenced often in these discussion strings, but I’ve never read them in their entirety. Thank you!!

    • It was posted on OCANews on either Forgiveness Sunday or the day after.

      • Here’s the bizarre text (and link):

        3.7.11

        A Letter On The First Day

        of Great Lent, 2011

        by Fr. Thomas Hopko, PA

        (Editor’s note: Fr. Hopko specifically requested I post his letter today. )

        Dear fathers, brothers and sisters in Christ,

        Asking your forgiveness on this first day of Great Lent, I beg you to trust, honor and support the Synod of Bishops of our Orthodox Church in America, together with the Metropolitan Council and Chancery staff, in their unanimous efforts to fulfill their duties responsibly, which now most sadly include insisting upon and providing for proper counsel and care for our gravely troubled Metropolitan Jonah.

        I also ask you to trust,honor and support Mark Stokoe’s continued efforts through OCANews to report, question, criticize and comment on the words and deeds of our Orthodox Church leaders for the sake of securing their best possible conduct of their God-given duties.

        And, while respecting his right to speak and act as he sees fit, I also ask you not to trust, honor or support Fr. Joseph Fester’s opinions and views since his record hardly demonstrates worthiness of serious consideration.

        May the Lord forgive our sins and failures. And may He guide and protect us in every way.

        Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko
        Dean Emeritus
        St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

        And an equally bizarre follow-up note on 3.30.11:

        A Note From Fr. Thomas Hopko

        “Dear fathers, brothers and sisters in Christ,

        I believe that what I wrote here on the first day of lent is right and true. I also believe that it was necessary for me to say what I did. I repent, however, for failing to express my convictions with proper kindness and care. Metropolitan Jonah and Fr. Fester have both accepted my apologies for this fault.

        I ask your forgiveness as well. May the Holy Spirit “guide [us] into all the truth.” (Jn 16:13)

        In Christ our Lord,

        Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko

        All made even more bizarre by word that the Synod had originally wanted Jonah to take his Lenten retreat at Hopko’s monastery.

        Could Dan Brown write it any better than this?

        • Even more bizarre is that Fr. Hopko presented the idea ahead of the 2008 AAC that Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of the ROC be recruited for Metropolitan of the OCA, and now we know that Met.s Hilarion and Jonah are “on the same page” in their vision of the moral and ethical role of the Orthodox Church in the world today.

          • Carl Kraeff says:

            Nikos–I am also on the same page, as is my priest, my bishop and all the Orthodox folks that I have known and know. I really don’t know why your mind is so warped, along with Um’s and Lexcaritas’, that anything said or written by +Jonah’s critics is treated with utter, unthinking contempt. This is shameful, uncharitable and must stop.

            • Carl,

              You are wrong to accuse me of a lack of effort, a lack of careful thought, a lack of charity, and even shameful acts in my communications here (and lexcaritas even more than me, from what I’ve read on here). I’m not perfect, but these specific accusations are simply wrong, and you need to know that.

              If Jonah has done wrong, state your charges to an appropriate authority, give him a chance to defend himself, be open and honest in the process, make sure any remedy fits the “crime” or if he is innocent that he is vindicated, and then move on. If others condemn him unjustly, speak up in his defense (for example on the Stokoe website and in Fr. Hopko’s letter).

              That alone would be a very good starting point for reconciliation with others in your church and with miscellaneous others like me for example.

              Whether anyone likes it or not, Jonah is the “head” bishop of your church (I put “head” in quotes because that is the word used in canon 34). He is a symbol and pastor of the entire church. He is being abused by a lay leader in your church and your church appears impotent to even say sorry to Jonah let alone to stop the vicious attacks. Some ordained individuals have even joined in the attack (Hopko for example), this is the source of all your disruption. It needs to be dealt with, but it has not. Why not figure out how to deal with it and work toward that resolution?

              If you need to remove Jonah, then remove Jonah; but even I can tell there will be many broken relationships if you do that. Most of you agree that Jonah is earnestly seeking to do God’s will through his service to your church and that attempts to remove him now are unjust.

              This is a shameful and sad situation for your church. It doesn’t give me great joy to point it out, but I certainly wasn’t the first, certainly won’t be the last, and what love I do have for you requires that I add my voice to the chorus and tell you honestly what I see. Your response is also instructive to me, as it tells me what kind of church you guys have and helps me to know if my family could be safe from the gay rights movement there and whether your church does indeed have a viable governance model.

              Having lived through and seen similar developments before, my heart really does break for you. I understand the confusion and the frustrations. But let me be as clear as I possibly can in saying that I am not the one trying to manipulate and confuse your or your church. All I know how to do is try my hardest, be as honest as I can, and to care as best I can about others. That’s what I have honestly tried to do, even in those moments when my tone has been more strident. The rest is up to you, of course.

              You will go before your own God and decide what is just, and what path you should follow. I’m just one voice among many. But I take the time to communicate because I care and wish you did not have to suffer the heartache you are suffering and will suffer if injustices are not corrected swiftly and appropriately within your church.

            • Dear Carl:

              ” I really don’t know why your mind is so warped, along with Um’s and Lexcaritas’”

              Others may not think that to be “charitable”
              PS: Persons with “thin skin,” and those who don’t know the difference between discussion, debate, and argument, should not be blogging here.

          • Let me ask you all this.

            I honestly have no interest in the formal discipline or humiliation of Fr. Hopko. I really don’t. But just to get a clearer sense of the gravity of what he did in his letter:

            Is his accusation that the metropolitan is “gravely troubled” and his request asking you “not to trust, honor or support Fr. Joseph Fester’s opinions and views since his record hardly demonstrates worthiness of serious consideration” perfectly ok within your church? These are both ordained and active priests in your church, one is also a bishop and metropolitan. The public accuser here is also ordained and active as a priest as best I can tell.

            Again, I’m not calling for formal discipline, but are these kinds of accusations against priests and bishops even allowed under your church law? More bluntly, could he face some kind of concrete disciplinary proceedings for doing this kind of thing. The accusation that Jonah is “gravely troubled” seems to be pure malicious poppycock, and certainly has not been substantiated by the accuser. The other is a priest who still preaches and teaches in the church, and he is telling people to not trust him and that his views are not worthy of serious consideration. This was not a leaked private letter, mind you. It was released publicly to do public harm to these two individuals. That was its stated purpose. So this is something I just don’t understand. Even in a neopagan church, a priest would probably receive a reprimand for something like that.

            • Fr. Hopko has substantial moral capital amassed. The Clean Monday letter he had Mr. Stokoe post was read by relatively few. Of those that did read it, many took it as Gospel truth. His accusation and request regarding the metropolitan and Fr. Fester are not okay in any church and, IMO, Fr. Hopko did far more to escalate the public side of the conflict than anyone until Mr. Stokoe published the allegedly stolen e-mails on the eve of the Chicago meetings. He certainly drew the focus of the Lenten journey off of repentance and onto church politics. IIRC, Fr. Hopko apologized in a later note, not for his accusation and judgment, but for upsetting whoever may have been bothered after reading the letter. His second letter would be understood to have defused the situation. (Clearly, it did not.) If there were any remaining concern, it would be understood by his bishop as “a pastoral matter” (wink, wink), which is how those with amassed moral capital (such as Mr. Stokoe and the financial scandal) get away with hypocrisy (in Mr. Stokoe’s case, his dual OCAN/MC roles) in the OCA.

              • “Fr. Hopko has substantial moral capital amassed.”

                Not any more.
                Because of his infamous “Forgiveness Sunday” letter you speak of, his “moral capital” has diminished greatly for many of us.

  15. Axios Met. Jonah!

  16. In 14 above James wrote:

    I’m scratching my head on why Stokoe posted this..

    Well, maybe it’s a ploy of his to “energize his base” in his campaign to oust Met.+Jonah, and we should expect more such to come periodically between now and the AAC to keep them energized.

  17. A. Arganda (Rymlianin) says:

    The Chicago Synod and MC were the replay of the historical debacle of the Cleveland Sobor (1946) all over again. This time , instead of a bunch of masons, we have the lavender mafia and its followers.

  18. If I were jaded and cheeky I might be inclined to think I was observing a confederacy of dunces in the OCA today.

    • But since you are neither, what do you think?

      • I think that until the question of polity is answered, no progress will be made. (And I mean answered, not just a statement outlining the problems.) Within the OCA, the fight seems to be about whether the Metropolitan should be able to act on his own, or must he have everything approved by the Synod. If it is to be some balance between the two, then what is that balance to be? (It seems to me that the answer must come from the Synod of Bishops.)

        Beyond the OCA, it is still a question of polity. Do the old world patriarchs really want to establish Orthodoxy in Europe, Asia, and the Americas; or do they just want to watch out for their own ethnicities on these continents. It appears to me that the latter is the primary motivation. I am not Greek, Russian, Arab, Romanian, or Serbian. I am a citizen of the United States. Therefore, I would not seek out Orthodoxy in any of these foreign forms.

        (There is a Greek Orthodox Church about 5 miles from me that is very well known for being “Greek” and not much else – at least from an outsider’s point of view. I know they are Christians because I have researched Orthodoxy, but I doubt that many people look at them as much more than “That interesting groups of Greek people that have festivals once or twice a year.“)

        Why aren’t the Patriarchs working together to establish ONE Orthodox Church in America? Why? Because they don’t want one. By their actions and their inaction are they not, in effect, stating clearly that they don’t want one?

        And what of the OCA? Until they figure out just what type of an organization they want to be all their energy will go toward in-fighting. Who would want to be a member of a group where all the leaders are either backstabbing each other, or looking the other way and hoping the situation will resolve itself? And if the leaders aren’t actively fighting each other, they are at least tacitly approving the people (web sites) that concur with their opinions.

        But one thing I do have to say approvingly about the OCA. The information is out there for everyone to see. The little bit I know of Antioch and + (“I only have a few million”) Philip, tells me there is a real blockbuster of a story there. Who knows what is behind the curtain of the other jurisdictions.

        I just wish the leadership (on a national and international level) would actually take the lead and then, perhaps, much of the speculation would stop. However, maybe – because they can’t agree on their polity – the leaders can’t take the lead.

        That’s what I think.

        • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

          That is the crucial question. I for one am tired of the infighting. I was so hopeful when HB was elected because now I thought we would all get on with the program and, you know, evangelize. I’ll never be Russian, Greek, or whatever. I want the same experience that deaf Russians have – be able to go to a church where the priest knows how to sign and can, you know, hear their confession. And even that – it was only in 1991 when an interpreter for the deaf saw the need (he is now a priest).

          The Greek Church is doing the same thing, I’ve heard of such work starting up in Serbia, Romania, even in Moldova (I think). There are other needs as well – families who have fallen away because those in the 2nd generation stopped going because they didn’t speak their parents’ languages and the 3rd generation who have been ensnared by the secularism and atheism. Where are the higher education that are Orthodox in nature, much like the Roman Catholic church has colleges and universities. How about the Baptists? They have Liberty University.

          I could go on and on, but I think you all get the emphasis to the point you just made.

  19. Carl,

    Stokoe is on record scheming with other MC members to remove Jonah via false pretenses.

    This fact alone refutes every last jot and tittle of your laborious and disingenuous “arguments”.

    You are well aware of this. Your own words condemn you.

    There can be no honest dialogue with a man so committed to deceit.

  20. Naboh Daor says:

    The timing of Mrs. Stokoe-Brown’s latest post is in keeping with his preaching to his two core groups, the Synod and the MC. The rest of us mean nothing to this self-important snob. Remember, the Episcopal Assembly begins its meetings on Wednesday in Chicago. Stokoe-Brown waited so he could control the news cycle, as he always tries to do. The silly members of the OCA Synod will now fret and fuss and DEMAND that something be done to prove they are in control and Jonah is not. If they only knew how utterly superfluous they are now to Orthodoxy in NA. Enjoy your seats boys in the peanut gallery of the EA. Those seats won’t get any better after this week.

    Now, any guesses as to who the silly synod will shoot at this week to prove to themselves that they are important?

    • Jane Rachel says:

      I am completely convinced you are right. Could they be any less connected to reality?

      • Most of them are victims of blackmail … your question is really only relevant to someone not being blackmailed. To the ones being blackmailed, Stokoe’s press releases are marching orders. He tells them when to jump, how high, through what hoop, etc. If they don’t show good faith effort, he can release the goods and destroy their career forever.

        There is no other explanation for why they have not removed him already.

        • Jane Rachel says:

          Do you know that for certain, Mister Um? If you do know it, then provide links, evidence, or something convincing. Otherwise, that kind of statement without evidence is not helpful. We don’t know for certain that there was/is blackmail. I’ve heard it from other people, too, even years ago, but no one has clearly stated it publicly. Blackmail is a crime. From what I’ve read, it does look like he’s holding damning information but I don’t know that for certain. I wouldn’t doubt it, but I don’t know. Is he? Does anyone know?

          It’s bad enough with what we do know for certain. The fact is, there’s enough damning information available for all to read, to convince any reasoning person that Father Thom Hopko’s letter (which admonishes us to trust Stokoe, the Synod, and the MC, and disregard Father Joseph and the “gravely troubled” Metropolitan) is at the least unwise if not totally misguided. It makes me think Father Thom has been blinded by Stokoe, along with all the rest who believe him without looking at all that’s available. It sure makes a person wonder… Father Thom, if you are reading this, would you please remember that even you can be wrong, wrong, wrong?

          Naboh Daor says, “If they only knew how utterly superfluous they are now to Orthodoxy in NA.” Connect that to Madam’s statement (and she knows btw), that our Metropolitan Jonah has Moscow’s full support. Now, there’s something you can be sure of. That’s what we should be talking about. If he were “gravely troubled,” etc, etc, would the spiritual leaders in Moscow support him fully? Hardly. And remember, he spent a lot of time in Russia. They know him.

          Stokoe’s “core groups” are the MC and the Synod, and whatever people continue to believe him. +Jonah, on the other hand, has Moscow’s support, and the support of people who are finally getting a clue what’s going on. Which is better? Who is right? I know where I stand.

          I would like to know more about what Father Garklavs did, I really would. Does anybody know? If the MC gave him a standing ovation, what is going on? What is their reasoning?

        • Geo Michalopulos says:

          Um, even though I have no proof of your assertion, I came to much the same conclusion a couple of months ago in “The Dumping Ground.” All it takes is for a small minority of bishops and priestst to be morally compromised for this toxic culture to keep perpetuating itself.

          I’ve often found asking myself “what would I do if I were a bishop on the HS?” After all, I’m not homosexual. Let’s say that two out of twelve actually are. Under such a scenario, could I pursue a reformist agenda? Probably not. If one of the compromised men was a friend of mine and he “leaned” on me to not vote this way, or not go after this particular priest, or something like that, I’d probably buckle under the pressure.

          Why? I may need his support at some other point. I know this is Mickey-Mouse and it says nothing good about me, but that’s the problem with The Toxic Culture, the bar is so low from the jump that it becomes well-nigh impossible to just get past the first hurdle.

    • Seraphimista says:

      I want to believe that they are totally disconnected from Orthodoxy in North America, but as far as I can see, they are running things. Our side likes to believe we are part of a mostly silent majority. What if we aren’t? My guess is that most OCA parishes are disconnected from what’s going on at the senior level in the Church. St. Seraphim’s cathedral now stands on the brink of destruction because of OCA politics. I have talked to fellow members of the Diocese of the South, and even they don’t have much idea what’s going on (none of them read blogs). There is no doubt that if Mark Maymon becomes the DOS bishop, the Dallas cathedral parish will collapse. The Synod might prefer to believe that this is only because St. Seraphim’s is a hotbed of pro-Jonah/pro-Fester sentiment. What the rest of the diocese will find out once Mark is in charge, and he starts doing to everybody else what he’s done to St. Seraphim’s, is that the cathedral parish’s reaction was reasonable. But by then it will be too late.

      I feel the same way about what the Synod has done to Jonah. My impression is that only a small number of people on either side of the debate know what’s going on, and care. The decisions that have been made by the Synod this year, and its gutting of the Metropolitan, will have serious effects on the OCA’s mission. As somebody said in one of George’s threads, a lot of us looked to Jonah as a champion of a more evangelical Orthodoxy — “evangelical” in the sense of an Orthodoxy that truly believed in itself, and was willing to preach the Gospel and reach out to America. That is gone now. The status quo won. The OCA is going to continue to think small and die on the vine. People keep bringing up on this blog Tom Hopko’s 2006 piece he wrote for Stokoe’s site where he talks about all these different factors showing the OCA is in serious decline. Hopko brought these “inconvenient truths” up because he was trying to wake the Church and its leaders up to what was going to happen if we kept doing business as usual with Met. Herman and his garbage.

      I guess Hopko thinks that’s all been taken care of, and the Synod we have now is fired up for the Gospel and for Orthodoxy in America. It’s a load of b.s., as we can fully see by what they’ve done to Jonah and how they’ve gone about doing it. I mean, “we” who are paying attention can fully see it, but I no longer think many people in the wider OCA world are paying attention. By the time they notice, it will probably be too late.

      Our side keeps waiting for the fat lady to sing. What if she has, and we missed it because we can’t accept that it’s over?

      • lexcaritas says:

        Our brother Seraphimista writes: <>

        Indeed, the Metropolitan who could and should be the face and voice of the Church in the US and Canada has been emasculated and effectively cowed into silence without any bishop’s having been selected to take his place in that capacity and speak for the Synod and the Church. So the Church remains without a human face, without a voice, without anyone well-known to its crew at the rudder of the ship. We have witnessed a mutiny with no known person in charge while the ship founders and heads for the rocks.

        In saying this, understand that I am not a monarchist. Indeed, it has always seemed to me that our Great Litany in its customary form is not entirely fitting in the American scene when we pray simply for our President and all civil authorities rather than, as is fitting for a Federalist, republican democracy with its separation of powers (and as I pray each morning and evening in private), where it is more fitting to ask God’s mercy for “this God-protected State, its Legislature, Governor and Courts; for the People of the United States, their Senators and Representatives in Congress assembled, for our President and Vice-President, for the Justices and Judges of the Supreme Court and all lower Courts, and for all civil authorities, and for those who serve in our armed forces . . . that Hewould aid them, humble them and hallow them, reminding them Whose servants they are, and delivering them from the power of every Enemy and Adversary.”

        This said, I also realize that no nation prospers without a head of state; no army without a general; no sports team without a coach and captain; no family without a head of household and no body without a head. Nor is any film made without a director. No less can the Church prosper in this world without a visible temporal head who, with integrity and saintly example, is able to develop consensus among those callled to be saints and to crystalize courage, vision, hope and mission among the Faithful. Apparently, many in the OCA and some in this discussion group remain unconvinced and think it can be done by synods and metroplitan councils. Sounds like a dream world to me; good luck in pulling it off.

        Seraphimista and others have remarked that few of the laity are “aware of what’s going on.” No doubt this is, indeed, the case. Why? Because the clergy are effectively “sworn” to silence and are loathe to mention the situaton or discuss it with their parishioners. There are, I suspect a number of reasons for this. Many understandably fear for their livelihood. Many, as licensed professionals, are afflicted by a measure of clericalism that conceives of the Church as comprised not so much of all the faithful in Christ but principally of the hierararchy and the lesser clergy. (These are they for whom the dominical counsel to “take it to the Church” means “take it to the priest or the bishop.”) Many share a misconception and oversimplication of what true obedience and honour for one’s elders and superiors properly entails in a society of persons who have been made “free” in Christ and who together comprise, in the Holy Spirit, the living organism of His Body and His real presence in this world. Many are uncertain and fearful of the enormous vitality and dynamism that ought to characterize this Body of Christ and every single member as we are mutually edified by the gifts which the Spirit distributes to each severally as He wills and knit together by what every joint supplies until we all come together to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, to Whom be all honour and glory now and ever and unto ages of ages.

        lexcaritas

      • James Morgan says:

        Seraphimista, can you spell out in some detail what Bishop Mark has ‘done to St. Seraphim’s Cathedral?
        I’ve heard rumors about wanting to change the music and suspending a priest etc. but other than that, what has he actually done there?

        why do some people hate him so much, or at the least, distrust him?
        I’m in the DOW and to understand this,details are important.

        Rdr. James

        • Hi James,

          That has been hashed and rehashed here. If you just read over the former 3 or 4 articles by George and read through the comments you’ll see it.

  21. Chris Plourde says:

    After the financial scandals it was always going to be necessary to address the structural issues that made the scandal and the slush fund possible.

    +Jonah alludes to is a lack of structural clarity in several instances, but always resolves it by giving the Metropolitan more power. This is what +Herman would have done, and what +Theodosius would have done, because every executive wishes to wish to act with a free hand.

    When it comes to Garklavs, the Synod accepted his resignation because one thing the Metropolitan gets absolutely right in his presentation is the problem of an Imperial Chancellor. In America one does not solve the problem of an Imperial Chancellor by replacing it with an Imperial Metropolitan, but by creating a system of checks and balances.

    Everything else, entertaining as it is, is not germane to what was actually done by the Synod.

    Most of us defend +Jonah the person, but we need not conflate +Jonah the man with the office of Metropolitan. Would we receive this speech so well if it were delivered by +Herman? By +Theodosius? It seems to me it would be comfortable in either of their mouths, there’s nothing in it with which they would not wholeheartedly concur.

    +Jonah is merely acting as every executive ever has acted. He wishes to give up none of the power abused by his predecessors. +Jonah is very much our Obama, the young and charismatic “change” that’s a change in personality only and otherwise not so much.

    • Did Herman or Theodosius have a group from the MC on the record as trying to remove them via false pretenses?

      You don’t think this changes anything in your interpretation???

      • Geo Michalopulos says:

        No, because they were non-entities who were apathetic about real leadership and thus left the MC/Syosset people alone. Ask yourself this: would Col. Hogan have wanted Col. Klink removed as Kommandant of Stalag 13?

        • Nick Katich says:

          George: Herman apathetic? How soon we forget. He ran the place like Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili.

          • Nick,

            You are mistaken. Herman totally abdicated any responsibility for the OCA except when it came to St Tikhon’s Seminary and Monastery. It was Herman who let the MC gain authority well beyond its statutory definition. He was a short-sighted single focus Primate. His only requirement was that all things OCA align with all things St. Tikhon’s.

          • Geo Michalopulos says:

            Actually Nick, in the six years that Herman was Metropolitan, he spent fewer days at Syosset than +Jonah has in his 2 and 1/2 years combined, and that’s saying a lot considering how little time +Jonah has spent there. (Yet another brief against +Jonah by the Stokovites.)

            If he had been a Stalin, the HS could not have eased him out as prudently as they did. BTW, I very much applaud the face-saving way they used to get rid of him. It was kept very much in-house.

        • Jane Rachel says:

          Exactly! Good one, George!

      • Chris Plourde says:

        Actually, Um, no, because that’s conflating two different things.

        Stokoe’s e-mails are not the actions of the Synod, any more than Dreher’s e-mails are the actions of the Metropolitan.

        The MC exists because of the Synod, the Synod does not exist because of the MC. Likewise the Metropolitan exists because of the Synod, the Synod does not exist because of the Metropolitan.

        If you want to know what’s really happening, take a look at what the Synod is really doing. The Synod did not depose the Metropolitan, the Synod did accept Garklav’s “resignation.” The Synod acted to clarify what the Metropolitan asserted in his alleged speech was unclear.

        These are the facts, not the spin. So there’s no need to alter my analysis, because I’m not buying the theory that necessarily everything the Synod does must be seen in the light of the ECUSA’s slide from “mere heresy” to neo-paganism.

        • Chris, I must confess, I have lost the thread of this particular conversation at this point. Sorry.

          But I take it you would agree that the MC is over-reaching and someone needs to put it in its place.

          Would you also agree that someone needs to discipline a rogue member of the MC in some circumstances real or hypothetical? How do you think Stokoe should be handled right now? What do you think would be the appropriate response to his personal crusade against Jonah and who should take this action?

          I’m interested to know your thoughts on these matters.

          • Chris Plourde says:

            Um.

            To follow these things you need only scroll up to see the post to which anyone is responding.

            Answering your post:

            I do not believe the MC is “overreaching” because it hasn’t done anything. Nothing. You can’t point to a single act of the MC in this last meeting that amounts to plain old reaching, much less overreaching.

            The urge to put people in their place is an urge from ego, not from God. From God we get the urge to seek a way to inspire repentance that errants may be saved. This requires discernment not possible to those who know “all about” their target from the internet, but who don’t actually know the persons they’re talking about.

            My take on Stokoe is simple: I search for charity and mercy and love in his posts, but don’t find it. This is a problem best addressed by his confessor and his Bishop. I pray for them all, as I pray for you.

            • I see now that you were responding directly to “Jonah’s speech” (assuming for rhetorical purposes that this was the speech he gave) and not to some other comment.

              I feel like you are avoiding the primary point in Jonah’s speech. His primary call as I read the speech is for the bishops to step forward and do their job, to embrace their calling as the shepherds and leaders of the church. If they would do that, I doubt he would care too much about his personal set of responsibilities. Again: His primary call is for the bishops, not the lay leaders, to really lead the church. That’s my honest take on what I read.

              I know that your personal interest is primarily with the role of the metropolitan. So when I reread your comments with that in mind, I understand them better. But I really do think you are reading your priorities into his speech and missing the main message he is trying to communicate.

              When he talks about his role as metropolitan, his main point is to ask for the support of the Synod in dealing with lay leaders who are pursuing their own agenda, not in consultation with him or with the Synod. In some cases, this private agenda has risen to the level of trying to remove him from office, and on this particular point he is asking for the Synod to make things right. These seem like reasonable requests don’t they?

              Regarding actions of the MC:

              Several members of the MC have been working to remove the metropolitan. One of them has been working tirelessly toward this objective for quite some time now, he’s being very open about it on his blog, and he happens to enjoy a good deal of influence over others in the MC and Synod. You can’t separate these public acts from the individual’s role on the MC. You can’t say they are private acts and not connected to his leadership role. Just because the MC hasn’t passed a resolution officially supporting this member’s crusade against the metropolitan doesn’t mean that his actions are appropriate for someone in his role.

              This really goes without saying, but what the heck:

              If a lay person wants to mount a private campaign against a bishop who has not violated any laws or rules, just because they don’t like their style, then they have a right to do that as a lay person. But once that person takes a position on the MC, they have a responsibility to the church to work with the bishops in good faith. If they get to a point where they cannot, then they should resign. This is just common sense. And when it becomes clear that a lay leader is out to get a bishop who has done no wrong, or to pressure any bishop using strong arm tactics to lead the church in the way that this lay leader deems best, the Synod should intervene to remove that person. If they don’t, then they are abrogating their responsibility. They wouldn’t be excommunicating the person, and the individual could continue their personal vendetta once they return to “civilian” life. This is not about trying to vest absolute power in any one person. It is simply about having a functional organization, with good working relations — and also about respecting the dignity of those trying to work together.

              I’m surprised that you feel confident voicing such strong opinions about Jonah’s appropriate role and the Synod’s appropriate role, but you consistently plead the 5th about Stokoe’s appropriate role and what should be done if he fails to act within appropriate boundaries.

              • Chris Plourde says:

                I’m surprised that you feel confident voicing such strong opinions about Jonah’s appropriate role and the Synod’s appropriate role, but you consistently plead the 5th about Stokoe’s appropriate role and what should be done if he fails to act within appropriate boundaries.

                Um, you think you know things that you don’t know and so are reaching conclusions which have no basis in fact.

                You think you know that I’ve “expressed strong opinions” about the “appropriate role” of both the Metropolitan and the Synod. That’s incorrect, Um. I have done no such thing.

                I’ve been pretty much a broken record: The relationship between the Metropolitan and the Synod is for them to sort out. Period. I can think of literally dozens of ways to have that relationship work harmoniously, and oddly enough not one of them includes the laity weighing in on what they should or should not do in our current circumstances.

                The other opinions I’ve ventured is that none of the actions taken by the Synod are surprising, because they’re not. And I’ve observed that the actions taken by the Synod have so far defied the predictions of all the laity (including those aided by “sources”) that have presumed to know what the Synod should/would do. Those aren’t endorsements or criticisms, they are observations of fact.

                As for the rest of your post, the actual events that came after this alleged speech are what matters to the wellbeing of the Church. All the smoke and mirrors, all the sturm and drang, all the clanging cymbals and rumor-mongering are rendered irrelevant by the actions taken by the Synod which, it should be remembered, includes +Jonah.

                Everything else is a sideshow, and it doesn’t become less a sideshow because people pay attention to it, it merely becomes a successful sideshow. OCANews, OCATruth, Stokoe, Dreher, et.al., is a giant distraction from the facts of what the Synod has actually done.

                I am really rather calm about what the Synod has actually done because I don’t see in their actions anything that leads away from God. On the other hand, the sideshow seems determined to take us all as far as possible from God, and that so many good people wish to partake in that is disheartening.

                One last note: Orthodoxy has remained true to Christ by refusing to get caught up in the sideshow of any age, while heresy has often arrived as an angel of light determined to save us from what we fear in the sideshow. Today is no exception.

                • I’m pretty sure I can never be Orthodox enough to put blind faith in a Synod; certainly not the current OCA Synod.

                  If they take responsibility for the wrongs they are permitting in their church, then I will respect them for that. If they do it consistently, eventually I can trust. And who knows, maybe after that I can develop some mystical ideas about their infallibility. But I don’t see the rationale for this kind of faith or the evidence to support it right now.

                  I’ll keep trying to keep an open mind though, for what it is worth.

    • +Jonah alludes to is a lack of structural clarity in several instances, but always resolves it by giving the Metropolitan more power. This is what +Herman would have done, and what +Theodosius would have done, because every executive wishes to wish to act with a free hand.

      But that’s precisely the point, Chris: +Jonah is not vesting more authority in the office of Metropolitan, he uses the authority that the canons, the statute, and the human resources guidelines have already given him.

      Though they have all made mistakes and been accused of overstepping their boundaries, there should be no question of comparing Metropolitan Jonah to his predecessors. The predecessors acted with hateful indifference, if not outright malice, towards the well-being of the flock. Metropolitan Jonah, whatever his leadership flaws, has not been credibly accused of anything of that nature. When you are looking for good shepherds, you don’t go for the one who can’t hang on to much of a flock, but who happened to make some wise investments in wool futures or whatever. You just look for the one who feeds the sheep and looks after them.

      The real issue here is not how much anyone receives under the relevant rules and guidelines, but how he uses it. Whatever administrative flaws +Jonah has, or however one might disagree with his views, one would be hard pressed to accuse him of any motive other than the spread of the Gospel and the sustainability of the OCA. I just don’t know that we can say the same about the Stokoe faction on the Metropolitan Council.

      • Carl Kraeff says:

        I think that we can agree to disagree and not go to extremes, such as “Whatever administrative flaws +Jonah has, or however one might disagree with his views, one would be hard pressed to accuse him of any motive other than the spread of the Gospel and the sustainability of the OCA. I just don’t know that we can say the same about the Stokoe faction on the Metropolitan Council.” Let’s all say that everybody has the best interest of the Church uppermost in whatever they do or say. I have been critical of the Metropolitan but I have never accused him of selfish motives; I think that he really thinks that he is doing the best for the Church and that is precisely what scares me the most.

        You said “+Jonah is not vesting more authority in the office of Metropolitan, he uses the authority that the canons, the statute, and the human resources guidelines have already given him.” I think you are absolutely incorrect in your assessment but we argued these things for so long that further repetition is unlikely to change minds. I am willing to consider a reasoned argument for your case but absent chapter and verse analysis of the applicable canons, statutes and policies, I find myself disinclined to agree with you.

      • George Mutzel says:

        I agree that the issue is not whether or not His Beatitude is seeking power, but rather what he intends to do with that power. Is it bad for a holy man to have power, or to seek it? If he speaks with the voice of the Holy Spirit, I will listen to that man, even if his boldness scandalizes us with its intensity.

        Forgive me, I am a simple person, as I have said before. My natural inclination is simply to follow those that I trust as holy men, and I find it difficult to be interested (as perhaps I should) in the administrative issues of who has the right to say what, and to whom, and with whose permission. The Metropolitans compared to +Jonah in the comments above were thieves and men neglectful of their flock, not simply poor administrators. His Beatitude is a holy man, as I and many, many others know from personal experience. I will follow this man, and I will be ashamed of those who take his admonitions against spiritual laxity and prelest as chances to be offended and not as spiritual words to be considered.

        Perhaps His Beatitude has overstepped his boundaries in his decisions… but such resentment could not be felt by those who did not draw their boundaries deeply, and guard their borders jealously. Such resentment could not be felt by those that welcome a holy man into their house as a brother.

        • Carl Kraeff says:

          Well George M., I certainly think that we’ve had couple of Apostles who were bold with their words and scandalized some folks. I must confess that I am one of those who was thrilled with +Jonah’s speech at the convention, his acceptance speech, his rebuttal of the Chief Secretary’s ill considered speech, etc…I had no idea that he would disobey the Holy Synod, but he has certainly done that. I had no idea that his admirers would attack elected officials and bishops of the Church with such vitriol and hatred, but they have. I would not have posted at all in the logs that I read if it had not been for the underhanded attacks on good folks made on OCAT and here. Indeed, I have only posted on this site. In short, I am reacting to what I perceive to be gross injustices perpetrated against my brothers and sisters in Christ. I apologize for offending many of you but that is the way I see it.

          • Carl,

            How has Jonah “disobeyed the Holy Synod”? In what way? And why would you say he has “certainly done that”?

            You do understand that Mark Stokoe is not a bishop of the church and is not on the Holy Synod, right? Are you ok with this man having more influence over the church than the metropolitan, who actually is a bishop and a member of the Holy Synod?

            Jonah has not called for any bishop of the church to be removed. You do understand that, don’t you? All Jonah has asked of the Holy Synod is that they do their job and embrace their role as leaders of the church.

            Stokoe has called for a bishop to be removed. He has done so both publicly and privately. He has done so without any justification (if you know of one, then state it). Yet in his public efforts he has used deceit, criminal actions and criminally obtained materials in an attempt to achieve his goal of ousting a sitting bishop.

            • No one has attempted to remove the Holy Synod, not via false pretenses nor via any other means. There is no public threat to the Holy Synod, and they do not need your protection. Jonah himself is doing everything they ask, even when the purpose of their request appears to be his public humiliation and little more.

              There is a problem of injustice in your church, and it has led to increasing disorder. The Holy Synod is intact, and it has had ample opportunity to address the crisis and restore order to the church. It has so far elected to allow scandal and injustice to continue before the eyes of the entire world and to silence the victim. The Holy Synod could right these wrongs today, and your church could move forward in unity under their leadership tomorrow. Maybe you can explain why they do not remove Stokoe and his conspirators from their positions of leadership, given that he compromises your entire church.

          • Geo Michalopulos says:

            Carl, I appreciate your honesty here as it shows that you’re not an ideologue. However I must ask, how exactly did he “disobey the synod”? I have it on very good authority from one of the bishops (not +Jonah) that he did no such thing.

            Let me flesh out what actually happened here: after Santa Fe, when HB returned home, he found what “leave of absence” could mean in a different context and he called +Nathanael and asked if it could be re-worded. +Nathanael agreed provided that the other bishops agreed. It seems that +Nathanael got the requisite permission to do so.

            Speculation: Why did +Nathanael get the permission? Bbecause most of the other bishops did not want the AAC statutes to automatically go into effect.

            Speculation: The newer bishops (HB included) were not aware of the intricacies of the AAC statute regarding “leaves of absence” when they voted how they did.

            Speculation: They acceeded to +Nathanael’s request because they may have felt hoodwinked by The Appalled Four. (This assumes btw that there really was a subset of Stokovite bishops on the HS.)

            • Carl Kraeff says:

              George–I really hope that you are correct. I was going by (a) the Minutes of the Santa Fe Retreat, (b) ordinary usage of the term “leave of absence, and (c) the words and actions of +Jonah as reflected on official sites. I do not have inside information, nor have I relied on OCAN reporting. I do however look upon the action of placing someone on a leave of absence as a disciplinary measure, which does not have to mean an action after transgressions as such an action could also be taken proactively and for health reasons. I should also say that I see nothing wrong or sinister in the officials of the Church thinking, sharing or coordinating critical information or disciplinary actions against one or more of the members of the Holy Synod, to include the Metropolitan. All of that said, the record that has been officially published shows that the following transpired in order:
              a. The Holy Synod decided to put +Jonah on a leave of absence. +Jonah agreed.
              b. The Holy Synod suggested that +Jonah ask for the leave of absence for health reasons so that the action does not seem to imposed on him. +Jonah agreed.
              c. +Jonah asked if he could participate in previously scheduled activities. The Holy Synod said no, and +Jonah agreed again.
              d. After Santa Fe, +Jonah continued to perform duties as both Diocesan and Metropolitan.

              Now, if one looks at this picture, one would immediately notice a couple of things: First, the loving consideration that the Holy Synod as a whole had shown for +Jonah. Second, the insistence that +Jonah the person take a leave of absence. I say this because, when the cause for the leave of absence is personal health concerns, there is no possibility of splitting a man and allowing one-half to continue to function as usual (the Diocesan) at the same time as the other half (the Metropolitan) is on leave. If you look at this objectively, you can immediately see that +Jonah disobeyed the decision of the Holy Synod and broke his own word.

              Now, if it is true that, as you were speculating, +Jonah and some others did not understand what they were doing, I would not criticize them. After all, the early Church established deacons in order to free up our bishops from having to be experts in areas other than the divine. Personnel actions may be one of the areas of expertise that we should not expect our bishops and priests to be experts in. On the other hand, may be someone should tell HB that he must be strong and that he should not agree for the sake of peace, face saving or to cut short an argument is not a good policy. He must not even appear to be two-faced. His word should be his bond. In closing, as I have said many times before, I pray that he will recover from this and remain as our Metropolitan, that is, as one who was nominated by the representatives of the entire Church–clergy and laity alike–, elected by his fellow bishops.

              • Carl,

                Someone else needs to respond to you in more detail, but I will say that you do appear to be relying entirely on Stokoe for your information AND interpretation. The official Santa Fe minutes did not say “leave of absence” … You were misled about that.

                Not that I really care about the wording of the minutes myself, but you were obviously misled by Stokoe on this one.

                • The official Santa Fe minutes did not say “leave of absence”

                  Actually, the minutes do say “Leave of Absence”. Stokoe was not lying about that.

                  What he did lie about was in saying that +Jonah was “placed” on leave of absence, at least according to the minutes, which make a point of stating that the leave was of +Jonah’s own free will.

                  Bishop Mark also lied (or at least shaded the truth) when he claimed the rest/retreat language was categorically rejected at the meeting; I have him and Bishop Nikon on record using words like “rest” and “break” interchangeably with “leave of absence” in early March. In fact, their explanations of +Jonah’s leave are almost identical in wording, obviously derived from a boilerplate.

                  Truth be told, in the real world, when you take a leave of absence from your job, you are supposed to come to terms with your employer as to its duration and your responsibilities during that time. And yes, you absolutely do have something written out and signed in case either of you breach the terms. To sum up, if this was ever meant to be an official, binding leave of absence, the Synod failed to make it one.

                  And if it was supposed to be a gentleman’s agreement, I should just point out that one does not usually make gentlemen’s agreements with paranoid, mentally unstable individuals.

                  • Carl Kraeff says:

                    Helga–I was hoping not to dredge up once again the minutes but everything that I said happened is reflected exactly that way in the minutes (paraphrases notwithstanding). I find that you generally make cogent arguments but you do know that the conclusion must be false if one or more of the premises are wrong, right? Therefore, let’s look at your claim that only a detailed and signed agreement can define a binding leave of absence. In the first place, the terms of a leave of absence are not normally negotiated; they are either in the HR policies or one uses normal usage. IF the Holy Synod is indeed the “supreme canonical authority,” we should not presume equality between a mere bishop (even though he is the Metropolitan) and the body in differing interpretations of what was meant by leave of absence. Next, the text of the minutes actually prove that there was an attempt by the Metropolitan to negotiate a laxer type of leave of absence when he asked if he could still participate in scheduled events. He was told no and he agreed. This is actually a type of agreement that the courts in this country would accept as binding. Heck, a schoolboy can see that exchange as a valid handshake, a true agreement, written or not. Now, the only possibility that remains is that the minutes do not in fact reflect what was said and done. I doubt this was the case because their publication was a purposeful act to remind all that, contrary to his claims, the Metropolitan was indeed placed on a leave of absence. In any case, I have done my part; if you are going to continue to argue this point, I challenge you to publicly parse the Minutes to make your case.

                    PS: Just to make your research easier, I am posting the relevant parts of the Minutes below.

                    “The Holy Synod’s Concern for the Health of His Beatitude, Jonah
                    HEARD:
                    The Holy Synod discussed matters affecting the primatial service of His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH. Holy Synod members affirmed their love and obedience to the Metropolitan and reminded him that love and obedience are also reciprocal between the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod. There must be mutual obedience.
                    Metropolitan JONAH was asked to absent himself from the meeting.
                    Discussion followed.
                    Metropolitan JONAH returned to the meeting.

                    DECIDED:
                    The Holy Synod took the following actions and reviewed them with His Beatitude:
                    1. The Holy Synod accepted Archpriest Alexander Garklavs’ resignation as Chancellor effective immediately.
                    2. The Holy Synod expressed concern for the Metropolitan’s health. Once again they affirmed their love and concern for him and their earnest desire to see him succeed. After further discussion, the Holy Synod determined that a sixty day Leave of Absence for His Beatitude would be beneficial. Metropolitan Jonah accepted to do so. The Synod asked him to request to do so, as it would be better seen that he acknowledged the need for this. Metropolitan JONAH then requested a Leave Of Absence for not less than 60 days during which time he would see a physician and devote himself to his own spiritual and physical health without concern for the burdens of the primatial office. This could include a time of retreat at a monastery. His Grace Bishop Benjamin asked if he was ready to make this decision or if he needed additional time and the Metropolitan said he did not need more time to make the decision.
                    3. The Holy Synod appointed Archbishop NATHANIEL as Administrator of the OCA for the length of His Beatitude’s leave.
                    4. The Holy Synod appointed Bishop MELCHISEDEK as interim Chancellor.
                    5. The Holy Synod relieved His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH from his responsibilities as Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South and appointed Bishop NIKON Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South with Bishop MARK continuing as administrator.
                    6. The Holy Synod relieved His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH from his responsibilities as Locum Tenens of the Diocese of Midwest and appointed Bishop TIKHON as Locum Tenens of the diocese of the Midwest with Archimandrite MATTHIAS continuing as administrator

                    HEARD:
                    Bishop BENJAMIN conveyed to His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH, the above decisions of the Holy Synod. He noted that these decisions were made out of love for His Beatitude and out of concern for the spiritual and physical health of the Primate.
                    The members of the Holy Synod emphasized that it was their desire for His Beatitude to sincerely take this time to address issues of his well‐being so that he could most effectively fulfill his responsibilities as Primate of the Church.
                    Metropolitan JONAH thanked the brothers for their concern and acknowledged that a leave of absence would be beneficial and noted that he had not had much time off since his election as Primate.
                    Bishop TIKHON asked His Beatitude if he needed any time to reflect upon these matters.
                    Metropolitan JONAH declined and confirmed that he would abide by the counsel of his brothers.

                    DECIDED:
                    A. The Holy Synod accepted the request of Metropolitan JONAH for a leave of absence for 60 days.
                    B. Bishop MICHAEL will meet with Archpriest Alexander Garklavs on Friday to convey to him that the Holy Synod accepts his resignation. He will also meet with the other members of the staff and inform them of the above developments and appointments.
                    C. The Holy Synod will issue a press release, to be dated Friday, February 25, 2011:

                    Thursday, February 24, 2011

                    SESSION V

                    Final Review

                    HEARD:
                    The Holy Synod reviewed the decisions from the minutes from the previous days.
                    Bishop TIKHON presented a draft of the Press Release.
                    Metropolitan JONAH inquired about several upcoming events which he had been scheduled to participate in.
                    The Holy Synod recommended that it would be best for His Beatitude to begin his leave of absence immediately and allow the Administrator, the Interim Chancellor and the members of the Holy Synod to assume the responsibility for those events
                    Metropolitan JONAH agreed to this recommendation.
                    The meeting adjourned at 10:00 am”

                    • Carl, thank you for trying to make my research easier, but I have been keeping the OCA’s public documents on file for a few years now, and have been keeping them close at hand throughout the current crisis, including the Santa Fe minutes. It is not necessary for you to quote at length from anything available online. A link is more than adequate.

                      With that said, I have to say you appear to be interpreting things incorrectly. While the Synod is the supreme canonical authority in the OCA (Article II, Section 1), this does not make them infallible, and they have no right to force anything on anyone if they disregard the good order of the Church.

                      For example, several times in the past few years, the Synod has elected locum tenentes for vacant dioceses, even though appointing locum tenentes is a prerogative explicitly given to the Metropolitan in the Statute. This is an abuse of power as plain as day. From the Chicago minutes, however, they appear to have finally figured that out, and produced a resolution acknowledging the Metropolitan’s authority and merely issued a ‘guideline’ that he not take up that responsibility himself when choosing a locum tenens. But they had no authority to force their decisions about locum tenentes on Metropolitan Jonah.

                      We know from his speech that Metropolitan Jonah is not ignorant of the OCA’s human resources policies. If there are guidelines in the manual for leaves of absence, we have no reason to think he did not follow them.

                      Next, the text of the minutes actually prove that there was an attempt by the Metropolitan to negotiate a laxer type of leave of absence when he asked if he could still participate in scheduled events. He was told no and he agreed.

                      Well, let’s look at the minutes, shall we?

                      Metropolitan JONAH inquired about several upcoming events which he had been scheduled to participate in.
                      The Holy Synod recommended that it would be best for His Beatitude to begin his leave of absence immediately and allow the Administrator, the Interim Chancellor and the members of the Holy Synod to assume the responsibility for those events

                      So, Metropolitan Jonah asks them about “several upcoming events”, for which the Synod offers to cover for him. The wording of Metropolitan Jonah’s inquiry clearly implies he asked about specific events, and the Synod clearly did not forbid him from doing anything at all.

                      The problem a lot of people here have with your postings is that you repeatedly ignore the plain meaning of the minutes in favor of Stokoe’s biased interpretation. Here is a case in point:

                      This is actually a type of agreement that the courts in this country would accept as binding. Heck, a schoolboy can see that exchange as a valid handshake, a true agreement, written or not. Now, the only possibility that remains is that the minutes do not in fact reflect what was said and done.

                      This exchange was no handshake contract demanding that the Metropolitan do nothing during the 60 days, it was an arrangement for substitutes at certain events. Unless the Metropolitan agreed to have a substitute replace him at an event, and he showed up anyway without any justification, no agreement was broken.

                      People bring up the Metropolitan’s presence at the convocation at SVS and meeting the Serbian patriarch as examples of disobedience on his part. I don’t want to get into that too much, but I think that is quite defensible and that the Synod would be in the wrong if they had presumed to forbid him to go to either event.

                      I doubt this was the case because their publication was a purposeful act to remind all that, contrary to his claims, the Metropolitan was indeed placed on a leave of absence

                      Again, the plain wording of the minutes contradicts your interpretation:

                      After further discussion, the Holy Synod determined that a sixty day Leave of Absence for His Beatitude would be beneficial. Metropolitan Jonah accepted to do so. The Synod asked him to request to do so, as it would be better seen that he acknowledged the need for this. Metropolitan JONAH then requested a Leave Of Absence for not less than 60 days during which time he would see a physician and devote himself to his own spiritual and physical health without concern for the burdens of the primatial office. This could include a time of retreat at a monastery. His Grace Bishop Benjamin asked if he was ready to make this decision or if he needed additional time and the Metropolitan said he did not need more time to make the decision.

                      The Synod actually made a special effort to ensure Metropolitan Jonah’s cooperation was noted in the minutes, and his leave was requested, not involuntary. Now, I have little doubt that some of the other bishops were aiming a Howitzer at him under the table, but the minutes are clearly written to portray a voluntary leave.

                  • I stand corrected on that factual point.

                    But the point of interpretation is still entirely valid, as Helga explains quite well. And George’s comment is of course relevant as well.

                • Carl Kraeff says:

                  Um–You presume too much and you should indeed care about the wording of the minutes.

                  • Just standing up to you for a day is enough to force me into a leave of absence.

                    Imagine what it must be like for Jonah to stand up to a lay activist spouting vile accusations about him day in and out when this man has so much influence over the the MC, Synod of Bishops, etc.

                    The Synod needs to deal with the source of this chaos, which is Stokoe. If the Synod needs to tell Jonah something, then the Synod can deal with that on there own. They do not need Stokoe’s help. Or are you of the opinion that the Synod needs Stokoe’s help on this for some reason???

                    Personally I don’t see the Synod as infallible, and I believe they are making some very big mistakes right now. They could be corrected to be sure. For your sake, hopefully they will be.

                    • Carl Kraeff says:

                      Um–get your mind off of Stokoe. You are so obsessed with him that it is clouding your judgment. Even if he were the Devil incarnate, he has no power over us–at least over adult believers. Again, read the minutes and come back.

                    • You may want me to ignore Stokoe, but he is the 800 lbs gorilla in your room. The fact that you want to ignore him says a lot, since dealing with him appropriately could bring reconciliation in your church.

                      I’ve read the minutes. Nothing there deals with the 800 lbs gorilla.

              • Ian James says:

                On this hand, on the other hand…

                Rule #1: Stokoe spins. Don’t use him as your base line.

              • Carl,
                I read your post and I agree with Helga.

                • Carl Kraeff says:

                  Thank you for reading my post, whichever that is (I am losing track of this threads, they seem to be so many). In any case, I hope that you did read the mintes, unlike some other folks here.

      • Chris Plourde says:

        One of the things that I find is that there’s no assertion that Jonah has acted in bad faith, and in fact his actions vis. Garklavs was supported. But there is his assertion that the issue was unclear and that he was relying upon a human resources manual instead of any sense of the Synod, which we all now have.

        I’ve been through this kind of thing with secular and religious organizations in the past, none of this is surprising or remotely different from what one would expect. Not even the rumor-mongering and choosing off of “sides” which wind up hostile to each other.

        It’s not surprising, but it is disheartening.

  22. Fr. Timothy Cremeens says:

    CHRIST IS RISEN!

    It is beyond me how this sinful mess has gotten to the point that it has. No, I am not naive, I know that humanity is capable of great good and great evil but it seems to me that nobody realizes what this is doing to the rank & file members of the OCA, to the rank & clergy of the OCA and even more importantly what this looks like to the world. Most of my family are Evangelicals and they are TOTALLY scandalized by the viciousness of both “sides” in vindicating themselves and the total lack of Christian humility.

    This is the bottom line: there is no reliance upon the Holy Spirit to govern the Orthodox Church in America. One action follows another with no thought of the consequence to the souls of the flock of God. I remember once being in the presence of a bishop when a parish delegation was escorted into his hotel room. Thye had come to make complaints against their parish priest and ask for his removal. They proceeded to make their case. The bishop held up his hand after which he asked them: “Has your priest taught or preached anything contrary to the Orthodox Faith?” No, was their reply. “Has he done anything immoral?” No, was again their reply. “Has he committed a crime or acted against the law?” Once again they replied, No. “Then” the bishop stated, “you must forgive him for whatever things you may not approve of and all work together for the upbuilding of the Kingdom of God. You are all Christians and therefore are able to work this out among yourselves in the manner of Jesus’ disciples.”

    Friends, this is the problem, WE are NOT behaving as Christian disciples. Instead we battle and fight while the souls of many men, women and children perish in sin without hope outside of Christ. Is anything more important then our Lord’s commandment to, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel, making disciples of all nations?” We cannot do it because we are fighting over issues of power, authority, governance, etc.

    This sinful priest wants to call all the members of the OCA to pray to the Lord and ask that His holy will may be done in our Church and that a spirit of repentance, a spirit of humility will come upon us and cause the miraculous change to come upon all of our leaders for the sake of Christ, His Church and the proclamation of His holy Gospel.

    • Michael Bauman says:

      Fr. Timothy–INDEED HE IS RISEN.

      Thank you for the reminder.

      However, I have to say that that much of the whole mess is precisely because many simply have no interest in any sort of evangelization. This attitude is not limited to the OCA, it is not limited to those whom we smear with the epithet ‘ethnic’ either. It is a mind-set that despises Holy Tradition and wishes instead to be ruled by the mind of the world.

      To be an evangelizer, one has to actually be touched by the Holy Spirit and be changed; one has to be in an interrelationship of obedience and service. What I so often see in my own heart is a desire to change others rather than to be changed. That always leads to lust of power. When one adds in the desire to normalize sinful behavior. Well…….

      Too much lay authority, too little real accountability in terms of direct pastoral responsibility of the bishops (to the extent that they are seen as apart from the Body, they will act apart from the Body), but that does not mean that the Body can or shoud become the visible head.

  23. I was rather interested to see pictures on Facebook from the ROCOR Eastern American Diocese that today, the name’s day of Patriarch Kirill, Met. Jonah concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with ROCOR Met. Hilarion at the Synodal Cathedral.

    Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I do not remember hearing that the two had concelebrated before.

    I find no notice of this on either the OCA, ROCOR main, or ROCOR Eastern Diocese websites – yet. There is a mention from this morning on the Eastern American Diocese FB page that Met. Jonah was going to “co-serve” with Met. Hilarion.

    https://www.facebook.com/eadiocese

    Perhaps someone “in the know” would tell us if Met. Jonah’s attendance today was previously scheduled, or a last minute thing.

    I was very happy to see the two metropolitans serving together today!

    • They were in the Moscow Patriarchal cathedral. The Synodal (ROCOR) cathedral is a few blocks away.

      I am also very pleased to see this, and hope to see them concelebrating more often in the future.

    • O Hamartolos says:

      He will not doubt be accused of hatching some plan to bring the OCA under ROCOR. If he takes a bold, perhaps unwise, stance against “foreign domination”, he is not lauded for upholding our autocephaly, but is branded disobedient. If he has good relations with heirarchs from other jurisdictions he’s labeled a traitor willing to hand over our autocephaly for a seat at the table. The poor man can’t win for loosing.

  24. Carl Kraeff says:

    In response to Mark from DOS request I laid out my thoughts on how +Jonah may have violated Apostolic Canon 34, after which I had the following comments. I am appending my responses after each comment.

    #74. May 25, 2011 at 5:00 am. Mark from the DOS said: “Get your two or three witnesses together and bring those charges to a spiritual court. Let’s stop with all this lay opinion. You have laid out the charges so I must assume you are much more of an expert on canon law than I, and can cite previous examples of policy speeches and unconsummated talks subjecting one to spiritual discipline and of course defining what it means to be a Primate on leave of absence while still a Diocesan bishop.”

    ME: I supplied you with my opinion at your request. You may not know this but I also brought up Canon 34 in response to folks who kept saying–with certainty and finality–that +Jonah is not guilty of any canonical violation. Forget about the first three charges, which have come from Mark Stokoe (and which I have come to believe in light of the Metropolitan’s own actions and words). Let’s just talk about Santa Fe and what transpired afterward in light of the wording of the canon. As I suspect you know, canon 34 is at once a rule governing the behavior of bishops and also a fundamental ecclesiastical principle. As I suspect you know, a canon may be applied by our bishops strictly or leniently. Also, as I suspect you know, the fact that applying canons is the purview of bishops (and priests as deputy bishops) does not prevent lay folks like you and I from forming our own opinions. What am I trying to say? I think it was disingenuous of you to ask me a straight question and then to whine and complain that I did not have standing to answer the question.

    #75. May 25, 2011 at 5:24 am. Um said: “All these accusations are substantiated by what source? How do you have knowledge of private discussions within the Holy Synod? How come no formal charges have been brought against the man? And why in heaven’s name can’t anyone in your church submit these matters to due process? Is it possible because there is no case to bring? Do you believe the Holy Synod is infallible?”

    ME: I will answer the last question first: No I do not believe that anyone is infallible. However, I am a great believer in treating foundational documents in a serious fashion. In the case of the OCA, her Statute is one of those foundational documents, wherein the Holy Synod is described as the supreme canonical authority of the Church. I said that credible accusations have been made (see my reply to Mark above) . I also said that the evidence at hand regarding Santa Fe and its aftermath (official documents, as well as +Jonah’s words and actions as reported in official sources) indicates that he has indeed violated Canon 34. In this one instance, one does not have to be a canonical guru or a priest or a bishop to call it as it is. Now, it is up to our bishops to apply the Canon and they apparently took a very lenient approach in applying discipline: they put him on official leave of absence and also they suggested a face saving cover. I think the bishops were very, very nice and forgiving towards the Metropolitan. Indeed, after he broke his word on the leave of absence after Santa Fe, the bishops still did not bring formal canonical charges against him; this time they clipped his wings a bit so that he cannot get into any more trouble. Again, it was the bishops’ business in how to apply the canon. I am perfectly happy with the fact that the Metropolitan has been given yet another chance. This does not mean, however, that he has been vindicated nor that he has not violated canon 34.

    • Carl,

      You are trusting Stokoe as your primary source for both your empirical facts and your interpretation. This man has shown that he is willing to break the law and conjure up false pretenses to try to remove a sitting bishop. How can you trust this man so completely on such an important matter (especially when it happens to be the very same matter!)? Why would you trust him at all? Why would you join in the effort to propagate such bile (you cannot read his website and not see that he has an unreasonable hatred for Jonah)?

      As for the grievance that you have just identified as the one worthy of a spiritual court trial, George has posted a reply above and I will quote it here:

      Carl, I appreciate your honesty here as it shows that you’re not an ideologue. However I must ask, how exactly did he “disobey the synod”? I have it on very good authority from one of the bishops (not +Jonah) that he did no such thing.

      Let me flesh out what actually happened here: after Santa Fe, when HB returned home, he found what “leave of absence” could mean in a different context and he called +Nathanael and asked if it could be re-worded. +Nathanael agreed provided that the other bishops agreed. It seems that +Nathanael got the requisite permission to do so.

      Speculation: Why did +Nathanael get the permission? Because most of the other bishops did not want the AAC statutes to automatically go into effect.

      Speculation: The newer bishops (HB included) were not aware of the intricacies of the AAC statute regarding “leaves of absence” when they voted how they did.

      Speculation: They acceeded to +Nathanael’s request because they may have felt hoodwinked by The Appalled Four. (This assumes btw that there really was a subset of Stokovite bishops on the HS.)

      • Carl Kraeff says:

        Um–First, please note that I did answer George’s post, which kind of anticipated some of your other objections. You and I obviously have differing views of Mark Stokoe. That said, I have indeed relied on his reporting simply because he has a proven track record that is quite good. However, I have labeled anything that Stokoe has reported/said as his allegations or accusations. If we reject any of his reporting just because he may be biased, I would submit to you that we could be neglecting paying attention to the truth. It behooves us to consider the possibility that he is right simply because he said folks were angry at +Jonah because of his alleged mismanagement and unilateral actions (not acting conciliarly) and the minutes of the Santa Fe meeting implied that Stokoe was correct. But, as I told George, lets forget about Stokoe’s allegations and just consider the facts that we can get from official sources. Those facts paint a certain picture that are, unfortunately for the fans of the Metropolitan, is quite similar to the one painted by Stokoe. Now, this could be a coincidence of course, but to hang your hat on “Stokoe is no good so +Jonah is good” is illogical, narrow minded and not terribly persuasive.

        • Carl —

          (1) Do you deny that Stokoe is on the record as trying to remove Jonah via false pretenses?

          (2) What right does Stokoe have to call for Jonah’s removal openly on his website right now? As a member of the MC, a position of national church leadership, do you or do you not find his behavior appallingly inappropriate and as valid grounds for his own removal from his position?

          (3) Why are you not actively calling for and working for Stokoe to step down from the MC?

          (4) Why are you not actively working for a resolution to the criticisms of Jonah? The Holy Synod’s efforts to “quietly discipline” him, as you characterize it, have obviously been an unmitigated failure. Does he not deserve to have these issues addressed openly and honestly? Wouldn’t you want the same if you were in his position?

          p.s. I responded to the other comment you reference, which had not appeared before I submitted the comment above.

          • Carl Kraeff says:

            To answer your questions,

            (1) Do you deny that Stokoe is on the record as trying to remove Jonah via false pretenses?
            Yes I do. While there is some evidence on the record that Stokoe has considered/urged +Jonah’s removal, there is no evidence whatsoever that he may be doing so “via false pretenses.”

            (2) What right does Stokoe have to call for Jonah’s removal openly on his website right now? As a member of the MC, a position of national church leadership, do you or do you not find his behavior appallingly inappropriate and as valid grounds for his own removal from his position?
            He has every right to have an opinion on the matter,. both as a member of the MC and as editor of OCAN. I will grant you that he can get in trouble for wearing both hats. His position on the MC is a bit shaky right now as allegations of active homosexual lifestyle has been aired–thanks to the conspiracy to shoot the messenger by Bishop Tikhon, Father Fester, OCAT and our esteemed host. His nw diocesan bishop has this potential problem now and we should all give due consideration to the process and respect his decision. But, I do not believe that anything that he has done apart from his private life so far merits his being booted off of the MC

            (3) Why are you not actively calling for and working for Stokoe to step down from the MC?
            See above,

            (4) Why are you not actively working for a resolution to the criticisms of Jonah? The Holy Synod’s efforts to “quietly discipline” him, as you characterize it, have obviously been an unmitigated failure. Does he not deserve to have these issues addressed openly and honestly? Wouldn’t you want the same if you were in his position?

            I was under the impression that I am actively working for a resolution. I posted soon after Chicago that I was grateful that +Jonah was given another chance; I pray every Sunday for his health and well being, etc. You must realize that I am not anti-Jonah the man, but as the Metropolitan he has done things that he should not have done. I am lso perfectly satisfied with the loving and measured steps taken by the Holy Synod to make things right–with +Jonah, the office of the Metropolinate, the Holy Synod and the Church as a whole..

            • Ian James says:

              While there is some evidence on the record that Stokoe has considered/urged +Jonah’s removal, there is no evidence whatsoever that he may be doing so “via false pretenses.”

              Really? Take a look at the “press release” here. Take a look at the first two paragraphs. Then read the third on down.

              It’s clear that the the press release was written beforehand. Stokoe was contextualizing a contemporaneous event with an analysis already written. This shows two things: 1) Stokoe wanted to direct the interpretation of the event and thereby set a narrative, and 2) Stokoe was in league with others before the event actually took place.

              Once you see this and follow the focus of the “reporting” that follows, you see it was written from the viewpoint that +Jonah was a malefactor. Just look at the headlines. There is no real analysis here, no getting behind the surface of the events to understand what might be happening in the background. There is only the relentless pounding of the narrative he first set out in the press release.

              The press release was a pretense. So was the “news” that followed. Stokoe’s reporting is agenda driven, and the agenda is that +Jonah must go.

              This is confirmed by the email leaked to +Tikhon here. It lays out in shameful detail exactly what the plan was.

        • You must know that your characterization of my own position and that of most due-process supporters is grossly incorrect. You are abusing me by making me correct you. It pains me to indulge your discourtesy this time. But for the record, I take my assessment of Jonah and his character directly from his own actions, nothing else. I do not use Stokoe to assess the character of anyone other than Stokoe himself. I do not even condemn Bishop Mark for his now clear association with and enabling of Stokoe. Color me magnanimous if like, but that is the honest truth.

          Stokoe has stated openly on his website that his agenda is to remove Jonah from OCA leadership. So there is no question what his aim is.

          He is not a reporter. You know that. Please take yourself more seriously.

          Stokoe twists truth relentlessly. I’ll give you just one example right now, chosen literally at random, because to give you an exhaustive list would consume every waking moment that I have and then some (which does in fact appear to be his strategy, to spew so much deceit that it is impossible to address all of his lies point by point). Stokoe accuses Jonah of “attempting to destroy Bishop Mark” (second to last paragraph at this link). Jonah did no such thing. Nothing of the sort whatsoever. Bishop Mark was Jonah’s administrator, appointed by Jonah to temporarily administer a diocese that he had responsibility for. If anything Jonah was Bishop Mark’s friend. If anything he rescued Bishop Mark from another jurisdiction where he was no longer wanted. Jonah never did anything to hurt Mark. Furthermore, Jonah had no conceivable motivation for wanting to hurt Bishop Mark. Jonah could remove Mark at any time without public comment. Jonah had no reason to slander Bishop Mark, he did not in any way slander Bishop Mark, and there is no evidence that he had any intention or conceivable reason to ever slander Bishop Mark. Stokoe has no evidence for this bizarre accusation. All evidence points to the exact opposite in fact, that Jonah took steps to help Bishop Mark when he was in a time of need. This is just one example of how Stokoe has no interest in the truth. He just makes things up, says them in public, and his intent is to destroy Jonah. Stokoe is a brazen liar.

          I do not make the case against Stokoe because I think Jonah is the Messiah. To me it is simply a matter of justice. I can’t believe your heart is so hard that you can ignore injustice within your own church.

          • Carl Kraeff says:

            Justice, like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder sometimes. I do not think that anything wrong has been inflicted on +Jonah.

            • Tiresias says:

              Neither justice nor beauty is in the eye of the beholder but in the eye and nature of God Who is Himself the source of Justice, Truth, Goodness, Beauty and Love.

              Our Lord Jesus Christ is the embodiment of manhood, justice and of beauty, which the sages say, is characterized by order, harmony and radiance. Christ-God is the one standard by Whom all things must be measured.

              Tiresias

              • Carl Kraeff says:

                How exactly are you contributing to the discussion? Do you think that you are helping by throwing in platitudes? I and all Christians would agree with your statement–that is not at issue. The problem is when one tries to ascertain how to apply what you said to any given situation. Unless one receives a revelation directly from God, the matter remains a personal interpretation–that is in the eye of the beholder. So, pray tell us, have you heard from the Lord recently, anything at all that can shed some guidance on this issue?

                • Carl:
                  Tiresias is correct.
                  Quotations from holy scripture are “platitudes” only to those don’t want to be governed by, bothered with or sidetracked by, them.

    • Carl,

      Bishops and priests may have the authority to interpret church canon (at least in some situations), but does the Holy Synod have authority to change church statue or to remove or discipline a bishop without a trial?

      You say the Holy Synod is not infallible, but do you believe they are (or should be) despotic?

      • Nick Katich says:

        Um: Last Fall the Serbian Church deoposed Artemije, former Bishop in Kosovo without a trial. Chrysostom was deposed without a trial. Athanasius the Great was deposed five times without a trial. On and on in history. This is the Church, not Anglo-American jurisprudence. The Fifth Amendment is not a canon.

        • Carl Kraeff says:

          To add to what Nick said, the definition of the Holy Synod as the supreme canonical authority of the Church means that only as a body can the bishops can use existing canons or create new rules as the situation warrants. This is central to Orthodox ecclesiology IMHO. As for changing the OCQA statute, I have seen the allegation made but I have not read a reasoned argument that proves this to be the case. I do however stipulate that the Holy Synod has clarified provisions of the OCA Statute without materially amending them.

        • So then the answer is yes — the Synod of Bishops as a whole (simple majority vote?) holds absolute power in matters of church governance. Would you say this is the “Orthodox” way? Do you acknowledge any controversy on this matter? If so, what aspect is controversial?

          I’m asking because I am genuinely interested. Also, this is not consistent with the model presented in canon 34, which is a conversation I would like to have with you all some day.

          • Nick Katich says:

            Yup. That is pure “Orthodox” to the extent that it affects things beyond the boundaries of a diocese. Bishop is boss in the diocese with right of appeal to the synod (or in the old days to the secular authority as well– but we don’t go there anymore).

            Um, start the conversation you would like to have. I think it would be a good thing to discuss on a historical/intellectual level.

            • Before I jump into a more in depth discussion of canon 34. What is your take on the following OCA statute?

              OCA STATUTE-Article IV, Section 2i.
              “The Metropoitan has the right of pastoral initiative and guidance, and when necessary the right of of pastoral intervention, in all matters concerning the life of the Church within the framework of the holy canons:”

              Is it meaningless? Is it uncanonical? Is it a matter of the Holy Synod delegating its authority to the metropolitan?

              After I get your reply, I promise we can step back and talk about the more enduring issues for a bit.

            • And as a technical matter, is it 50%+1 that rules the roost? Just would like that clarified up front too, if it doesn’t require a historical treatise.

              • Nick Katich says:

                Um:

                The whole discussion of Apostolic Canon 34 is quite involved but is of significant interest. The background of it is quite interesting and in many ways quite obscure but it is worth discussing.

                Let me say this, however, to begin the discussion. Canon 34’s guiding principle is not 50%+1 or 66 2/3% or 100%. It is a stated ideal of the rationale of the Canon that the bishops attempt to reach a “consensus” with no real stated percentage.

                Consensus is an ephemeral idea in many ways but it is a guiding goal. Let me say this, however, as well, in beginning the discussion. In the area of “dogma” it promotes the idea of “Occam’s Razor” when it comes to dogmatic pronouncements. That is evident in the decisions (some would say “compromises”) of the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th Ecumenical Councils.

                Its application to “non-dogmatic” matters is more problematic since, what affects the Church as a whole when it comes to “non-dogmatic” matters, is less of a concern for the Church beyond the boundaries of any particular diocese although the Church as a whole does have an admitted interest in the good order of the Church as a whole.

                To be more specific about the statute: The Metropolitan has the right of “pastoral initiative and guidance” means that he is not “meddling” improperly when he discusses with a fellow diocesan bishop that there is a problem that he should correct. The canons prohibit meddling in another diocese. This give him the right to talk to his brother bishop and give him counsel.

                When the statute says that the Metropolitan has the right “when necessary” of “pastoral intervention, in all matters concerning the life of the Church within the framework of the holy canons”, it is clear to me for historical reasons that he is not meddling in the affairs of a diocese if he tries to “mediate” a dispute or brings it up to the synod as a whole for resolution.

                However, whatever he does, all appeals are to the synod from the affected individual or diocese if they don’t like the ruling bishop’s decison or the Metropolitan’s intervention. Any further appeals, according to a canon of the 4th Ecumenical Council (I believe without looking it up while I am typing) are either to the civil authority (Provincial Exarch of the Emperor) or to Constantinople.

                I know this is vague. However, the guiding historic principle is “pastoral intervention” (mediation being the best English term) as opposed to decision making authority.

                Hope this helps.

                I really would like to see this discussion go forward. I think it is important for all of us to grasp, especially since we tend to look at everything from the mind set of some kind of dictatorship or representative democracy from our Western political experience. However, the Church is governed by it only legislative, executive and judicial head — Our Lord and Savior. Our political models are irrelevant because it is not governed by human beings. They are only stewards and not governors.

                • OK, appreciate that response. As promised I’ll try to take a step back here to the larger issues. But just quickly in reply:

                  I must say in all honesty, if your perspective is correct, then the “Lessor Synod” innovation does seem to violate the statute providing for the metropolitan and no one else to “discusses with a fellow diocesan bishop that there is a problem that he should correct”. Now the metropolitan has to go to a committee of 3 to get permission to do that, so now 4 bishops are all up in another bishop’s business. This really does seem like a violation of both canon 34 and the OCA statue quoted above. Given the size of the Synod (quite small), this means in many instances the bishop whose business is being discussed will actually be a member of the Lesser Synod itself. At best this is pretty dysfunctional. And if they truly believe Jonah is no longer qualified to do this on his own initiative, then they need to deal with that and either eliminate the position of metropolitan or find a metropolitan who they are willing to support in doing his job. Maybe they should just find a gay rights sympathizer who likes the country life in Syosset, call him a Countrypolitan (or probably Metrocountrybumpkin would be more correct) and get back to business as usual? Of course, this is all assuming that your interpretation of canon 34 is correct, which I have my doubts about as we’ll discuss shortly.

                  I also see and agree with your observations about the strength of a conciliar approach with regards to dogma and the the problems with regards to non-dogmatic matters.

                  Ecumenical Councils make a lot of sense for defining dogma, if you ask me. The dogmas ought to be universally recognized, there should be no new special revelations given to one individual that are binding on all (even the pope agrees with this principle), so it just makes sense to define them in a council. This provides a safeguard against error and immediate confirmation of the acceptance of the definition by the entire church. It also acts to reduce the burden that could be caused by the unnecessary proliferation of dogmas — common folk only have so many years to grow in their spiritual journey here on earth after all — I believe this is the Occam’s Razor effect you referred to. I find the rationale for, the definition of, and the consequences of papal infallibility problematic in comparison. Leaving accusations of heresy aside, the Orthodox just have a better system for defining dogma. Of course one does come up against the problem of which councils count as the real ones, what it means if a council’s decision is not unanimous, and so forth, but I haven’t heard a tidy solution to these problems from anyone — well the Catholic solution is tidy, but I don’t like it (this is intellectually very weak, but I’m just not inspired by the idea of papal infallibility, it just doesn’t seem noble and beautiful and I just can’t stop hoping for a better grounding for authority in the Church).

                  In stark contrast, when it comes to governance, or “non-dogmatic” matters as you say, a committee is a terrible way to sail a ship. Most animals have a single head, and for good reason — those born with more than one head tend to die quickly. Having said that, I have seen large religious organizations successfully run in a radically democratic manner. Change is extremely slow, it is hard to accomplish any one big project, but the strength of the institution is in the ownership and understanding that each individual has of the organization itself, along with the collective wisdom that is allowed to emerge during the course of debating a significant decision. Still even in these organizations, the day to day operations and decisions are delegated to executives and executive committees. And I really don’t think a radical democracy can work when you tell each person to stay out of every other person’s business (the way canon 34 essentially does). So how you implement synodal governance is potentially very problematic; and from what I’m seeing it is more than just a potential problem.

                  If you are committed to governance by an Oligarchy of All Bishops in every national church, then coming up with a single system that all national churches can follow is also a challenge given differences of size and culture among the nations of the world. You probably do have to leave this to each nation to figure out on its own, by default and not because this is really ideal — there is just no way for Ecumenical Councils to work this all out during one human lifespan.

                  So you’ve hit the nail on the head on the pros and cons as best I can tell. I see no glaring heresies in Orthodox teaching. I see some problematic dogmas in Catholic teaching, teachings which I would consider heresies if I was pope of my own church. On the other hand, I see the Catholic church functioning really quite well, even in the face of tremendous setbacks and challenges. I see it acting as an instrument and sign of God’s love throughout the nations of the world, both in its practical acts of service and in its intellectual work. While the Orthodox churches seem to spend all their time and energy squabbling about things that are of no benefit to anyone, and it is just really hard to see how this could be God’s design for His Body. It is a situation that does not allow individuals to blossom and use their gifts either individually or collectively to the maximum benefit of all.

        • George Michalopulos says:

          Nick, you’re wrong about Chrysostom. The upon appeal to Pope Innocent I, a council was convened presided over by the Patriarch of Antioch.

          • Nick Katich says:

            Appeal yes. But, he was deposed without trial. The appeal occured because of the deposition in the first instance. Let’s not mix up the two processes.

            • Geo Michalopulos says:

              Nick, legal processes within the Church were part of an evolving process. We can’t use modern sensibilities to judge the ancient or medieval world. The fact that Chrysostom could appeal to the Pope and the Pope then convene a trial (whose verdict for that matter he could not appeal) was a big step in the process of due processs.

              In early modern England, “impeachment” led to execution of sentence. In America, impeachment by the House leads to a trial in the Senate.

              Regardless, Chrysostom was awared a trial by ecclesiastical council

              • Nick Katich says:

                George:

                [U]pon appeal to Pope Innocent I, a council was convened presided over by the Patriarch of Antioch….Chrysostom was awared a trial by ecclesiastical council

                Where are you getting this stuff from?

                I’ll be summarily brief but here is what happened:

                Chrysostom and the Empress did not get along. John was always in her face. She hated John. In the mean time, Pope Theophilus of Alexandria got into a dispute with some monks. He was summoned by the Emperor to appear before a local synod in Constantinople to apologize for his behavior and he was to appear alone. John was to preside. Theophilus appeared with a large retinue of other bishops (his friends from Alexandria, Antioch and elsewhere) and with a large cache of gifts and money. The whole bunch was allowed by the Emperor to participate in the synod. Theophilus then turned the synod around (because he packed it with his friends) and then made charges against John. However, John refused to appear before this mockery of a synod at which point the Emperor (at the request of this mock synod) had John deposed and banished.

                The Empress then had second thoughts fearing the wrath of God and John was recalled and reinstated. Theophilus and the rest of the bunch fled for their lives. Shortly thereafter John gave a nasty sermon which the Empress thought was directed against her. She then had John banished and exiled a second time. It was on his way to his exile that he died.

                There was no trial, no process, no nothing!

                When Pope Innocent I learned of all of this, he tried to convoke a synod to take up the matter. When the legates arrived, they were put in jail and then sent home by Imperial authority. No synod ever took place. Where you got that there was one and that it was presided over by the Patriarch of Antioch is a mystery to me. In fact, because no synod was allowed to take place and because Alexandria and Antioch were opposed to John, Pope Innocent actually broke communion with all three sees until after John died and subsequently restored to the diptychs postumously.

                Over the last several months OCAN, OCAT and Monomakhos has been writing the history (or more apropos, spinstory) of Jonah. That’s fine. But while we are at it, let’s not also re-write John’s history.

    • Mark from the DOS says:

      Hi Carl –

      I apologize if I came off as disingenuous; it truly was not my intent. I guess I got so frustrated with reading your first three points (which as I think I suggested strike me as not canonical violations in the least) that I sort of threw up my hands and said let’s just have a trial. I have seen so many accusations of canonical impropriety that it just makes me want to walk away. Kind of the same way I feel when people yell heretic all the time. For that I am sorry. You were undeserving of that.

      I think I can distill my frustration in this way, and hopefully not in a disingenuous manner. It strikes me that Canon 34 is bandied about as support of one of two extremes: a primate of papal power or a primate in bondage to the Synod. I am no church historian, nor a Canon lawyer, but I dare say it means neither. I doubt Kyrill pre-clears his speeches with all the MP bishops. I am certain he has said something that at least one bishop disagrees with and nobody seriously suggests that he is in violation of canonical order. The location of the chancery offices is not a matter of dogma. Lobbying for their movement or the sale of Syosset or the even for a “rethinking” of autocephaly is not any type of violation of anything. Selling the building, moving the staff or signing a “anti-Tomos” without the consent of all would be. This construct is neither papal nor slavish. It is conciliar. The Primate may think and advocate many things regarding the administration or organization of the jurisdiction. He simply may not DO anything about it until there is consensus.

      That, friends, is my silly lay opinion, which as Carl points out, by my own suggestions I have no standing to make!

      • Carl Kraeff says:

        You are making some great points on how conciliarity works. Underlying all permutations lies Canon 34 and the charisma of bishops to apply canons. That does not mean that, as you pointed out, the Metropolitan must mechanically obtain the agreement of each bishop before he does or says anything that affects the entire Church. There are ways that a Metropolitan can forge consensus. He does not have to poll everybody; if he knows Carl will not object, Mark does not care, and George is ill and cannot be consulted, then he can concentrate only on Um who was against a similar idea in the past and Helga who philosophically may be opposed. However, if he is in a position that does not allow him the opportunity to consult with fellow bishops, then he can take a stab at it and hope that he can forge a consensus (broad agreement) after the fact. Finally, he may have so much personal authority that he does get a “bye” from his fellow bishops, even if he does not regularlty consult with them.

        The important thing to watch is not individual incidents but a trend. Is the Metropolitan consistently acting unilaterally, ignoring his critical function of achieving consensus or not?There is an exception to the trend rule and that is when the Metropolitan goes back on his solemn promise for less than a life or death situation, or when he disobeys a formal decision of the Holy Synod. In either case, trust is broken and the canon is violated.

  25. Michael Bauman says:

    Fr. Stephen Freeman says:
    May 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    The Protestant, rational, approach to the atonement, is to see each man as guilty (responsible) for only his own sins, and that these are taken care of by the sacrifice of Christ in a transactional view (forensic) of the atonement. I did this, He did that, now I’m forgiven. The more Orthodox approach, which is more mystical and less rational, is to say that the nature of sin is a very communal thing. No one sins entirely on his own, nor do his sins effect only himself. The declaration of love is, “Each man is guilty of the sins of everyone.” This is a profession of love rather than a profession of our legal standing. But we are united to one another, and by love, bear one anothers burdens. Like Christ, we take upon ourselves the sins of all (in union with Him – for there is no Christ who has not taken upon Himself the sins of all). Thus as we forgive everyone for everything, we find ourselves participating in the love of God, who does exactly that.

    And it is precisely why the approach to Met. Jonah is so wrong. Even if he did everything of which he is accused in the worst possible faith imaginable he is still not deserving of the assassination attempts that have been launched against him. It is spiritual and communal suicide. The only way it happens is because we have become ‘rationalized’. The Orthodox approach and the one that is, in fact true, is that the sins being found in Met. Jonah are not his alone, but ours and not just in the OCA. Just as the sins of the RCC belong to us as well, the list goes on.

    • This makes sense to me actually. But I think you also have to protect people from harm. In this case, Stokoe is doing enormous harm to the church and individuals in it. Someone in the church needs to put a stop to the damage he is doing. Seems to me this should have happened a long time ago, and it would be best if the bishops would get on it today, right now — drop everything they are doing and attend to this matter. Then everyone could take a step back and reassess things. What do you bet Jonah does just fine with Stokoe and his fellow attackers defanged?

      I don’t think you can stop Stokoe from blogging, but you can remove him from a position of power and leadership within the church. It is not like this is his birthright anyway. Those who can be demonstrated to have conspired with him to use false pretenses against a third party also need to step aside or be put aside from positions of leadership in the church.

      Even non-Christians can understand goodness and fair play. There is no question the bishops are neglecting their responsibility right now. And I think people are right to question why they are refusing to do the right thing. It does more than give the appearance that they are compromised. Assuming that they are compromised (for instance, being blackmailed) is actually the most charitable interpretation of events.

      Sin is in a real, practical sense communal, but the community must protect its members from harm or the whole community suffers and everyone who could act to stop the harm bears some responsibility for refusing to act.

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

      Michael, yes, but…

      The final judgment is still individual. Overlooking the distinction between rational and mystical (which I don’t believe holds any real descriptive power), I think that Fr. Freeman, in trying to (correctly) lose theology from the bonds of a hyper-individualized rationalism, ends up denying the individual dimension altogether.

      I’m not so sure about the idea that “no one sins entirely on his own” either. If he means that we are influenced by the sins of others (we are) and that our sins affect more than just ourselves (they do) then, yes, I would agree. But there is still that individual dimension. Don’t we go into confession alone? Isn’t the fight against sin waged in the heart of the individual? And, as I already mentioned, isn’t the Final Judgment an individual judgment?

      Protestants don’t have everything wrong and forensic atonement is found in scripture. The difference is that Orthodoxy describes atonement in other ways as well. And I am not so sure either about the statement that “each man is guilty of the sins of everyone.” We certainly are affected by the sins of everyone and the commandment dictates that good things are offered even to the enemy. But how is this statement really different from the Protestant dependence on forensic atonement except that the blame gets shifted from Christ to the community? Apart from that I don’t see much difference. Again, at the Final Judgment I am not going to give account for the sins of my neighbor, only my own.

      You see Michael, if you really follow this through, things get squishy. Lines get blurred. Distinctions collapse. And, with respect, I think you final paragraph is squishy. For example:

      The Orthodox approach and the one that is, in fact true, is that the sins being found in Met. Jonah are not his alone, but ours and not just in the OCA. Just as the sins of the RCC belong to us as well, the list goes on.

      I’m not as eager as you to ascribe sins to Met. Jonah (or anyone for that matter) just to conform to the thesis. I think it is dangerous. We can’t make that charge about someone except when some concrete and indisputable sin is present. I certainly don’t see that with Met. Jonah and I don’t think it should be implied of any leader short of some concrete evidence. And then, if such a sin is present, it still has to be handled in the correct way.

      So, yes, I suppose we could say that we all partake of the same sin in some general and abstract way but the abstract is just that – abstract. It doesn’t work out that well in the rough and tumble of every day life. The truth is that the sins of the RCC don’t belong to “us” just as the sins of a pedophile don’t belong to me personally. They just don’t. A hard and fast distinction actually exists and has to be drawn. If we don’t draw it, then we get slack about the gravity and harm the sins can actually cause in the lives of others when they are acted out.

      For example, a man convicted of pedophilia came to my parish (this actually happened). He had served his time and so forth. What did I do? I told him he had to go to church somewhere else and I suggested a retiree parish with no kids. I had 85 kids at the time and I was not going put myself or others in leadership under the burden of watching him. We had enough stuff to do. That’s what I mean by clear distinctions. Did I have some empathy for the man? Actually I did. But my empathy had absolutely no bearing on how to draw the distinction. (I do not buy into the idea that we have to “forgive” the man. The only people in the position to forgive him are his victims.)

      My point is this: while the collapse of the individual into the communal may give us a vague sense of comfort, it inevitably leads to a boatload of trouble down the road.

      • Fr. Hans:
        How would you interpret the Neptic Fathers when they say “my sins are greater in number than the sands of the seas.”

  26. Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

    That repentance must occur until our dying breath.

  27. CANON 34

    OK Nick et al., here is my promised attempt to start a conversation about canon 34. I want to start by just looking at the text itself. So lets try to limit our discussion after this particular post to the text itself — attempting to use the inductive method if you will. I’ll follow up with a Part 2 with my own take on some broader interpretative issues, and you can fill me in on some of the relevant history as we go, but this seems like a good starting point.

    PART 1: THE TEXT

    Here is the English translation of canon 34 from the Hilarion essay Brendan pointed us to:

    The bishops of all peoples should know the first among them and recognize him as the head, and do nothing that exceeds their authority without his consideration. Each should carry out only that which relates to his own diocese and to areas belonging to it. But the first among them should also do nothing without the consideration of all.

    A couple comments about the translation first:

    (1) ‘Peoples’ is often translated ‘nations’ —

    Both are common equivalents of the Greek ‘ethnos’. But today this term seems to be applied to what we would consider autocephalous churches as best I can tell, though I’m guessing this was not as clear cut at the time. Elsewhere I’ve seen this translated ‘province’ making the application even clearer (though in the case of overlapping jurisdictions like in North America the application of even a clear intention becomes contentious).

    (2) The phrase “should know the first among them and recognize him as the head” is sometimes translated “must acknowledge him who is first among them and account him as their head” —

    I see no meaningful difference in these translations, and the clear intention seems to be to identify a single bishop (not more than one) within a nation who is the best leader and who will in a real, meaningful way be the “head” of all the bishops in that nation.

    Prima facie meaning of “head”:
    The Greek “kephale” which literally does mean the biological head of an animal can in its weakest sense be viewed as a metaphor for anything prominent and has been in its strongest sense translated as “lord” or “master”. Since we are talking about nations as units here, the closest secular equivalent at the time for a head of a national unit would of course be a monarch. Not being a secular government, “king” (or “emperor” or “governor”) is not the appropriate term or role, even if an analogy is intended. But the term “head” does very clearly suggest one who is somehow “above” and granted greater authority than the rest of the bishops, even though they might still all be of the same sacramental order. The text goes on to explain very briefly the Christian relationship between a “head” bishop and the other bishops.

    (3) The next phrase “and do nothing that exceeds their authority without his consideration” is also translated “do nothing of consequence without his consent” —

    These translations do have a very different tone, but the essential implication seems to be that the “head” has more authority in church matters than the others do, and that there are some things — namely big/bigger things — that no bishop (whether alone or in concert with others) should ever do without the authorization of the “head,” who alone has appropriate authority in big/bigger matters. The next sentence clarifies the appropriate bounds of authority for individual bishops.

    (4) The next sentence is, “Each should carry out only that which relates to his own diocese and to areas belonging to it.” Translations are all consistent with this, although some say parish instead of diocese, which suggests this canon came before diocesan boundaries and governance structures had been fully established. My assumption is that “parish and areas belonging to it” is what we would today consider a “diocese,” a bishop’s parish being the cathedral of a diocese —

    Prima facie meaning: When it comes to governance, no bishop other than the “head” has any authority or active role beyond his own diocese. This is quite stark: Individual bishops have no authority in national or universal church governance. I’m uncomfortable enough with this statement in isolation that I’m going to contextualize a bit. There are two exceptions to this limitation implied in the canon: Individual bishops can presume the authority to communicate their views about governance issues (not just faith and morals) with the “head” (they should maintain a direct line of communication, as per the following sentence) and they may have the ad hoc authority to do something that he asks of them or that he consents to (as per the previous sentence). I’m trying to contextualize this statement a bit, because I’m uncomfortable with it in isolation and can’t just let it go without a little commentary. This limitation addressed here is a limitation of authority, authority in governance, period, nothing more. That’s my take. This limitation should probably not be extended to other dimensions of a bishop’s role in the church (for example, his role as a teacher, scholar, symbol of unity, or even pastor so long as discipline is not required). Such a generous (and I believe accurate) reading here suggests that they can do whatever they decide is best in their own diocese so long as it does not affect other dioceses negatively, and that they can think about and talk about things beyond the level of their diocese so long as they don’t take action on anything that might affect other dioceses without authorization from the “head”. A very strict reading might determine that they have no role in discussing or thinking about the needs of other dioceses, but that seems problematic, even dysfunctional, to me (how can you avoiding affecting others if you don’t understand their business), so I’m sure that is not a serious interpretation.

    **NOTE: There is one additional complication in the translation/interpretation of this sentence: Namely that some English texts omit this sentence entirely. This is a critical and glaring difference among texts, and I’m hoping someone else can shed some light on the history and reasons behind this discrepancy for me.**

    (5) And then the final sentence, “But the first among them should also do nothing without the consideration of all.” This is the point at which translator biases most clearly color different emphases in the English versions of the text. Here ‘should’ is sometimes translated ‘can.’ ‘Should’ seems like the more accurate English translation, but the intention is clear either way. Also, the requirement for ‘consideration’ is more often translated ‘consent,’ but this does not appear to be justified by the Greek term ‘gnome’ as best I can tell and merits further discussion —

    The Greek word ‘gnome’ is most literally translated ‘knowledge’ or ‘mind.’ In the context of governance, ‘knowledge’ would almost certainly not be the intent of the text. Something stronger like, ‘mind, consideration, opinion, advice, judgment, or consent’ would be a better English translation, but the unilateral or unidirectional authority implied by the strongest sense of ‘consent’ is almost certainly not implied simply by the use of ‘gnome’ in this second instance here; and especially not given how authority has just been defined in the prior statements. Consideration does seem like the best English equivalent to me, but it would have to be an actively sought and actively listened to consideration, not a consideration that is ignored or not listened to (and certainly not a surface or passing consideration); so ‘opinion’ or ‘judgment’ would do well too, and these appear to be among the preferred contemporary English equivalents when this verb is translated in other contexts (such as in the New Testament); while ‘consent’ is rarely the preferred English equivalent for other texts. [Note: One term I have not seen used or suggested elsewhere but which I am beginning to believe may actually be the most precise English equivalent and the most poetically elegant for this text is ‘discernment.’]

    ‘Consideration of’ and to some extent ‘knowledge of’ and ‘discernment of’ are bidirectional concepts when applied to the mind of another person, and the intended focus can be ambiguous. If you do something with the consideration of me, it could mean you did it in light of my perspective (my understanding of the issue) or that you did it with your own consideration (or understanding) of my circumstance. I suspect this bidirectionality and ambiguity is consistent with the intended meaning of the text — though this is admittedly reading something into the text that isn’t overtly there. Nevertheless, I would presume that if the genuine needs of even one diocese require the “head” to forsake a particular action, then he should forsake that action even if the bishop of that diocese were to formally ‘consent’ to the action.

    I certainly can’t see the requirement that the head bishop have the ‘gnome’ of the non-head bishops here being something that negates the previous sentence (limiting a bishop’s authority to his diocese) or the ones before that (granting the “first” bishop “headship”). So I really can’t see this verb as single-handedly granting the bishops as a unified body collective authority in national church or universal church governance — that may or may not be justified by extra-textual historical sources of information (or by other canons), but that inference is not justified by anything in this text.

    Instead I do see a Christianization of secular governance models. I see the canon saying the “head” must govern out of genuine love and concern for all, at all times, without exception; with this love requiring genuine communication between the head and each of the non-head bishops; and with decisions being made not just with the interests of the “head” at heart but rather with the informed consideration (knowledge or discernment) of what is truly good for all, as assessed through active solicitation of the opinions, judgments, and minds of all non-head bishops.

    (6) This reading seems consistent with the final sentence in the canon, not quoted above:

    For in this way concord will prevail, and God will be praised through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.

    Concord being equivalent to ‘harmony’ (not ‘unanimity’ as this is sometimes translated), the Greek ‘homonoia’ being a well known term as applied to secular governance (Wikipedia link here).

    FINAL THOUGHTS:

    The greatest difficulty internal to this text is how best to understand and translate the term ‘gnome’ (knowledge/mind). Radically different interpretations rest on equally valid translations of this word. A literal translation of ‘knowledge’ could be acceptable, but actively implies a lack of authority in English, which is almost certainly not faithful to the text. With this reading we would say that “No bishop should do anything important without the knowledge of the head, and that the head should do nothing without the knowledge of all.” This suggests a kind of anarchy tempered only by polite efforts to inform others of what you are doing (perhaps even after the fact). I cannot identify a single source that translates the text this way, so I am pretty confident in rejecting this translation/interpretation.

    On the other hand, many do use the strongest possible translation of ‘gnome’ which is ‘consent,’ which in English actively implies a natural authority and a unidirectional transaction for its application (for example, only I have the authority to consent to having my organs harvested when I die). Indeed I would say the great majority of sources in English seem to use this translation (both Orthodox and Catholic), but I see a strong and unjustifiable bias in this translation. If we prefer this term, then we might just as well say “No bishop should do anything important without the authorization of the head, and the head should do nothing without the authorization of all.” This would appear to be the preferred interpretation of the canon-34-trumps-all camp on this blog. Folks inclined to this translation, first infer authority from ‘gnome’, then go back and minimize the authority assigned by “headship” (electing to go with something closer to the radically minimalist ‘bump on a log’ translation as opposed to the ‘mastership’ or ‘lordship’ translation of ‘kephale’) while simultaneously extending or adding to the authority just moments ago circumscribed (defined to be clearly limited) to “only that which relates to his own diocese”.

    I think ‘consent’ is a misleading translation both for the natural authority it implies in English and for the unidirectional manner in which it is enacted. This is why I find the use of the English “consideration” to be most appropriate here [or increasingly I am favoring ‘discernment’ as even more accurate and poetically satisfying than ‘consideration’]. It implies a bidirectional relationship and decision-making process and even includes a little appropriate ambiguity about who’s knowledge is in focus in this relationship.

    Read this way, the first instance of the word ‘gnome’ carries the weight of authority, not because of the word itself, but because of the just defined “headship” of the “first” bishop and the even more clearly defined limitations just defined to the authority of bishops who are not the “head”. The second instance of the word ‘gnome’ carries the weight or authority or dignity always recognized by “love” and “servant leadership” as these characteristics ought to differentiate Christian leadership from secular leadership and will promote ‘homonoia’ in the church. I guess I’m very reluctant to read clear authority into ‘gnome’ in and of itself and to shape the interpretation of the text as a whole around this one term. The text has just made these differences in authority pretty clear; and since ‘gnome’ itself is ambiguous as to authority, I see no reason to ignore these efforts at clarification when interpreting the meaning of ‘gnome’.

    Now if the sentence addressed in point #4 above (limiting the authority of a non-head bishop to his diocese) is omitted from the authoritative text, interpretation of this canon becomes much more difficult indeed.

  28. CANON 34

    This is a list of interpretive points I take directly from the text, along with some personal reflections. I’ll follow up with a Part 3 looking at some popular governance models and how they do or do not fit with this canon.

    PART 2: KEY POINTS

    (1) You have to have a head —

    A local church without a head would be in clear violation of canon 34, although you could rename the position and change how the head is selected if you wish. Some here on this blog have suggested the Synod should do its merry thing without a metropolitan for a while. That would be a clear violation of this canon.

    (2) The head is given more authority in church governance than the other bishops, not the other way around —

    Even if you had a group composed of ALL the other bishops, it would still not have more authority than the head bishop. This is unambiguous in the text. This notion that the Synod is the highest authority in church governance is NOT supported by this text. It might be in the OCA statute (or somewhere else), but it does not come from this canon, and it is possible that individual statutes could be in violation of this canon.

    (3) No other bishops — whether acting individually or collectively — have authority over the head himself —

    Now the statute could in theory give the Synod authority to replace the “head” — the canon does not specify how the “first” should be recognized, so a national church could presumably implement any mechanism of its choosing for the election as well as replacement of a “first” — but this is the only authority over the “head” that the Synod could theoretically have which would be consistent with this canon. And again, even this one prerogative is not required by the canon.

    (4) Non-head bishops are really only responsible for their own diocese —

    And they exceed their role when they do anything beyond their diocese of their own initiative.

    (5) The canon does not actually call for the creation of a Synod as currently understood —

    It says nothing about the bishops of a national church being a standing body with an active role or authority in church governance. Regular meetings of all the bishops would be a convenient way to achieve communication between individual bishops and the head, and would probably promote homonoia overall, but the canon doesn’t actually call for or define a Synod other than for the purposes of recognizing the “first” — and even this imperative to “recognize” need not imply the authority to elect much less to remove. And of course, if there were to be a Synod, there is no provision in this canon for the Synod to do anything without the “head”. If I was a “head,” I would certainly want to call regular meetings of a Synod to make my job of obtaining the “consideration of all” easier, but this canon doesn’t mandate or even address this tradition.

    (6) There is one “head,” not multiple heads —

    The Lesser Synod as described in the Holy Synod minutes is a clear violation of canon 34. The Lesser Synod (composed of 3 bishops) is given explicit authority over the presumptive “head”; while the “head” is given no authority over the Lessor Synod. There is no way to reconcile this innovation with this canon. One or the other will have to be sacrificed, either the innovation or the canon.

    (8) The head should act with the earnest consideration of all (presumably out of love) —

    The goal of this is harmony throughout the whole body. Though there is no suggestion in the text that appropriate leadership from the head will ensure this desired result — obviously, every bishop must do his part for this to be achieved. But if the head bishop does act outside his own diocese without due consideration of all, then he acts in violation of this canon. The canon suggests that a lack of homonoia is likely to result, but it gives no guidance for how anyone other than the head might correct this situation.

    (9) Gridlock and a lack of homonoia could point to either a lack of love from the head or to the insubordination of non-head bishops —

    These are the most likely candidates for dysfunction in the church, though other less likely candidates abound. Needless to say, you cannot assume that a lack of homonoia is due to a lack of love and appropriate consultation from the head bishop. Problems are just as likely, if not more likely, to result from the pride of some (or all) of the non-head bishops in the Synod (look at how Israel related to God and His prophets throughout its history, just for example). Perhaps because of this, there is no provision in this canon for the non-head bishops to take authority over the head bishop. So in situations of disagreement between the head and the non-heads, it is not “one of the options” for non-head bishops to take additional authority for themselves in order to resolve the gridlock.

    (10) The way ‘gnome’ is currently interpreted in this canon appears to be problematic —

    The gridlock that inevitably comes from translating or interpreting ‘gnome’ in a way that assigns the strongest possible authority to this term seems in no way preferable to the anarchy that everyone agrees would come from assigning the weakest possible authority to this term. It seems clear that the most accurate translation and most viable model is something in between these two extremes.

  29. CANON 34

    Legal requirements for non-profit governance don’t fit as cleanly with canon 34 as one might like.

    PART 3: GOVERNANCE MODELS

    Let me start by quoting something I wrote to Nick before, but that we never discussed:

    As I understand your model, the very highest and final authority in an autocephalous church would be vested in a Synod of Bishops. Immediately under them on an organizational flow chart would come the “first among them” or “head” bishop. The Synod would presumably function like a legislative body or board of trustees for the autocephalous church and the “head bishop” as both a member of that body and a chief executive who implements the wishes of the legislative body/board of trustees. This is an entirely reasonable organizational model, and I personally would have no problems with it. I suspect many others here and elsewhere would be ok with it too. The fact that this model would fit so closely with current American for-profit and non-profit governance practices would also be of tremendous benefit.

    As a minor inconvenience, this model does not seem to fit neatly with the spirit [or letter] of canon 34, which suggests something more like a “loving monarch” model for national church governance…. If my understanding of these matters is correct, to achieve your vision for church governance via established mechanisms, you would need to convince the AAC to make a few changes to OCA statute (to remove some prerogatives of the metropolitan, MC, and AAC, and to clearly vest all final authority in the Holy Synod — making it the legal board of trustees for the national church, if it is not currently, which I’m guessing it is not) and then you would need to convince a future Ecumenical Council to slightly update canon 34 (to reflect current Western nonprofit board-governance models, as opposed to the out-dated monarchical governance models in vogue at the time the canon was originally articulated).

    The monarchy was the dominant governance model throughout most of church history. As kingdoms and empires spread out, with relatively slow transportation and communication, the only way to govern a large territory was to have powerful “viceroys” scattered throughout the empire with delegated authority to handle matters within their realm. Only when big matters came up was it necessary to write a letter to the capitol to seek advice on how to proceed. This form of government kept the empire trucking along even without the advantages of automobiles, trains, airplanes, the pony express, email, or telephones. In very exceptional circumstances, the complexity of a problem would require a viceroy to travel to the capitol and have a face to face conversation with the king. When certain matters of importance to an entire empire would build to a crisis point, the king himself might call a meeting of as many viceroys as possible to take council from all.

    Something not unlike this model was used by every monarchy throughout history for pragmatic reasons, and this is esssentially the model of governance reflected in the early church and in canon 34, with bishops exercising almost total authority within their regions and a head recognized to handle matters of importance to all. The vast majority of communications pertaining to nationwide governance would be between a single bishop and the head. On rare occasions it would become necessary to call for a council, so that the head could seek advice and consensus from all. But most of the time in the Church there would be widespread agreement and no need to run every last decision by the masses.

    Canon 34 Christianizes the secular model by making it explicit that the head should seek homonoia and the consideration of all. In this sense, canon 34 foreshadows the development of more democratic forms of government. But the geographically limited authority of the bishops would have been consistent with secular models at the time; and as noted previously, canon 34 does not form all of the bishops into a single governing body (or Synod). This last fact is perhaps a little surprising given the extant model of the Roman Senate as an official advisory council, and even older models of direct democracy in ancient Athens and other parts of Greece. Perhaps most importantly, this strict geographically-based division of powers is NOT consistent and is NOT amenable to the legal requiremnts of nonprofit board governance today, as secular law makes all trustees legally and financially responsible for the institution as a whole.

    OCA governance is not divorced from secular governance models as some suggest, but rather a strange amalgam of models found at different stages in secular history. What I see happening currently is that Orthodox faithful are trying to read a contemporary democratic or “board governance” model onto the fairly traditional monarchical model set forth in canon 34. This is not at all surprising, and reflects a transformation that has happened a number of times throughout history (for example with the Senate rising to power in Rome, and the Parliament rising to power in England — and then many non-British European monarchies and many British colonies taking their cues from the trajectory of change in England).

    The Wikipedia article on the Parliament of England, provides a concise historical perspective on how Western secular governance has evolved in the last millenium. As this article notes: “Under a monarchical system of government, the monarch usually must consult and seek a measure of acceptance for his policies if he is to enjoy the broad cooperation of his subjects.” This sentence could serve as a pithy summary of canon 34, as it might have been understood at the time it was written. Monarchs have almost always had a “Board of Advisors” of some sort or another. But in many Western monarchies, these advisory bodies grew in size and authority during the second millenium, becoming increasingly less aristocratic and more democratic, until they eventually took over the governing authority of the monarch.

    The development of the English parliament followed a path not unlike the one the OCA seems to be on. First the monarch selects a few high ranking nobles and church officials to give him advice (people like the “viceroys” above, dukes, earls, counts, bishops, abbots, etc.). Later he expands the circle a bit, including perhaps the landed gentry and more common folk to get a different perspective and to take advantage of their technical expertise in particular areas. Before long, these advisors begin to demand more respect and recognition as part of a formal governance structure (with some divine right of authority all their own). As a first step, they demand that the monarch obtain their consent before doing certain very big things (for example, raising taxes or declaring war). Over time this list of “very big things” expands to include increasingly smaller and smaller things, until the “Adivisory Board” is really best described as an independent “Board of Co-Governance” working in cooperation with an independent-but-no-longer-despotic Monarch. Then finally, a now well-established Board tells the monarch he is no longer needed as a partner in real governance and should just be thankful they are allowing him to keep his own head in his new role as a figure head. A chancellor who reports directly to the board is then selected to replace the monarch as the chief executive of the organization and the inversion of the flow chart is complete.

    The OCA has almost reached the final stage of this revolutionary process already. In fact, my honest guess is that the MC (the lay board) is the legally incorporated board of trustees for the national OCA — so the processes has been speeded along by governance models already enshrined in secular law here. In a very real, accurate, and indeed legal sense, as far as the secular governments and their armies are concerned, the MC is already in charge of their own organization, and they report to no one but themselves and the secular attorneys general. Right now, the OCA House of Commons is putting pressure on the House of Lords to do the dirty work with the King, to send him to the Tower of London, until he agrees to accept his demotion to figure head. The House of Lords has complied, and the King is safely in custody. It is only a matter of time before this King accepts this as a permanent settlement. If he does not, then an execution will be unavoidable and a suitable new King will have to be crowned for figurehead purposes.

    In summary, a “loving monarchy” fits with canon 34 (a head is asked to work with representatives of semi-independent geographical regions to achieve homonoia in nationwide governance), while a nonprofit board governance structure does not (trustees are legally responsible for the whole organization and not just for a small geographical part of it, they are incorporated as a single, standing governing body and have authority over all executives hired and fired to do their bidding). The OCA’s current governance structure appears to be in the final stages of a democratic coup, being influenced more by developments in secular governance than by the model enshrined in canon 34, which was written during an era when monarchical models were assumed.

    My own take on the advisability of this democratic coup was expressed in a previous posting:

    Personally, I think the “apostolic canons” should be honored no so much for being divine revelation as for being part of the established structure and tradition of the institution. They should be honored because one shows respect and love towards others in the institution (both past, present, and future) by honoring the cumulative history of shared decision making up to the present moment. They should only be changed via mechanisms that have already been accepted by all for accomplishing such changes (specifically, if they were established via Ecumenical Council, then they should only be changed via Ecumenical Council).

    It is my understanding that canon 34 is part of a tradition that precedes OCA statute, and so it is not clear to me how it is appropriately “updated” short of an Ecumenical Council. In the meantime, from my perspective as an outsider looking in, it is troubling to see OCA statute taking precedence over an apostolic canon, and ad hoc decisions of the MC and HS taking precedence over OCA statute. There probably are legitimate avenues for enacting the changes desired by those on the MC and HS. But if these avenues are not used, then I have a problem with the change, because it calls into quesstion the both the continuity and the credibility or authority of the institution itself.

    It is not clear to me whether making the Holy Synod the legal board of trustees for the church, and demoting the MC to a standing committee assembled by that board, would help the OCA to adhere to the spirit of canon 34 better or not. It might be at least a small step closer to the spirit, but I suspect it would be a full step away from the letter of the canon. The model I hear Jonah discuss above is probably closer to the letter of canon 34 — and with the right individuals playing their roles, it could be consistent with the spirit of the canon as well. In this model, the MC is the legal board and is formed to assist the metropolitan in his duties to the national church. The Holy Synod is a separate entity with legitimate responsibilities for the spiritual and intellectual health of the whole church (and perhaps for interpretation of the apostolic canons and OCA statute, if assigned these responsibilities by OCA statute — although I find this assignment of judicial responsibility a little questionable in light of canon 34 myself), but the Synod clearly does not have direct responsibilities in the executive or legislative dimensions of governance of the national church. So to me, the model that Jonah describes above would be more consistent with canon 34 than the model I hear most on this blog espousing (the Holy Synod as board of trustees model), which would be best enstantiated by making the Synod the de jure board of trustees for the OCA.

    Whatever the best model is, and whatever model the OCA adopts, there is tremendous confusion in your ranks about how to govern your church. I don’t think anyone except perhaps your metropolitan clearly understands current OCA polity de jure; and obviously this has very little to do with current OCA polity de facto. I hope your church can clarify how it should be governed both in the language of your statutes and in the minds of all of your members, as this would be of profound benefit to all.