Part 3: Moral Paralysis and the Inability to Uphold Scriptural Standards

oca-burningWhen moral clarity diminishes, institutions ossify. Challenges that ought to foster the creativity necessary for the vitality and growth of the institution are instead seen as a threat to it, and those that bring them forward are often shut down — shunned as it were and exiled to isolation and scorn.

The ossification will inevitably lead to the collapse of the institution. Ossification is paralysis. The institution lurches from one crisis to the next often of its own making.

Why does this happen? We believe it is because the moral compass no longer points north. Sometimes some things are kept out of the public eye for prudential reasons. Everyone understands and accepts this. But when trust erodes, when it becomes clear that decisions have been made to defer moral responsibility and evade moral accountability, we begin to suspect that at the root is some kind of moral defect.

When circumstances impose moral decision making on an institution as invariably happens and often in unpleasant ways, a moribund institution will lash out and attack the carrier of the bad news rather than deal with the problem he reports. It becomes a wrecking ball and the aftermath is all sorts of irreparable damage. We saw this when the Syosset Apparat forced the Synod to get rid of Jonah.

This scandalous episode has brought the OCA to its knees. Given the almost weekly scandals that have plagued the OCA since his illegal and forced ouster, we see that we have not even begun to recover as a Church. Short of repentance, we never will.

This is not to say that the leaders are stupid men. Far from it. But clearly they are not exceptional men. Having said that, they seem to have some awareness of their faults. How would they have fostered a culture of avoiding mutual embarrassment otherwise?

But sweeping the scandals under the rug works only for so long. Eventually a threat arises that challenges the status quo to such a degree that they are forced to act and they act in the only way they know: by drawing deep from the well of the institutional mediocrity they dug themselves and essentially doing more of the same. (Of course, there is always repentance but that never seems to be discussed.)

Unfortunately we are witnessing another such scandal brewing today. These last few years Fr. Vasile Susan has been petitioning the Synod for a fair hearing to no avail. Susan, as you may remember, is in the Romanian Episcopate of the OCA. Seeing signs of moral turpitude in a fellow priest in his diocese he did exactly what the canons of the Church require him to do: He went privately to his Bishop to report the problem.

Archbishop Nathaniel Popp however (Susan’s bishop), turned around and punished Susan instead. He exiled Susan. And, in true form to the moribund institutional paradigm, he refuses to either hear or defrock Susan and thereby keeps Susan in permanent institutional limbo.

Susan however, refuses to budge. For over eight years he has appealed for justice. He is entitled to a spiritual court according to both Scripture and the canons and has asked for one repeatedly knowing full well the judgment could work against him.

Popp and the rest of the Synod refuses to give him one. Why? What justification is there for denying Susan his day in Court when even the plain text of the OCA Statutes clearly require it?

To us there is only one possible answer: Susan’s allegations were credible and even provable. Here the OCA follows form. When a favored bishop or priest is accused of moral turpitude, standard operating procedure is to cover up for the offending cleric. What other explanation is there? If there is one, why haven’t we heard it?

Instead, we hear anodyne refrains along the lines of “well, you don’t known the full story.” Guess what? Short of Judgment Day we’ll never know the full story about anything, and then it won’t matter. Instead, why don’t you tell us in the Peanut Gallery why you are letting a good man twist in the wind? After all, we do pay the bills, we are owed something. Aren’t you our servants when all is said and done?

Susan will not go quietly into the good night and his perseverance has not doubt given the Synod a good share of headaches. But Susan has a family, and the mistreatment by Popp and the Synod has reduced him to near poverty for doing nothing more than the duty of his office required.

Below is the fourth letter Susan has written to the Synod. Please read it and pray that justice will be done.

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Comments

  1. The Romanian Diocese has failed to provide my daughter with a copy of her Orthodox Baptismal Certificate for almost 15 years. Why you ask? Because the priest, who performed the baptism in Columbus, GA decided the sacrament was null & void after finding out that my husband had never left his protestant faith to become Orthodox.
    Although my husband and I were married in an Orthodox Church, although we had been attending Orthodox Services as a married couple, although an amazing army SF Chaplain had spent several years slowly drawing my husband TOWARDS the Faith, although my husband had agreed to raise our children in the Orthodox Faith, and although my daughter had an Orthodox sponsor present, this priest decided to use the day of my daughter’s baptism to preach to my in-laws about how they were not “truly Christian.” This priest used the time following the baptism (which he DID complete) to inform my husband and I that our 7 years of marriage was actually NOT currently blessed by The Church and, in essence, we were living in sin. He could not, in good faith, certify the baptism of our daughter because of this! We did not return to this particular Church after the day of the baptism.

    Over the past 14 years, I have written everyone I can think of for aid in gaining my child’s Baptism Certificate…to no avail. I repeatedly contacted Father XXXX, while he was still a priest in Columbus, trying to gain a copy of the Baptism. After each military move we’ve taken, I’ve contacted whoever the current priest is for help. I have had my request/petition sent (with all supporting documentation) to the Greek Diocese in Atlanta. EVERYONE, besides the original Romanian priest, has been able to state that an appropriate Orthodox baptism did take place. But, NOONE has been able to figure out how to get us a copy of the baptism certificate.

    I’m sorry to say, if the Romanian Church cannot handle & bring to conclusion the small matter of a proven baptism, over a FOURTEEN year period, I don’t have much faith that they can take care of Fr. Vasilie Susan’s much larger and more pressing issue.

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    • Geo Michalopulos says:

      That’s inexcusable.

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    • Bishop Tikhon, what would you recommend? says:

      So if all agree she was baptized, why can’t they create a certificate? Surely they have a process for this. Records are lost all the time. – Gail Sheppard

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      • Gail,
        I don’t know what the appropriate process is. I do know that the baptism IS recorded in the parish records and signed by the priest. I believe the question at hand is, Who should sign the baptismal certificate, since the original priest is no longer in this country.

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        • Gail Sheppard says:

          Bishop Tikhon would know the proper process. I just hope he sees this and chooses to respond. It truly breaks my heart as she is being denied evidence of her Life in the Church.

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        • Heavens Saunca! I feel for you.
          Surely if the baptism is recorded in the parish register the current priest can issue a certificate.
          On the evidence you’ve presented, I can’t imagine why this wouldn’t be the case.

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        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          Saunca and Gail. If the Baptism has been recorded in the parish registry, that is proof of Baptism. a ‘Certificate of Baptism” merely states that the Baptism has been recorded in the parish registry, which is the fundamental EVIDENCE of Baptism.
          It seems to me that the Priest who performed the Baptism belongs to the vast class of individuals, clerical and lay, religious and atheistic, called JERKS. The requirements for Baptism are these: a person to be baptized, and an Orthodox believer (the Sponsor) in good standing who vouches for the virtue and good character of the person to be baptized, and who, in the case of an infant, publicly recites the Creed. ONLY ONE such sponsor is required, and while he or she may be called “God-parent,” “Godmother”, Godfather,” these are only colloquial variations of the word “Sponsor.” Customarily, as in the Russian Church, the Sponsor of an infant must be of the same sex as the infant. In colloquial church talk that means that for an infant girl ONLY a Godmother is required, and for an infant boy ONLY a Godfather is required. In addition, ONLY the (one) Sponsor MUST be Orthodox. According to family customs, however, there may be one or MORE other persons who the family names as “Godfather” or “Godmother.’ They may be present at the Baptism and confess the Creed along with the Sponsor, but their presence or absence is IMMATERIAL to the reality of the Baptism.
          To sum up, as others have done, The morals and legitimacy and Orthodoxy of a person’s (infant’s) parents have no necessary bearing on the decision whether or not to baptize an infant. Further, only a JERK would use the glorious Mystery of Baptism as an opportunity to lecture, berate, inveigh, expostulate, or preach AGAINST anyone.

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          • Protopappas says:

            “To sum up, as others have done, The morals and legitimacy and Orthodoxy of a person’s (infant’s) parents have no necessary bearing on the decision whether or not to baptize an infant. Further, only a JERK would use the glorious Mystery of Baptism as an opportunity to lecture, berate, inveigh, expostulate, or preach AGAINST anyone.”

            Agreed. We have lot of nice man-made rules (not Church rules) that state that if a person is not a “dues paying member” (choke), then the child should not be baptized. Another man-made modernist rule is that we should not baptize a child if we think that the child will not be brought up in an Orthodox home.
            This gives birth to the horrible idea that if parents (yes, even heathens) ask the Orthodox Church to make their child a child of the Church, we should turn away the child from grace because of the parents. Again, it is a bunch of nonsense, and not supported by any Orthodox teaching. The child is NEVER EVER EVER to be punished nor turned away for the sake of a parent’s sin or condition. They are called to God and His Church, and woe to the priest or bishop who turns the child away. Let the little ones come unto Him, for of such is the Kingdom of God.

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    • Anonymus per Scorilo says:

      This priest used the time following the baptism (which he DID complete) to inform my husband and I that our 7 years of marriage was actually NOT currently blessed by The Church and, in essence, we were living in sin.

      Wow, that must have been a very very unusual Romanian priest :-)

      Many of the ones I am familiar with do not have the word “living in sin” in their vocabulary, and as long as you pay your dues/contribution/baptismal donation they would baptize a child born out of wedlock, or with muslim parents, or with catholic sponsors, without asking any questions.

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      • He was very new to the country, and I believe it was a difficult change for him to go from a country that was almost entirely Orthodox Christian to a country where the Orthodox are such a minority. He was literally floored that any Orthodox priest would have married us. Unfortunately, in his over-reaction, he (unknowingly) undid years of those who patiently & quietly drew my husband nearer to The Church.

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        • Romanian Experience says:

          In Roumania for the baptism of my godchild, I noted that they were charging an additional fee to warm the water in the font.

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          • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says:

            That is a sad commentary and may explain why so many Romanians are leaving the faith and becoming Pentecostal. Of course, I believe some persons with deep pockets are financing the sectarians among the Romanians, both in the homeland and abroad. In view of this, and otherthreats to the church, such as militant Islam, and the gay libbers, it’s rather sad that we Orthodox are beating each other up over beards, calendar, cut of vestments, whether matins be served before Liturgy or at night,etc.These divisions please nobody except the evil one.

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            • A local Baptist Church here in Jacksonville Florida has a service in Romanian and it is thriving .

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              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                There are lots of religious but non-Orthodox Romanians. I was born in Detroit and grew up in a suburb. At one time all three Orthodox Romanian Churches had their headquarters there: the Episcopate people, the Patriarchals, and the Old Calendarists. . In addition, on Detroit’s main drag, Woodward Avenue there was a big church of the Rumanian Uniates, St. John the Baptist Romanian Byzantine Rite Catholic Church. (Archbishop Nathaniel’s original faith community: He also studied at either the Gregorianum or the Russicon in Rome. Archbishop Valerian found him as a Uniate hieromonk when he was looking for a successor.) . On the same main drag in what was called ‘Interurban Detroit” there was also a good-size Romanian Baptist Church at least up until the 70s when I more or less permanently left Detroit as my home of record. It’s not too surprising that enough Romanian Baptists to form their own congregation would be found eventually in Florida.

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            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

              Does anyone else use “stolar fees”? I had never heard the term until I joined a Romanian OCA parish.

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            • Romanian Experience says:

              Dear Batushka,

              I have had wonderful church experiences in Romania although I found some practices, mostly catering to those who were thought to have money, alarming, maybe remnant practices from communist times. But I saw the growth of monasteries, went to many special churches such as churches maintained for minorities in their languages, some small parishes with very healthy communal spirit and events and sharing, and saw many other well working aspects of Orthodoxy in Romania not the least was chant. I found it great that their chant service books were done in both pneumatic and western notation to maximize participation. I never attended a service I couldn’t love..

              On the negative side, I found people would shove past the weak and the young and the elderly to get in line for communion, but this was some kind of competitive queuing custom as if it were the last holy communion that would be offered so that protecting the weak, the suffering, the elderly and encouraging the very young were not so important. Reminded me of the blessing of Paschal baskets that we have here in America where the regular parishioners are sometimes shoved aside by the twice yearly cultural Orthodox, although to be fair, many of these people who spend vast amounts on the contents of multiple Paschal baskets do not crowd one out at Nativity.. Oh, how one can be disdained when one’s family does not have the correct bloodlines to be Orthodox!

              I found some racism as well, against Hungarians and Roma. In other words, I was expecting the Romanians to be holier, friendlier and less racist than Americans and found them more like us. But I saw an incredible fervency for Orthodoxy and a renewed interest everywhere. I saw iconography uniquely surrealist and yet evoking piety on one hand and traditional painting on glass folk iconography elsewhere. And many churches large and small could be noted for the image of Edessa above the Royal doors, still in place from the time of the Horthy scourge. When it’s good, why not keep it?

              I did not want to throw cold water on Romanian Orthodoxy. God knows, the few drops that are sprinkled by the ever accommodating Protestants are icy enough on the soul. And consider, some immerse. But let God judge such things while we maintain such distance from one another Orthodox

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    • Disgusted With It says:

      Saunca, it seems you’re mistaken. If I am as familiar with the Columbus, Georgia area as I think I am, there is no Romanian Orthodox Church there. Rather, there is a Greek Orthodox parish under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta. If there was a Romanian immigrant priest as the parish priest, he would have been a part of the Greek Metropolis and NOT the Romanian Diocese.

      The issue you have seems to be entirely with the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta, and not the Romanian Diocese as you state. That parish and priest would have nothing to do with the Romanian Diocese. You need to keep pushing your case with the authorities of the Greek Metropolis there.

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      • You are correct. I mistakenly wrote Romanian “Diocese” instead of Romanian “church” or “parish,” which at the time the Church went by. It was known and advertised as XXXXX Romanian Orthodox Church of Columbus, GA. Further down in my comment I think I clarified that the Church actually fell under Greek control. I didn’t find that out until trying to gain access to the baptism certificate, and at once submitted all documentation to the Greek Metropolis in Atlanta. I am fully aware that our issue concerns the original baptizing Romanian Priest, the Romanian priests I subsequently sought help from, the Orthodox military chaplain we sought help from, AND the Greek Metropolis in Atlanta. I apologize for the confusion my typo may have caused, although in general, I stand by my conclusion. If all of these clergy members, from varying Orthodox backgrounds and jurisdictions, can’t bring the simple request for a baptismal certificate to conclusion, how in the world could I believe that a much larger problem (like Fr. Vasile Susan’s) would be handled in a timely manner?

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    • That “priest” could not certify the baptism. Why??? You did everything right. The Church (by economy)
      performs mixed marriages, thus the child was definitely not born out of wedlock.( And, even if it was,
      it still could have been baptized. One should not visit the sins of the parents on the child. There is no canon that
      states that in order to be baptized, a person’s parents must be Orthodox Christians. If there was such a rule
      the Church could never have started, because the parents of the first Christians were not Christian, but Jewish or
      pagan. If there was such a rule, one could not receive converts either, because their parents are neither
      Orthodox nor married in the Church.) I am aware that some Churches have the policy not to baptize children
      born out of wedlock, ( I strongly disagree with that, because of the reason stated above; it is NOT the child’s
      fault) however, you were married in the Orthodox Church, thus this policy wouldn’t apply to you. That priest
      seems to be an ……… (you fill in the gaps to your liking, lol). I find it shocking that some Bishops would ordain or
      accept such incompetent men and send them to parishes to harm innocent parishioners. Your case is not
      the only one. What also puzzles me is, why did he perform the baptism in the first place when he disagreed
      with it? And once he performed it, why wouldn’t he certify it? Well, one cannot make sense of lunacy. And then
      offending people after the baptism, instead of congratulating on the joyous occasion. I hope you did not give him anything. (He deserved a …… in the ……..,lol). I hope you did not leave the Church over this. The baptism
      can be recorded by the present rector of that Church with the approval of the hierarch.

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      • taso,
        Thank you for your comments.

        We were very new to the area, having been transferred to Ft. Benning just months before. I, for some reason, assumed that Fr. X knew that we were a “mixed marriage” so to speak. Although we were attending church together, I had been taking communion and coming to confession, while my husband had not. It was obviously a terrible misunderstanding and one that I regret. The priest did not realize that my husband wasn’t Orthodox until the very start of the Baptism, when it became clear that my entire family was familiar with the service and my husband’s was not. it was only then, that he looked truly conflicted about what to do…

        I have tried to get two separate rectors of this parish to record the baptism, with permission, and send it to me. The best anyone has been able to do is offer to photocopy the baptismal log with my daughter’s entry.

        No, I did not leave the Church over this. But, it did have a profoundly negative affect on my husband and obviously my in-laws. I am extraordinarily grateful that we had some positive experiences with Orthodox Churches, in particular a mission that was ministered by an SF Army Orthodox Chaplain, prior to this happening. Additionally, several years later, my husband returned to attending services with us because of the warmth and compassion of a priest in Stafford, VA. We all loved that parish. My daughter still calls it her “Little Orthodox Church in the Woods.”

        A priest I respect enormously, who knows of the situation, has said to me:
        “Orthodox Christianity, to me, is the most perfect form of Christianity – we just mess it up sometimes by adding the human element to it.”

        That sounds about right.

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  2. Anonymus per Scorilo says:

    Seeing signs of moral turpitude in a fellow priest in his diocese he did exactly what the canons of the Church require him to do: He went privately to his Bishop to report the problem.

    This contains a pretty healthy dose of wishful thinking…

    A more accurate description would be:

    Being a member of the ROEA church tribunal he had access to all the “moral turpitude” files in the ROEA, made illegal copies of said files, and tried to use them to blackmail Abp. Nathaniel.

    This was a pretty standard practice in the ROEA – the late Fr. Fetea from NY also made such copies, which his brother made public after his death; his brother has since been defrocked.

    Now, I guess if it clear to everybody that if any priest in the Antiochian, Greek or Russian churches would accuse/insult/berate his bishop the way Fr. Susan does, he would be immediately defrocked. However, if Fr. Susan gets defrocked he will probably make public all the “moral turpitude” files. On the other hand, if he makes public the files first, he will get defrocked. So we have a typical example of “blackmailer’s paradox” giving rise to the current play of nerves between him and the Synod.

    P. S. By the way, there is no “Gulag” or “captivity” involved: Fr. Susan was released to the OCA in order to be transferred to the Patriarchal Romanians (cf. Abp. N’s release letter). It just happened thought that they got cold feet and decided not to ask for him anymore. I am pretty sure that if any other diocese on this planet would ask for him, the OCA would release him immediately.

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    • Geo Michalopulos says:

      If what you are saying is true, then Fr Vasile needs to be brought up on charges before a spiritual court. Oh wait, that’s what he once done!

      OK, so educate this non-Romanian Okie here: why hasn’t he been brought up on charges? Is it because an open hearing in which skeletons can come rattling out of the closets is too dangerous?

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      • Once the practice was that clerics in these instances that clerics transferred from one jurisdiction to another without canonical releases.

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      • anonymus per Scorilo says:

        why hasn’t he been brought up on charges?

        The answer is in my message:

        If Fr. Susan gets defrocked he will probably make public all the “moral turpitude” files

        Personally, I think bringing him on trial is the correct thing to do, as it would also send a strong message to other people who have made illegal copies of “moral turpitude files” that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.

        Some people may also be of the opinion that it is better to bring all such files out, and in general to make public the proceedings of all church tribunals, despite the upheaval this would cause.

        However, there are situations when the path that leads to justice also can create a lot of turmoil and destroy peace. The late Romanian Elder Arsenie Papacioc, who spent many years in communist prisons, used to say that the balance between peace and justice is about 80-20. Translation: essentially in four out of five situations it is better to take the path that preserves the peace than the one that brings the justice. Abp. Nathaniel is a man of piece, and so far believes that this particular situation falls with the 80.

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        • “Abp. Nathaniel is a man of piece,” A piece of what is the question…I am glad that the Archbishop is a man of peace but what is he hiding?

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        • lexcaritas says:

          The best defense against blackmail and the fear on which it is based is to come clean and into the light of repentance at which point the blackmailer is undone and his target liberated to begin with a fresh slate.

          Christ is in our midst.
          lxc

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        • anonymus per Scorilo says:

          It is not a matter of “airing of grievances,” it is a matter of publishing confidential church tribunal files.

          If anybody gives me one example of an Orthodox Bishop on this planet who makes all his church tribunal files public as a matter of justice/not hiding anything/airing grievances, I would join the crowd calling on Abp. Nathaniel to do this.

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          • George Michalopulos says:

            APS, nobody is asking Arb Nathanael to make “all his Church tribunal files public.” I certainly am not, I don’t believe Fr Vasile is either. What Fr Vasile wants is to be tried publicly and impartially by a Spiritual Court as is his due.

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            • Anonymus per Scorilo says:

              And how do you know how many of the ROEA church tribunal files has Fr. Vasile copied illegally, and how many of them will he release if he is tried and defrocked ? 10% ? 30 %? 50% ?
              What would be in your opinion the percentage Abp. Nathaniel should accept ?

              According to the defrocked Fr. Adrian Fetea’s letter (available on pokrov) his brother, the late Archpriest Casian Fetea, had a whole file cabinet worth of such files. The ex-priest Adrian is now releasing these files, see for example http://www.pokrov.org/updated-more-from-father-adrian-t-fetea/

              Do you really think Fr. Vasile has less files than Fr. Casian had ? Given his penchant for secretly recording conversations without informing his interlocutors (see again pokrov) I doubt he missed any collecting opportunity. Do you really think that if he will behave differently if he is judged and found guilty ?

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              • Disgusted With It says:

                Why are people so fearful of this Fr. Susan? Does he really have such horrible secrets in his possession? It seems if he’s been releasing this “classified” information before he gets a church trial, either way it’s coming out — so why not follow the appropriate church laws and procedures and do what is right?

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        • Justina (Christine Erikson) says:

          Illegal copies of moral turpitude files is bad? what insanity is this?

          The OCA Synod is loaded with perverts and scammers, which is why a power grab a while back, whose first move was an apparent demand for proper financial accountability, but with an improper long term agenda, included a veiled threat about knowing a lot of stuff and the Synod backed down and had the investigation. Said threatener is himself a homosexual living with a homosexual priest, last heard from.

          Those files should have been made public from the get go. Though the canons forbid schism, there is one canon in the Rudder which allows it for reasons of heresy and morality issues.

          As for the Romanian priest and the baptismal certificate, I wouldn’t think illegitimacy would be relevant to someone’s baptizability.

          To say that one must cover one’s father’s nakedness as per Noah and his two sons covering him when he was drunk and unconscious and naked in his tent, is to totally twist Scripture. That the curse fell on Canaan not Ham, means that likely it was Canaan who stole his clothes and set him up for shaming. Ham went along with it and laughed and spread the word.

          But Noah was told of what happened, so clearly Canaan’s nakedness in the sense of sin was NOT covered up.

          The other cant is “you can’t judge.” Yes you can, and must. That judging thing is always taken out of context, the context is that you are not to be doing the same things you denounce, that your denunciation shows you know the thing is wrong and elsewhere Jesus says to take the log out of your own eye THEN you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye, and St. Paul in Hebrews says that his readers were still infants, when they should have learned to discern good from evil.

          St. Basil the Great once defrocked a priest who had scandalized his congregation. The ex priest went into great repentance and monasticism or that kind of living at least, and achieved such holiness he did a miracle and asked St. Basil if he could return to the priesthood St. Basil being the bishop. St. Basil said that holiness is not holy orders, he had scandalized his congregation, and therefore he could not return to the priesthood.

          There are teachings in the desert fathers which are totally MISAPPLIED when put to work in the world or in the day to day church life issues. These are geared to dealing with overweening pride and game playing in a controlled environment (the monastery) not to normal life. Seeing some fault and keeping quiet and praying about the vainglory one might feel about not being into this stuff, or about one’s own inclinations instead of denouncing, is all very fine in that situation.

          And the fault is likely to be minor, not dangerous, and no congregation being influenced or endangered.

          Applied outside of this context these notions are insane to lethal. They are against the tradition of Scripture and Holy Fathers’ teaching and example.

          Yes, we should be cautious about our own motives, that doesn’t mean we should attack or ignore victims and empower the victimizers, or let the church go from bad to worse while we content ourselves that “the church is the bride of Christ perfect and without spot” or some such thing. The mystical institution may be so, but St. Paul said this is a work in progress and opined there was a risk it would not be so, and while those who act wrongly are ergo not entirely in the Church really being too much into their carnality than the Church’s pure nature, when you get clergy and laity sunk in sin that means you got very few actually in the Church.

          To let evil go on unopposed is to fight The Church and compromise its purity.

          Some of these people remind me of the charismatic crew in evangelical Christianity. not in holy roller behavior but in mealy mouthed manipulative messing with Scripture and practice to where anything goes as long as you are “loving” and can “feel” holy.

          St. Paul said to denounce evil doers publically. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself said to first talk privately with a person you have a problem with, then if he won’t hear you bring witnesses, then if that fails take it to the whole congregation and if that fails, treat him like a publican and a tax collector. Ostracize him.

          If moral turpitude files exist, that means that clergy who should not be clergy are still clergy or the files on them would be closed or gone, of historical interest only, and no one to “blackmail.”

          Therefore if making copies of such is “illegal,” those rules need to be changed.

          Take wire tapping. This was not considered a search and seizure issue until the lawyers for mobsters murderers and perverts got the Supreme Court in the USA to figure that a bug takes in too much information so is like the Brit General Warrant but in fact that Amendment does not deal with range of info, but with the destructiveness and invasiveness of the General Warrant and that one should be secure in ones persons and papers. Not get roughed up and things destroyed or stolen. The General Warrant was a shakedown of whole city blocks on speculation and even murders occurred in this disorderly context.

          The Supreme Court rationale would also make infiltration, and even eye witness testimony if from someone who got suspicious and started paying attention to what was going on, not just stumble on an act in progress, inadmissable if some nasty lawyer plays their cards right.

          Bravo to anyone copying and releasing private files. The evil being hidden is the evil leaven and St. Paul warns that a little leaven, leavens the whole.

          A Russian proverb also Chinese is that fish rots from the head down.

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    • Disgusted With It says:

      I’m wondering, with all this talk of Fr. Susan being a problem, how did Fr. Susan come into his position on the church tribunal in the first place? Was he elected to it, or did someone put him there — and if so, who?

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    • Decebalus p[u]er Scorilo says:

      Dear Anonymous per Scorilo,

      I am willing to friendly direct you to the 8 items listed by Rev. Fr. Susan on the first page of his letter.
      Please realize that at the present time, item 1 (letter dated May 14, 2013 by the OCA Metropolitan and sent to Fr V. Susan) is the tip of the iceberg, as Fr. V. Susan said. That letter has all the accusations against Fr. V. Susan. In case you would like to see more information about the OCA Metropolitan action, just look at the OCA website and get this:

      The Orthodox Church in America:
      PASTORAL CHANGES
      Official No. 549 • April 2013

      SUSPENDED

      SUSAN, Rev. Vasile, who was attached to St. Sergius of Radonezh Chapel, Oyster Bay Cove, NY, is suspended from all priestly functions, effective May 14, 2013. (Stavropegial)

      Approved for distribution:

      Archpriest John Jillions

      Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America

      August 8, 2013

      April, May 2013 pastoral changes posted

      SYOSSET, NY [OCA]

      The “Pastoral Changes” for April and May 2013 — the official announcements of ordinations, assignments, releases, etc. affecting the clergy of the Orthodox Church in America, issued by the Office of the Chancellor, Archpriest John Jillions — are now available in PDF format …

      http://oca.org/news/headline-news/april-may-2013-pastoral-changes-posted
      He was suspended, he asked for a day in the OCA Tribunal / Church Court, for 5 times, but he had his right to the trial denied by the OCA Metropolitan. Are the accusations of the OCA Metropolitan false? Then, the OCA Metropolitan should be on defense. I am not an expert, but the only comment I have is this: the Metropolitan is afraid of the release of the evidences as requested by Fr. V. Susan. It is ridiculous to see how an OCA Metropolitan is afraid to act for a priest in a Church Tribunal.
      The letters of Fr. V. Susan are easy to read: the Metropolitan is the accuser, and Fr. V. Susan is the accused. In case Fr. V. Susan would be that much wrong, he would have been decapitated very soon. The hesitations of the OCA Metropolitan have some legal concerns, grounds, etc. brought to his attention maybe by the OCA legal counsels or lawyers. Fr. Susan cannot be defrocked so easy. What is the standard of the OCA bishops vs. Fr. V. Susan?
      In case you can facilitate the publication of that letter dated May 14, 2013, by getting in touch with Syosset people, please do so.
      Please do not detour the attention of the readers of this blog to some old issues. The OCA Metropolitan is not willing to follow the rule of law of the OCA, and the Reflections of the OCA Chancellor item 4, as presented by the ADDENDUM attached to the letter.
      The OCA Metropolitan, according to the content of the letter is refusing to release unimpeded evidences to Fr V. Susan, to be able to defend all charges. The accusations of the OCA Metropolitan are at stake as presented by the 4 letters of Fr. V. Susan sent to the OCA Metropolitan up to this time, per item 8. He is afraid of some liabilities or a new lawsuit.
      It looks to me that the legal counsel of Fr V. Susan is in charge of everything, as per the bold printing following item 8, of page 1. Fr. V. Susan cannot make public anything without the green light from his attorney. Maybe this is the issue the OCA Metropolitan is afraid about. Please pay attention to the number of items and find out the communications between the attorneys of both sides: OCA side and Fr. V. Susan side. There is a lot of stuff which will bring more information after their publication.
      Also, it looks to me that you are very close to Syosset apparatus and OCA Metropolitan. Please make a suggestion to the OCA Metropolitan to post on the OCA website all the 8 items listed on the first page of Fr. V. Susan. After that you’ll have the opportunity to know the truth about the issue at stake, and you can make happy even M. Stankovich who made that stupid affirmation about Fr. V. Susan … What if this man is unstable?
      Don’t play around anymore, by making wrong predictions.
      I personally do not think that the OCA Metropolitan, the ROEA Archbishop or you can substantiate your allegation of blackmail you accused Fr. V. Susan about. Fr. V. Susan never blackmailed the ROEA Archbishop, or you. Can you prove it? Can the ROEA Archbishop prove it? Can you do so, by listing the name of the priests’ files you accused him of making illegal copies? I bet you. You cannot do this.
      And by the way: where did you bring this kind of “illegal copies” terminology from? Is it from the ROEA Constitution or By-Laws, OCA Statute, from PSP? Where is it from? Don’t play around anymore by using these words: illegal copies. Look what happen to the Vatican cover – up pedophile priests and bishops. There were called to accountability and transparency by the UN, today Feb. 5, 2014. Very soon the OCA will be called too.
      By the way, from the internet postings you can find out how the OCA blackmailed Fr. V. Susan. Just take a look:

      From: agarklavs@oca.org
      To: vasilesusan@hotmail.com
      Subject: RE: A Response
      Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2010 18:03:26 -0400
      TO: Fr. Vasile Susan
      From: Fr. Alexander Garklavs

      Re: A Response

      Dear Fr. Vasile,

      Christ is Risen!

      I greet you today on the Feast of the Mid-Pentecost!

      I have been instructed by His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH to communicate the following information to you. His Beatitude is bewildered by the nature of your recent postings. Nevertheless, he is asking you to consider the following:

      His Beatitude again extends to you an invitation to come to the OCA Chancery to meet with His Beatitude to discuss some of the issues that you have brought forward in your e-mails. We would need to arrange this meeting at a time that would be convenient to both Metropolitan JONAH and yourself.

      His Beatitude would consider the possibility of assigning you to a parish if you would withdraw your lawsuit. (Perhaps this would be something that you could discuss personally with the Metropolitan when you meet with him.)

      Sincerely, your brother in Christ,

      Fr. Alexander Garklavs
      Do not detour the attention of the people who would like the truth. Fr. V. Susan was never asked to be transferred to the Romanian Patriarchate as you affirmed in your comments. And the former OCA Metropolitan +Jonah, would offer him a parish in case he will accept the OCA blackmailed proposal. In case you are a priest within the OCA, please be an honest man. If you are a layman please go and make a confession to your father confessor before your upcoming communion.
      At the present time, OCA Metropolitan HB Tikhon M. is a troublemaker and he is responsible for his actions. He should follow the directions of the OCA Chancellor (J.J.) as per his reflection dated June 20, 2013 entitled “Confronting your Accuser”
      I hope my comments will satisfy everyone.

      Respectfully yours,

      Decebalus p[u]er Scorilo
      02.05.14

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      • M. Stankovich says:

        His Beatitude is bewildered by the nature of your recent postings.

        His Beatitude would consider the possibility of assigning you to a parish if you would withdraw your lawsuit.

        OCA Metropolitan HB Tikhon M. is a troublemaker

        After that you’ll have the opportunity to know the truth about the issue at stake, and you can make happy even M. Stankovich who made that stupid affirmation about Fr. V. Susan … What if this man is unstable?

        What could I have been thinking?

        Now multiply all of this by five long years, tossing in a few lawyers for the defense not giving the “green light,” copied documents, recorded conversations, blah, blah, blah and the case for “gross injustice at the hands of prelate predators” goes soft. And for heaven’s sake, Mr. Michalopulos, you seem to have left out the part about Met. Jonah himself attempting to intervene – so much for your ballyhooed lecture on “chain of command,” inappropriateness of appealing directly to the Metropolitan in the ordination of Killian – and you now implicate Jonah as well. Stellar choice of champions, Just stellar!

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      • anonymus per Scorilo says:

        Dear Decebalus,

        Sorry to disappoint you, but I am not close to anyone in Syosset. The only place I have seen Fr. Alexander Garklavs was in a video with his father returning the Tikhvin icon to Russia.

        I did not know about the suspension, it looks like Metropolitan Tikhon has some guts and is finally taking some action to try solve this situation, which neither +Nathaniel (with his “peace above all things” attitude) nor +Jonah (with his “pay the troublemaker” attitude), could solve.

        This being said, I think your view of Fr Susan’s situation is a bit too rose. Here are a few examples:

        1.

        Fr. Susan cannot be defrocked so easy. What is the standard of the OCA bishops vs. Fr. V. Susan?

        Yah, sure, just ask any Antiochian or Greek bishop what would he do it one of his priests insulted him and his fellow bishops by calling them in a printed newspaper “unmerciful, false, abusive, dishonest, unorthodox, un-romanian, unfaithful” (nemiloșii, falșii, abuzivii, necinstiții, neortodocșii, neromânii, necredincioșii episcopi din Biserica Ortodoxă Americană (OCA)” (http://curentul.net/2011/02/18/un-proces-in-derulare-ix/ ).
        The Ben-Lomond priests got defrocked for less than 1% of that.

        2.

        By the way, from the internet postings you can find out how the OCA blackmailed Fr. V. Susan.

        This is not blackmailing, this is bribing (offering him a parish) to stop the blackmail. So it looks like +Jonah also subscribes to the 80% peace-20% justice paradigm :-)

        3.

        I personally do not think that the OCA Metropolitan, the ROEA Archbishop or you can substantiate your allegation of blackmail you accused Fr. V. Susan about

        I am sorry, but Fr. Susan substantiated these allegations himself. Just look at the files that he copied illegally from the church tribunal, which he sent to pokrov after wiping out the name of the priest involved (no doubt following the advice of his lawyer). Of course he never went around saying: “I have more files, and I will publish them” but he clearly has more files (unless his xerox machine jammed right after copying the files he sent to pokrov), and has no moral problems with making public the information they contain (as he did after being removed from his parish).

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  3. Well I likewise don’t know enough to judge who is in the right. I do know that Fr. Susan has dragged the Episcopate through years of litigation apparently begun in 2005 and featuring a 60-page law suit seeking to recover damages and an award of attorneys’ fees for injunctive relief, brach of contract, promissory estoppel, tortious interferance with contract, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Looks to me as if Fr. Susan is in the deep freeze because he tried to kick his ruling heirarch in shin, in a secular court no less, not because he privately complained about immoral conduct by another priest. Apb. Nathaniel is my bishop, and whatever human traits he has, good or bad, to me he is a gift from God.

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    • Justina (Christine Erikson) says:

      kicking his ruling hierarch in the shin? That ruling hierarch is kicking The Church in the shin by supporting the evil. Probably into moral turpitude himself.

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  4. There will be spiritual corruption in high places, a description of the last days. It seems logical to assume, that the first thing this corruption does is, rid the organization it infests, of the authentic, in this case Christianity. This theme seems to run consistent in ouster of real good people and moddycoddling the miscreant. The truly genuine problem is miscreants serving the Holy Gifts, and God forbid Confession. These type of priest abrogate the power to forgive sin and bind in Heaven all their arbitrary judgement. Binding God, to their self will because of the position they hold, The Truth is, Only priest authentically doing the will of God exercise this power to bind on earth and in Heaven, But evil judges, love to exercise power, but they don;t really have any. Don’t be afraid of them.Trust the Heavenly safeguard, but the evil judges can make life on earth quite difficult. And they do.

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    • I posted this a year ago, but need to re-post because anyone who wants to read it might like the easy access.The abomination of desolation, I claim a matchless wisdom, in fulfillmentt of Holy Scripture, whicH Scripture say His disciples will have..I wrote this 27 years ago and still see no reason to change it.
      Mandkind has 3 major spiritual relationships, man to man, man’s duo nature, physical and physical, and God to man.These relationship encompass the intirity of his spiritual life,. TThese 3 relationships are adressed precisely by the the responses of the LOrd Jesus Christ to the temptations of the devil in the desert.. Love the Lord thy God, and Him alone thou shalt serve, live by His Word & not bread alone, do not tempt God.. Obeyed , as the Christ did, is obedience to the Will of God, Our Father in Heaven. Those who do the Will of God will inherit the kingdom of heaven. This obedience is the Way of Peace, and is the Vision given so that the people do not perish.
      If, you serve yourself, you enter into the great whore, if you live for bread alone, you build the beast, if you receive the mark of the beast, you tempt God.. The effects of this disobedience desolates the spiritual life contained in the 3 major relationships. The great whore, is mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, because, here the pattern of the Vision is departed from, as a man starts to serve himself./ desolates the relationship of man to man of spiritual life, as the collective self service mushrooms into wars or conquest over your fellow man, to take his goods for yourself. The Royal Law is ignored, as is the Love of God, the 2 great commandments…Thier kings and queens shall be called nurturing fathers and nurturing mothers, multiplying in selflessness, giving spiritual life in love oto one another. Those who do this are the Christ’s disciples.
      The beast is built bt living for bread alone, abandoning the Word of God to live by. His makes the spiritual life in the soul desolated from the physical body,and a man becomes totally carnal, and helpless against the demonic.. The great whore and the beast symbolize the world culture and the economic system it rides upon. These 2 together, go into perdition.
      Tho last spiritual relation to be desolated of spiritual ife is God to man. This is occurring in many people fully at present, but , the restrainer is not yet removed.. This fall has not yet come to the full. It occurs with the acceptance of the mark of the beast, tempting God, and the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place, where it ought not to be.There is no rival to the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem as to the most Holy site.Here, the Holy Fire has been received since ancient times. The Jewish temple cannot become Holy, again. The 3rd temple will be useless, even if it is built, to accomplish eternal salvation for men.This would create a kingdom of heaven divided between 2 ways of salvation in opposition to each other., a kingdom divided against itself.
      If you employ the logic and commonsense used when asked the question, < ( Can you kill a dead horse?) Those of sound mind always answer, no, it has to be alive, to kill a horse. This commonsense applies to the human soul desolated of spiritual ife, by the great whore, beast and , the dragon, occult spiritual power,. There is no spiritual left left to destroy, this has to be the abomination of desolation because nothing else worse can happen spiritually.
      He who has, ( spiritual life,) shall begiven more, ( eternal Life), he who has not ,( abomination of desolation) will loses even that which he has, ( his soul ).At least, no one has accuses me of using writings that are scriptural. This ia totally Holy Scripture.
      Reve 13 vs 13 in the Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher, where it oughtnot to be, because this is where the Holy Fire is received. foreign fire by occult apostate Antichrist cleric's do at present seek to do this. Freemasons., Catholic and Orthodox, but not all cleric's , of course..You must produce a more Truthful explination of what the abomination of desolation to discredit this writing. I say, no one will match it.

      .

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  5. Trudge at SmartVote says:

    Trouble at St. Vladimir’s – More Evidence

    For further consideration, below is an analysis and link to a sermon from a recent St. Vladimir’s seminarian as an expression of the theology at St. Vladimir’s.

    Some on this site (in the other posts involving Sprecher) are demanding evidence that there is anything wrong with the theology at St. Vladimir’s. They say there should not be any concern despite the facts that three recent graduates, including a class president, made public at St. Vladimir’s their immoral sexual tendencies and eventually surrendered to them fully, and are now professing the belief that their sexual desires are sanctioned by Christian theology to the point that two, one of which is a priest and a monk, are now “engaged” to each other. Another is reported to be serving among the grossly apostate Episcopalians. In addition there is the blessing coming from a permanent faculty member on the announcement of the “engagement,” by Dr. Bouteneff, and expressions of support from current seminarians, such as Mr. Dooley.

    Some other seminarians have countered that they are in disagreement with these expressions of support, but only as a matter of opinion in statements absent of a marshaling of Orthodox teaching from the Scriptures and Fathers that a theological education should enable. Then there are eyewitnesses that have left the seminary because of a stated toleration of homosexuality, and a first-hand account going back decades provided by Bishop Tikhon on this site.

    This is not a small amount of evidence.

    The sermon for your consideration is noteworthy in that it was presented in 2012 at a non-Orthodox “festival” of preaching, and was given a great deal of preparation and care with the oversight of St. Vladimir’s permanent faculty.

    Below I comment on excerpts from the article on the event and the sermon, written by a St. Vladimir seminarian who composed and delivered the sermon, Jason Ketz:

    The Festival of Young Preachers is organized by The Academy of Preachers, and is billed as the largest and most ecumenical gathering of its kind in the country, with its 120 young preachers representing over 30 denominations of Christians from over 30 states and Canada.

    For a young person, I understand this is very exciting, so I can understand the temptation to headiness. However, that needs to be overcome in order to preach the Gospel from a sober mind. At these festivals there are many modernist, mostly protestant views of Christianity on display, many doctrinal stances, the latest from up and coming Episcopalians, Baptists, Lutherans, Roman Catholics and so on. Who can name them all? Could there be anything wrong with all these diverse doctrines that the representative of Orthodox Christianity will be rubbing against?

    The gospel message upon which we were to preach was Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, taken from the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapters 5–7. From this text, we could preach on any section or subject that we considered appropriate.That may suggest that some of the Sermon on the Mount would be inappropriate.On the other hand, I hold preaching in very high regard. And I had a hunch that this conference might be a little more dynamic than a typical Orthodox Divine Liturgy homily (where in contrast preaching is not dynamic – literally lacking power.) “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:20)

    Now this passage could have been an explosion set off among the many sects represented there preaching a different Gospel, in all their modern Arianism and gnosticism. This would have been the opening to The “narrow way,” to what was the problem with the religious leaders of the time of Christ’s appearing and how that connects to the dangers of our own time. An opening for the ascetic teachings of Christ and the apostles, the labors necessary for a person to achieve holiness through the Holy Spirit, the lives of the saints as examples of this, contrasting to our modern “live and let live,” “eat, drink and be merry” approach to morality, and the rewards of spiritual excellence, now and in the age to come.

    Here is the passage in the context which explodes the modern misunderstanding of the moral teachings of the Son of Man:

    “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    In the sermon the seminarian immediately abandons the Scripture fragment and imposes his own modern theology, which he has in common with the other sects represented at this conference. He abandons the location in the passage and other places in the Gospels and Epistles and Fathers that would cast the light of meaning outward in the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom that the spiritual tradition of Orthodoxy preserves.

    Let us see what happens to the passage in the sermon.

    The title of the sermon and its concluding thought is “I can’t imagine paradise without you!” which he imagines Christ saying to us as the sum of the Sermon on the Mount. I will return to that at the end.

    In the body of the sermon the young seminarian first introduces the idea that society is made of laws and rules. Then he portrays laws and rules as a means to make us judges of each other and “competitors.” He produces examples of poker, and scandals like Enron where people use rules to take advantage of others.

    Suddenly, we’re no longer neighbors, but adversaries. The rules and laws no longer unite us, but divide us. Now we’re not working together. We’re competing against each other.

    He makes the connection to the law of God, that it cannot be relaxed and so we try to manipulate people into following the rules of God, especially about sexuality, in order for them to be “saved,” and in so doing we imagine a paradise without certain other people who are not following the rules in order to exclude them since we are now acting as their judge.

    Sexuality is one of those enduring examples of church authority. Our way of ‘helping the lost sheep.’ Whether its preference or promiscuity, we comment on the disparity between what we see in the world and what we read in the scriptures.

    Now he has moved the concept of the unchangeable law of God as good that he started with into something now that church authorities have made up rules about, especially sex, “preferences or promiscuity,” as he terms it in order to take advantage of us.

    Then he sums up the picture of our judging others:

    Our Lord has come today to knock us off our little thrones of judgment, because we’ve got it all wrong. Christ cannot imagine paradise without us. He can’t imagine paradise without us, so he doesn’t want us imagining paradise without each other. Because we are not the judge. Our Lord meets us today in the midst of our legal competition, in the midst of our wicked card game of rules and customs and rewards and punishments.

    I think by now he means especially “sexual rules and customs.” We are not to judge others, especially in matters concerning sex.

    After having made this central point he wraps it in a vision of love and concern for each others’ basic needs of the body and community and finishes with:

    Today he has renewed the covenant, and today he has invited us to his heavenly kingdom. Today we rejoice, because Christ has said to us all

    “I can’t imagine paradise without you.”

    In this way he concludes by putting words in the mouth of Christ that sound like a phony travel promotional campaign, such as “We can’t imagine Italy without you!”

    He quotes the Christ as saying this. This is an example of the sentimental Christ that most modern people, including many nominal Orthodox, believe in. This is a different Christ than the Christ of the Scriptures, the one and true Christ.

    What happened from the beginning of the sermon to the moral standards of Christ? Through the course of the sermon they were replaced by the moral standards of the seminarian’s generation then re-wrapped in a young modern person’s vision of social love and togetherness using Christian vocabulary.

    How much is this a product of the education he received at St. Vladimir’s? The sermon was supervised by the professor of homiletics, who accompanied him to the festival, and who acknowledges in the article a perceived unity with the other sermons of the festival that could be “with a little editing,” preached during Divine Liturgy.

    I think of what could have been preached from the Gospels and Orthodox spirituality concerning chastity, self-control and true spiritual love for another person’s soul rather than their body to this generation where dating has been replaced with the hookup?

    It is dismaying how the seminarian denies Orthodoxy with all the enthusiasm expressed for variety in Christianity, not proclaiming that Orthodoxy is “the true faith,” that we say in the Divine Liturgy, but only one of “many flowers of faith.”

    The preaching I have heard throughout my life is all variation on a single theme: the paced, pointed, crafted message designed to engage the intellect. Most of my experience as a listener is in the Orthodox Christian liturgy, but even in the occasional wedding or funeral I have attended outside the Orthodox Church, the preacher’s style has had a familiar (slow) pace and gentle guiding tone. Apparently this is only a single type of flower in the garden of Christian preaching.

    This sermon could not be produced from an environment that was teaching the doctrines of Orthodoxy from the Scriptures and the Fathers and in a place where they are being practiced ascetically, and the events and controversies of the day and morality are viewed through an Orthodox eye.

    Sadly, the seminarian, who seems like a nice and charming person does not seem to have even a rudimentary grasp of Christianity, our human problem, the Holiness of God, and the Orthodox tradition.

    The source of this sermon is Father John Peck’s site, a friend of Father Hans Jacobse. Father John has an admirable goal to promote Byzantine Christian Homiletics, and it puzzles me that this sermon is featured on it as it is hard to imagine a more anti-Orthodox and un-Byzantine “homily.”

    Source:
    http://preachersinstitute.com/2012/02/06/unexpected-blessings-festival-of-young-preachers-2012/

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    • lexcaritas says:

      Thank you, brother “Trudge” for brinnging this to our attention. I have enjoyed skimming Jason’s account of the Conference and your discussion of his sermon (which I hope to look over more carefully later–time permitting). I think perhaps you may be coming down a bit hard on him and on Fr. John (and Fr. Hans, by association).

      Nonetheless, I do share some of your concerns. It was ominous that in his report Jason suggests that many homilies are “a bit drab”–even when divinely inspired. This has not often been my experience in what is (now) a rather lengthening life. I think he makes a mistake at the outset when he interprets the righteousenss of the Pharisees to be their “legalism” and then he conflates all kinds of manmade rules and conventions with the God -given Torah, the purpose of which is, as St. Paul says, to bring us to Christ. The key to the Sermon is that not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord. will enter the Kindgom of Heaven, but He who does the will of My Father Who is in Heaven.” And to do His will, to be perfect even as He is perfect is to exceed the righteousness of scribes and Pharisees. And this is not because they are unrighteous, but because their righteousness doesn’t go far enough. It begins to see compliance with the 613 mitsvot in the Torah as sufficient. But they are not exhaustive, only illustrative of the Royal Law of Liberty, which is to love God with all one’s heart and soul and strenght and one’s neighbor as p[art of one’s very self.

      The fact that human beings driven by disordered passions tend to misuse laws, ordinance and precepts as a foil to their own unrighteouness does not undermine the fact that they are not means in themselves but means to an end: which is to be conformed to the image of Christ and live in His likeness and seek always in love the Good and Kingdom of God and His righteousness (which is the corrollary of His love and mercy).

      But such love for the Good, the True and the Beautiful does not mean tolerating vice either in ourselves or in others–for the wages of sin is death and the vices that enslave us and our brothers are destined to kill us. Righteousness–which is love in action–demans that we seek life for them and us. It may mean laying down our lives, but it does not mean bearing witness to a lie–but speaking the truth in love. It does not mean never judging. It means judging ourselves first in repentance and contrtion so that we may, then, help our brother remove the speck from his eye having once removed the beam from our own–so that we can help bear each others burdens–not pretend they are not there or that there is no work to do.

      We are to take up the yoke of the Kingdom, the traces of discipleship and having set our shoulder to the wheel not look back but press on for the high calling of of God in Christ to attain to the resurrection from among the dead, as St. Paul says, laying aside every weight and the sin that so easily entables us. We are in the race together, and we must run as best we can, individually and as a team. My impression of most of us moderns–in the West at least–is that most of us are marking time.

      Christ is in our midst. Forgive me, a sinner.
      lexcaritas

      P.S. By the way, I know some of you don’t like the use of pseudoymns. This one was chosen to say that their is no opposition between law and love/grace. They are two sides of the same face. Just as their is, in God, no tension between Justice and Mercy (mishpat and hesed; dikaiosyne and xaris) The Law was given (by Christ God) through Moses; grace and truth came (in person) in Jesus Christ.

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      • Trudge at SmartVote says:

        Thank you for your reply lexcaritas!

        You have composed close to a complete sermon yourself, but much more in keeping with what the seminarian should have preached at the festival.

        Your sermon is based on the true Orthodox tradition demonstrated in the method of sermons that you see in the Scriptures, whether of St. Paul, St. Peter, John the Baptizer, Stephen the protomartyr, and Christ himself. They gather up the scriptures together and bring them to the present to illuminate the behavior and thoughts of the situation of the people before them, doing so by the principle of “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

        It is also evident in your manner that the scriptures have been digested by you over time and become a part of your mind and a light to you.

        In contrast, the modern academic sermon methodology is the method of Satan in Eden and in tempting Christ, to mock or diminish the law, the moral standards of God, and impose their own theology and meaning over a single scriptural fragment.

        The seminarian could not preach your sermon because he is waving the flag to those gathered at the festival, sects opposed to Orthodox Christianity, that “we are with you” in the new sexual morality and the “theology” constructed for the new morality.

        To quote from the sermon again, we cannot escape, no matter how painful it is to see it, that sexual “liberation” is at the core of the seminarian’s gospel with its direct criticism of the Orthodox Christian moral tradition as “rules to take advantage of others” in the language of the new sexual morality:

        Sexuality is one of those enduring examples of church authority. Our way of ‘helping the lost sheep.’ Whether its preference or promiscuity, we comment on the disparity between what we see in the world and what we read in the scriptures.

        Who will be harder on the seminarian, me or Christ himself? Anyone preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom should tremble that he “rightly divide the word of truth.” What will be the consequence to preach a different gospel than Christ’s wearing Orthodox clothing that declares an Orthodox theology and spirit and representing an Orthodox seminary?

        As Christ said, those who teach will be held to a stricter standard in the judgment to come. And “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.”

        “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

        Is this sermon representative of the theology at St. Vladimir’s? Again quoting the article where he declares the equality of Orthodoxy to the doctrines preached by the other sects represented at the festival and the close involvement of the seminary:

        The faculty of St. Vladimir’s seminary very graciously provided for my traveling, meals, accommodations, and the festival registration fee, all so that I could preach a brief homily to my peers and listen attentively to their sermons as well! I would like to thank Fr. John Behr and Fr. Chad Hatfield, and the SVS Board of Trustees for making my attendance at this conference possible, and also Fr. Sergius Halvorsen for accompanying me on this journey. I will not soon forget this wonderful experience!

        He is completely comfortable there that others have another “faith” than Orthodox Christianity. What does the word “Orthodox” mean to this seminarian?

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    • I find it really disturbing that you all talk ill of others behind their back.
      If you want to change something at the seminary, go to the seminary and talk to the professors and the board of trustees. Don’t let that out and attack an individual. If you don’t have the guts to go and talk to people in person, just shut up. Correcting someone’s sermon is not your job. If you’re a true Orthodox Christian, don’t judge others.

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      • Trudge at SmartVote says:

        Hello Sonia,

        Please consider the words of Christ as to what is our responsibility:

        “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10

        “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” John 10

        “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10

        “Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10

        “He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” John 21

        It is our duty as Christians, if we are indeed the sheep of Christ, to acquire the virtue of discrimination, or “discernment” and flee from a strange voice proclaiming strange doctrines, especially if he is a seminarian, a priest or a bishop.

        The threat to the sheep is always present, and it has been the constant struggle of Orthodox Christianity from the beginning to follow the warnings of Christ and the Apostles to be alert to those who pose as Christians as a disguise, the “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” in order to lead off some to destruction and to compromise the Church of Christ and distort the True Faith.

        Those saints who are now known as Church Fathers, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Irenaeus, Athanasius, Ephraim of Syria became known as Fathers Church because they acted as “good shepherds” in exposing false doctrine and bringing it to the fore and provided the means of defeating the enemies of Christ. Should we do anything less according to our abilities in seeking the grace of God?

        In your posts you have castigated the current leadership failures and called for us to do something.

        To bring a problem to the attention of the Body of Christ is the beginning of doing something. As you have urged, let us find ways through the grace of God and through a good desire to “wrestle for the faith” to do what is necessary to take it to the end.

        My intent is to expose the larger problem evident from the young seminarian’s sermon, which I see signs of it being only a symptom of a much larger theological problem at St. Vladimir’s, and elsewhere. That is why I used the seminarian’s name only at the beginning of my post to not focus on him but as a type of seminarian thinking and theology.

        from St John Cassian, On the Holy Fathers of Sketis And on Discrimination, in quoting St. Antony the Great:

        Last of all the blessed Antony gave his reply: “All that you have said is both necessary and helpful for those who are searching for God and wish to come to Him. But we cannot award the first place to any of these virtues; for there are many among us who have endured fasting and vigils, or have withdrawn into the desert, or have practiced poverty to such an extent that they have not left themselves enough for their daily sustenance, or have performed acts of compassion so generously that they no longer have anything to give; and yet these same monks, having done all this, have nevertheless fallen away miserably from virtue and slipped into vice.

        “What was it, then, that made them stray from the straight path? In my opinion it was simply that they did not possess the grace of discrimination; for it is this virtue that teaches a man to walk along the royal road, swerving neither to the right through immoderate self-control, nor to the left through indifference and laxity. Discrimination is a kind of eye and lantern of the soul, as is said in the gospel passage: “The light of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is pure, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness’ (Matt. 6:22-3). And this is just what we find; for the power of discrimination, scrutinizing all the thoughts and actions of a man, distinguishes and sets aside everything that is base and not pleasing to God, and keeps him free from delusion.”

        These passages show very clearly that without the gift of discrimination no virtue can stand or remain firm to the end, for it is the mother of all the virtues and their guardian.

        This was Antony’s statement, and it was approved by the other fathers.

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        • lexcaritas says:

          Thank you for your further comments, Trudge. I did have time to peruse the sermon in question yesterday and share your concern about the approach and thinking it respresents. I am told on good authority that ++Dimitri, of blessed memory, made it a point to preach the Incarnation in every sermon and counselled his priests to do so. I am blessed to have a pastor who does so, speaking without notes on the Gospel every week with a depth and pertinency that is rather incredible for one who has been ordained but 10 years. We who stand in his presence or sit as his feet are humbled and edified week after week as he unpretentiously follows the advice of his beloved ++Dimitri, ending virtually every homily with a doxolgy to our Lord in the Patriistic manner.

          The sermon in question, for whatever reason, does not exhibit these life-giving characteristics. I note that it is four pages long and the first quotation of our Lord’s own words (or those of any of the Fathers) does not come until near the bottom of the 2nd page; they also effectively end not far into page three. In other words most of the sermon is the speaker own creation and opinions about tolerance and the “social Gospel” but deal only loosely and setimentally with the Person of our Lord or the nature of Man made in His image. This is not necessarily the speaker’s fault though he is 29 our culture doesn’t not tend to produce maturity at so young an age as it did several centuries ago before the Modern Project was well under way.

          Help us, save us and have mercy upon us, O Lord, and teach us to glorify Thee.
          lxc

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      • lexcaritas says:

        Dear to Christ Sonya, I agree with you with regard to criticizing someone behind his back and that the proper way to go about trying to correct a person in error is to go and speak with him. However, the purpose of my remarks (in partial support of Trudge’s) was not, and is not to criticize either seminarian Jason or his mentor Fr. Sergius. My remarks are directed to those of us reading them and to seek for us a deeper understanding of the Sermon on the Mount and what it a righteousness that exceeds that of scribes and Pharisees entails.

        May we all come to glorify Christ more and more in thought, word and deed.

        Christ is in our midst.
        lxc

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      • Protopappas says:

        The same one who said “judge not” clarified the statement and expanded upon it: “judge not based on appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” It is a command for us to judge with righteous judgment, just as it is a command for us to “judge not” based on appearance.

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  6. M. Stankovich says:

    Trudge at λογομαχία,

    Such is the irony of trap-setters: “a man in his error “digs a hole and shovels it out, and falls into it himself.” (Ps. 7:15).

    This sermon could not be produced from an environment that was teaching the doctrines of Orthodoxy from the Scriptures and the Fathers and in a place where they are being practiced ascetically, and the events and controversies of the day and morality are viewed through an Orthodox eye.

    Says who? You. And who are you, Trudge? We could play a little game here, where I give you six anonymous sermons to evaluate, and inevitably, you’ll pick one go up one side and down the other – as you did here – only to discover it was of a saint; and the only “mistake” was the pridefulness of accepting the challenge in the first place. Then I will ascribe responsibility for your foolishness to your parents, whomever educated you, your confessor, your spouse, children, and the next four generation of your house just on GP. Seem fair, logical, or wise? I had my yearly “evaluation” with my supervisor, which basically going over a list of skills, performance, utilization of time, need for improvement, etc. After a half-hour or so, I interrupted and said, “You’ve never observed me with patients once. For all you know, I could just be telling them to praise Allah through the prophet, the Honourable Wallace D. Mohammad (Black Muslims).” She laughed and said, “I review your notes.” I said, “I could be a good writer.” You get the point.

    This just in: Trudge continues to foster the most common error in descriptive statistics: employing anecdotal observation to imply truth rather than the need for research. I will say this to you: you are making a cumulative case for investigation – hardly convincing at this point – but admirable. But the more times you lay claim to anecdote as evidence of more than a need for investigation, you are being dishonest.

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    • Trudge at SmartVote says:

      Hello again Dr. Stankovich,

      My purpose in laying out the young St. Vladimir’s seminarian’s sermon was to bring it to our attention as another piece in the puzzle of the Sprecher betrayal and the conduct of those close to it in their troubling demonstrations of support.

      I think the sermon is also instructive as a demonstration of how the modern academic approach to theology and homiletics transforms the scriptures into something other than what they are.

      And I am glad that in bringing this sermon to your attention you have concluded that there should be an investigation of St. Vladimir’s and what is being taught there. I hope that their approach to what is now called “spiritual formation” but what used to be called “purification” will be investigated for the purpose of true spiritual Orthodoxy.

      You dislike anecdotal evidence. Do you believe in the Scriptures? Are they the foundation of Truth for you?

      If so, do you see another method used in the Scriptures other than the anecdotal method?

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      • M. Stankovich says:

        Trudge,

        You are the Inspector Clouseau of detectives.

        Anecdote refers to a random incident that, in and of itself, means nothing. It is, in and of itself, a deviation without explanation, albeit interesting, albeit perhaps the exact evidence you might have been looking for. But when it occurs without some control of the variables, it means nothing. In fact, the identical event may occur repeatedly, but without understanding the variables at work, you have learned nothing.

        Let me repeat myself: λογομαχία. Between you and lexcaritas, you have generated paragraph after paragraph of mutually-congratulatory empty trivia at the expense of some poor nobody who entered a “preachin’ contest” two years ago. From there, you are able to – first – declare that SVS cannot be teaching the Scriptures and the Fathers and – second – add another piece to the puzzle of “the Sprecher betrayal.” Anyone who would accept your contention based on this “evidence” is a monkey boy (or girl). When is it, Trudge, you will finally reveal the location of the body of Jimmy Hoffa?

        There’s an old saying among Linux hackers, Trudge, that I believe is an antidote to λογομαχία: “the Quiter you become, the more you are able to hear.” It’ll be hard with those “thumbs up” you boys live for, but it’s something to consider.

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    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

      Trudge,

      I am not piling on. Seriously. I find your posts thoughtful and worth reading in the main.

      I think you should lighten up on the seminarian. I give the guys who put themselves out there a lot of credit and I am very patient with mistakes, maybe a bone-headed idea here and there, and everything else that comes with learning and training. When I read the sermon I see a guy eager to learn, bright, committed, passionate in the good sense of the term who has the capacity to become a very good priest once real experience enters the mix.

      It is obvious (to me anyway) this man has some important practical gifts suited for ministry. I’d cut him some slack and give him some time. Chances are he will develop into the kind of priest we need.

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      • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

        Father, I’m surprised to hear you say this. If the seminarian were a high-school student competing in his parish oratory contest, then yes, Trudge is coming down too hard. But the seminarian is a grad-school student representing Orthodoxy at a public gathering of the heterodox, and his sermon, besides being embarrassingly immature intellectually, gives plenty of evidence of being inspired not by the Holy Spirit but by the Zeitgeist. Honestly, is this the message the heterodox need to hear today — that the only rule that really matters is the one that says “don’t judge”? How convenient for them!

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        • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

          Well, I didn’t read it in the same light which is why I responded as I did (the response below was written before this one).

          OTOH, maybe I am cutting the seminarian too much slack.

          Let me go back and reread it and see if I am mistaken.

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      • George Osborne says:

        As a former seminarian, I have to agree with Fr Hans to this extent: homelitics in any context is very hard to pull off successfully. On the one hand, you can be faithful to the fathers and Orthodox theology and be dry as sand with no one bothering to listen. In fact, I wonder sometime4s if the sermons of the fathers were thought in their own times to be interesting and engaging or is it the patina of age and reference that gives their messages the canonicity they enjoy today? Hard to say. On the other hand, you can be an engaging preacher and by the world’s standards preach the gospel in a manner that inspires and motivates. But, at what cost to Orthodix truth and fidelity? Or, you can safely read a sermon from one of the Fathers for that day. In fact, I wonder if there really is anything these days as an authentic Orthodox evangelical voice at least in terms of a methodology to teach it and inculcate it in pupils? How do you teach anyone to be filled with the Holy Spirit to adequately proclaim the Gospel? Pretty daunting if you ask me!

        So, if a young preacher preaches a sermon that, in rerospect, teaches him something about what NOT to do next time and he grows and matures because of it while learning his craft, perhaps the Holy Spirit will give him a Mulligan and he’ll do better as a result.

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        • Trudge at SmartVote says:

          Thank you for your own considerations George and recognizing the problems that should be addressed in good homiletics.

          On the other hand, you can be an engaging preacher and by the world’s standards preach the gospel in a manner that inspires and motivates. But, at what cost to Orthodox truth and fidelity?

          A couple of things came to mind from reading your response.

          One of the most eye-opening reads for me recently was “Golden Mouth” on Chrysostom by J. N. D. Kelly. An Oxford scholar and written in an engaging style. Chrysostom’s homilies, verse by verse explications of whole books of the New Testament were so popular that even pagans thronged to hear him. Why? Because he spoke about the condition of the people with both warmth and chastisement and he addressed the controversies of the day even concerning its politics.

          Chrysostom had memorized the scriptures in his years as an ascetic. He was also a man of great courage and learned how to not live for his own comfort and safety.

          Chrysostom also had the advantage of the best of a secular education in learning from one of the preeminent rhetoricians of the age. He ended up rejecting this path for the “true philosophy.” Unfortunately, that standard belongs to a classical education, which used to be the standard of American education until the 20th century.

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          • George Osborne says:

            Dear Trudge:

            I am very familiar with Dr, Kelly’s work but this one (up to now) escaped my attention. His “Early Christian Doctines” was a siminal read for me and I have thoroughly enjoyed everything produced my him that has come across my desk. I will have to order a copy.

            Back to the point: having takem homiletic classes, I remember being appalled at the structured, formularic approach and especially how the proclivities of the professor became the “standard” to be emulated. By proclivities, I mean descriptors such as length, delivery, content, etc., not necessarily the theological or moral content. So, what was “good” was a moving target professor by professor. A lucky semenarian was smart enough to eventually pick and choose then develop his own style. Which liability, is, of course, the whole point, isn’t it?

            There used to be an old approach where one had to be licensed to preach by the bishop, hopefully insuring a higher degree of content and delivery. I understand this may still be the case in some Greek and Russia dioceses. Not a bad idea if you ask me! I’d rather pray throuigh a liturgy without a sermon than hear a poor one or have a Father’s sermon read to me. But that is just me!

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        • Michael Bauman says:

          Father, preaching one sermon with a great deal of time to prepare through prayer is not really that difficult for those with a grounding in the Gospels and a modicum of ability to organize their thoughts–as long as they don’t have terminal stage fright.

          You pray, prepare, and when you open your mouth, allow the Holy Spirit to take over. It may not be great, but it will be adequate.

          The task, the daunting task, is doing it week after week for the same people. That takes a skill, dedication and a life of prayer and service that I hold in high respect. I listen as closely as I can to such people.

          I am blessed to have had roughly 20 years of such sermons from my parish priest with a few exceptional guest preachers thrown in here and there and some mighty ones by Bishop Basil. There have been duds, to be sure as well. Only a couple that were really out of bounds.

          Giving sermons in the type of context as this venue seems to be is extremely difficult and the overriding attitude of most people, especially neophytes will be to preach for acceptance of the crowd rather than to please God. It becomes more of a performance than anything else. That is bad teaching, IMO.

          Seminarians that want to learn good preaching could do a lot worse than coming to my parish and listening to the Dean, Fr. Paul for a few months. I am sure there are other fine preachers around. They should be identified and the seminarians sent to those parishes to listen–just listen because the very best sermons seem to by-pass the mind and emotions an embed themselves in one’s heart forever changing it, even if only a little bit.

          Preaching can be learned, but I don’t think it can be taught in a modern academic way. It is a craft that has to be passed on from an elder to a disciple. Reading sermons alone, is insufficient.

          The real foundation is the love of truth, the love of God and an unwavering dedication to the life of the Church.

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      • Trudge at SmartVote says:

        Thank you for your responses, Father Hans and everyone, and I continue to consider if I am being too hard on this seminarian.

        But please consider these points yourselves, because so far three central facts about the sermon and the questions they raise have been avoided.

        1. Vetted by St. Vladimir’s and not random.

        The seminarian and his sermon under the guidance of the professor of homiletics (preaching) was chosen to represent Orthodoxy to a gathering of those who name the name of Christ but are opposed to the Orthodox faith. This “mission” involved the entire leadership of St. Vladimir’s according to the article. It was not a random sermon, but a seminarian and sermon selected by the seminary to showcase the theology of Orthodoxy to other seminarians outside of the Orthodox Church.

        What was the purpose of going to a gathering of the preaching of those opposed to the Orthodox faith if not to preach Orthodoxy, the true faith to them?

        2. Preaching sexual liberation.

        Quoting the sermon again below is found the rallying cry of sexual liberation. This is not the voice of Orthodoxy but the echo of the voice of sexual liberation with its buzzwords. (And who is the source of this voice?) Three recent St. Vladimir graduates, Father Kilian Sprecher and two other seminarians, have followed the voice of sexual liberation in departing from Christ to the world and to the embrace of those opposed to Christ, to the point now where men are “marrying” men. The sermon ridicules Church authority as an oppressor with its “sexual rules” in order to arbitrarily “exclude some” from paradise, under the guise of “helping the lost sheep”! This from the seminary where one of the permanent faculty has pronounced words of blessing on an Orthodox priest “marrying” another man.

        Sexuality is one of those enduring examples of church authority. Our way of ‘helping the lost sheep.’ Whether it is preference or promiscuity, we comment on the disparity between what we see in the world and what we read in the scriptures.

        3. What the sermon did not preach: virtue.

        The preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom is to bring the truth of the word of God to bear on the spiritual condition of the people before the preacher.

        What is the spiritual condition of the young seminarian’s generation and the theology of the other seminarians at the festival? Where is this generation most unrighteous and unholy and most opposed to the will of God? It is in matters of sexual morality, as inventors of new fornications and carousings, and in the matter of accepting spiritual authority. They need to understand the wisdom and truth and beauty of those approved by God in the scriptures and those whom the Orthodox Church venerates as saints, and the consequence of spiritual death in rejecting the grace of God through the Church.

        Why did the sermon not preach, as a righteousness exceeding the scribes and pharisees from the Gospel passage, the Orthodox virtues of chastity, modesty, virginity and self-control, which are unheard of in this generation except as a joke?

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        • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

          Trudge,

          “Opposed to Orthodoxy” is too strong. Most people have no idea what Orthodoxy even is.

          As for the phrase “preferences or promiscuity,” I take it not as a tacit endorsement for homosexuality, but as a warning that the criticism of promiscuity cannot be avoided by claiming a preference for same-sex activity. That’s how I read it anyway.

          A third point, not brought out either by the seminarian or you but informs some of my request to go easier on the guy is this: millennials think differently than you or me. Basically it boils down to this:

          Having come of age in a world that celebrates moral relativism and thus suffering from deep moral confusion, they are reluctant to trust anyone who proclaims that his way is truth. It is not that they don’t want truth (most yearn for it deeply), it’s that they don’t know if truth even exists and thus are afraid to trust.

          This is also the reason they are reluctant to judge. It is not that they are moral relativists (most aren’t). It’s that they have no real confidence in their own ideas or beliefs.

          As a result the criteria for validating if something is indeed true is reduced to feeling. Feelings are all they can trust. And I have discovered that God, in His great mercy, understands this and often meets them there.

          This changes the nature of catechism, chiefly apologetics and teaching. Apologetics have no real authority except for the person seeking to conform his thinking to the Orthodox faith; and teaching “Orthodoxy 101″ in nine easy steps works only for those who have already accepted that Orthodoxy is indeed their road.

          Catechism, in other words, is changing in this way: For millennials, encounter with God and discovery of one’s personhood works hand in hand with. If we speak to the ignorance of self that they acutely experience (often with deep anxiety and even despair) and help them out of it, then they also discover God.

          I talk to a lot of millennials. Telling them who they are and who they are created to be opens their eyes to God.

          I mention this not as a rebuttal, but only to indicate why I go easier on these kind of things than others might. Truth is apprehended through encounter with Him who is Truth, not by propositions that describe that encounter. That’s the difference between our generation and theirs.

          When it comes to the Church however, the moral distinctions must be crystal clear and those who would blur them must be confronted. Morality is tied to ontology in Orthodox anthropology, and to distort morality is to posit man as something other than who he is or who he was created to be.

          Why did the sermon not preach, as a righteousness exceeding the scribes and pharisees from the Gospel passage, the Orthodox virtues of chastity, modesty, virginity and self-control, which are unheard of in this generation except as a joke?

          Not a joke so much, but uncertainty. Moral irresponsibility can be caused by moral ignorance and often is. This does not apply to those who market moral relativism for their own gain, of which there are many.

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          • Michael Bauman says:

            Great statement Fr. Hans. It expresses exactly the difficulty that my son has in understanding the questions that older catechumens raise. They don’t make sense to him.

            My son has been in the Church virtually his entire life and for him, the experience is paramount. His theology is the Creed.

            He has a great deal of trouble with the statement that the Orthodox Church is the fullness of the truth, not that he finds it anywhere else, but what that means to most people in his generation.

            The neat thing is that if they come to the Liturgy with and open heart, things happen.

            That is also one reason why I really like the book Washed and Waiting because it is the experience of the struggle with homoerotic temptation in the context of the doctrine and moral teaching.

            Still, I’m Orthodox because I found Jesus Christ here and no where else (and I looked a lot of different places). The history and the theology are/were attractive, but the presence of Him I sought was paramount.

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          • M. Stankovich says:

            The issue, as I have objected, is not the critique of the this young man’s sermon. Trudge is entitled to his “opinion” as to the quality or lack thereof as anyone. What could I possibly care?

            My objection is his taking one sermon, delivered two years ago, and claiming that, in some lunatic syllogism known only to himself, it could not have been devized in an “atmosphere” (read that as St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary) faithful to the Scriptures and the Holy Fathers, SVS is corrupt and fostering a fertile ground for gay relationships and homosexual marriage. λογομαχία, says St. Paul, distraction by “words” – and yes, Mr. Michalopulos, even though they be Scripture – simply for the sake of something to say. Trudge totally disregards the witness of the current students who have posted here stating that these renegade student opinions are not representative of the faculty nor the students, that what is being taught is our Tradition. Yet, ask dear Trudge for evidence to support his contention – anything beyond his own long-winded grandiosity – and you find yourself caught in a an endless loop: Lord Polonius: “What do you read, my Lord?” Hamlet: “Words, words, words.”

            I wrote here two years ago about the ever-descending threshold for truth, and since you’re being magnanimous today, Mr. Michalopulos, let me stand next your fire: I told you so.

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  7. “When moral clarity diminishes, institutions ossify.”
    Not so — sociological research shows that (contrary to the modern fundamentalistic “morality” craze) institutions ossify because those in charge try to protect their prestige and power, which doesn’t necessarily entail “immorality”, although such may not be indicative of Real Christianity which entails humility and being last, not first.
    Power-mongering in turn questions what kind of “institution” the Church has become and whether the Lord Jesus Christ ever intended for “his body and blood” to be a modern bureaucratic “institution” in the first place. Of course that is a direct challenge to “the Orthodox” and their triumphalism because it brings the sacred cow of “apostolicity” into question on which their nominalistic “truth” derives in the external instead of being internal.
    If the description of heirarch and other behavior of churchmen in this post and thread (and elsewhere) is indeed true, then it only “proves” and goes to show that the Orthodox Church is indeed “byzantine”. Some will say “thank god” and others will know what that really means -
    ” A term describing any system that has so many labyrinthine internal interconnections that it would be impossible to simplify . . .vitiated by a bureaucratic over elaboration bordering on lunacy. . . . Access . . .controlled . . .by rival sports factions.” [such as "conservative" and "liberal"]
    Edward Gibbon, “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”
    (1999-01-15)
    In other words, “the Church” is “institutionally” a mirror of the very secular humanistic culture in which it exist and claims to oppose, not a counter-cultural indictment of the secular culture by the Church’s mere existence within and in real opposition to the dominant mainstream culture. As one prophecy puts it, the Parousia will come when Jews become Christians and Christians become Jews. In the current bureaucratic institutionalized environment, Christians have definitely become Jews, in particular Pharisees — the blind “leading” the blind, so the return of Christ must be ever more imminent! Whether or not that’s enough incentive for “the Church” to clean up its acts and stop acting like the heterodox fundamentalistic American culture remains to be seen.
    Today there is American dominance since WWII of “western” culture which is claimed to be “moral” simply because it’s claimed to externally be “christian”. Likewise (but really foolishly, not wise), the threat to this “moral” culture is seen to be external. But the Church and heterodox churches are merely mirror images in their bureaucratic institutions of the dominant mainstream, western culture which is dominated by “Republican” ideology succinctly expressed by it’s native Republican son Calvin Coolidge — “The business of America [western "civilization"] is business.” In other words, “making money” (i.e. mammon) is the god of western society, and the Church and churches have followed in support of that idol, the icons of which are the Wall Street casino, the “economy”, [big corporate] “business”, and applied “science” technology. The god of technology is in turn Mars, the god of war whose icon is the US military, the sacred cow of “conservatism”. The gods of “business” in turn are Adonis and Aphrodite as seen in the endless “sexy” images bought by “business” men as patronage of those gods in the form of $trillions of “commercial” advertising. In other words, the Church and churches are mirror images of the modernist pagan culture and its practices on which the Church and churches depend for their existence, while making a “show”, a pretense of objecting to the godlessness entailed.
    At best, Real Christians can only seek to marginalize the wolf in sheep clothing Church “leadership” in attempt to reform the hierarchy by withholding any money they need on which to live their Life of Riley. In order to actually reform the heirarchy, however, the monasteries from whence the heirarchy is derived must be reformed.
    Today such monasteries are little more than “wards of the Church”, on “welfare” in other words, in a welfare state – a state of welfare. Modern monks are living like their secular consumer counterparts on alms that should instead go to help the poor. There is not one monastery that is formed in the real sense of the desert. Each peddles its candles, endless blather of “publications”, liturgical “accessories”, “retreats”, etc., none of which are sufficient to financially support the monastery without financial benefactor(s) – sugar daddies and sugar mommas. As accounted in the Prologue of Ohrid, real abbots of old rarely if every accepted such monetary donations, instead giving them away to the poor or throwing them away where they couldn’t be retrieved (into a river for instance).
    Likewise, the seminaries must be reformed as well. Surely there are loopholes in the government requirement for religious exemption that there be an accredited seminary which trains pastors. Surely, there is latitude for actualizing such seminary requirement that does not emphasize to such degree external academic cerebralism. But the rub is in that it will take real access to Divine Wisdom and Creativity for the Orthodox to find alternatives to the status quo, and that will take much, much more sense of sacrifice than the usual American nominalist “christianity” with its “moral” outcry.

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    • Justina (Christine Erikson) says:

      you are on the right track but miss something. concern with power and prestige is itself
      a sin, and is itself a kind of moral failing and it itself the hinge on which all institutional
      failures of morality turns, because except in the rare cases power and prestige can be
      gained or maintained by a morality campaign, the person with such an attitude will more
      easily sell out to keep or gain power and prestige.

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      • Everything boils down to “morality” for those who are moralists.
        Moralists forget that “sin” is separation from Communion/Union with God,
        and that Communion/Union with God is the goal and virtue (morality) the fruit of the goal.
        The goal is not morality in and of itself.
        Morality is a heresy when it becomes a substitute for Life in Christ, which is what moralism is all about for moralists – having “morality” for an idol.
        Becoming a moralist concerned primarily about morality is no answer to church corruption.
        Observe how often (obsession) there is “talk” about morality and no talk about Communion/Union with God and what makes for that (repentance, humility, striving for obedience even though often failing – i.e. “morality” the cart way behind the horse (God’s power; grace), not morality the horse that pulls the cart of Communion/Union with God) and it will become obvious what the “god” is.
        The answer to church corruption is reform, not simply “morality”. The current church monastic/heirarch structure is flawed as it applies to a pluralistic secular society which is what the world has become. Western civilization is no longer ruled by monarchal totalitarians who can “convert” their whole people for Christ and implement one national church. Living like “expatriates” in the new world is likewise out of touch with reality.
        Time to wake up, smell the coffee, and start evangelizing like Early Christians in Rome, and/or St Herman of Alaska (as if the culture is pagan; live in community, instruct those who come to Christian community curious about what’s going on. Maintaining “drive up” church and shopping at the mall like secular hedonists doesn’t cut it. No wonder the monastics and heirarchs are such a mess, because that’s what they do too like all the rest of “the Orthodox”.)

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  8. M. Stankovich says:

    Mr. Michalopulos,

    I am always fascinated by your reasoning. Some I have spoken with laugh at your naiveté, grabbing at anything that will create a “headline. And as to your question,

    Instead, we hear anodyne refrains along the lines of “well, you don’t known the full story.” Guess what? Short of Judgment Day we’ll never know the full story about anything, and then it won’t matter. Instead, why don’t you tell us in the Peanut Gallery why you are letting a good man twist in the wind? After all, we do pay the bills, we are owed something. Aren’t you our servants when all is said and done?

    it typifies the Problems of Orthodoxy in America, as Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote,

    In reality, however, a simple coexistence of religion and a “philosophy of life” alien to it is impossible. If religion does not control the “philosophy of life”, the later will inevitably control religion, subdue it from outside to its set of values. One cannot be Orthodox in the Church and a “secularist” in life. Sooner or later one becomes secularist in the Church also.. It is thus in all sincerity that people do not understand why the democratic process and the “majority rule” which seem to work so well in their public life could not be applied as such in the Church. It is in all sincerity that they think of a parish as their “property” and are scandalized by the attempts of the hierarchy to “control” it. It is in good faith that they see in the Church an institution that should satisfy their needs, reflect their interests, “serve” their desires and above everything else, “fit” into their “way of life.” And it is, therefore, in good faith that they reject as “impossible” everything in the Church which does not “fit” or seems to contradict their basic philosophy of life.

    What is the obligation of a Bishop to reveal to you, Mr. Michalopulos, “the full story?” You say, “To us there is only one possible answer: Susan’s allegations were credible and even provable.” What if you are wrong? What if wisdom, prudence, mercy, and kindness suggest that this not for public consumption? What if this man is unstable? What if, what if, what if? One single comment by anonymus per Scorilo and you are already backtracking!

    I suspect this more about you than “Moral Paralysis and the Inability to Uphold Scriptural Standards.”

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    • geo michalopulos says:

      Dr Stankovich, let me instead ask you this question: by what right did Syosset have to fabricate allegations against Jonah before the whole world?

      As to whether I “may be wrong” regarding my assertion that Susan’s allegations may be “credible and provable,” isn’t that why we have open hearings? Isn’t that the definition of a “trial”? I am perfectly willing to live with the outcome of any just, impartial, and open proceeding regarding the case of Fr Vasile. He is as well. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. I’ve been wrong before, I’ll be wrong again but that does not take away from the fact that on the face of it there seems to be a gross miscarriage of justice regarding the way Susan has been treated.

      The question continues to be: what is the RE/OCA hiding? That question will continue to linger until this issue has been justly and openly adjudicated.

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      • M. Stankovich says:

        Mr. Michalopulos,

        You missed my previous point entirely. I quoted Fr. Schmemann, “people do not understand why the democratic process and the “majority rule” which seem to work so well in their public life could not be applied as such in the Church,” and I will quote Fr. Alexey Karlgut from your own site:

        Conciliarity does not mean democracy. Conciliarity is not about majority or plurality or “the voice of the people”; it is not about voting and referendums. Neither is conciliarity opposed to utilizing democratic principles, voting, etc. when deemed appropriate. It is about wholeness and mutuality. Its root concept is found in the Russian word, Sobornost. This refers to conciliar structure of the Church (council of Bishops), while catholicity refers to its wholeness or integrity.

        I repeat myself, Mr. Michalopulos: What is the obligation of a Bishop to reveal his pastoral decision – or any decision to you? “On the face of it there seems to be a gross miscarriage of justice.” And who will judge this? The Sons of Job? Another anonymous group who does not want this diocesan bishop, or that priest in their parish? Bring your cause to Monomahkos because the important people at SVS and the hieirarchs of the OCA are reading this blog. We are making a difference! You are drunk on your own prideful false sense of self-importance and influence. “Let all things be done decently and in order… (1 Cor. 14:40) For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Cor. 14:33)” And the worst part of this, Mr. Michalopulos, if you actually took the time to spend ten minutes with your “champion,” even you wouldn’t believe your own story. You’re painted deep in a corner, and even Jonah can’t get you out.

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          Dr Stankovich, a bishop doesn’t have “any obligation” at all to reveal any “pastoral decision.” We’re not asking for that. Fr Vasile is asking that he be tried in a spiritual court as is his due.

          By what right does Nathanael have to “suspend” him for eight years? Isn’t that idiotic? Is there even such a thing as priestly suspensions? Or is this just pious Orthospeak for “we’re a Mickey Mouse organization that makes things up as we go along, go along now, nothing to see here.”

          And since I’m on the subject, as a member of the OCA (which I don’t believe you are) I have a right to find out why the three ethnic eparchies in the OCA give next-to-nothing to Syosset. Yet these same bishops dictate what happens in a Church which my tithes help support.

          Scratch that first sentence. DAMN RIGHT I got a right to find out what the hell’s going on. These freeloaders were complicit in the wreckage that is obvious before us.

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          • M. Stankovich says:

            Mr, Michalopulos,

            Save the theatrics for your NRA meeting.

            You flaunt your own ignorance of the ecclesiology of the Church; revel and seem to luxuriate with great joy in the sins and fall of others – and all the better if they are clergy; openly berate and scorn the hierarchs and priests despite St. Chrysostom’s warning:

            Away with such madness! For transparent madness it is to despise so great a dignity, without which it is not possible to obtain either our own salvation, or the good things which have been promised to us. For if no one can enter into the kingdom of Heaven except he be regenerate through water and the Spirit, and he who does not eat the flesh of the Lord and drink His blood is excluded from eternal life, and if all these things are accomplished only by means of those holy hands, I mean the hands of the priest, how will any one, without these, be able to escape the fire of hell, or to win those crowns which are reserved for the victorious?

            knowing that “there is no man who lives and does not sin”; and disregard, in thread after thread, the warning of St. John Climacus that,

            Remembrance of wrongs comes as the final point of anger. it is a keeper of sins. It hates a just way of life. It is the ruin of virtues, the poison of the soul, a worm in the mind. It is the shame of prayer,a cutting off of supplication a, turning away from love, a nail piercing the soul.It is a pleasureless feeling cherished in the sweetnes of bitterness. It is a never-ending sin, an unsleeping wrong, rancor by the hour. A dark and loathsome passion, it comes to be but has no off-spring, so that one need not say too much about it.

            You are, Mr. Michalopulos, exactly as I noted earlier: drunk on your own prideful false sense of self-importance and influence. You could not have read our Fr. John Climacus without noting the longest chapter in the Ladder of Divine Ascent is On Obedience. Why?

            From obedience comes humility. And from humility comes discernment. That is what the great Cassian has said in that marvelously philosophic and sublime chapter of his on discernment. From discernment comes insight, and from insight comes foresight. And who would not run this fine race of obedience when such blessings are there ahead of him The good psalmist had this great virtue in mind when he said: “O God, in Your goodness You have made ready Your presence in the heart of the poor obedient soul” (Ps.67:l0).

            And bitter & angry you are, Mr. Michalopulos, over a situation you know nothing more than “face value,” which I have suggested is more than meets the eye. And why yell at me? You have already accused me this week of “collaboration” with some dog who suggested I might be a “secret child abuser” with no evidence. To what recourse am I entitled?

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              I’ll just deal with your first and last paragraphs.

              First, NRA meetings are rather sedate affairs, even more so than TEA Parties. Second, I’m not bitter or angry. I don’t remember “yelling” at you either? Which “dog…suggested you might be a child abuser”? Point me to the offending post and I’ll take it down. I honestly don’t remember reading it.

              In the meantime, I’m sorry if someone on my blog offended you.

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              • M. Stankovich says:

                Mr. Michalopulos,

                I was referring to this post from “nick” regarding the Storeheim verdict, with whom half of the “raters,” I am happy to see, give a “thumbs-up,” no doubt based on your endorsement of “collaboration.” As Ice Cube used to say:

                Drunk as hell but no throwin’ up
                Half way home and my pager still blowin up
                Today I didn’t even have to use my A.K.
                I got to say it was a good day

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          • Anonymus per Scorilo says:

            Romanians have a saying: “do not get into the chaff, because you may end up being eaten by the hogs.” Sometimes this also applies to people who spend too much time focusing on people who distort the truth. It can get contagious . . .

            For example, the sentence

            By what right does Nathanael have to “suspend” him for eight years?

            is a distortion of the truth. Fr. Vasile was not suspended, and has served during all these years with Abp. Job, and with other people, as he details in his letters. What Abp. Nathaniel did was to remove him from his parish.

            Now, I am not aware of any dogma/canon/tradition that says that a bishop needs to have a spiritual court trial in order to be able to remove a priest from his parish. I do not see therefore why Abp. Nathaniel would need to offer any justification to anyone for this (although in this particular situation justifications are plenty). Whether we like it or not, this is the way things are in the Orthodox Church.

            P. S. Some priests in Romania have even tried to form “clergy unions” in order to check this arbitrary power bishops have. They have been unsuccessful so far…

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            • “I do not see therefore why Abp. Nathaniel would need to offer any justification to anyone for this (although in this particular situation justifications are plenty). ”
              “Anonymus”, I think Abp Nathaniel may have to justify this to someone, namely God.

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            • Decebalus p[u]er Scorilo says:

              Dear anonymous per Scorilo,

              I feel very pleased with your postings on this blog as of Feb. 5, 2014 at 5:16 p.m.

              From your postings it is very easy to identify the OCA national group you belong to. God bless you for being so much in love with late ‘Romanian’ Elder Arsenie Papacioc. You could belong to the OCA national group the Arch. Nathaniel is the leader. You could not make quotation about Papacioc if you would not speak Romanian language. Can you deny this? You speak English, Romanian, French, and less Spanish.

              I have a great deal of respect for God as Master of Truth, His Church, for all the Holy Bible, Orthodox Church Teachings, Traditions, Canons, OCA Statute, ROEA Constitution and By-Laws, for the OCA internal rules and regulations, and I would say with a higher degree than you have. Also, I have less respect for the OCA corrupted hierarchy / bishops, who disrespect God, His Church Teachings, Traditions, Dogma, the Canons, etc, as proven by the pro gay agenda, cabal, protection of the homosexuals clergymen, etc, as per Internet postings. I am in favor of truth. You are in favor of the OCA corrupted and abusive hierarchy.

              From your posting, I found out that all the above I have respect for, are totally ignored by you. You are focusing on the ROEA Archbishop you are defending him wholeheartedly, and willingly ignoring the respect for God as Master of Truth, His Church, for all the Holy Bible, Orthodox Church Teachings, Traditions, Canons, OCA Statute, ROEA Constitution and By-Laws, for the OCA internal rules and regulations. Nothing wrong apparently (just for you only), but you are building up your defense on sand, not on a solid foundation of rock. It will not stay. You put the wagon before the horse. You are taking care of the horse, not of the wagon. God is witnessing whatever you are doing.

              You’ve said for example, “Romanians have a saying: “do not get into the chaff, because you may end up being eaten by the hogs,” posted on Feb. 5, 2014, at 5:16 p.m. So, where is your place … in the first part (do not get into the chaff) or in the second part (because you may end up being eaten by the hogs) of ‘your less orthodox’ saying? It is not hard for any reader of this blog to find your place.

              You are very lucky because Papacioc is dead, and he cannot read your quotation. Your quotation makes a lot of sense for whosoever is reading your postings. It has a domino effect. Congratulations.

              Let me reply to your doubt and less honest understanding regarding this phrase (Feb. 5. 2014): ‘By what right does Nathanael have to “suspend” him for eight years?’

              As per Internet postings of Fr. V. Susan records, part of the OCA and ROEA Chanceries / offices, formally signed by the ROEA Archbishop, the truth is transpiring this way:

              - Fr. V. Susan was expelled from St. Mary’s Parish in Chicago, IL and from the ROEA without due canonical procedure and due process of law, for the reasons presented in his letters, and he was left to live in limbo for 10 years, in the OCA Gulag by the “OCA Corporation – like bishops” without right to trial and ministry appointment as parish priest. This upcoming March 1st, 2014 will be the 10th anniversary of his expulsion as ‘a persona non grata’ from the ROEA. Is it true?

              - On March 13, 2003 Fr. V. Susan filed a complaint against the ROEA Arch. Nathaniel (and sent it to the ROEA Council which met on March 15, 2003 in Southfield, MI), asking for Church Court proceedings, as per the ROEA B-Laws, ART. XV, provisions. The Archbishop refused to put him on trial at that time, and even before March 1, 2004. He thought Fr. V. Susan is naïve and would do nothing.

              - On March 1st 2004, Fr. V. Susan was terminated as Church employee and Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Church in Chicago, IL, expelled (not transferred) from his former parish and from the ROEA as ‘a persona non grata’, contrary to the OCA Statute, ROEA Constitution and By-Laws, Orthodox Church Canons, and OCA internal rules provisions. The OCA and ROEA bishops, MC, counsels is lying about his expulsion as per oca.org.

              - The Appeal sent by Fr. V. Susan to the ROEA Juridical Referee on February 26, 2004, went under the rugs of the ROEA Chancery, because of the less honest conduct of the ROEA Archbishop, as a sign of the ROEA By-Laws violation.

              - The Appeal sent to the OCA Synod on March 12, 2004, went under the rugs of the OCA Chancery in Syosset, because of the less honest conduct of the OCA Metropolitan and Synod, as sign of the OCA Statute violation.

              - Fr. V. Susan was transferred on Sept. 17, 1992 from the St. Nicholas Parish in Alliance OH, to St. Mary’s Parish in Chicago, IL as per the ROEA Constitution and By-Laws provisions. He had continuity in ministry, serving at the Church as parish priest, supporting his family and earning salary and benefits as recommended by the Chicago Parish and approved by the ROEA Archbishop, per the provisions of the ROEA By-Laws. This was a correct transferred done by the ROEA Arch. Per the ROEA By-Laws provisions. Do not take advantage of the readers of this blog who have no knowledge of the ROEA Constitution and By-Laws, and the way priests are appointed, released, assigned or transferred.

              - Fr. V. Susan is without Church employment for the last 10 years. He was not transferred to the OCA Metropolitan, because at that time he was not a diocesan bishop, just a simple figure head of the OCA. +Herman never appointed any parish priest while being OCA Metropolitan, but he blackmailed Fr. Susan, as the OCA record shows this.

              - There is no ROEA or OCA record dated January 22, 2004 or for the entire year of 2004, which states that Fr V. Susan was ever transferred from the ROEA to the OCA Metropolitan. The ROEA By-Laws language regarding the ‘transfer of clergy’ is very clear. Fr. V. Susan was expelled from the ROEA. Everyone knows this. Just go a take a look. Fr. V. Susan is working at the Chase Bank in Chicago, IL as a banker, not as a door man, and he is earning just enough to survive from one month to the other.

              - The procedure of transferring clergy in the past (and at the present time) was always within the parameters or provisions of the OCA Statute and of the Diocese’s By-Laws the clergyman belonged to. In case I am wrong, please correct me, or go on the oca.org and find out the guideline regarding the transfer of the clergy within the OCA as of Fall 2013.

              - For the last 10 years the OCA Synod and Syosset apparatus made the life of the Fr. V. Susan family a nightmare, as part of the OCA Gulag. Why Fr. V. Susan was segregated and discriminated and not worthy to be a priest of the ROEA? He’s Romanian, neither Russian, nor Albanian! Why no OCA bishop shown any mercy to Fr. V. Susan and propose a ministry within an OCA parish, proposal not based on blackmail or briberies? The answer: the Fr. B. case file.

              - Fr. V. Susan made a special appeal to +Job for opening a mission for the Romanian new comers. He was refused by +Job, because of Nathaniel and Nicolae. No trial and no justice for Fr. V. Susan and his family for the last 10 years.

              Another example related to your posted comment on this blog on Feb. 5, 2014, “I am not aware of any dogma/canon/tradition that says that a bishop needs to have a spiritual court trial in order to be able to remove a priest from his parish. I do not see therefore why Abp. Nathaniel would need to offer any justification to anyone for this (although in this particular situation justifications are plenty). Whether we like it or not, this is the way things are in the Orthodox Church.”

              I would like to brotherly ask you to pay attention to the following:

              - In case you made the above statement poorly, like a layman it is easy to realize that ‘you have no respect for God as Master of Truth, His Church, for all the Holy Bible, Orthodox Church Teachings, Traditions, Canons, OCA Statute, ROEA Constitution and By-Laws, for the OCA internal rules and regulations,’ because you have no theological training. The above fidelity is for both bishops and priest alike.

              - In case you are not a priest, again, please open the OCA Statute, ART. VI, Sect 4, letter (e), and ROEA By-Laws ART XV, and find out the truth about the transfer of clergy procedures. Follow the rule of law without going to any lawyer. Do the homework on your own, find out the truth and be at peace.

              - In case you are a priest, please show respect for God as Master of Truth, His Church, for all the Holy Bible, Orthodox Church Teachings, Traditions, Canons, OCA Statute, ROEA Constitution and By-Laws, for the OCA internal rules and regulations. Please reflect on your theological training and find out how many hours you’ve studied the Orthodox Church dogmas, canons, traditions, etc.

              - Your statement is giving me the impression that you attended some ‘late vocation classes, ‘neither at St. Vladimir, not at St. Tikhon. Maybe you went to the Antiochian late vocation courses. Anyway, be a man of peace and reconcile the OCA Bishops to Fr. V. Susan using your diplomacy and articulated language, in case you think God would like to see something like this coming out from your heart. Some days someone will pray for you.

              - Fr. V. Susan was waiting for the implementation of the rule of law by the OCA bishops as per the 3rd confession of faith as the letter said. Maybe the poor training of the OCA bishops made them impotent to use the vows they made the right way. Now they bring a lot of shame upon the OCA as a whole.

              - Neither I, nor any OCA priest of layman would agree with your statement, ‘I do not see therefore why Abp. Nathaniel would need to offer any justification to anyone for this (although in this particular situation justifications are plenty). Whether we like it or not, this is the way things are in the Orthodox Church.’

              The 3rd confession of faith is saying something else about the bishops canonical obligations based on the vows they’ve made. Please read the letter attentively and speak truthfully from now on. Please do not make your own distorted rules for the Orthodox Church. You will not be accepted. You cannot supersede the Orthodox Church Canons with your lamentable theories.

              - Review your conduct and understanding and show more respect for God as Master of Truth, His Church, for all the Holy Bible, Orthodox Church Teachings, Traditions, Canons, OCA Statute, ROEA Constitution and By-Laws, for the OCA internal rules and regulations, before the ‘Day of Retribution.’ God know who you are.

              I hope my comment is brotherly accepted and it will satisfy you.

              Respectfully yours,

              Decebalus p[u]er Scorillo

              02.06.14

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              • M. Stankovich says:

                First, the accusé was Archbishop Nathaniel, which slid over to “Tikhon the Troublemaker,” then to “Jonah the 80/20 placater,” and, heaven help us, now “Herman the Blackmailer, Archbishop of Figurehead” (and can Mr. Pollack be far behind!). A tenor. We need a tenor!

                I have less respect for the OCA corrupted hierarchy / bishops, who disrespect God, His Church Teachings, Traditions, Dogma, the Canons, etc, as proven by the pro gay agenda, cabal, protection of the homosexuals clergymen, etc, as per Internet postings.

                Man, you just can’t get away from those homosexuals…

                From Verdi’s Un Ballo In Mascera, [Renato]: “Traditori!” [I'll bet that's Fr. Susan]: “Review your conduct and understanding and show more respect for God as Master of Truth… before the ‘Day of Retribution.’ God know who you are.” [Me]: YIKES! [Soldiers]: “Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha! Ve’, la tragedia mutò in commedia. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! E che baccano sul caso strano, e che commenti per la città!” [I'll bet that's Fr. Susan] “Maybe you went to the Antiochian late vocation courses” OUCH! Yellow card, Mr. Michalopulos! Give him a yellow card! [I'll bet it's Fr. Susan]: “Find out how many hours you’ve studied the Orthodox Church dogmas, canons, traditions, etc.” [Me]: “I only have ten fingers.” SURVEY SAYS: Plenty on Monomakhos believe Fr. Susan should have his day in court. Quick show of hands? Yes? Fr. Alexander Schmemann? “Pardon me, but who cares.”

                Are you done Mr. Michalopulos? Do you finally hear Tina Turner?

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  9. Lola J. Lee Beno says:
  10. Chris Thomas says:

    What a crock! Attacking SVS again; spreading disinformation and have +BT as your leader. Look folks, +BT was at SVS maybe 3 months and left after he had a fight with the Dean of Students. Furthermore, to go on and on about homosexuality here is nothing more than a few who control this site who are homophobes. Neither the OCA, Syosset nor SVS entertains or supports homosexual activity; these are lies. There are more homosexual clerics in the GOA and ROCOR than you’ll ever find in the OCA.

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  11. Andy Levy says:

    If you think the OCA’s handling of fr. Vasile’s case is a joke, then you should see what they are doing with fr. Zacchaeus Wood’s case: http://zacchaeus.ru

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    • Heracleides says:

      As my grandfather of blessed memory would have observed: ‘The OCA is a ch*****-***t outfit.’

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      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

        The OCA is not, as the instance hiding behind the name “Heracledies” asserts, a ch***** ***t outfit at all. What an idea! That term was used by your grandfather, and by me, and by countless GIs to refer to an organization where discipline was foremost and the CO, like a chicken, pecked away at the minutest infractions, called ch***** sh**. .
        IAW, ch***** sh*t is the same thing as worthless trifles, and an outfit concerned with such is a ch***** sh*t outfit.

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        • Heracleides says:

          I must bow to the Bishop and his expertize on all things pertaining to the OCA and its status as a ch*****-sh*t outfit; as a retired member of its Unholy Synod, he is without the shadow-of-a-doubt the authority on such matters within the upper echelons of the OCA.

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        • The grand master of ch*****-sh*t… this topic has spoken. Case closed.

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    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

      “Andy Levy,” that timeline does not show one IOTA of what, if anything, is being done by the OCA in said case. It merely rehashes one incident a few years ago during Metropolitan Jonah’s administration. Why don’t you enlighten us with some ****facts**** about what IS BEING DONE by the OCA in that case?

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  12. Platina will not sent me a certificate of baptism and Christmation into the Serbian Church with the direct permission of Bishop Maxim. At least that is what I was told. These de facto ex communications seem to be standard procedure for people with the zeal the Christ had when he tossed out the money changers..The Pangratious, Gleb Podamoshesky, gay agenda monks, who they trained for 20 years. Sycophants R US.brotherhood., still run the show, now with the cover of a good bishop, who is not around mostly,

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  13. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

    “Chris Thomas,” I’m only going to address one of your howlers. 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.

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    • Tanya Dook says:

      Dear BT,

      You were only at SVS from Sept thru Nov. Fellow students do not remember you there the Spring semester. Since I worked with Ann Zinzel, I can tell you that Fr. Alexander Schmemann did not recommend you for ordination. This action was taken solely by + Dimitri.

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      • M. Stankovich says:

        Mr. Michalopulos,

        You apparently had reached your limit regarding the mundane issue of cassocks and the like to make a special point to stop the discussion. You are blessed to have here on your blog the presence of Vladyka Tikhon, in his 8th decade of life, who served faithfully in the vineyard of our Lord for nearly a quarter-century as the Bishop of San Francisco and the Diocese of the West of the Orthodox Church in America. “White hair is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness.” (Prov. 16:31) I am asking you to kindly close this ridiculous discussion once and for all.

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        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          George! At age 81, I am in my NINTH decade of life. That’s all right, though, Greeks had to choose between Roman and Arabic numerals and never could come up with a system of their own, so….

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          • M. Stankovich says:

            Vladyka Tikhon,

            My brother sent me a copy of the HBO documentary, Journey into Dyslexia, and as I’m watching a section on dyscalculia, or the learning disability “to grasp and remember mathematical concepts, rules, formulae, and sequences,” I said to myself, “****!” I came back to the post only to find the time remaining to edit had expired, Personally, I would have let it ride, thinking perhaps God too had missed the error and awarded an extra decade, but we are different people…

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            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

              Thanks, Mr. Stankovich. I didn’t realize that was the kind of mistake dyslexia-afflicted people made. I thought it was the kind of carelessness that everyone has and about which humans take pleasure in jabbing others in the ribs. I see, then, that yours was not a mistake of the common sort, but a special one.

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      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

        Tanya Dook! (Or Archpriest V.L.) please don’t toy with the memory of poor old Ann Zinzel of blessed memory by attributing your untruths to her. She can’t defend herself.

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      • Tanya Dook,

        Wow, do you feel better spewing this with only the intent to hurt another person who happens to be a Bishop? Was this the type of atmosphere at SVS you would like others to think SVS was in those days? If you have a problem with Bishop Tikhon, keep it to yourself. Your comments show how ugly are your motives.

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        • You don’t understand. BT has been trying to re-write the recent history of the OCA for years. This begins with his own history. Ms. Dook tells the truth. If we listen to BT’s history of the OCA along with his scandalous footnotes, we’d be following a false history which is exactly what he wants. Sorry, still too many people alive who know the truth.

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          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

            Sammy, NAME one living person who certifies to what YOU call the truth. We’re not going to embarrass you by revealing your identity. You and Tanya Dilk, though, should put up or shut up, relative to my scholastic and military backgrounds which are both matters of public record. You both are digging deep spiritual pits for yourselves with these easily discernible lies. At least go to Confession to someone.

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  14. Robert Romero says:

    I thought that you might enjoy this wonderful video about the Youth of ROCOR.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxxfLWisWZk#t=297

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