Part 2: L’affaire Sprecher and What it Portends

svs-love-boatThe Landscape of the Sprecher Affair

The scandal caused by the Facebook “wedding” announcement a little over three weeks ago by an active OCA priest-monk and his homosexual partner has yet to die down. Its collateral damage has yet to be fully assessed. But assess it we must and, if possible, look to the horizon.

As shocking as the original announcement was, the immediate and thunderous accolades that it elicited were far more disturbing. Though Yours Truly has never met any of the principals in question, the many who have commented to me privately and who do known them, are mortified. They are mortified not because they hate these two men but because they love them.

One woman called me in tears that very day, expressing her deep love for the ex-priest and her bewilderment at his rash action. This sordid affair has been nothing but an emotional roller-coaster. If they didn’t love him, they wouldn’t care. They’d be apathetic —something along the lines of: “so long Pal, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” I heard nothing at all like this but shock, dismay, and genuine sadness.

Even though I don’t know the man personally, I can understand this sentiment, the idea being that this was a rash and ill-considered action. I’m in my mid-50s and well understand the mpetuousness of the young. And what the priest-monk in question did was rash: he not only gave up his priesthood but his Naval commission; think of it: he gave up a lifetime of guaranteed employment during his most productive years and a generous retirement for his golden years. Even more astounding, he resigned from a Navy in which it is now permissible to be openly homosexual and serve.

Now he is left with nothing.

Clearly Sprecher is in the grip of a delusion and for this he needs our prayers. Age has taught me that in time, he may come to regret this impetuousness; we who are older and/or who are more spiritually mature understand this full well, hence our extreme sadness; our mercy towards him, not anger. He very much needs our prayers so that he can come to repentance.

In addition, there is another reason why I respect the former priest-monk. Unlike many of our elder clergy who have divorced their wives and subsequently taken “roommates,” he decided to that he could not in good conscience serve as a priest while living this lifestyle. For this reason alone, he has a great deal of integrity.

A Deeper Problem in the Church?

Our problem as a Church reaches far deeper however and we need to understand where we are presently and where we are heading into the future. On this issue, I am not at all confident.

As mentioned above, the outright joy and the volume of the adulation that these two men received for doing what they did was nothing short of astonishing. Eminent priests, their wives, professors, seminarians, and ordinary laymen the length and breadth of Orthodoxy in America could not contain their rapture.

In my previous post on this matter, I used the metaphor of a dam bursting, the dam in question being that the disgust that Traditionalists have been feeling for several years and that it would spill over into a torrent of disgust. We would rise up in fury and kick away the sodomist jackboot that has been stamping on our collective necks lo these past few years. We could quote the Prophet Isaiah who said “woe to those who call evil good, and good, evil.”

I still feel that. We saw this during the brouhaha over Duck Dynasty when the furor of Middle America caused Gay, Inc. to fall back on its heels. Upon further introspection however, I now believe that perhaps there is another dam breaking as exhibited by the hundreds of Orthodox laymen who high-fived these men, congratulating and blessing these men. In other words, we “won” Duck Dynasty but we are in serious danger of losing our Church.

There is another reason for the pessimism. As mentioned in my earlier post and in several other comments, these two men met and matriculated at St Vladimir’s Seminary. A few years ago, two of my friends attended as well. One quit in disgust. He told me why but I refused to believe him. His reason was that the acceptance of homosexuality, was widespread. One openly homosexual man had even been elected head of his class. This was too much for me to take in but when I saw an esteemed professor’s name congratulating the couple, I knew then that maybe he was right to resign.

Make no mistake: the two men in question did not wake up at 8 o’clock one fine morning and decided apropos of nothing at all that they had strong feelings for each other and therefore, they had to immediately decamp for a state which would allow them to explore their sexuality in a legitimate fashion. Two strangers (of whatever sex) do not elope upon meeting.

As most everybody knows, erotic feelings are nurtured in an atmosphere of concern and some public accommodation. Upon careful reflection it seems that SVS provided that accommodation. Certainly there was no censure. What can we deduce from this? Are we to believe that there was a laissez faire attitude regarding sodomy at The House that Schmemann Built?

If so, this does not bode well for the future.

The Facile Bromides of the Morally Confused

Case in point: one student who is presently at SVS, a certain Mr. Tom Dooley, has taken Monomakhos and his Merry Men to task for our “bigotry.” He assures us that “Stalin would be proud” of us. Such vituperation is troubling to say the least. (Moreover, I doubt Stalin would approve of my politics.)

Needless to say, simple logic — as well as the plain teaching of the Church tradition — seems to escape him. To wit: he goes on to say that he “…doesn’t praise any marriage, gay or straight.” I suppose that this is to mollify us, that should he be ordained he won’t condemn homosexuals per se but he won’t exactly “praise” marriage either. Kind of a middle way which should not excite either camp.

Excuse me, but what exactly are they teaching seminarians at St Vladimir’s? Is this a corollary of the rhetorically clever but hopelessly confused Bobosh Doctrine that “homosexuality is not a vice because heterosexuality is not a virtue”?

It’s bad enough that Dick Cheney believes in “marriage equality” but don’t the Doctors of Divinity that teach our future pastors there know the simple meaning of words? Can’t they look it up in Webster’s or American Heritage? I’ll send them one free of charge if they can’t find one in their library.

Or are the academicians so academic that they’ve come to believe that Orthodoxy is merely a list of dry-as-dust propositions? Do they really believe that once they unleash their charges on the world that there are no consequences to their instruction (or lack thereof)?

I don’t know how many students exactly at St Vlad’s agree with Mr Dooley. Unfortunately, I have it on pretty good authority that a significant portion do. This is what is troubling.

Not too long ago, one of my sources in the Apparat told me that “the time of troubles” was indeed “over.” Now with Jonah gone, there would be a brand new day. The proof, I was told, was that enrollment at St Vladimir’s was bursting at the seems.

If a significant portion of this avalanche of enrollees are likewise as “tolerant” about this whole mess as is Mr. Dooley, then I’m afraid that the “time of troubles” has barely begun.

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Comments

  1. George,

    Why no mention of the Storheim sentencing? I for one would greatly appreciate it if you would do an article on the history of this affair. To me it is just as tragic as the L'affaire Sprecher. Again, for the record, the allegations were brought forth in 2008, the Holy Synod and the chancellor buried it despite clear warnings that the matter would be brought to the Canadian police. In 2010, when the Canadian courts decided that the charges might be credible, Archbishop Seraphim was placed on leave. Tragically, after the conviction, the OCA posted one dummy report, issued no apology, and its new chancellor bloviated about this and that and completely neglected any mention of it.

    Is it too much to have asked the OCA Holy Synod to say sorry? And there were two victims not one. The fact that the archbishop was convicted on just one count doesn't mean the other child wasn't involved.

    Christ said, "You will know them by their fruits." I would greatly appreciate it if you would not let the Holy Synod slide by on this very important issue. I'm generally not a fan of lawsuits, but in this case I sure hope the young man sues the pants off the OCA and he gets every penny that's left. Perhaps, that is the only way to get the OCA to wake up to the fact that they have really serious moral issues.

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      Good question, Nick. Partly because of the avalanche of newsworthy topics that have literally littered my desk. Partly also because as sordid as the Storheim affair was, it's over. I'm more worried about the future. Of course I should be writing some about the recent conviction fairly soon. Any information would be most appreciated.

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      • Catholic Observer says:

        It's over, so let's not talk about it?

        Yikes. Your buddy Rod Dreher is *still* ranting about Catholic sex-abuse cases that have been "over" for 40 years. When has "over" ever stopped anyone?

        I dare say it's not "over" for the victims, who still have to deal with the trauma. But maybe some victims don't matter, right? If the perp is Catholic, then the victim matters, endlessly. If the perp is Orthodox, then...crickets.

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        • Christopher William McAvoy says:

          Sexual abuse cases over for 40 years???
          This is a problem in both churches, but it's a much bigger problem in the Roman Catholic Church, ongoing to this day!

          If you paid more attention to the news, you'd hear of at least one new abuse or sexual related criminal case by a priest once every month somewhere amongst the various RC dioceses of the United States of America.

          Here are a few instant examples from quick a search:

          "Excerpts of Records on Accused Chicago Priests - ABC News
          abcnews.go.com Jan 21, 2014 - Below are excerpts from the documents regarding some of the archdiocese's more well-known accused priests: Rev. Robert E. Mayer."

          "Five Philadelphia priests suspended, one accused of sexual abuse ...
          news.yahoo.com/five-philadelphia-priests-suspended-one...‎ Yahoo! News
          Dec 15, 2013 - "There's only one reason to delay and to lump multiple accused predator priests together for one big announcement"

          "TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)—A Baltimore County priest is arrested after police say he took his pants off inside an adult movie store. Police say they caught a priest from the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Towson with his pants down inside an adult store in Abingdon and charged him with indecent exposure."

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      • Alexander says:

        George,

        I hope that it is not an overstatement to suggest that your blog's credibility hangs in the balance here.

        Regardless of the goings on in the Roman church, past and present, Storheim's conviction is a yet another devastating blow to the OCA. It is far more damaging than any of the ecclesio-intrigue crap that gets bandied about here, more significant than the "outing" of homosexual priests and their supporters, and more note and comment worthy than many of other topics discussed like suits versus cassocks.

        A senior bishop of the church has been convicted of a terrible crime. I suppose that there can be differences of opinion about the evidence, the procedure, and the like, but "crickets" in at least my view is not right.

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          Alexander, thank you for your concern. I do believe that it is an overstatement. I have something in the pipeline regarding the Storheim affair but events have accelerated that force me (IMHO) to put it on hold. As such, I'm going to wait for the conviction phase as that will be the last civil word on it.

          Truth be told, I'm waiting to see how the Synod deals with this as well. To my mind, that would be more important. My preliminary thoughts are when was who received him into Orthodoxy, when was he ordained to the priesthood, when was he elevated to the episcopate and what did Syosset know and when did they know it? Also, I'm not at all confident that a "full" investigation is ongoing. For one thing, Syosset doesn't have the resources.

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    • M. Stankovich says:

      What is it you would like Nick? An Archbishop of the OCA was convicted of a heinous act against children. You seem to have the story, and all the details and every angle has already been poured over from every conceivable angle and been archived on this site. You need only search. Is that sufficient, or perhaps you seek something else? From your post you seem to want to vomit disgusting details and have everyone join you in a consumptive feast of the regurjative; splatter it on the faces of the Synod as a "wake up" so - I cannot seem to grasp it - you'll feel superior? You'll feel satisfied? They will get the message? They might just "slide" without some form of degradation from a righteous man such as you?

      I happened to speak with a member of the Synod on the day the conviction was announced. We had gone to school with Ken Storehiem - a gentle, kind, and loving man as you would ever want to meet. We both agreed that this was unimaginable. Nevertheless, a moment apparently arose in a man's life for which there is no defense and which cries out to heaven; two innocent youth are damaged, hopefully to be healed, and he likewise brought judgement upon himself and the Church he served. I presume you did not know Ken Storehiem, and I did not know these two victims, but I am stunned by the overwhelming tragedy of what has occurred.

      In my estimation, Nick, you have already done an admirable job of turning tragedy into lynching, and this is the new internet Orthodox catharsis. "Behold, your house is left to you desolate." (Lk. 13:35) You mad, bro'?

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      • Mr. Stankovich,

        My desire is to see that situations like what happened to the two little boys is NEVER repeated! It's wishful thinking, I know. It is not Archbishop Seraphim that I'm trying to drag through the mud, it is the Holy Synod who refused to do their job. Apparently that wasn't very clear to you. So I'll simply into words you might understand. Serious allegations of child molestation were brought before the chancellor and Holy Synod in 2008. Archbishop Seraphim withdrew his name for Metropolitan in Pittsburgh, PA. Metropolitan Jonah was elected and called his first Holy Synod meeting in Washington, DC. Was an investigation ever part of the agenda? No, they were more concerned with getting a nice tan in Mexico than they were with looking into the matter. And then for the next two years, it remained buried.

        Let me ask you, if your child was molested would you like it if your holy church worried more about a vacation to Mexico than doing an investigation? Is this how you think the Orthodox Church in America should respond to allegations of child abuse? Or are you a secret abuser yourself?

        Your response is beyond repulsive.

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        • M. Stankovich says:

          You seem to have preserved all the filthy details for six long years, Nick, savoring them for as long as possible, and intending to draw in as many willing participants to your "banquet" as possible by encouraging Mr. Michalopulos of the "moral imperative" of extending this "tragedy" for you. Your desire is to drag the Holy Synod through the mud for "not doing their job? No, it's to "gain converts and make them twice as much a child of hell as yourself." (Matt. 23:15) Allegations of criminal behaviour are investigated by law enforcement.

          And as I suspect I am the only one here who has actually provided treatment to children who have been sexually abused, and later sat face to face to evaluate serial child sexual predators in state prison, you picked the wrong person to empty your trash on about, "Or are you a secret abuser yourself?" You are a punk-assed punk, "Nick," or whomever you are, and I have faced down individuals like you day after day. In prison. You are repulsed by my response? No. You are repulsed by being revealed as the creep you are. Step into the light, "Nick," and let's have a look at a righteous man.

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          • You are not the only person who posts here who has worked with victims of sexual abuse. I am a psychologist who also works with victims. We used to do evaluations of perpetrators where I work but we stopped because of the liability issues and also because it became too expensive because we had to rent a separate office because I refused to let perpetrators be seen in the same office where we saw victims.

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            • M. Stankovich says:

              Pardon me, StephenD, I did not purposely mean to exclude you. I was specifically making the juxtaposition of the safety of a medical center with the danger of an administrative segragation unit. Your comment, however - I refused to let perpetrators be seen in the same office where we saw victims - raised in my mind a very significant issue.

              Our "life work," of late, has been referred to as "offering psychobabble to the possessed and bragging about it the rest of the day" (as opposed to "saving souls" ) which struck me as remarkably shortsighted and unappreciative of the depth of human suffering we encounter. Toss in a few words, StephenD, about the frustration of attempting to convince "groomed" children that they did not, in effect, condone the abuse they received, and the shame they feel is the projection of their abuser. And the corollary is that the Lord has promised to reward those "on His right hand," the one's "who visited me in prison" (Matt. 25:36); not "unjustly" in prison, or protecting someone else and going to prison, but simply, ἐν φυλακῇ ἤμην "in prison" καὶ ἤλθετε πρός με "and you visited me." And I try to imagine explaining that it is possible to feel compassion for even the most heinous among us – and if not us, then whom? And some days – God forgive me – I cannot even muster the most basic human kindness, or even buy compassion with your money. I carry the prayer rope in my right front pocket so, inadvertently, reaching for a key or something else, I will be reminded of the Holy.

              And I will never forget a child sexual perpetrator who whispered to me in a mad, frantic, wide-eyed manner – cuffed with hands behind him and legs chained – “The first thing I’m going to do when I walk out with that $200 gate money they give me is buy a pair of handcuffs.” And I distinctly recall my eyes close and my teeth clench as he continued, “and if I am ever tempted by a child, I will cuff myself to the strongest object available and start yelling for someone to call the cops. I will kill myself before I ever hurt another kid.” I thought to myself, “God in heaven! How can a human being to survive such a passion? How?”

              We need to write a book, StephenD! Someone needs to defend the fact that "ministry" other than the ordained priesthood is as essential to the life of the Church, and the years of neglect has harmed all areas of the Church. But most importantly, it is not a case of "somebody has to do it." It is a calling and a great & honourable service.

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      • Thomas Barker says:

        a gentle, kind, and loving man as you would ever want to meet

        And then "a moment arose" where oops, his judgement slipped.

        M. Stankovich, you know quite well that the day-to-day appearance of being a good guy has nothing whatsoever to do with the things a man does to satisfy his sexual appetites. When you get around to writing your homoerotic Bildungsroman you can explain the dichotomy at length. Stunned by the tragedy, you say? Ain't buyin' it.

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        • M. Stankovich says:

          Mr. Barker,

          It just so happens that the December, 2013 issue of the journal Sex Abuse contains an analysis of a presumption of the sexual orientation of clergy perpetrators of child sexual abuse because the victims were predominantly male. Upon the examining of 9,540 records of clergy sexual abuse incidents in the US between 1950 and 1999, there was absolutely no evidence the victims were selected because of gender, "and the abuse appeared to be more a function of opportunity. The findings support a situational framework of sexual abuse for the majority of clergy abuse and the assertion that abuse in church can be understood as not a crisis regarding homosexuality but as a social problem that must be examined in its context."

          Holt K, Massey C. "Sexual preference or opportunity: an examination of situational factors by gender of victims of clergy abuse." Sex Abuse. 2013 Dec;25(6):606-21.

          I have examined face-to-face nearly 450 sexual perpetrators - predominately of children - and a significant number of rapists and sexual torturers who not only made my skin crawl, but at times conned me dizzy and senseless. What is it you would like to instruct me about, Mr. Barker? You ain't buyin' it? Welcome aboard, Pal.

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    • Ted Theodore says:

      The Storheim thing is pretty ridiculous. Two brothers accuse Storheim of abuse 30+ years ago. There have been no other incidents of this nature in Storheim's bkgd. One of the boys has been under psychiatric care and both come from an abusive home. As a priest, Storheim did reach out to the boys at the request of their mother. The events or accusations against Storheim are very hard to believe and he denies them. The entire "he said, he said" and ruling came down to what the judge thought. No facts, no predatorial evidence, but the judge felt Storheim was not telling the truth. How about lie detectors? How about in depth psychoanalysis of the two men?

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      • If justice is coming from anywhere, it's not coming from that court. I don't doubt that anyone is capable of almost anything, but this is a bizarre case and anyone downvoting comments like Ted's must not have a clue about the details.

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      • Rostislav says:

        I am astonished that someone would defend a convicted pedophile cleric and blame his victims for their abuse. It is akin to blaming one raped for her "indiscretions." This is almost as bad as saying these "children led him on." If that is the the tenor characteristic of the unhealthy crowd of [dwindling] support around this hierarch who needs to be deposed posthaste, then the sooner we do the right and proper thing and remove him from the ranks of our clergy, the better.

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      • Disgusted With It says:

        But don't you find it very strange that when asked by a reporter if they will appeal the judge's verdict, Vladyka Seraphim's lawyer said they'll "wait for the sentence before making a decision"??? (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/01/24/kenneth-storheim-archbishop-winnipeg_n_4660489.html)

        That certainly does not make the archbishop look good at all.

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        • Under our legal system, one can appeal the sentence, the verdict or both.
          Because there will not be a sentence until a later date - no appeal at this time.

          On a personal note , I have known Vladyka Seraphim for roughly 30 years , my sons served as altar boys when he was our priest . They loved him then - they love him now - when they are fathers of their own children and are absolutely horrified and dumbstruck that this has happened to him, for the simple reason that he is a good and holy man and has never treated them or anyone they know with anything less then love and respect.

          I am not an innocent -I have known people who have been sexually abused. My mother had an affair with a priest. I know they are human.
          I would be the first to say the guilty must be punished - but an accusation with no proof is just that - an accusation -and there are innocent people found guilty everyday.

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          • Disgusted With It says:

            Still, if I was falsely accused of something, I would have my attorney say "We will definitely file an appeal, but we will wait until after the sentence is issued to do so," or something along those lines. This statement, together with some other statements he made to the media, makes it looks like they're going to wait and see if there's prison time given -- if there is prison then they'll appeal, and if there's not then they may just accept the conviction.

            Not that I'm convinced that's what they're thinking or will do, but I'm just saying the attorney's words to the media are not well chosen. Sometimes it is better to just not say anything at all.

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            • Fr. George Washburn says:

              Your disgust is palpable, but perhaps not your ability to analyze a legal situation, friend. When one represents a criminal defendant who has been found guilty by ** the very same judge who will later pronounce sentence ** I believe it would be absolutely foolish - malpractice, actually - for the attorney to be popping off in the press during the interim about how wrong the judge was and how they're gonna make it right on appeal.

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              • Disgusted With It says:

                Fr. George,

                Yet again, in your haste to criticize a comment you imagine statements that are not there. I am quite familiar with the legal process. Nowhere did I say that the attorney should be "popping off to the press during the interim about how wrong the judge was". I stated that they should either affirm the fact that they plan to appeal or (better yet) not say anything at all. But such a noncommittal answer, such as the one the attorney gave, comes across as odd.

                I suggest you re-read my comment and stop putting words in peoples' mouths (or keyboards, as the case may be).

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                • Fr. George Washburn says:

                  I must have misread the words "I would have my attorney say" to mean that you would have your attorney actually say them publicly, or "something along those lines."

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                  • Disgusted With It says:

                    Fr. George, affirming that you will appeal is not “popping off to the press during the interim about how wrong the judge was”. Let me restate this as simply as I can for you to understand and not misinterpret: They should have said "yes" or nothing at all.

                    "Something along those lines" means in this case "yes", "we will", "I believe so", or some such similar statement. It does not mean a long-winded legal sermon of assumptions and misinterpretations by an attorney trying to be a smartypants. But then again, I do understand some attorneys just can't help being that way.

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        If the man is a true sexual predator, he could probably pass a lie detectof test. They at quite adept at lying.

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      • lexcaritas says:

        From a Christian perspective what is the purpose of punishment if not repentance? When an alleged wrong occurred decades ago and there have been no further similar incidents one would reasonably assume there had been repentance and charity practically demands as much.

        One ought to consider what good conviction and punishment would do in such a case--how it could be salvific for anyone involved.

        Based on this and on what Ted says here mercy ought to say "acquit." But we have a lynch-mob mentality on this issue and are all too willing to cast off the presumption of innocence that ought to prevail in any criminal case---for the protection of us all.

        Is it not strange that so many will cite our father Isaac the Syrian in his warnings about the imperfection of what we call justice and his teaching that with God His mercy always prevails and yet in certain circumstances we are all too eager to seek a scapegoat and revenge.

        Is this not the way of the world? But is it the way of Christ and we who follow Him?

        And I say this--this call for mercy whether by presumption of innocence or by forgiveness-- as one who does not think our Lord's warning "Judge not, lest ye be judged" amounts to an absolutist command, but one to be understood in the context of removing the beam from our own eye so that we can help our brother remove the speck from his, so that we may help bear each others' burdens. We are, indeed, to judge ourselves, so we need not be judged when we stand before Christ's dread judgment seat. We are to give eye for eye in making restitution, not have it require of us by force of law.

        Let us pray for the good bishop as well as his accusers. Forgive me a sinner.
        lxc

        Chris is in our midst.
        rlb

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        • Melanie Jula Sakoda says:

          Archbishop Seraphim Storheim has had his day in court. He WAS presumed innocent, but a judge has determined that he IS guilty of the sex abuse of one of the brothers, "beyond a reasonable doubt."

          Melanie Jula Sakoda

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          • Beyond a reasonable doubt of a judge who pulled from thin air into the decision? (Was the Archbishop ever engaged, as Justice Mainella stated? no...).

            Does that make the ruling incorrect? God only knows, literally. It's a reminder to me of the distinction between legal judgment (earthly, imperfect, but necessary) and judgment in the heart (usurping God's role as eternal judge).

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            • lexcaritas says:

              Truly, I agree with our brother James. There seems to be a lynch-mob mentality on this issue of molestation. Convction by a single judge is hardly proof that there was not reasonable doubt. Do you know if this standard was even applied? Does one person's ruling mean that another would not have found otherwise? Assuming you were accusing of having done something 30 years ago, besides denying it, how would you go about rebutting testimony against you if you had to prove your innnocence.

              This mentality is neither fair nor safe. It puts everyone at risk of false accusations and is indicative of a society and culture in collapse. It seem especially unbecoming of Christians who should be among the first to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and be quick to forgive. Frankly, I'm shocked and grieved. Who in this has the mind and heart of Christ?

              lxc

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              • Fr. George Washburn says:

                Gotta say that Lex's slip seems to be showing in the bulk of this post.

                Yes, some folks do seem to love piling on when someone like the bishop is accused, and it does us little credit to collude with, or even tolerate it while charges are just allegations.. When the Winnipeg charges were brought I urged people to just be quiet, give the benefit of the doubt, and let the process take its course without contributing to a premature brouhaha.

                I can also agree with the idea that as a matter of policy it is a bit anomalous to see prosecutions brought so many years after the alleged offense. The law generally disfavors that because memories fail, evidence becomes obscured, and life moves on.

                Those matters aside, however, lex is reaching, reaching, reaching with a number of his comments.

                First, the reasonable doubt standard is binding on all Canadian triers of fact, whether judges or juries. While lex can speculate all he likes about whether the judge followed it, there is no question that it applies.

                Reading between the lines of the news articles I have read, and assuming that the press has quoted the judge accurately, he based his finding of guilt on a very reasonable interpretation of the evidence and his conclusion that the bishop's version of events was simply unbelievable. Lex may have reasons of personal friendship or predisposition to want not to believe the conviction, but he ought not suggest that the judge has made a mistake of law or fact without some basis for saying so. Personally I found the fact that the judge declined to convict on the testimony of the second brother who is reported to be mentally ill and confused to be indicative of a scrupulous decision maker who really was doing his best to follow the reasonable doubt standard.

                And to suggest that this conviction is indicative of a culture in collapse is utter hyperbole so far as I am concerned.

                love,

                Fr. George

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                • Fr. George, I can only speak for myself, but my point is that judges and bishops and other unfortunates are compelled to make judgments, hopefully in a spirit of their own unworthiness. And God bless them!

                  However, *I* do not have to make any judgment in this situation.

                  As such it is not disagreeing with a ruling in either direction. It is holding everything at arm's length saying, I don't know about that. I don't need to know about that. I've been wrong about things I've seen with my own eyes.

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                • geo michalopulos says:

                  Fr, as a lawyer though, aren't you concerned that this case was not brought before a jury? One of the glories of Anglo-Saxon civilization and was trial by jury and that it took twelve men to convict another of a crime. Not perfect but certainly less prone to miscarriages of justice.

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                  • Fr. George Washburn says:

                    George, the right to trial by jury, like most civil rights, can be waived by its holder - in this case the accused. Unless the law that applies in Manitoba is way different on this point than the law that obtains here in CA, the defendant, under advice by his attorney, determined that some aspect(s) of his self-interest would be better served by having a judge hear the case instead of a jury. So to answer your question literally, in the absence of some other take on the situation that has not been made public, I am not troubled by the idea that he made his choice of which kind of trier of fact he preferred.

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                • M. Stankovich says:

                  Bravo, Fr. George,

                  Shall we next demand a female judge? A younger judge? An older judge? A Spanish judge, perhaps? A panel of judges? What, exactly, would do it? Anything short of another Solomon, "wiser than anyone else?" (1 Kg. 4:31). When will it end until the "preferred" verdict is reached? I suspect never.

                  All of these "reaction formations," displacement of feelings onto the wrong objects, are misguided. The judge was obviously assigned for his professional experience in a high profile case. To emphasize the point made by Michael Bauman, sexual offenders are notoriously psychopathic in their ability to feign emotions they do not feel, and to testify with a sincerity that is completely fraudulent. While I am not suggesting it to be the case here, the trier of fact was prepared. Secondly, the lashing out against SNAP is unfounded; there was a verdict and SNAP's purpose is to advocate for victims. They neither brought charges nor determined innocence.

                  When lexcartis says, "It puts everyone at risk of false accusations and is indicative of a society and culture in collapse," I say he has no basis in reality to make such a statement, and I have demonstrated this repeatedly on this site with contemporaneous research that proves him wrong. Search on my comments. It is, in fact, rare that children make false accusations, and more likely that they will deny sexual abuse despite photographic, video, or confessional evidence by their perpetrator as part of the "grooming" process.

                  It is disturbing that the first reaction to such a tragedy is not weeping with the angels for the lives that have been so grossly affected in this fallen, broken world, but rather to lash out at anyone or anything that is an easy target or vulnerable. Until the next Monomakhos exclusive...

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                • lexcaritas says:

                  Fr. George, bless:

                  It may surprise you to know that I agree with you and appreciate your comments. I know little of the facts of this particular case and would not second guess anyone involved at this distance.

                  lxc

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          • lexcaritas says:

            Or was not following events closely as they developed . . .

            lxc

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          • Ms Jula Sakoda,

            What I have never understood is why you have given Archbishop Benjamin a total pass on your Pokrov website? A drunk. A man who resisted arrest. A man who eliminated in the backseat of a police cruiser after his arrest. A man who was present in the same home where a man was found dead after a night of drinking with the Archbishop. A man who used a diocesan computer in the same diocesan provided home with hundreds of hours of homosexual pornography on it.

            Why is he beyond your scrutiny yet you put on your website the son of an Alaskan priest, the priest's son, not the priest, except guilt by your association posting.

            Nor do you think it worth investigating Archdeacon Gregory (Burke) who went to California, thus information easily at your skilled fingertips, where he married another man?

            Nor a word about Priest John [C-----] who divorced his wife while a priest in the diocese of the Midwest declaring he was a homosexual. He was never deposed by the late Archbishop Job, but transferred to another diocese. Shuffling clergy from one parish or one diocese to another was a common practice with troublesome Roman Catholic clergy, something SNAP has documented, but you seem to be more than silent.

            We are not about gossip but cases that are well documented. Full reports written but buried. Why? And, why no coverage by your website?

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              I too am rather curious about the SNAP gals and their selective outrage.

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            • I think SNAP is only concerned about the sexual abuse of minors..The Deacon Gregory Burke issue involves adults as does Archbishop's Benjamin's antics. I think the bigger question would be why didn't the Holy Synod do anything about Deacon Burke or Archbishop Benjamin which by the way included Met.Jonah when he was primate.

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              • StephenD,

                That site may have started out with that noble pursuit but it has morphed into a cherry-picking "abuse" site, with the word "abuse" now widely defined well beyond any sexual connotation.

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              • Melanie Jula Sakoda says:

                SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is concerned about the abuse of vulnerable adults as well as children, Stephen.

                However, Cappy and I have to be cautious about what we post on Pokrov.org. Our goal is to be there to support abuse survivors far into the future. So, sometimes that means we don't go public with an allegation, even though we are aware of it. But just because a situation doesn't appear in our PUBLIC files doesn't mean that we haven't heard about it, or that we are giving anyone a "pass."

                Moreover, anyone who has documentation of a situation they think we should cover is always welcome to submit it for our consideration, or to set up their own site.

                Melanie Jula Sakoda
                melanie.sakoda@gmail.com
                925-708-6175

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                • So exactly why do you post things about Rodion Kondratick? If your goal is, as you say, "to be there to support abuse survivors far into the future" what survivors in the future are you talking about?

                  I think you have overstepped your mission statement.

                  And by the way, what about Bishop Benjamin? Or are you just going to ignore the obvious?

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                  • Melanie Jula Sakoda says:

                    Yes, Pokrov.org does cover allegations of and convictions for, financial misconduct. We use the same criteria in this area as we do for other postings. While this is not the primary focus of our site, we feel these articles fit in well with another part of our mission: education. Clergy can, and do, commit crimes.

                    Melanie Jula Sakoda

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        • Michael Bauman says:

          1. Sexual abuse especially of minor is an horrendous crime
          2. Sexual abuse of minors is quite difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law even when it is a relatively current event. Years after the fact, it becomes even more difficult.
          a. child sexual predators are quite skilled at lying and their affect may be no different from someone who is innocent. Not surprising because sexual exploitation of minors is a thoroughly demonic crime coming from the father of lies.
          b. Children, especially those who have been abused make difficult witnesses in our adversarial court system
          c. incidents of false accusations and false memories are high enough to create suspicion against even the most credible witness
          d. the response of most people to such accusations is a profound shock and shame which frequently results in a denial of the occurrence, especially if they know the accused and the accused seems quite normal, even exemplary or has a position of authority. That denial is quite difficult to get over.
          e. some people, to counter the denial, the shock, shame and hurt become convinced that any report of abuse, no matter how thin the evidence is true and the accused should be immediately punished to the full extent of the law.
          f. Real abuse is deeply difficult to forgive as it is an ontological crime, not just a physical one. Even with forgiveness the changes the abuse brings about never go away, the fear and anger the abuse engenders remains until there can be deep forgiveness that can be as emotionally draining as the original crime but does result in freedom rather than bondage.

          BUT, the only way to healing is forgiveness, not just a sentimental white wash, but real forgiveness which means a solid acknowledgement that the abuse did occur while at the same time praying for the abuser. The abuser MUST also acknowledge his crime (quite difficult for most).

          Seeking worldly justice either in the criminal or civil courts can be a positive step in that direction, or it may not be. One thing is sure, to harbor a spirit of revenge in one's heart will only exacerbate the damage the abuse did in the victim and perhaps especially in hearts of the parents and others who feel they failed to protect.

          I have been close enough to four situations to see all of the above occur and more. Three of the cases were actual abuse without doubt (only one resulted in a successful criminal prosecution). The fourth is highly questionable. The one which is in great doubt actually created the most damage--fracturing a family and laying the foundation for a suicide and a twisted faith (coming as it did from the induction of false memories in the accuser by an Orthodox priest using a form of hypnotic regression--he is no longer an active priest, but the damage remains).

          I am highly suspicious of crusades of any kind launched by victims because they all too often act as a means to suspend the victims in a constant state of outrage and vengeance that actually perpetuates the evil. Witch hunts are never about serving God. And yet, even those are a product of the unwillingness of our culture, and even our Church to address the evil when it occurs certainly, but more so the neglect of the prophetic witness to the moral and spiritual teachings we've been given.

          We must be vigilant and discerning to prevent such abuse and be willing to take quick and decisive action when, despite our best efforts, abuse occurs. Enabling must stop. Nevertheless, the goal should be to know the truth for the sake of healing; not to punish.

          Archmandrite Zacharias was visiting in Wichita this past week and he gave the homily Sunday. The point, which I pray never to forget, was that we must approach the Cup of the Eucharist with a wounded heart: wounded for our own sins to be sure, but also for the sins of others as if they were our own.

          Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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          • lexcaritas says:

            Thank you, Michael, for your extended comments. Elder Zacharias speaks wisdom, indeed. His witness blessed me at the clergy conference in Wichita five years ago and at St. Seraphim's the following year.

            Forgive me, a sinner.
            lxc

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        • lexcaritas wrote "From a Christian perspective what is the purpose of punishment if not repentance?"

          lex (Law!), the execution of criminal justice is a civil administration, not a religious one. The idea that clerical offenders should be dealt with by the church according to its standards and not the criminal justice system of the civil jurisdiction in which the criminal offences were committed is one which churches, particularly the Catholic Church and no doubt the Orthodox Churches too, have been slow to accept to the detriment of their standing in society from which they will possibly never recover.

          In answer to your question, then, the Christian should understand and support the purposes of punishment in the criminal justice system which are several: the satisfaction of justice, to educate members of a society as to what that society values, to serve as a deterrent to other would-be offenders, to protect society from further possible offences by the convicted criminal under sentence and finally to provide a setting for the rehabilitation of the criminal. Repentance, which in the criminal justice system would be termed remorse, falls under the last category, but there are other factors to be weighed up in any sentencing hearing.

          This is a general comment and not directed to the Abp Seraphim (Storheim) matter, which I think has been a very unfortunate affair for all concerned, especially the Archbishop, whom I suspect is only guilty of being unwise.

          Permit me, a layman, to offer advice to clergy who may be reading this: all clergy should conduct their ministries in such a way that they are protected from even the possibility of malicious accusations of the committal of sexual offences being made against them. In particular, they would be wise never to be alone with a woman or a minor who is not directly related to them. I suppose these days one must also add any adult male whom they do not assess as being mentally sound and trustworthy as to their character.

          Is this a deplorable situation? Yes, it is. For that we largely have the RC clerical perpetrators and their episcopal enablers to thank.

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          • lexcaritas says:

            Thank you for your comments, Basil. I agree with what you list as the reasons for punishment in the administration of the criminal justice system. I was more concerned, however, with posing the philosophical/theological question of the purpose of punishment from the perspective of Christ.

            One reason for capital punishment given in the Torah is to remove the evil from your midst. Lesser punishments would have a humbler objective. I fully agree that instruction and general deterence are factors also.

            But consider, if the a person guilty of a crime has repented, is contrite, is freely making such restitution as is possible--has made amends and amended his ways--publicly if necessary--my question was to wonder what purpose punishment would serve in that case since its objective of salvation would have already been served. Just wondering?

            My thinking (as a lawyer by the way) would be that our criminal justice system is frequently unjust and most inefficient, uneconomic, destructive and unwise). Would it benefit, I wonder, from a thorough reformation according to the Gospel. But then, we've virtually excluded the mention of Christ God from our political thinking, though without Him there is simply no solution to the fragmentation and decay that is visible all who have eyes to see.

            Christ is in our midst. Would that His presence might be recognized and acknowledged.
            lxc

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          • Michael Bauman says:

            Basil, you are correct in the precautions you suggest. I think you lay too much at the feet of the RCC. Protestants have engaged in very similar behavior as have we Orthodox. The marked tendency to deny that someone you know would or could do such a thing is quite powerful.

            Real pedophiles make use of that to the max and can appear most innocent as their souls are given over to the evil one.

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            • lex,
              Thank you for your response. I'm afraid I agree with you that the American justice system is unjust; in that it reflects American society generally. I'm sorry to say that, as I find Americans to be the most agreeable people generally. I am much more familiar with the British system, which I suggest is fairer, although by no means perfect.

              Michael,

              I presently reside in Australia. Here, as in Ireland, Germany, Canada and Austria and I suggest the US from the evidence I have seen, the overwhelming number of clerical pedophiles have been RC priests. The Protestants barely rate a mention in comparison, although of course there are cases among them. That is why I said the present problematic situation is "largely" due to the RCC. I think a good case can be made that in the RCC clerical pedophilia was systematically protected for various reasons, whereas in Protestant churches it only happened accidentally, so to speak, because of administrative incompetencies. I hope the same can be said for the Orthodox, but there has been less research of the problem among us. I have followed the various investigations and inquiries quite closely over the years - someone will eventually write the very sad history - and their discoveries have led me to form this conclusion. In Australia there is currently a Royal Commission of Inquiry underway which is uncovering the expected pattern. Of course, I acknowledge the many decent Catholic priests who have nothing to do with this crisis but who nevertheless suffer from guilt by association.

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    • Fr. George Washburn says:

      Maybe no mention of the Storheim sentencing in part, Nick, because he has not been sentenced yet.

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  2. Current SVS Student says:

    1. Tim Dooley is hardly representative of our student body. He is not even a residential student
    2. I can tell you how many students agree with Tim Dooley, maybe one, and you already referenced him
    3. What is taught at SVS is the tradition and teaching of the Church. For every Tim Dooley there are 5 to 10 good Orthodox Priests who have graduated from St Vladimir's and are doing amazing things in the Church, so MANY of them in your diocese George. In fact I would guess that a vast majority of the priests in your diocese are SVS educated. How's that going?
    4. Again, back to Tim, he is a ThM student, he was an Mdiv, but came on his own from his Antiochian Parish.
    5. There is no way the two students could have worked on their relationship here on the campus as they were not students at the same time.

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    • Tim Dooley says:

      I'm not really sure why my personal history is being shared with strangers on the internet by other strangers, but I guess I have no control over that.

      I agree with point 1, but point 2 is pretty strange. What is there to agree with me about? My stance on homosexuality? I haven't given it. My views on marriage? Haven't given those, either.

      Could you please tell me exactly what the student body at SVS disagrees with me on?

      Regarding point 3, I would reckon that most of the priests in the last few years actually do agree with what I posted on FB. Feel free to do a poll since you know them.

      My reading of point 5 indicates that you aren't very familiar with the situation, like most people commenting here.

      If we know each other, please email me rather than posting inaccurately about me on a blog.

      Thanks,
      Tim

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      • Tim R. Mortiss says:

        So, Tim, don't keep us guessing and don't keep beating around the bush. What are your "stances" on the subjects?

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        Mr Dooley, as one who is a bit of a luddite and does not have a facebook account nor know how to navigate facebook, would you consider posting what you said on facebook here?

        Then there would be less fencing in the dark I think.

        Thank you.

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      • Dear Tim,

        May you grace the Church with your good works.and may your hard work at seminary lead to a good future. Worry you have had a hard time on this blog,

        I now Father Killian but have not seen him for quite a while. I'm probably one of the people George refers to who is surprised at Father Killian's recent actions, if what George related is true.

        Do you know who he married? This blog did not mention that part. I am praying for Killian. And once I know his fellow seminarian and friend's name, I will pray for him as well.

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      • M. Stankovich says:

        Mr. Dooley,

        In case you haven't noticed, I am relentless in my prosecution of those who make accusation without corroboration, distort the truth with conjecture, relay and promote murderous gossip, and outright fabricate and lie. And by analogy, I take great exception to this childish crap you are playing with respondents to your posts: I agree with point 1, but point 2 is pretty strange. What is there to agree with me about? My stance on homosexuality? I haven’t given it. My views on marriage? Haven’t given those, either. Mr. Dooley, who cares? You are boring the living hell out of me! Put up or shut up already! Madonna mia!

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    • Facts Schmacts says:

      Current SVS Student,

      Contrary to your claim, Gregory and Christopher were both at SVS during 2012-2013. Tim Dooley himself may not be on campus anymore, but he did live on campus for several years.

      Christopher Sprecher is not the first recent graduate of SVS to already be deposed from the priesthood. Sadly, he is also far from the first to fall into delusion regarding homosexual behavior. There are more current or former seminarians than one who have enthusiastically applauded what Christopher has done. Fortunately, there are also many seminarians who have made note of the immorality of Christopher's actions, thank God. And still there are others who are disgusted with his behavior but did not express their feelings in public.

      What Tim actually said to Christopher was "May our Lord strengthen you in your journey, Christopher, with much love from the Dooleys." That is not explicitly condoning Christopher's behavior, but neither does his comment appear to express any of the concern that would be appropriate for his brother's fall into sin.

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  3. Harvey Bertrum says:

    First off, St. Vladimir's Seminary has nothing to do with this. Both of these fellows found each other outside of SVS and not within. Over the many years Holy Cross (Greek Seminary in Brookline, MA); Holy Trinity (ROCOR); St. Tikhon's Seminary/Monastery (Pocono boonies); Christ the Savior (Johnstown, PA); St. Vladimir's and others have had students who may have had homosexual tendencies. The church has always recognized that these people exist, however, insisted that acting on these tendencies would not qualify them for any clerical ministry. So, this current intrigue is not a new phenomena nor without precedence in the Orthodox Church. What has brought this to everyones attention is the current impact of homosexuals on society today. These fellows knew what they were doing and the impact their actions would have while there are others in Orthodoxy who have been and still are rather clandestine. Ask Bishop Tikhon (retired) about these. The main focus of your post to point fingers at SVS is rather disingenuous and only goes to show your real agenda here.

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    • The policy stated by Mr. Bertrum is obviously defective,or this discussion would have no example to focus on.And it is over and over again,through the decades.Ordain only truly natural men in the frist place,and this humiliation of Christ's Church will disappear..Does anyone have commonsense anymore?.

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      • Ted Theodore says:

        Interesting that + Jonah pushed Killian into monastic vows. There are others that + Jonah also elevated into monastic vows which should be suspect. In fact, there is one at SVS still who teaches music. Exactly what was + Jonah thinking? Some believe, he wanted to move the OCA hdqrtrs to Wash., D.C. and staff it with ONLY his own monks. Rather strange!

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          On what evidence do you say Jonah "pushed" him into monastic vows? That's a stretch. As far as OCA HQ being moved to DC, well, what's wrong with that? Last I checked, the capital of the USA was in Washington, DC. If the OCA is really the territorial and local Church of America, shouldn't its Primate reside in the capital? And shouldn't its central chancery also be there as well?

          That's what gets me about the Syossetophiliacs: they scream to the high heavens that Jonah was too Russophile but still act like a minor ethnic jurisdiction no different than the GOA and all others who concentrate their central chanceries in the midst of their largest ethnic concentrations. Their actions prove that they are not an American church but an ethnic colony.

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        • Mark from the DOS says:

          Say what you really mean, Ted Ted. Your innuendo is not very veiled so just go ahead and say it.

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    • Rostislav says:

      I think that in times such as this, bodies like SVS should take the moral high ground and issue statements condemning this type of perverse, immoral behavior if they do not want to be confused with persons who have had associations with them and are now engaged in it. They definitely should not give a voice to perversion to represent an "Orthodox rejoinder" and other such scandal.

      That being said, I do not believe SVS is a bastion of "gay pride," but I do think that an increasingly blind eye in quite a few places in our church for what the Church terms a "sin that cries unto heaven" does us no good. Once and for all, our local church, the OCA, should issue an unequivocal statement "condemning the sin and not the sinner" and offering pastorship to help people suffering from this spiritual disease relief, cure, a place in CHRIST.

      If those people happen to be clergy, then monasteries can be great spiritual hospitals for people who wish to maintain obedience to the Church and remain as clergy in some limited capacity. Those who have perpetrated sex crimes, the Church must be brave enough to depose and leave to the discipline of the authorities while praying for the conversion of their souls. But, no, active homosexuals cannot be Orthodox clergy. Active homosexuals cannot partake of the Mysteries. Homosexual relationships are not morally equivalent to heterosexual ones.

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  4. Trudge at SmartVote says:

    George,

    I think your malapropism, "St Vlad’s was bursting at the seems" instead of "seams" is correct.

    I fear that this seminary is portraying itself as seemingly an Orthodox institution when that is no longer the case - It has more in common with a modern Episcopalian curriculum and spirit, as Mr. Dooley and Dr. Bouteneff demonstrate, and the laws concerning the "new morality" in the state of New York are having their effect.

    I fear also that this is not the only "Orthodox" seminary that is undergoing this corruptive transformation.

    I wonder where Dr. Chad Hatfield, the Chancellor, is in all of this.

    I think we forget that the "hypocrisy" that Christ condemns in the Gospels is the Greek term for theatrical actors, the putting on of a mask to play a seemingly spiritual and religious part.

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    • Current SVS Student says:

      Dear Mr (Mrs) Trudge,

      Please site your evidence that the seminary I attend has more in common with Episcopalianism.

      I wonder what this site would have done 30 years ago when one of the seminary grads came out as transgender and was featured on the front page of Life Magazine. No doubt you would have prophesied that SVS is going to hell in a handbasket. And yet we just celebrated 75 years of turning out good priests, and sure some not so good priests or lay people, but show me a seminary, or any academic institution that has a 100% rate.

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      • Rostislav says:

        Um, you elected an open homosexual as class president and find it "prudent" enough to say that if thirty years ago one of your graduates would have had a sex change that that would have been OK. There was a time in the Orthodox world where you would be expelled from seminary for having these types of views as they do not reflect an Orthodox (or even a healthy moral) mindset.

        These types of positions are not only irreconcilable with Orthodox moral theology, they are condemned by it. So, yes, Episcopalianism, and extreme gay pride Episcopalianism, is where these types of views fall. They are not Orthodox and not even Christian.

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      • Current SVS Student,

        Was that former SVS "transgender" student the same one who was/is the brother-in-law of a current member of the OCA Synod? One, Mr. Jones? I believe you have inadvertently revealed another colorful skeleton in the OCA blue blood ancestry.

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    • M. Stankovich says:

      Oh for heaven's sake Trudge at SmartVote! You too with the nerve to accuse someone of "hypocrisy" and "putting on of a mask to play a seemingly spiritual and religious part?" You are a self-righteous, self-taught, unwashed, "theologian" who studies the Fathers on-line! Good lord, man, if that constitutes an Orthodox theological education it is no better than a silly readinglist or the "modern Episcopalian curriculum" you seem to loathe.

      As the Current SVS Student says, where is your evidence? How do you corroborate such outrageous, self-righteous accusations? "Seemingly an Orthodox institution when that is no longer the case." How would you even know where to being to evaluate such a thing? By comparing it to your exhaustive, systematic theological education at the Google Seminary? Take off your own stupid mask, pack your bag, humble yourself - like each one of us who submitted ourselves to the disciple of the commitment to the study of theology - transport yourself for a week and experience what Fr. Schmemann told each and every class: "The life of the seminarian begins and ends in the chapel, day after day after day, and everything else follows."

      You have come to turn every discussion into what St. Paul terms λογομαχία - trivial and empty words for the sake of words. Put your money where where your words are for once. You have an issue with SVS? With Fr. Chad & Dr. Bouteneff. Aren't you the one in the last thread to say "We do not know how to risk ourselves and are not willing to step in to conflict and against evil with spiritual and moral fortitude?" Then teach us.

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      • Michael Stankovich,

        You pompous arse. If you knew what you were talking about you would know that people have stepped up. Students have spoken out at St. Vladimir's. And do you know what the repose of your alma mater was?

        THEY DISMISSED THE STUDENT. KICKED HIM OUT. WHY? Because he called them to account on their moral stances. He challenged the professor and administration.

        So, the next time you sit out there in sunny Southern California and make your self-righteous pronouncements, be schooled in the fact that people have stood up, are standing up and the way the OCA and SVS deals with them is to kill the messenger and do nothing about its corruption.

        Now shut up.

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        • M. Stankovich says:

          Carl,

          Pompous ass? Accepted. Toss in arrogant, intolerant, and stupit for effect as well. Let's move on shall we?

          By measure of days in my adult life, I have yet to surpass the ratio of "more days in or around St. Vladimir's Seminary than not." It's getting close, but I'm not there yet. So, that being the case, Carl, I outright challenge you as the rodent that you are: provide the name(s) of the student(s) who called the professor and/or administration to account on their moral stances (sic) and THEY DISMISSED THE STUDENT. KICKED HIM OUT. I will prove you are a liar. "Be schooled?" I've walked California's toughest beat. Son, I'll bite your nose off! Pardon me, that was "prison dramatic license." It's that SoCal sun beatin' down all winter long...

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          • Patrick Henry Reardon says:

            Dear George

            Reading this message from Stankovich, I remembered why I stopped reading this blog site for several months.

            Really, George, shouldn't there be some minimum standard of civility?

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          • Stankyvich,

            Since you are so tight with your SVS buds, I am sure you can find out for yourself. And I challenge you to release the name once you do, that is if you are man enough.

            Of course, as you said, that might be difficult for a 'pompous, arrogant, intolerant and stupit (sic) ass', as you self-define.

            Rodent. Classy, real classy.

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        • Hyperbole says:

          Carl- who was kicked out for speaking up? While a few students left between semesters this year, none of them were asked to leave for disciplinary reasons related to this incident. Unless this just happened in the last couple days...

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          • It is in the last few days and it wasn't for the "official" reason. It is sorry enough that the student was dismissed for speaking the Truth, but then SVS produces a cover story. God, can't anyone in the OCA tell the truth about anything?

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            • SVS has not, and does not, tell students any reasons why other students have left/been dismissed. Unless I'm somehow forgetting one of my classmates, all of those who have left recently have themselves given explanations that are known to many on campus, except for one (who, it is rumored, cheated on something and was caught). If anyone is lying or providing a cover story, it's the former student himself. Yet another example of people who are eager to point a finger at SVS, without stopping to consider whether their information is correct.

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              • SVS not telling students why a fellow student has left is their policy and I have no problem with their internal policy, but if you are saying that this student cheated and was dismissed, you are a liar and you defame this student so that you can do what? Protect SVS? Does it need protection from the Truth?

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      • Trudge at SmartVote says:

        Dr. Stankovich,

        "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God."

        Here is Moses delivering the law to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 30, and which Paul picks up in Romans 10

        For this commandment which I command you today is not mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?" But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it."

        See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply....

        In other words, Moses and Paul and Christ himself assert that the Scriptures do not require a seminary degree to understand it, but as in the parable of the sower, it is a matter of the spiritual disposition and action of the hearer.

        The Scriptures commend the Bereans in Acts 17 for "fair-mindedness" and nobility since they examined the Scriptures for themselves:

        Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

        Your seminary education will not save you, nor will my education save me, but exercising ourselves to holiness in laboring to observe the commandments of Christ and his Apostles, and in this crisis, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and wrestling for the faith.

        Your disdain for others and for the study of the Scriptures and Fathers is not good.

        If a seminary education does not promote asceticism and holiness and an active knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom, but becomes an impediment, or turns the seminarian into an obscurantist, then what good is it? It then takes away the "key to knowledge," preventing the seminarian from entering the Kingdom of Heaven and obstructing others under his influence.

        Here is what Christ says, invited to supper with the seminarians, the religious experts of the time of his appearing in Luke 11

        The lamp of your body is your eye. When your eye is clear, the whole of your body is also full of light, but when it is soiled, your body also is in darkness. Consider then whether the light in you may not be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part that is dark, it will all be light as when the lamp illuminates you with its beam.

        The seminarians ended up hating him for saying this and exposing their external and hypocritical religion.

        "Knowledge without action puffs up, but love builds up."

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        • M. Stankovich says:

          Trudge at SmartVote,

          Bear in mind my previous comment regarding the words of St. Paul that some bear "a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words [λογομαχία] , which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain." (1 Tim 6:4-5) I asked for evidence to support your accusation. Your choice to lecture me was as misguided as your cheap theatrics in declaring the "corruptive transformation" of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary.

          The fact of the matter is that you have no direct knowledge of what is being taught - even going so far as to disregard the comments of the current students posted here as to the upholding of Church Tradition - yet feel confident to project the anecdote of anomaly onto the institution as a whole. This is at once remarkable as it is lamentable. And since your posts commonly begin with "People do not seem to fully understand/appreciate/grasp" the depth of the "issues," apparently you have placed yourself above corroborating your accusations of corruption. Nice touch. You know it. I know it. And now, everyone knows.

          “Knowledge without action puffs up, but love builds up.” How could I disagree? "Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins [καταστροφῇ - yeah, "catastrophe"] those who listen." (2 Tim. 2:14)

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  5. Ilya Zhitomirskiy says:

    Hopefully this mess hasn't touched St. Tikhon's Seminary in South Canaan. But if it is so, I will have to go to seminaries of another jurisdiction, such as St. Sava's in Libertyville,IL or Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, which I am already thinking of attending. Hopefully other young men who want to serve God are also thinking about this. I think that both St. Sava's and Jordanville teach the native language (Serbian and Russian, respectively) to those who don't know it within the first two years. In addition, there are two distance-education programs approved by ROCOR, whose graduates have been ordained: the St. Athanasius Institute, headquartered in SF, which offers online education and a preparatory program for deacons, and the Pastoral Program of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America, which offers an online program with a practical requirement to attend the Summer School of Liturgical Music in Jordanville. Hopefuly there still remain Orthodox seminaries that hold to the traditional beliefs on this issue.

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    • Harvey Bertrum says:

      Ilya,

      At St. Sava's in Libertyville there is nada. No professors nor students. Holy Trinity offers nothing, but sectarianism and no real degree. St. Tikhon's has 5 students and is dying. Taking on-line courses does not really prepare anyone for clerical orders. The only two schools of real Orthodox theology in America are Holy Cross in Brookline, MA where Hellenism is key and the admin is currently in a state of chaos.(what's new) and SVS. SVS is the only really solid Orthodox theological seminary where everyone can attend and graduate with highly recognized degrees.(Men, women, Orthodox, non-Orthodox) Again, the people mentioned above, did not meet nor have anything to do with SVS other than studying there at diff. times.

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      • Rostislav says:

        That in and of itself is a sectarian statement, affirming nothing more than "Cafeteria Orthodoxy" as your standard.

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      • Well put, Harvey.....

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      • NYC OCA Alum says:

        Mr Bertrum, can you flesh out re: Jordanville, "sectarianism" and "no real degree"? Not challenging you -- I wouldn't know -- but that's pretty harsh.

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      • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says:

        I don't think that's true. There are some distinguished clergymen, especially those in ROCOR, who graduated Jordanville. Take Fr. Victor Potapov of Washington,D.C., for instance. He is a thoughtful man and a great priest, who served as a deacon in Nyack and is now the rector of St. John the Baptist Cathedral (ROCOR). He also did radio broadcasts on Voice of America. Harvey, it seems like you are trolling. Hopefully someone else can contribute constructive comments to this discussion, not just put-downs.

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      • Dear Ilya says:

        Dear Ilya,

        You are a pretty young guy, so you might want to think about a diaconal program where you are learning a lot but not on campus at a seminary a lot. Talk to Father Viktor and Metropolitan Jonah about your opportunities. Talk to Deacon Patrick Mitchell who serves over at St. John's who sometimes writes on this blog. Since you once attended St. Nicholas, you know that at least one former seminarian and monk at St Tikhon's has tendencies. That is not to suggest he acts upon them. Otherwise, Metropolitan Jonah would not have ordained him. I know people with tendencies in all jurisdictions. You can ask people like Colette and Helga what they have observed.

        Monks back out in the world sometimes do very strange things. Consider that Father Killian was once a quiet herychastic monk out of the world. Then, all of a sudden, he was brought into the world, brought into a worldly seminary, brought into the very worldly military, brought into the world and stress of pastoring a parish, and all this happened very very quickly to a guy who previously was just a quiet scholar. So, I don't think people can generalize form his experience, and I personally don't think that his love of Orthodoxy will cease or that he won't go through a ton of angst when he realizes the enormity of his recent decision. He needs all our prayers.

        You don't have to study in this country, even in English.

        As for studying Serbian, that is easy enough. For Holy Trinity, though, you need both Russian and Slavonic, and for the Russian part you can take accelerated courses locally at the USDA Graduate school as well as local universities (George Mason, NVCC, Montgomery College, Georgetown, AU), take intensive programs in the summer at Indiana University and various other places. There is an intensive Serbian program at Arizona State.

        For the study of theology, it is nice to study Greek and Old Church Slavic anyway.. And you can teach yourself OCS in about 8 weeks in your spare time. The Greece Archdiocese offers Greek school for adults in Bethesda, DC and in Virginia gauged toward accredited exams.

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        • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says:

          Thanks, Dear Ilya
          I was born in Moscow and speak Russian as a second language. I may have some issues with Russian idioms, but my Russian is equal to my English in all other areas. As to Slavonic, I am actually more fluent in it than liturgical English. But thank you for the advice. I will certainly look to take this up. Where are some good foreign places to study theology?
          P.S. I have a LinkedIn and Facebook accounts under my name. Perhaps we could get in touch.

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        • Dear "Dear Ilya",

          You say "And you can teach yourself OCS in about 8 weeks in your spare time." Not that I have much spare time, but I still would really appreciate any advice on where and how to study Church Slavonic. Please, let us know. Thank you.

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    • Alexander says:

      Don't waste your time and your (or someone else's) money at St. Sava's in Libertyville.

      It is to a seminary as "Fred's School of Cosmetology" is to Harvard Medical School.

      It has all sorts of accreditation issues; the curriculum is inconsistent; the "professors" are absentee; the facilities a complete dump; its finances a disaster; and its future highly in doubt.

      To be sure, it is not totally useless. It is a great place to refine expressions of ethno-centrism.

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      • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says:

        I thought that it is what the Serbian Diocese of Novogracanica (Midwest) uses to educate its clergy. So naturally, I thought it might be some good. There is also St. Sophia's in Bound Brook (UOC-USA) and Christ the Savior (ACROD) in Johnstown, if I really want to expand the list. I just threw that in as an example of a seminary from another jurisdiction.

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  6. Isa Almisry says:

    "an active OCA priest-monk and his homosexual partner"
    whatever he is "active" at, it isn't monasticism.

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  7. NYC OCA Alum says:

    Just reread this,http://www.brianpatrickmitchell.com/2012/10/02/thomas-hopko-on-same-sex-attraction-speaking-the-truth-with-love/, and find that that Mr Mitchell's foreboding a year ago was well-conceived. Ideas have consequences, including pastoral ideas, and Fr Hopko's attempt to straddle the new received sexual wisdom of the OCA's urban (and seminary?) flock and the Tradition's crystalline contrary teaching -- or rather his perverse (though perhaps unintended) implication that forthrightly and unapologetically pastoring young minds infected by the former in light of the latter amounts to spiritual abuse -- finds its predictable result in the well-meaning muddle that are Mr Dooley's reflections on this subject.

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    • M. Stankovich says:

      NYC OCA Alum,

      Are you referring to where his "well-conceived" sandbagging of Fr. Hopko, who wrote a seminal work on the matter of same-sex attraction - to which he has made substantial changes over the course of seven years since it was published - yet did not show Fr. Thomas the respect to contact him before producing this tripe? Ah, yes I remember it! Fr. Hans, in his own inimitable way had to rush in and rescue "Mr. Mitchell" so many times that he is now an adopted albatross.

      You would do well to respect Fr. Hopko and listen to his lecture, allowing him - a loving, focused, merciful, and experienced Orthodox archpriest, Seminary Dean, Professor of Dogmatic Theology, world-renowned author and lecturer, husband and father - to speak for himself before you allow "Mr. Mitchell" to pervert your mind into making such unworthy statements about him.

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      • Hopko, the great defender of Mark Stokoe. So much for his seminal work on homosexuality and same-sex attraction. Overrated and a disaster as Dean of SVS. His "retirement" was a thinly veiled cover for his contract not being renewed as Dean.

        Yawn

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        • Ted Theodore says:

          Fr. Hopko was quite correct in defending Stokoe in what his site was posting. It was the TRUTH. The opposing site posting lies was just that, lies! What Fr. Hopko said was supporting the TRUTH and not LIES. It had nothing to do with homosexuality!

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          • George Michalopulos says:

            I was aghast two years ago when Fr Hopko played psychoanalyst and worse, praised Stokoe as a fount of truth (when I and others had already exposed several of his misstatements). You would do well to not idolize Hopko, after all, he was Dean of SVS way back when. We could very well be experiencing a chain of events that began with a tragedy at SVS during his watch.

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            • Ted Theodore says:

              George:

              Trying to drag Fr. Hopko into your web of deceit is disingenuous. I believe you can still read Stokoe's site and he did post the truth. The opposition site was filled with lies. Fr. Hopko exposed the opposition for what it was; lies. There wasn't anything regarding homosexuality; why are you also twisting the truth?

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              • George Michalopulos says:

                Because I'm not. Many besides myself have shown that OCAN had made major omissions of the truth, had elided over others, and said not a few things that were at variance with the truth. More importantly --perhaps most importantly--we proved that OCAN was part of a larger conspiracy to remove Jonah from almost the very start. No matter how much lipstick you put on that pig, it's still a pig. It is illegal, immoral, and uncanonical for hierarchs, priests, deacons, and well-placed laymen to engage in such nefarious activities.

                As for Hopko himself, I don't know to what extent he was part of this conspiracy and given his outright laudation of Jonah upon his election as Primate I'd like to believe that he wasn't. But I could be wrong. If I'm wrong, what does this tell us? That while he was lavishing praise on Jonah he was also twisting the knife in his back?

                Think on this before you reply again.

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                • M. Stankovich says:

                  But you know and I know you are withholding some very significant details of the truth from someone I referred to you in good faith. The simple reason is that it does not support your story. I find this equally "nefarious" as well. It is not the "whole" story. But it certainly is a significant aspect of the story. Think on this before you scold someone for their "omissions of truth."

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                  • George Michalopulos says:

                    Dr Stankovich, you are confirming something that I did not heretofore suspect: that you are working in collusion with somebody named "Nick." I will tell you why I have yet not released his statement even thought I agree with most of what he alleges.

                    First, he said some things regarding the two first Metropolitans of the OCA that are probably true but are not germane to the Storheim affair. Second, he goes on to name other people in the OCA and make allegations against them which are arguable. Third, and this is key, he blames Jonah for the Storheim affair even though Jonah wasn't even a bishop when Storheim was first taken into custody.

                    That last thing was particularly striking because it showed me that he is not just a shill for Syosset but that people like him are desperate to hang this thing --really anything at all--on Jonah in order to make him look bad.

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                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      Mr. Michalopulos,

                      All he said to me was that he was a class mate or schoolmate of Killian Sprecher who had written to Jonah to inform him of Killian's homosexuality and "dating" as an impediment to his ordination and was ignored. He then said you would not post it because you could not verify it. That you won't post because you can't verify it, but you allow "Nick" to accuse me of being a secret child abuser. Were you able to verify that?

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                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      Mr. Michalopulos,

                      As I thought about this today, the person (and I will only use the initials "BF" to identify him/her) whose comments I have objected to you censoring had absolutely nothing to do with "the Storheim affair," and in fact, I wrote about them myself on January 15th. You are embarrassing yourself by suggesting I am engaged in "collusion."

                      Let me also say, Mr. Michalopulos, that I have shared several confidential facts with you in the history our relationship for the express purpose of helping you understand the context of events as they occurred in history. I did so out of respect and trust. Man to man, Mr. Michalopulos, I would hope you continue to honor that trust.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      As I you. The person I'm presently withholding has written some interesting things about certain bishops on the present synod as well as the two former metropolitans. Most of what he writes is assumed by most to be true (myself included) but are inflammatory nonetheless. If you want, I'll communicate with you offline about this matter.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      What I will communicate online with you about is your statement that a student at SVS wrote a letter to Jonah saying that Sprecher was a homosexual. Assuming that to be true, what of it? Why write to the Primate? If the student in question was so exercised about it, then why did he not bring it to the attention of the administration? Is it because they didn't care? (I'm just throwing that out, I certainly hope that that wouldn't be the case.) Regardless, there is a chain of command. Bothering a Primate about a student fits somewhere lower on that chain than say, an accusation against a bishop.

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                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      Mr. Michalopulos,

                      There is no polite way to say to you, what do I care? Which is why I referred him to you. I'm not "colluding" with him, I unloaded him. Archbishop Benjamin was in my home recently and he was explaining to me the arrangement of architecture of one of the ancient churches in Ephesus from pictures; I stopped him and told him about my recent "panics" about how much I want to learn, and how - figuratively - my age is racing ahead; that I fear I will not have enough time to what I want to learn! And you, Mr. Michalopulos, would have me devoting myself to making Met. Jonah "look bad?" The only reason I even raised the issue here is that I am sickened with the manner by which you allow nearly anyone to suggest most anything without corroboration about most anyone - living or of "blessed memory" - unless it challenges your fantasy reality or you determine it might offend your "protected" posters, quite frequently from someone like me. And it's a "double-reward," because it leaves the impression that I have been silenced by the weight of their "moral authority," rather than your censorship. Nice touch. But It's your house, whatever...

                      Is it possible that I care less now than when this whole matter began? Yeah, that pretty much says it.

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                    • "Bothering a Primate about a student fits somewhere lower on that chain than say, an accusation against a bishop."

                      George, this is completely disingenuous. The relationship between Hieromonk Killian and Met Jonah far exceeded that of Primate-Seminarian. In addition to being a Primate, Met Jonah was also:
                      - Hieromonk Killian's spiritual father,
                      - Hieromonk Killian's abbot,
                      - Hieromonk Killian's ordaining bishop,
                      - The President of the Seminary, and
                      - The reporting student's bishop, as St Vladimir's is stavropegial.

                      All of these make Met Jonah not only the right, but the ONLY person to whom the student should have taken his concerns. To suggest otherwise is completely false. One would naturally be led to believe that, given your immense knowledge about all of these things, your omission of them is deliberately misleading at best.

                      "If the student in question was so exercised about it, then why did he not bring it to the attention of the administration? Is it because they didn’t care?"

                      Additionally, if you did not notice, Hieromonk Killian was ordained after completing an Mdiv, before enrolling in the ThM program. That means that he was not a student at St Vladimir's at the time. Therefore, your suggestion that a student bring his concerns to the administration's attention is without merit.

                      I am not saying that Met Jonah should or should not have done anything, but the fact remains that he was exactly the person to whom the student should have taken his concerns - which he did.

                      I know you will probably not post this, and that's okay. But I hope you at least take the time to read it.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Kurt, for somebody who seems to know a lot about who was bishop/primate/abbot/etc., I wonder, how many actual days was Mr Sprecher in His Beatitude's presence? How many actual days was Jonah present at SVS during his Primacy? I remember the weekend with Arb Rowan Atkinson and another symposium with Met Lambrianides devoted to the historicity of American Orthodoxy but these were seminars held over weekends? How many students did Jonah see?

                      Doesn't it strike you odd that things went to hell at Manton two years after Jonah left? And that Jonah was forbidden to go there during his internal exile? Doesn't it also strike you odd that none of the professoriate that was there was concerned about his downward spiral? Where have we heard of something like this before? Doe the name of a young suicide from about ten years ago ring any bells to you?

                      And no, I continue to disagree with you about the chain of command. Complaints about a student need first go to administration (that is after first going to the student). This is a well-known principle called "subsidiarity."

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                    • DC Indexman says:

                      George, I realize you are fighting for truth, alone -- but sometimes you could use more insight. Sprecher was in Washington, DC for about six weeks during the Summer of 2011. During that time he was ordained by Met. Jonah at the St. Nicholas Cathedral. During these weeks Met. Jonah and Sprecher were together quite frequently together in the Cathedral having prayer services. Met. Jonah also arranged during that time for Sprecher to serve at several DC area churches, where he, Sprecher was able to give his life story and testimony for attending parishioners.

                      You of course can editorialize on this all you want or not. But these are facts.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      DC, you've given me more information than Kurt and for that I thank you. Still, in the grand scheme of things six weeks out of four years doesn't seem like a lot if you ask me. More to the point, did Sprecher announce his homosexuality during this time? Was he engaging in those sins? That seems to me to be germane.

                      I have talked with several people who know Sprecher, some of whom have functioning "gaydars" and they were shocked to find out that he was homosexual. Others felt that he may have had same-sex tendencies but no one believed he would act on them.

                      This of course brings us to the ultimate question: should men who have same-sex tendencies but who are cognizant of that sin and who have every intention of being true to their vows of chastity ever be ordained to the priesthood or tonsured as a monk?

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                    • George,

                      I'm sorry, but I'm not able to answer any of your questions, as I'm not that close to the situation. I'm just trying to point out the facts. Again, I'm not saying that Met Jonah should or should not have done anything. Please don't think that I am blaming him. I have no idea what the real nature of the relationship between the two was, or what the content of his confessions was. I have no idea what happened at Manton.

                      However, the facts I listed are just that - facts. Your attempt to distance Met Jonah by referring to him solely as "Primate" is not telling the whole truth. Again, I am not blaming Met Jonah for anything - I don't have enough knowledge of the situation to do that. But it is clear that he was more involved than you are willing to admit. For some reason, you are trying to put a considerable distance between the two men, and that does not reflect the reality of the situation.

                      And again, Monk Killian was not a student of St Vladimir's at the time he was ordained. I agree with your statement that

                      Complaints about a student need first go to administration (that is after first going to the student). This is a well-known principle called “subsidiarity.”

                      But Monk Killian was not enrolled at the time of his ordination.

                      It might also be fairly pointed out that Monk Killian was NOT ordained as a student. While I do not know why that is, it could just as easily be taken as an indication that the Faculty of St Vladimir's did take these concerns seriously. You simply choose to read it in a different light.

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                    • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

                      George Michalopoulos commented:

                      This of course brings us to the ultimate question: should men who have same-sex tendencies but who are cognizant of that sin and who have every intention of being true to their vows of chastity ever be ordained to the priesthood or tonsured as a monk?

                      That is an excellent question, and rather, the linchpin of the entire controversy.

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                • Ted Theodore says:

                  George,

                  There was NO conspiracy. Everyone clearly could see that + Jonah was making unilateral decisions without the Synod. Some thought he was highly unstable. I don't know, but clearly, the entire Synod of the OCA agreed that it was time for him to leave. So, blame Hopko if you will, blame Stokoe if you will, but the decision was the Synod's. There was NO conspiracy except in your mind. What happened to + Jonah was brought down by himself.

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            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

              That's right, George. On Clean Monday, the day after the evening when the Office of Forgiveness is served after Vespers, the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters issued an encyclical damning his fellow priest and brother, Archpriest Joe Fester, by informing his readers not to be believe a word issuing from him and then advising his same audience to trust everything uttered by Mark Stokoe.
              Even if you believe in Mark Stokoe's sanctity and Father Joseph's perfidy, you must wonder how an ordained teacher and author of the 'rainbow' series' can assassinate someone on the very first day of the Great Fast and RIGHT after the rite of Forgiveness? It seems like the most basic instance of Amorality. How SMALL can one get?

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              • George Michalopulos says:

                Your Grace, as usual you get to the nub of the matter. I too was shocked to see on Clean Monday no less, a hatchet job issuing from the lips of a revered protopresbyter. When you're right, you're right.

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        • Mark from the DOS says:

          Fr. Hopko has a podcast on Ancient Faith and this week's episode mentions (without naming names) the Deacon Gregory Burke episode and posits that he should never be permitted to serve again. I have to admit, I am curious where his voice has been on this issue for lo so many years.

          Podcast

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          • I bit late to the dance Fr. Hopko. But one must make amends before the end.

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          • Trudge at SmartVote says:

            An excellent podcast from Fr. Hopko, Mark from the DOS.

            George, despite Father Hopko's failings, please spend some time with this podcast.

            It concerns the requirement of holiness and the proper use of the Divine Liturgy, and also addresses a modern attitude you expressed concerning Sprecher that this is a private matter "between him and God."

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          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

            Well, let's see when he'll refer so plainly to SVS grads, like Bishop Mark Forsberg, Archbishop Seraphim (Storheim) ever-memorable Metropolitan Vladimir (Nagosky), as well as SVS faculty member, Archimandrite Alexander Doumouas, and more, such as one of this blog's favorite punching bags, a living Metropolitan. Never hachi, tamadachi! Archdeacon Burke is a safe target: he's a Novel Skete product Bishop Mark "culled" long ago.

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      • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

        Ah, yes I remember it! Fr. Hans, in his own inimitable way had to rush in and rescue “Mr. Mitchell” so many times that he is now an adopted albatross.

        This is a strange statement. Dn. Patrick Mitchell held his own quite well and certainly needed no "rescue" from me. Neither is he an "adopted albatross."

        I'll speak for myself, thank you. I suggest you let Dn. Patrick speak for himself as well.

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        • NYC OCA Alum says:

          Fr Hans, would love your thoughts on this:
          http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/coming-out-christian/

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          • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

            My first question was why would the "American Conservative" publish it but then they tend towards a pragmatic conservatism overall so that settled that. (It's a good magazine, BTW.)

            Then there was the "Golly! Gee whiz!" tone of the article but you run into this a lot when an author attempts to mainstream homosexuality in quality think piece journals. That optimistic drone masks the fact that there is no oil on that salad and that's why it tastes so flat.

            The honest part was the description of loneliness further down in the piece and there's the rub I think. More on this below.

            The homosexual question has two trajectories: the cultural propaganda of Gay Inc. and the pastoral dimension of lonely people.

            In some quarters of the Church these two trajectories become intertwined and confusion results. For example:

            • 1) Inga Leonova's sentimentalizing (evident by her interminable scoldings);
            • 2) David J. Dunn's divorce of the natural and sacramental (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-j-dunn-phd/eastern-orthodox-gay-marriage_b_894982.html);
            • 3) Maria Gwyn McDowell's framing of the sexual binaries (male and female) within the Marxist categories of class struggle (http://www.womenintheology.org/2013/11/19/fragile-repentances/);

            . . .to name a few.

            These writers contend that traditional Orthodox anthropology regarding male and female is an outmoded construct. I contend that their ideas will lead to the Episcopalianizing of the Orthodox Church if they are allowed to prevail.

            Challenging Gay Inc. doesn't address the pastoral dimension however. That requires a different response.

            A CDC study determined that about 1.4% of the population engages in same-sex behavior on a regular basis and of that number almost 37% eventually leave the lifestyle. Sexuality is much more fluid than the gay activists would have us believe.

            I won't go into the pastoral dimension here in much detail except to say that the deep longing that men have for communion with other men and women for women, cannot be met by eroticizing (engaging in genital contact) the friendship.

            I believe the loneliness the author expresses is real and that many people feel it. I also believe that deep same-sex friendships are necessary for a properly developed and healthy sense of masculine and feminine self-identity.

            Gay Inc.'s characterization that this need for deep friendship is properly actualized in same-sex genital activity however, is a lie that keeps many people, especially the young, from experiencing the inter-personal communion so necessary for their own self-development.

            That the Evangelical wing of American Christianity is the first to fall (apart from the Episcopalians but that's a different story) doesn't surprise me largely because they have no way to perceive the sacred dimension of creation. The missiles launched during the Radical Reformation are landing 500 years later and they are decimating what little remains of the Protestant communions (and secularizing some Orthodox along the way as noted above). With no sacramental vision, morality is reduced to behavioral maxims divorced from ontology; what one feels functions as the only validation of truth.

            I think that in cultural terms this social experiment with homosexuality will have to play itself out. I don't see it reversing until the cultural detritus becomes more clear, which it inevitably will because same-sex behavior is a distortion of human anthropology. Anthropology is destiny and a person's interior orientation toward created and uncreated reality (natural law and morality) leads to either creativity or dissolution. This is an incontrovertible brute fact.

            Anyway, these are some immediate ideas on the piece.

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            • Day of Reckoning says:

              Here's a much more accurate and thoughtful commentary from a gay conservative.

              Dynasties and Orthodoxies
              http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/12/dynasties_and_orthodoxies.html

              1.) In the gay world, men are to be celebrated as sexual objects. Period. As men in our popular culture are increasingly sexualized, they are simultaneously dehumanized, as is our entire national culture. Women have had to put up with objectification by men for eons. Now men are facing objectification by not only other men, but by the highest levels of government.

              Sullivan went on to say: "There is nothing primary about sexual sin as such in Christian doctrine." But sexuality is primary in the gay world as preached by the LGBT Hierarchy.

              Clearly, even the White House has bought into this view of gay men, as evidenced in this recently released commercial promoting Obamacare, entitled "Get Enrolled:"

              With four handsome men clad only in skimpy underwear and Christmas headgear, posing provocatively and eying each other, the title of the Health and Human Services ad might as well be "Ger Insured and Get laid." These guys are not presented as men. They are male Playboy bunnies frolicking around the Christmas Tree. No doubt a pillow fight ensued after the camera stopped rolling.

              It seems that eye candy and titillation are the premiere way to lead gay men to pay attention to the Affordable Care Act. There is no appeal to either fact or reason, only carnal desire.
              ....
              Sullivan went on to say: "All we're seeing here is the effect of cultural isolation. The only thing I find objectionable about it -- and it is objectionable -- is the reduction of gay people and our relationships to sex acts."

              Yet this is precisely the salvation narrative of LGBT orthodoxy: Fulfillment through unrestricted access to homosexual acts. Its triune god is Sex, Sex and Sex. LGBT orthodoxy itself promotes the reduction of gays and their relationships to sex acts.

              When I think of the gay men I've known who were once married to women, often the mother of their children, I see lives which have become truncated and diminished. As they buy into LGBT orthodoxy and embrace it, it's as if lives which once boasted broad interests are forced through a funnel from which they emerge as smaller versions of their previous selves. The promised freedom and expansiveness of a new life turns out to be a lie, a lie from which it is very difficult to recover.

              Sullivan continued: "Mr Robertson would not be happy -- indeed, rightly be extremely offended -- if I reduced his entire family life and marriage to sex with a vagina."

              Yet this is exactly what LGBT orthodoxy does to gays. Watch the ObamaCare and Kmart videos again. What do they feature? The intellects of these twelve fine young men? Their personalities? Their virtues? No. Their crotches.

              Men who are considering leaving their wives and families to follow the gay dream should consider this: You will cross your fingers and hope everyone will be proud of you for being brave enough to be "true to yourself." And even though it will most likely remain unstated in deference to you, the biggest thing your children will understand is that "Daddy loves the genitals of other men more than he loves us." To state it in a more vulgar, but perhaps truer way: "Daddy wants dick more than he wants to keep our family together."

              If you cherish your children and value their love, don't ruin your life and the lives of others by answering some fake meme about being 'true' to yourself. Be true, instead, to your children and your wife. In so doing, you will do far more for yourself and your own happiness than you will following LGBT orthodoxy.

              Experiencing gay sex, even if it is only as a voyeur through the internet, opens a Pandora's box, allowing great and tragic evil to be inflicted upon our families. And we are to blame if we allow it to happen.

              2.) LGBT Orthodoxy must be respected. Drift one degree from any element of LGBT orthodoxy, and you can expect the modern day equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition to come after you with its instruments of torture.

              Amazingly, the straight white collar world is so imbued with LGBT orthodoxy that as soon as GLAAD issued its statement about Phil Robertson's GQ interview, A&E just went ahead and tortured itself. Its immediate censure and suspension of Robertson was a pure and very public act of self flagellation. The LGBT world didn't have to lift a finger. All it took was a short press release.

              A&E executives were scared to death -- more scared of the LGBT lobby than they are of losing the most watched cable show on TV and the profits that accompany it. While it would've sounded not only implausible but ludicrous a decade ago, macho television executives are now more afraid of gay guys armed with hairdryers and laptops than they are of men garbed in camo armed with loaded shotguns.

              Does the disposable income of three and a half percent (3.5%) of the nation's television viewership (gays and lesbians) surpass the income of the other ninety six and a half percent (96.5%). Doubtful. Profit considerations did not propel this decision. But in recent years political correctness has suppressed the voices of all those who are critical in any way of LGBT orthodoxy. In this way, fundamentalist LGBT orthodoxy has all but drowned out religious orthodoxy.

              As a gay man, I reject much of what has become LGBT orthodoxy. Its two preeminant doctrines mentioned here are troubling because they are essentially anti-human, limiting men from enjoying the fullness that life has to offer. Some may find great happiness living their lives in accordance with LGBT orthodoxy. However, I can't think of a single one.

              When all is said and done, Phil Robertson's wisdom offered in GQ is perhaps far more compassionate, far more human and humane toward gays than that offered by GLAAD. Followers of LGBT orthodoxy might do well to follow the lead of The Advocate's Person of the Year, Pope Francis, and ask, "Who am I to judge?"

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            • Michael Bauman says:

              The book authored by Wesley Hill mentioned toward the end of the article is quite explicit that one cannot be a faithful Christian and engage in homosexual erotic behavior. This despite the fact that Mr. Hill has had strong homoerotic desires and temptations from the time of puberty.

              That leads to a fear of male-male intimacy in him and a frustration with male-female interaction because he always feels "out of phase" or is afraid that his friendship with other men might turn sexual.

              Whatever the source of his temptation, he recognizes it as a distortion of true humanity and not in accord with God's will for us. To be faithful to God, he cannot act on his homosexual desires. Period.

              Yet neither does the mere existence of those desires cut him off from experiencing God's grace and salvation.

              Loneliness is his greatest burden even though he tells many stories of deep friendships with other Christians both male and female. Part of the difficulty is the thwarting of the innate desire for physical union, which he can never have and the sense that he is 'different'.

              Unfortunately, he still places the expression of such a sexuality firmly in the realm of personal choice rather than as an obedience to which we are all called and lacks the sacramental devotion and healing available in the Orthodox Church.

              He outlines the pastoral problem very well indeed. We have pastoral solutions in the Church if we have the courage and wisdom to make them known and use them.

              One thing Mr. Hill is quite clear on is the need to be open about one's struggles, particularly those struggling with homosexual temptation but the rest of us as well. It is not a private struggle, but a personal struggle of faith in the Body of Christ. His experience is that neither the wholesale acceptance of sinfulness nor the closeting of the temptation solves the problem.

              Only by bringing the temptation into the community of the church and the life of Christ allowing others to help bear his burden can he live a life of faithfulness even if the full victory in Christ is not realized except in the fullness of time.

              Thus the title: Washed (baptized and accepted into Christ) and waiting (wiling to engage and endure the struggle in faithfulness no matter how long it takes knowing that the victory will come).

              His stress on the need for community, not just private struggle is an exceptional part of the book.

              There is much in his book to ponder and, for those with ears to hear, a great deal of hope not just for those tempted to homosexuality but for all who struggle with a deep and seemingly abiding temptation.

              Lord have mercy on me a sinner

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            • M. Stankovich says:

              Fr. Hans,

              The best data to date - and you cannot seem to grasp the difficult of gathering acuurate epidemiological data regarding "stigmatizing" conditions by self-report - was presented by the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law in late 2012: An estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and an estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender. We're in the same ballpark, but your claim of "liqidity" of orientation is unfounded and ridiculous; there is replicable data in 2011-2013 internationally. Nevertheless, we are speaking about a statistical anomaly of human behaviour. Secondly, your comment regarding the travesty of the impact on male-to-male intimacy is profound. I made it on your site at length without any comment from you, and I believe I deserve some attribution. As a matter of fact, in this ridiculous thread on your site regarding Dn. Mitchell I stated,

              You and Dn. Mitchell have learned more about the psychiatric, biogenetic, neurological, psychological, sociological, and psychotherapeutic dynamics of same-sex attraction, hormonal differentiation of gender, and theories of sexual orientation beyond what you ever imagined directly from me or on direct account of me at the Google School of Medicine.

              And that, likewise is a factual and accurate statement as well.

              I was profoundly moved by two significant issues today. One is the issue of the words of St. Paul that some bear “a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words [λογομαχία] , which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” (1 Tim 6:4-5) The second were the words of my friend Michael Bauman who brought to my attention the struggle of Wesley Hill, and Michael Bauman makes this astonishing statement:

              Only by bringing the temptation into the community of the church and the life of Christ allowing others to help bear his burden can he live a life of faithfulness even if the full victory in Christ is not realized except in the fullness of time.

              And this, in one precise sentence, is what I have I have insisted is the goal of why I began posting in regard to homosexuality to begin! Because the first, λογομαχία, prevents the second. That for those who are so tempted - and obviously I have strongly suggested that for some there are specific reasons of influence - there should be nothing to prevent him or her that struggles from bringing this burden to Fountain of Healing! I need to ponder this further, but this is why I pray every single day for Michael Bauman and his family!

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              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                As long as we're quoting ourselves, here's something worth repeating:

                Part of the problem with Hopko’s approach to homosexuality is that it is more clinical than pastoral. He assumes the role of psycho-therapist, with gays as his patients and with his main concern as keeping them in therapy, thus the need to not judge, to not offend, to listen endlessly, and to put up with anything so long as the patients keep their appointments and pay their bills.

                A pastor has more responsibilities. He must look out for the whole flock, which means setting standards, maintaining accountability, disciplining the wayward, and chasing away the wolves. In fulfilling those responsibilities, a pastor must view people not just as patients, but as moral actors with the ability to choose between good and evil. His job is to make that choice as clear and as meaningful as possible, ultimately a choice of life or death, Christ or hell.

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                • NYC OCA Alum says:

                  Yes yes yes.

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                  • M. Stankovich says:

                    The obvious question to ask is this: by what authority does Brian Patrick Mitchell presume to make such statements? None. None whatsoever. As I said to him at the time:

                    “More clinical than pastoral?” You say this based upon what? Your many years of interaction with him as a spiritual father? As a parishioner? As an instructor & teacher? As, perhaps, a colleague and friend? As yourself a pastor? No. The fact is you are fabricating his years as confessor and pastor from a book and a podcast! You know NOTHING personally about this man, and you should admit it.

                    READ the thread on the AOI site for yourself. What Brian Patrick Mitchell cannot avoid is what is already canonized in black & white. He is unqualified to speak to the complexities of same-sex attraction, but far worse, he is unwilling to learn. And with that pretension, he would presume to critique Fr. Hopko as a "psychotherapist," when he was a parish priest and confessor twice as long as Mitchell has been Orthodox.

                    Then, listen to the this presentation by Fr. Hopko on the Ancient Faith Network six years after he wrote the original book - which he never intended to be a dogmatic statement on homosexuality - and had, over those six years, the opportunity to listen to critique and criticism. To my knowledge, St. John Maximovitch, Met. Anthony (Khrapovitzky), Met. Anthony (Bloom), Archbishop Averky of Jordanville, Archbishop Basil (Krevochaine), Blessed Bishop Basil (Rodzianko), and Frs. Florovsky, Schmemann, and Meyendorff all indicated having evolved their thinking in regard to a significant issue in their theological thought because of challenges - even contentiously so at times - by their brothers. This is the way of the Fathers. In any case, this begs the question of St. Paul: "If then you have judgements pertaining to this life, why set them to those who are the least esteemed in the Church?" (1 Cor. 6::4)

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                • As poster MS said, it's Archpriest Thomas Hopko to you. An Orthodox deacon knows better to use proper title of clergy but obviously your diaconal formation is lacking.

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                  • lexcaritas says:

                    Be careful. The term "Father" is properly a term of endearment and of familial relationship. When it become a "title" that one applies to oneself or is applied by others as something earned by erudition or as bestowed as a means of imposing authority it is something our Lord warned against when, warning of the leaven of the Pharisees (i.e. spiritual pride), He commanded us to call no man "father" or "rabbi" -- save Him.

                    We should take care of "title" inflation--e.g. archpriest and archbishop and even His Grace, His Eminence, His Excellency.

                    While someone might do me the honor of calling me "Father" or "Doctor", I would never name myself as such--or require others to do so.

                    Forgive me, a sinner.

                    Christ is in our midst.
                    lxc

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              • Michael Bauman says:

                Michael, thank you for your prayers.

                We have a friendship because of those prayers. It is a blessing of the Church for which I am deeply grateful. We have vehemently disagreed on this blog and others many times in the past and it is likely that some level of disagreement will continue but it will no longer be as vehement, by the grace of God.

                We need to remember that those of us who are Orthodox share the cup and as such when we insult one of our brothers in Christ, we insult Christ Himself. Certainly, the vehemence comes because we do care about the Church and her teachings but that does not mean we are free to lay waste to others. In fact, exactly the opposite.

                8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; 11 let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. 13 Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20 who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21 And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him. I Peter 3: 8-22

                Michael, there is no reason for the ad hominum manner in which you communicate on this blog. Your insights and reasoning are sufficient if you trust in God knowing that the truth will prevail--wherever it lies.

                To others I say the same thing. It is not just a matter of civility, it is a matter of respect for Jesus Christ. That does not mean that we cannot sharply disagree with each other but the manner of disagreement must be different.

                We bear one another's burdens whether we want to or not. We can bear them as if we were grumpy old men or we can bear them with joy and thanksgiving.

                I found out, much to my surprise, that Michael Stankovich is quite different than he comes across on the blogs. I am thankful that he is my friend as well as my brother in Christ. He took on himself one of my burdens and made it easier to bear. Let us each do the same for one another.

                Lord, forgive me a sinner.

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              • Kentigern says:

                Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
                Two studies are indicated here, in terms of fluidity of sexual orientation among teenagers:
                http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/11/11181/
                It may well be that same-sex attraction is involuntary for some, leading some to want to exclude a traditional definition of embodied sex from legal, civic, and educational realms for all in our society.
                But then so in a sense would the traditional model of sex be involuntary for Orthodox Christian families, who stand to suffer as a result, starting with social exile.
                What's involved is a complex mix of biology (including the over-riding difference between male and female), culture, choice, and personal and environmental contexts. Science provides no easy answers and seems over-ridden by ideology that blames dissenters for ignoring science.
                But it's not a win-win situation.
                One model will prevail in American culture and society, which is ever more centralized via technology, education, and government.
                If the first model is based on issues of symbolic power over the culture from an essentially pagan materialistic standard, and the second on the Church, then it's clear where our allegiance should lie.
                Our argument should be cosmological and based on an inter-generational sense of sustainability and compassion, not moralistic. But we need to keep in mind the "seventh generation" to come (until the Lord comes).
                Please pray for me the sinner,
                Kentigern

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        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

          I have no idea what Stankovich is talking about. "Rescued"? Where? When?

          As for "sandbagging" Hopko, I wasn't under any obligation to check with him before criticizing his public pronouncements, which should stand on their own. I reviewed the most recent edition of his book available at the time and his recent lectures online. If he has changed his mind or would like to change his words, or if he thinks I have misrepresented his spoken or written words, he is certainly free to say so publicly. To my knowledge, he has not done so. Neither has anyone else risen to defend him publicly by rebutting my charges, which still stand.

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          • M. Stankovich says:

            I stood and I continue to stand to rebut your empty and unqualified "charges." I likewise claim that when you were backed into a corner of your own unqualified creation - which was not an unusual event - Fr. Hans took over the "debate," such as it was. Now, two years later, I laugh at myself for engaging either of you in such a circular, ridiculous argument.

            And now, as I argued then, "Hopko" is Archpriest Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritis of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, Professor of Dogmatic Theology, world-renowned author whose books on the Orthodox Faith have been translated into countless languages, still to be heard in lectures and podcasts on the Ancient Faith Network, who has certainly by virtue of ordination and achievement, "Mr. Mitchell," earned respect from you to address him properly.

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      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

        M Stankovich. Ever hear of Karma? You mentioned sandbagging. The Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters produced the very Prototypical example of sand-bagging when he published his encyclical advising urbi et orbi to not trust one word coming from Archpriest Joseph Fester and to trust every word coming from the spouse of Steve Brown, Mark Stokoe.
        By the way, if you are concerned with being punctilious about the man's titling, he's a PROTOPRESBYTER , not "Archpriest" and he is Dean EmeritUS, not Dean "Emeritis."

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        • M. Stankovich says:

          Vladyka Tikhon,

          Yeah, I've heard of Karma, but we're not discussing Mr. Kondratick. What I read here are people stating, "As much as I hate to admit it, you might want to listen to Fr. Hopko's podcast..."

          According to the OED, sandbagging - as I employed the term - is to refrain from raising in the hope of 'bluffing' a greater amount later." Fr. Hopko wrote a seminal study, as nothing similar existed in English, not intending to be "dogmatic" or theologumena. It was immediately critiqued, criticized (interestingly enough as "completely unpastoral"), but never ignored, within the Church and without. And where I read Fr. Tom had been speaking on homosexuality, he seemed to be giving thought to both his vast pastoral experiences and the feedback he received to his book. When I listened to the two lectures preserved as a Special Event on the Ancient Faith Network, the evolution of his thought is obvious. I would suspect that the reason he has not "rebutted" Dn. Mitchell is that they are but "all that jazz." And to complete the "greater gain later" dynamic, Dn. Mitchell is writing a book himself, and drumming up a business with a bit up provocation certainly couldn't hurt. PROTOPRESBYTER (Thank you, Vladyka) Thomas Hopko, Dean EmeritUS (Don't dog me over my dyslexia, Vladyka) of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, and Professor of Dogmatic Theology, however, sells books by reputation alone.

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          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

            M. Stankovich, YOU now introduce the matter of Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick. Why? Do you wish to say that karma visited upon your hero is nothing compared to the karma visited upon him? By mentioning karma we did not mean, either, to discuss the fates of ever-memorable Archbishop Job, right?
            And speaking of "his vast pastoral (sic) experience,' you're talking about a man who served brilliantly as a small-town midwestern pastor but suddenly got the Advanced Credentials bug and was yanked out of his habitat and onto an academic path. How cruel! "VAST" pastoral experience! None of the clergy faculty at SVS has had VAST pastoral experience. On the contrary! They had no more 'vast' pastoral experience than the "learned monastics" of pre-revolutionary Russia that some of them liked to mock reflexively.
            The sandbag the Protopresbyter wielded struck the back of Fr. Joseph Fester's head like a rock. if you don't like references to that sand-bagging, change it to a stab in the back in that case or sneak attack. How VASTLY pastoral to broadcast his pique at Father Joseph and laud the 'exemplary' spouse of Steve Brown!
            I think, M. Stankovich, that you are enamoured of credentials, no? I advise against it. Think of the old case of Archpriest Alexander Ossipov of the old Leningrad Theological Academy. HE was a truly brilliant scholar and writer and known as an almost thaumaturgical pastor, a member of the Russian Student Christian movement and a pastoral leader of the so-called religious renaissance in the Russian Church, known to Fathers Alexander Schmeman, Alexander KIselev, G. Benigsen, D. Gisetti and others, who without warning suddenly and very openly apostatized and gave interviews and wrote articles praising the state and atheism. Astonishingly, the Patriarch Alexi (the first, Simansky) publicly excommunicated him, amazing and striking dumb the world of proud 'anti-Sergianists.'

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            • it's Mr. Bob Kondratick

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              • No Its Fr Bob says:

                Sorry, "oh why?"

                It will always be Fr. Bob who even in his present state has more respect from Orthodox leaders around the world than any of the so-called OCA leaders.

                You will just have to deal with it!!!!!

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              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                To you, 'oh why?", the Protopresbyter, Rodion S. Kondratick, should be called 'Mister." Many would agree with you. I'm afraid my tongue would fall out of my mouth if I ever uttered recognition of the pre-determined decision of the kangaroo court which produced its own sentence of deposition against the Protopresbyter. I believe I've worn out my license to speak of 'karma" again, so I won't do it now, but a word to the wise is sufficient....As for you, you're just an "ohwhy."

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                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                  Peter, Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick and his wife Elizabeth continue to lead a quite and helpful life in Florida, as they have always done everywhere they've lived. I believe that they travel to a ROCOR Church in Tampa or St. Petersburg and enjoy it very much. They often remark how the services remind them of the 'old days' in the Metropolia and on the excellence of the singing. My opinion, for what it's worth, is that the forces in that parish that perpetrated the financial campaign against him were not supported by any of the clergy that have served a the Venice parish or by the majority of the parishioners who found the affair bewildering. The activists were energized and supported by the same forces that were the engines of Mark Stokoe's public and publicized righteousness and moralizing---the whited sepulchres of our day. If I were Father Bob, I'd get considerable consolation and satisfaction from having engineered the resignation of said Stokoe from his position as OCA Youth Director when his orientation became so obvious to anyone who visited the Chancery or otherwise came into contact with him. His style of dress, for example, resembled the standard Uniform of the Day in West Hollywood.

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            • M. Stankovich says:

              Vladyka Tikhon,

              Now that I have your undivided attention...

              For someone who says he spent one academic year at SVS, you have enough sordid tales as to be the Orthodox Kenneth Anger: Orthodox Babylon! And why am I inclined to believe your story of the Forgiveness Sunday "kiss?" Because I'd of dropped that fellow like Ali dropped Sonny Liston, and you did nothing.

              I think, Vladyka, I am enamoured rather by "those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Lk. 11:28) I always advize it. Fr. Tom was a parish priest for twenty years - 5 in Warren, 10 in Wappenger's Falls, and 5 in Jamaica Estates, Queens (which is 10 "hard labor" in dog years) - confessor to students at SVS, etc. I believe that qualifies his experience as 1) pastoral, and 2) vast. Dn. Mitchell... read some books.

              Vladyka Tikhon, the day is coming - and now is - when life will no longer be measured against a list of "footnote" individuals - and heaven only knows why you seem hell-bent on reserving a seat amongst them. Regardless, I have been, and I remain your defender here as the anointed of God and you are always in my prayers.

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              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                M. Stankovich! Why do you say that I did nothing? I detailed the event to my confessor in confession as something I had difficulty forgiving. I did not initially name the tonguer, but the Confessor demanded I do so, even though I protested. I was informed a day or two later that this student would be asked not to return the next school year but go back to his midwestern parish. I feel I had done my duty according to my standing as a layman in the Church. That he in fact continued, graduated and was ordained and later promoted to Archpriest in the New England diocese, seems to me to have been beyond my control. I have no reason to think that he, a homosexual, has not done and does not continue to do outstanding work as an Orthodox priest. My point was that homosexuality at SVS was very MUCH tolerated at SVS during my one year there, as some have denied. Some crackpot has even written here that I only spent a couple months at SVS and was asked to leave because of a disagreement with, presumably, Ted Fryntzko! Or is it that you think I should have decked the guy? No. I was already a thirty year old six-footer and that seminarian was a not particularly robust little guy still in college--- a "pre-the" not a physical match like Sonny Liston was to Muhammad Ali. Anyhow, M., later, this little guy was indeed decked trying to go up the stairs to another seminarian's room, by none other than L. Kiskhovsky, sending him flying backwards down the stairs! Weren't Wappingers Falls and Jamaica Estates benefices "on the side" rather than full-time pastoral occupations? VAST! (and I guess "footnotes" are at the low end of the pole topped by The Credentialed?)
                As for Kenneth Anger and his oeuvre, I was dragged down to Manhattan with six seminarians, upper-classmen, in my single year at SVS, for my first and only viewing of a sample of that man's work, the film "Scorpio Rising." I'd much prefer to be associated with someone of the rank of John Waters.
                Just think! If I hadn't gone to SVS I might never have been made aware of Anger's productions, films or books!

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  8. Mark from the DOS says:

    Can we really expect anything different from an institution that has wedded itself to the world? In the Eastern church, theology has rarely been linked to scholasticism, rationalism or the construct of academia. However, when an institution chooses to submit itself to the accreditation process of an recognized accrediting institution, it has no choice but to submit to the standards and expectations of that type of body. Consider if you will, just this one "General Institutional Standard" of the ATS, which is SVOTS accrediting body:

    "Instructional methods should use the diversity of life experiences represented by the students, by faith communities, and by the larger cultural context. Instructional methods and the use of technology should be sensitive to the diversity of student populations, different learning styles of students, the importance of communities of learning, and the instructional goals."

    While this sounds noble, I suppose, what is the meaning behind the words "diversity of life experiences", "diversity of student populations" and "the larger cultural context?" Anyone experienced in academia can tell you exactly what those words stand for, and if you dismiss them, you put your accreditation at risk. And this is just one little standard of a large and tedious document! Having chosen accreditation as a goal, I assume to make more financial aid available, SVOTS must also take everything that goes along with the accreditation process. It is more important that professors publish than be sound teacher of Orthodox doctrine. Clever sophistry, so prized in academia, is elevated over simply teaching the Word.

    SVOTS is an institution of higher education more so that it is a arm of the Church. What we see from it is nothing less than we should expect. So long as formal accredited seminary study is considered the prerequisite for ordination in the American church, we will continue to see a downward decline in the doctrinal rigor of the institutions.

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    • Rostislav says:

      I think that reforms are definitely long overdue at St. Vladimir's, where diversity in faculty is key: professors from more Traditional perspectives should be placed in key positions to balance the views of those who see nothing wrong with this open rebellion against the moral teaching of the Church. St. Vladimir's is more than a pastoral school: it is intended to produce Orthodox churchmen who will witness the Truth in the fullness of the Tradition. It is an institution dedicated to reaching an epitome of Orthodox scholarship. This type of gay agenda distraction (and the dumbing down of the curriculum in the last decade) have caused it to stray from its purpose and to some extent become a hang out for depraved radicals. Therein indicates to us where house needs to be cleaned.

      I hope for the day when the best graduates of all Orthodox seminaries will aspire to come to St. Vladimir's as the theological academy where scholars, churchmen and hierarchs complete their studies and advance Orthodox learning and moral exploit (podvig). I hope for the day where St. Vladimir's is one of the elite institutions in Orthodox learning and study throughout the world. Today, it has fallen behind that mark and finds itself besieged by forces discrediting it and leading it to its obsolescence and even ridicule.

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      • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says:

        I think that there was a time when St. Vladimir's was the gold standard in the US. That was either right before autocephaly, or immediately afterwards. I hope it does not become a backwater, but it is terrible that these are the kind of values there. The tuition is also a negative factor, but not as bad as the fact that it releases a disproportionate amount of homosexuals, a significant amount of them later becoming clergymen. I think that Metropolitan Leonty really would be rolling in his grave if he saw what was happening at SVS today, and with the OCA at large. I'm not sure that the OCA of today would accept Metropolitan Leonty, the man under whom autocephaly was received.

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        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          Ilya, the autocephaly was proclaimed long after Metropolitan Leonty of blessed memory reposed. I believe he completed seminary in Volhynia before coming to America early in the last century, during I believe, the incumbency of Metropolitan Platon (whose rank caused the change of the North American Diocesan Council's name to Metropolitan's (Mitropolichii) Council (Soviet).

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        • +Metropolitan Leonty (of Blessed Memory) reposed in the LORD in 1965. The Tomos of Autocephaly was granted in 1970. He is called by some "The Last Metropolitan of the Metropolia." For a time there was a nostalgia associated with his era (and in some quarters still is), and, indeed, the Metropolia (OCA) achieved its most, in terms of organization, stewardship, membership, unity, cohesion, under his tenure. Yet at that time it was really still really a Russian/Ruthenian American body, a body quite different from today's OCA. Such a body today really no longer has a North American context. Even though people like myself are remnants of the "Russian party" which backed +Metropolitan Leonty (And I believe his glorification will be a decisive step in our healing of our internal wounds), our modern context and issues are quite different. That was a time when most churches still had vigils on Saturday evenings and most parishes were still bilingual and almost all Old Calendar. It was a time when the "old immigrants" were still alive and the blood of preRevolutionary Russia still very much flowed in our parishes. It was a time when some parishes had choirs which "went starring" in ethnic neighborhoods for Christmas, had Russian schools, Russian camps, balalaika troops, Russian teas, the Tolstoy Institute, where some parishes had credit unions, parochial schools, when most of our churches were built. We weren't in decline then: we were growing with each educated professional and every marriage and baptism, unlike today. His era is over, and we are today sadly much the poorer because of it.

          Who is to "blame" for the decline since then and why can go on and on and on with nothing but civil wars of recriminations which mean less and less to most members of the OCA which is increasingly a convert phenomenon. Our endeavor today is the forging of a native, North American Orthodoxy (not a post ethnic assimilate redaction of Russian/Ruthenian Orthodoxy) and as such we can look at the achievements of our past realizing what we had done to restore today's and tomorrow's infrastructure and improve it in a way much more natively embracing and full than the great success of the era of +Metropolitan Leonty. That is our task and our challenge. We can celebrate our heritage and his legacy, but not at the expense of today and the future.

          +Metropolitan Ireney was the Metropolitan who received the Tomos from the Mother Church. At the time, many felt it was a political act which divided opposition to religious persecution occurring in Russia. Those fears since the fall of Communism have evaporated. Since that time, we have come a long way.

          Decisively, the death of +Archbishop Kiprian of South Canaan marked the beginning of the OCA's modern era. It began the post Russian/Ruthenian, assimilate OCA. Much distress occurred in that time, many setbacks. But that era really is over today, and the next phase of renewal of the OCA, a native church, is about to occur. It is no secret our most vibrant dioceses are in the South and the West, that where our missions are more traditional we have fervent, healthy growth and enjoy the reception of many converts and reverts. It is also no secret that over 200,000 Russian speaking immigrants (Not to mention thousands of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants) have come to our shores since the fall of Communism. The arithmetic here is one of renewal once the right pastorship is assumed. And that is an inevitability as scandal after scandal discredits the administration in Syosset. A polar shift is occurring and will settle issues before too long. GOD will not abandon HIS fledgling North American church.

          St. Vladimir's today is not an institution of the caliber it was under Fr. Florovsky, nor under Fr. Schmemann, nor under Fr. Meyendorff, nor even under Fr. Hopko. It is a shadow of what it once was. Whether or not, it is/was the "golden standard" is up to interpretation, I would hold up Thessaloniki or Belgrade in that regard. But it was the most scholarly of the Orthodox theological schools in the West. Its trajectory these days seems to be one of an advanced pastoral school, and whether or not there is prudence in that approach, time will witness. If I were to recommend an Orthodox seminary today for anyone to study at, I would recommend St. Tikhon's, but that is because its emphasis is more in view of what I see as the essential points of emphasis: an Amero-Byzantinist Approach and Orthodox spirituality. Studying today at St. Vladimir's one can receive a great education, especially if one applies himself and spends much time in the library, and especially if one is fluent in Russian. But that would be a matter of motivated, self-paced study as opposed to curriculum.

          I don't think St. Vladimir's is in the gutter at all, nor do I think it is crashing down. I believe that it does need more traditional professors and a return to a more scholarly based curriculum, professors it can recruit from Greece, Serbia, Romania, Russia and a curriculum more in line with that of the St. Sergius Institute during its heyday when Fr. Florovsky and V. Lossky lectured there or when Archimandrite Kiprian (Kern) was chair of Patristics. But that being said, there is no other Orthodox seminary in North America offering the level of theological education one can receive at St. Vladimir's, certainly no other seminary outside of the OCA. Tuition may be higher than what some can pay (there are scholarships). It may have fallen from its previous standards. There may be Far Left radical nonsense going on, but the level of scholarship and the capability of fully exploring ones studies in Orthodox fields of pursuit offered there are unparalleled.

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          • Disgusted With It says:

            "It is also no secret that over 200,000 Russian speaking immigrants (Not to mention thousands of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants) have come to our shores since the fall of Communism."

            200,000 Russian speaking immigrants!? WOW -- the great majority of them certainly did not end up in the OCA.

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        • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says:

          It was under Metropolitan Ireney that autocephaly was received in 1970. Metropolitan Leonty reposed in 1965.

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  9. The Titanic was bursting at the seams with people clambering to board. They did not believe the ship could sink. St Vlad's must feel as invincible tthis doomed ship was with it's embrace openly of gay priests. These queens think they shall see no sorrow, ah but they will, and for all eternity..God is not mocked, God is not mocked, God is not mocked. Idiots!!

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  10. Trudge at SmartVote says:

    George, you are doing heavy lifting in bringing these disturbances in the body of Christ to light.

    However I have to disagree with you in the strongest terms in your commending Sprecher and the other man for their "integrity."

    And I base what I am saying here:

    from The Apostle Paul, first epistle to the Corinthians Chapter 5:

    It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

    Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

    There is no integrity in these men - far from it. They have apparently been posing as Christians before the eyes of others for some time, and many of these knew what they were doing and went along with it.

    They have betrayed Christ and added raunch to it. Sprecher in his case has divorced Christ and his Church, the eternal God and his Body, and more than a layman specifically in his vows to Christ as a priest, in order to foolishly "marry" a man and enlarge his fleeting lusts. Furthermore, he likely made the priestly vows while at the same time committing adultery.

    Now, these two proclaim a "gospel" that the desires of the flesh and the doctrines of demons are preferred to holiness and that this is sanctioned by God. Where is the integrity in that?

    And what sort of service will they have?

    The problem for us and our modern sensibilities in the face of this act, wanting to be perceived as respectable and reasonable and kind and "loving," is that we distance ourselves from the spirit of Christ and the Apostles and Fathers - who knew when not to be "nice" for clarity and to demonstrate the high stakes in the matters of Truth and Holiness.

    In our stance as moderns, essentially we are saying we are better than Christ, the Apostles and Fathers because we see ourselves as being more "moderate" when it comes to evil, that blaspheming the Holy Spirit is just another sin that can be repented of, and that we are "nicer" to our "brothers" than they were. This is a hellish pride that needs to be repented of and far from Orthodox Christian love.

    If we try to be moderate about such a thing, then we join with them in their hypocrisy.

    If you think that I am being "over the top," please spend some time in Matthew or Luke where Christ deals with betrayal and hypocrisy the most, or the latter epistles which become increasingly more detailed and urgent concerning apostasy in the final words of the Apostles to the Church leading to the book of Revelation.

    And for other readers, in your original post on this scandal please see also the my Trudge comment where I posted the words of Paul and Chrysostom predicting how the doctrine of marriage will have a part in the final apostasy.

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  11. Michael Bauman says:

    George, some points to clarify:

    Did the two men meet at St. Vlad's or spend any time together there?

    Is what you interpret as adulation and support for their decision really that or is it something less than that--a way of attempting to offer support for the people, while ignoring the action?

    That may be just as bad as openly cheering their action, but it is not quite the same.

    It is quite unclear from what I read here what was said by whom.

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  12. NYC OCA Alum says:

    Don't know where's appropriate to share this, but though not Orthodox this is damned challenging:
    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/coming-out-christian/

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    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      It is challenging. I'll have more to say later, but what these people are doing is creating an overt gay lobby that others will be obliged to respect by keeping quiet about the lobby's sickness and sin.

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    • I don't think it's actually "challenging". First, I'm not sure from the author what he envisions as a moral lifestyle for a "gay Christian". In places it seems as if he means that celibacy is the only option, in others he seems to back away from that.

      Let us assume that the author does believe that the only way for a "gay Christian" to remain a faithful Christian is to practice celibacy, there are other problems with this piece which may be summarized in commenting upon a Christian "coming out" as "gay".

      Homosexual sexual activity is no less serious a sin than bestiality, pedophilia, incest and other similar abominations. One does not give them a happy-go-lucky appellation like "gay" nor does one encourage, expect or even tolerate a person "coming out" as identifying themselves as a bestialist, pedophile or one addicted to incest. That is a matter for ones confessor and ones God. Just as the words "bestialist" and "pedophile" create a visceral aversion when the terms are mentioned, so should "homosexual". That is part of what we have lost courtesy of the "gay" rights movement, a sense of shock at the abomination of homosexual activity.

      Someone tempted by homosexual attraction would do better simply to say to themselves that they have a particularly loathsome passion but that they will not identify themselves by the nature of the temptations to sin from which they suffer.

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  13. Hyperbole says:

    "As mentioned above, the outright joy and the volume of the adulation that these two men received for doing what they did was nothing short of astonishing. Eminent priests, their wives, professors, seminarians, and ordinary laymen the length and breadth of Orthodoxy in America could not contain their rapture."

    George, this is a stretch. Out of nearly 100 comments, perhaps two or three priests, two or three priest wives, one current seminarian, and a few former seminarians commented in explicit support of their marriage. The rest of the comments were either from people who are not Orthodox, or they were from Orthodox people who were simply asking him to continue to pray for them and to keep them on Facebook when he came back (or things along that line). All in all, I hardly would say that they "could not contain their rapture".

    I think you are being disingenuous by referring to source materials that are not posted anywhere- readers here who have not seen the post and the ensuing comments can only rely on your testimony as to their contents, which is clearly biased and prone to hyperbole. It's clear to me that you enjoyed your high comment count on the previous "article" and are looking for a repeat of your previous success by dragging this out again (and ignoring other very serious issues currently in the news in favor of furthering this drama).

    We all know where the church falls on the dogma surrounding gay marriage, and I'd wager most of the seminarians also know. The question that needs addressing is how we can effectively minister to those who identify as homosexual, while still showing them the love of Christ. The comments found on the previous article show me that we as a church have a long way to go in balancing the need to stay faithful to dogma with the need to show compassion and care to our fellow man, regardless of what sin or passion they are currently struggling against (or even surrendering to).

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    • Fr. George Washburn says:

      Thanks to Mr. Hyperbole for actually inspecting the evidence and confirming what I suspected - that George has once again spun the facts to suit the agenda. I teach and advise people to follow the Church's traditional stand on the underlying issues, but I am VERY clear in my own mind that the language and claim-inflation George practices results in shallow, emotive, inaccurate, and ultimately counter-productive support for the position he wants to bolster.

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      • ◘◘◘◘◘◘◘ says:

        What do you expect from the Fox News of Orthodoxy?

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          Fox is getting a little too liberal for me. I just found out that Rupert Murdoch is a gun-grabber. Plus, there is a definite tilt on Fox towards amnesty for illegal aliens. They have yet to go the full National Review but I'm keeping my eye on them.

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          • Jim of Olym says:

            One reason among many why I killed my TV! No ads with men cavorting in their whity-tities, no Faux nooz, I'll have to go to the local bar and grill for the afternoon madness tomorrow, etc.

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    • Disgusted With It says:

      Whether it's 100 clergy/wives/professors/seminarians commenting in support of the action or only 1, there is still a problem.

      Does a doctor say "We found only one cancer cell in your tests, so don't overreact, it's no big deal"???

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      • Hyperbole says:

        The point I was making is that it was hardly a tidal wave of accolades, as George keeps repeating. Of course it is a problem when a priest is giving his blessing to something going against church teachings; however, I do not believe that SVS has a systemic issue with this. It would be interesting to see whether the split of student opinions on the topic is reflective of the OCA or even North American Orthodoxy at large; I suspect it will be more conservative, actually, as this year's incoming class has a disproportionate number of very conservative people. The Facebook comments are simply a sample of a population at large, and you are bound to have a few people disagree with the majority.

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  14. Michael Bauman says:

    Compassion rests in the call to repentance followed by the willingness of people to enter into the struggle with them, bearing one another's burdens. Quit making it a special case. We are all called to chastity and celibacy before marriage; chastity and faithfulness after marriage and we are all called to give up desires as part of our lives in Christ.

    Basic Orthodox and Christian pastoral theology.

    The only thing is the world does not recognize homosexuality as a sin, but guess what, the world doesn't recognize sin at all. So, we either serve God or mammon, our love of God or our desires.

    Homosexuals are not "these people" or "those people" they are human beings caught in a web of sin, desire, longing and shame just like everybody else. Some sins are more rooted and pernicious than others but we all have those really deeply rooted ones that tend to create a cascade effect if we indulge them and seem to define our false selves.

    The physical/psycological/emotional patterns at work in sexually oriented sin can be difficult with a high probability of never total victory in this life. If the Church and her people become ambivalent on the nature of the sin--that is cruel.

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    • Tim R. Mortiss says:

      Quite so. We need forgiveness for our sins, but if we are persuaded that they are not sins, we are lost.

      What has invaded Christianity in the West is the view that there are no sexual sins as such, apart from ethical issues. Thus fornication and homosexual activity are not sins, but adultery remains a sin because of the ethical aspect of betrayal. This is pretty much the attitude of much of Episcopalianism, Presbyterianism, and the rest of the old "mainline".

      In this, of course, these churches are merely following social attitudes as a whole. But one of the weirdest aspects of contemporary views of homosexuality is that it seems to be receiving some kind of special status. If one leaves the priesthood to live with his girlfriend, or even marry her, are there outpourings of congratulations and bravos for "bravery"? I don't know, maybe there are such examples....

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  15. Harvey Bertrum says:

    It seems to me that most of the people here are delusional. Many of these comments point a finger at SVS as if it alone is the culprit for homosexual activity in the Orthodox Church. How ridiculous. If you can get some brave souls to step forward, they will tell you of the blatant homosexual activities at Holy Trinity in Herkimer, NY, Holy Cross in Boston, MA, Christ the Savior in Johnstown, PA, etc. Unfortunately, people of this nature are attracted to the church and clerical orders. Many times they are easy to spot and others are very secret, but they are there. Apparently Killian was elevated to the highest levels by Monomakhos' High Priest, + Jonah; what should that tell you? Anyone seriously thinking of studying Orthodox theology and clerical orders should go and visit all the seminaries and see for themselves. What you will find is that only SVS offers a professional atmosphere as a graduate school. SVS doesn't promote or encourage any homosexual activity. One will find a student body of serious focus on the Orthodox Church and committed professors of the same. Most commenters here have never set foot in any seminary nor have any theological education, but they are experts on seminaries and the Church.

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      No one said that homosexuality does not exist at the other seminaries or that it is tolerated to a certain extent. That's not the crux of my thesis, which was: the outpouring of joy and congratulations by hundreds of people, some of whom were SVS graduates and all of whom did so openly (on his Facebook page). Since this story broke more information has come to me how homosexuality is tolerated at SVS more so than at the other seminaries. Towit, the case of Aaron Oliver, an open and proud homosexual who was elected student body president (but who has since left Orthodoxy and taken Episcopalian orders).

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      • George, when Aaron was elected student body president he was living a chaste life and was committed to the doctrines and teachings of the Church.

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      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

        While I don't agree with George on everything, of course, I most certainly DO agree with this reply of his to Harvey Bertrum: "homosexuality is tolerated at SVS more so than at the other seminaries." Fathers Alexander and John tolerated homosexual seminarians, but never encouraged or supported them in their homosexuality.. I attended SVS for the full academic year, 1965-6, having obtained a release from active duty a an officer of the US Air Force, and quickly returned to active duty in September 1966 . On the very day of my arrival at SVS I was approached by a recent Priest alumnus on the lawn outside the main seminary building, who looked me up and down rather archly and announced, "I'm Father M., and i always make it a point to visit at the beginning of the school year to examine the new students." Eventually, that man left the Orthodox Priesthood to teach at an Episcopalian boys' school in New England. At the office of forgiveness following Vespers beginning on the eve of Clean Monday, at the point when seminarians were all making reverences to the earth to each other before embracing and exchanging fraternal kisses, one pre-theological seminarian, now a dignified Archpriest in the New England diocese, not only kissed me on the mouth but stuck his tongue way into my mouth. I was advised later by one of the two Archpriests I mentioned above that that student had some issues and would not be admitted the following school year to allow him to "gain some maturity." That student was, in fact, admitted again in the fall. Another student became obsessed with me and told me he repeatedly dreamt of me in the form of a unicorn! When I told the two Archpriests of this after i was told to do so by one of them to whom i had spoken of this in Confession, they told me that they were going to insure that the student would be sent for treatment to an Orthodox psychiatrist well known to them. That student is not an Archpriest but a Bishop. Further, some years later, after I had become a Priest and the Metropolitan who had become our Diocesan Bishop was allowed to retire as long as he promised never to set foot in the Diocese of the West again because of signed affidavits by a couple young men in the Bay Area, I was present in company with one of the Archpriests who was asked, "Did you ever suspect, Father, that Metropolitan X was 'that way?" He replied in a way typical of him: "SUSPECT? My dear, he lived with us when he was a seminarian!"
        Finally, a very kind and intelligent Greek American taught New Testament Greek for some years, including the year I matriculated there. He was ordained and promoted to Archimandrite some years later. After that, he got sick and died of AIDS.
        However, I do NOT believe that homosexual ACTIVITY was ever tolerated as policy at SVS. I feel it would be foolish, however, to imagine that one could prevent homosexuals from being ordained or any men suffering from any other pathologies or sinfulness. The Apostles proved during the Week of the Passion that they were themselves all moral degenerates and cowards. Even the Chief Apostle, Peter, from whom the Patriarchs of Rome and Antioch claim descent, was a spectacular traitor to the Savior. Was his denial not worse than any homosexual or sodomitical practices? Just asking. Good question for St. John Chrysostom, right?

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        • Bishop Tikhon,

          Those who attended SVS when you were there insist that you were only there for 3 months and left after a squabble you had with the Dean of Students. Something about your non-attendance at morning Matins. Anyway, your post is rather fantastic. Homosexuals coming out of the woodwork going after you yet, your close association with many known homosexual clerics and boy lovers is well documented. I guess you were trying to save them.

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          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

            "Tom Hood," You are attributing lies about me to others The following living OCA clergy were also at SVS during my full school year of study there (1965-1966): Very Reverend Thaddeus Wojcik, Very Reverend Leonid Kiskhovsky, Reverend Protodeacon Peter Scorer, Very Reverend Paul Kucynda, Very Reverend Justin Yamaguchi, His Beatitude Metropolitan Daniel of Tokyo and Japan (Juda Yoshihara), Rt. Reverend Seraphim Segrist, Rt. Rev. Sergius (David Black), Very Reverend Rostislav Trbuhovich (Serbian), Very Reverend John Townsend (ROCOR) . ever-memorable Archpriest Eugene Vansuch, Ever memorable Archpriest Peter Pritza.and many more. You may also check with the Seminary office to verify this. Late Ted Fryntzko (Rt. Rev. Innocent) was kind of a student warden when I was there, a former manager of a boys reformatory I did have some disagreements with his crude behavior, but who didn’t? Even the cook, Natalia Mitrofanovna Zembara used to call him, in annoyance, “Furtsko.” . If you live near Virginia Beach, VA, you may also check with David Drillock. Further, “Chris,” before ordaining me to the Diaconate in December 1971, Bishop Dmitri (then ‘of Washington’) told me that he had checked with Father Alexander Schmeman to see if SVS would have any objection to his ordaining me after my having attended only one full year. He said that Father Alexander replied, “OBJECT? Tell Stephen to put my name down as one of his character references on his application!”
            Whoever is the source of your misinformation about me, Chris, is a liar and has borne false witness. I advise you to be careful around him or her. Or maybe I’m being too harsh. He or she may be suffering from substance abuse.
            My attendance at daily Matins was just about perfect, although I never kept quiet about the atrocious "order" of SVS's daily matins in those days.
            Oh yes, you may also see me standing in the back row of the SVS student body pictured on the LP that came out in 1967 or 1968.
            You refer to my "known association" with homosexuals....that's EXACTLY what I've documented here: my "known association" with homosexuals at SVS during the school year 1965-66!

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        • Trudge at SmartVote says:

          Bishop Tikhon,

          The picture you paint here from your experiences at St. Vladimir's is very disturbing.

          In your assessment of them then and now, do you think these sexual behaviors were due limited to the person's own psychological makeup, or do you see an influence from the invisible realm?

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        • Thomas Barker says:

          These homosexual vignettes shared by Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald were so unsettling that initially I only skimmed the lines he wrote at the end. But then I did a double take. The final few lines contain something even more alarming than his lurid tales of SVS, particularly because he always chooses his words very, very carefully. He calls the Apostles "moral degenerates," which may be correct in one sense, but often carries a connotation of sexual depravity. His intention becomes clear when he focuses on St. Peter and asks "Was his denial not worse than any homosexual or sodomitical practices?" So we have a new hierarchy of sins, where the sodomite is lifted above the morally degenerate Apostles. To say it's a good question for St. John Chrysostom is to suggest an abomination, then shirk responsibility for it. Prior to Pentecost, the Apostles were fearful, confused, cowardly. "And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly." Fear, cowardice, denial, denial, denial, then bitter tears. These were men in their fallen but natural state, prior to "cloven tongues like as of fire" that were to sit upon each of them. The comparison of the weaknesses of the Pre-Pentecost Apostles to the detestable practices of the satanic sodomites is completely and utterly repugnant.

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          • lexcaritas says:

            Dear to Christ Thomas (Barker), I agree with you. During the Triduum the men among the disciples may have been cowards, but they were not moral degnerates as that term is commonly understood. Furthermore, Peter's denials do not amount to a betrayal and do not make him the equivalent of a traitor.

            As to the toleration of homosexual or other ACTIVITY unbecoming of someone aspiring to ordination, the conduct described by ++Tikhon at Forgiveness Vespers fits the bill. The decision to further the candidacy of a person who would do such a thing so brazenly at such a time and proceed to see him ordained evinces the same kind of blindness that was practiced by many an RC bishop with regard to manifold cases of clergy sexual (mostly homosexual, by the way) abuse. Would the seminarian's conduct have been tolerated had he done it to a woman? It is bizarre; it is wicked. it would have been appropriate for the victim to cry out--but, of course, he suspected his target wouldn't--and apparently he was right. Isn't that the predator's mo?

            lxc

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            • M. Stankovich says:

              This, then, begs the question as to why Met. Jonah would tonsure and ordain Killian Sprecher despite protest that he was a homosexual, and that he was "interested" in another seminarian. Perhaps they had mistaken the Great Schmea for Depo Provera (medroxyprogesterone acetate)? Likwise, it would seem that Met. Jonah is a staunch supporter of the old military adage, "We'll PT the fag right outa' ya boy, just you watch." The reality, however, is that he's batting 0-2 with the monks.

              It would be simple to go the psychoanalytic ikky thump route here presuming matters of predators and their complex "matrix" for choice of victims, blah, blah, blah, which,suffice it to say, it is not random and it is not superfluous. I, however, do not believe this was a sexual act all. This strikes me as a psychopathic act of disrespect, humiliation, and intimidation, and obviously he expected no reaction. Better to focus on the fact that wherever individuals gather together in the name of the Lord, the spiritual warfare is fierce; and unfortunately we pay this but the tritest of lip service. In the sense that you might "blame" the concentration of individuals gathered for being a battleground with "casualties," is one thing, but to ascribe to the gathering causal responsibility for the bodies is quite another. The threshold for truth here has drastically fallen.

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              • George Michalopulos says:

                This assumes that he knew that he was a homosexual. This also assumes that he knew he had same-sex tendencies. This of course begs the question that I keep asking and nobody (yourself included?) seems to want to answer: should a man who suffers from same-sex attraction disorder but who is otherwise true to the Gospel and is willing to at least try to be chaste be ordained?

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              • This, then, begs the question as to why Met. Jonah would tonsure and ordain Killian Sprecher despite protest that he was a homosexual, and that he was “interested” in another seminarian.

                Are you kidding? That is a most desperate attempt on your part to further attack Metropolitan Jonah. Have you no shame?

                But, let's advance your thinking. Given that bishops on the OCA Synod know, with proven facts, that an Archdeacon married another man, yet they let him continue to serve, what is worse?

                You had best retreat from you pathetic attempts to further cover the sins of your friends in the OCA and especially your frequent house guest, +Benjamin. You have lost what little credibility you have here. Move on.

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                • M. Stankovich says:

                  James P.,

                  It is truly a cold day when simple analogy goes unrecognized, yet if a person of such depth of thought as yourself missed it, there must be plenty where you came from. Are you able to discern that Mr. Barker and lexcartis - both overblown "mystoikoi" as it were, of hyperbole, are offering mitigation for even the worst betrayal blah, blah, blah - somehow Mr. Barker nobly working in the word "sodomy" as is his custom - and I merely note that by employing that logic, it begs the question as to why Met. Jonah... Get if James P.? "Analogy: corresponds to the relation existing between another object and some attribute or circumstance pertaining to it." I didn't touch the Tooth Fairy.

                  Now, as to the matter of

                  You had best retreat from you pathetic attempts to further cover the sins of your friends in the OCA and especially your frequent house guest, +Benjamin. You have lost what little credibility you have here. Move on.

                  Son, these are words of moral authority, and from where or by what you have earned them seems directly proportional to your comprehension and contribution. As near as I can tell, you were literally unable to grasp, let alone comprehend what I had written, thereby rendering your response and dismissal empty and foolish. Move on yourself, son. You're in my seat.

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          • Heracleides says:

            Standing ovation.

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          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

            St. Peter was forewarned that He would betray God (THAT;s WHAT DENYING CHRIST MEANS, Lex), and he ignored the warning until he himself was SAFE, whereupon he repented bitterly. If however, anyone thinks that God is more interested in sexual morality than in betrayal of Himself, hey, it's a free country and I recognize that for the American Christian (and we Orthodox eagerly include ourselves under that national umbrella), there are no sins more heinous than sexual deviations---Sodomy is the Sin of Sins because Sex is LIFE. Right.... I revealed some brazen homosexual activities by a seminarian to the seminary authorities. I'm not sure what "proceed to see him ordained" means---- is SEEING a sin?
            Say what you like, i do NOT consider a young man's having stuck his tongue in my mouth to be more sinful than denying Christ publicly three times. Next you'll be saying 'It was all predetermined: God is the one Who had Peter sin!" I'm not sure whether that is Calvinistic or Islamic fatalism.

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              He did "repent bitterly" did he not? Nowhere do we see this same wont to repentance among the present cadre of defiant homosexual activists, do we?

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              • Michael Bauman says:

                If they did, they would no longer be homosexual activists.

                I would also say that all sin is a betrayal of God. I also don't really like the idea of excusing some sins because they are not quite as bad as another.

                It is the lack of repentance that is the sin: Judas discovered that and that is one reason we pray

                ..Nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas. But as the thief I confess to You: Lord, remember me in Your Kingdom...

                ...that same prayer of mercy teaches us to render the deeds of mercy...

                .

                Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner

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                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                  Even minor sins can damn us if we let them, but it's plain in Scripture and the Fathers that some sins are worse than others and require more penance. St. Basil the Great groups sodomy with bestiality, sorcery, idolatry, murder, and adultery as the sins requiring extreme penance. St. John Chrysostom says sodomy is worse than murder because it destroys the soul and not just the body of another person. Our Lord Himself speaks very harshly of those who molest children:

                  "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Matt. 18:6, cf. Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2

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                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                    Deacon Brian! If you do a little research in the Fathers and in the traditional Orthodox interpretation of the Scriptures, especially relative to "These little ones," I believe you'll find He did not refer to babies or little children, but to HIS DISCIPLES, THE APOSTLES.
                    Please note, if you do NOT accept the traditional commentaries, that our Lord said "little ones WHICH BELIEVE IN ME."

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                    • Tim R. Mortiss says:

                      So, "little ones" means "big ones"?

                      Edit: I didn't do any research into the Fathers or traditional Orthodox sources, but just looking at the footnote in my Oxford Annotated RSV this certainly seems to be the interpretation even there, all right; disciples or "followers". Never did notice that before or think about it, though I've read it uncountable times. Maybe because the child is right there....so big and little ones both, then.

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                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Your Grace, are you saying the Fathers NEVER understood the verse to refer to children? But that's impossible to prove, isn't it? Whereas a single citation from a single Father could prove you wrong.

                      I have at hand at the moment two commentaries on Matthew, St. John Chrysostom's and the Blessed Theophylact's, and though both extend the meaning of "little ones" to all who are childlike in faith, neither excludes children from the category of "little ones." Neither says our Lord doesn't mean children. Both say He condemns those who abuse the weak and innocent, and who are more weak and innocent than children?

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                    • Trudge at SmartVote says:

                      The passage concerning “little ones” is good for us to consider, especially since there is much energy spent stabbing each other with words on this site.

                      The Son of Man is straightforwardly teaching his disciples how they should be - like children in the face of their lust for power and recognition to which at the moment they have surrendered. In the passage Christ is teaching by showing the disciples both a picture of innocence and of warning them against despising and mistreating or misleading those they would naturally consider "little" in the Kingdom of God. He also introduces other aspects of reality such as guardian angels in the care of God for the "least." Christ also presents the ascetic struggle his disciples must engage in to avoid committing "offenses."

                      This is the passage from Matthew 18:

                      At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

                      Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

                      “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!

                      “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.

                      “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

                      Chrysostom has a lengthy exposition on this passage, of which this is a part:

                      See how many things He is urging to the care of our "mean" brethren. Say not then, “Such a one is a blacksmith, a shoemaker, he is a ploughman, he is a fool,” and so despise him. For in order that you should not feel this, see by how many motives He persuades you to practise moderation, and presses you into a care for these. He set a little child, and said, “Be as little children.” And, “Whosoever receives such a little child receives me;” and, “Whosoever shall offend,” shall suffer the utmost penalties. And He was not even satisfied with the comparison of the “millstone,” but added also His “woe,” and commanded us to cut off such, though they be in the place of hands and eyes to us. And by the angels again that are entrusted with these same mean brethren, He makes them objects of veneration, and from His own will and passion (for when He said, “The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost,” He signifies even the cross, like as Paul says, speaking of a brother, “For whom Christ died”); and from the Father, for that neither to Him does it seem good that one should perish; and from common custom, because the shepherd leaves them that are safe, and seeks what is lost; and when he has found what was gone astray, he is greatly delighted at the finding and the saving of this.

                      Him let us also imitate, refusing none of the tasks that seem lowly and troublesome for our brethren’s sake; but though we have to do service, though he be small, though he be mean for whom this is done, though the work be laborious, though we must pass over mountains and precipices, let all things be held endurable for the salvation of our brother. For a soul is an object of such earnest care to God, that “He spared not His own Son."

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                    • Michael Bauman says:

                      Your Grace, it is evidently been some time since you have been around little children. Their faith can often be quite astounding and profound. Different than adult faith to be sure but no less faith.

                      Just one example to which I can point, my lovely wife was told after the birth of her first child, that she could NOT get pregnant again. When her son was three, he came to her and said, "Mommy, I'm going to have little sister and her name is going to be Julina". My lovely wife asked how he knew this. Her son, 3 years old remember, said: "Jesus told me"

                      That young lady, Julina, is now around 40 and has two children of her own. BTW, my lovely wife was told again, that she could have no more children, her youngest is now 37 with children of his own. In part because child #1 was still praying for a brother. My lovely wife asked him to stop--no more children.

                      My lovely wife, was 5 when Jesus came to her in a form she immediately recognized when she first set foot in an Orthodox Church 58 years later as Christ Enthroned above the altar.

                      Oh yes, your Grace, children believe. Don't ever doubt it. That is why they flocked to St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco when many adults looked down their noses at him.

                      Our faith is supposed to emulate theirs BTW. God forgive me, but I am far from that.

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              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                Jesus Christ came to save sinners, including homosexuals, NOT the righteous.
                Surely everyone will agree that there were homosexuals (or "Sodomites" if you will) in Israel before during and after Hellenistic days, before, during, and after Christ's lifetime, Yet the closest our Lord came to even mentioning "Sodomites" was when he referred to the ancient CITIES of Sodom and Gomorrah and their FATE; in fact, He devoted much more teaching, much more powerful feelings against the non-sodomitic and orthodox religious leaders and people: Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, etc., DID HE NOT. If homosexuality is a sin of the MAGNITUDE many here ascribe to it, how could He not be vocal on the topic? If Judas was not repentant at his end, why did he hang himself? And neither of the two Chief Commandments refers or alludes to anything sexual at all, if we are going to speak of priorities in sinning.

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                • True, but he did not mention bestiality or incest either, yet these are grave sins. Where was fornicating with inanimate idols in the Sermon on the Mount? How 'bout child prostitution, not big enough to make it into a parable? Well, must be aok fine then. Pederasty, hmmm, no direct reference, must be a mitsvah. How about homosexual necrophilia? The raising of Lazarus would have been the perfect opportunity to rave against that, no? Well, I suppose Christian coroners need the money.

                  Interesting way of discerning the faith.

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                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                    Misha! Just saying what CHRIST thought WAS worth mentioning. Obviously, the most (to us) hideous acts were to HIM not as bad as disobeying the Chief Commandments. He even interrupted the punishment of a woman caught in flagrante delicto and shamed her prosecutors. "Homosexual necrophilia?" You need help. Where did you hear of that, or did you just imagine it? Get help!

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                    • Thomas Barker says:

                      Say what you like, i do NOT consider a young man’s having stuck his tongue in my mouth to be more sinful than denying Christ publicly three times. Next you’ll be saying 'It was all predetermined: God is the one Who had Peter sin!'

                      On February 8th, the day Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald's words were posted, the Church commemorates the Holy Prophet Zechariah. When Peter is told that he will deny Jesus thrice, Jesus quotes the very same prophet, Zechariah: "All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." Jesus reaches back some 500 plus years and cites Zechariah, as He tells Peter what will soon come to pass, despite Peter's protest that he will never deny Him. So I have to respond "predetermined" à la Calvin? No! Prophesied? Yes!

                      It saddens me that Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald's attempts to use these awe-inspiring passages of scripture (which set the stage for the very founding of the Church) to such ignoble ends. Would that he were sharing something higher, something more spiritually uplifting with us. As a man whose life has been one episode after another of sin, I could benefit from such.

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                    • Vladyka!,

                      That's funny! No, I heard that from a comedy skit by Sam Kinneson back in the eighties. He dared anyone to find something too gross for him to make fun of. Someone brought him a story about that particular pathology. He did a pretty good job but I'll spare you the details.

                      My point was simply that Christ spoke mostly to His fellow Jews who were a bit more civilized than their oppressors. He did not need to mention some of the nastier sins which were universally reviled among His people. Paul, on the other hand, was out among the gentiles who made a practice of some unsavory forms of sex.

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                  • Trudge at SmartVote says:

                    If we find ourselves stumbling over our understanding of sin and the teachings of Christ, brothers and sisters, especially in our age when sin and evil are trivialized and made into controversies and confusions, let us consider the advice of Augustine and spend more time in the Scriptures and Fathers to light our way:

                    While the hot restlessness of heretics stirs up questions about many things belonging to the Catholic faith, in order to provide a defense against these heretics we are obliged to study the points questioned more diligently, to understand them more clearly, and to preach them more forcefully; and thus the question raised by the adversary becomes the occasion of instruction. -St. Augustine of Hippo, City of God

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                  • Michael Bauman says:

                    Seems very much in the line of Sola Scriptura to me.

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                  • Heracleides says:

                    Simply consider the source and those whom he was instrumental in elevating to the episcopate. Speaks volumes.

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                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                      "Consider the source," is often cited as the classical example of two of the traditional logical fallacies: the argumentum ad hominem,and 'poisoning the wells." When I look at the top corner of this blog and click on "Heracleides," I'm reminded of the old saying about about any nonentity: "A big limo pulled up to the curb: the door opened and no one got out."

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                    • Heracleides says:

                      Case in point.

                      P.S. How are your tawdry tell-all memoirs coming along? Hurry, hurry, times-a-wasting.

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                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                      I believe in giving credit where it is due. i'm really grateful to the person, male or female (etc.), called "Heracleides" for reminding me of my participation with Archbishop Dmitri and others in the consecration of Bishop Nikolai (Soraich)! He was here in L.A. only last weekend, serving Hierarchical Liturgy at the ROCOR Church on Fountain here for the Feast of the Meeeting of our Lord. However, his most important occupation is shepherding the ROCOR All Saints Mission in Las Vegas.The man's an incurable Church builder still. As they say, 'You can't keep a good man down." Remember how they went after him, the Orthodox Accountability people? One of the factors that infuriated the 'anti-Jonah" folks the most was Metropolitan Jonah's readiness to issue a canonical release to Bishop Nikolai, which caused them to speed up their campaign In Santa Fe and after. They persuaded him to resign just in time and then, in their unseemly haste to make excuses for themselves, they issued that puerile, sloppy STATEMENT.
                      Oh, between the Holy Synod and Heracleides, the days are just too short!!!!!

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                • Michael Bauman says:

                  BUT, one has to acknowledge that one is a sinner. That is the difference the Lord proclaims: between those who acknowledge their sinfulness and those who do not. Read the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee recently, Oh, yea, we just did that didn't we.

                  Homosexual activists do not acknowledge that homosexuality (the actions, the 'lifestyle', etc.) is sinful, but proclaim their righteousness and demand that everybody else acknowledge their righteousness. They are thankful that they are not like other men. They are the Pharisees NOT those who adhere to the Holy Tradition in love and humility.

                  It is simple: we are all called to chastity and celibacy before marriage and faithfulness and chastity after marriage. To fulfill that fundamental Christian calling in a world soaked with sexual temptation and approbation of un-chastity, that is difficult. It requires a life of repentance. Oh, that's what we are called to anyway? Golly gee whiz Batman WHAT a revelation.

                  Stop trying to excuse sin folks.

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                • The focus here is not priorities in sinning, a gravely dis ingenious claim.The Christ was not confronted will gay pride parades in the streets of Judea. The Sanhedrin was not being peopled by gays claiming the right to rule the Jews. The Christ dealt with what confronted HIm , as Christianity does now deal with that which confronts us.This is altogether seemly and prudent. Innocent are preyed upon, churches are sued, costing the laity who fund the Church.And the loss of the Holy Sacraments ministered by these twisted people does great harm.To the pure, all things are pure, to the prurient, all things are prurient, excepting the Holy Sacraments they minster. I do not believe they are in the Will of God, and they only do empty rituals. .

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    • Johann Sebastian says:

      Is there any evidence to suggest that errant behavior occurs more frequently among those clergy who came to Orthodoxy through conversion than those who have a cultural link with the Church?

      Of course, only God can assess the state of one's soul, their faith, and their intentions, but in purely pragmatic terms, it may not unreasonable to suppose that a cleric whose forefathers were martyred for the Church would be more inclined (or feel more obligated) to maintain her integrity than someone who may have come to the Church through some "spiritual exploration phase" or, worse yet, just to find gainful and steady employment.

      Before anyone shoots this down as an appeal to ethnophyletism, just think about it a little. And once you've thought about it, what do you suggest be done to rectify the situation?

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      • Of the people I'm aware of I think it's half and half.

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        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          I agree with Colette here. It is about half-and-half, lately. A recently suddenly deceased Archbishop was actually a convert (and from ROMAN Catholicism, Latin rite), while the tongue I remember was from an Orthodox Carp of the first water. However, in former times, there weren't enough converts to provide a balance to the 'born-Orthodox' rate of misbehavior.

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        Mr. Sebastian, your logic seems faulty to me. The solution is adherence to the fundamental teachings of the Church, good dogma. Within the context of good dogma virtue can grow as the fruit of good prayer.

        The link to the martyrs is something we all share through Jesus Christ through the sacramental life of the Church.

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  16. Harvey Bertrum says:

    " Since this story broke more information has come to me how homosexuality is tolerated at SVS more so than at the other seminaries."

    This is a blatant lie! SVS has never tolerated homosexuality; possibly in your own mind. I would tell anyone here; go visit, ask questions of the faculty and administration and students. You will find that what is is being said here amounts to a "witch hunt."

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    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

      Harvey Bertrum. You're right, homosexuaLITY was not tolerated at SVS more than at other seminaries, but homosexual students and faculty were always tolerated at SVS. That is not a lie, blatant or otherwise. Ask Professors, Fathers Ericson and Hopko, for example, but don't call them blatant liars if they don't answer as you might hope!

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  17. Apparently, no one at SVS has gaydar. I find that hard to believe.No open confrontations occur because it does not equate with keeping up appearances. These wanna be gay priests keep popping up years later, and nobody knew. Balderdash,

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  18. Jackson Downs says:

    Dear George,

    I really must press you on your expression of respect for Monk Killian's integrity, which seems to be based on the idea that he didn't stay under his vows once he decided to do something unlawful according to the Church. The fact is that he wasn't just a priest. He was - and is - a monk of the schema, which can never be removed.

    Killian is free to ask for deposition from his office of priesthood. He is not, however, free to ask for deposition of his schema. And this is where his seemingly humble and appealing manner fall to the ground. This is a monk who is choosing to marry. His sexual orientation does not provide some extra backdrop of tragedy to the drama, nor does it in any way become deserving of our understanding. We can love him, but we must offer no strange collusions to his couching of the situation - which is that this is a move of integrity based on his new acceptances about himself.

    Also, for the record, we should never follow his lead and call him Christopher. He is a monk of our Church, with the name Killian given with the schema. We should refer to him either as "Monk Killian" or "the Apostate Killian" in our prayers. I prefer the first, although God forbid we fail to recognize the latter.

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      Mr Downs, thank you for keeping me honest. I concede your superior argument. One of my defects is always looking for a silver lining to every dark cloud. To my mind, Sprecher's self-deposition from the priesthood is a sign of at least some interior courage and consistency on his part (even if I cannot applaud his holier-than-thou reasons for doing so). As to the schema, I am ignorant of its protocols so I must beg forgiveness in overlooking that for the moment.

      Basically, I applaud (I know, too strong a word) Sprecher for having the courage to "come out" openly and disavow his priesthood because I know of several priests in the OCA who are living that very same life and while not "open" and as defiant as Sprecher, are definitely not discreet about it either. To my mind, these men are doing far more damage to American Orthodoxy than even a closeted homosexual bishop is doing.

      Consider: in 2003, the heads of SCOBA put out a forcefully-worded statement that left no ambiguity of the teaching of the Orthodox Church regarding gay "marriage." We know that one of the signatories was himself a not-that-closeted homosexual. Despite the sheer hypocrisy of his adding his name to that document, we can at least be comforted that he did not teach any doctrine --privately nor publicly--that was contrary to Orthodoxy. AT the end of the day, that's all we can hope for given the caliber of the present episcopate. The damage done by these active and/or semi-retired priests who are very indiscreet is that by their lifestyle, as well as by their actual preaching, is far greater than what Sprecher has done to the Church at large. Indeed, it's possible that he did us a favor by exposing the fault line.

      Of course he did himself no favors at all but that's between him and God.

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        George, if he had the integrity you grant him, he would have acknowledged his struggle publically asking for the prayers of the Church and then, with his spiritual father, begin immediately the spiritual work that would allow him to fulfill his commitments to God, the Church and his fellow men. He chose the selfish way that both moves him and his partner further away from God but opens that way for others.

        As a similar example, a former priest at my parish before I joined it had trouble with alcohol abuse. He acknowledged it and began to get help but he also announced it publically and asked for the congregation's help. That acknowledgement helped the priest and also helped heal some long-standing antipathies within the community. That was an act of integrity.

        As it is, the monk Killian deprived himself, his partner and the Church of the opportunity to bring help and healing not just to himself, but to open that way for many others. He chose the easy over the difficult; the selfish over the kenotic; the sin over repentance. That is not integrity, it is cowardice.

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  19. Francis Frost says:

    There seems to be two strains oat work in this thread:

    One asks who is ‘responsible' for the loss of the errant priest monk.

    The second is the accusation that SVS either permits or promotes homosexual behavior among its students and graduates.

    First, we should remember that a monk is under life long obedience to his monastic elder and the abbot of his monastery. This is true even if said monk leaves the confines of his monastery. For example, St Herman of Alaska maintained his spiritual relationship to the Valaam monastery during his many long years of service in Alaska.

    Mr .Spercher’s Abbot and his monastic spiritual father was and is, His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah. Such relationships are indelible and indissoluble according to tradition. Moreover, Mr. Sprecher was ordained by Metropolitan Jonah.

    If there are questions over Mr Sprecher’s monastic and clerical formation, if there are questions over who “lost” Mr Sprecher, the appropriate recipient of those inquiries is Metropolitan Jonah.

    I would also like to note, that either George or George’s informant(s) had access to Mr Sprecher’s e-mail and / or Facebook account. In other words, either George, or George’s informant(s) were Mr. Sprescher’s Facebook friend(s).

    To those person(s), I would say: What about your responsibility to reach out to your friend and call him back to an integral Orthodox way of life?

    If the posters on this blog have concerns about the spiritual life at SVS seminary, they should contact either Fr. John Behr or Fr. Chad Hatfield. Both have published e-mail addresses. You might also direct your inquiries or complaints to the members of the seminary’s board of directors.

    As for the repeated and trenchant criticism of Father Thomas Hopko, I am mystified. Father Hopko has been a consistent advocate for the traditional Orthodox understanding of gender sexuality and marriage.

    Somehow I fear the good deacon BPM would criticize Our Lord himself for not being sufficiently severe with the adulterous woman. Apparently, “ Go and sin no more “ is not enough anymore.

    As Bishop Tikhon has pointed out homosexuality is hardly a new problem nor is it solely a problem here in the ‘degenerate West’

    Read on:

    Russian Orthodox Deacon Fears Defrocking After Outing Church's 'Gay Lobby'

    By Andrei Shary and Claire Bigg
    January 09, 2014

    A prominent theologian who claims to have outed a powerful "gay lobby" within the Russian Orthodox Church says he now fears being defrocked over his allegations.

    The allegations by Deacon Andrei Kurayev, a firebrand missionary who taught at the Orthodox Moscow Theological Academy, are potentially damaging and expose the church to charges of double standards.

    Not only does the church consider homosexuality to be a grave sin, but it has also helped spearhead a Kremlin campaign targeting gays and lesbians -- most notably a law banning the propagation of "non-traditional sexual relations."

    Kurayev is known for his radical but eloquent tirades that have often put him at odds with the Moscow's Patriarchate's official line.

    He has made anti-Semitic remarks, spoken in support of recently pardoned former oil tycoon and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and protested the jailing of Pussy Riot members for their iconoclastic performance in Moscow's largest Orthodox cathedral.

    But according to him, it is his decision to battle what he describes as a "gay metastasis" within the Russian Orthodox Church that caused his downfall.

    On December 31, Kurayev was dismissed from the academy, the church's top educational institution, which explained it was no longer willing to tolerate his "shocking statements" and his "scandalous and provocative" activities in the media and the blogosphere.

    Kurayev says he is bracing for more retaliation.

    "Anything could happen," he told RFE/RL. "I could even be defrocked."

    Kurayev is a protégé of previous Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexi II, who died in December 2008. He rejects speculation that the current head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, wants to silence him.

    Instead, he blames his sacking on the "gay lobby" that he so virulently denounces and that, he warns, is rapidly consolidating its influence within the church.

    "It's a very powerful group of people, some of whom hold important posts, including in the synod," he says. "What's really sad is that they influence the church's personnel policies. They appoint each other to vacant posts, and there are currently many vacancies."

    Surprised By Backlash

    His dismissal has only emboldened Kurayev, who now launches almost daily attacks against this alleged network of homosexual clerics.

    He has been using his blog to cite testimonials from men who recount their sexual encounters with Orthodox priests and bishops.

    Kurayev is a popular man. His LiveJournal blog is Russia's 37th most read and he has many supporters among churchgoers and clergymen.

    He admits having "no recipe" for battling homosexual influence but nonetheless believes that his efforts to clean up the Russian Orthodox Church are overwhelmingly backed by clerics.

    "I receive numerous letters and calls of support, mostly from priests but also from bishops. I understand that what I say reflects the opinion of the moral majority."

    Kurayev says what prompted him to launch his campaign against gay clerics was the patriarchate's recent decision to fire a teacher accused of molesting students at Tatarstan's Kazan Seminary.

    Despite the risk, he admits he never expected the campaign to seriously backlash against him:

    "I made a mistake," he says. "I assumed the fact that the patriarchate sent a commission to the Kazan seminary and that, based on the commission's findings, the rector who molested the seminarians was dismissed meant the patriarchate had finally decided to pay attention to this problem and wished to tackle it. But I seem to have overestimated the patriarchate's readiness to follow this path."

    http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-orthodox-church-kurayev-gay-lobby/25225311.html

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      Francis, your tedious Russophobia makes it hard to debate you but debate I shall:

      1. I was not a Facebook friend of Sprecher. One of my correspondents is. This person is mortified because of the great love he feels for Sprecher. ("Loves", present tense.)

      2. Jonah ordained him to the priesthood but had not been his spiritual mentor since the former was elevated to the Primacy. (I was informed yesterday that Sprecher reactivated his FB account and has "defriended" Jonah.) This rather pathetic attempt to pin this on His Beatitude is very threadbare.

      3. Regarding your new hero Kurayev, are you not concerned with the holes in the New York Times story? That he is an "anti-Semite" but curiously one who has gone to bat for the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovky? (Who btw is Jewish?) Is the Western media so desperate for something bad to say about Russia that they'd turn to a possible flake in the clerical ranks?

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      • Anonymus per Scorilo says:

        ... Is the Western media so desperate for something bad to say about Russia that they’d turn to a possible flake in the clerical ranks?

        It is a bit of a stretch to call Deacon Andrei Kurayev a flake. He is followed and loved by most in the young church-going generation, who do not like to see Russian Orthodoxy continuing on the present path towards becoming Putin's lapdog.

        Unfortunately the points Deacon Andrei makes about the gay lobby, when combined with the fact that +Kirill has been "ordaining through" the do-not-ordain-bishop list of the late Patriarch Alexey, and when seen in the light of the KGB policy to promote to top church position only people who could be blackmailed, make for a very self-consistent picture.

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  20. Tens of thousands protest in France defending traditional family values:
    http://rt.com/news/france-protest-gay-marriage-543/
    Same on Reuters:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/02/us-france-protests-idUSBREA110AG20140202

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  21. cynthia curran says:

    Well, George it is possible to eliminated most farm workers since japan is doing this by beefing up on robotics. Its possible in the next decade which is scary that a robot could have human manual dexterity which would eliminate abut 6 million jobs done by illegal immigrants in the US but also a lot of low skilled workers born in the country.. Japan unlike the US doesn't like a lot of immigration and is applying this to the lower skilled jobs that we in the US are not but maybe in 10 years maids and janitors will be replace more by robots.

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    • Michael Bauman says:

      "Farm workers" as we know them today are the effect of the industrialization of agriculture. Robotics in general have the effect of denigrating the value of human labor and craft which is just an extension of the industrial paradigm of efficiency, utility, producing identical products with the highest profit margin for our consumption.

      When we have no work to do?

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      • cynthia curran says:

        Yeah, but farm work is done by legal and illegal immigrants not the native born that much unless its a small family farm. Its been the excuses for legalizing millions of people because the native born doesn't do migrant farm work anymore applying robotics eliminates between 1 to 2 million jobs by legal or illegal immigrants from Mexico or Central America. Japan is doing this while the US wants to import another million to do farm work.

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  22. Thomas Barker says:

    In this thread, where the reply buttons vanish, the topology of a vast network of unnatural relationships is laid bare. Well done, Mr. Michalopulos.

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