Revised May 9, 2011, 6:00pm.
We were assured by Stokoe in that high-minded tone of smug self-confidence that hangs over OCANews like bad perfume in an old taxi, that the purloined emails in his possession were not obtained “illegally.” What this means is anybody’s guess. Stokoe is as much a lawyer as he is journalist. Can’t dig much dirt with that shovel. (Here’s some interesting reading on the questions raised though: Investigating Personal Web-Based E-Mail.)
Some private sleuthing has revealed who the hacker was, however. It is clear that emails could only have come from one of two sources: Fr. Fester’s 1) laptop, or 2) former desktop. The former desktop is in Dallas. It sits in his former office. That office is occupied by Bp. Mark Maymon. Bp. Mark leaked the emails.
Yup, Maymon leaked the emails. Yesterday after Liturgy, Bp. Mark was confronted by several people who asked him point blank if he stole the emails. He admitted it. He was chagrined at first, then defiant. He said that he had the right as the administrator of the diocesan office to look at Fr. Fester’s emails. Really? Even then, why did he give them to Stokoe?
I don’t expect much in the way of ethics from Stokoe. The man traffics in gossip. But Bp. Mark? I’m really surprised. You expect higher standards from a bishop. What are we left with? A bishop who claims the right to purloin a password from a computer cache, use it to log into a former employee’s cloud-based email account, and then forward emails to the Perez Hilton of the OCA. What was he thinking? And what was Stokoe thinking when he received them?
You don’t open a man’s mail Bp. Mark, even if it is sitting in an envelope on your desk. You don’t open a man’s mail Stokoe, even if it ends up in your mail box by mistake. Where I’m from, whenever you get your neighbor’s mail you either bring it over to his house or give it back to the mail carrier. It’s called basic Christian decency and basic common law.
Bp. Mark muttered something about forwarding the emails to the Holy Synod, not Stokoe. If that’s true, it just got worse. Not only does Bp. Mark betray confidences, so does another bishop or two on the synod.
This reeks of the tawdry manipulations of Stokoe. It indicates somebody besides Bp. Mark is sharing his bed. How do the good folks of the OCA feel knowing that a bishop or two have an open line to Perez Stokoe? Do we call it the Stokovite Synod from here on out? And who was the bishop that Maymon forwarded the emails to, and why did he forward them to Stokoe?
We warned the Metropolitan Council that they would take a big hit to their credibility if they didn’t fire Stokoe. Stokoe and a handful of cohorts plotted to blacken and remove +Jonah. The leaked emails with Stokoe’s name on them proves it. They did nothing leaving the impression that the MC gave its tacit approval to Team Stokoe’s malfeasance. They needed to act but didn’t and now they look weak and compromised and in the palm of Stokoe’s hand.
Now it’s the Synod’s turn. If Bp. Mark told the truth when he said he forwarded the purloined emails to the Synod as well as or in place of sending them to Stokoe (we are not sure which – Maymon’s word isn’t worth much these days), this is looking more and more like the Mark Stokoe show rather than Orthodox Church of America. If they remain silent, they too communicate complicity.
Mark Stokoe has a teflon veneer. He is offered tremendous latitude in his dealings because he is seen as the rescuer of the OCA from +Herman and (the former Fr.) Kontradick, the two big bad wolves of the ancien regime. But given his underhanded dealings today, how reliable was his reporting back then? Was everything really the way he portrayed it to be?
There is no question that corruption entered the Church under +Theodosios and +Herman. There also is no question that some of this corruption was sexual in nature. So can anyone explain why homosexual alliances such as Burke and his live-in boyfriend in Miami is verboten, but Mark Stokoe’s alliance is not?
Why the double standard? Why are the Metropolitan Council and the Synod of Bishops complicit with it? And, since they are, can we really say that the corruption of the previous decades has been swept clean?
The answer is clear: No, it has not. It continues forward in the same way it always did.
The Problem in the Diocese of the South
We in the South have a major problem, one we’ve never had in the past. Maybe the Stokovite Rules of Engagement are par for the course in the moribund parishes of the East Coast, but southerners live by different rules.
For a little over thirty years we had a vigorous bishop named +Dmitri Royster. He wasn’t perfect (nobody is) but his word was his bond. He was a father-confessor to his priests, spiritual adviser to his congregations, and a loving grandfather to his priests’ wives and families. Nobody in their right mind would ever believed he would betray a trust or play con-games with shoddy “journalists” and their impoverished ideas about church governance — not in a million years.
How times have changed!
The confidence that a bishop needs to have with his deans and priests is impossible under Bp. Mark, especially since he has admitted to leaking the emails. Basic trust has been irretrievably broken. How will the clergy confide in this man knowing that he is one of Stokoe leakers?
Sound harsh? Then consider this: Maymon and Stokoe have already manipulated the firing of Fr. Fester. They man they stole the emails from is out of a job and possibly out of a home. Nice work comrades!
Further, there is no way that I, or any other layman in the South, will look at Bp. Mark as our Archpastor. The circumstances make it impossible. When we see him, we’ll run the other way. And what if a priest makes a mistake or succumbs to a private sin? Will the Stokoe-Maymon compatriote use the threat of public humiliation to coerce the priest? If they can manipulate events to tar +Jonah and Fr. Fester, they can manipulate events to tar anyone. Think it can’t happen? It already has.
Most of the e-mails that were on Fester’s computer were between him and his spiritual children. Only a few concerned the present crisis. Now they sit in Stokoe’s files and, if Bp. Mark told the truth, the computers of some other bishops as well. Priests have gone to their death to protect the private confessions and thoughts of their spiritual children. This bishop gave them away to a man who merchandises them for influence and gain.
Let me repeat it. A bishop violated the confidences people gave to another priest. And then he gave the information to an unstable and manipulative man who used it to settle private scores. Doesn’t this cry out for justice? Does anyone grasp how outrageous the violation really is?
Why does the Metropolitan Council and the Synod of Bishops sit silent? Where are the real men? This type of corruption will destroy the Church.
This is a heinous ecclesiastical crime. There is no way that Bp. Mark should become the bishop of the south or anywhere else in the OCA. Maybe +Phillip, despite his heavy-handedness, was right about Bp. Mark all along. Maybe he was right about Stokoe too. Word on the street was that Bp. Mark was feeding Stokoe first-hand information in Stokoe’s war with +Phillip. After this week, I believe it.
Here’s what the Synod needs to realize. If the Holy Synod decides to elect Bp. Mark as Bishop of the South, then the people will reject him. He will be locked out of the cathedral and perhaps brought up on legal charges. If they remain obdurant and do it anyway, the money for Syosset will dry up.
And again, the irony. If the Synod does not act and Stokoe keeps his position as Commissar of the Syosset Soviet, his primary leaker gets thrown under the bus. That’s the way Stokoe operates. Check out the excellent post on OCATruth: Disagreement and Blog Wars. You win some, you lose some, isn’t that right, Commissar Stokoe? It’s all in a day’s work as long as you have a couple of bishops to do your bidding.