Twisting in the Wind

bishop-bar-650x130If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like, this is it.

As you can read from the interview in The National Herald, it’s clear that Fr James Dokos doesn’t stand a chance at least as far as the GOA hierarchy is concerned. His ministry is over for all practical purposes, even if he’s found not guilty. At least that’s the tenor of the remarks by the interviewee, Bishop Demetrios Kantzavalllas.

The moral of the story? For one thing, when the sheriff comes knocking, the lower-level guys are usually the first ones to go down. That’s exactly what’s happening to Dokos. He played a high stakes game and was able to saddle up to the table because he found a money-pot. But because he played a little too fast and loose with the cash, he got caught.

Another moral: just because you made friends doesn’t mean that they’ll be there when things start getting rough. (Is this any way to run a church?) No doubt there are other lessons that can and will be learned as more details come out.

Now I’m not a lawyer but I’d venture a guess that the recipients of Dokos’ largesse didn’t break any laws but it still stinks to high heaven. Why in God’s name do well compensated bachelors (who make in excess of $120,000 per annum not counting benefits until the day they die) need a lowly priest to kick back a couple of grand their way? It doesn’t make sense except in this way: this is how the Church of Byzantium has been running for centuries now. Like their former Ottoman overlords, the bey or pasha gets baksheesh from lowly peasants who wish to curry favor.

This can be stopped but only if the people and lower clergy demand a stop to it. The question is will they? Or will they revert to the same old same old?

Source: The National Herald

Fr. Dokos to be Indicted for Theft

national-herald-logo-150x150CHICAGO, IL – The District Attorney’s office of the State of Wisconsin plans to indict Rev. James Dokos, priest of the Sts. Peter and Paul parish in Glenview, IL for theft (embezzlement). The charges follow a yearlong investigation of the Trust of an elderly parishioner who appointed Dokos as trustee.

If convicted, Dokos may have to pay a fine up to $25,000 and face up to 10 years in prison.

TNH reported last August that the whole issue started in 2008 Margaret Franczak, a parishioner at the Annunciation Church in Milwaukee, WI shortly before her passing established the nearly-$2 million Ervin J. Margaret S. Franczak Trust, designating Dokos as Trustee.

The Trust was created to benefit the Annunciation parish, which did receive $1.1 million, but which alleges that Dokos had used large amounts of money from the Trust. After many unsuccessful requests to Dokos to provide a complete accountability, the parish referred the matter to the District Attorney and asked him to investigate.

According to hundreds of documents obtained by TNH, Dokos wrote the first check to himself for $5,000 his fee as trustee. He also wrote checks to his personal credit card totaling about $50,000, and checks to his family members and himself totaling $75,000.

Dokos also wrote checks to Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos totaling $7,200, one check to Metropolitan Tarasios of South America for $10,000 and one of $4,500 to Metropolitan Nikitas of Dardanelia, Director of the Athenagoras Institute of Orthodox Theology in California.

Franczak also transferred her Florida apartment to Dokos, which he sold.

In May 2012, Demetrios transferred Fr. Angelo Artemas from Saints Peter and Paul to Annunciation in exchange for Dokos, who went to Sts. Peter and Paul parish.

After it became known that the Attorney General planned to indict Dokos, the Chicago Metropolis in a June 20 letter placed Dokos on “administrative leave effective immediately,” and suspended him “from his pastoral and administrative duties as parish priest.”

Dokos did not respond to TNH’s request for comment.

Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, however, spoke with TNH at length about the matter.

He said things have reached this point “because the Parish Council of Milwaukee refused to meet with the Metropolis of Chicago on three occasions, and I have it all in writing. Our initial investigation from a committee that I had set up found that nothing had been done inappropriately according to the Trust. They had all the documents, they wouldn’t give us the documents; they had information that we didn’t have and we invited them to share them with us but they didn’t want to, they wanted to go directly to the District Attorney. After nine months, the District Attorney decided to indict Fr. Dokos.”

But why wait until now to suspend Dokos? “Because they were was no formal charges, it was just discussion and investigation,” Demetrios said.

Though labeled an “administrative leave,” Demetrios told TNH that essentially, Dokos’ days in Glenview are done. A new priest will be appointed, and Dokos’ future remains uncertain.

Regarding money he received from Dokos, Demetrios said it was “for pastoral visits for a four-year period,” and added that Dokos “also gave to Athenagoras…Tarasios…and Nikitas.

“I don’t charge,” for pastoral visits, he said, “it was a gift. Don’t you think Methodios gets a gift or Athenagoras, or Iakovos? Don’t you tip the priest when he comes to baptize your baby or something?”

Demetrios says he sees nothing ethically wrong with metropolitans receiving gifts, but certainly finds fault with misappropriation of funds, as Dokos has allegedly done.

As for the apartment Franczak transferred to Dokos, “I don’t see where the problem is. He received the gift. Did he ask for the gift? I don’t know. Did he pressure her? I don’t know. Did she want to give it to him because she loved him? I don’t know. I don’t know the answers to those questions without asking other questions. All I know that document says that he is to get the house.”

But why did Dokos give money to those other metropolitans, had they made pastoral visits, too? “I don’t know, you’ll have to ask them that question,” Demetrios replied.

Demetrios acknowledged that the money he received from Dokos came from the Franczak Trust, but said he had no reason to believe it was given inappropriately. “The check was drawn from the Trust and I didn’t ask to see the documents to make sure I was eligible to have the money.”

Demetrios says he made the Dokos-Artemas double-switch because both men had wanted to be transferred for years, “so I asked them both together if they would like to switch parishes two years ago and they both said ‘yes’ and I have witnesses to that. The then-presidents of both parish councils know the truth about that.”

The reason Glenview Parish Council President Jim Gottreich was removed had nothing to do with the Dokos case, Demetrios says. Rather, it was because “we told him do not have secret meetings of the parish about your priest; you have to invite your priest and we have to discuss this together. He insisted, and we removed him. He apologized and I have his apology letter, too. We reinstated him to the Parish Council, but it was they who decided not to elect him president again; they elected him vice president.”

Demetrios emphatically proclaimed that Dokos at no time attempted to interfere with the judicial process. As for his own finances, Demetrios says: “they can look at my personal taxes all they want.”

Comments

  1. John Pappas says:

    Demetri wasted no time throwing Dokos under the bus.

    No one really knows how much GOA bishops make (the GOA keeps it a secret) but they are wealthy men. They get full pay and benefits even after retirement. The salary and benefits don’t count the special gifts they receive. Word is that a wedding costs $1,000 minimum.

    Alexios owns properties in New York. Savas waxes eloquent about caring for the poor but if you knew how some of his priests are treated financially it all rings hollow. Everyone talks about the high salaries in the big parishes (Dokos made over $200,000 a year in Chicago) but talk to some of the priests in the small, far-away parishes. They really struggle. It’s not as bad as Syosset vs. the priests in the OCA, but it’s close.

    I don’t believe that the Dokos payments to Demtri were honoraria. Churches take care of that, not priests. Check the books in Milwaukee and see if the church issued checks for the honoraria. More likely was that Dokos was hedging his bets. Nikita is a potential bet for Metropolitan in Chicago, and word on the street is that Tarasios is a front runner for the GOA Archbishop slot.

    Speaking of Nikita, no one should accept him without first investigating why he was recalled from Hong Kong so quickly.

    If Nikita replaces Demetri in Chicago, you trade one challenged man for another with the same outcome. Nothing will change.

    Dimitri by the way is Greg Pappas’ “spiritual father,” the one who gave Pappas permission to receive Holy Communion and to whom Savas “deferred” his judgment. All three men are morally confused about sodomy.

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    • J. Maropoulakis Denney says:

      Fr. Dokos threw himself “under the bus” by playing along with this scam. We can only hope that this will expose other culpable individuals, and that they will likewise be pursued under the law.

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    • Dokos faces only state charges. If the feds and IRS start peeling back the extortion (excuse me, “tips”) schemes up and down the chain of command, like this one appears to be, they can use federal RICO laws (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations) and tax laws to make the case that all these guys might just be a continuous, criminal conspiracy. After all, it’s Chicago, right?

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    • Bruce W. Trakas says:

      John Pappas says “+Tarasios is a front runner for the GOA[A] Archbishop slot;” I’ve always thought the Phanar’s choice would be Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, a Holy Cross graduate.

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    • timothy says:

      I guess there go Bishop D’s chances of becoming Metropolitan. Nothing like a scandal to draw shadows.

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    • I don’t think they are “morally challenged” whatsoever. They understand what love between two people is..be it man-man or man-woman or woman-woman. This is not sodomy, but love expressed by two people for each other.

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    • Why was Nikita brought back from Hong Kong so quickly? If he is going to become the new Chicago Bishop, if Demetri is “assigned” someplace else, I think we should know the background, rather than the same issues coming to Chicago. Again, our GOA system of not having a say in bishop selection hurts us.

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  2. Father Mark Hodges says:

    “Don’t you think Methodios gets a gift or Athenagoras, or Iakovos? Don’t you tip the priest when he comes to baptize your baby or something?”

    This is one of the problems in modern Orthodoxy: Simony.

    Any charge for house blessings, baptisms, weddings, funerals, confession, communion, ordination, visitation, etc., is against holy Scripture. The Sacraments must not “cost” the faithful anything monetarily, because we do not charge money for the grace of God.

    Those who do charge for the church’s sacraments or blessings, as St Peter said, need to repent, for they “are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” (Acts 8:9-24)

    We should expect and teach that members of the parish tithe, or work toward a full tithe of their income, as well as give generously to the poor and to church projects. And, parishes should pay their priest a living wage for a family to today’s world. But we are not to expect money for the holy Sacraments.

    Those who are not members of the church may not receive the church’s sacraments, until they join themselves to Christ. So, if John and Jane Doe come to me, asking to be married at St Stephen’s, I first talk with them about becoming a part of St Stephen’s. Why have your marriage enjoined to God and St Stephen’s when you yourself are not joined to God and St Stephen’s? To even consider or ask such a thing demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of what the church is, what salvation is, and what the holy Sacraments are –what is happening in the sacrament.

    I remember when pastoring Christ the Savior in Byesville, strangers came to me to baptize their infant. I think the grandmother or great grandmother had been Orthodox as a child, or something. After introductions and pleasantries and getting to know them a little bit, we set a time to talk and discuss what this means and what it practically would mean for them. When we met, I had the above conversation with them, seeking to help them understand what the sacraments really are (not magic!) and how they come out of a life-commitment to Christ and His Body, the Orthodox Church. “What are you baptizing the child into?” I asked, to try to help them think about what it means to have the Church baptize you. To my great sorrow, after a long conversation, when they ultimately insisted that they were not going to any Orthodox church and they were not going to become a part of the Christ the Savior parish (even to take the child they wanted baptized!), I had to turn them down.

    This is a horrible, horrible tragedy –with potentially eternal consequences. But the truth is, our choices have consequences –including the choices of parents for their children.

    I have heard so many times priest friends of mine who justify such misuse of the sacraments with the line, “Perhaps the baptism will have some effect (again, magically) on the child as s/he grows up,” or, “Perhaps the marriage will someday (again, magically) bring the couple to someday consider Christ.” This only perpetrates the problem and misconception –to the damnation of people and to our (clergy) judgment on the Last Day. The Orthodox Church is not for rent.

    And, while I’m on my soapbox, what’s this about Sponsors who are not Orthodox? How can anyone sponsor a child in the Orthodox faith who is not him/herself in the Orthodox faith? This is flatly impossible. First you join the church, and then you receive her eternal benefits. I remember the week of my ordination to the holy priesthood about twenty years ago, I as a brand new, junior priest filled-in for a senior priest at a baptism. During the exorcism, the woman sponsor (whom I had never met) was silent at the renunciation of Satan. I had to repeat the question numerous times, and still she just looked at me. I went on with the baptism, quite disturbed in my spirit but assuming the priest knew them and their pastoral situation. I’ve always hoped my trust in the priest was not misplaced. How can one actually renounce the Evil One, when she refuses to renounce the Evil One? Impossible.

    We have lost sight of what church membership is. On the one hand, we have mentally gone the way of Protestants, simply picking and choosing what we want from the Church (as my spiritual father would say, “Using the holy Church like a prostitute: soliciting her favors without any personal commitment”), while on the other hand, we have theologically gone the way some (not all) Catholics have: considering the sacraments to be insurers of salvation, again without personal commitment to Christ.

    Fr Mark

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    • Francis Frost says:

      Father Mark Hodges wrote:

      We should expect and teach that members of the parish tithe, or work toward a full tithe of their income, as well as give generously to the poor and to church projects

      Father Mark appears, like some others, to teach “obligatory tithing” for Orthodox Christians. This is an inaccurate representation of the Orthodox faith.

      ‘Tithing’ is no more obligatory for Orthodox Christians than is circumcision, kosher laws or the seventh day Sabbath. As it is written: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law” Galatians 3:13

      Please also refer to the 15th chapter of the book of Acts which documents the decision of the Apostolic Council regarding which of the Jewish commandment are obligatory of Gentile Christians. One might also read the entire Letter to the Galatians which discusses the “works of the Law” in detail.

      Rather, the Holy Apostle Paul teaches us:

      “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

      One of the great tragedies of out time is that so few of our clergy, not to mention our laity, are versed in the scriptures and the accurate exposition of the Orthodox faith.

      We are not Mormons, nor are we Seventh Day Adventists. What right do presbyters have to introduce foreign doctrines into our Orthodox church?

      Of course we should support the church and offer charity to the poor. No one denies that. In truth, Our Lord asks much more from us than a tithe:

      “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways” Proverbs 23:26

      We must not, however achieve the laudable goal of funding our church and its work by resorting to Judaizing theology.

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      • George Michalopulos says:

        Alas, Dear-to-Christ Francis, I cannot disagree with you and your straw-man arguments more. There is nothing in Fr Mark’s excursus on “obligation” or “compulsion.” Tithing is voluntary, it is indeed the beginning of giving. Joachim and Anna for example gave 1/3 of their wealth to the Temple, 1/3 to the poor and kept 1/3 for themselves.

        Another straw-man: tithing preceded the foundation of the Mormon and Seventh-Day Adventist churches.

        What you teach is a species of Drezhlovite kakecclosiology: as long as we’re Bohunks/Greeks/Arabs/whatever and get together to make pirogi/baklava/shwarma once a year and have our children dance like monkeys on tables, then we’ve punched our ticket and we’re heaven-bound.

        Let me quote our Lord from Matthew when it comes to the judgment that will be meted out to us and our churches: “When did I give you meat and drink? when did I see you naked and cold? when did I visit you in prison, Lord?”

        Let us all look in our hearts and ask, are our parishes feeding the poor, clothing the naked, or visiting the imprisoned? If not, is it because the level of our giving is such that our pastors are on the dole and the parish can barely pay the light bill?

        Before we condemn the Protestants for their “compulsory” insistence on tithing, let us first enumerate our hospitals, homeless shelters, soup-kitchens and orphanages. And then let us take to heart Jesus’ words to Bethsaida and Chorazin.

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        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          I feel peculiar all over saying this but for once I agree with Herr Frost, insofar as it’s my conviction that tithing is not particularly Christian and FAR from any teaching of our Lord. He gave us one standard; A_L_L, The widow’s mite was all her fortune. The young man whom the Lord loved was taught by the Lord, “Sell ALL and give it to the poor.
          On the other hand, proportionate giving is fair, but a rich man can afford ten per cent much more easily than a poor man can. Of course, there’s probably nothing more satisfying to some men’s self-concept than to be able to state. “I Tithe!” How right! How satisfying! Even better is, “Everybody else should be like me!”

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          • George Michalopulos says:

            Good point, Your Grace. However in Luke, Jesus tells the rich young ruler to sell all that he has and give to the poor. Yet later in that very same chapter, he tells Zacchaeus –who was an extortioner and tax-farmer–no such thing. He volunteers to make restitution on his own, going so much as to recompense “four-fold.” Clearly the evil Zacchaeus was a more cheerful giver.

            But isn’t this point? How cheerful are we if we who are fat and happy give only “dues” of usually a couple of hundred dollars? I know that when I gave under the dues system I gave grudgingly as well as most everybody else I knew.

            To all: did not our Lord say that “where your treasure is there will your heart be also”?

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            • Tim R. Mortiss says:

              What is needed are well-run parish stewardship programs. Strict “tithing” may be a feature of certain sectarians indeed, but plain sensible stewardship programs that get people giving by reminding them of their obligation to give are universal outside the Orthodox church and ought to be within.

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    • Tom Florentine says:

      Fr. Mark:
      I believe you are approaching this from a “dogmatic” point of view and not “pastoral.” The baptism of a child, of course, isn’t “magical,” however, at that point in time, that particular child “IS” being presented as a follower of Christ and belief in the Holy Trinity. Therefore, the Holy Spirit will be with that child. AND, somewhere during this child’s life, the interaction of the Holy Spirit could be the turning point of this child’s life. How would you know? Now, regarding “Simony.” Parishioners must understand that they must support their church. Parish councils, therefore, make a list of amounts for a wedding, baptism, etc. for the use of the church. These people may not be seen again for years. So, it isn’t “selling” the sacraments, but stating, “If you want this baptism, then support your church!” Now, some who have had a divorce, want to be re-instated to Holy Communion. Exactly what kind of penance do people understand today? Yes, the priest can counsel and ask for the person to repent and confess their sins, but the bishop may require more. WHAT? If a person REALLY wants to be re-admitted to Holy Communion, then the bishop may require a “church contribution” to show their intent. Possibly thousands of dollars. Would this really be simony or asking the penitent to give up something they love for something they should love MORE?

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      • Baptism is the receiving of someone into the Church. It is not an ethnic ceremony or rite of passage. A priest has the responsibility to make sure that the request for baptism is for the right reasons. If the parents have not been raised in the church, have no interest in the Church (or Christ for that matter), and have no intention of raising their child in the Church, there should be no baptism. I know of another priest who will tell those who call them wanting their child baptized (usually because at least one of the couple is of a traditionally Orthodox ethnicity), he will tell them to come to church on Sunday and they will talk then. He never hears from these people again. Obviously, they have no interest in Orthodoxy (for one thing, if they were going to an Orthodox church, they wouldn’t be approaching a priest who has never met them), but they want their child baptized. If the sacrament should be done here, why not give Communion to non-Orthodox (or non-Christians for that matter) just because they want them?

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    • Protopappas says:

      Fr. Mark…
      Agreed on simony and tithing, but I cannot agree with you on refusing to baptize an infant because the parents are scoundrels. In Baptism, Chrismation and that first Communion, God conveys grace of itself, regardless of whether the parents or godparents make good of their pledge. The child is given the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Scripture teaches us clearly that the child is not to be punished for the sins of his or her parents. Furthermore, the Lord gives the command to make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. He does not add “if their parents intend to make good on it.” The child with neglectful parents will have to decide for himself whether or not he or she will make good on it when an adult. They may throw it off. But then again, the same grace conveyed may lead them back later to be a fervent Christophoros.

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    • Abbouna Michel says:

      As of this month, I’ve had the privilege of serving The Eternal High Priest and His Church as a priest for 39 years, and it’s on the basis of that experience that I speak.

      Fr. Mark has gotten it exactly right. I’ve had lots of people tell me, over the years, “Well, if you baptize their child (or marry them), maybe they’ll return to the Church.” In 39 years, the record is a clean sweep: NOT ONCE HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED WITH ANYONE. So, empirically, I reject the notion that embracing the concept of “cheap grace” will have a godly outcome. It just doesn’t.

      Conversely, I had an experience a couple of years ago of a couple who had been married civilly, who came to me to ask about being married in the Church. I indicated that this is not the way we operated, and invited them to “try on” our parish for four or five months, see what the experience was like, and then, we’d revisit the question. The result has been that this couple has become one of the most active in the Church, helping out with all sorts of parish events, and, most recently, going on a camping trip with our youth group. I don’t believe that any of this would have happened had I just married them, and sent them blithely on their way.

      God’s grace doesn’t operate in a vacuum. As Fr. Mark put it so clearly, we baptize a child into SOMETHING. So, while the sacrament of baptism is, by definition, filled with grace, what outcome is there likely to be if there isn’t a family and community to nurture that intentionally?

      The same is true with the Sacrament/Mystery of Matrimony. What sense does it make to ask a community to witness a couple’s marriage if they’re not really a part of that community, or at least, don’t have any connection to it all? To do this, I believe, denigrates the sacrament, and makes the community participate in an, albeit well intentioned, fraud.

      As an aside, I weary of the theological posturing of some of the folks on this blog. With neither formal theological formation nor pastoral experience, they opine on topics that I, with both, wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. I’ve always been uncomfortable with folks who have answers to questions I don’t even have, and I would counsel some contributors, respectfully, to spend more time working out their salvation by intensifying their prayer rules, and less on trying to demonstrate their encyclopedic and autodidactic knowledge of Orthodox theology.

      Finally, with respect to stipends for bishops and priests. A very saintly bishop once told me, “I accept any stipend that someone gives me humbly, as a beggar for Christ, which is what I am. And, I have a rule that I give that stipend away within 24 hours.” I received the same advice long ago from my spiritual father, who spent over 20 years, courtesy of Mr. Putin’s progenitors, in the Lubyanka and gulag. It’s advice I try to follow. “Poor with Christ poor,” in my estimate, isn’t a bad way to live.

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      • George Michalopulos says:

        Very well put, Fr.

        In the past whenever I’ve heard priests say this it’s usually a cop-out. They simply don’t want to have to hear the caterwauling of the relatives of the child or soon-to-be-married couple.

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        • Protopappas says:

          George said: “In the past whenever I’ve heard priests say this it’s usually a cop-out. They simply don’t want to have to hear the caterwauling of the relatives of the child or soon-to-be-married couple.”

          Sorry you feel that way George. I can’t speak for those other priests. However, even those priests who did “cop-out” are now success stories in my parish. I have no problem with confronting nominalists. In fact, confronting them is part of every baptismal sermon and pre-baptismal (and premarital) counseling that I give. On a few occasions, I let the entire company of people at the baptism know that they are responsible also, by their very presence, to make sure that this child is reared in the Church and brought regularly and taught prayers, and catechized, and that everyone is responsible to regularly pray with them.

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      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

        Abbouna Michel! I’m very puzzled by this statement of yours:
        ” I’ve had lots of people tell me, over the years, “Well, if you baptize their child (or marry them), maybe they’ll return to the Church.” In 39 years, the record is a clean sweep: NOT ONCE HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED WITH ANYONE.”

        Does that mean that you are testifying to following a practice of which you disapprove FOR THIRTY YEARS?

        It’s not required that anybody’s parents are church members before they can be baptized. From the earliest days of the church no one, whether credentialed or an “autodidact, can claim that Christian parents were required of ANYONE coming into the Church or being baptized. However, as you surely must know, recognize, confess, and teach, ONE sponsor who is a trustworthy member of the Church must vouch for and sponsor anyone hoping to be baptized.

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        • Abbouna Michel says:

          Vladiki Tikhon, I’m sorry to have caused a semantic conundrum for you. In my career of 39 years (somewhere you seem to have lost 9 of them :-)), I have baptized, against my better judgment, perhaps 3 infants whose parents were functionally unchurched, on the assurance by the parents that they intended to become regular attenders. Ditto with 1 wedding. All of these occurred in the first years of my ministry (likely, the lost 9!). Sorry I wasn’t clearer in my statement.

          I am very aware of the canonical requirements for baptism. However, respectfully, I wasn’t speaking of canonical requirements but responsible pastoral practice. And, in my experience, unchurched parents are extremely unlikely to raise a child within the Church, whether their jeddu or sittah or any other relative or sponsor are churched. And, considerable experience suggests to me that, at least in the case of the baptism of infants or young children, setting the bar at the minimal canonical requirement is pastorally problematic.

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        • Protopappas says:

          Vladyka Tikhon said:

          Abbouna Michel! I’m very puzzled by this statement of yours:
          ” I’ve had lots of people tell me, over the years, “Well, if you baptize their child (or marry them), maybe they’ll return to the Church.” In 39 years, the record is a clean sweep: NOT ONCE HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED WITH ANYONE.” Does that mean that you are testifying to following a practice of which you disapprove FOR THIRTY YEARS? It’s not required that anybody’s parents are church members before they can be baptized. From the earliest days of the church no one, whether credentialed or an “autodidact, can claim that Christian parents were required of ANYONE coming into the Church or being baptized. However, as you surely must know, recognize, confess, and teach, ONE sponsor who is a trustworthy member of the Church must vouch for and sponsor anyone hoping to be baptized.

          Yes, Your Grace, I agree. I often find myself disagreeing with you. But on this you are dead on. It is a matter of principle. A priest is responsible to baptize all children, whether their parent would pay or not, whether they “intend” to bring them or not. It is the teaching of the Church. If you have a child and a faithful sponsor, then we baptize them.

          Ok…confession time for me. I formerly held the position of Frs. Mark and Michel, as well as that apparently espoused by George. I refused several baptisms on the basis that I didn’t think that the parents would rear them in the Orthodox Church. I will have to answer for that at the last judgment. Lord have mercy on me. But since then, I have done baptisms where the parents didn’t want it. I have done several baptisms where they didn’t give a red cent (parish council not happy with me). I did one, about 8 years ago, where a great aunt and uncle wanted the child baptized, the parents didn’t want it, the grandparents didn’t care. The aunt and uncle said that they didn’t have the requested honorarium. I told them to forget it, just bring the child, and then at length instructed them on their responsibilities. I baptized the child the following Sunday. The child is brought regularly to this day.

          Also, I can’t tell you how many nominal Orthodox (who were brought up nominal), that I have ministered to at the end of their life. It took 80 years for the grace of baptism to be embraced, but they repented, the grace of God moved within them, and they reposed in the Lord. But maybe they should not have been baptized either. Maybe the priest who secretly baptized a few of them in the former Soviet Union should not have done so because their parents did not intend on bringing them to Church, as some espouse here, and as I used to espouse (may God forgive me).

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      • Protopappas says:

        Ab.Michel: “Fr. Mark has gotten it exactly right. I’ve had lots of people tell me, over the years, “Well, if you baptize their child (or marry them), maybe they’ll return to the Church.” In 39 years, the record is a clean sweep: NOT ONCE HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED WITH ANYONE. So, empirically, I reject the notion that embracing the concept of “cheap grace” will have a godly outcome. It just doesn’t.”

        Wow, it has never happened once with anyone?!

        I have one family that came once a year, and that only because of the grandparents when they were up to coming. The last child was newborn with severe fatal complications. Surely they would continue not to come and not to bring the children. They were bums, why should I? They didn’t give much, they didn’t come hardly at all. Yet I made a somewhat long drive and immediately gave the child the mysteries. That family now comes every single Sunday.

        In another case, neither the grandparents nor parents came to church even once a year. I baptized the child, and although the parents and grandparents were negligent, the Godparents were faithful to bring the child after I admonished them all (at the baptism, as I do to everyone) that they had better take care to bring the child to Church and to communion. They heeded the call.

        More importantly, over half of my young families are families in which at least one of the spouses are reverts–they were baptized when young, not brought to church hardly at all, wholly unchurched by adulthood. When it was time to get married, they called to investigate whether marriage should be done in church or just secular. many of their spouses to be were unchurched. Today, they are all involved with children making all sorts of noises during Liturgy every Sunday.

        If I or the priest who baptized them would have followed the course that you approve, these formerly lost souls would still be lost. Now, because of their baptism (despite their negligent parents) they dwell prosperously in the House of the Lord.

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  3. Diogenes says:

    Well, so much for the rationale since the 7th Century A.D. that bishops have to be selected only from the celibate clergy so that they won’t be distracted by the cares of this world — namely, providing for a wife and children — and will focus their full attention as shepherds of their flock. Ha, ha. We know that this has become one big joke. I consider myself a traditionalist — I have little use for those who want to water down the liturgy, rules of fasting/abstinence, and so forth to take the Orthodox Church down the same sorry path that Roman Catholicism went in the 1960s and make it into some sort of Protestantism of the Eastern Rite. But I think it’s long past time to repeal this canon and not limit the episcopacy to the field of monastic clergy. It seems that many of today’s generation of monastic clergy, once they are elevated to the episcopacy, far from exercising the virtue of poverty, seem to line their pockets quite handsomely. And some of them don’t even wait until they become bishops to line their pockets. I recall one “do as I say, not as I do” Archimandrite, who was the rector at a former parish to which I belonged, drove around in a Mercedes. Finally, the laity ought to have a voice in the election of bishops as well.

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    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

      I’d be willing to bet money that even though he hides behind a stage name, ‘Diogenes’ stated pretty accurately his own opinions…

      If there’s anyone here who’s ever had to meet a payroll, I’d like to ask him or her if a married bishop with children should be compensated more than a bachelor or less?

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  4. John Pappas says:

    Diogenes, none of the GOA bishops are monastics. They get tonsured as monastics but most of them are bachelors who have never lived in a monastery. Most chose bachelorhood because of sexual identity conflicts, at least among those who +Bartholomew appointed after he took over the GOA.

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    • Brown Eyes says:

      This is not quite true, actually. Metropolitan ALEXIOS entered the monastery as a teenager. He is very much a monastic. I believe the Archbishop is also a monastic. The others, you are correct about.

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  5. Tom Florentine says:

    Crucify him! Crucify him! Again, crucify him!!!

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  6. Fr. George Washburn says:

    Good morning (still late evening here) friends:

    It has been pointed out to me more than once that this is George’s sandbox, and he gets to say who can play, what toys they can bring and use, and the rules. OK.

    But it purports to be much more, so I am going to go with the higher vision of what this blog is and what we and our toys are really supposed to do here …. and excoriate George again.

    I still believe pretty much in George’s conscious good intentions. But less and less that his methods are achieving them.

    We’d all love to see a turn toward across-the-board spiritual engagement on the part of the laity, and bishops more focused on oversight of the flock than of their ecclesio-political prerogatives. It is easy, not to say facile, to blame the actual state of affairs on the bishops as if they were simply foisting on a deeply godly laos the trappings of bureaucratic church function. The truth is more complex and involves the lukewarmness and blindnesses of us all – not just those “others” we prefer to blame rather than facing our own shortcomings.

    In recent months I have repeatedly deplored what I believe has become George’s growingly anti-Orthodox and anti-episcopal stance here. Over and over and over again any fact that can be cited against the system or the actual office holders will be seized and stretched as far as necessary to fit the party line. Even to breaking.

    Witness the above treatment of the latest Dokos developments. At first when this story began to break the Mono-spin was, more or less: “Dokos is an insider who has bought influence and therefore he will surely get away with misuse of the money as far as the Church is concerned.” Not hard to see how that fits the Leveller paradigm.

    But now that the secular investigation has revealed grounds for indictment and the bishops are taking both notice and action, our anti-hierarchical Spin Meister does a 180: “Look how disloyal the bishops are to their benefactor in imposing discipline; they wouldn’t stay bought.” If you don’t think that is what George has just said you need to go back to the top and re-read the paragraph that begins with the words “Another moral:…”

    Jesus addressed this kind of thinking with the image of the children in the market place – you can play them a dance tune or a dirge and they still won’t like it.

    George has assigned himself the perfect gig. The story lines are ready made. Just fill in the blanks. No matter what the facts ( a) no discipline or b) discipline) he still gets to trumpet the desired bottom (party) line: bishops are bad. “They threw him under the bus.” “They didn’t throw him under the bus or even get it out of the garage!” George “makes money” – or at least hay – no matter what! Heads I win, tails you lose!

    When we read the threads and political rhetoric on various issues on Mono it is not hard to see where George is getting the tunes he adapts for use here: the anti-George (King George, I mean) songs and thoughts and broadsides of the American Revolution. Once you are a Leveller, nothing a monarch does is gonna cut it.

    George, as an American conservative or libertarian or whatever, is a Leveller, with deeply ingrained mistrust of both civil and religious hierarchy. It is true that abuses of episcopal power in our times have given MUCH impetus to the movement to doubt, disrespect and decry the office and curb its powers (if not undermine or hamstring them) with formal and informal checks and balances. Secular junior High civics taught us that is how to “prevent” misuse of power. (At best it only lessens the opportunities.)

    Somewhere Orthodoxy needs a much more honest dialogue than George is hosting here about how to keep what is authentic and traditional in hierarchical Orthodox Church government without on the one hand swallowing the abuses to which it is admittedly quite susceptible, or on the other hand homogenizing it into some kind of pseudo-Orthodox, but actually American, Velveeta episcopacy. Cheap shots aren’t getting us anywhere, folks. At least not anywhere good ….or better than where we’ve been.

    truthfully,

    Fr. George

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      Truthfully, Fr, I have excoriated the laity as much as I have the episcopate. On more than one occasion I have referenced that old Russian saying “the people get the priest that they deserve.”

      Honestly, I don’t think there is anything more I can do. It’s up to the people to repent and to overthrow the current episcopal regime. They must start however by refusing to leave the priesthood as a preserve for their heterosexually-challenged sons.

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    • Tom Kanelos says:

      Fr. George Washburn, you could not possibly be more correct.

      Add to that a level of ignorance (either that or the folks making the more outrageous accusations with no facts are all clairvoyant) exhibited by many on this site and we see something which is not very edifying.

      All thee folks seem to know what is going on with other people. How much this one makes, how many tips that one gets and what they do with the money. Who is selling sacraments, who is buying off whom.

      There is not a little old Greek/Russian/Arab etc grandmother around who could hold a candle to the level of these gossipy folks.

      And many of them do it from a position of anonymity because apparently they are so important that they cannot risk injury to themselves by standing by their words.

      For all his faults, at least George identifies himself. Unless, of course, George is also some of the other “characters” here??? :)

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    • Fr. George, you are entirely correct here. The Orthodox Church is a hierarchical Church and has always been. If you take that away, you no longer have Orthodoxy. If people don’t like the hierarchy, then become an Evangelical Christian. You will be miserable, however, because the laity is not able to do a good job of running the Body of Christ. Take it from someone who spent 25 years as one. It almost made me leave Christ. If Christ had not brought me to the Orthodox Church, I would probably be an agnostic at best.

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  7. michael Kinsey says:

    The Command of God is Life Eternal. This command implies, that the purpose of life, is for life, to give life to life, unto eternal life, with the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, all life and love ends in death, making existence meaningless.Jesus Christ knew His Father’s Command,, but it is obvious, these bishops don’t.
    The ethnic churches value ethnicity above authentic Christian life nurturing, and the OCA big dogs are a collection of sour grape eaters, where the children’s teeth are always set on edge. There is nowhere to go.I only met one Orthodox bishop I would follow, but the parish priest forbid me to speak to him. Vee haft out wvays, comes to mind..

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    • Protopappas says:

      How can a priest forbid you to speak to a bishop? Isn’t that a bit of an exaggeration, to say there is only one Orthodox bishop you would follow? You must not know that many bishops.

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      • johnkal says:

        “Do not trust in princes and sons of men in them there is no salvation”.

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        • johnkal says:

          Difficult to believe one could vote against a direct quote from scripture. Either one does not know,believe in or care about the authority of the word of God.

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          • Protopappas says:

            Hi John! I think what they were down-voting was your application of the passage to this situation. St. Paul instructs the faithful under his care to imitate him, as he imitates Christ. Likewise, we speak, for example, of St. Polycarp as “disciple” of St. John. He is ultimately the disciple of Christ, of course, but is so because he followed St. John as St. John followed Christ. I think we all like that passage of Scripture though, and I never get tired of seeing it, singing it, or hearing it. If someone leads us to anyone but Christ, we must not follow them so long as they continue in their false orientation.

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          • Johann Sebastian says:

            Now I’m convinced we’re on the same page.

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  8. Michael Bauman says:

    George and Michael K:

    It is not up to the laity to “overthrow” the bishops. That is simple nonsense or worse. The laity’s job is to participate in the life of the Church as much as possible, establishing the truth in our hearts and our communities. Love God first.

    Michael K. The bishop is not there to pastor you, that is the priest’s to do and your parish community. If the bishop is a good bishop, there will be good priests and healthy communities. Not perfect certainly but healthy.

    Speaking from experience, the more faith one puts in Jesus Christ in the Church it is amazing how much better the priests and bishops become and how much goodness one finds in one’s own community. The more we think we are responsible for anything other than our own response to the love of Christ, the more cynical, hard and angry we become. The more willing we are to do violence to ourselves, each other and the Gospel.

    Lord have mercy.

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    • michael Kinsey says:

      My first introduction to a (sic ) Orthodox Bishop was Met Pangratious who was accepted by the HOOM church as spiritual guide and minister of the Holy Sacraments.. Overthrowing the Met may not have been my job. but suffering the consequences apparently of this convicted pedophile heretic was.. He ordained most of the present ex Hoom priests. Obeying the Command of God, is my job, and it is greatly hindered by having self seekers ruling over the Church.. None of this Met’s sacraments had any spiritual authority. Your post suggests, everyone is silly who doesn’t just suck it up.. I find your comment as disgusting as disgust can be disgusting, In a common vernacular, it equates to a guidance to eat shit and like.it. Christian brotherhood with the likes of you is impossible, because you are not trustworthy to champion the Command of God, but champion a rather filthy subservience to the powers that be.at all times in every manner that pleases these bishops. Chimp.

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        Michael K.

        Of course Pangratious was never an Orthodox bishop. The decision of the HOOM/CSB to go under Pangratious was a decision that was governed by arrogance, pride and ignorance. Humiliation followed.

        I guess you would include in your denunciation Sts Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Athanasius and thousands of others who endured the Arian Emperors and Bishops as well as those who suffered under the Iconoclasts while never even hinting, as far as I know, that the episcopal hierarchy be “overthrown”.

        They sought the truth and paid the consequences. The Holy Spirit gave the victory. I never said anything about ‘sucking up’ and enduring abuse, heresy and the lot. Revolution and overthrow however is part of the worldly demonic nihilist mindset. It is exactly what Greg Pappas and the homosexual normalizers want.

        Whether you like it or not, whether I like it (and I don’t particularly), obedience to a spiritual hierarchy is an essential part of the Orthodox life. The fact is, it helps people heal spiritually even, in some cases, under bad priests and bishops. Obedience to Christ through them can help them heal as well. I continue to follow the direction of my bishop years ago during the last Met. Philip flap: “Hold your peace. I don’t mean to be silent, but don’t loose your peace.”

        All of the HOOM/CSB folks who are priests in the Church today, had to go back to the beginning, including deep repentance, baptism, chrismation, ordination (I don’t know how the OCA received them however). Interestingly enough, they eschewed the Antiochian Archdiocese altogether because we were not old calendar and all of the Met. Philip rehashes you can think of. We still have the fewest priests from HOOM/CSB of any other jurisdiction.

        So, while the damage was real, your anger perhaps justified at the time, holding on to it now is self-destructive–it only chains you to the darkness and pain. “What God has cleansed, call thou not unclean.”

        As I have noted before, I was in the HOOM (never the CSB) for 13 years, in the brotherhood for seven and in the periphery for another six–leaving altogether about the time the move toward the Orthodox began and I became a catechumen. I went to the real thing which in my case was close at hand. I still love many of the people I shared that part of my journey with. Not one is evil. The evil ones kept to the occult path and never looked at the Church.

        The heretical beliefs and practices in the HOOM/CSB took a great toll on everybody, those in the upper echelons too, I was just a peon.

        It is something for which they will be offering constant repentance for the rest of their lives in one form or another. I have had to repent of the false teaching I helped to spread in ignorance and arrogance, it took awhile and I still offer up prayers for those to whom I told unknowing lies. Plus I have an internal check to make periodically that I do not over or under react to stuff from those days–existential or theological.

        At the same time, Jesus Christ and the Theotokos were there for those who looked–difficult as that might have been at times.

        If we want better bishops, we have to be better Orthodox Christians—cleansing the inside, taking out the log, etc., etc. MOST OF ALL: Seeking first the kingdom of God. We have no power to purify, only the Holy Spirit purifies by the grace of God. What we can do is cooperate with that. If that means saying no to the vain imaginings of troubled men in power, that is what it means but it also means praying to God for their salvation at the same time and living lives of mercy.

        Michael K, I pray that the mercy, grace and healing of our Lord Jesus Christ may heal you and bring you into the peace that passes understanding in which all things are made new. Please forgive me for adding to your burden.

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        • michael Kinsey says:

          The focus of holding onto my sin of holding on to a just anger, is standard ploy for you. Here the real fault is mine, not the elitist. who were in no way sanctioned as far as their clerical careers were. concerned. I still suffer de facto excommunication The knife is still in my back, and you are demanding forgiveness and reconciliation is required of me. Never, Take the damned knife out.. first. You punks.

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          • Michael Bauman says:

            No, Michael K. I had my own anger at the way in which I was betrayed and led astray and the damage it had done to me and to my late wife. Believe me it was extensive. The elitism you rightfully point out was part of the damage. I am blessed now to be in a parish that is so full of faith and talent that I am truly the least. God is merciful.

            I demand nothing. I just know what happened with me. I was unable to grow as long as I held to the anger some of which still remains to be honest but I try not to nurse it any more. As long as nursed my anger it was as a worm eating me from the inside destroying joy and truth.

            That is no ploy but I’m sure your scorn of me is deserved. Forgive me.

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        • michael Kinsey says:

          In more perfect words. you demand all do as you say, but not as you do. The double standard always employed by the HOOM is still practiced with impunity, I still see the HOOM standing before the Just Judge and explaining why they took God’s tithe ,and were passing out totally bogus sacraments so they could rule over some sincere Christian believers in Jesus Christ. You will answer to HIM.. despite the OCA whitewash.

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          • Michael Bauman says:

            Michael K: When my anger threatens to overtake me or some other such passion, I turn to the following and contemplate the love to which we are all called every time someone harms us. It is deeper than anything I have known or been, but it is that to which I journey by Christ’s mercy:

            An Undying Love
            When I was in jail I fell very, very ill. I had tuberculosis of the whole surface of both lungs, and four vertebrae were attacked by tuberculosis. I also had intestinal tuberculosis, diabetes, heart failure, jaundice, and other sicknesses I can’t even remember. I was near to death.

            At my right hand was a priest by the name of Iscu. He was abbot of a monastery. This man, perhaps in his forties, had been so tortured he was near to death. But his face was serene. He spoke about his hope of heaven, about his love of Christ, about his faith. He radiated joy.

            On my left side was the Communist torturer who had tortured this priest almost to death. He had been arrested by his own comrades. Don’t believe the newspapers when they say that the Communists only hate Christians or Jews — it’s not true. They simply hate. They hate everybody. They hate Jews, they hate Christians, they hate anti-Semites, they hate anti-Christians, they hate everybody. One Communist hates the other Communist. They quarrel among themselves, and when they quarrel one Communist with the other, they put the other one in jail and torture him just like a Christian, and they beat him.

            And so it happened that the Communist torturer who had tortured this priest nearly to death had been tortured nearly to death by his comrades. And he was dying near me. His soul was in agony.

            During the night he would awaken me, saying, “Pastor, please pray for me. I can’t die, I have committed such terrible crimes.”

            Then I saw a miracle. I saw the agonized priest calling two other prisoners. And leaning on their shoulders, slowly, slowly he walked past my bed, sat on the bedside of this murderer, and caressed his head — I will never forget this gesture. I watched a murdered man caressing his murderer! That is love — he found a caress for him.

            The priest said to the man, “You are young; you did not know what you were doing. I love you with all my heart.” But he did not just say the words. You can say “love,” and it’s just a word of four letters. But he really loved. “I love you with all my heart.”

            Then he went on, “If I who am a sinner can love you so much, imagine Christ, who is Love Incarnate, how much He loves you! And all the Christians whom you have tortured, know that they forgive you, they love you, and Christ loves you. He wishes you to be saved much more than you wish to be saved. You wonder if your sins can be forgiven. He wishes to forgive your sins more than you wish your sins to be forgiven. He desires for you to be with Him in heaven much more than you wish to be in heaven with Him. He is Love. You only need to turn to Him and repent.”

            In this prison cell in which there was no possibility of privacy, I overheard the confession of the murderer to the murdered. Life is more thrilling than a novel — no novelist has ever written such a thing. The murdered — near to death — received the confession of the murderer. The murdered gave absolution to his murderer.

            They prayed together, embraced each other, and the priest went back to his bed. Both men died that same night. It was a Christmas Eve. But it was not a Christmas Eve in which we simply remembered that two thousand years ago Jesus was born in Bethlehem. It was a Christmas Eve during which Jesus was born in the heart of a Communist murderer.

            These are things which I have seen with my own eyes.
            Richard Wurmbrand

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      • Johann Sebastian says:

        Wow, I actually understood what you had to say for a change.

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    • michael Kinsey says:

      I suggest you stop nurturing the elitism, the HOOM instructed you in and begin to to extend those things of spiritual nurturing you may well be capable of , but are exclusive in to whom you would minister to. Meaning just other elitist like yourself. HOOMys I put up with this crap for 30 years, I speak from experience and do not lie,. Mr Bauman

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  9. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

    Is the man in that picture really an Orthodox priest? Looks like a Venetian or Genoese or other Frankish clergyman of some sort….I guess pretending to be something you are not is the first step on the slippery slope to perversion?

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    • Looking the part is not what we need. We all know about the two GOA, former old calendar bishops, who looked the part. We need bishops whose hearts are right with God not who have long beards and ponytails. In fact, the apostle Paul states that it is shameful for men to have long hair.

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      • Jim of Olym says:

        Perhaps if some pious monks from the Holy Mountain were ordained to be bishops in the West, we would have better, humble, and saintly bishops whom we would all follow willingly, without the six figure salaries and the nice mansions and limos?
        Just a thought….

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  10. michael Kinsey says:

    The command of God is Life Eternal, God’s prime directive.This starting point id followed by refinement in clarity., stated plainly by Jesus Christ as the very Will of the only Holy One, Love and serve God alone, live by HIs Word and bread,& not bread alone, do not tempt God.. Obeyed, the spiritual life on a man is maintained. This command is further emphasized by the special revelation given to St John the Beloved directly by Jesus Christ. The consequences of disobedience are described here, as the great whore, beast, and dragon. Here also is contained the explanation of the abomination of desolation..
    The command of God is a Spirit that desires the eternal salvation of all men, but only in God’s Righteousness.I include all mankind, no exceptions, among those the Holy God desires ro give the Kingdom of Heaven to. Obedience to the Vision is required of us, to insure we have the spiritual life NECESSARY, to receive the Gift of eternal life, because none of us deserve it, and I include myself, here. A contrite and humble heart, God will not despise..
    Reboot, yourselves, and start with the Command of God, with an exclusive focus on obeying the Vision as the Christ did. This is all I want for any of you,

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  11. michael Kinsey says:

    I am spiritually alive. I know this as the Comforter does visit me. I cannot prove this. You may receive my witness or no.. .

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  12. michael Kinsey says:

    As I plainly stated, all I want of anyone is to obey the Command of God, and seek to fulfill the Vision. In no way can this be convoluted into overthrowing the hierarchy., The overthrow accusation is a straw man.. Stupidly done, constructed. from right our of your whatever. Reboot, repent refocus, just don’t give up. Perdition means to give up., or spend the rest of your life , not trying to get caught as you start to reap what you sowed. A senseless endeavor, you cant beat the Royal Law, not even one jot or tittle.

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  13. michael Kinsey says:

    Is this standard whistle blower treatment or what.? HUH

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  14. M. Woerl says:

    And the Phanar should rule the “Diaspora!” It just gets better everyday!

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  15. God'sWillBeDone says:

    In case you all had not heard yet, Dokos has been arrested and charged. He was supposed to appear in court today but did not because of “car trouble.”

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/glenview/chi-car-trouble-delays-priest-court-hearing-20140710,0,4001603.story

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    • timothy says:

      The judge has wisely admonished Fr. Dokos to spend the night before his next appearance near the courthouse. I wonder if we will ever, also, find out about all the monies that went to the hierarchs, Bishop D, Nikitas, and others? Shouldn’t there an accounting of these funds, as they are part of evidence?

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      • Fr. George Washburn says:

        Well friends, I don’t think Timothy has been paying careful attention to the news on this matter.

        The pieces I have read seem to make it very clear the WI AG has deliberately chosen to stay away from ANY claims that the gifts to bishops were wrongful. In my book that means, then, that those checks are *not* evidence of anything *relevant* to the state criminal charges, and therefore not the legitimate subject of tax money expenditures to audit in this context.

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        • timothy says:

          It may not be federal charges and I am sitll not sure about that, but the ethics and morality of a Bishop accepting funds and not immediately returning it–or even asking at that point where it is coming from, since \Evangelosimos has been in dire financial straits for a long time–boggles the mind. A full accounting and audit is needed.

          And sorry, Fr. G, but I have been paying attention, probably more than you.

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        • Art Samouris says:

          Dear Fr. George,

          Forgive me, but how can there be nothing wrong with the monetary gifts given to bishops from the Franczak trust fund? How are these gifts any different than the other money allegedly misspent?

          Listed in the criminal complaint against Fr. Dokos by the Milwaukee County District Attorney are the intended uses of the trust fund authorized by Margaret Franczak. The fund monies were to be disbursed as follows:

          $5,000 to the trustee, Fr. Dokos, for all work done by the trustee
          Any automobile and real property, as well as the contents of the real property would go to Dokos — as long as he survived the grantor.
          $5,000 was to be paid to the American Cancer Society, Florida Division
          $10,000 was to be paid to a church in Clearwater, Florida
          $5,000 was to be paid to the American Heart Association
          The rest of the money was to be used exclusively for the construction and maintenance of a cultural center at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

          It is clearly evident to me (and I would hope every other reasonable person) that items that were NOT INCLUDED on the list of authorized intended uses of the trust fund, beyond what was already generously given to Fr. Dokos, were:

          * gifts to Fr. Dokos’s family members
          * a health club membership for Fr. Dokos
          * meals at fancy restaurants enjoyed by Fr. Dokos and his guests
          * paying off Fr. Dokos’s credit card balance
          * monetary “gifts” or “tips” given by Fr. Dokos to Greek Orthodox hierarchs of several metropolises (metropoles if you prefer) in North America

          There are strong indications so far that Fr. Dokos violated the terms of the trust fund. I truly hope that all of these alleged misdeeds are proven false. What really is upsetting about all of this, much, much more than the money itself, is the damage that will be done to the trust of the general public and church membership with regards to the clergy. How many more people will stop attending church services? How many more will refrain from donating gifts to their parish, diocese, and other church related charities? I can already hear the naysayers, “see I told you so, all churches are corrupt and led by phony greedy clergy. That’s why I don’t go to church or believe in this stuff.”

          This could have been much less damaging and perhaps even completely avoided if it had been properly handled by Bishop Demetrios Kantzanvelos of Mokissos (Chicago). Had Bishop Demetrios Kantzanvelos of Mokissos (Chicago) not been so heavy handed with the parish council of SS Peter and Paul in Glenview, IL things would be better. Had Bishop Demetrios Kantzanvelos of Mokissos (Chicago) disclosed the fact that he had received several personal checks drawn from the trust fund by Fr. Dokos to the tune of $7,000 things would be much better. Perhaps the whole thing could have been avoided if Bishop Demetrios Kantzanvelos of Mokissos (Chicago) had said to Fr. Dokos “Why are you trying to give me a personal check written against a trust fund? Was the trust fund set up to personally benefit me, a bishop? Why do you feel it is necessary to give a bishop in your diocese such a large monetary gift? I don’t need such a gift, I am already generously compensated by the yearly assessment of each parish in my diocese. More importantly, I have accepted a calling from Jesus Christ to dedicate my life to Him and help shepherd His flock. I must be a good example to them, lest they be led astray.”

          The Church tells us to confess our sins and repent. This is not an easy task for any of us. It just got a little tougher. Perhaps a full reparation, public confession, and true repentance by all parties involved would help us all.

          Lord have mercy on us all, and me the biggest sinner.

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          • Fr. George Washburn says:

            Good morning Art:

            Thanks for such an interesting and heartfelt post and set of questions. Sounds like your heart and brain are both in the right place.

            There are some separate, basic questions that it would be easy for us to mix up in dialoguing about this case. I think we do FAR better to name them and treat them separately.

            1. Did Fr. Dokos violate the terms of the trust in his expenditures?

            2. Did Fr. Dokos violate the written or unwritten customs and practices of the Orthodox Church by giving monetary gifts to bishops?

            As to the first question, it is solely a question of WI secular law. This consists of the a) exact wording of the legislative enactments governing trusts in that state and b) collected appellate opinions of the “courts of record” in which WI judges have interpreted and applied the statutes.

            I know little about this area of the law even here in CA, and nothing specific at all about WI. (Real estate was my focus.) But I do recall from what they drummed into us in law school that there is a legal doctrine called “cy pres” (which we students loosely translated as ‘close enough’) which said that if a well-intentioned trustee did something that wasn’t exactly right, but sort of in the ballpark, the law wouldn’t hammer him/her for it. The prosecutor may think under that body of WI law that Fr. James would defend as to the bishop checks by arguing that the overall purpose of benefiting the Greek Orthodox Church was being served “close enough,” and only some minute percentage of the trust corpus actually went to bishops, after all.

            Prosecutors do not have unlimited budgets. In WI they have a lot of nasty criminals who really threaten the whole body politic with serious harm on a daily basis – killers, kidnappers, robbers, etc. Prosecutors tend to see that as a priority for time and money investment over pounding every possible misspending mistake by straying clergy.

            Another possible rationale is more pragmatic still. If I am correctly reading the tea leaves in the press, they have some very clear charges against Fr. James which the prosecutor is probably very confident he can prove to judge or jury if it comes to that. Charges that carry the possibility of hefty fines and prison sentences with a conviction. The pragmatist prosecutor might think to himself “Why spend a lot of time and money on trying to prove other charges regarding the gifts to bishops which are less clear? The defendant is in his 60s, and the judge isn’t going to house him at public expense until he dies, is he? So let’s just go with what is clear and easy to prove.”

            A third consideration is religion. The secular legal system hates dealing with matters of religious teachings, customs and practices. Why get involved in such messy questions of what bishops are entitled to get when you have such a seemingly clear path to appropriate legal redress with the issues of self-dealing? The bishop gifts issue inescapably strays toward the whole morass of custom and practice in modern Orthodoxy, and I would have a hard time imagining a modern prosecutor who would think it was his job to deal with anything of the sort.

            That is perhaps more than you wanted on the question of why the secular authorities seem to be sticking carefully to the simple, straightforward secular charge of self-dealing.

            The family is starting to function now so maybe I will try to comment on Q 2 above later on.

            sincerely,

            Fr. George

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            • timothy says:

              Fr. Dokos appeared in court, posted a $5000 recognizance bond and was released. This is a story that probably involves a lot more individuals. Lots of hands were in the cookie jar, I am thinking. And Annunication was suffering financally; the Bishop knew this and apparently did not ask where his “tip” was coming from or why it could not go towards the Church in dire financial straits. So sad.

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              Fr George, it is precisely point no. 2 that you raise that should alarm all normal people. If that doesn’t ring of Simony then we should just strike that one from the books.

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              • Fr. George Washburn says:

                Dear Art (and George):

                So let’s start on Question 2: Orthodoxy’s doctrines, norms, and practices about bishops and money, especially as they may be contrasted with the doctrines, norms and practices of modern American religion and government on those issues.

                Orthodoxy is an ancient church. Its roots and rituals are in the values and expectations of a society that is so far in modern America’s rear view mirror that most people have to look hard to see it.

                Our roots are in a time when, as someone very important once said, “the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them but it shall not be so among you.” The Church was formed in those times, and at first the rulers of the Gentiles lorded it over them with swords, branding irons, boiling oil, and such, seeing Christians as outsider threats.

                Then in traditionally Orthodox places the rulers converted and it became for a time the rulers of the Christians that lorded it over people. Bishops became at least adjuncts, if not outright officers and minions, of the secular power structure. The money for church operations came from the same basic revenue sources as the money that funded the rest of the government – taxes on citizens.

                The good side of this system was that under a strong government killing among tribes and language groups was kept in check, more or less, by Emperors and kings and the bloody waste of armed conflict. The bad side of the system was that the monarchs and their men only had to account to the people in higher echelons of their power structure for what they did to get or use the money.

                In this very traditional Old World, Orthodoxy’s teachings and practices about bishops and money took shape. Even before it became a state religion, I believe, ancient Orthodox ecclesiology provided for the bishop to be the sole decision-maker as to all the money received and property owned by the portion of the Church under his rule, not to mention absolute control over who held office and how they held it in the clergy ranks beneath him.

                When the Church-state alliance was cemented in the days of the Ecumenical Councils absolute episcopal control of money and property became the norm, and it was justified by the teaching that the bishop was/is the chosen, visible representative of Christ Himself. Despite the church-state bond being broken, often permanently, in every Orthodox land where it existed, the doctrines of absolute episcopal authority over money and property remain on the books in theory and very much a fact on the ground in actual practice.

                We in a New World society where all royalty, civil or ecclesial, is suspect if not a virtual enemy, find monarchial episcopacy a large and difficult pill to swallow. When we evangelicals were trying to decide whether or not to officially convert, there was much discussion and resistance on this point.
                Some refused outright and did not convert, others of us swallowed (perhaps reluctantly) and a few palmed the pill or popped it in without really swallowing until they had to.

                Before it is possible for the “all normal people” mentioned in George’s latest post, or any of the abnormals who may find their way here too, to think about, let alone discuss these issues intelligently and to good effect, I believe there needs to be a) agreement on what the Church teaches about leaders and money and b) some serious reflection and acknowledgment of where that conflicts with the civil values that our society so deeply feels, holds, teaches and practices.

                Do we have a consensus on these two threshold issues? Have I got it wrong when I say that no matter what budgets and boards and assemblies and committees say or do to assist the hierarch in raising or using it, ultimately the Orthodox way is for bishops to have the final say over the use of the money or property in the diocese or Archdiocese?

                thoughtfully,

                Fr. George

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                • Art Samouris says:

                  Dear Fr. George,

                  Thank you for taking the time to focus the discussion and explain some of the issues. I believe that I understand your posted responses related to my original comments and I have no challenges to what you say.

                  As to the first question, I wasn’t attempting to make a legal argument, although I can see how it might have come across that way. My point was that given the published terms of the trust, I think it is more than a far stretch to imagine the trust was set up to have ANYONE involved living a plush life with the trust funds. It was obviously intended to help the needy, both materially and spiritually. May God bless the Franczak’s for their kindness.

                  What was done with the money that is the focus of the present fuss may indeed not be against the law. I truly hope no one involved is found guilty and punished by the state of Wisconsin. However, if all parties involved are found not guilty by the Milwaukee County DA, there is still a moral issue here that I believe needs to be addressed. If I were a priest or bishop, I sure would not want to give the public the impression that I was using charitable contributions for lining my pockets. I also would not want to give the public the impression that I was dishonest and tried to mislead efforts into investigating such allegations. In my opinion, this is the real harm done here. We desperately need virtuous shepherds to protect the flock and bring the lost sheep into the fold. Public impressions are powerful. Our leaders surely must realize this.

                  As to the second question, the Church in the USA today uses monetary assessments from each parish to fund much of its daily operations at the hierarchical level. The nominal annual salary for GOA priests is not stingy. I have looked but not found what the annual salary for GOA hierarchs are, but I don’t imagine that they are less than the top salary for priests. Bishops don’t need any extra money to survive. I believe ANY AND ALL parish money given by a priest to a hierarch needs to be done very publicly and with a charitable purpose.

                  To sum it up, we need to do things so that no impropriety can be imagined by the public. This will help protect the flock and the shepherds as well.

                  May the Good Lord guide and protect us all.

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                  • Fr. George Washburn says:

                    Hi Art:

                    In the days of my evangelical ministry education (late 60s, early 70s) the professors stressed to us the fundamental importance of spiritual leaders taking real precautions – not just ordinary integrity or prudence – to avoid both the reality and appearance of financial impropriety with $ entrusted to them by the faithful. They cited St. Paul’s correspondence with the Corinthian church over the monetary gift given for the relief of the faithful in Jerusalem (I Cor. 16:3; 2 Cor. 8:20) and careful handling thereof as the Apostolic example. A careful reading of the NT epistles suggests that the apostles were concerned with both a) actual integrity and b) appearances, since the lack of either one will have the same effect: scandalized believers …and ex-believers.

                    What would I do in a situation where I was the sole custodian of such trust funds with nobody in this world who could, or was liable to, hold me accountable? Better than, worse, or about the same as those actually in such a position?

                    And since the question of $ appearances was of importance to the Apostles, a) should it also be important to those of us who lead at whatever level, and if so then b) should the perceptions and cultural expectations of those who will be or not be scandalized be taken into account?

                    Seems to me that given our Western, democratic assumptions and thinking, that Old World churchmen might have to stretch to take into account how some of the more autocratic Old World practices of the past will play to New World audiences, and how they will tend to misperceive and stumble even where there has not been any actual impropriety.

                    love,

                    Fr. George

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          • Johnny Barbarakis says:

            Actually the whole thing could’ve been avoided very easily and long ago.

            When Milwaukee discovered that some of the trust money was apparently being used for personal hijinks they asked the bishop to investigate. He found no evidence of wrongdoing. Which means he is the worst investigator this side of Inspector Clouseau or he wanted the whole thing to go away. It is hard to believe that the bishop and/or his office would look at the spending on a Rolex, fancy big boy clothes and steak dinners and come away with thinking this lined up with the intent, if not the legalities, of the trust. At this point, the bishop should have addressed the matter swiftly and internally if possible.

            Instead the bishop exerted repeated pressure on Milwaukee to drop the matter, which would seem to point towards someone who doesn’t want anyone looking to closely at what exactly happened. That’s when this thing grew into the massive embarrassment that it is.

            The way out of this now is for bishop to repay the money, apologize and let everyone know what is being done to make sure something like this never happens again. And then the healing can begin.

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            • timothy says:

              And this is the Bishop who aspires to be Metropolitan. I think his chances have been dimmed considerably by his inaction and lack of thoroughness in his “investigation.” And can we say cover-up, too?The hierarchs take us as fools sometimes. Such greed and simony.

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            • Fr. George Washburn says:

              Johnny puts his finger on something that the Church and its highest leaders ought to take a much, much clearer look at in our day and age than they seem to: the potential anomalies associated with conducting investigations in an hierarchical (not to say absolutely hierarchical) Church.

              We have a system in which bishops have and wield almost unlimited power over the parishes and clergy under their authority. There can be a tendency then for the examination of Church affairs and operations to be a matter of figuring out and delivering what the Boss wants rather than an objective pursuit of truth that follows the evidence no matter how inconvenient the path it takes us down or disagreeable the destination it reaches.

              Add to that the plain fact that although there can be a tendency for all important Church operations, such as investigations, to be conducted by the clergy, clergymen are in almost all cases both ill trained and ill suited to conduct rigorous factual inquiry. And on top of that they are almost always very much under the thumb of the one who commissions the investigation.

              Any wonder then that Church investigations will tend not to meet the standards of rigor, penetration and objectivity that we expect from independent secular inquiry?

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              • Michael Bauman says:

                Fr. George….Not to mention the understandable bias of trust that has to be there in a Church. Even when something is wrong and folks honestly want to find the truth, that trust bias can make things more difficult.

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  16. Sad Greek says:

    Yes, not relevant to the state charges, but perhaps relevant to federal charges. Or are charges still forthcoming–not for giving gifts, but receiving gifts?

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    • Fr. George Washburn says:

      I have seen nothing to suggest that the WI AG – or any federal prosecutor – claims, let alone has, jurisdiction to hammer a religious figure or organization because one of his or its donors made a contribution that went outside the scope of said donor’s legitimate powers.

      While I am sure there are laws to punish people for knowingly accepting wrongful contributions. I would be astonished to learn there is any legal standard that punishes a religious leader or body for not thoroughly investigating a trust before accepting a donation from it. And if there is none, where’s the crime?

      It is arguably something a Church could address in its written financial policies, I suppose, but how chimerical to expect public bodies to do that work for us if we ourselves have no such limits. I would be astounded to find that any branch of the Church did.

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  17. Peter A. Papoutsis says:

    Hi George:

    Sorry to get off topic, but can someone confirm for me if this website is true: http://grandlodge.gr/%CE%BC%CE%B5%CE%BB%CE%AD%CF%84%CE%B9%CE%BF%CF%82-%CE%B2%CE%84-%CE%BC%CE%B5%CF%84%CE%B1%CE%BE%CE%AC%CE%BA%CE%B7%CF%82/

    If so, this is actually what I have been looking for to confirm Patriarch Meletius IV of Constantinople involvement with Freemasonry. Here is the actual entry: http://grandlodge.gr/%CE%BC%CE%B5%CE%BB%CE%AD%CF%84%CE%B9%CE%BF%CF%82-%CE%B2%CE%84-%CE%BC%CE%B5%CF%84%CE%B1%CE%BE%CE%AC%CE%BA%CE%B7%CF%82/

    Peter

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    • J. Paul Ford says:

      Hi Peter,

      I wasn’t able to confirm or deny with any amount of certainty the information contained on the links you provided.

      What I did find is another website which gives a much more detailed description of the chronological events of Meletios B’s alleged Masonic induction, activities and support.
      I leave everyone to determine their own conclusions.

      http://orthodoxianthanatos.blogspot.in/2010/08/blog-post_4019.html?m=1

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      • J. Paul Ford says:

        To avoid confusion: Meletios served as a hierarch in several different Orthodox jurisdictions. So in one Church record he may be referred to Meletios II (or B) in another as Meletios IV, in yet another as Meletios of Kition. All these records are referring to the same individual.

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        • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

          Hi JPF.

          Thanks for the effort. From what I was able to find this IS a legitimate site for the Greek Freemasons and that this IS a legitimate entry. For many years this was somewhat of an open secret but without much in the way of confirmation. Now I have confirmation of what I and many others already knew. It is not only sad, but very scary at the same time as to how far back this “possible” manipulation on the Church goes on the part of the Freemasons.

          No so-called smoking gun, but alot of smoke, and where there is smoke…

          Peter

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  18. Peter A. Papoutsis says:

    Also, is this statement against Freemasonry still supported by ROCOR, the OCA and the Church of Greece?

    http://www.orthodox.net/ecumenism/1960-metropolia-letter.html

    Any thoughts on this would be most welcomed.

    Peter

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