Texas Orthodox Clergy Deliver Stinging Rebuke to Fr. Arida and Enablers

Statement of the Brotherhood of the Orthodox Clergy Association of Houston and Southeast Texas on the Comments of Fr. Robert Arida on Homosexuality

Source: Orthodox Houston

oca-burningIn response to Fr. Robert Arida’s recent article, which was posted on the OCA’s Wonder blog, there have been many eloquent rebuttals. We do not wish to attempt to reproduce those critiques here, but we do wish to underscore some of the more important points that have been made, and to speak out publically on this controversy.

We find it unacceptable for Orthodox Clergy, who have been given the charge to instruct and guide the laity, to suggest that the moral Tradition of the Orthodox Church needs to change with the times or with the prevalent culture. St. Paul admonishes us to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2). And it should be noted that the word translated “world” is not “kosmos” (the material world, world order, or people of the world), but “tō aiōni” which refers to the age (or generation, or time) in which we live. And we have no better guide as to what the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God than we find in the Scriptures and Tradition of the Church.

It is also contrary to our Tradition to write about matters of faith or piety in ways that are intentionally ambiguous – this is rather the approach of liberal Protestantism. As Sergey Khudiev wrote, in response to a previous statement by Fr. Robert Arida, which was likewise replete with studied ambiguity, liberal Protestants have “a particularity which entails a tendency to explain themselves with rhetorical questions, vague allusions and highly mysterious phrases from which you can with more or less justification guess at their positions, but are unable to explain clearly.”1

We are all the more concerned that members of Fr. Robert Arida’s parish who identify themselves as homosexuals, report that though they make no secret of their ongoing homosexual relationships, they are freely communed. One such person, wrote, on an open Facebook group (named oxymoronically “Pro-Gay Orthodox Christians”): “I am gay… I was married to my husband in a civil ceremony in 2005. When I began attending Holy Trinity later that year I was completely up front with the priest. My husband, Martin, began attending liturgies regularly about two years ago. He was chrismated Holy Saturday earlier this year. Our relationship is not a secret; I have had no negative interactions with either clergy or laity in this parish. Martin and I are not the only gay people in the parish, though after Martin became Orthodox, we are the only Orthodox gay *couple* as far as I know. I don’t think this constitutes “don’t ask don’t tell.” More like “ask or tell whatever you like… we don’t care.” Just saying.”2

Fr. Robert Arida’s recent and past statements on the issue of homosexuality are a scandal to the faithful. They also present those who are sincerely struggling against homosexual temptations with additional temptations, and misdirection. As a pan Orthodox organization, we are also concerned that such blatant disregard for the Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church present further obstacles to Orthodox unity in America. We can only unite around a common fidelity to the authentic faith and piety of our Tradition. If we are not united in that, then authentic unity is impossible.

This is not a matter that can be swept under the rug of “theologoumenon.” A theologoumenon is an opinion that may or may not be correct, but which is neither an authoritative teaching of the Church, nor is it outside of the bounds of acceptable Orthodox opinion. Suggesting that homosexual sex may not really be a sin is not within the bounds of acceptable Orthodox opinion, but on the contrary, the consistent teaching of the Scriptures, canons, and the fathers and saints of the Church that homosexual sex is inherently sinful is clear and unambiguous.

We recognize that those who are struggling against homosexual temptations should be treated with pastoral patience, mercy, and love… as should sinners of any kind that are repenting of their sin, and seeking spiritual healing. However, suggesting to any sinner that their sin is not really a sin, and that they need not repent of it in order to worthily receive the Mysteries of the Church is pastoral malpractice, and cannot be tolerated.

We pray that the Bishops of the OCA will deal with this matter with the seriousness and urgency that it warrants, and put an end to these abuses.

Notes:

1. Sergey Khudiev, “Let Your Yea Be Yea and Your Nay Be Nay”, July 5, 2011 < http://www.pravmir.com/let-your-yea-be-yea-and-your-nay-be-nay/>

2. October 19, 2014

Comments

  1. Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

    May God bless these men for their courage and faithfulness to the Orthodox tradition. Axios!

    • George Michalopulos says:

      And to you too as well, Fr for having the courage to rise up and take down Arida as quickly as you did.

  2. James Denney says:

    Clear, unambiguous, and correct!

  3. Carl Kraeff says:

    Most impressive. I had not posted before on the substance of Father Arida’s post, but I agree fully with the opening objection of the Houston Brotherhood: “We find it unacceptable for Orthodox Clergy, who have been given the charge to instruct and guide the laity, to suggest that the moral Tradition of the Orthodox Church needs to change with the times or with the prevalent culture.” In retrospect, I wish that the Metropolitan had made the same point. I pray that he will do so at his earliest opportunity.

    • Salemlemko says:

      The Metropolitan is incapable of making any point at all for he is, after all, a walking ambiguity. But then the powers in Syosset, the Jillions/Wheeler cabal want it that way, they are after all related, so Syosset is a family affair. With Arida in the mix, for he and Wheeler are related through baptism, the family connections come full circle. Arida’s own conversion from the unia has only brought misery, heresy and death to the OCA.

      Arida can often be heard preaching that there is only death outside the walls of his cathedral, for, Trinity Boston is his in all respects. It would seem that he has brought death inside the walls of his tragic cathedral, and to the very bowels of the OCA.

      Its all enough to make you want to Tosi your cookies.

      • Carl Kraeff says:

        Posts like yours are not at all helpful. I think that most posters here are grown men and women who understand the difference between this public accusation by a pan-Orthodox group of canonical Orthodox priests and venomous pot shots taken by anonymous cowards like yourself. I do not mean to pick on you but you are the first post that fits the bill.

        In any case, this statement by the Houston Brotherhood makes this issue one that cannot be overlooked by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of America. It elevates the stakes, so to speak, because the Brotherhood includes respected priests from six Greek, seven Antiochian, three OCA (two from Romanian Diocese and one from DOS), three ROCOR and two Serbian parishes. Frankly, I do not even care if not every priest in the Brotherhood signed up to this statement because the current President of the Brotherhood is Father John Whiteford (ROCOR) who is well known and respected as a man of integrity and probity. I am confident that he did have the sense of his fellow officers and Brotherhood members before he allowed this statement to be aired.

        So, here we have a public allegation and appeal for action. It is very important that this is taken seriously, investigated and brought to a proper conclusion. However, there is yet another reason why this must be done.

        Although the text of Father Arida’s essay may be read as an appeal for adjustment to pastoral approaches, I cannot believe that the good Father did not realize that it could be taken as an appeal to a change of course regarding homosexuals, and thus cause the discussion and turmoil that ensued. In an matter of speaking, he seemingly waved the proverbial red cape in front of everybody, to include his bishop, diocese, Holy Synod, fellow priests and all Orthodox Christians, and dared for them to react. His wish should be satisfied.

        • Salemlemko says:

          Unless you Carl were/are are part of the Boston crowd, you Carl, do not know what you are talking about. Do you have relatives that are part of htoc? Were you ever subjected to the poison that flows like rivers of mud from that building? I think not, otherwise, you would know better. I suggest you come to my parish and interview Arida’s victims.

          Those of us living in Boston, those of us either currently or past members of htoc, offer a different and accurate portrait of Dorian G.

          • Carl Kraeff says:

            Let’s see now:

            1. I supported the Houston statement in part. I also indicated my trust in the Brotherhood and its leadership.

            2. I asked the OCA Holy Synod to investigate the very serious allegations of the Houston Brotherhood.

            3. I called Fr. Arida’s article as a deliberate provocation.

            Yet., I am told that I do not know what I am talking about. I am sorry but I will not join the lynch mob.

  4. This letter is a step up from calling a liberal priest a parasite. Those dung embossed pearls shall not be soon forgotten.

    • Salemlemko says:

      He is not a parasite, but a leader of a new cult, and a very troubled unfortunate man. Let us prayyyyyyy!

    • Michael Bauman says:

      Dan it seems to me you prefer the dung. You have time to be lifted out of it by the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.

      Flee those who teach a preverted Gospel.

    • Estonian Slovak says:

      There you go again, Mr. Fall. Slam the priests who stand up for the Church’s teaching and defend the priests who ignore Scripture and Canon Law. I’ll bet that had you lived in the Third Reich you would have said,”I don’t understand Herr Hitler’s hatred of the Jews. Doesn’t seem right that I should condemn it, though. My teenage children think Der Fuhrer is a really cool guy.”

    • Dan,

      Sorry, you are wrong on this topic. If your local parish and your pastor are teaching and practicing otherwise, they need to be called to account. It is common knowledge, for example, that an OCA priest in Dayton, Ohio has communed an active and high profile gay couple of the parish for years. Their relationship is no secret in the parish and those who have brought this to his attention have been shunned, sadly a similar practice that is taking place in Boston.

      The OCA needs to self-correct and leave no ambiguity. It can do this, others have shown that it is possible. I hope they will, but so far the gap between “can” and “will” has not been traversed. And if I may suggest it goes something like this, just three paragraphs:

      1. Restate the Church’s Teaching and OCA Encyclicals on homosexualism.
      2. Rebuke the teaching and practice of Fr. Arida.
      3. Censure him for his teachings and practice.

      Then, as part of the Sexual Misconduct efforts, they can spread out far and wide in their jurisdiction and make sure that every priest understands what is and what isn’t acceptable in ministering to gays.

      If they do this, they can turn a big negative into a big plus and give hope to clergy and laity who are suffering from OCA ambiguity and outright heretical praxis.

      • The same is taking place at two OCA communities in NYC with at least one defrocked priest who is married to his male partner and another where the choir director is openly gay and married.

        If there is a standard pastoral reason for such allowances, I think it is time for our bishops to speak out more clearly and teach the faithful about how they handle such difficult situations. For instance, a married, gay person inquiring into Orthodoxy should not be barred until they divorce; a returning cradle Orthodox who is married and gay may not need to become a saint before being communed; divorce of a married gay couple with children may not be the right answer balancing all the problems involved, though perhaps celibacy has already become the norm (as in many heterosexual marriages). All these sorts of issues are real and more difficult than an internet forum can typically allow for, but I think it is important that our bishops give the faithful some guidance about how they and their priests view and handle such situations. What guidelines do they use? is it every priest and bishop for themselves? Ambiguity and vague platitudes on these issues only breed conspiracy theories about a lavender mafia, that ‘that priest’ is welcoming, or that ‘that priest’ and think sexuality is about nothing other than ‘plumbing’ differences (attributed to the priest of the Manhattan parish with the married, gay choir director).

        The scandal is no longer that some Orthodox and even clergy are gay, were gay, or have same sex attraction of some kind, it is the pastoral way in which we do (or do not) minister to gay/SSA Orthodox Christians and whether some clergy and bishops are calling sin ‘no sin’, and why.

        • Christopher says:

          Actually, asking anyone who has a sinful condition to be repentant is the normal and minimal spiritual state for approaching the chalice. Despite this repetitive refrain (in this case you think it the normative moral Tradition is asking us “to become a saint” before approaching the chalice) it is expected that a person struggling with their homosexual tendencies (whether these are “nature” or “nurture” – does not matter) not in any way be affirming them, calling them good and necessary, an essential aspect of their “identity”, etc. Now, to be civilly “married” is to affirm the relationship, even to the point of a legal contract. It is in no way to be repentant…

          • We can all think of any number of sins Orthodox Christians have not repented of and not been barred from the chalice for. The difference, of course, is the idea of ‘manifest’ sin and continuing in a state this is inherently contrary to the law of God, e.g., gay marriage. However, the analogy is always made with the Orthodox lack of recognition in any real, sacramental way of any and all marriages done outside of herself. However, even the Greeks who typically require an Orthodox church wedding for converts do not require that wedding to take place before that couple is communed. Same with those cradle Orthodox who may have been married outside the Church and then returned later in life – they are not required to marry in the Church before they are communed. The Church accepts them in the state they are found and seeks to guide them into all truth. The issue here isn’t that the Church does this – it is common practice in traditionally Orthodoxy countries re homosexuality and long-time partnerships – it is what the intent and end of this economia is: to bring a sinner to repentance in time, or to slowly change the Church until it sees this is no sin. The assumption is made this is all about the latter. Cries against things like a lavender mafia are common throughout Orthodox and monastic history, so we should be caerful in assuming the sky is falling now because our time isn’t yet written down in the history books.

            • Christopher says:

              Again, you misinterpret history and extend “economia” too far. Open rebellion against explicit church teaching (e.g. being in a “gay marriage”) can not be compared to “even the Greeks who typically require an Orthodox church wedding for converts do not require that wedding to take place before that couple is communed.”. It is not analogous…

          • “Did Jesus know what he was setting in motion when he shared table fellowship with tax collectors and prostitutes?” Sure, Christ told the woman at the well to “Go, and sin no more”, but that’s not what he led with.

      • Christopher says:

        Mr. Fall has admitted he does not attend an Orthodox Church. He does claim to be “baptized and raised” Orthodox, though now he clearly rejects the Faith. Perhaps he believes his ethnicity makes him an Orthodox Christian (or even christian with a little “c”)?? If he were Orthodox, he would know that this idea is itself a heresy (phyletism)…

        Mr. Fall’s world view (i.e. his “christianity” if you want to stretch the term that much) is perhaps best described as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”. In fact, this is the philosophy of many who even attend Orthodox, RC, and conservative protestant church’s but otherwise are not in the least faithful to the normative moral Tradition…

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moralistic_therapeutic_deism

      • I think the OCA needs to say “we don’t accept SSM to the chalice“. Because people make arguments such as, “we don’t accept same-sex marriage, the priest doesn’t see it, so they can still commune”.

        And if the person or persons are in repentance, that needs to be made known to the congregation-with any public sin. The particulars are private, but to keep the congregation from misunderstanding what sin is or being scandalised by the sin, the priest must communicate to his congregation.

        • Why start there? For all our talk about closed communion we are just as lackadaisical in communion discipline as the Roman Church. There are Protestants who are more careful in who they allow to communion that most Orthodox outside of most monasteries and those jurisdictions where infrequent communion (or confession before each communion) is still the norm.

          • Sue Simpson says:

            “where infrequent communion (or confession before each communion) is still the norm.”

            Infrequent reception of the Eucharist IS NOT Orthodox praxis! This is an innovation, an aberration and it’s roots can be found in Uniate practice. The Orthodox practice from the very early Church was for ALL the faithful to receive the Eucharist at EVERY Divine Liturgy. Or do you believe the clerics are more HOLY than the faithful and only they should receive at every Divine Liturgy?

            • Far be it from me to disagree with St. Nicodemus and others who began advocating against the prevailing practice then and for the more ancient practice of frequent communion. Infrequent communion was the norm in much of the Orthodox world until recently – rightly or wrongly – and not just in areas with significant Uniate influence, e.g., Serbia. It is not the place to discuss whether one can arbitrarily choose a point in time that was ‘more Orthodox’ or ‘more authentic’ and disregard intervening centuries of practice, cf New Skete in NY. My point wasn’t about frequent or infrequent communion at all, it was about the discipline around who is allowed to commune, period. Orthodox in America, at least, are highly lax when it comes to communion discipline. Know how to mimic what others are doing in line, make the cross the right way, and have a name that sounds like it could possibly be a saint’s name in some language, and voila, you get communed. So, any lapsed Orthodox atheist can easily commune, as can any Uniate, anyone who is willing to give the right answers to any question asked (whether honest or not), etc. will be communed. We’re not much different in this regard than the RCs who will basically commune anyone who gets in line. That’s all simply to say that we have no mechanism in place in most parishes where frequent communion is the norm to stop anyone from communing – especially in larger, urban parishes, most especially if there are large cohorts that show up only on feast days; all you have to do to bypass the ‘rule’ is to pick your parish, your day, and go with the crowd. It’s not like every parish is truly a family where the priest knows everyone well enough to make these determinations, whether they should or not is another question.

          • Christopher says:

            Why not start there? I thought colette explained pretty well the rational behind the starting point. Pointing to other “lackadaisical” practices does not justify lackadaisical practice….

  5. Salemlemko says:

    Thanks be to God!

    This priest, disobedient to Holy Tradition and the Law of God, must be suspended at the very least.

    • Dear Salaamaleikom,

      You say, concerning a priest who communes homosexual couples:

      Thanks be to God!
      This priest, disobedient to Holy Tradition and the Law of God, must be suspended at the very least.

      I hope; that your concern for impiety extends to fornicating heterosexual parishioners as well. I pray for the priest who through his piety inspires everyone unmarried to chastity and holiness and to those married, the tolerance of love for all made inthe image and likeness of God.

      • Michael Bauman says:

        Yo!, Yo.

        But we are not faced, yet, with organized political pressure to declare fornication not sinful. Otherwise you are correct

      • jhk,

        When good people are being led by bad theology preached by misguided (at best) and intentional (at worst) clergy, the sky is falling. One man, Arius caused an Ecumenical Council to be called to rebuke his teachings. If the Orthodox Church is anything, it is the Church that takes seriously any compromising or tampering with what God has revealed.

        Attempts to give the impression that “everyone does it and it’s ok” are wrong and it may take the Church to stand up and reiterate proper Orthodox teaching on the subject of gays again, and again and again if necessary. And, it may mean that there will be a schism in the Church over this issue with the “Aridaites” leading those out of the Orthodox Faith over this issue.

        It is that serious. The stakes are high. God will not be mocked and He is separating the wheat from the chaff.

        The Houston Orthodox Clergy said it about as clearly and succinctly as you can. My question is, where is the OCA? Arida has gone silent. Bishop Nikon is silent. Met. Tikhon is all but silent. If the OCA believes that they can “wait this out” until the “mob with the torches and pitchforks” give up, they are making a serious miscalculation. The OCA and Fr Arida made a serious miscalculation in thinking that no one would care what he wrote on the Wonder Blog. And because of that miscalculation, you can bet that here and abroad, every word, every turn of phrase, every action or inaction is being watched under a microscope. The OCA is on notice.

        Whatever credibility the OCA may still have is slipping away by not acting to correct Fr Arida publicly and decisively. Will he repent for his mistake or will he raise the political stakes? That seems to be the gist of Deacon Wheeler’s flaccid defense of Arida.

        In this case silence is acceptance and unacceptable.

        • Salemlemko says:

          The OCA is at its very best when it is silent. The moment the monster opens its mouth, the villagers should march up the hill and cast it into the bottomless pit.

          • Sue Simpson says:

            You people don’t get it! Nothing that Fr. Robert wrote states what you say it does. He didn’t call for “open communion” of homosexuals. This was made up by the right-wing faction here. Whatever Fr. Robert does on a “PASTORAL” level, is between himself and his bishop, not the cyber-lynch mob on this forum. All of you have maligned a very good priest and God will judge all of you and I hope very quickly. Some people’s sins take the form of horrible diseases; some in the loss of material possessions and or families; etc. (Read Job) May all of you be administered accordingly by the Lord.

            • Michael Bauman says:

              YOU PEOPLE!!!!!!!

              As soon as that phrase enters a discussion, all listening has stopped. Anyone who uses that phrase, myself included, merely wants to force their opinion on others. It dehumanizes, ostracizes and devaluates anyone or anything on the other side.

              I would say Ms. Simpson that most of the people here understand far more than you allow for. We just don’t agree.

              The standards and the teaching of the Church are clear. There are no ‘pastoral’ exceptions.

              As long as a priest stays within the teachings of the Church, you are correct, the matter is between him, his bishop and Jesus Christ.

              However, once a priest steps out of those bounds in a public manner and acts in ways that are obviously not in accord with the teachings and practices of the Church, it becomes all of our business. That is the way the Church works.

              As I stated awhile back:

              1. IF Fr. Robert is communing active homosexual couples, then he is beyond what the Church allows. (BTW that would be true if the couples were co-habituating, fornicating opposite sex couples.) There is significant evidence that he does do that.

              2. IF Fr. Robert in anyway advocates or teaches that a person’s identity is equal to their sexual desire, he is wrong. He is not teaching what has been revealed to the Church. That is a matter for all of us as well. The evidence in his clear public statements says that he is teaching such a alien anthropology.

              3. These things are not just opinions that have no consequence. Wrong teaching can and does lead to the death of people’s souls and even their bodies. That is not acceptable to me.

              Let me ask you, if you saw someone about to be killed wouldn’t you at least yell to the targeted person to warn them? I am sure you would.

              We are all interconnected through the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. We all bear one another’s burdens. You and others who support you cannot possibly be “YOU PEOPLE”, at least not to me.

              Whether you like it or not, if you are a Baptized and Christmated Orthodox Christian, you are my sister in Christ–not some isolated, fragmented individual who has an opinion that I do not share. It behooves each of us to bring any brother or sister who is straying from the truth back to the flock. That is what Jesus commands us.

              Your statements, even on matters that are not directly related to the homosexual problem, indicate to me that you lack understanding of the nature of the Church and the reality of the bonds that tie us to one another. That saddens me as you are missing so much beauty and joy that is your birth right (or re-birth right).

              May God show you the truth and lead you into green pastures. Do not settle for mere ideological nonsense from the world.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

              the never changing Gospel who is Jesus Christ is to have a credible presence and role in our culture then the Church can no longer ignore or condemn questions and issues that are presumed to contradict or challenge its living Tradition. Among the most controversial of these issues are those related to human sexuality, the configuration of the family, the beginning and ending of human life, the economy and the care and utilization of the environment including the care, dignity and quality of all human life. If the unchanging Gospel is to be offered to the culture then the Church, in and through the Holy Spirit will have to expand the understanding of itself and the world it is called to save. That there are Orthodox Christians who misuse the never changing Christ to promote a particular political agenda and ideology or as license to verbally and physically assault those they perceive as immoral along with those who would question the status quo of the Church impose on the Church a “new and alien spirit.”

              These are Fr. Arida’s words. What “Expansion” is he talking about? Why expand the Church’s notions on Human Sexuality? Why are these areas AT THIS TIME open for discussion? May I ask is the Divinity of Jesus Christ open for Discussion? Is the Resurrection of Christ open for discussion? Mrs. Simpson there are some questions, in fact, a lot of questions that are settled in the Church that cannot be open to discussion.

              Why the Church’s so-called “Pastoral” stance is now all of a sudden “Open for Discussion” on questions of Human Sexuality? Was the Church Non-Pastoral in the past? Were Priests and Bishops so mean that they hated people out of the Church on this issue?

              If so “Where is the Proof?” why reform where there is no demonstrated proof or need for reform? Why? On What basis? Where is the evidence for the need to “Expand” our understanding? A lot of unanswered questions, even by Fr. Arida’s article. Why is that? This seems so very New and Alien to me.

              Peter

              • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says:

                Michael and Peter, I commend your good will and generous attempts to engage “Sue Simpson” in reasonable discussion. However, anyone who invokes such a vicious curse upon others as Ms. Simpson did on this message board (“All of you have maligned a very good priest and God will judge all of you and I hope very quickly. Some people’s sins take the form of horrible diseases; some in the loss of material possessions and or families; etc. (Read Job) May all of you be administered accordingly by the Lord.”) merits not intellectual respect but rather the dust shaken from one’s sandals.

                • Salemlemko says:

                  No no, please please reconsider all. She is a future victim! Tell her the truth, but one day, a very sad day, she will be an outcast.

                • Michael Bauman says:

                  Point taken Father, but I was not really engaging her. Just being as clear as I can on a basic level as to why she is deadly wrong.

                • Sub-Deacon Gregory Varney says:

                  I was a young reader in the early 70s when I first was exposed to church politics. When I saw a venerable priest attacked. My first reaction was to defend him and get just as vicious as our friend Miss Simpson. The Archbishop at that time saw my troubles and sat me down and he said this Gregory this is your first taste of church politics it is not pretty. The evil one rejoices at this He even more rejoices when he gets another soul involved. The father is well aware where this evil comes from as am I. You can help the priest better than arguing physical violence or threats by doing the following. go home and pray for him. Go to church light a candle and buy a prosfora. Pray as hard as you can. this way you going is the devils road. The evil one rejoices in division,curses and foul language. I would ask Miss Simpson to refrain from raining down curses and go to church and repent of this foul foolishness. Pray for me all.

            • Salemlemko says:

              You, Sue, have been told lies by a chief liar. The day will come when either you become an apostate, go mad, or look for a path that leads to the Orthodox Church. When that day comes remember this day, and reach out to Christ, the biblical Christ, the Christ of the Fathers, the Christ of Tradition. Find yourself a normal priest and a parish of low tech boring people and settle in and await the second coming. God bless your road!

  6. Let us hope this will be the first of many such statements. Well done.

    I especially liked this: It is also contrary to our Tradition to write about matters of faith or piety in ways that are intentionally ambiguous…

    One of the problems the OCA has had, in my observation, is that some of its seminaries’ influential teachers have seemed to convey the idea that ambiguous and convoluted ways of talking and writing are somehow more academic or intelligent than are clear ways of writing and talking. I believe that this tradition started, not because the OCA was a hotbed of liberalism with an agenda to hide, but rather because some of the movers and shakers at Crestwood wanted the approval and acclaim of their academic “betters” in the Protestant and Roman Catholic worlds.

    I remember a good friend of mine (an academic himself) discussing this toxic brew of ambiguous and circumlocutory theological-speak — he pointed out that there are plenty of things in Orthodoxy that are difficult to discuss in a linear fashion as it is, and that too much sloppy thinking and writing were being concealed under the guise of things like “apophatic theology.” He predicted that these habits of communication would provide a general haze that would allow genuine corruptions of Orthodox dogma and morals to glide under the radar far longer than they would otherwise. His predictions were on target, in my opinion, as this episode shows.

    The Fathers deal with ambiguity all of the time, and draw the line at things that can’t be defined beyond a certain point. But even these ambiguities are, so to speak, clearly defined. They would clearly state what is not meant, and if there are two or more possible explanations for something (i.e. ambiguity), they generally spell out what those possible explanations are. In other words, the Fathers absolutely deal with ambiguities — but only unavoidable ambiguities, and even those ambiguities are circumscribed as closely as possible.

    Hence, the importance of the word “intentional” in the above statement by these priests. And there can be no doubt that in the Arida articles, it is very intentional. And their indirect reference to Metropolitan Tikhon’s “response” by mentioning “theologoumena” was right on the money, since it calls out the ambiguity in that statement by the jurisdiction’s chief hierarch. Whether that ambiguity was intentional or the result of carelessness was left unaddressed, as was appropriate.

    • On Behalf of All says:

      “Before my baptism I wrote, first of all, against the Academics or about the Academics, so that, with the most forceful reasons possible, I might remove from my mind—because they were disturbing me—their arguments which in many men instill a despair of finding truth and prevent a wise man from giving assent to anything or approving anything at all as clear and certain, since to them everything seems obscure and uncertain.”

      —St. Augustine, The Retractations 1.1.1

    • Edward, you claim: “some of its seminaries’ influential teachers have seemed to convey the idea that ambiguous and convoluted ways of talking and writing are somehow more academic or intelligent than are clear ways of writing and talking.”
      What seminaries and departments do you accuse?
      This isn’t meant as a confrontational question, brother, I merely wonder!

      • Brian, see my response to Dr. Stankovich. It would be an overstatement to turn what I termed a personal observation or impression of how things “seem” to me into an accusation.

        Wanting to be academically accepted as part of the gang is not necessarily a bad thing. I feel certain that the emigres who seemed to feel that way thought such acceptance was vital to the success and credibility of Orthodoxy. I disagree, but I disagree from the perspective of someone who never knew what it felt like to be an outsider. I think pews, organs, and choir robes are hideous Westernizations, but I never had to be a Greek or Syrian forced to live in the black part of town because I wasn’t white enough.

        It is possible both to identify these things as unhealthy and as having adverse consequences — and simultaneously to not have it be an “accusation” but rather an observation.

        • There is a fundamental conflict between the academy and the Church which causes much grief. In the academy, new ideas, new thinking, are valued as progress. In the Church, if a theologian successfully communicates the Gospel as it was delivered to him, without additions or elaborations, he is doing exceedingly well. This stems from the fact that the catholic faith is that which has been believed by all always and everywhere. Innovation is not a value.

          This explains much of the intellectual history of the Orthodox Church in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

        • Carl Kraeff says:

          Would you please answer the question instead of in a “ambiguous and convoluted way of talking and writing” ?

          • You are right. I apologize for the statement. It was not my intent to accuse anyone in particular, but what I wrote fairly suggests just those questions of “who” and “what.” If I didn’t want to get into that, I should have been silent. So I again apologize.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

      Well, yes, Edward: some of those guys do write with prestigious and famous un-Orthodox readers and timid-about-being- Orthodox Faithful in mind. They want so much to be ACCEPTED.

    • M. Stankovich says:

      Edward,

      I could not agree with you more regarding “intentional ambiguity,” and it has reached a point where Fr. Arida must address his statements and intentions in these writings with absolute clarity. I have know and loved him for more that forty years, but this “quake” he has initiated within the Church is irresponsible, and I can find no justification for his silence. Having said that, I extend the exact sentiment to Met. Jonah Paufhausen, whom I have called upon since he retained an attorney and began a complete silence as to the unresolved issues of period of leadership. His silence is revered as a great “monastic discipline,” and example of his “humility & piety,” when the Church deserves from answers and closure that only he can provide. We cannot and must not and we cannot be selective in the application of moral principle: Met. Jonah declared to the Church that he created a disaster, and he owes an explanation for what transpired – in my estimation a call which should be fourfold to the necessity for unambiguous clarification from Fr. Arida.

      Secondly, speaking to your speculation that the motivation of “the movers and shakers at Crestwood” was to garner “the approval and acclaim of their academic “betters” in the Protestant and Roman Catholic worlds,” I can only speak as to my personal experience. I experienced nothing of “ambiguous and convoluted ways of talking and writing” from these influential teachers, but rather I was so shocked at what I heard, that my heart and mind spun from the enormity of the power of what I heard. So much so, that when Fr. Schmemann told the story of hearing Archimandrite Kyprian Kern’s lecture on the meaning of the services of Great and Holy Friday, he literally ran home to tell his mother, I knew exactly what he meant. These teachers were the most influential and formative individuals in my life, and I was as astonished as the Ethiopian when he encountered Philip on the road to Gaza (Acts 8:26 ff). I am not being “poetic” here, but telling you my encounters with these men changed my life. And, obviously, I am not alone: their writings and broadcasts to the Soviet Union, for example, were life and soul-saving for countless individuals, and who can estimate the number who began their journey to Orthodoxy via them. I do not disparage your opinion that you found them neither enlightening nor inspiring, but your speculation as to their motivation was absolutely unnecessary to your argument.

      • Dr. Stankovich,

        I appreciate your measured words, and I agree with both of your assertions — that Fr. Arida has to address this with clarity, and that it would be helpful for Metropolitan Jonah to do the same with regard to unanswered questions of his tenure — as long as it is within the terms of his resignation from the Metropolitanate of the OCA, the terms of his release from the OCA, and the terms of his reception into the ROCOR. I would add that anything that Fr. Arida has to say at this point probably has to meet the same criteria — the approval of his bishop, and perhaps of the entire Holy Synod, since it is not only the New England diocese that has been affected by his essay and the controversy that has ensued — in fact it has spilled over into how other jurisdictions look at the OCA. It is a big deal, and it would probably not be wise for Fr. Arida to try to clear the waters by himself.

        But there is no doubt that in situations like these, silence is a blank canvas onto which both detractors and supporters can paint what they will, only increasing enmity and raising temperatures. Which is what made Metropolitan Tikhon’s response disappointing. In a few sentences, while upholding the moral teaching of the Church and while being fair both to Fr. Arida and to those deeply concerned about what the essay meant, I feel that he could have defused the entire situation.

        And please do not mistake me for an unqualified supporter of Metropolitan Jonah. For whatever his many positive qualities, the fact that things turned out the way they did proved that he was in over his head. He didn’t know there were sharks in those waters, and couldn’t spot their fins poking up? Really?

        I am glad that you had a positive experience at SVS — I have heard others say the same. I have heard yet others say the opposite — it probably depends on what you bring to it in terms of pre-existing spiritual formation and what you are needing from the experience.

        My observation from the outside is that all too often SVS seems to have tried to play a dual role that is difficult for an institution of its small size — that of a seminary charged with training pastors, and that of an academic research institution that aims at producing scholarship that will meet the standards of heterodox theologians. Such scholarship means “originality” — and it is no mean task to be utterly faithful to Orthodox teaching while looking original to your peers in the heterodox world, and very difficult to do without embracing the basically skeptical academic approaches that are the norm with heterodox theologians. Being a seminary that produces faithful and competent pastors and being an academic institution that produces original scholarship are two quite different tasks, and my personal observation (and this is by no means an original observation within the OCA) has been that sometimes seminarians themselves get confused on what they were supposed to be getting out of their time there.

        During my time in the GOA, the young priest and I were chatting in his office one day and I was asking about his seminary experience at Holy Cross. Somehow, SVS came up, and he chuckled as he told me about an encounter he had with an SVS seminarian while he was in school. The SVS student told him that “Holy Cross trains priests, but SVS educates theologians!” Like I said, this tri-lingual and quite learned priest had quite a chuckle at that one — although I didn’t get the feeling that he regretted having been trained as a priest rather than educated to be a theologian.

        As I think I have said to you before, one of the most briilliant men I have ever known told me that Fr. Schmemann was one of the most brilliant men he had ever known, and that Fr. Meyendorff’s factual knowledge of patristics was encylopedic. I have no doubt that when either man wrote or spoke in less than crystal-clear ways, they knew exactly what they were doing. But I sometimes wonder if “don’t try this at home” labels ought to come with some of these presentations. I know I have embarrassed myself when “trying something at home” that I encountered at the university, but lacked the full skill and knowledge set to pull off. Still, you are probably right that my speculation was unnecessary (although Bp. Tikhon does seem to agree with the observation, if I understand his response.)

        The best thing I ever read of Fr. Schmemman, incidentally, was a book of radio addresses he had given on Voice of America. It doesn’t surprise me that many people’s faith began, survived, or was nurtured by those addresses.

        • Michael Kinsey says:

          It appears to me that your saying, these noted cleric’s were always flitting between heartfelt service to God and a desire to pontificate to men. Teach and do, trumps them.

          • Not quite the way I would put it, but yes, although I was more making generalized observation that was based on conversations with graduates, rather than looking at any particular teachers.

            The one person whose ideas I know the most about is Fr. Paul Tarazi, who I understand is an engaging and inspiring preacher. But having read many his books on the Old Testament, in my opinion his ideas are a force for sheer spiritual destruction, if he was teaching in class what he wrote in those books.

            But I couldn’t name him in this thread because he can hardly be accused of hiding those views in ambiguity.

        • Christopher says:

          Among you many excellent points Edward, I would like to single out this:

          “Being a seminary that produces faithful and competent pastors and being an academic institution that produces original scholarship are two quite different tasks, and my personal observation (and this is by no means an original observation within the OCA) has been that sometimes seminarians themselves get confused on what they were supposed to be getting out of their time there.’

          This dichotomy, which at worst turns in to a sort of institutional schizophenia, was illustrated a few years back when St. Vlad’s conferred an honorary doctrate upon Rowan Williams. As Fr. Patrick Reardon and others noted, this is at best a source of ambiguity and confusion for the faithful of BOTH the Anglicans and the Orthodox faithful:

          http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2010/01/thanks-to-fathers-reardon-and-hodges-on-opposing-rowan-williams-honors/

          I stopped my annual giving to the OCA’s seminaries then, and to this day I refuse to purchase anything from their bookstores. Perhaps if more of us would take concrete actions such as these, this homosexualist rot that is so obviously occurring within the a significant parts of the OCA will have more negative consequences to the powers that be…I know, I am hoping too much there…

          • Thank you for your kind words. I wasn’t aware of that particular episode, since it happened at a time when I was intentionally not following any church news, especially within the OCA. It is a perfect example of the kind of bind that such dual missions can produce.

      • The OCA’s Metropolitan Council and Synod have now approved the hire of an Auxilary Bishop to assist Met. Tikhon “in his administrative work”. This Auxilary Metropolitan will be carrying many of the administrative functions of the OCA and will also assist with oversight of priests. Only two years into the reign of Tikhon and his call for assistance is honored.

        I wouldn’t exchange those four years with Met. Jonah with his speaking truth to power and yes, administrative blunders–with all the tepid Met. Tikhons and his Auxilary Administrators in all of Whoville–for anything in the world. I wish Met. Jonah had been given administrative help after two years. And he wouldn’t have allowed Fr. Arida’s heresy to go anywhere except into a shredder.

        And as for the outrage coming from within the OCA over Fr. Arida’s blog post, puh-leeze. For how many years did the OCA’s golden boy, Mark Stokoe, aka Mrs. Brown, sit on the Metropolitan Council? He held the highest position a lay Orthodox believer could rise to within the Church. How many years did his known union with another man go on approved by everyone on the Synod and MC? And was it not just last year that it was reported on a Californian’s blog that Archbishop Benjamin had consoled her and her female wife with the words that the Church “moves glacially slow” when it comes to issues such as allowing her and her wife to receive communion? This couple had been communing at an OCA church and then were denied communion at a monastery, prompting Benjamin’s words. Has the OCA Chancellor himself not written about the civil rights of “sexual minorities” on the OCA website? Do the examples not go on and on and on and on and on? Thank you to those who take the time to write about Fr.Arida’s letter and Tikhon’s unreadable response to it, but this problem runs so much deeper than just one article by a Boston priest.

    • Steve Knowlton says:

      I’ve got to admit, I used to like St. Vlad’s books because there was a tendency to present material that was more mysterious as opposed to earlier writing which tended to “spell things out,” so to speak. And this kind of literature was indeed more acceptable to non-Orthodox, which is important in some respects. But I was reading a new book from St. Vlad’s by Fr. Behr, “Becoming Human,” and I just couldn’t believe how strange some of his points are. At one point he claims that only humans have “gender.” Huh? Say what? We can’t get so mysterious that simple facts are denied. And this is not a good era to be questioning what gender means. It’s not that hard to figure out.

      • Tim R Mortiss says:

        Whoever Fr. Behr is, I can take his point about humans and gender. I think he’s got it wrong, though– actually, only languages have gender!

        This seems to be a losing argument, though. But he’s right about one thing– animals have sex (male and female), so do people, though now they throw “gender” in.

        Nowadays, folks ask what the “gender” of the newborn is, when they mean to ask what sex it is.

        But in any event: sex means male or female, gender means masculine or feminine. I think so, anyway! So, I’d have to agree that animals don’t have gender.

  7. Michael Bauman says:

    I would say to the members of Fr. Arida’s parish: you have not been taught the truth. You have other Orthodox options in Boston.

    • Salemlemko says:

      It is a swindle of sorts, they have been robbed! This is a tragedy unfolding before our eyes. Like the volcano in Hawaii, the swill of his mind is vomiting forth in public. God help this unfortunate, and God help the OCA.

    • Michael,

      Re: for shame’s remarks above

      The two things that come to mind, at least for me, are: 1) how is this allowed? and 2) what else is negotiable if the Church’s teaching on sexuality is negotiable? I mean, these people engage in ecumenical conferences regarding the faith, work on the AB’s committees regarding standardizing practice as well as administering orthopraxis within their own dioceses and parishes. We should beware their output. It appears they are not competent.

      • Fr. Arida’s OCA Archbishop is Nikon. There has been much discussion in the past about Archbishop Nikon’s participation in the online site “Breaking the Silence on Sexuality within the Orthodox Church”, a facebook page dedicated to affirming same-sex marriages and changing church doctine regarding homosexuality. There are various online blogs that have exposed this as far back as 2011. So, although Fr. Arida’s post should be troubling–what should be EVEN MORE TROUBLING is that the Archbishop of his Diocese, Archbishop Nikon, has been seemingly condoning this heretical stew as far back as 2011. Archbishop Nikon is reported to vacation in Florida with Bishop Mark and his partner/housemate Archdeacon Gregory, and stays in their home. I’m sorry, folks, but we’re not making this stuff up. Fr. Arida has been writing stuff like this for the past decade under Nikon’s protection–without any discipline, censure, or even debate within the New England/Albanian Diocese. Why would you think the Synod (including Nikon) would all of a sudden start reining in one of their SVS star grads in charge of one of their largest cathedrals?

        If you’re just now shocked that there are very serious fissures running deeply through the OCA jurisdiction about homosexuality and all the issues that go with it, you’ve got to get caught up. And yes, this goes high up. Very high up.

        • Christopher says:

          I agree that given these reports (I understand these sorts of hieararchs have been an issue in the OCA going back to the 1970’s) this is a long term “rot” problem in the synod of the OCA. Fr. Robert’s essay is merely a sign, a symptom of the disease. This is something that is quite critical and thus my pessimism about the OCA’s survival as the Church (as opposed to becoming another “c”hurch). Pointing fingers at other “jurisdictions” with “they have the same problem too” does not of course heal the disease…

        • Just curious if any persons have been writing letters to the Assembly of Bishops so at least they can’t deny knowing all this?

      • Everyting is negotiable! Which is quite, and sadly, obvious.

  8. Chris Banescu says:

    God bless these real shepherds and their clear and truthful preaching. Bright lights shining in the darkness!

  9. Thomas Barker says:

    Fr. Hans wrote:
    May God bless these men for their courage and faithfulness to the Orthodox tradition. Axios!”

    And you too, Fr. Hans. You are right up there with the fearless Fr. Whiteford in my humble opinion. I know this is not a fan club, but it had to be said.

  10. I also want to applaud the clergy who drafted this response. It is beautiful and unambiguous, unlike Fr. Arida’s original article and Metropolitan Tikhon’s response.

    I would like to raise a few more questions that, to me at least, have not been addressed. One, who was the editor of Fr. Arida’s post in the first place? Surely that individual must have known about Fr. Arida’s position with regard to homosexuality. Unless they have been living in a secluded monastery for the past several years, his position is widely known. And who commissioned him to write it in the first place given his very public views about homosexuality? What was the editor expecting when they either requested or received this article in the first place for a youth blog? I can only conclude that whoever allowed his blog to be published on the national churche’s website is either a complete idiot or knew darn well exactly what they are doing. Gay cabal perhaps?

    As much as I would like to think that such a thing doesn’t exist in the OCA, the facts speak otherwise. Take this just a few steps further. Who was the ultimate decision maker who left the article up in the first place? First you have a priest writer with an extremely pro/homosexual bias, then you have an editor who approves an article from such a person, then it’s posted. Why Father Chancelllor Jillions did you not pull it sooner? I think the answer is because he, too, believes in this gutless dribble of sophistry and theologoumena.

    Yes, what Fr. Arida wrote was pretty bad, but in truth it should have been caught before it was ever posted.

    Lord have mercy!

    • Nick,

      I think the OCA will be very careful with anything posted on the Wonder Blog or anything else. It would be nice if someone would check the “thoughts” of Chancellor Jillions too. He is becoming legendary in his “intentional ambiguity” style of writing. I believe he too is sympathetic to Fr. Arida’s approach to gays, at least in theory not sure about as offered in practice in Boston.

      It would be good for all concerned as Michael Stankovich clearly states, that we hear clearly from Fr. Arida. We too should hear from Fr. Jillions, and let’s give Met. Tikhon and Archbishop Nikon the chance to speak clearly and teach correctly on this subject.

      Boston is not the only OCA Cathedral that is sacramentally accepting of gays, “married” gays. If the OCA wants to be still be considered a serious jurisdiction it has to take care of this internal business and because they have turned a blind eye for so long, it may mean a public censure of Fr. Arida and any other priest or bishop that thinks and acts likewise.

      If they don’t I fear that their next All-American Council in Atlanta could be “Sherman-like!”

    • Exactly

    • Fishing expedition to test readiness of OCA to accept the gay agenda, maybe? Less blow back means sufficient apathy exists to sell the perversions and lies of the gay agenda with greater flagrancy and impunity….glad to see there are many alert at the wheel.

  11. @ Nick, Andrew Boyd is the editor for the Wonder Blog, I think he decides what goes on that blog. Perhaps there’s others involved, but his name is on the Wonder Blog contact list

    • Andrew Boyd is a recent graduate of St. Vladimir’s. It seems a great responsibility to assign him editorial control over articles intended for young people in the Church.. Note following.

      oca.org , June 25, 2012. Andrew Boyd appointed head of OCA Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries.
      ……

      Andrew begins his duties as department director on July 1, 2012. He may be reached at aboyd@oca.org or at 203-215-1690.

  12. Peter A. Papoutsis says:

    Well said. Hopefully this will clear the air and set the record straight. However, I agree with Michael Stankovich that Fr. Arida now needs to come forth and set the matter straight. If he does not we will have our answer. The OCA Synod is now obligated the act or the schism that Fr. Arida has brought about will widen until he makes his teachings clearly known. Unfortunately, Fr. Arida has brought this upon himself and only he can fix it if he so chooses. I hope he chooses wisely.

    Peter

  13. Thank God for this statement. It is written with exceptional clarity. Now the Hierarchs must take decisive action.

  14. What a heartening response. And, it should be noted, it’s pan-Orthodox. ROCOR, Greeks, Antiochians…. It’s exactly what’s called for. Now let’s see more such clarity and boldness from the rest of American Orthodoxy.

  15. I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.”

    How long? Not long! Because “no lie can live forever.”

    How long? Not long! Because “ye shall reap what you sow.”

    How long? Not long!”Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne,/yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown/Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.”

    How long? Not long! Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

    How long? Not long! Because “mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…”

    Martin Luther King Jr

  16. And once again, I’m happy to be a Texan Orthodox Christian.

    Kudos to the Houston area clergy association for leading the way! I hope the Orthodox clergy associations from the rest of the country follow suit, posthaste.

  17. Francis Frost says:

    Dear All:

    I will not attempt to comment on Father Arida’s confused and confusing missive. I am not sure what he is trying to say, and I suspect that neither is he. I agree that he needs to state clearly what he is trying to say, and that he needs to clearly enunciate the moral teaching of our Orthodox Church.

    That being said, there a a few thoughts that come to mind.

    First; is seems that all sides seem to be caught in a false dichotomy between moral strictness and compassion. It is possible to uphold the church’s teaching and to show compassion for those who suffer from the passions. Our church has done so through the centuries.

    We also need to remember the biblical anthropology that underlies the church’s moral stance.

    First, we might recall that homosexuality is not the primordial sin; but is rather a punishment or a consequence of that sin.

    The Apostle Paul teaches:
    “Therefore God gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged what is natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. Romans 1:25-27

    Second, we might remember that in the church’s language the word ‘pathos’ means BOTH sinful passion and suffering. The liturgical texts often play on this conjunction.

    “By your Passion (suffering) we were set free from our passions (sufferings), O Christ, and by your resurrection we were redeemed from corruption. O Lord, glory to you.” Aposticha of the First Tone Saturday Evening Vespers

    Without surrendering the biblical teaching about homosexuality, we can therefore recognize that those who suffer from sexual passions are not sinners so much as they are sufferers. We often hear that the church is a “hospital for sinners”. How many of the sick will go to hospital armed with stones?

    We ought to recall the Lord’s own approach to this when He was confronted with the woman caught in adultery. After saying to the crowd:

    “ He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first. And again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted in their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her: “Woman where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? She said, “No one Lord”. And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more”. John 8: 3- 11

    Notice this: The Lord refused to condemn, and then He said “Go and sin no more” Why are we incapable of doing the same today?

    In the Russian tradition, there is a teaching from the Optina Fathers that each of us is responsible not only for our own sins; but in some way for the sins of the whole world, that each of us recapitulates in our own sins the Fall of Adam and that each of us has the potential through repentance to achieve forgiveness and redemption not only of our own sins but of the sins of others as well. This idea is best expressed by Dostoyevsky in the dialogs of the ‘Elder Zossima” in the novel “The Brothers Karamazov. Dostoeyevsky was a disciple of the Optina Elders.

    St. Seraphim of Sarov taught: ”Learn to be at peace, and thousands around you will be saved”.

    St Silouan the Athonite also taught:” Dear Father, do you think you could be happy in heaven looking down on the sinners in hell? The Father (who had condemned atheists and the persecutors of the church) answered. ‘It would be their own fault. They chose that way.’ St. Silouan answered: “Love could not abide that. We must pray for all.”

    It seems to me, that we need to look at this issue, and every issue through the scriptural and patristic tradition – a tradition often invoked but rarely considered in these debates. All too often in our zeal to ‘protect’ the church – as if God Almighty needed our protection! – we forget to remember that we ourselves are also fallen and sick sinners in need of forgiveness and healing. All too often, our Orthodox zealots are selective in their moral outrage. You condemn sexual sins even though the scriptures teach that one who commits a sexual sin “sins against his own body” I Corinthians 6:18; but one who commits murder has destroyed as it were the whole world.

    While we are poking our collective noses into other bedrooms and targeting our neighbors sins, thousands are dying in a horrible fratricidal conflict that pits Orthodox Christian against each other. This very week the Russian military brazenly sent three more convoys of tanks, missiles and soldiers into occupied Ukraine in order to re-ignite the war there – a war that has already killed 4,000 civilians and driven 1 million civilians into exile and poverty. They also sent convoys of carriers to remove the bodies of the many Russian soldiers who have been killed and who are being buried secretly to hide the Russian governments sponsorship of this war. Where is our outrage at that?

    Where is the outrage of the persecution of Orthodox Christians in occupied Georgia? Churches in villages along the occupation line were stolen from their parishes just before Pascha in the ever expanding ‘borderization’ around South Ossetia, Metropolitan Isaiah in Tskhinvali / Nikazi remains captive (since Bright Week) behind the occupation line. Where is the outrage at that?

    St. Silouan said: “My brother is my life”. So many of our posters here are only concerned with their brother’s sins; but not their brother’s life and welfare. This too, is a grave sin, for as Our Lord said: “ I was hungry… I was thirsty… I was sick and imprisoned, and you did not come to Me. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.” Mathew 25.

    Let us remember, that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23.

    Perhaps if we were better Christians, the gays would have “repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago”. Matthew 20:11.

    • Michael Bauman says:

      Two things Mr. Frost: 1. Go and sin no more is the critical phrase. Jesus did not say, go and fornicate as much as you want; 2. It is quite difficult to be balanced and perhaps dangerous to try when one is under a committed assault on the foundations of the faith.

    • As one who struggles with the passion of same-sex attraction, I would say that this “compassionate” approach is anything but. It does nothing to help homosexuals when such “compassion” (or economy, or license, call it what you will) is extended. To me, it belittles my struggle.

      It is possible to uphold the church’s teaching and to show compassion for those who suffer from the passions.

      There is not a dichotomy here. Calling people to come out from a life of sin is compassionate by nature. What is not compassionate is enabling people to remain comfortable in sin. In fact, enabling sin is, in itself, a sin.

      And no, that should not only go for homosexuals, but what’s unique about homosexuality is that it is no longer considered to be sinful by many. You don’t see people saying rage, impatience, and infidelity are blameless and inborn states of being which lie above reproach. That is why homosexuality is allegedly given an undue emphasis.

      Notice this: The Lord refused to condemn, and then He said “Go and sin no more” Why are we incapable of doing the same today?

      Notice that the Lord’s forgiveness is always preceded by an act of repentance and faith. A repentant homosexual will strive to refrain from homosexual sins, both of a physical and mental nature.

      That Fr. Arida should commune the unrepentant, practicing homosexuals at his parish is not what the Lord meant to convey with his refusal to condemn. Let us pray he is not stoking his own flames by doing so.

      So many of our posters here are only concerned with their brother’s sins; but not their brother’s life and welfare.

      Many homosexuals would call me an Uncle Tom for writing this way, but being concerned with my brother’s sins may well be a concern for his life and welfare. There is no dichotomy here. I, for one, do not get huffy and offended when people say bad things about homosexuality, which I struggle with.

      Why? Because I know that I am not my passions. My identity is found in Christ, not in my passions. Only those who are entrenched in sin are offended when sin, or a sinful tendency, is called what it is. I honestly do not understand homosexuals who claim to be Christians (if not Orthodox), but are so attached to their sins that they are offended by such things. How sad they will be in heaven, when it is burned up and taken away from them! What will they have left?

      I appreciate the quotes from the Fathers about minding one’s own business, but let’s not divorce their words from their reality. Many of these are monastics who had intimate spiritual relationships with an elder, to whom they were constantly answerable. We in the world have a different situation, one wherein collective morality are important in helping us keep one another on the straight and narrow. To be blunt, there is nothing wrong with shame in society.

      • Ages,

        Thanks for writing this. A prominent silent group among all these discussions is the Orthodox Christian who struggles/has struggled with same-sex attraction.

        I, too, struggled/struggle with this, though the SSA passion was much stronger when I was younger. Reading Fr Robert Arida’s disgusting essay (and yes, it is disgusting) left an awful taste in my mouth. As an Orthodox priest, he ought to know that same sex intimacy drives a huge gulf between the struggling person and God, so much so that when one is caught up in the passion of SSA, it is very difficult to grow close to Christ and God or to lead anything resembling a healthy, grace-filled life.

        When I was younger, I needed to go through struggles and difficulties to come to the root of my SSA passions — a sexualized emotional longing. I needed to come to terms with the fact that I was looking for (and, at times, continue to look for) for an intimate relationship with my emotionally/physically abusive and distant dad (who was a nominal Orthodox Christian). Same thing that any little boy wants. Some boys who don’t get this intimacy that they need as kids will develop SSA once puberty hits, and it becomes much more intense as young adults, when hormones are at their peak. They crave that relationship with their dad, and it becomes a sexualized emotional desire to be with other men. I had to learn and understand codependency, which I became an expert at. SSA is a lot like alcoholism, but a prime difference is that alcoholics have fantastic AA groups to go to, while groups for SSA are very few and far between. The chief reason for this is that alcoholism is not socially acceptable, but it’s cool to be gay or to have gay friends! So the minute people hear you struggle with SSA, they cheer you on to indulge in it. Most people have no idea that they are helping to sentence you to a life of misery and death. But I grant no such pass to Fr Robert Arida, who as an Orthodox priest must know better.

        My saving grace in all this (and yes, it was and remains truly a saving grace of God) is that my dad was a nominal Orthodox Christian, and we went to church periodically. I truly believe that God gave me that beautiful gift of Orthodox Christian worship as a kid, because he knew it would later save me, literally. When I got to be a late teenager/young adult who was struggling with all this, I looked for help in the roots of my faith, and I found so much love and wisdom in the teachings of the saints and of the church Fathers and among those loving Orthodox Christians whom I met at parishes where I worshipped. These people showed me how one lives as an Orthodox Christian, how our lives really are daily struggle but “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). By the pure grace of God (and only by the grace of God), I somehow was given a wonderful wife and family, and though I occasionally still struggle with SSA, I understand where it comes from. But through my life in Christ and with the sacramental life of the church, it stays dormant.

        I believe 100% that if I were a mainline Protestant Christian as a kid and had a faith which taught “go ahead, be gay, it’s OK!” I would have gone ahead with that lifestyle and I would be miserable. The roots of my problems would never be addressed.

        Fr Robert Arida should be ashamed of himself and should be suspended (if not deposed) immediately, because he is telling young Orthodox Christian men and boys like I was to “go ahead, be gay, it’s OK” and is helping to sentence them to a life of misery and death. I feel strongly about this because I experienced it. Any bishop who shares Fr Robert’s opinion about homosexuality needs to be exposed immediately by brother bishops and clergy (even if they are in other jurisdictions — the time is long past now for “jurisdictionalism” to be a cover for not exposing lies).

        Bishops and clergy especially in the OCA, do something! Needless to say, I left the OCA a while ago (even though I experienced very good parishes there in the past), because I needed to for my spiritual health. Don’t sentence struggling young Orthodox Christian men (and yes, it’s primarily men) to a life of misery and death, as you advance your own self-serving, homosexualist agenda. As Fr Hans Jacobse wrote, there are many protestant churches that would be happy to receive you while you falsely extol the merits of a homosexual lifestyle. But you and your lies will be exposed if you remain wolves in sheeps’ clothing in our Orthodox Christian faith.

        Слава Тебе, Боже наш, слава Тебе! Glory to Thee our God, Glory to Thee!

        • I believe 100% that if I were a mainline Protestant Christian as a kid and had a faith which taught “go ahead, be gay, it’s OK!” I would have gone ahead with that lifestyle and I would be miserable.

          I can say the same for myself. I grew up a mainline Protestant, and after my whole “coming out” ordeal I had nothing but “support” from my church, my youth leaders, my peers, everyone.

          If, in the end, the only thing I can say of Orthodoxy is that it saved me from a homosexual lifestyle—which I was headed straight into before I found the Church—it will have been worth it.

          So how dare any priest or any bishop take away from me the hope and the foundation I have found in Christ as our Church preaches him? How dare anyone who calls themselves Orthodox blunt the gospel and send our confused youth straight into hell?

          I sincerely thank God for each and every Father and layman who has stood up for the truth. You are the ones who are saving people—not these permissive empty cassocks.

          • M. Stankovich says:

            Ages & So true,

            I don’t wish to be rude here and spoil the party, but this has become a feeding frenzy which is completely unsustained or supported by what is actually written in Fr. Arida’s essay. I am the first to agree with the clergy of Houston that we cannot tolerate ambiguity in writings which purport to be instructional to the Church, and I call upon Fr. Arida to openly & unambiguously clarify the meaning & intention of his essay. Nevertheless, you are makings claims that are impossible to infer from this essay alone.

            So true, you say:

            Fr Robert Arida should be ashamed of himself and should be suspended (if not deposed) immediately, because he is telling young Orthodox Christian men and boys like I was to “go ahead, be gay, it’s OK” and is helping to sentence them to a life of misery and death. I feel strongly about this because I experienced it.

            and Ages says:

            So how dare any priest or any bishop take away from me the hope and the foundation I have found in Christ as our Church preaches him? How dare anyone who calls themselves Orthodox blunt the gospel and send our confused youth straight into hell?

            Fr. Arida uses the word “sexual” – not heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, lesbian, gender-dysphoric nor transgender – but “sexual,” once in the entire essay, in a list of issues he believes need to be addressed. Your statements – and the statements of those falling over themselves in support simply because you are same-sex attracted – are exaggerations that can only be reached by wild speculation & conjecture. Fr. Hans apparently feels confident enough to state “this is exactly what Arida’s essay implicitly” states and he “underhandedly” chooses to “rebel against the teachings of the moral tradition,” but Fr. Hans is, at best, guessing.

            Secondly, I invite you to search my comments on this site and Fr. Han’s AOI site when I first started posting in 2011 – trained as a physician & biogentic researcher who is a seminary graduate – with the message that there is no support in the Scripture, the Patristic or Canonical Fathers, or in our Holy Tradition that same-sex attraction is sinful, in and of itself, but it is the same-gender sexual acts that are sinful & an abomination. And most importantly, I have been saying since 2011 that it is possible to struggle with same-sex attraction yet experience the fullness of the Church in chastity, repentance, obedience, and singlemindedness on the path of salvation to which we are all called. See the hateful and despicable comments I received, and how I was accused of “implicitly” and “covertly” engaging in a subtle, narcotizing attempt to subvert the integrity of our Tradition and undermine the Church. Sound familiar? And I welcome you to read my essay, The Science of Same-Sex Attraction that begins here.

            I “harvested” all the comments I received, and cataloged the dialog from both sites where this “discussion” occurred, and I would note that you might be surprised at the historical comments your “supporters” now make. And I conclude with a caution for you: you are visiting a place seething with real hatred and disgust for homosexuals – struggling or not. Watch your back.

            • Christopher says:

              There you go again M. Stankovich. You can not see the point of the essay perhaps due to your friendship and support of Fr. Robert. This essay, taken in context and in relation to his earlier essays (I won’t quote them again – you have had your chance to read the truth) is about homosexualism, same sex marriage, and trying to convince the faithful to accept both. It is subversive through and through, saying just enough to reveal what it is about but hiding behind enough devils so that those like yourself can choose to look the other way. M. Stankovich you are trying to deceive these people who are struggling with this particular passion. M. Stankovich, yet again, you are trying to pose as some sort of scientific “expert” on this subject…

              • M. Stankovich says:

                Christopher,

                If it is true that I am “trying to deceive these people who are struggling with this particular passion” and “pose as some sort of scientific “expert” on this subject,” than you should be able to refute me – point by point – as to the error of the science I have presented, as well as correct and demonstrate that anything I have written is in conflict with the Scripture, the Fathers, or The Tradition of the Orthodox Church. . And I am willing to bet that before you made this inane, pulled-from-your-derrière response, you never even bothered to actually read what I have written. I will say this to you, I am exceptionally well educated, been blessed with superior teaching supervisors, and am extremely experienced in my field, and respected by my colleagues. If I am a poseur, son, you will have no difficulty demonstrating that what I have written and teach is “error.” And while I do not claim to be the expert, I certainly am an expert, and I certainly know considerably more than you. You don’t know me from anyone on this earth, but you somehow imagine yourself “empowered” to suggest I listen to demons; am attempting to “deceive these people who are struggling” when I am demonstratedly their powerful ally and strive to instill hope; and you will find me, by name, commenting and taking exception to the “ilfestyle-affirming” positions presented on the sites of the biggest advocacy groups and newspapers of Gay, Inc., teaching the reasonableness of the Orthodox Tradition because I have no fear.

                When you are prepared to correct me as to substance – that I am mistaken or have misrepresented medical science or the Theology of the Church – rather than resorting to these cheap personal judgments, I will gladly respond. Otherwise, your comments are neither instructive nor compelling – and as Fr. Schmemann notes in his comment on Lk. 9:62, “”No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62),” you are either “nostalgic and romantic or panicky and fearfully looking back.” In either case, you are boring me senseless.

      • Chris Banescu says:

        Well said! More truth, proper Christian theology, and moral clarity from a layman that we have seen from the entire OCA Synod!

        As the Scriptures attest, Jesus told the woman living in sin: “go and sin no more,” not “go and make your sin your lifestyle,” or “define yourself by your sin,” or “what you’ve done is not really sin, but love,” or “go out and be proud of your sin,” or “teach others that your sin is not really sin,” or “berate others to embrace your sin.”

        “If your proclamation of the Christian Faith is not deemed to be a danger to the social norms of the fallen world… Then examine your Christian Faith and pray for the courage to go all the way. To preach love without discipline is to tell a lie. To preach of heaven without the consequences of hell is to cheat people of the truth. To sugarcoat sin is to be found complicit in its acceptance.” ~ Fr. Benedict Simpson

        “Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

      • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

        Ages, thank you very much for this.

        Ages’ response is also why I think the posting of the Arida essay is such a horribly flawed decision.

        Look at what Ages said:

        I am not my passions (emphasis Ages).

        But this is exactly what Arida’s essay implicitly denies.

        What happens to a young man who, in a vulnerable time of life and lives in a society that is horribly confused about sexuality and facing a propaganda barrage from Gay INC and other sexual libertines, opens up the OCA Youth Page(!) and discovers an essay that surreptitiously declares that what the moral tradition teaches about same-sex attraction is wrong, and the dominant culture is correct?

        It can be confusing, corrupting, abusive, and even evil (yes, evil). It mars and obscures Orthodox anthropology, including the proper understanding of manhood that a young man must acquire to grow into the person God created him to be.

        You can’t discuss these issues with those who are confused or rebel against the teachings of the moral tradition. They will resist it. They will undermine it.

        Our job is to provide a way out of the confusion as Ages exemplifies above. But if a person denies the sexual confusion — if he implicitly affirms the new anthropology behind it (“I am what I feel”) — then he has nothing to offer. He is not equipped to formulate the proper pastoral responses that our confused culture imposes on us. This includes priests and their enablers.

      • Thank you Ages.

        Your reminder that we are not our passions helps frame the discussion correctly. If the Church condoned my passions as acceptable, it would cease being the hospital I need. When the Church condones another’s passions, it is consigning them to live with an untreated sickness.

        Love requires we do all we can to avoid this tragedy.

        • Chris Banescu says:

          ABSOLUTELY RIGHT Jesse!

          Let me re-state what you have said in bold:

          If the Church condones passions (sins) as acceptable, it would cease being the hospital that we ALL need.

          In essence, those who preach this false love, false Christ, and false Gospel want to transform this Hospital into a Morgue!

      • Michael Bauman says:

        Thank you Ages. May our Lord strengthen you.

        Please don’t consider what I say below as belittling your struggle, I just want to expand it a bit.

        I would also add that for those of us who don’t struggle with SSA, the cultural affirmation of fornication in general makes any attempt at sexual purity especially for our young people suspect and open for mocking. The feeling of being alone is pervasive.

        There ought to be a way to bring these struggles (generally speaking) into the Church to reduce the alienation and the feeling of being alone.

        It seems that is part of the pastoral challenge to the spirit of the age. I just have no idea how to begin such a thing.

        • George Michalopulos says:

          Ages, if I may piggy-back on Mr Bauman’s response, I have come to the conclusion that if anything, those of us who suffer from excessive heterosexual passion have it worse than those who suffer from SSA. I know this is controversial but here me out: Excessive Other-Sex Attraction has been elevated has been elevated in our society since the 1960s with the Sexual Revolution (Playboy, feminism, etc.) to an unhealthy degree.

          Consider: virginity in girls has been mocked, monogamy in marriage as passe, etc. Whereas there are still vestiges of disdain for SSA, all restraint regarding heterosexuality has been thrown to the winds. Young people who wish to pursue a virtuous life, whether as a monastic or simply wanting to wait to get married are viewed as freaks by their peers. It’s no better in the typical parish church.

          As for myself, being in a profession which has a ration of 3 women to one man and many of these women being young and nubile, the sexual tension is dramatic. I can see why many marriages fail under those conditions.

          Anyway, I’m going on a limb by saying this.

          • Michael Bauman says:

            George it is only worse because sexual promiscuity has been normalized. It is now beginning to include people of the same sex “experimenting” sexually as part of “normal” sexual maturity.

        • Christopher says:

          Michael, I want to believe that something like this is what Met. Tikhon wanted to say when he spoke of the “positive contributions” of Fr. Roberts essay. I want to believe, but it is difficult because nothing of this sort was really there. Even granting Met. Tikhon’s difficult personal circumstances, he would still have to be a fool for projecting this meaning into Fr. Robert’s ramblings, and I don’t take him for a fool of this sort.

          As a father of two young girls this concerns me greatly. Obviously, the support they will receive at home (spiritually, etc.) will be the most important. Still, I wish I saw something more “pastoral” from the Church: Real, concrete support in word and deed, aligned of course with the normative moral Tradition – which is obviously counter-cultural (Thank God!). Instead, we get hand wringing over the fads of the day – women’s ordination, same sex marriage, alleged “fundamentalist” takeovers and “alien spirits”, etc. etc. etc.

          Shame on Met Tikhon and the synod for falling for this non-sense and giving it an airing, shame on them for not addressing the real issue of the day – the complete takeover of the passion of sexual attraction (in all it’s forms: pornography, lust for same and opposite sex, the over-sexualization of young girls and boys, etc.) in our culture…

        • Michael,

          Yes, that certainly is a problem. And I would freely admit it’s a bigger one. Homosexuality affects only a small fraction of the population, but fornication is a temptation for virtually everyone.

          And yes, it’s tough out there. You only need to wander into the secular fora of the Internet and see that one of the biggest insults among young people today is to call them a virgin. People can dismiss all kinds of four-letter words, but the word “virgin”—that’s a fighting word. This is not just among women, but also among men (perhaps even moreso; if you’re a virgin that means you’re nothing but a worthless beta male, etc.)

          If the Church has anything going for it, it’s that our hymnography lauds virginity openly. The Theotokos most of all, but also St. John and many other virgin saints. Much pastoral work needs to be done too, and I sadly don’t know what to suggest there.

          Having a disordered sexuality has one advantage: because once you accept that your basic attractions are not right, it’s easy to steer away from the whole business. I imagine it’s much harder for an average straight guy or girl, who must struggle with the proper expression of sexuality, rather than whether to express it.

          For that reason I really try to avoid judging others who struggle with fornication, because I think they have it much harder than I do. Nonetheless, it’s a big problem, and I would hope the Church would also focus on it, because it affects so many people, and it’s something that changes people.

          George it is only worse because sexual promiscuity has been normalized. It is now beginning to include people of the same sex “experimenting” sexually as part of “normal” sexual maturity.

          The concept of “experimentation” cannot be anything but demonic in origin, because it has so thoroughly sucked people in. People use it to justify everything from fornication, to rape, to incest, and worse. And like being a virgin, you are made to be a total weirdo if you’ve never done it.

          • Michael Bauman says:

            Ages, I think we all have a disordered sexuality. The nature of the sexual attraction between men and women is just as twisted. It is supposed to be an integral part of the synergy that allows us to dress and keep the earth. Instead even in marriage it has tended to become mere “legal” satisfaction of lust.

            Chastity is a Christian virtue we all need to learn to practice whether married or unmarried hetero or not.

            Our failure to recognize how out of kilter our approach to sex is makes it that much more difficult to have a healing pastoral approach to those who are vexed with SSA.

            Romans 1 spends 2 verses on homosexuality. The rest of the chapter goes into all of the other sins that result when we worship the created thing more than the Creator.

            It is up to each of us to address our own sins and bear one another’s burdens as well.

            There is no reason IMO to create an special niche for those who struggle with SSA.

            Those who have given up the struggle are in a worse place possibly but otherwise not so much.

            May God continue to strengthen you. A former priest of mine who was transfered to another parish told me confession once that Fr. Seraphim Rose of blessed memory was a particularly efficacious intercessor for those working toward chastity.

    • “And fear not them who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.” Matthew 10:28

      I do not at all minimize the deaths of any Ukranian, Russian, or Georgian in the events you relate.

      And I respectfully ask you to not minimize the horrendous and eternal effects of the soul-killing heresy of which these Blessed Fathers speak in their letter.

      I cannot imagine any Orthodox Church of any jurisdiction turning away a homosexual visitor, but instead extending love and the genuine compassion of which you write. No one has ever advocated hateful behavior, shunning, or anything of the sort. However, what happens when someone who labels himself/herself homosexual wants to pursue the faith more deeply–that is what is at the heart of this entire matter.

      Yes, we all sin. But are we all asking our sins to be accepted? Are we all asking church doctrine to be changed to accommodate our sins? I’ve never heard of groups of women who’ve chosen abortion in their past doinganything but engaging in lifelong repentance, confession, and prayer..certainly not asking the Church to say their choices were ok because of circumstances, poverty, etc. No large groups of women demanding to be ordained, and having the Church accommodate their desires because the times are a’changing. No large groups of young adults demanding the Church change it’s stance on sex before marriage, and having the Church soften it’s views on that because modern “culture” accepts it as the norm.

      These courageous Southern clergy are drawing the line in the sand around “these little ones” whose sins have been accepted instead of corrected. It is by far the most “compassionate” thing we can do.

    • Christopher says:

      “First; is seems that all sides seem to be caught in a false dichotomy between moral strictness and compassion. It is possible to uphold the church’s teaching and to show compassion for those who suffer from the passions. Our church has done so through the centuries.’

      This is a dichotomy that is indeed false, and it is also one that Fr. Robert accuses the normative moral Tradition as causing, so to speak. Thus, those who hold to the normative moral tradition are slandered as “Fundamentalists”, that is having a false “moral strictness”. No, those of us who hold to the Tradition understand quite well that the healing of our sin is the point and not some moralistic “strictness”. We understand quite well (from struggling with our own sins) what this entails are thus always point to the loving, compassionate way, which is of course Christ Himself and his Church. Did you read the Statement, or Fr. Jacobse’s rebuke, or any of the thoughtful original posters on the Wonder blog or here? It does not appear you have, for you seem to say that we are proposing a false moralism – which is exactly what Fr. Robert falsely accuses those who disagree with his “new anthropology” of doint…

      “Without surrendering the biblical teaching about homosexuality, we can therefore recognize that those who suffer from sexual passions are not sinners so much as they are sufferers. We often hear that the church is a “hospital for sinners”. How many of the sick will go to hospital armed with stones?”

      The sexual passions ARE sins (see St. John Cassian in Philokalia for just one of many Traditional explanations). We may suffer because of them, but heal the sin (i.e. the disease), and what do you know – we no longer suffer! Your’s is a modern definition of sin – one that essentially internalizes sin and makes it part of what we are essentially, so that it can no longer really be a sin. In other words, you turn the sin/suffering relationship on it’s head. As Elder Pasios explained, we suffer from our sins because we love them. If we love the right things, then the object of our love does not lead to suffering.

      As to the rest of what you say, you do point to many other important things that we should be concerned about. However this thread is about this particular travesty which you seem to think is not a travesty at all…

    • Dear Francis,

      All of the quotations you provided are wonderful and true, but you left out the quotations that speak of homosexuality as an abomination. You also neglected to quote the holy fathers who also condemned homosexuality.

      To me, your line of thinking totally obscures the point. Instead of dealing with the pink elephant in the room, your arguments are simply saying, “Hey. Look over here. Why not deal with these other issues.” Yes, the other issues and conflicts are important and should be discussed, but not when they obscure the issue at hand. To use another example, suppose I took my neighbor’s car without asking and got in a car accident. According to your line of thinking, I should be more concerned with Putin and his invasion of Ukraine. Again, don’t get me wrong, discussion of Putin and his military actions is important, but it’s not the issue at hand.

      You mentioned a quote about how many people are concerned with their brother’s sin and less about their own. If you have or had a brother who was using heroin, wouldn’t you try and stop them or are you saying that even in such an extreme case you would only concern yourself with your own sins?

      Why is this issue of homosexuality so important you may ask? Because it represents a crossroad. Are you going to follow the teachings of the church and the holy fathers or are you not? Are you going to use expressions of “love” and yet allow people to continue to wallow in sin at the very price of their salvation? And dare I ask, what about the other people in your church community? Do you want all of the children in your parish to follows the teachings of the church or do you simply believe in “let’s just love one another” and allow complete moral relativism?

      You inserted several quotes about love. My friend, true love is helping someone who has fallen into quicksand, not just walking away and saying “it’s okay.” Euphemisms and catchy slogans like, “we are all sinners,” or “all have sinned” can have devastating consequences to people who are committing egregious sins that hurt other individuals. How about we change the issue from homosexuality to compulsive gambling. Would you still feel the same way? Is it okay for mom or dad to gamble away the life savings and the mortgage money because, “Hey, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God?”

      I sometimes think when I read statements like your yours that you believe deep down that issues like homosexuality are, in a sense, victimless crimes. In all seriousness, and without any sort of malice or animosity, please ask yourself if you would apply the same sense of “we are all sinners” logic to this if the issue was anything but homosexuality. Would you feel the same way if your son or daughter was hooked on meth and smoking a crack pipe in your house? How about if your daughter was so hooked on drugs that she was turning tricks in your house to feed her habit? Would you feel okay about letting a drug addict come into your church high on meth and let them play with your daughter at the coffee hour?

      Because you can’t see the terrible destruction that is being done to a homosexual’s soul, you apply the “love conquers all” and “look at the sin in one’s own eye” panacea or play the “are we going to look into everyone’s bedroom?” card. Again, if was your son or daughter who was hooked on crack and using in your house, I bet there’s a chance you might open their bedroom door once in a while and see if they are using drugs.

      The church’s teaching on the subject of homosexuality as a sin is unambiguous. I believe the church is so unambiguous about it because it feels that it is just as important for a person’s salvation as calling a heroin addict a sinner. Both are destructive physically, mentally and spiritually. And our roles as Orthodox Christians is to help our fellow man when they have fallen into a pit. They need help, not platitudes about how we are all sinners or obfuscation like talking about an invasion thousands of miles away. That’s not going to help the drug addict or the homosexual in front of you.

      What Fr. Arida and the other clergymen who do not stand up and teach the Church’s clear message on this subject are doing is allowing these struggling men and women to live a life of delusion. We get one life and one life only to repent of our sins. At our deathbed it’s all over in terms of what we can do to help our cause. Clergymen have a God-given responsibility to teach the truth and to lead people to true salvation, not some humanistic feel good, we are all perfect in the eyes of God because He loves us, theology. The priest’s role is to call all men to repentance so that they might find life in Christ. I personally fail to see how any priest can be doing this by allowing openly gay men or women to participate in the sacraments of the church, and I would say the same thing about any priest who openly allows a person who is openly committing sins such as adultery, cohabitating with another person outside of the context of marriage or who is openly involved in any illegal activity.

      • Chris Banescu says:

        Absolutely right Nick! Thanks for thoroughly debunking the flawed thinking and purposely deceptive way so many choose to approach this issue. They use a worldly and twisted version of “love” that is a fraud. This “love” abandons a brother to his sin and does nothing to speak the clear and unambiguous truth to him. This “love” preaches a worldly Christ, stripped of His wisdom and authority. This “love” alienates the brother caught up in sin from the eternal truth, wisdom, love, mercy, and righteousness of GOD and prevents true healing from taking place. This “love” cuts off man from this Creator and shuts out the eternal light that must illumine all our hearts and souls, and is the only way in which our humanity can be restored and we can saved and find real and everlasting joy.

        “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” ~ C.S. Lewis

        “It is not loving to affirm a person in their sin.

        It is not loving to affirm a person in their rebellion against both God and His created, natural order—not “supernatural,” or “unnatural,” but the way nature was always intended to be, revealed most perfectly in Jesus Christ and the Mother of God and all the Saints.

        It is not loving to affirm a person in their beliefs or perspectives that run contrary to the blessings offered us in both Christ and His one, holy Church.

        It is not compassionate to ignore truth in order to affirm a person in lies.

        It is not compassionate to let people live a life contrary to the author of Life.”
        ~ Gabe Martini

        http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2014/08/orthodox-truth-in-an-age-of-relativism/

    • Rewriting Saint Seraphim? “Save your own soul and thousands around you will be saved.” And, does “being at peace with thousands” mean “anything they might do should be accepted as OK”?

  18. V. Rev. A. James Bernstein, Dean says:

    I am a priest in the Antiochian Archdiocese. I notice that only one OCA cleric signed the statement – hieromonk John (Anderson). Of those who signed 20 are ANTIOCHIAN, 5 are ROCOR , 2 GREEK,, 2 SERBIAN. Two thirds of the signers are Antiochian. I want to thank Fr. Hans Jacobse for all that he does and also George for hosting this blog. To all – have a God Blessed Advent.

    • Fr James,

      I did some checking. Hieromonk John (Anderson) is the pastor of the only OCA parish in the greater Houston area, so the OCA signed this Houston petition at a 100% basis! I have a hunch that if similar statements were passed in other areas of the Diocese of the South (OCA) they too would replicate Father Anderson’s signature.

      May Fr. Anderson’s example continue in similar areas of the country and more OCA clergy stand up to be counted.

      • Heracleides says:

        So then maybe the rest of the OCA Diocese of the South parishes should get with the program (I’d include all OCA parishes no matter the diocese, but I haven’t the lung capacity to hold my breath that long) and issue similar signed statements!

        • M. Stankovich says:

          Is there any chance you could make a wearable button in Photoshop like you did for the All-American Council? I don’t know, perhaps an icon of St. Mark of Ephesus and the slogan, “Houston: All Systems Go!”

          • Heracleides says:

            Ummmm… I doubt it. I do, however, still have a rather scary image of a Richard Simmons look-alike clad in spandex declaring himself and his homosexually-affirmative clerical pals as being members of some sort of queer legacy; perhaps I could use it to come up with something addressing the current OCA debacle into which you’ve (once again) inserted yourself.

            • Christopher says:

              into which you’ve (once again) inserted yourself.

              Uh oh, here comes more multi-paragraph verbiage about his scientific credentials which are supposedly relevant to this event, his personal relationship with Fr. Robert and how supposedly the essay is not really trying to subvert the Faith, etc. etc. etc.

            • M. Stankovich says:

              Come on Hercules, you mad, bro’?.

              • Heracleides says:

                Not at all, Mikey. In fact, your selfie is quite an improvement in self-image over your Richard Simmons fan-boy phase. As one LCSW to another – keep up the good work – you’ll get there eventually, “bro”.

      • Through the prayers of our Most Holy Theotokos and all the Saints, May God protect Fr. Anderson from any possible retaliation from the OCA or Locum Tenens!

        • John Pappas says:

          I hope Syosset does not do to him what they did to +Jonah. One of the reasons they went after +Jonah was because he spoke out on homosexuality. Jillions, Bobosh, Wheeler and crew believe what Arida does.

          • George Michalopulos says:

            It’s amazing, isn’t it? For all of Jonah’s supposed (but never-named) administrative missteps, the OCA never made errors such as this. Indeed, ever since his unjust ouster, Syosset has made one major misstep after the other, almost on a monthly basis.

            Kinda makes you go hmmmmm…..

            • M. Stankovich says:

              Well, Mr. Michalopulos, there apparently was the small matter of unrepentant homosexuals – one who openly discussed the details of her nuptials and had the details on a published website – openly receiving Communion in Met. Jonah’s own cathedral, despite protests. And though he loathes admitting it, the deacon cum Marvel Comics super-hero who precipitated a scandal by his hatred for homosexuals, was not elevated to the rank of Protodeacon for his “courage,” but rather issued the $5 smackdown for disobedience from Met. Jonah himself.

              And if I further recall correctly, Rod Dreher’s wife hopped on a train and presented herself one morning, unannounced, at Met. Jonah’s front door, and in tears begged him to take action against a deacon who openly married a man, apparently left his marriage and returned to his “roommate” retired bishop, and was still allowed to serve as a deacon. John Pappas pay attention: Julie Dreher is someone who went after Met. Jonah for his indifference to homosexuality. If you recall, I nominated Julie Dreher to replace the “ousted” Jonah, as she seems eminently qualified to get the job done.

              These, Mr. Michalopulos, are not “administrative missteps,” but a few symptoms of the fundamental lack of a voice of moral authority that typifies and models the massive indifference & secularism that characterizes Orthodoxy in America. Met. Jonah was not an iota different than any other hierarch, and it is silly for you to continue promoting him as such.

              • John Pappas says:

                Michael Stankovich, didn’t you come out with some kind of blog with Arida, Jillions and Wheeler after Syosset kicked out +Jonah? Then you took it down if I remember right. It was called “The Legacy is Ours” or something like that. Correct me if I am wrong.

                We still have to watch Syosset so they don’t go after the priests they don’t like and do what they did to +Jonah. The Arida comments on the Wonder Blog proves they can’t make good judgments.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                I believe M. Stankovich’s testimony to Metropolitan Jonah’s “Situational” approach to Orthodox values and teaching to be quite accurate . Regardless of such moral slipperiness on his part, though, the Holy Synod of the OCA is responsible for electing him first to the episcopate and then to be their own First Hierarch; yet they have never apologized to the Church for those hasty actions; rather; they chose to publish a disgraceful STINKBOMB of a letter, maligning Metropolitan Jonah GRATUITOUSLY and, it seems, somewhat dishonestly as a kind of smokescreen /diversion.
                Metropolitan Jonah’s actions as verified by M. Stankovich belie his splashy remarks about DOD’s acceptance of homosexuality with which he regaled military chaplains and which elevated him to the status of a new Moses for his partisans.

              • At the risk of giving Dr. Stankovich a coronary, I have to say that I am inclined to agree with him on this point.

                +Jonah as some sort of hero of traditional Orthodoxy — a bishop too traditional to survive in the OCA? I just never saw it.

                In fact, he was less of a force for traditional belief and praxis than I would have expected and hoped for, given that he came out of the OCA’s DOW.

                I am far from convinced that the Metr. Jonah we saw at the beginning of his tenure would have responded any more firmly, unambiguously, or clearly than did Metr. Tikhon. It seemed to me that he discovered his inner traditionalist only after his ship was sinking.

                And while he has had his laudable moments of clarity, his sermons and talks can be as convoluted and opaque as anything that is sometimes critiqued on this site.

                I know I will likely get flamed for this, but sorry, but that is just how I see it, and I don’t think it helps in the current controversy to bring him into it.

                • No you got it wrong also-he was/is very Traditional, but he was so attacked for it and the fact that he was not one of th e” boys”. I think he became unable to move. If it were true that +Jonah had actually made all the mistakes the OCA claims ROCOR would stop consistently asking for him.

                • Also, you should bring him into this conversation and many others, because if you start to forget how the OCA operates and treats it’s own you are not going to get a realistic picture as to what thier actions mean now, or what exactly they will do. Met. Tikhon’s response was very telling to me-same old, same old . . . .

                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Edward, I can understand how you might have this impression. Still, the facts are otherwise. Right off the bat, His Beatitude signed the Manhattan Declaration. If memory serves, he was the first Orthodox signatory to it.

                  Second, he wrote a pointed letter to the US Armed Forces chaplaincy explaining clearly –and in detail–what the repurcussions of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would be. (I won’t rehash them here.)

                  Third, he wrote two encyclicals addressing the issue of sexual immorality within his diocese: one to the pastors and deacons, the other to the laity.

                  Colette has it right: he was hoping that the same-sex couple’s father-confessor would address the issue and bring them to repentance but unfortunately, the priest in question was not acting in good faith. Indeed, he was the Judas-goat who tried to lead His Beatitude into the clerical funny farm.

                  • George, you may be right that +Jonah would have been clear on this issue, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a general traditional Orthodox outlook, which was my main point (that I should have stuck to). And let me reiterate — I firmly believe that +Jonah was done very wrong. I agree with Bp. Tikhon that the Holy Synod bears the blame — both for electing him and for the cowardly way they handled his removal.

                    That said, I remember when then Abbot Jonah was at a diocesan conference with his book-selling table, and had Thomas Merton’s Seven Story Mountain front and center as the featured presentation.

                    Really? Because there aren’t any books available about the spiritual life from an Orthodox monastic perspective? (Now that I wrote that, watch some poor +Jonah partisan start memorizing the Seven Story Mountain…)

                    I could give other examples, but this is the guy who was too much of a hard-line traditionalist for the OCA to stomach? Really?

                    It takes more than opposition to the homosexual agenda to make a solid traditional Orthodox bishop with a reliable and comprehensive traditional view of the Church, and with a reliable ability to respond clearly to whatever liturgical, moral, or dogmatic issues that might arise.

                    Maybe this one issue was so important to a lavender Mafia that +Jonah just couldn’t be tolerated — but I still have a hard time buying the idea, believed by many, that he was kicked out just because he was too much of a traditionalist for the OCA. I hope I’m wrong, since he is now in the ROCOR. I hope he turns out to be Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, Jr.

                    I do wonder, though, whether his current ROCOR fellow bishops read the issue of “Divine Ascent” with its article that painted Metropolitan Anthony in a decidedly negative light…

                    And he may have changed his views since those days. If there is any take-home to my comments, it should be that rehashing l’affaire +Jonah has just as much potential to cloud things as to clarify them. And this issue, which is ultimately whether we will be faithful to Orthodox tradition in its totality, regardless of the cultural tides that oppose it, is just too important to let any axe-grinding cloud it.

                    • Facts Schmacts says:

                      And he may have changed his views since those days.

                      Edward, it is not wise to idly speculate about the motivations of a man you do not seem to know well.

                      Metropolitan Jonah is not a die-hard old school traditionalist in all respects. However, he does respect and obey the holy canons and teachings of our faith, which means traditionalists like myself very much appreciate how he tried to set the OCA on a holier path. That he was rejected in the name of liberal-minded, Americanized OCA ideas only increases our sympathy.

                      Is Metropolitan Jonah perfect? Not by any means. However, he is a very effective evangelist and spiritual father. I feel most of his weaknesses are due to spending so much time marinating in the cesspool that is the OCA. He has matured and adopted more traditional approaches. There is no weakness of character or faith that would preclude his progress. A transfer to ROCOR would be very good for him, and good for ROCOR as well, to gain such a charismatic teacher among its hierarchy.

                      You are incorrect, however, in stating that he is now in ROCOR. He is not. The OCA currently refuses to respond to ROCOR’s request for his release, despite previously agreeing to release him under conditions. Many premature celebrations were held because of that agreement, sadly. Metropolitan Jonah is in terrible danger every minute he remains in the clutches of the OCA. ROCOR is not only his hoped-for future home, but it is currently his lifeline.

                    • Facts Schmacts, where did I speculate at all about Metr. Jonah’s motivations about anything, let alone do so “idly.” Please re-read my post. I cited facts and I raised obvious relevant questions. My sole motivation for doing so has been made clear — stop and think before dragging +Jonah into this controversy.

                      I agree strongly with this that you wrote: I feel most of his weaknesses are due to spending so much time marinating in the cesspool that is the OCA.

                      In many ways, this is not his fault. I also agree that “a transfer to ROCOR would be very good for him…”, and I am actually very sorry to learn that he has not actually been released. Just on a personal level, I feel strong sympathy for him being, as you say, “in the clutches of the OCA.” I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

                      I, too, am hopeful for his potential ministry within the ROCOR. It is my every hope that your optimistic view of his progress while in the ROCOR will come to fruition. It is because of my interest in what his impact would be that I have spent quite a bit of time going back and watching his lectures and sermons on YouTube. I saw much to like, and have arrived at the conclusion that all things considered, the ROCOR bishops are absolutely doing the right thing by requesting his release and taking him in with open arms (something I did not initially feel when I first heard the news and responded with a loud “WHAT?!?!?”), but I also saw enough of the residual effects of that “marinating” to make me nervous at the same time.

                      I think that it is providential that Abp. Kyrill is an SVS grad, so he knows something about the cesspool and its dangers. There were some in the ROCOR at that time who thought he shouldn’t be made a bishop based on that fact alone — I thought it was a silly argument then and still do. I’ve known too many stellar traditional priests who graduated from SVS.

                      Again, there is nothing whatsoever that is idle in my approach. I write out of concern for not muddying this issue, and I secondarily am understandably concerned because I am in the ROCOR.

                    • Jesse Cone says:

                      Edward,

                      As I am, according to Mark Stokoe, a founding member of Team Jonah, let me share my “partisan” take on your comments.

                      Your sentiments are warranted. +Jonah was not the cure-all; and much of that is due to what another commentator called his “marinating in the cesspool that is the OCA”.

                      However, while we looked to His Beatitude for clarity, guidance, and steadfastness let us remember that “Team Jonah” loved him largely because we know him well. That includes his shortcomings–many of which led to his current limbo. (Though I think, as most, it says more about the OCA’s penchant for patricide and inner-circleness than about him.)

                      To think Team Jonah only saw him as vehicle for Traditionalism is to caricature in a most misleading way. To think we saw him as perfect for the white hat is to miss the fact that he is a pastor who is known and loved because he has charism. He has more charism than charisma in fact; and we all know he has quite a bit of the latter.

                      I would beg us all to reflect on something more germane: that at the time of the Blog Wars Rod and I were discounted by many who claimed it simply unreal to think the OCA would entertain a liberal sexual ethic. We were accused of demonizing good bishops when we pointed out how desperately a man like +Jonah was needed in that position. The existence of a Lavender Mafia with influence and sympathy was simply denied–explained away as straw-grasping acts of partisanship.

                      While I don’t believe in an organized Lavender Mafia in the OCA–mostly because I don’t believe in much organization in the OCA at any level–I do think the record of events have unfortunately shown our fears to be warranted. From the Manton scandal, to the Leonova Facebook debacle, to bishops’ whispers of “glacial movements”, to the (unsurprising) Wonder scandal, it has become undeniably clear the struggle is real.

                      Just ask the clergy.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                      “Facts Schmacts” should be careful about excluding Metropolitan Jonah from a certain viewpoint: Surely we have seen in American public life that some who have spoken even more categorically against homosexuals and homosexual behavior have turned out to be what they decried. In fact some speak out in order toPREEMPT speculation about themselves. So, be cautious and circumspect before making either a positive or negative pronouncement about someone on the basis of a couple public utterances.

                  • Jesse Cone,
                    Thanks for your balanced and very helpful response. There is little you wrote that I disagree with, and it is a good perspective on the matter – and all the more useful because you know him well.

                    I think that I am perhaps sensitive to the matter because I am in the ROCOR. While it has been a bulwark of traditional Orthodox belief and praxis, the ROCOR also went through a time when it gained a reputation (fairly or unfairly) for taking in some clergy who, when they ran into trouble in their own jurisdictions, sought refuge in the ROCOR, claiming that they were being persecuted for being too traditional. Occasionally there were canonical issues, and I understand that some were even accepted without having obtained a canonical release.

                    Sometimes persecution for being too traditional was absolutely what was going on, but sometimes they were just plain problems, and ended up being kicked out of the ROCOR or leaving before they could get kicked out — but only after having done some damage along the way. My catechumenate began nearly 30 years ago, and over the years I have seen with my own eyes a couple of examples of clergy (and trouble-making parishioners) who have personality problems, but who claimed that the trouble that they got into is really because they were being persecuted for being too traditional or conservative. I’d like to think I’m not one of them, but I have enough self-awareness to know that there might be people in my past who would disagree…

                    There are probably others in different situations where it is more convenient for priests to cover their personality problems by claiming that they are being persecuted for being too moderate and caring (i.e. liberal). Believe it or not, not all who ascribe to liberal theology do so out of conviction and with an agenda in mind — some do it simply because they thrive on being provocative and stirring up trouble in their traditional churches, and thinking that they are more advanced and intelligent than the knuckle-draggers that surround them.

                    Anyway, I appreciate your graciousness and honesty in saying that my “sentiments are warranted,” and also for reassuring me about the good things that the future likely holds. God willing, he will be released to the ROCOR and exciting things will happen as we see him bloom by getting to be in a garden with good soil, and as we in the ROCOR receive the benefit of his charism.

                    • Jesse Cone says:

                      I think it’s good to be concerned about who you accept, and make sure you get the whole story from multiple people. I vividly remember when a bishop, after being “persecuted” by the Antiochians, came and wrecked havoc on me, my family, and my parish. By all means, use due diligence and be careful.

                      This thread is not about +Jonah, but it bears pointing out that the OCA lied in their pretense of getting rid of him, the infamous STINKBOMB letter. As for the motivations behind the lie, well that will probably vary depending on whom you ask. Was it because he was a culture warrior? If so, it wasn’t because he was a culture war-monger, but because he was one of many guarding the citadel.

                • Ditto!

              • I’m sorry Stankovich, but you got the story wrong. +Jonah never disciplined the deacon, because +Jonah was in agreement with the deacon. Unfortunately the parish was about to rip in two, so +Jonah was trying to ease both sides to avoid a mud fight. And it was not 1 couple but two. +Jonah initially did say not to commune them. +Jonah did not do what I personally thought he should do, but he knew the stakes and I think he was trying to work with their confessor to bring them to repentance. However the confessor himself was not on the up and up and it’s my understanding that particular priest is not aloud to preach anymore in that Cathedral. There was a lot of confusion over this very issue which is why I am a little skeptical that the OCA will do anything.

                • DC Observer says:

                  Edward,

                  Colette is more right than wrong and you are more wrong than right. Regarding that lesbian couple at the DC Cathedral, it wasn’t bad enough that they were open and throwing their relationship into the faces of the Cathedral folk, but to make things worse, their Father Confessor is gay, an open secret in DC. His influence has caused untold spiritual damage there.

                  Could Metropolitan Jonah have done a better job of handling that situation? Maybe, but he trusted their Father Confessor to do the right thing and in the end that priest stabbed him in the back and boasted about it to his cadre of supporters.

                  Like you, I am not a uncritical observer of the tenure of Metropolitan Jonah but he was also lamb led to an OCA slaughter.

                  • M. Stankovich says:

                    So let me understand this correctly: when Fr. Valery Shemchuk distributed his summary of the content of Met. Jonah’s meeting with the DC parishioners about this “incident” and said:

                    His Beatitude reaffirmed traditional and sacramentally correct pastoral practice: that it is, first of all, the Father Confessor’s responsibility to counsel whether or not his penitent should receive the Holy Gifts (Communion).

                    His Beatitude reaffirmed that, in those cases that require a publicly stated policy or a pastoral decision (communicated ‘publically’ or outside of Confession) about an individual person, it is the sole responsibility of the Bishop, in conjunction with the person’s Father Confessor, to state any such policy or make any such public decision to exclude someone from receiving the Holy Gifts. (Communion). No other person, clergy or lay, may presume to do so.

                    His Beatitude mentioned that, in line with the points above, it did not fall under the pastoral competence, authority, or responsibility of a deacon to make policies or individual decisions, private or public, about the moral and spiritual eligibility, of an otherwise eligible Orthodox Christian, to receive the Holy Gifts (Communion).

                    he was mistaken because “+Jonah never disciplined the deacon, because +Jonah was in agreement with the deacon?” Please. Jonah was humiliated that what was going on in his own cathedral – which had been brought to his attention by numerous individuals – was so publicly exposed, and he was angry that he was forced to come in and “mop up” the mess. The “judas goat” was the deacon, Mr. Michaopulos! Had Bishop Basil (Essey) not wisely declined to sign the Manhattan Declaration (because he actually took the time to study it), Jonah would not have been asked to sign at the last minute. There was no “open invitation” for those who agreed with the Manhattan Declaration to sign; the Orthodox signers were picked by Fr. Hans at the instruction of Chuck Colson!

                    The single action that distinguished Jonah from the typology of indifferent, ineffective, and voiceless hierarchs in America is that he actually admitted that his leadership was a “disaster.” As much as you would attempt to spin mediocrity into gold, he left too long of a paper-trail which simply cannot be surmounted. Why must his name be injected into nearly every discussion as if he would have done anything differently than his colleagues? He didn’t and he wouldn’t. End of story. Enough with Jonah already.

                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Dr S, you continue to put the cart before the horse. No one disputes the role of the Father-confessor in the Eucharistic role. What is disputed (and has been proven) is the good faith of this particular Father-confessor.

                      As for the good deacon’s role in the distribution of the Gifts, that has long been established by precedent that any Eucharistic minister –whether bishop, priest or deacon–has been charged with the duty to preserve them to the best of his ability.

                      Plus, I’m not exactly sure what your scenario re The Manhattan Declaration is about. It’s not at all accurate base on my own investigation as I remember it. (For the record, I was one of the first lay signatories on it.) As I remember it, Jonah’s participation with it is nothing at all like you describe. Indeed it was seamless and very well thought-out (and greatly appreciated).

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                      Hi Michael. I cannot speak to the DC incident as I do not have all the facts, but as to the Manhattan Declaration and those who signed it in the Antiochian Archdiocese I think that Father Patrick Henry Reardon may have more information about that. I think it prident to ask him what happened with Bishop Basil.

                      In any event have a blessed Advent and enjoy this most blessed season.

                      Peter

                    • lexcaritas says:

                      ++Basil did sign.

                      lxc

                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Indeed he did. AXIOS!!!

                    • Pdn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Metropolitan Jonah could indeed have taken action sooner and more decisively to stop the communion of the two women openly married to other women, but he never got “angry” with me or anyone else at St. Nicholas, and he never took any action against me or rebuked me in public or in private. He always treated me kindly and with extraordinary patience.

                      He did tell the congregation that I shouldn’t have done what I did, but even that was said in the kindest manner possible. Fault him for that: he is too kind, too patient. But then imagine what any other OCA bishop would have done in the same situation.

                    • I take Met. Jonah’s word that the task was beyond him. Breaking news provides part of the explanation.

                      However, in the event that a priest/confessor believes a penitent is suitable to commune, and the bishop agrees but, nonetheless, the communicant openly professes heresy, is there not an intra-synodal or intra-church conflict?

                      I recall when a Romanian bishop communed from a Romanian Roman Catholic, the Romanian bishop was forced by his synod to recant and promise not to repeat this in the future. This was in response to an inquiry from the ROC as to whether it was the policy of the Church of Romania to intercommune with Catholics.

                      Put another way: Even if a communicant, a priest and his bishop agree that open rejection of the Gospel is fine, there are others with the responsibility to call them on the carpet. Let us not forget that the streets of hell are lined with the skulls of bishops.

                    • Actually I learned not trust what was put in writing and told to the parishoners at that time because I saw too many happenings turned around by the time they made it to the pulpit.

                  • So let me pose an obvious question. Given all of this govno (not a polite word in Russian), what is the problem with traditionalism/fundamentalism? Do you not see that you will destroy yourselves or change? And I don’t mean change further in the direction of modernism.

                    Well, good luck. Glad I’m not involved in any way.

                    • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says:

                      I think Metropolitan Jonah found himself in the same position that every parish priest finds himself in. No matter what you do, some member of your flock will declare you are wrong, Just two examples from my 37 1/2 years of priesthood and rather trivial at that.
                      I cut my hair(because I was getting headaches from my hair being tied back) and was confronted by one woman who wanted to know why I cut my hair. I eventually grew my hair back and was promptly confronted by an older Russian lady who felt it her duty to lecture me as well.
                      A funny twist is that one of the women used to bellyache that I was using too much English in the services, even though she spoke little or no Russian; therefore Slavonic would have been totally incomprehensible to her. She now attends an OCA parish where everything is in English.
                      More recently, in the Serbian parish that I serve, I served a special Moleben for the flooding in Serbia and the neighboring Balkan countries to cease. I discovered that I didn’t have the service in English, so I had to send the deacon back home to get it. Had I served it in Slavonic, NOBODY, Serb or not, would have understood ;perhaps half of those present might have understood it in Serbian. Aside from one old man, everyone present could speak and understand English. So I did the Moleben in English.
                      Sure enough, a woman bellyached that the service was too long, even though she is a person who has advocated English in the services for a long time. I’m convinced that had I not served a Moleben, someone would have said ,”Oh, Fr. Andrei doesn’t care about our people because he isn’t Serbian.” Here, people in the old country lost homes, churches, and sometimes whole villages, yet this woman could go home to a comfortable home in a comfortable car after services.
                      So, I understand that Metropolitan Jonah was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. I would guess that like him, every parish priest at one time or another has felt like throwing up his arms and saying, ‘I don’t need this!” I felt that way myself, but came to the conclusion that by quitting I would punish good people who really have helped me. But I can sympathize with Metropolitan Jonah. He didn’t back a deacon who acted correctly(in my opinion), he was seen as weak. On the other hand, when he took a stand for traditional morality, he was seen as a liability.

      • Fr. John Whiteford says:

        Fr. John (Anderson) is the pastor of the only OCA parish in our clergy association, and he was in fact the first one to suggest we put our names to the letter, and that his be included. I am pleased to say that all the clergy who are active in our clergy association, from every jurisdiction, have been very supportive of this statement, and I am still getting e-mail from clergy who were not at our last meeting asking to have their names added.

        In fact, I have clergy from outside of our clergy association who have asked to have their names added, but I have not yet added anyone who is not part of our brotherhood. I hope that other clergy associations will issue similar statements… that would be the most powerful way to drive home the point that this cannot be swept under the rug.

        • Christopher says:

          I hope that other clergy associations will issue similar statements… that would be the most powerful way to drive home the point that this cannot be swept under the rug.

          This truth can hardly be overstated. I am going to ask my priest about this possibility, as I know he is quite active in our local Orthodox clergy association.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          Many thanks, Father John!

        • For shame... says:

          Fr. John or any member of the Houston Orthodox Brotherhood, I was curious as to whether Met. Tikhon has called the Houston clergy who sent this letter? Has the OCA Chancellor responded? Has the OCA’s locum tenets of the Diocese of the South responded?

          • Fr. John Whiteford says:

            There has been no response that I am aware of.

            More importantly, we need to see more public statements form clergy, especially those in the OCA. If this is not dealt with now, it will never be dealt with… internally, by the OCA.

            • Christopher says:

              I spoke to my priest about this subject. He told me that it so happens that our local clergy association was already considering a general statement due to the recent attempts to legalize “gay marriage” in our state. He expected these recent events in the OCA to be part of the discussion next meeting. I remain cautiously optimistic that something of substance might come out of this association…

        • Congratulations to Fr. Whiteford and to George for having this picked up on the English language portal of pravoslavie.ru — although I have sadly not been able to find a translation on the Russian portal (I would be happy to be corrected on that point).

          Sretensky Monastery is one of the most influential in Russia — word will get around, I would think. Given the Russian Church’s strong stand on this, I doubt they are amused…

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

        James, are there TWENTY Antiochian parishes in the greater Houston area then?

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Thank you, Fr.

    • ChristineFevronia says:

      May I humbly ask that all who read this blog light candles at tomorrow morning’s Liturgy for these Houston Clergy who have written this rebuttal, and also for Fr. Alexander who visited the Mayor of Houston as reported on this blog earlier this month? I am so grateful for their efforts. Thank you.

      • Thanks, Christine.

        Let’s also pray for the repose of Laura Paffhausen, known as “Madam” here. November 18th will mark the second anniversary of her death. Memory eternal!

  19. Peter A. Papoutsis says:

    Something people have not picked up on is that none of the signers of this document did so without the approval or at least knowledge of their respective Bishop, at least this can be assumed. Therefore, it is NOT just so-called “converts” that are reacting to this essay that promotes the acceptance of Homosexuality but cradle and long standing Orthodox Priests and Bishops that have recognized the errors of Fr. Arida’s article. I once again state that the OCA Synod need to collectively take action to correct this matter or the Rest of the Orthodox Church will. It’s up to the OCA Synod.

    The OCA must recognize how perilously close it is to schism over this issue IF the OCA Synod does not act. Further if the OCA Synod does not act it will have answered by default. It’s default answer will be that they fully support Fr.Arida and the Pro-Gay/LGBT agenda. I hope the OCA Synod acts quickly and properly to correct this most terrible turn of events.

    Basically it comes down to this: either the OCA Synod Acts or the Rest of the Orthodox Church Acts. The recent Statement from the Texas Orthodox Clergy is the first shot over the OCA’s ship. The OCA has a decision to make. I hope they decide to stay Orthodox.

    Peter

  20. Michael J. Kinsey 1380805 says:

    I am seeing comments, I did not write with my name. There are 23 people with my name in the US. I add, my military service number to avoid confusion/
    What exactly is the spiritual power of the Urim the thurim which Joesph Smith claimed he had been given? Fat chance he actually had these powers, but still Christianity needs to understand how these powers are active today. Yes, I have an answer and it does concern the abomination of desolation. I will post it in a blog where it is pertinent to the conversation. Constance Comby, a Catholic has the whole, extensive list, I gave her on her blog. The faithful are dispersed among the denominations, albeit, Orthodoxy teaches the purest Truth of the Apostles,, most of the time.

  21. “Vladika Lazar Puhalo
    November 16 at 12:01pm ·
    Would it not be fun to have an Ecumenical Council attended only by women, at which they get to make rules and regulations about men? Men are unclean if they don’t shave every morning. Once a month, men get to skip Communion and don’t have to kiss icons. Men are forbidden to wear underwear with hearts, flowers or peppermint stripes on them. Bald men are forbidden to take Communion because the Baptismal prayer says that their heads are to be covered with hair to protect them from changes in the weather? The possibilities are limitless.”

    ________________________

    The OCA is “hittin’ on all cylinders!”

    • Jim of Olym says:

      I think Vl. Lazar has the OCA in his sights!

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says:

      Michael, can you disclose where you saw that comment by Vladyka Lazar and perhaps provide the citation?

      • Heracleides says:

        I believe it was originally posted on Puhalo’s Facebook page. To view the above quote and other cringe-worthy puke ‘wisdom’ spewed by Lazar see: Here

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

      He says stuff like that all the time. Many find it entertaining. I liked his perorations on brain genders. When ROCOR deppsed him from the Diaconate, the world lost a real showman!! Almost…

      • Vladyka, same question about Abp. Lazar as about New Skete. Any rational explanation for the OCA taking him? And didn’t I hear something at the time that part of the condition for his acceptance was that he maintain silence during his “retirement?” (Not that I would ever imagine him to be constitutionally capable of keeping such a promise.)

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          Edward, there is no such rational explanation for the reception of the deposed Deacon as a retired bishop–no rational explanation whatsoever It happened not long before I retired. I never accepted the action of the Holy Synod, taken opportunistically at a meeting from which I was absent due ti ill health. Learning of this mistake, I wrote to Metropolitan Herman, asking him that no one would actually con-celebrate with the deposed Deacon until I had a chance to make a formal presentation to the Synod at its next meeting. At the next meeting I presented a fully documented case against the man’s reception. After my presentation, several f the Hierarchs expressed their dismay “This all new to me,” exclaimed Archbishop Dmitri. “To me, too! exclaimed Archbishop Job. Archbishops Peter and Kyril saved the day for the deposed Deacon, though. They both said very firmly that to reverse the action they had just taken would cause a terrible scandal since it had been widely published, Metropolitan Herman turned to me and said, “You said you would not go into schism if you were given the opportunity to present your case,if the Synod did not reverse itself after learning the facts, right?” I said yes. I feel this was TOTALLY irrational on my part.

          • Vladyka, thanks for the response. It appears that those members of the Holy Synod who felt that backing out would be a “terrible scandal” had no idea just what a terrible scandal not backing out would bring to the OCA. I really don’t keep up on things all that much and even I knew of Puhalo’s um… colorful… history after being deposed as a deacon.

            I suppose a simple explanation for the eagerness of some to accept him could be found in the statement in his Wiki entry:

            I wish to express my sincere regret and repentance for my years of involvement in Orthodox Church bodies outside the Canonical Orthodox Church. While my long involvement with schismatic bodies such as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia… was well-intentioned and motivated by a love of Orthodoxy, it was an error. I deeply regret this error and sincerely repent for it.

            Nothing like appealing to anti-ROCOR sentiment, and using the words “schismatic” and “uncanonical.” Like dangling meat in front of hungry hyenas.

            • ” Like dangling meat in front of hungry hyenas.”

              (Smile)

              You’re a treasure, Edward. So glad you’re here.

  22. A question. What will it take for the OCA to be officially in schism?

    • Annoyed,

      That is hard to say because what Fr. Arida wrote was intentionally ambiguous, which was the purpose of the ambiguity. Frankly, progressives are cowards. If they were frank, no one else would associate with them. Actually, it is reminiscent of the Manichaeans. But I digress.

      I think this is bad but I don’t know that it will be the occasion for the rest of Orthodoxy to excommunicate the OCA.

      Really, you need to reach the level where you find leaders with backbone before you encounter the danger of schism.

      • Pdn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

        Really, you need to reach the level where you find leaders with backbone before you encounter the danger of schism.

        It will take both backbone to cause a schism and backbone to prevent one. The OCA has leaders with backbone, but do they have backbone for anything other than destroying Metropolitan Jonah? That’s the question.

        I don’t expect a schism soon, but what else can we expect long-term, given the status quo — a hierarchy tacitly complicit (at very least) in a culture that allows the Aridas in its ranks to stuff the church with sexual revolutionaries?

        The only way I can see for the OCA to avoid schism is for its synod to collapse for want of willing replacements, causing what’s left to be folded into a synod with more life.

      • Christopher says:

        Really, you need to reach the level where you find leaders with backbone before you encounter the danger of schism.

        Where are the “churchmen of old”? The distinguishing characteristic of almost all the bishops in America, of all “jurisdictions”, is mediocrity…

    • I think you’re asking a practical question. While I’m not the best equipped to give you an answer, here’s my stab at one.

      It will take Moscow declaring one. The other autocephalous Churches have been so wary of the OCA it is hard to see the OCA surviving if Moscow moves from upholding it to denouncing it. At that point its best chance of survival is to be an attractive pawn in another Church’s game.

      But Moscow doesn’t have to declare the OCA schismatic to likely cause the same effect. It if merely withdraws its support (say, by failing to recognizing OCA bishops, their Metropolitan, the terms of the Tomos) parishes and clergy will jump ship quickly, expediting the OCA’s already rapid financial decline. With ROCOR’s alignment with Moscow, the OCA is much less attractive a pawn than it was 15 years ago; causing many to vigilantly watch Moscow’s moves.

      • Jesse Cone,

        I think another piece falling out of the puzzle that is the OCA was recently seen when the Moscow Patriarchate became the new point of contact between the ACNA and Orthodoxy. As you may recall it was Metropolitan Jonah who held discussions, even speaking at their Convention a few years ago. All that went away when Jonah was retired by the Synod. So now the MP steps in and although the OCA was present at the discussions, they observed while Moscow took over the dialogue.

        Few but the most deceived could read a clearer action by Moscow that it considers the OCA to be a failed experiment in America.

        • Jesse Cone says:

          True. One cannot watch Moscow/ ROCOR’s actions over the past couple of years and not see the same in the tea leaves.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          James, a couple small corrections: You wrote:
          “All that went away when Jonah was retired by the Synod.”
          1. Nothing went away.
          2. Metropolitan Jonah was NOT retired by the Synod.

  23. Peter A. Papoutsis says:

    Oh no! The Progressives are confused over Pope Francis supporting traditional marriage:https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/the-pope-says-kids-need-both-mom-and-dad-102977672772.html

    We care more about the “Culture” and appeasing the LGBT lobby that we are now confusing them by being Christian. Wow! The Catholics can do what they want, but we Orthodox better pay attention. Proclaiming the Gospel clearly is better than being confusing as the current Pope seems to be.

    Peter

  24. http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/75272.htm

    Monomakhos gets credit & link on pravoslavie.ru

  25. Peter A. Papoutsis says:

    Here is the end result:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/05/the-new-i-do-excerpt_n_6111242.html?cps=gravity

    This is what the Pagans were doing until the light of Christ came along. What a truly Pagan society and culture we now have. No wonder they hate Christ and us.

    Peter

  26. Fr. John Whiteford says: