First, Do No Harm

PROLOGUE

Hippocrates

The title for this essay comes from the Hippocratic Oath. As is well known, Hippocrates’ singular singular contribution was in making medicine scientific rather than shamanistic. That being said, he also realized that it was an art as well as a science. And that it is the common experience of reasonable men everywhere that in in any endeavor, in any place, and at any time, people can make things worse than they already are.

In poring over the short history of the OCA, it is doubtful that this lesson has ever been learned. Syosset has continued along its customary path of taking an uncomfortable situation and making it infinitely worse. Make no mistake, the ouster of Metropolitan Jonah based on false allegations and illicit conspiracies did just that.

The illegal and unjust ouster of His Beatitude by the Synod is now a fait accompli. Six hundred delegates showed up at a plenum in Parma which was carefully stage-managed in the finest Soviet fashion. No discussion was allowed, no questions were asked, and guards were ever at the ready. Nor was the overwhelming choice of the delegates for Metropolitan honored by the Synod, who had earlier decided whom they were going to elect.

There was something decidedly “un-American” about this council. Hierarchs in Moscow looked askance at the quiescent proceedings unable to square the vaunted independent American spirit with the obsequiousness of the attendees. The OCA thus continued an almost continuous streak of misfeasance which was only briefly interrupted by the archpastorate of Metropolitan Jonah.

Shockingly, five of the territorial dioceses that showed up to “vote” at Parma are presently vacant: Alaska, Dallas, Ottawa, and Chicago (Washington was usurped). Even with this impediment, the subset of eligible, that is to say non-controversial, candidates was even more limited. At most only three bishops had no known moral objections to their candidacy: Tikhon of Philadelphia, Michael of New York/New Jersey, and Nikon of Boston (the last of whom is gravely ill and thus out of serious contention).

The treatment of Metropolitan Jonah has severely depleted the stock of the OCA in the eyes of the other jurisdictions and autocephalous churches. The “congratulatory” letter that His Holiness Kirill of Moscow sent to the new Metropolitan was a diplomatic spanking of the first order.

Why did Syosset blunder so? How did it squander its moral authority so completely?

A LITTLE HISTORY

The election of Bishop Jonah Paffhausen, the newly-elected suffragan bishop of Ft Worth in November of 2008 was a watershed moment in the history of American Orthodoxy, to say nothing of the OCA. For the first time in the history of the OCA, the majority choice of the delegates for Metropolitan to the All-American Council was ratified by the Synod.

Jonah’s popularity was instantaneous. There was a rock-star quality about the man, the moment, and the movement that was palpable to even the most casual observer. He was openly feted by other patriarchates and Christian confessions. After a brief flowering in the mid-90s, it appeared that this time, Orthodoxy would gain wider acceptance in the American culture. The Orthodox Moment had finally arrived it seemed.

Alas, it was not to be.

Autocephaly

Some blame rests on the shoulders of Metropolitan Jonah. A man without guile, he did not know the waters wherein he was treading. He certainly could be forgiven initially for thinking that despite his inexperience as a bishop, things were going to work out for the best. For one thing, immediately upon his election Moscow’s pleasure was instantly apparent.

After a triumphal tour to Russia in which he was treated as an equal to the Patriarch of Russia, Jonah came back to America emboldened. He audaciously defended the autocephaly of the OCA after an archimandrite attached to the Patriarchate of Constantinople delivered an hysterical diatribe demanding the “submission” of American Orthodoxy to “the First Throne of Orthodoxy” while speaking at Holy Cross.

Paradoxically, the institutionalism that guided Syosset could not see that a new day was dawning. In particular, the ecumenist faction which is headed by Fr Leonid Kishkovsky, who in his capacity as director of the OCA’s Department of External Relations, has long entertained fanciful hopes of reconciliation between Syosset and Constantinople.

Be that as it may, the canonical situation of the OCA was always complicated. Though recognized as autocephalous by Moscow and a few other patriarchates, the non-Slavic churches continued to look upon it as an autonomous eparchy of Moscow. To say that this is a sticky wicket is an understatement. Yet Jonah somehow managed to thread the needle and placate the anti-OCA faction of Orthodoxy by stating openly that his church would have to “re-imagine autocephaly.”

Contrary to the hyper-autocephalists in Syosset, this was not unpopular with the people nor unprecendented for that matter. Metropolitan Theodosius. one of Jonah’s predecessors, had gone even further fifteen years earlier when he said to thunderous applause, that he would gladly give up the white hat and transfer his titles to Archbishop Iakovos Coucouzis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (GOA) if that would result in a truly unified and autocephalous American church.

For the moment though, Jonah had been able to engineer a more concrete accomplishment: the inclusion of the OCA into the newly-formed Episcopal Assembly of North America. This ended once for all the question of the OCA’s canonical status. In the face of determined opposition from Constantinople and derision from the GOA, this was the equivalent of a diplomatic hat-trick. In “re-imagining” autocephaly, Jonah was thus speaking to the choir. Unfortunately in the OCA there is more than one choir as there is no organic unity — or clear lines of authority for that matter. The institutionalists in Syosset together with the ecumenists soon made common cause with each other.

The Manhattan Declaration

Jonah was also one of the first signatories of The Manhattan Declaration. In an earlier and more openly Christian time, his signature would not have warranted a second look. Nothing in the Declaration was controversial. It certainly was not nearly as stupendous a primatial action as the public embrace of Dr Martin Luther King by Coucouzis in 1964. In fact, in regards to its stance on the elevation of homosexual coupling to marriage, the Declaration merely reiterated what the Standing Council of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA) had stated in 2003.

Unfortunately Jonah acquired two significant enemies in doing so: the pro-NCC faction which is headed by the aforementioned Kishkovsky and the pseudo-conciliarist faction on the Synod which believes that every action by the Primate must be scripted in minute detail. Both of these factions have drunk deeply from the well-springs of modernism and thus are uncomfortable with Orthodox traditionalism. What Jonah was dealing with then is an institutional problem and such problems cannot be resolved by mere reform.

Regardless of his own administrative skills (or lack thereof), Jonah operated under the illusion that as a popularly-acclaimed Metropolitan he had the moral authority to act as one. As for the canons and the plain language found in the OCA statues, the role of the Metropolitan of an autocephalous church were crystal clear. The reality though was far murkier. In addition to canons and statutes which regulated the Episcopate, the OCA has a Metropolitan Council which is at least equal to the Synod. And of course there was the office of Chancellor who all-too-often decides to whom he will answer depending on the whims of the moment.

Simply put, there were no clear lines of authority within the OCA. To put not too fine a point on it, there is no organic structure which is problematic from a church-growth standpoint. In any event, the result was one of two conflicting visions of church governance — patriarchal vs. synodal (for want of better terms).

THE AFTERMATH

In retrospect, it seems clear that Jonah was simply out of his depth. The institutional strictures of any organization (no matter how dysfunctional) could not be broken by one man no matter how charismatic and/or beloved. The tentacles of this conspiracy were widespread.

One of its main auxiliaries was OCANews.org, a popular website run by a longtime OCA activist named Mark Stokoe, whose influence was partly due to his own institutional memory while employed in Syosset and other locations. By hook or crook, he was able to leverage his connections into executive power on the Metropolitan Council. While there, his stature only grew and he was able to actually shape the narrative on his website instead of report the news.

OCANews and the Sante Fe Putsch

It was thus relatively easy to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes because its name (OCANews) gave it an aura of official sanction. In reality, Stokoe was a provacateur whose grievances stretched back decades and whose tenure in Syosset and other venues was marred by scandal and usually ended on sour notes. Regardless of the controversy surrounding him, OCANews was used by the Syosset apparat to continually blacken the name of the Metropolitan and failing this, to magnify his missteps as outrageous pratfalls and/or catastrophic scandals of the first magnitude.

It is unclear as to when Jonah came to the conclusion that the long knives were out for him. In retrospect we can see that there were landmines and tripwires along the way that signalled danger from almost the start. The climax may have been in February of 2011, when at a Synod retreat in Santa Fe the trap that had been carefully laid-out for him sometime in November had been sprung. By hook or crook however, he managed to escape.

The machinations of this clandestine coup have yet to be fully explored. It is clear that international elements were in on this almost from the start. Just a day before the adjournment of the Synod meeting, a Greek-language website (www.romfea.gr) had announced the “resignation” of Metropolitan Jonah as Primate of the OCA.

How they could come to know the final details of a Synod meeting that was still taking place was curious to say the least. Someone had clearly tipped them off. Whether this news outlet was complicit in this coup is arguable; it’s certainly possible on the other hand that a Jonah sympathizer had leaked the story prematurely in order to tip him and his supporters off. It’s doubtful we will ever really know the full story regarding this website and how it acquired the original leak.

In any event, the apparatchiks decided to regroup. They changed their main point of contention from Jonah’s “unilateralism” to one of his supposed instability. Fr Thomas Hopko, a previously well-regarded theologian, openly stated that we should “pray for the gravely troubled” Metropolitan. To add insult to injury, Hopko said that all eyes should be turned to OCANews as an unimpeachable source of information. This at a time when it became increasingly clear that OCANews was anything but an honest journalistic enterprise.

From Bad to Worse

Things only got messier from there. Syosset and the Synod for their parts hardened their positions. Now Jonah was faced everywhere he turned with demands that he admit himself to St Luke’s Insitute, a facility noted for treating troubled priests, most of whom were implicated in the paedophile scandal that rocked the Catholic Church. This outrageous demand scandalized the Church worldwide. The very idea that a Primate could be incarcerated against his own will in a psychiatric institution induced nightmares in the Orthodox Churches of the former Soviet bloc.

More insidiously, institutions like St Luke’s made the paedophile scandal worse in that Catholic bishops abrogated their own best instincts regarding miscreant priests, choosing instead a therapeutic model which (in the popular mind at least) “cured” them of their perversions. The end result of this was that the bishops came to believe that a released patient had a clean bill of health and was now no longer a threat to children.

Under this “therapeutic” regime paedophiles were moved around from parish to parish as pieces on a chess board. That St Luke’s became a revolving door was largely ignored because of its clinical trappings. That this is lost on Syosset is troubling to say the least: either they don’t understand how SLI made things worse for the Catholic Church or they don’t care. It’s hard to say which is worse.

Sleepless in Seattle

Things came to a head in Seattle, when at the 15th All-American Council 2011, the Synod met secretly on at least one occasion unbeknownst to Jonah. The result of these meetings was a series of demands that he had to accept, the most egregious one being his forced admittance for one week’s evaluation at St Luke’s. To add insult to injury, Jonah had to announce his acceptance of these demands to the delegates there assembled in words that were scripted for him.

In a spirit of humility Jonah accepted these horrendous demands. It bought him some time but in the interim the Synod gained some time as well. Despite the fact that he constantly acquiesced to their demands, Syosset and the Synod continued to move the goalposts. In the end, it didn’t matter. If they had been divided as to whether or how to force his ouster, by the beginning of 2012, their resolve had hardened. Jonah would be removed by whatever means necessary.

WHAT NOW?

The Holy Synod and the Spirit of the World

The picture presented above is not a pretty one. It is more than mere institutionalism run amok however. It betrays a modernist mindset, one that is not in accord with the Orthodox tradition in any way. More ominously, it is wicked. It was wicked in its intent and in its methodology. As even the least canonically literate person knows, the Synod cannot meet without the Primate as its chairman.

At any rate, by removing Jonah from the Primatial See based on trumped up charges which could not survive even cursory scrutiny, the Synod allied themselves with the secular world, the spirit that says that good (?) ends are justified by evil means. This is nothing less than a scandal. It sent shock waves throughout the OCA and beyond. Despite the canonical obstacles that would be inherent in leaving the OCA, priests and even entire parishes are seriously considering moving to other jurisdictions.

Laymen as well have moved on or stopped coming to church. Evangelism has come to a screaching halt. Honest inquirers have quietly dropped out of sight. It is impossible for decent people to not be scandalized. Why go to Church after all? Why pray, pay for, and obey bishops who acted in such a sinful manner? Why fast? Why honor the Church’s moral strictures if in the end might really make right? It is hard to see how the OCA can recover from this debacle. It is hard to see how a layman can listen with enthusiasm to the homilies delivered in liturgies, knowing that they are authorized by an episcopate that is morally compromised. Of such things scandals are made.

So where are we? It is my contention that a pseudo-hyperconciliarist regime is now firmly in control. The autonomist-diocesan model that was promulgated by the late Archbishop Dmitri Royster of Dallas and championed by Jonah will not be revived anytime soon.

The Diocese of Dallas Will Suffer

The consequences for the Diocese of Dallas in particular are grim: regardless of the personal integrity of whoever is elected to be its new bishop, his steps will be closely monitored. Any bold action by the new bishop will be cause for alarm and if necessary, a case for his removal will slowly but surely be created if it is felt that his continued presence upsets the Syosset-centric ruling paradigm. At the end of the day, the monies from Dallas must flow upward, all else is secondary. If things get too out of hand, then the new psychotherapeutic model will be trotted out. Indeed it is being justified now that Bp Matthias Moriak of Chicago is being coerced to undergo two years of “treatment” at St Luke’s. As for Dallas itself, several recent incidents indicate that certain Deans have bought into the new paradigm of rule by fear and intimidation on the one hand coupled with obsequiousness to Syosset and its democratist pretensions.

As for the other jurisdictions, the flamboyant self-destruction of the OCA will give them pause. Whatever moral authority the OCA had as an organic, American Church, capable of ruling itself has now been scattered to the four winds. Ironically, the Episcopal Assembly provides the other eparchies an exit strategy from ever having to be aligned with the OCA. The effect of this will be their further reliance on the various mother churches.

Most ominous of all, the incessant drone that has long emanated out of Constantinople —that Americans are too spiritually immature to have their own church—has now been legitimized by the actions of the Synod. Syosset has done what Constantinople could never do: place large morsels of meat in the thin gruel of Phanariote insincerity. Whether Syosset sees it or not —or worse, clings to some Kishkovskyite fantasy or eventual rapprochment with Constantinople—is immaterial. They see it: the Greeks see it, the Arabs see it, the Serbs see it, and more importantly, Moscow sees it.

THE ORTHODOX MOMENT: DERAILED YET AGAIN?

Earlier I had made mention of an “Orthodox Moment.” That is to say a moment in history in which one can look back and say, “this is the time when Orthodoxy became American and America started to embrace Orthodoxy. America has had three Great Awakenings. There is no reason that the fourth one couldn’t have been spearheaded by the Orthodox Church; after all the utter collapse of Protestantism demands that the vacuum be filled by some entity.

The Evangelicals Come Home

In the 1980s, the Antiochian jurisdiction spearheaded the first such an Orthodox Moment when it accepted some three thousand Evanglicals into Orthodoxy. Momentum from this auspicious event continued to build and in the 90s, the GOA appeared to be at the forefront. Festivals which were once tailored to highlight ethnicity were now being used to evangelize passers-by. GOA churches were openning their doors to well-known converts who were preaching the Gospel of Orthodox Christianity in a mature non-Zorba-the-Greekist fashion.

Ligonier Stillborn

The culmination to this was the Ligonier movement, that brief point in 1994 in which all Orthodox bishops in America boldly proclaimed their desire for a united and autocephalous American Church. The sense of excitement was palpable; unfortunately the foreign patriarchates (not just Constantinople) strangled that baby in its cradle. American Orthodoxy languished in the interim.

To its credit, the OCA continued to take up the slack, this despite the fact that it was long viewed with contempt and/or suspicion by the other jurisdictions. Despite its relative insignificance, the OCA had many advantages which the other jurisdictions did not. Not the least of these was that the language issue had been settled once and for all. Others included a strong convert base, one which transcended the laity and extended into the clergy and even the hierarchy. The appearance of lay involvement in the election of the bishops and the Metropolitan certainly added a luster that the others could not match. And of course servile devotion to foreign patriarchates and politics was never going to be an issue.

The OCA’s defects however were as numerous and the scandals associated with its first two Metropolitans continued to drag down the OCA into also-ran category. It was very hard to see how The Orthodox Moment which died at Ligonier could be revived anytime soon.

The Spirit of Ligonier Revived

And yet, in November of 2008, the spirit of Ligonier appeared to rise from the ashes. Overnight, the new Metropolitan made it seem possible that the Orthodox Church could and would preach the Gospel to a hungry nation. He certainly understood the failures of American Orthodoxy and stated them openly in his inaugural speech. This was bracing in its clarity and unheard of given the usual “happy talk” that is the usually heard from the various jurisdictions.

In any event, his supposed administrative deficits were not apparent to those eager to hear the Gospel. Jonah’s travel scheduled rivaled the Pope’s. His administrative brief included five dioceses at one time, and the long-awaited creation of the Archdiocese of Washington came to fruition. People came out of the woodwork to hear him speak. Serious inroads were made to the Continuing Anglicans.

Perhaps equally as important, the fact that the OCA had a Metropolitan whose diocesan seat was Washington signaled to the other jurisdictions that sooner or later, they would unite around an authentic American patriarch, one situated in the capital city of the American nation and the center of American power. Whether this would be Jonah or a successor made no difference; all that mattered would be the fact that Americans who chose to embrace Orthodoxy would have a focal point of Orthodox unity.

The collegialist-uber-alles view of government on the other hand does not allow this possibility to exist. As such, it makes it difficult for bishops to break the bonds of foreign control. And as his been long evident, the model of church unification that Constantinople wants to impose on North America is anything but the quasi-patriarchal model. Therefore the confluence between Constantinople’s paradigm and the Frankenstein’s monster that Syosset created bodes ill for the future of American autocephaly.

This co-belligerence between Constantinople and Syosset is interesting. It’s possible that the modernists/ecumenists within the OCA worked hand-in-glove with the Phanar. It’s just as likely that Constantinople could recognize the intrinsic weaknesses of the OCA and that given enough rope, they would eventually hang themselves. Regardless, the triumphalist vision that the OCA continues to propound has fallen on increasingly deaf ears. Moscow for its part is just waiting to see how this all plays out. And make no mistake: with Moscow’s reconciliation with ROCOR, its hands are no longer tied in North America.

The Triumph of the Mediocre

The loss of Orthodox momentum is real. I dare say that short of divine intervention, it cannot be revived. Consider: at one time, the GOA mattered, now it is almost an afterthought. I regularly receive information about brewing scandals in the GOA and every now and then some positive news. I try to publish the positive articles but even when the sordid stuff comes out hardly anybody seems to care. This is true even in the Greek-American press. Horrible scandals like the St. Irene Chrysovolantou child sex-trafficking scandal merit hardly a blip on the American consciousness.

Despite its more massive size, despite its more abundant resources, despite its “leadership” in the Episcopal Assembly, the GOA is passe. This cannot be stressed enough —nobody cares. The empty bromides that come out of the various metropolises quickly dissipate into the ether. The multi-million dollar “Apostolic Journey” undertaken by the Ecumenical Patriarch to America in 2009 was not reported in one media outlet. It fell with a thud. The present plodding, torpid legacy that exists in the GOA was the result of the harm that the Phanar inflicted on it when it helped destroy Ligonier. The GOA stopped engaging the culture and guess what? the culture stopped engaging it.

There can be no doubt that the same fate awaits the OCA. Unfortunately for the OCA, in comparison to the GOA, Syosset’s margin for error is almost non-existent. Because of this lurid affair the one American jurisdiction that could look to the broader American culture and dialogue with it has now been consigned to the dustbin of history.

Unfortunately, like the Bourbons of France, “they forgot nothing, nor learned anything.” The laity every now and then get together for an election, chooses somebody for Metropolitan and then see their choice overturned in favor of the secretly already-agreed upon candidate. The bureaucrats in Syosset continue to gaze upon the idol of Schmemann and imagine his ecclesial model to be superior to anything else that has been tried over the last two thousand years, and the Episcopate takes into its ranks only those men who can be controlled. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

EPILOGUE

So, is the great scandal involving Jonah and his maltreatment over? Far from it. The issue of the primacy of the Russian Mission on the North American continent is a settled fact, all protestations from the Phanar to the contrary. The OCA, as the successor to the Metropolia is the bearer of that legacy. That does not mean that the actual remnant of the Metropolia that did not align with the OCA in 1970, is not also part of that legacy. Given its dependency upon Moscow, it is the one existing link to that original mission.

Moreover, in the eyes of Constantinople, the MP parishes are more legitimate simply because they are still an eparchy beholden to their Mother Church. The Episcopal Assembly has ratified this view as a matter of fact; after all, Archbishop Justinian of the MP eparchy sits on the Presidium of the Assembly. Given that the OCA has received the cold shoulder (and worse) since the ouster of Jonah, Moscow’s hand has only strengthened in the interim.

All of this is regrettable. First, because the recent fiasco makes a mockery of Christian charity and thus makes Orthodoxy’s Christian witness suspect in the eyes of honest seekers. Second, because it was not inevitable. Jonah, for all his alleged defects was not an evil man, nor immoral, or ignoble. His only sins were that he could not understand the instutionalism that he was up against nor support those supported him.

Wearing the white klobuk, he thought he was the Metropolitan in fact and like more mature Orthodox Churches, he took his duties as Primate seriously. This was inimical to the apparatchiks whose bread and butter was the centralism of Syosset. That being said, if Jonah was in fact as incompetent as the Stokovite narrative proclaimed, then a better and more dignified exit strategy could have been worked out.

Instead, the picture has only gotten worse for the OCA, not better. Beginning almost from the start, back in early July when His Beatitude was unustly removed, the OCA has suffered one scandal after another on a almost daily basis. The pratfalls have been performed exclusively in the vicity of Syosset, not in Washington, where Jonah resides and where he has been obedient to the point of silence.

The Bleak Future of the OCA

So is there a way out? From a purely political standpoint, what Syosset needs now are at least five years of relative calm to put this fiasco behind it. It is likely that Syosset will give to Jonah’s usurper those tools which it denied him in order to strengthen his position and make him look like an administrative success in comparison. This is not a sure thing however. Given its internal contradictions and its conflicting loci of power, it is doubtful that Syosset and the Synod understand anything but back-biting and back-stabbing.

Their behavior reminds one of the mean girls of junior high, not of resolute men who have lived in the world and understand its ways. Even if there is a gentlemen’s agreement to not to consciously sandbag Archbishop Tikhon, events will prevent the way forward from being anything but tranquil. Why do I say this? Because there are always “events.” The Sword of Damocles that hangs over every leader’s head is there whether we see it or not.

And what of Orthodoxy? What of our engagement with the culture? What of Evangelism? Philanthropy? To be blunt, the OCA has squandered all moral authority in favor of retrenching into its institutions. It has made a mockery of its American mission and upheld the worst aspects of its dying immigrant stock.

Like the GOA which threw away Evangelism in favor of Byzantine nostalgia, the OCA stands naked before America betraying itself as a squalid little synagogue more comfortable in its Carpatho-Russian cocoon with all its dysfunctions. Such an enterprise cannot boldly proclaim the Gospel. It is doubtful that it even wants to.

A Wilderness Generation?

Can the Orthodox Church of the North American continent regroup? Can it relight the flame that flickered brightly during the time of Ligonier? I for one will not say “no, not ever.” Instead I will say “not yet.” Or more likely: “it will be a long time from now, perhaps after the present immature generation passes from the scene.”

Like the idolatrous Israelites who were forced to wander another generation in the wilderness, I cannot foresee a positive outcome unless the men who performed this wicked deed publicly repent of their sins and make restitution to His Beatitude.

Alas, we will have to wait for another day. Barring repentance, we can hope and pray that the future leaders of the Orthodox Church of North America will look back on this squalid affair with the proper spiritual maturity and at least heed Hippocrates’ sage advice. Time will tell.

Comments

  1. oliver douglas says:

    Very well stated. It was extremely disappointing how most people in the OCA meekly accepted the coup d’etat and did not raise a voice at the Parma soviet, including those who had quite a lot to say on this web site. Standing in front of a hotel and waving a sign as a bus pulls off does not qualify. [Where was I- I am not OCA, I work for a living and live very far away.] There is a bishop on this site who appears to disagree with Metropolitan Jonah’s removal and often has snarky, nay, harmful and offensive comments to offer, but who himself did not lift a literal finger to oppose a wrong. I guess it is too easy and convenience to be nasty on the internet than to do something, ah, shall we call it “episcopal?” Let’s not make any comparisons to Patriarch Tikon, or the members of the White Rose. That would be far too much-it would require courage. No death-defying actions required here. Just a plane ride (for someone who likes to tell us he is retired), mere presence (standing tall-think Archbishop Iakovos in March 1965 with Rev. Martin Luther King) and maybe a prayer. Nope-sit by the computer and mouth off. In a not very enlightening way. [Insert crude comment from "Love +BT" here.]

    The fact that I am not OCA does not mean that I did not have high hopes for Metropolitan Jonah-he was someone to admire and he really attended to business, and I am not being facetious. I am not aware of any canon or tradition or practice of the Church that the presiding bishop needs to be a graduate of the Wharton School of Business. That is what a chancellor is for. Hopefully, you have a chancellor who fully understands his role and the limits to it. Not one who takes advantage of it for his own benefit. [The following is a tangential rant-For Heaven's sake man, man being RK, don't you fear God? Don't you have any self-awareness that every penny you took for your own benefit could have been used to help someone else-maybe even a guy on the street in NYC who needs a pair of boots. And the fact that you were not prosecuted means ONLY that the prosecutor had a couple of murders or such on his desk that took precedence over RK's acts OR that the crimes did not occur in the district in which I was the prosecutor. The rant ends.] OR a chancellor who when asked to dare to approach the Metropolitan to tell him “that it has been decided” that is best for him to resign responds by just resigning himself. BUt that would take character and a big set of [fill in euphemism for walnuts or coconuts.] So now you have a leading bishop who may well be very nice, theologically correct, but whose tenure will be stained and damaged by virtue of the way he obtain his office. With all due respect, I don’t want to meet him. I would never be rude or attack him, but probably my eyes would tear up at the thought of what had happened. So, oddly, given the fact that the existence of numerous separate “jurisdictions” is contrary to proper canonical order, I have many other places (Churches) to go to. I am truly sorry OCA-you have struck a suicidal blow and can only pray that the “doctors” can revive you and set you on the right path.

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    • DC Indexman says:

      George, in all my years of teaching the highest grade I gave on essays was an A-.

      The main reason being was to let the student know they had achieved the A level of quality, but there was room for improvement and doing a little better. Though, I would not necessarily agree with all the sub points and assumptions, I do have to acknowledge the overall essay is tightly crafted. Had this been turned into me when I was teaching, I would have considered awarding this as an A.

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    • Gailina Sheppard says:

      Are you seriously faulting Bishop Tikhon for this mess?! How, pray tell, would Bishop Tikhon “lift a finger” to champion your cause when he wasn’t able to “lift a finger” to save his own friends who, BTW, were ALSO shafted? The only weapon Bishop Tikhon has is INFORMATION, which he generously shared with you on this list. You were able to FIGHT this war, in large part, because of the trail of bread crumbs he left for you. He even announced Metropolitan Jonah’s forced resignation and it whizzed right over your collective heads (or most of you, anyway). – You may not like Bishop Tikhon’s style, which is your prerogative, but it’s not HIS fault you lost the battle.

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      • Look back at the 2008 SIC report posted elsewhere on this site, plug in +Tikhon’s name into the year 2004, and see what lovely actions the Synod has been taking since his elevation to the Synod. The one glaring action that always stands out at me is the Synod’s signing an affadavit in 2005 (in order to get a loan to stay afloat, cover their debt and not go under), was that the OCA had two million members. Lying and bearing false witness seem to go hand-in-hand with OCA administration. +Tikhon has been on the Synod for the past EIGHT years. Innocent? Hardly so.

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        • Nate B., The U.S. does not measure its population according to the number of people who filel income tax returns,does it? So why would anyone measure the membership of a Church by the number of people who pledge or pay dues, etc.? Every human being baptized in the Orthodox Church is a member of the Orthodox Church, good or bad or whatever, until he or she DECIDES to leave it. I believe that reporting the membership of the OCA as plus or minus two million could be rather accurate…or not… But the reporting of the number of members is determined by counting the regular financial supporters is dumb, foolish, and typical of the amateur MBA’s and wanna-be MBAs in the OCA administration and elsewhere. A man with a wife and five or six children makes up seven or eight members, but often only one of them is recorded as such. You are way off by calling acceptance of and publication of that number “bearing false witness” or “lying!” So, if it is that which (you say) “always stands out at me is the Synod’s signing an affidvit in 2005″, you don’t understand the matter at all. Further, was it not the Metropolitan Council whose president is the Metropolitan who had to sign such an affidavit? Since when does the Holy Synod sign loan applications?
          It must have been an AWFUL strain to find something negative in Metropolitan Tikhon’s record, no?
          Who, Nate B., is bearing false witness, if not you?

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    • Bruce Wm. Trakas says:

      People should not minimize the fact that as uncomfortable as many may have been over the Synodal action that resulted in Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation, there are those who accept the matter, very reluctantly; they may feel there had to be some justification for the Synod to UNANIMOUSLY agree to take such action, especially a synod composed of two members who have not been in the OCA for very long; a Synod that had to know how controversial such an action would be received both within the OCA and externally, especially in light of the publicly known 19 years of financial malfeasance perpetrated by the former Chancellor, which was only formally disclosed 4 years earlier. While not in the OCA, that is my opinion from what I’ve observed during much of Metropolitan Jonah’s primatial tenure and from what I’ve read since his forced resignation. I read a post on “OrthodoxChristianity.net” wherein a supporter of His Eminence’s who was disturbed by the resignation, met with a trusted friend who was informed of some details but likewise had been a supporter of His Eminence’s who told him, the action was very unfortunately necessary because there were substantial problems dealing administratively with His Eminence’s administrative behavior. I read another post that reported that his administrative style had been a problem while he ran the Manton monastery, too. Recall too, Archbishop Dimitri intended to groom him, having recognized his talents, into an understanding of episcopal administration while he was serving as his Chancellor, but there was no time for the development of such experience. Metropolitan Jonah certainly has many gifts, but there had to be something in error about his administrative behavior that brought the Synod to the point of exposing itself and the OCA as a whole to substantial criticism by taking the extraordinary action that it took. It must now take care to assure that His Eminence be granted a position in the church suited to his talents. I cannot defend the Synod’s inability to have handled their extraordinary action more appropriately, however.

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      • George Michalopulos says:

        Good points. However the Synod did NOT act unanimously. Arb Alejo of Mexico for example was not part of the clandestine coup as he cannot speak English. That’s one point. The other one is equally obvious: the Synod did not act unanimously because the Metropolitan was not present at any of the clandestine meetings that took place in his absence. And let’s not forget that three of the dioceses (Ottawa, Sitka, and Dallas) were widowed during these clandestine meetings.

        As for your comments regarding the previous Chancellor, who was replaced before Jonah’s archpastorate, I don’t see how they’re germane to this situation.

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        • Monk James says:

          The notion which Fr John Jillions (probably not his fault) presented o Met. Jonah, that the bishops in office at the time UNANIMOUSLY requested the metropolitan’s resignation, was false on its face.

          The bishops merely wanted to appear to be united, since this is a desirable characteristic. In this case, though, it was a transparently obvious attempt to paper over a really badly cracked wall, the cracks being the knuckling under of the synod to just less than half their number who happen to always bully the others until they get their way. It’s a sin and a shame, and unspeakably sad.

          It didn’t used to be this way, even in our OCA. Let’s pray for better times and a few retirements and resignations. May the Lord grant Met. Tikhon all the grace and gifts he needs to help turn our church around in the long years of service he’ll probably have, God willing.

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        • lexcaritas says:

          Not only that, George, wasn’t it only the Lesser Synod that “unanimously” requested +JONAH’s resignation. The Synod as a whole merely accepted it after it had been tendered. A shrewd man would not have accepted the Chancellor’s representation to the contrary but would have polled every member personally to have it from the horse’s mouth–and if found to be untrue would have had the Chancellor dismissed. If found to be true on personal verification and with a clear understanding of the good faith grounds upon which it was being requested, he would have, then and only then, tendered the requested resignation.

          lxc

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        • Bruce Wm. Trakas says:

          George, My statement about the former Chancellor’s facilitation of malfeasance, is in regard to the “turbulence” associated with primatial turnover, Metropolitan Jonah serving a less than 4 year tenure, after the “retirement” of +Herman. (I know that Metropolitan Jonah was elected following the official disclosure of the malfeasance activities.)

          Monk James, I’m not so sure I agree with the rallying around a unified stance analysis. Wasn’t there at least one hold out for forcing Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation when it was attempted previously? I recall that Mark Stokoe predicted unanimity would be forthcoming following the “get him into rehab. deal;” the “leave of absence” was a compromise within the Synod, less their primate.

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      • Hah!

        So to summarize your argument, Bruce:

        “The synod must have had a good reason, because they could not afford to make themselves look as bad as they do.”

        And its corollary:

        “But they also made themselves look even worse than necessary, which I can’t explain and which directly contradicts my argument above. Oh well, whatever, nevermind.”

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        • As sloppy, illogical, and unsatisfying as this perspective is, my guess is that most people in the OCA did not go to even this much effort to understand what happened.

          The real story is that the bishops knew they could count on this, and the hands off approach taken by other jurisdictions, so they boldly destroyed a primate that they hated without just cause. That’s what happened, and it fits 100% of the facts. No internal contradictions or “oh well, whatever, nevermind” arguments necessary to tie it together.

          What’s most likely to happen is that the OCA will follow the trajectory of the Episcopal Church, with 3-10% decline every year. You will never get accurate data, and the data you do get will be massaged to make crisis events (like the barbecuing of Jonah) not appear to be the direct cause of a notable decline. In fact, it may not be a huge factor. Instead, it might truly be just one more baby step in a trend spanning decades.

          When 40-60% of Catholics, Orthodox, and Episcopalians support things like abortion, same-sex marriage, premarital safe sex, etc., and most of the remainder are focused on their parish life, you simply do not see single year declines larger than 10% at the most. The Episcopal Church had 5 healthy dioceses leave and smoothed out the data to make it look like the damage from homogenitally active bishops was fairly minimal. The Episcopal Church for years was claiming 2 million people when it had 1 million. Now I think it has about 600,000. The OCA seems very different in that it has been claiming over 1 million and seems to actually have closer to 20-40,000. My guess is, from this point forward, the OCA doesn’t have the funds or motivation to make accurate numbers a priority. Or maybe I should say, this has probably been true for a long time now and is unlikely to change.

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          • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says:

            The ouster of His Beatitude, the Most Blessed Jonah, Archbishop of Washington,D.C., Metropolitan of All America and Canada, is not only canonically doubtful, but is like a precipitating event. It did not cause the OCA’s decline and fall by itself, but it is a harbinger of things to come, just like the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Heir to the Austrian and Hungarian Empire, was a precipitating event,

            NOTE: I am using the full title to show that Jonah is the proper and legitimate Metropolitan.

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    • Monsieur Oliver Douglas took the occasion of George’s essay to write gratuitous remarks about me which appear to be a delayed reaction to something I wrote previously which he was unable to refute. And he came up with this paragraph summing up my “perfidy:”

      “There is a bishop on this site who appears to disagree with Metropolitan Jonah’s removal and often has snarky, nay, harmful and offensive comments to offer, but who himself did not lift a literal finger to oppose a wrong. I guess it is too easy and convenience to be nasty on the internet than to do something, ah, shall we call it “episcopal?” Let’s not make any comparisons to Patriarch Tikon, or the members of the White Rose. That would be far too much-it would require courage. No death-defying actions required here. Just a plane ride (for someone who likes to tell us he is retired), mere presence (standing tall-think Archbishop Iakovos in March 1965 with Rev. Martin Luther King) and maybe a prayer. Nope-sit by the computer and mouth off. In a not very enlightening way. [Insert crude comment from "Love +BT" here.]”

      I believe I have, indeed, objected consistently and often to the actions of the Holy Synod for: “A”, Issuing a non-Christian Statement, which I call a STINKBOMB, that was unbecoming a Holy Synod or any instance claiming to be associated with the Christian religion; a document full of falsehood and false witness.

      Incidentally, the Statement attacked Metropolitan Jonah and referred to many failings and flaws in his character and behavior, and claimed that his behavior “bewildered them.” “B” Failing to explain, after delineating all Metropolitan Jonah’s flaws, how it came to pass that they elected him to his office since they and no one else, including Metropolitan Jonah, is responsible for his election to be the Metropolitan. I also said that any claim that they felt impelled to elect him because of the large majority vote he got from parish delegates merely reinforced their dereliction, since MOST OCA/Metropolia elections to Metropolitan have been effected by the Synods/Sobors so as to NOT elect the candidate with the most votes, since Metropolitans Ireney, Theodosius, and Herman did not receive the majority of delegate votes before the Synods/Sobors elected them. Further they all took oaths not ever to act “out of fear of a multitude of people.” “C” requiring him to resign, but neither allowing him to resign gracefully nor do so without recrimination and public censure. Further, they failed in any way to prepare beforehand a kind , thoughtful, and managerially CORRECT provision for his future. In other words, no matter what anyone may feel about Metropolitan Jonah’s lack of maturity or stability or any other character flaws, not even a DOG should be treated as he has been treated.

      But Herr Douglas feels I should have gone to Parma, presumably to publicly protest and perhaps shame the Holy Synod and the Council assembled there. He feels that remaining in Los Angeles shows that I am unwilling to back up my words with action (as if words are not action in this case).

      Herr Douglas! I am 80 years old. I quit flying ANYPLACE at all after the TSA introduced its virtual strip-searches and feel-ups, and after the airlines began to charge for services that were previously given gratis. Herr Douglas, I hope I’m not offending you or anyone else here, but I personally have not the slightest wish to see Metropolitan Jonah restored to the position that Holy Synod awarded him and from which he resigned by letter. Not The Slightest!

      I have no fear or trembling or apprehension about speaking out loud to any Bishop or group of Bishops in the OCA, or about writing to them. I defy you, Herr Douglas, to provide any evidence whatsoever of that. If you or anyone else contributing here thinks that the Bishops of the OCA Holy Synod do not know of my contributions here and elsewhere, and their contents, particularly those highly critical of the OCA leadership, then I think such must be stupid, cretins, or smoking some heavy weed. Within the past ten days, Archbishop Benjamin, speaking to a parish council, described my defenses of Metropolitan Jonah on a “scabrous blog” (someone asked him what Bishop Tikhon thought of Metropolitan Jonah) as an answer to whether or not I liked the Metropolitan. He then said that on the other hand I had been “nasty and mean” to Metropolitan Jonah when he was in Manton. Of course, I never ever blessed Father Jonah to move the monastery of St. John to Manton: I opposed it, and if I hadn’t retired that move would not have taken place at all, so the Archbishop was not telling the truth about my treating Jonah any way at all “at Manton.”

      I still feel Agha Oliver Douglas is a low-ranking cop. I’ve had enough training and experience in police work to recognize the type. I’m not sure why he won’t admit it. It’s an honorable profession indeed!

      Douglas-san! Get a life! A life with our Lord, God, and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and quit complaining that an 80-year old retired bishop didn’t “hop on” a plane to Parma. I guess I could have taken the Greyhound: there was a time when I piled up a lot of Greyhound miles: in college and the army. Bishop Victorin of blessed memory, who was in charge of the Patriarchal Romanian Church during the time Valerian was in the Romanian Episcopate organization, never took a plane OR a train. Archbishop Job of blessed memory was scared to death of flying and was willing to travel any way BUT by airplane. My sister back in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan,complains that I haven’t visited her and my close and extended family in the Detroit area for over a decade; I’m looking into the train possibilities.
      I feel that Vice-President Cheney’s remark to a U.S. Senator was inappropriate; however, I feel that remark is definitely indicated here vis-a-vis Gospodin Douglas’s whinging about my not flying to Parma!

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  2. Sean Richardson says:

    A very well written history, although I must disagree with one point: “The loss of Orthodox momentum is real. I dare say that short of divine intervention, it cannot be revived.” It is my feeling that Orthodox momentum can be regained (albeit, as always, with the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and active presence, which is something we constantly pray for) … but it will take leaders with vision, piety and capability. I believe it can be recaptured. I believe …

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    • Fr. George Washburn says:

      Wells friends:

      I admit to being drawn like a moth to candle flame to this editorial since I was the one a couple of months ago who, as far as I know, was the first one to drag Hippocrates – no, not hypocrites, you dyslexics hypocrites were already here – into this forum. But it was with the strong suggestion that the tendentious partisanship, axe-grinding and anonymous mud-slinging that is such a chief item of sale here was doing plenty of harm too.

      Why can’t people figure out that it isn’t just the other guys who cause damage with careless mortar-lobbing and rocket fire? I found an excellent book on the subject from UCSC social psychologist Eliot Aronson an a co-author that goes into great depth about our ability to put blinders on and rationalize like crazy out of one side of our mouths and brains, while criticizing others out of the other corner for doing the same! The book is called Mistakes Were Made …But Not By Me and it is well worth a read.

      And once again folks, that’s hypocrisy in action ….not Hippocrates.

      love,

      Fr. George

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      • Well, of course virtually any action causes damage to somebody. When you catch a criminal, or simply testify that you saw a crime being committed, you also cause damage – to the criminal himself, to his family, to the circle of friends and admirers of the criminal who want to wish away the facts and accuse you of hypocrisy. “How can you say that you act to right some wrong when your actions themselves cause damage?!”

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      • Patrick Henry Reardon says:

        Father George Washburn suggests that “the tendentious partisanship, axe-grinding and anonymous mud-slinging that is such a chief item of sale here was doing plenty of harm too.”

        Since the inception of this blog site, Father, I have told George Michalopoulos—times past counting—that the sustained appearance of anonymous mud-slinging seriously compromises the integrity and usefulness of this enterprise.

        Twice I have also described those who engage in anonymous mud-slinging cowards and idiots.

        On both occasions—and we hope for a reversal of the policy—George has declined to post my assessment of them.

        Apparently one may call people cowards and idiots only if he does so anonymously.

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          Fr Patrick, I take your criticisms to heart. I wish that everybody would respond openly. But I must confess, that the spirit of fear which inundates at present much of American Orthodoxy (all jurisdictions btw) precludes such an occurrence. It’s rather pitiable that so many priests fear their bishops and chanceries. Until that time, Monomakhos will continue to provide a venue for free speech and robust debate under less than ideal circumstances.

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    • Daniel E. Fall says:

      I think Sean Richardson getting a net negative of 2 out of 26 votes (a/o my reply), which means 14 against and 12 for really says something about the posters on this board.

      It was a hopeful statement, yet 14 people that sign onto the comments voted against hope?

      Fr. George kind of said it better than I can..

      As for the balance of the editorial, I agreed with pieces of it, but I disagree with it in general. The basic reason for the prior failure in the church is important to reflect upon and blaming Stokoe is not fair. For lack of a long discussion, let’s say it was unabated control by the Metropolitan and/or those or that chief priest, and let’s just say under them even though there may be a problem with the aspect. The situation allowed the leaders to do whatever they wanted. This is seen by some as acceptable, and others, not so much.

      So, more philosophically, if I may, one might conclude some in the church were overly wary about unabated control by a Metropolitan. Dismissing argument, let’s say the majority felt this way. The Clayton, WI parish stopped dispensing money until the financial matters were resolved (original scandal). The people in that parish would be very wary about a Metropolitan that just did whatever he wanted; including requiring readings about homosexuality.

      So, for semantics only, let’s also just assume the new Metropolitan didn’t have a YES man in his first chief priest. If his course of action was to fire him in hopes of a new yes man, how many people here might see that as a cause for concern given the prior problems. Well, then, again for semantics, let’s say a new chief priest comes in and he, too, is not well liked by the Metropolitan. I might have this part wrong for all the Fr. Jillions mudslinging I’ve heard here. Anyone see a trend here? How about a trend in confirmation bias as well?

      I’d call it the perfect storm.

      You have a church really messed up by scandal. All the bias is against strict, unabated hierarchical rule. And you end up with a hierarch that goes about making statements and getting rid of those he can’t get along with and requiring readings of questionable need.

      If you step back away from the sentiments for a minute; the church had a problem with confirmation bias (that its leader would do whatever he wanted) and the former Metropolitan Jonah seems to have confirmed it with declarations and terminations and trips overseas and placements of questionable priests, etc. to name a few.

      I’ve said it before…all he had to do was go to church socials and he would have been loved by everyone…

      And George, if you are for strict unabated control by the Metropolitan and you feel the prior administrations were in the right, you would be in a small element of a minority of people.

      Somewhere in all of these matters, you have to recognize there were problems far deeper than Stokoe’s website. Your continued reflection upon Mark Stokoe and the constant blaming of that 2% faction of society must tire you out sometimes. If Stokoe gets so much credit, then is he the reason the Metropolitan and Bishop Matthias were so hell bent on a homosexual teaching aloud in churches? Are you suggesting Mark Stokoe’s personal life exorcised the two into action? Or was it Minnesota’s conservative party effort to get an antigay marriage amendment on the ballot that changed no current law and was actually intended per the author Michael Bellencourt to get conservatives to vote. In either case, that reading aloud in churches was damn odd. And it would make both bishops very small men. (I think so on both accounts, unless I have been misinformed).

      As for grading your editorial, I think you need to establish the mindset of the group before Jonah arrives….and somehow George you need to stop crediting Stokoe for other people’s issues.

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      • George Michalopulos says:

        You ascribe way more influence to STokoe in your analysis than I do. I view him as part of a larger Gay/Secularist/Modernist Cabal in which he was a major mouthpiece. If anything, OCAN was an accelerant of the Syosset mindset but not its originator. Although, in going back and reading the original Indiana List e-mail describing the incipient coup, it is interesting to note that it was Stokoe who wrote it and bishops and priests who received it.

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    • Daniel E. Fall says:

      Get serious, how can hope for Orthodoxy result in a 14 against and 12 for vote? Fr. Washburn responded the best to that bit.

      This editorial fails to account for the mindset and confirmation bias problems caused by the prior two Metropolitans as did Jonah during his time leading the church. It is the heart of the matter.

      And, it fails to account for the really wierd stuff Metropolitan Jonah did requiring reading the churches stance on homosexuality aloud in churches. Bishop Matthias required this as well. Obesity is probably far more relevant. The church has an official position on healthcare as well, but that wasn’t required reading either. Totally wierd.

      And, it fails to account for a termination of the chief priest when he wasn’t a yes man.

      And, it fails to account for a Metropolitan that placed priests without official acceptance.

      You need to get past Mark Stokoe’s website George; it has never been root cause.

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      • George Michalopulos says:

        Your equation with treachery and backstabbing with “not being a yes man” is curious to say the least. What specifically offended you about the letters regarding the “church’s stance on homosexuality aloud” have to do with anything? I was unaware of it. If however there is truth to this, then my instinct regarding the Gay Cabal is weighted with yet more evidence.

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  3. Wow! THANK YOU!!!

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  4. A Comparison says:

    After Metropolitan Jonah was acclaimed Metropolitan, we could all go on the web and get inspired by a fairly large corpus of audio and video files and print versions of various of his sermons and writings. I finally found a fairly large sermon by Metropolitan Tikhon when he was a bishop, wishing well to a departing pastor, in June, 2010:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LILm5rGnCU&feature=share&list=UL5LILm5rGnCU

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw2WK3P5Jbw&feature=share&list=ULNw2WK3P5Jbw

    As he is reportedly going to be around at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, D.C. for the visit of the Kursk Root icon of the Birthgiver of God, you might be interested in his sermon on the Kursk Root icon on the day of the Three Hierarchs on January 29th:

    http://youtu.be/6M-yroWfnx0

    He reminds some people of Metropolitan Jonah in certain ways. He is young, in fact a good seven years younger than Metorpolitan Jonah. He is a convert from Episcopalianism. He converted from Episcopalianism in 1989 whereas Jonah converted in 1977, i.e. Met. Tikhon converted at age twenty-three or twenty-four while Met. Jonah did so at age 18. He has a 1993 Masters of Divinity degree from St. Tikhon’s Seminary while Met. Jonah has his from St. Vladimir’s in 1985. Met. Jonah was tonsured a monk at St. Tikhon’s in 1994 while Met. Tikhon was tonsured a monk at the same monastery in 1995. Metropolitan Tikhon has no written publications, but he illustrated a publication by Bp. Alexander Golitzen. Metropolitan Jonah has numerous short written works, mostly articles and once edited a journal. Met. Tikhon was made a bishop by Metropolitan Herman in 2005 while Met. Jonah was made a bishop by Bishop Dmitri of Dallas, Texas in 2008. Metropolitan Jonah is well known for his sermons and audio recordings, for which see

    http://orthodoxwiki.org/index.php?title=Jonah_%28Paffhausen%29_of_Washington_and_New_York&oldid=77619

    Metropolitan Tikhon is not so well known for his audio recordings and sermonizing, but both Metropolitans have been abbots of monasteries. Metropolitan Tikhon has taught on the faculty of St. Tikhon’s Seminary while Metropolitan Jonah has not taught on a faculty to my knowledge. Neither Metropolitan has a Phd. Metropolitan Tikhon has facility in French while Metropolitan Jonah is fluent in Russian.

    Both Metropolitans have living parents and the parents of both Metropolitans have retained protestantism. However, Metropolitan Jonah’s mom attends church services with him at those places he occasionally and regularly serves, i.e. St. Mark’s OCA, St. John’s ROCOR and the chapel in the former private home of Bishop Basil of blessed memory, now owned by a private individual and invitation only. Metropolitan Tikhon’s mom is the priest of her own church in Mt. Joy, PA. :

    http://st-lukes-mt-joy.diocpa.org/

    These close associations give both Metropolitans a good concept of one of the major religions providing converts to the OCA like themselves, the Protestant Episcopal Church.

    We will have to see whether Metropolitan Tikhon comes out of his shell and becomes a great sermonizer like Metropolitan Jonah or whether he will continue to be known as “Jonah Lite” on account of his great ability to keep silence and not cause his brother bishops too much distraction in the conduct of their ministries and lives.

    If you are in the Washington, D.C. area this coming Friday or Saturday, you will have a great opportunity to see either Metropolitan in action. On Friday, Metropolitan Jonah will be giving his bible study at 7:30 P.M. at St. John the Baptist Cathedral, and probably be serving next weekend at the same church, for which see info at:

    http://www.stjohndc.org/Russian/calendar/e_eve.htm

    Metropolitan Tikhon will be at two locations on Friday and Saturday, at St. Nicholas Cathedral in the District for a special service on Friday:

    7pm Prayer Service (English and Slavonic)
    Veneration of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Sign of the Theotokos
    http://www.stnicholasdc.org
    /directions.html

    The Kursk Root icon was at St. John the Baptist cathedral last weekend while Metropolitan Jonah was celebrating. It is a special blessing for it to come to an OCA cathedral. On Saturday, there is an annual Diocesan Day for the Washington, D.C. archdiocese at St. Luke’s Orthodox Church in McLean, Virginia, aka St. Luke’s Serbian. Public events include a 9 AM liturgy in the morning and a 5 PM Vespers in the evening with Metropolitan Tikhon. At the liturgy in the morning, Metropolitan Tikhon will be serving as a priest. Anyone wanting to sing in the choir must show up by 8 AM to practice with Father Dennis Buck. All are welcome.

    http://www.stlukemclean.org/directions.html

    In fact, if you skip the Vespers, you can make it to St. John’s in time to make the Vigil there in either English or Slavonic.

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    • Yes, there are many superficial similarities between the two. However, at least one huge difference immediately comes to mind. Metropolitan Jonah did not participate in a series of uncanonical and illegal actions directed at the removal of his predecessor and did not occupy his place after the successful coup.

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      • Amen to Mitrich!.

        Several times I have read on this blog about how the Anglican Church didn’t stand a chance because it was founded on a rocky base. Having studied Anglican history, I would say that the founding fathers of Anglicanism were more interested in getting their theology right, and even went to the stake for their
        beliefs. Whereas in the OCA the fight seems to be all about power and theology be dammed. Who needs it.

        The people who castigate those who have been upset by the recent turmoil, and whose advice is to forget and move on, are doing nothing more than abetting those who have wrought this travesty. Hide the dirt, sweep it under the rug. Actually they remind me of the snake in the Garden of Eden. God won’t mind if we misbehave. Well God did and we got kicked out and we have been wandering ever since.

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      Leaving aside his participation in the coup against the Metropolitan, Tikhon certainly has admirable qualities as a bishop. The more apt comparison however is between him and Jonah and over at the GOA between Demetrios and Iakovos. Nowhere and no time could Demetrios be accused of improprieties. Clearly a blameless man in every sense of the word. However his tenure, his writings, and his speeches are very much like Arb Tikhon’s; that is to say unoffensive, anodyne, and perfunctory. Definately inspiring however.

      The lethargy that has engulfed the GOA is indicative of His Eminence’s adequate stewardship.

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  5. A. Sokoproglotova says:

    Pardon me for being far away from US, but has there been any mass exodus from OCA to other jurisdictions after the American Coucil, or was that merely speculation or threatening talk?

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    • Of course there is no official statistics. The OCA rulers are not interested in letting the world know how small it is and how it gets smaller every week. Personally, I know quite a number of OCA parishioners who went to ROCOR recently, one by one, not so much after the AAC but mostly before it. After all, it was quite predictable that no dissent will be allowed at the AAC and that it will be used as a tool of putting the appearance of legitimacy on what essentially is a crime committed against the Church. Thus, we can only go by this kind of anecdotal evidence to decide whether people are leaving.

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      • Thomas Paine says:

        Mass exodus? People running to ROCOR? What alternative universe do you live in? Parma clearly showed unity within the OCA and full approval of Met. Tikhon. Get over it! ROCOR is dead. Who really wants to subject themselves to the corruption of the ROC via ROCOR?

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        • Disgusted With It says:

          Ha ha ha, there’s a good one! A die-hard OCA/Syosset apologist condemning other jurisdictions of corruption. This site can be hilarious at times! What next? Will Mr. Paine accuse ROC or ROCOR of harboring and promoting homosexuals (like is filthily done in the OCA)?

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        • Oh how funny. ROCOR dead? The ROCOR Church in DC with 2 services is overflowing, services several times a week-packed (english by the way), visiting icons, studies during the week, very serious laity, growing leaps and bounds. While the OCA Cathedral in DC has shrived to half its size and none of the above, although they are trying . . . .

          TP you are simply wrong. What’s new . . . .

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          • Thomas Paine says:

            Colette,
            Look around; most all are relatively recent immigrants from Russia working in the D.C. area. Go into REAL America and see that ROCOR means nothing. It’s a joke. Besides this, ROCOR is under Moscow which has the blood of thousands of Syrians on their hands from not stopping Assad. Let’s all join a church which supports murder; a church which places KGB priests and operatives in the U.S. and around the world; let’s join a church that in reality undermines and believes in the destruction of America. Let’s support those who wish to destroy America. NEVER!

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              You are sadly mistaken on so many fronts. Do you wish for the Assad to fall so that hundreds of thousands of your co-religionists can be slaughtered? Or is your Kishkovskyite exceptionalism of American Orthodoxy to be so evolved that you don’t view Arab Orthodox as your brothers?

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              • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                Please pray for the safety of the clergy and faithful of the Patriarchate of Antioch as they gather next week in Damascus for the burial of our Patriarch, Ignatius IV, who fell asleep in the Lord yesterday. Also, please remember the Holy Synod of Antioch in your prayers as they meet to select our new Patriarch.

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                • There should not be any “thumbs down” for prayer requests regarding the election of a new Antiochian Patriarch, or regarding the safety of Orthodox (and other types of) Christians in Syria. Our Christian brethren are in a very, very dangerous situation. I recognize that some Christians believe that that life is better under the murderous Assad regime; however, they are clutching desperately to a thin rubber straw, thinking it support. Syria needs intense prayer, and I include both Christians and all non-Christians there who oppose bloodshed. In fact, we also should be praying for the Syrian murderers and rapists of any faction, for they need prayers to aid them toward repentance.

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                  • Patrick Henry Reardon says:

                    Antonia believes, “There should not be any ‘thumbs down’ for prayer requests regarding the election of a new Antiochian Patriarch”

                    She is right, of course.

                    But her kind reminder on this point indicates to what depths the dialogue on this blog site has descended.

                    I have pretty much given up looking for even a shred of Christian charity on this log site.

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                  • Antonia,

                    While unfortunate, I feel such strange downvotes are useful as a count of how many negative voters on other comments can be safely disregarded. At least two…

                    Lord, have mercy and save and protect your faithful flock in Damascus and all of Syria!

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                  • Gregg Gerasimon says:

                    Yes I agree there shouldn’t be any “thumbs down,” but on a public site like this, anyone from anywhere can vote thumbs up or thumbs down. People who don’t like George’s site, or who don’t like the fact that this site has been at the forefront in pointing out the myriad of problems and inconsistencies in the forced resignation of Met. Jonah, people who want to be troublemakers, people who aren’t Orthodox Christians at all — anyone can vote thumbs up or thumbs down.

                    My opinion — get rid of the thumbs up and thumbs down ratings on comments here. It’s meaningless.

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                • oliver douglas says:

                  Amen.

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                • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                  How could any Orthodox Christian give a thumbs down for a request for prayers for the Orthodox Christians anywhere any time? Don’t you realize what could happen to the faithful while they are burying our Patriarch in the middle of a war zone? One bomb could wipe out our whole Holy Synod.

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                  • Archpriest Morris. There’s no need to be exercised by thumbs-downs that you are counting. Surely you recognize that some posting here are opposed to others posting here and automatically show their dislike for a poster by giving his message (and, they think, himself) a thumbs-down. i know that I could post the Lord’s Prayer here and get two or three SURE thumbs-downs. Some would rather cut off their fingers than give me (or you) a thumbs-up for anything at all. Try to rise above such trivialities……or “adiaphora”… as thumbs.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      Your Grace:

                      Whether or not someone likes or dislikes me, should be irrelevant to the content of what I post, especially since I have only had personal dealing with very few people who post to this blog. Perhaps, I have been posting more than usual since I am still confined to my home after surgery and do not have a lot to do. To put thumbs down on a plea for prayers for the faithful of our Patriarchate or any other Orthodox Patriarchate when they gather to mourn the death of their Patriarch by anyone including someone they do not like is in bad taste to say the least.
                      As far as I know this is a public blog that invites comments from the general public. I have as much right to post as anyone. I certainly have a right to respond to some of the comments that some people make here if I disagree with them or feel a need to share some of my knowledge with them.

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              • Daniel E. Fall says:

                Assad is toast. Arab Orthodox need to prepare for that certainty George.

                You can’t reframe the argument to Eric’s concern about the welfare of Arab Orthodox anymore than Eric can reframe the OCA is defeated argument to ROC(OR) churches into pseudo KGB operatives.

                As for the idea the OCA is dead because it changed leaders, there is no shortage of good humor from posters here!

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  As much as I despise the Assad regime, I am in no position to predict the future with your confidence. I dare say that the Russians and Chinese are doubling down on Assad and that he will be there for quite awhile. If not, then look for the blood of more martyrs.

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                • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                  You are probably right. I do not see how Assad can survive. However, I fear for the future of the Orthodox Church in Syria because of what has happened during the so-called Arab Spring. It seems to have given the radical Muslims a chance to seize power and to try to impost Sharia law thereby guaranteeing that Orthodox Christians will be subject to persecution. It seems that our State Department has never shown an interest in defending the rights of Eastern Orthodox any where in the world. We have watched as the Serbian Orthodox of Kosovo have been all but driven out of the ancient Serbian homeland. We certainly did not do much to defend the Christians in Iraq and have not done anything that I can see to protect the Christians of Egypt.

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              You need to tell your handlers in Syosset to give you new talking points. Here in the heartland of America and there is a new ROCOR mission in a small town northeast of where I live. It started five months ago with ony two families (10 people total: 4 adults, 6 children) and now has 20-25 people on any given Sunday. It’s Western Rite and its mission is to the Cherokee nation and ordinary Anglo-Americans. In the capital city of my state there has long been a ROCOR church there. Another ROCOR church opened in a small town in Arkansas about 150 miles from where I live. Those are just off the top of my head.

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              • Priest Justin Frederick says:

                Plus one led by a convert priest in San Antonio, Texas, and a likely new mission in a state nearby that would have been OCA had it not been for our recent crisis.

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              Forgive me for the scattershot replies. America is being destroyed from within not from the KGB. Those within include the NCC and the liberals who have watered down Christianity so that most confessions now promote sodomy.

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              • George, perhaps you are unfamiliar with Yuri Bezmenov, a former KGB operative who disclosed the KGB’s very active programs to infiltrate American culture to create precisely this destruction from within. I don’t think they’re the only group who’ve worked against us in this way, but I do believe they have participated.

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAYQ-rfj1CI

                That said, I have no knowledge of what specific techniques they are or are not now using (can’t comment on the post you’re replying to).

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Max, thank you for this information. I don’t disagree with you one bit. However, this infomrtion is dated, a product of the Cold War or its immediate aftermath.

                  Please understand, we anti-Communists, McCarthyites, America-Firsters, etc., always believed that there was an international conspiracy headed by the KGB to inflitrate and subvert America from WITHIN. My original point still stands. I very much doubt however that this same exogenous program exists. Instead, Russia is well on its way to becoming a free republic based on liberal principles whereas we in Ameirca are headed towards licentiousness and atheism and worse, seeking to promote these principles outside our borders.

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                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                    While I am sure that the KGB tried to infiltrate and destroy American culture, we must face the reality that the rot began from within. America was overwhelmingly Protestant. During the 19th century, long before the birth of the Soviet Union, the leading Protestant theologians adopted theological liberalism and began to reject Biblical Christianity. One of the principles of the Reformation was that the Church had corrupted the messages of Christ. Thus they rejected Holy Tradition. Granted that Rome had already distorted the Holy Tradition of the Church, so that the Protestants really had only limited knowledge of the true Holy Tradition as preserved by the Orthodox Church. Thus they turned to the Bible as the only source of Christian truth. However, during the 19 century, they fell under the influence of the anti-supernaturalism of the Enlightenment which produced the so-called Historical Critical Method of Biblical studies that treated the Holy Scriptures as any other work of ancient literature. Thus they began to doubt the authority of the Scriptures which led to the liberal idea that the Bible itself was a corruption of the teaching of Christ. Once that happened, there ceased to be any authority except oneself for moral matters. This has led to the moral anarchy that is destroying our society. If the Bible has no real authority is only a human work, why not yield to pressure from secular society and accept homosexuality? Once homosexuality is accepted, all concept of sexual morality is destroyed and the family, the bedrock of a healthy society is also destroyed.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      I agree, the rot began with Progressivism and even before, with the gnostic-inspired triumphalism of the Puritans. These people were genuinely deluded. A good primer is “Against the Protestant Gnostics,” a book by a Presbyterian minister (whose name escapes me at present). Anyway, these dissidents from the old Danelaw region of England felt that they were too pure for England and they created a Yankee aristocracy in New England which felt they had the right to intrude in other regions’ and nations’s affairs.

                      Among their many crimes, they became wealthy by engaging in the slave trade then they became all huffy and became Abolitionists. It was that strain of Yankee puritanism that insisted that the Southerners should suffer for the sin of slavery, rather than take Lincoln’s advice and pursue a policy of reconciliation. They also instituted the American Universities in the Middle East and particularly despised the Roman and the Orthodox churches. They also instituted foreign entaglements. A few of them, like Henry Cabot Lodge came to their senses after WWI and got America to stay out of the League of Nations but he was about the only one who saw the insanity of American involvement overseas. Mostly it was the Scandinavians and Germans who populated the Midwest who tried to keep America isolationist.

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            • Pravoslavnie says:

              Thomas Paine “protests too much” which is likely the only reason why he is so cranky. As an American, I think that Americans can learn much from the ROCOR/MP because Russians and their church know how to suffer. The OCA will likely never be in a position to survive what’s coming for Christians in the West who will revert to being a persecuted minority on the margins of society. +Jonah sees it coming. Others see it coming too. RC Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said in 2010 “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Deep institutional mediocrity does not offer any defense against radical secularism.

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              • Pravoslavnie: Thomas Paine has a superstitious dread of ROCOR, of which he has no real knowledge at all. It’s almost as if he were some Connecticut Orthodox gangster who is determined to keep “High Russians” (or, even better, “hard Russians”) from invading his hometown and criticizing him and his family!

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            • If anyone seems hell-bent on destroying America (as he would say, “the REAL America’), it’s surely “Thomas Paine” who seems to be crying out for someone to love him and whom he could also love.

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            • A. Sokoproglotova says:

              Thomas, the OCA is the one who received the so-called tomos from these “KGB priests and operatives in the U.S. and around the world” in 1970. Your argument is quite silly. Additionally, recent immigrants fill ROCOR churches everywhere in the US and are very much mixed with converts in the south. How does that mean nothing, as you say?

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            • Gregg Gerasimon says:

              Yikes. Thomas seems to be using his freedom to show that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. ROCOR “believes in the destruction of America?” It’s so laughable that it almost doesn’t even dignify a response.

              –St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, who was so thankful to America for accepting his flock as refugees from Shanghai and then from the Philippines? Who spearheaded the construction of one of the most beautiful Orthodox Cathedrals in America on Geary Blvd in San Francisco? Who was persecuted by his brother bishops (and even taken to a secular court trial), much like Met. Jonah was? St. John of San Francisco’s ROCOR wants to destroy America?

              –Blessed Fr Seraphim Rose, an American “convert” of classic American protestant origin who founded a monastery in Northern California under ROCOR originally and who dedicated his life to evangelization, foremost to evangelizing Americans? Fr Seraphim’s ROCOR wants to destroy America?

              –The ROCOR where many of us in the U.S. military (including myself, a military officer) love to worship and get much spiritual benefit from the publications, iconography, steadfastness of faith, richness of its heritage — the ROCOR where U.S. military chaplains are priests, including the priest at the new ROCOR mission in San Antonio, Texas — that ROCOR wishes to destroy America?

              ROCOR, like all Orthodox in our wonderful country should do, believes in the salvation of America.

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              • Poor Thomas Paine. It is just too much for him to accept that ROCOR has a more robust jurisdiction now than the OCA. The Media Department of just one diocese – ROCOR Eastern Diocese – runs circles around the entire communications department of the OCA. It also must be hard for TP to swallow how the OCA relations with the MP have suffered and now with +Jonah’s ill treatment the rapprocher between the OCA and ROCOR has cooled dramatically.

                But then again, TP may just be one of those OCA’ers who doesn’t care about other clergy and faithful in other Orthodox churches, you know, that “we can go it alone because we are an autocephlaous church” gang. Isn’t that right TP? The heck with anyone else, “we in the OCA have it right and everyone should do it the way we do.!” American Orthodox Exceptalism.

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            • TP who said anything about Russians? My ROCOR church is all American accept 2 persons (that I know of).

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              • Collette,

                People like TP have a fixed understand of the ROCOR that it is this out of touch Church not knowing that they are reaching out in powerful ways to Americans. They also have the strength of the Russian Orthodox Church behind them and with that, they are going to spread like wildfire, unlike the OCA which continues to step in it at every opportunity.

                You made the right choice for your family to flee the OCA and join a Church that keeps its focus on Christ and the spreading of the Gospel.

                God bless you.

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                • Thank you for that, I think so too. I am so impressed (and not used to) the attentiveness of the priest at the ROCOR Cathedral in DC to his flock. All the priests there and at my little mission parish are really outstanding people.

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        • Katherine says:

          If I had any say, I’d have the OCA under the ROC again, at the very least until the corruption is straightened out.

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        • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says:

          Is it? How do you explain the ROCOR missions in the South, and the fact that not only laity, but OCA clergy have defected, such as Protodeacon Stephen Howanetz and Deacon Brian Patrick Mitchell? There is no mass exodus, but a number of parishioners have left the OCA church for neighboring and new ROCOR churches.

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        • Thomas Paine, the ROCOR cathedral to which Colette refers has two services filled to capacity, as she said. One of those services is an all-English service at 7:40 AM. And it is packed. Not the least reason is that it is regularly attended by Metropolitan Jonah.

          The posted link to the trailer for the documentary on ROCOR’s South Carolina missions is only one example of how ROCOR is growing. Maybe ROCOR still rocks the Slavonic old-school up there on Long Island, but in other parts of the US, particularly parts south and west of Washington, DC, they use English and are more convert-oriented.

          Your derision for ROCOR is as crass as it is outdated, and it is obviously sourced in fear. Well, you should be afraid. Your chickens are coming home to roost.

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      • I don’t know about a “mass exodus”, but I can certify that the OCA parish in Los Angeles has lost several regular supporting members to one or the other of two flourishing ROCOR parishes here lately, both of which have a Slavonic and an English Liturgy every Sunday, and well-educated clergy, well-appointed temples, etc., …for example, that “Yalie” and computer programming Mitred Archpriest, Alexander Lebedeff.

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    • Bruce Wm. Trakas says:

      There has been no mass exodus from the OCA resulting from the Synod’s actions in connection with Metropolitan Jonah. ( I reside in a metropolitan area that has numerous OCA parishes and the area has active pan-Orthodox activities. I would have heard if an exodus is occurring)

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      • Seraphim98 says:

        Not yet, but I suspect the slow hemorrhage has begun in earnest. Right now, those like me are waiting for the other shoe to drop. The other shoe, for me, is basically two things, how Met. Jonah is treated going forward and the kind of bishop chosen for the DoS. Those two things are bellwethers as to which way the prevailing winds in the OCA are set to blow.

        If the Holy Synod or Syosset offers untenable assignments to Met. Jonah (like being made subject to AB Benjamin who by all accounts wants too do him harm). That’s a clear message.

        If the Holy Synod or Syosset attempt to place a bishop who is either a sock puppet or on such a short leash as to be a bishop in name only, or one placed with the aim of punishing the DoS (who have been among the staunchest supporters of Met. Jonah)…basically anyone hostile to Archbishop Dimiti’s legacy and to Met. Jonah’s vision of the Orthodox faith (energetic, Traditional, not modernist), That would send a clear message too.

        If they attempt to split the diocese that would be less problematic…because it really is geographically big, but given the current climate, unless some very good Dimitriesque candidates are put forward then such a move would be viewed as an attack on the DoS, a punishment for daring to support Met. Jonah.

        Or if they keep putting off the selection of a true and faithful bishop so as to avoid having a vigorous DoS again…and its outspokenness, but to keep the monies flowing north…than that will eventually be seen as a message as well.

        If any of these things happen, that will be what makes up a great number of peoples minds to leave the OCA.

        That said, I don’t think we are likely to see a mass exodus of individuals…I think that will remain as a slow but steady hemorrhage especially outside the DoS. There are a couple of reasons for this, one, there is rarely another place to go, and secondly, if there is a choice it is not necessarily a choice that will make much of a difference on the ground, and thirdly, some of us despite our disappointment in the Holy Synod’s actions these past few months do not confuse a difficult to like bishop with a heretical one. Church jumping out of pique is not a good thing.

        Mass exodus will happen, I think, in the DoS if one of two things happen. First if the Holy Synod insists on appointing an intolerable person as bishop who is hostile to what we are and wants to remake us more in the image of the left coasts. Then I think we would see parishes start petitioning in larges numbers to be accepted elsewhere. Second, I expect to see a mass exodus if the OCA drifts too much further towards the theological (and/or administrative) chaos that has so hurt the Episcopalians, so that the rest of the Orthodox world withdraws communion…or even sets the stage for withdrawing communion. Then parishes with leave in earnest.

        Also, if we do get a decent bishop in the DoS, but the OCA leadership drifts further away from an expression of the faith/ecclesiology other Orthodox expect, then I could see a good bishop inviting all his parishes to participate in petitioning elsewhere (MP/ROCOR) to join them.

        Those things turn on big ifs…what I think is the more likely scenario is this, the slow hemorrhage will continue, with most of those leaving going to ROCOR/MP.

        ROCOR will continue to open new missions and these will grow from a mixture of new converts and disaffected OCA members who have the possibility of attending an Orthodox parish closer to them and which has shared roots with those parts of the OCA and its founding tradition which they loved.

        In short…the energy and enthusiasm for the Orthodox faith I once saw and so loved in the DoS is now much more visible in the ROCOR. For the time being it looks like they are going to displace and probably far surpass the OCA in church planting. Whether the zeal will burn again as brightly in the DoS will depend a great deal on the bishop we eventually get…whether we will feel safe again from what we have seen since Archbishop Demitri’s repose.

        If the OCA as a whole continues its slow modernist death wish as evidenced by events of this past year, then the best thing for the DoS would be to petition MP/ROCOR en masse.

        So basically I expect going forward if little changes for the better in the OCA is that ROCOR will grow to be what the OCA should have been. It will increase and the OCA will decrease, withering away little by little year by year. Where a ROCOR parish opens anywhere near an OCA parish, the ROCOR parish will be the one that will be the mostly likely to grow and flourish.

        While I wish Met. Tikhon well in his new job, I can’t muster an ounce of enthusiasm. It may be possible to put things back to rights…but morale is still on the low side in the DoS and many of us suspect that Syosset and the Holy Synod wittingly or not intend to hurt us. I don’t think that of Met. Tikhon…but he’s going to have to manage those forces/voices, and if he can’t then I suspect the best that he will be able to do is keep the OCA ship aright just long enough to let people get to the life boats before it sterns up for what was the OCA.

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    • At least half of the parishioners at the St. Nicholas in DC went somewhere, I think different places, but many went into ROCOR.

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      • Thomas Paine says:

        “At least half of the parishioners at the St. Nicholas in DC went somewhere, I think different places, but many went into ROCOR.”

        I don’t believe that is true. Maybe Russian immigrants, but anyone with a half-brain wouldn’t even consider leaving. Like the GOP, ROCOR has nothing to offer anyone.

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        • I don’t care what you believe you are simply wrong. The small church I attend has one family that’s Russian. All the others are Americans-Oh except one Russian wife with an American husband . . .

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        • Bruce Wm. Trakas says:

          “[ROCOR] has preserved with loving faithfulness the ascetic, monastic, and liturgical traditions of Orthodox Russia, and this traditional spirituality is something of which western Orthodoxy stands greatly in need.” “The Orthodox Church” Timothy Ware (Currently, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, an auxiliary bishop in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain.)

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          • I guess Met Kallistos Ware just doesn’t have half a brain, eh Thomas Paine?
            You know, Thomas, ad hominem argumentation is a poor substitute for reasoned discourse.

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              Let’s not forget, Thomas Paine has learned his views of Yankee Orthodoxy from the knees of the Learned Elders of Syosset and New Skete. In comparison to the Church Fathers who are old-fashioned, these men are Ascended Masters.

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          • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

            I agree healthy monasticism working together with the parish clergy is of great benefit to the Church. I know that our Antiochian parishes in West Virginia are blessed by the presence of Holy Cross Hermitage. ROCOR does monasticism in the right way. They do not try to compete with the local parish clergy or undermine their work the way that some monasteries seem to do. Instead, they cooperate with the local clergy and provide spiritual support for them as they seek to serve Christ and His Holy Church.

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        • Y’all might find this interesting.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyhvJRrkXt8&feature=youtu.be

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        • anyone with a half-brain wouldn’t even consider leaving

          I have to admit you are correct in this statement. Those with half-brains usually cannot see right from wrong; those who can and thus leave have full brains.

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  6. George, what an excellent article!

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  7. Despite the canonical obstacles that would be inherent in leaving the OCA, priests and even entire parishes are seriously considering moving to other jurisdictions.

    It would be nice if someone posted instructions, or at least some discussions of experiences of individual parishes, on how one goes about starting the process of moving to another jurisdiction. Or, perhaps, about how a parish can stop financing the OCA apparatus without causing its priest removed by the brother bishops (out of pure love, of course).

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    • oliver douglas says:

      I suspect that the best way to start is to retain a competent attorney who can make confidential inquiries and conduct research without alerting, in some direct or inadvertent way, the powers that be. It would cost $$$ but you know what they say about a person who acts as his own lawyer. He would have to examine the pleadings filed in cases involving the Episcopalian churches that attempted to secede from the central soviet. (You could contact one of the parishes that let the Episcopalians and get the name of a lawyer from them.) Another source of information would be the ROCOR which recently had several churches separate due to the rapprochement with Moscow and took no legal action against them. Also, a large number of parishes in the Holy Orthodox Church of America (affiliated with Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, MA) recently departed for a Greek Old Calandarist jurisdiction, apparently with no legal action initiated. It is possible that none of the original “parent” jurisdictions took no action because of the expense involved. It may be possible that the OCA could not fund a lawsuit. Your lawyer could easily confirm who actually owns the church building-the community or the central apparat. You could also have the lawyer look into means of securing the priest’s benefits and insurance under state and federal law. But it would seem that diligent preparation is vital. Finally, having a place to go already lined up would be the best course of action. (Hey-has anybody thought of a bunch of OCA churches bailing out and installing +Jonah as their hierarch? Or +Jonah could lead a bunch of parishes over to another jurisdiction. Why not-stranger things have happened.) At best, you would want the first hint of secession to come when you return the antimension with a letter of explanation and farewell. Sometimes you have to think outside the box.

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      • Get Practical and Show Love says:

        Dear Oliver,

        A lot of OCA parishes assets belong to the parish itself in the OCA. We aren’t Episcopalians.It is a matter of seeing how individual parishes are incorporated. That’s an easy lookup.

        Suggesting the Metropolitan turn into a raskolnik (don’t know the English word, so help me out here) is improper to suggest. He is and has been behaving canonically and would never suggest becoming otherwise, so we should not involve him in improper actions.

        Since the OCA and the ROCOR are in perfect communion with one another, it is simple to begin attending another parish. By extension, why should we not attend any SCOBA parish?

        Get involved in Orthodox Christian Laity organization. It may not be perfect and it may be predominately Greek, but that fact could be the fault of all of us. We have issues in common

        The important thing to do is not to get litigious but rather to conserve resources and avoid litigation. Let’s think of the Church as a family and as a family let’s think of people who are precious to us like the Metropolitan as important family members that cannot be lost to us. Our dear Metropolitan, who so loves the OCA, has not yet left for another jurisdiction.

        It has been five months since the OCA Synod behaved inappropriately. It has been a month since Metropolitan Jonah was replaced, not just as Primate, but for all his roles. The new Metropolitan, thank God, is not yet enthroned. Many OCA archbishoprics and bishoprics remain empty sees. Metropolitan Jonah asked for reassignment. The fact that he has not been offered any of these five empty sees with a reasonable salary is sad, and sadder still is the inability of Orthodox Christian bishops to ask forgiveness of him for maligning him worldwide. But we must still wait. Until the Metropolitan speaks, we should do nothing to dissuade him from leading us.

        A Church is a big family and it is a shame when a family member is not allowed to give God-given talents to that family. The family is always diminished by any loss. A choir is diminished by one good voice, a candle stand by one good parishioner able to manage it, a nave impoverished by the loss of someone unable to get to church, a trapeza by one less cook, an altar by one less server, a Nativity card lacking one significant signature, well, you get the idea. Perhaps Metropolitan Jonah will still be reassigned and illumine our Church with his wisdom and our hearts with his infectious smiles. Perhaps he will choose to be released where his talents are better used for the Church, our one Church concelebrant.

        We still have to wait for a resolution to this persistent crisis. Meanwhile, we can visit many sister churches and contribute to pan-Orthodoxy with our occasional presence and love, we can occasionally remind our original parishes that we exist, but most of all, we can take the lesson of what has happened to the chief among us and start treating the least among us with love. We can stop excluding people within our parishes and in our lives, we can show love and care to the least among us, we can volunteer our time and effort as Christians, we can look for ways to find the jobless work, give a hug to the person who least expects it of us, give a ride to someone who needs it, visit someone unable to physically come and worship, and otherwise stop looking for ways to marginalize, exclude and rationalize our worst acts and thoughts. Instead, what about active love while we wait, it seems interminably, for the askew to be put right, for the silent to speak?

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      • Fr. George Washburn says:

        And you, Mr. Douglas, are doing exactly what you recommend, thinking outside the box ….of Orthodox theology and polity. Your dream (it is actually a nightmare) world already exists …. in Protestantism, the tribalized politics of the Balkans and other such places, and on the shifting frontiers of True and Truer and Truest Orthodox jurisdictions where human weakness and fear and cults of personality wear the deceptive disguise of Special Godliness. One can certainly avoid driving into the ditch on the left side of the road by steering into the one on the right, but little if anything is gained and the car still ends up at the body shop or wrecking yard.

        Your exhortation to consult with lawyers is too muddled to respond to, but the short answer almost always is that Orthodox bishops control the property that is “owned” by individual parishes, and secular courts are very, very reluctant to get involved in religious disputes.

        love,

        Fr. George

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      • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

        There is one major problem with your argument. Despite the internal conflicts of the OCA the rest of Orthodoxy still recognizes the OCA as a canonical Orthodox Church. Even if it is possible according to civil law for a priest and his parish to leave the OCA and take their property with them, no canonical Orthodox Bishop including those of ROCOR is going to accept them without a proper canonical release from their OCA Bishop. Even then, another Bishop may very well be more concerned with good relations with the OCA than in gaining another parish. Therefore he will probably not want to offend the local OCA Bishop by taking one of his parishes from him even with a canonical release. Even if a person or family came to my parish from the local OCA parish, the first thing that I would do is call Fr. Paul and ask what is going on. I would encourage them to reconcile themselves with Fr. Paul and the OCA and would not take them into my parish without Fr. Paul’s blessing. The other Orthodox priests, another Antiochian and one Greek, in this area would do the same.
        Many of you in the OCA are upset about the forced resignation of Metropolitan Jonah and other issues within the OCA, but the rest of us are more befuddled than anything. Despite all that has been written on the internet, most of us outside of the OCA still do not really understand what happened or why. Whether some of you like it or not the rest of Orthodoxy considers the whole thing an internal OCA problem and will recognize Metropolitan Tikhon as the Primate of the OCA. Metropolitan Philip has already published his congratulations. to your new Metropolitan.

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        • Seraphim98 says:

          Fr. John,
          Bless. Generally speaking what you say is true, however I think with respect to the MP the situation is a bit different for OCA parishes. I have read, and if I am wrong, those who know for sure, please correct me, that when the Tomos was given by Moscow one provision was that those parishes who wanted to remain with Moscow may do so and in the future if a parish decided to go to Moscow they would be permitted. If an OCA parish wanted to move to the AOC or the GOA or elsewhere then it may well be as you say. This imbedded permission to move back to the MP may be true of a diocese as well. Those who have been around the OCA since the early days may know if this is true or not…but if true if things get too bad it’s a path I suspect more than a few parishes might be willing to entertain.

          His Grace, Bishop Tikhon might know, if he would care to opine.

          With respect though to parishes and dioceses flaking off towards MP, there’s a part of me that thinks it would be a great idea…putting the Russian mission heritage in the Americas back together in one piece as it were. And sending a clear message to Syossett that we want to preserve the faith handed down to us, not water it down or restructure it’s administrative bits to suit our fancy or whatever cultural flag is flapping in the breeze.

          And it’s that last part that gives me pause…that “that’ll show ‘em/teach them a lesson” feeling…that little zest of vengeance/vendetta/getting even…that’s a dangerous little barnacle to scab up what otherwise might be a good idea. It makes me lose my perspective….or to wax shakespearean.

          “Who would fardels bear,
          To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
          But that the dread of something after death,
          The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
          No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
          And makes us rather bear those ills we have
          Than fly to others that we know not of?
          Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
          And thus the native hue of resolution
          Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
          And enterprise of great pitch and moment
          With this regard their currents turn awry
          And lose the name of action.

          Fleeing to the MP/ROCOR sounds good in our present distress and it may be good….but MP/ROCOR is a world class pond of fish to swim with. There is no easy jumping back out if we find we don’t like it there for one reason or another…like death in the sense of it’s temporal finality. If it’s something to be done, that should be done, it must be done with much prayer, cool heads, and deep consideration…there’s no undo button on such a decision….and wanting Syossett to feel a little comeuppance is far from sufficient reason. Indeed it is no reason at all…so therefore I take note of how I feel without trusting it.

          (PS Fr. John, you might remember me from a few years back. I used to work at a local private school and visit the Bible study at St. George’s on Wed. nights…the year there was a bear siting a few miles up river from Vicksburg.)

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          • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

            You are right. I do not know the terms of the grant of autocephaly to the OCA. There may very well be a clause that allows an OCA parish to put itself under Moscow without a canonical release. However, under normal circumstances any priest or parish desiring to be under a different Bishop cannot do so without a canonical release from his Bishop.

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            • Before it Disappears from oca.org says:

              Tomos of Autocephaly

              by the Mercy of God,
              Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

              For a number of years, the Russian Orthodox Church has observed with maternal love and concern the development of the Orthodox Church which she planted on the American continent. In the last few decades she has sorrowfully witnessed the unfortunate appearance there of a pluralism of ecclesiastical jurisdictions, a temporary phenomenon, and by no means a permanent norm of the canonical organization of the Orthodox Church in America, since it is contrary to the nature of Orthodox canonical ecclesiastical unity.

              The Holy Russian Orthodox Church, striving for the good of the Church, has directed her efforts toward the normalization of relations among the various ecclesiastical jurisdictions in America, particularly by negotiating with the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America, concerning the possibility of granting autocephaly to this Church in the hope that this might serve the good of the Orthodox Church in America and the glory of God.

              In her striving for the peace of Christ, which has universal significance for the life of man; desiring to build a peaceful and creative church life, and to suppress scandalous ecclesiastical divisions; hoping that this act would be beneficial to the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of Christ and would make possible the development among the local parts of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of such relations which would be founded on the firm ties of the one Orthodox Faith and the love that the Lord Jesus Christ willed; keeping in mind that this act would serve the welfare of universal, mutual cooperation; taking into consideration the petition of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Metropolitanate of North America, which expressed the opinion and desire of all her faithful children; acknowledging as good for Orthodoxy in America the independent and self-sustaining existence of said Metropolitanate, which now represents a mature ecclesiastical organism possessing all that is necessary for successful further growth. Our Humility together with the Sacred Synod and all the venerable Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church, who have signified their agreement in writing, having examined the said petition, in sincere love grant autocephaly to the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America, that is, the right of a fully independent ordering of church life in accordance with the divine and sacred Canons and the ecclesiastical practices and customs of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church inherited from the Fathers; for which purpose this Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos is directed to His Beatitude, IRENEY, Archbishop of New York, Primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan of All-America and Canada, by which we announce:

              The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in North America is confirmed and proclaimed an Autocephalous Church and named “The Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America”;
              By “autocephaly,” which is confirmed in this decision, it is understood that the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America shall:
              be independent and self-governing with the right of electing her own Primate and all her bishops, without confirmation or the right of veto over such elections on the part of any other church organization or representative of the Eastern Orthodox or any other confession;
              firmly and inalterably preserve the divine dogmas, being guided in her life by the sacred Canons of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of Christ and governed in accordance with her own Statute as accepted, augmented or amended from time to time by her own highest legislative and executive organ;
              maintain direct relations with all other Churches and confessions, Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike;
              enjoy all the authority, privileges and rights usually inherent in the term “autocephaly” in the canonical tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church, including the right of preparing and consecrating Holy Chrism.

              The following are excluded from autocephaly on the territory of North America:
              St. Nicholas Cathedral and its possessions, located at 15 East 97th Street in New York City and the accompanying residence; and also the immovable possessions in Pine Bush, New York, together with buildings and edifices which might be constructed in the future on this land;
              Parishes and clergy in the U.S.A. which at present are in the Patriarchal Exarchate and which desire to remain in the canonical and jurisdictional care of the Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia – these parishes, desiring to remain in the canonical jurisdiction of the Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and excluded from the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America are the following:
              St. Nicholas Church, Brookside, State of Alabama
              St. Demetrius Monastery, Bellflower, State of California
              Christ the Savior Church, Berkley, State of California
              St. Nicholas Cathedral, San Francisco, State of California
              Church of All Saints Glorified in the Russian Land, San Francisco, State of California
              Our Lady of Kazan Church, San Diego, State of California
              Resurrection Church, Chicago, State of Illinois
              Dormition Church Benld, State of Illinois
              Holy Trinity Church, Baltimore, State of Maryland
              St. Elias Church, Battle Creek, State of Michigan
              St. Innocent Church, Detroit, State of Michigan
              St. Michael the Archangel Church, Detroit, State of Michigan
              Church of St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle, East Lansing, State of Michigan
              Holy Trinity Church, Saginaw, State of Michigan
              St. John Chrysostom Church, Grand Rapids, State of Michigan
              House Chapel of St. Seraphim of Sarov, Westown, State of New York
              St. Demetrius Church, Jackson, State of Michigan
              St. Nicholas Church, Bayonne, State of New Jersey
              Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Elizabeth, State of New Jersey
              Three Hierarchs Church, Garfield, State of New Jersey
              Holy Cross Church, Hackettstown, State of New Jersey
              Sts. Peter and Paul Church; Passaic, State of New Jersey
              St. John the Baptist Church, Singac (Little Falls), State of New Jersey
              St. Olga Church, Somerset, State of New Jersey
              St. Mark Chapel, State of New York
              Church of St. George the Great Martyr, State of New York
              Church of All Saints Glorified in the Russian Land, on the estate of Pine Bush, State of New York
              St. John the Baptist Chapel, Bronx, State of New York
              Church of All Saints Glorified in the Russian Land, Amsterdam (Wolf Run), State of Ohio
              St. Stephen Church, Lorairi, State of Ohio
              Nativity of Christ Church, Youngstown, State of Ohio
              St. Nicholas Church, Chester, State of Pennsylvania
              St. Nicholas Church, Edinboro, Pageville, State of Pennsylvania
              St. Nicholas Church, Reading, State of Pennsylvania
              Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Mount Union, State of Pennsylvania
              St. Nicholas Church, Wilkes-Barre, State of Pennsylvania
              St. Andrew the Apostle Church, Philadelphia, State of Pennsylvania
              St. Michael the Archangel Church, Philadelphia, State of Pennsylvania
              Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Scranton, State of Pennsylvania
              Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Burgaw, State of North Carolina
              St. Gregory the Theologian Church, Tampa, State of Florida
              Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Manchester, State of New Hampshire
              Church of St. George the Great Martyr, Buffalo, State of New York
              All parishes and clergy in Canada, which presently constitute the Edmonton, Canada Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate (they all desired to remain in the jurisdiction of the Most Holy Patriarch).

              St. Nicholas Cathedral and its possessions and residence, and also the property in Pine Bush, New York, shall be governed by the Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia through a person representing him in the rank of Presbyter.

              Parishes and clergy in the U.S.A. which remain in the canonical jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate shall be governed by the Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia through one of his vicar bishops; not having a title of the local American Church, especially appointed for this, and until such time as these parishes express their official desire to join the Autocephalous Church in America in the manner described below.

              Parishes and clergy which at this time constitute the Edmonton, Canada Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate and remain in the canonical jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, shall be governed by the Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia through one of his vicar bishops not having a title of the local American Church, especially appointed for this, and until such time as these parishes express their official desire to join the Autocephalous Church in America in the manner described below.

              The Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America shall have exclusive spiritual and canonical jurisdiction over all bishops, clerics and laymen of the Eastern Orthodox confession in continental North America, excluding Mexico, and including the State of Hawaii who are presently part of the Metropolitanate, or who shall later enter the Metropolitanate; and over all parishes which now belong or later shall be accepted into the Metropolitanate, excepting the entire clergy, possessions and parishes enumerated in Paragraph 3, points a,b,c.

              The Moscow Patriarchate shall not lay claim to either spiritual or canonical jurisdiction over bishops, clergy and laymen of the Eastern Orthodox confession, or over parishes mentioned in Division 1, Paragraph 7, and by the present yields to the Metropolitanate, all jurisdiction to which she has laid claim on the above mentioned territory (Paragraph 7); excepting the entire clergy, possessions and parishes enumerated in Paragraph 3, points a,b,c.

              The changing of jurisdictions by parishes which are in the canonical care of the Moscow Patriarchate after the proclamation of the Metropolitanate’s autocephaly shall occur on the initiative of the parishes themselves and after bilateral agreements in each concrete case between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Autocephalous Church in America.

              The Moscow Patriarchate shall not receive into its care in North America any clerics without written release or any parishes except parishes from uncanonical ecclesiastical organizations in Canada; and shall not canonically permit clergy and parishes remaining in its care to enter any of the Orthodox jurisdictions but the jurisdiction of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America.

              The Patriarchate assures the parishes remaining in its care of its readiness to defend their status as parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate, and also defend the enumerated parishes from attempts to change their present status without a free expression of their decision without the written agreement of the Moscow Patriarchate.

              The Moscow Patriarchate and the Orthodox Autocephalous Church in America shall maintain sincere fraternal relations, in which they should be guided by the bilateral agreements, signed by His Eminence, Metropolitan IRENEY, and by His Eminence, Metropolitan NIKODIM, Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod, on March 31, 1970.

              The Exarchate of North and South America, together with the dioceses in the U.S.A. and Canada which comprised it, is abolished.

              Confirming the Autocephaly of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America, we bless her to call herself The Holy Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America; we acknowledge and proclaim her our Sister Church, and we invite all local Orthodox Churches and their Primates and their faithful children to acknowledge her as such and to include her in the dyptichs in accordance with the Canons of the Church, the traditions of the Fathers and ecclesiastical practice.

              The newly-established local Orthodox Autocephalous Church in America should abide in brotherly relations with all the Orthodox Churches and their Primates as well as with their bishops, clergy and pious flock, who are in America and who for the time being preserve their de facto existing canonical and jurisdictional dependence on their national Churches and their Primates.

              With profound, sincere joy, We announce this to the Fullness of the Church and We do not cease thanking the All-Gracious Almighty God, who directs all in the world by His right hand for the good and the salvation of mankind, for the successful and final formation of Autocephaly, and we entreat the all-powerful blessing of God upon the younger Sister in the family of local Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America.

              May the Consubstantial and Life-creating and Undivided Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, acting on Its own wondrous providence, send down on the Archpastors, Pastors and Faithful Children of the Holy Autocephalous Orthodox American Church Its heavenly, unfailing help, and may It bless with success all her future endeavors for the good of the Holy Church.

              Signed in the city of Moscow, April 10, 1970.

              ALEXIS, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

              Members of the Holy Synod:

              Metropolitan of Krutitsy and Kolomna, PIMEN
              Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod, NIKODIM
              Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia, Exarch of the Ukraine, PHILARET
              Metropolitan of Orel and Briansk, PALLADY
              Metropolitan of Alma-Ata and Khazakstan, IOSIF
              Metropolitan of Yaroslavl and Rostov, IOANN
              Archbishop of Irkutsk and Tchita, VENIAMIN
              Archbishop of Ufa and Sterlitamak, IOV
              Archbishop of New York and the Aleutians, Exarch of North and South America, IONAFAN
              Bishop of Kishinev and Moldavia, VARFOLOMEY
              Bishop of Tula and Belev, IUVENALY
              Bishop of Chernigov and Nezhinsk, VLADIMIR
              Bishop of Smolensk and Viazmia, GEDEON
              Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan of Tallin and Estonia, ALEXEI

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          • Seraphim98, there is absolutely no provision in the Tomos of Autocephaly for OCA parishes to move back to Moscow’s direct jurisdiction. Transfer to ROCOR is another story.

            As for the advisability of transferring out of the OCA, please understand that the desire to leave the OCA goes a lot deeper than just sticking it to Syosset. People want their kids to grow up in a safe place.

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            • Seraphim98 says:

              I don’t know if it’s in the tomos itself or is part of some understanding surrounding the issuance of the Tomos. But either way you may be right; it may just be bad information I came across…that’s why I was hoping those who’ve been around long enough to know might chime in one way or the other.

              Beyond that, with respect to the question of sticking it to Syosset (I do wish it was located some place easier to remember how to spell), I was speaking about evaluation my own motivations for being open to a move to ROCOR or the MP. Even if such a move is of itself a good thing…my motivations are mixed, not all of them good. Those with children and families I understand those issues weigh heavily too.

              If the day comes when I or my parish are faced with the choice to petition the MP or remain in a disintegrating OCA I would like for those reasons to be purer in me than they are now.

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              • Seraphim98, I don’t know how to say this more emphatically without appearing unkind, so please don’t read this as being unkind, but it is not true that there is any kind of provision for OCA parishes to return to the direct jurisdiction of Moscow. It is impossible for the Tomos to contain such a provision, and there is no unspoken understanding to that effect.

                This is not to say anything about the possibility of OCA parishes going under ROCOR, which we all know is now under Moscow. The ROCOR situation was not anticipated in the Tomos, and was not addressed, but unlike the Moscow Patriarchate itself, ROCOR is not bound by the Tomos, and is free to start new parishes and receive clergy transfers in North America.

                I respect your wish to keep your motives pure, but I don’t understand how you can describe the desire to leave the OCA as a wish to give Syosset “a little comeuppance” considering the gravity of the situation. The OCA bishops forced Metropolitan Jonah to resign, then slandered him, and switching jurisdictions is “a little comeuppance” for that?

                I can’t claim not to be bitter and angry over how Metropolitan Jonah and his family have been treated. God help me, it is a struggle for me each day. But my bad feelings do not change what really happened. Since the other OCA bishops have given no indication that they understand that what they did was wrong, the OCA is not the place for healing. So I think switching jurisdictions is easily justified under the circumstances.

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                • Dear Helga,

                  I do not consider your comments unkind in the least.

                  As for the term “a little comeuppance” that is my round about way of saying “vengeance”. As for anger over Metropolitan’s Jonah’s treatment, like you I feel anger about it. I don’t know if he should have been asked to resign over administrative difficulties, but if so he should not have been treated with such hostility and contempt. Their testament of him with no better explanation than has been provided strikes me as … well a number of deeply unpleasant things I would rather not say. To dwell on it riles me up…which is precisely why I am suspicious of that emotion. When the disciples wanted to call fire down from heaven on an unbelieving town, Christ told them they knew not what spirit they were of…so…in myself I just don’t trust feelings of vengeance…getting even.

                  It would be a joyous thing to see some justice for Metropolitan Jonah, a decent full episcopal assignment, a release to ROCOR or elsewhere…something honorable and not stuffed with pre festered crow. But at this point I am willing to see what God will do. My personal feeling…and no more than than is that how Met. Jonah is treated with be the determining factor …the last straw…that will either sink or save (for now) the OCA. If they do not do well by him, I fully expect over the next few years the OCA to seriously whither, and for ROCOR to grow up in it’s place. If on the other hand they do honorably by him, then there is fresh opportunity for the OCA to revive and recover and do the job it was hers to do from the beginning. Of course that doesn’t mean the opportunity will be taken.

                  That said I could be wrong on a number of points. Such judgements are God’s not mine. In any event God has permitted these things to come to pass for Metropolitan Jonah, ostensibly for his salvation. St. John Chrysostom was brutally exiled and kept moving and in such poor conditions he eventually died. There was no cavalry riding to the rescue for him. But at the end there was a crown. Similarly Metropolitan Nectarios was dealt with very badly by his brother bishops, left impoverished, and yet in the end he too received a crown. We may be witnessing a new crown in the forging.

                  If the Holy Synod has acted well for reasons we are not privileged to know, then God will vindicate them. If they have not acted well, as it now seems beyond any reasonable doubt they are still the Holy Synod of the OCA and as such are answerable only to other Orthodox Bishops (indirectly at least), and to God.

                  So rather than let myself be angry…I choose to be watchful, and to trust that God will bring good out of this situation. It will be used to reveal hearts and minds, not just of ourselves, but of Met. Jonah and all the other bishops, and priests involved.

                  As for jumping jurisdictions myself. That is really not an option even if I had no particular reservations about doing so. I drive 2 hours to church as it is. The next nearest which are not OCA are another 1/2 to full hour away. Even if my sympathies and feelings towards the OCA in general have grown chillier since the trouble over Met. Jonah and the hesitation over getting a good bishop in the DoS, I still have a very good parish and a good Diocese.

                  Who we get as a bishop in the DoS will tell me a lot about the future of the OCA.

                  That said, if there were a ROCOR mission significantly nearer to me than my present parish, I would likely give serious consideration to joining it if they would have me.

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                  • Seraphim98, I guess we are looking at what happened from two different perspectives. I don’t think there are any adequate explanations for the Synod’s behavior. They have had a lot of time to explain their behavior. and they have not done anything to earn back our trust.

                    Also, for some people, the situation has taken a real personal turn: broken trust, friendships severed, grieving, and so on. Not to mention there’s a lot of fear that the OCA is no longer a safe place.

                    I hope you can understand that some of us need to switch jurisdictions in order to get away from all that. Nobody is insisting that you have to switch, but please don’t think that others must be doing this out of some kind of petty vengeance. I’m glad your parish is a good place, and I hope it stays that way.

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                    • Dear Helga,

                      I do not think ill of anyone’s choice to find another Orthodox church home outside the OCA. People do what they need to do. As for petty vengeance…that itch is mine not others, which is why I don’t trust it’s voice in me. If I had a different priest and a different parish…slipping away quietly if I had other nearby options might have been the thing to do. At present that option really isn’t open in my corner of the universe.

                      What I was saying was just a warning to be watchful of our hearts and motivations which have been sorely provoked during this situation.

                      As for the OCA being safe or not any longer, that’s harder to say. In some places my guess is it is less safe. There is still a great deal of hostility towards Metropolitan Jonah in high places even in my own diocese and towards those who vocally support Metropolitan Jonah during this time of trial. Right now, to me, the OCA feels adrift, rudderless. There is no clear voice on anything so far, and our new Metropolitan has been strangely quiet…on all of this. I’ve heard he didn’t really want the job, and given his reputed demeanor he may choose to keep a low profile…and just sort of officiate at various public events. It’s not a good feeling…like one needs to always bear in mind where the nearest lifeboat may be.

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            • Thomas Paine says:

              Helga,
              Your assertions are just ridiculous. You and other ROCOR supporters are trying to paint images of the OCA that are totally false. If you wish to be a Russophile and want to place yourself under the corrupt ROC, go. However, the OCA will never consider such a backward move to 1930. In fact, the sooner misinformed people like yourself go to ROCOR, the better for the OCA. The OCA will continue to move forward as an American Church and you can move backward to 18th century Russia. The poison spewed here regarding the OCA only shows what lengths disinformation will be used to try and support the dead and rotting ROCOR.

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              • Thomas Paine, I’m not a “ROCOR supporter” or a “Russophile”, I’m an Orthodox Christian. ROCOR is a wonderful part of the Orthodox Church, operated with full adherence to the Orthodox faith. I look forward to putting down roots there.

                But I won’t be departing yet. As long as you and the OCA bishops have your claws in Metropolitan Jonah, I will have my claws in the OCA.

                The sooner you free him, the sooner I will go, and I will be as happy to go as you will be happy to see me go.

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              • move “forward” . . . . right on out of Orthodoxy itself.

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              • Insanely, Paine wrote: “The poison spewed here regarding the OCA only shows what lengths disinformation will be used to try and support the dead and rotting ROCOR.”
                Where does Paine live? Tadjikistan? Nepal? Hanoi?
                And he also mysteriously referred to 1930: “the OCA will never consider such a backward move to 1930.” What can that be about?
                After all, all the ROCOR Bishops (as, for example, the famous and ever-memorable Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko) of Pochaev and Jordanville, sat as voting members of the Greater Sobor of Bishops of the Metropolia for about ten years beginning in 1936! Vitaly was given the title of Jersey City: “Dzherzisitsky” Anyone having the barest minimum acquaintance with the history of Orthdoxy and the OCA in the U.S.A. should know that Perhaps Paine does know it, but won’t admit it; he hopes it will go away! History does not go away, Paine.

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                • Thomas Paine says:

                  Re-writing history again, huh? In 1935, a “temporary arrangement” came about where the Synod-in-Exile bishops were recognized in a working together relationship with the bishops of established diocese of the ROC. Again and again, the Synod bishops usurped authority not theirs within many of these diocese confusing the faithful and creating tremendous turmoil. When the Synod transported itself to Munich and then NYC (1950), it had lost all contact with any canonical territory. In 1946, the Sobor in Cleveland, O., considered that the “temporary arrangement” of 1935 was no longer in effect.

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                  • Paine. I re-wrote no history whatsoever, and you have nothing but embarrassment to justify that strange charge. You don’t even know what happened at the All-American Council in Cleveland in 1946. There was a resolution to recognize the Patriarch of Moscow as the “spiritual’ but not “administrative’ HEAD of the Metropolia. and to elevate his name at the services.
                    That resolution passed by a majority vote of the parish delegates;; however, the voting of the
                    Great Sobor of Bishops, Paine, of which the ROCOR Bishops having sees in the U.S. were full, voting members, did NOT approve that resolution, so when Metropolitan Theodosius decided unilaterally that the Resolution was to be blessed, the ROCOR bishops, decided to march out and leave the Greater Sobor of Bishops and the Metropolia, on the principle that the Orthodox Church is hierarchical.. That is why the Temporary Agreement (not ‘arrangement”–that sounds like ecclesiastical illiteracy on your part)— became null and void. It was the caving in to a majority of the parish delegates, Paine, that confused the faithful and created the tremendous turmoil of which you write. There was an article in the SVS Quarterly in the 1960s, Paine, by Father Dimitri Grigorieff, that is very clear on matters that you muddy up, even though he was very antipathetic, more even than you and Mr. E.Wheeler, a deacon, toward ROCOR.
                    I think you are adversarial by nature in your Orthodoxy, and you actually weaken your “side” when you make replies that are gratuitous and,, moreover, lame. Of course you are not the only one that prefers Orthodoxy because its membership is best at claiming to be “right” all the time, rather than because Jesus Christ is to be found in the Orthodox Church.

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                  • Defend the Faith says:

                    TP or NC,

                    The ROCOR you rail against is not today’s ROCOR. Just like the OCA that I grew up in is not today’s OCA. Thank God ROCOR is moving in the right direction. Lord, have mercy, the OCA is fast become an Orthodox sect.

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    • Ask Mayfield, an old-line OCA parish that fled to ROCOR successfully and is still there.

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      • Dear Bishop Tikhon.

        Since you apparently know such things, I am curious why the long term Metropolita . OCA parish in CT begun by Sikorsky became ROCOR. On the other hand, the ROCOR monastery in Palestine went to the MP in a legal battle.

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        • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says:

          St.Nicholas Church in Stratford,CT switched to ROCOR in the early 80″s largely over the change of calender.My spiritual father,the Archpriest Stavros Rousos,made the switch along with the parish.Fr.Stavros is now serving a ROCOR mission in the Chattenooga area.Oddly enough,the current ROCOR rector is another Greek-American,Fr.George Lardas.

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  8. Rod Dreher says:

    Good overview, George. I want to comment on this:

    Laymen as well have moved on or stopped coming to church. Evangelism has come to a screaching halt. Honest inquirers have quietly dropped out of sight. It is impossible for decent people to not be scandalized. Why go to Church after all? Why pray, pay for, and obey bishops who acted in such a sinful manner? Why fast? Why honor the Church’s moral strictures if in the end might really make right? It is hard to see how the OCA can recover from this debacle. It is hard to see how a layman can listen with enthusiasm to the homilies delivered in liturgies, knowing that they are authorized by an episcopate that is morally compromised. Of such things scandals are made.

    I see your point, but in the end, the answer is: “Because that’s all we have.” The rottenness of the bishops does not obviate the validity of the sacraments, nor does it eliminate our need for them. In Soviet times, believers continued going to church and praying and participating in the mysteries, even though their bishops were KGB. They held on. If you’re in a good parish situation, hold on. Our ROCOR mission in our town starts next month, but if weren’t coming, I would remain at my OCA parish in Baton Rouge. Good pastor, good people. Syosset is a long way away from Baton Rouge, thank God.

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    • Rod, I don’t disagree with you. We aren’t Donatists. We who have been in the Church all our lives understand human frailty better than most. That being said, Evangelism is effectively quashed. Let us not forget that the vast majority of people who are seeking out Orthodoxy do so not merely because their confessions have lost Christian truth but because their leaders have spiritually abused them.

      I have a non-rhetorical question to all of you who read this: what are you going to tell an honest seeker who knocks on your church’s door? That the Synod should have never elected Jonah in the first place and did so out of fear (which raises a whole lot of other questions) or that the Synod did the right thing in getting rid of Jonah because of his incompetence. If you answer with the latter, then be ready to explain why then the Synod had to make up out of whole cloth a series of libels in order to do so?

      Unless someone can point away around this conundrum, I’d say we’re caught between a rock and a hard place.

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      • what are you going to tell an honest seeker who knocks on your church’s door?

        I will tell them about our Savior and how the Orthodox Church presents Him and His Gospel in its fullness. The last thing I would do is involve a seeker in a discussion (or gossip) about bishops. For me, it’s simple: go to Church regularly, pray with sincerity, keep the fasts, read the Scriptures and the Fathers and love my neighbor. This should keep me plenty busy. If I should find myself with a bishop I don’t like, I should pray for him and ask him to pray for me. Have faith in God.

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      • Daniel E. Fall says:

        A great question!

        I’d tell them the church had been scandalized by its past leaders and were unwilling to allow a leader to impose his will on the church without accountability and the church was unwilling to accept his will and some of his actions.

        Yeah, you can fire the non Yes Man Chancellor, but you will be next sir.

        Now, we could argue for days about whether or not his will was good or bad or in between and for more days about whether or not it is his priviledge to do what he wants, and we could argue for more days whether or not Orthodoxy itself has been scandalized by these scandals, and several more days about whether Congregationalism has won because a Metropolitan lost, but in the end, my answer remains an answer.

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        • So your theory is that Jonah was removed for firing a subordinate for insubordination and for pissing people off by promoting Orthodox teaching about human sexuality within the OCA (a point you made in your previous post above).

          Here’s what’s funny, Daniel E. Fall: That’s basically what I believe too, minus the firing the subordinate part because there is clear documentation that the conspiracy was in high gear before the firing. In fact, Jonah wanted him gone because of participation in the conspiracy, and the resistance to the firing was because of participation in the conspiracy. So the firing pissed off the conspiracists but changed nothing with respect to their plans. Also, they could not refute the logic of the firing and chose to implement it themselves. Jonah was in fact powerless to implement the firing on his own. So blame your precious MC and your All Holy Synod for being too weak to defy reason on this one, if you must; but you cannot blame Jonah for firing someone without accountability.

          But on the gay rights thing, I agree with you. Sure, there were other factors, but that is what did him in. Tell us more about this statement of Orthodox teaching that he required to be red in OCA parishes.

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        • As much as it warms my heart to agree with you about why Jonah was removed, you still have an intellectual problem to deal with that I don’t: What do you make of the STINKBOMB? What do you make of the fact that the All Holy Synod did not mention the reasons you know to be true in the letter specifically composed and distributed to explain those reasons to the entire world? What do you make of the fact that they instead made up really vile lies about Jonah and communicated those to the world instead? What do you make of the fact that they still have not retracted their lies from the public record, still haven’t apologized to Jonah, and still haven’t communicated the real reasons?

          Hmmm … See intellectually, I don’t have this problem that you have. The STINKBOMB fits with what I already know to be true. How do you work your way around it intellectually?

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          • Well, for one, the idea that Garklavs was a conspirator is wrong. Garklavs was put in an awkward position.

            Have you ever investigated your boss to highlight his or her errors in a situation? Good luck. The best thing to do is never accept such a silly assignment…but now, THAT would be insubordination.

            I don’t consider the stuff said lies, but we all know when you really dislike someone in business; some things they do wrong that might be overlooked are not. It is cherrypicking.

            The pastoral letter written and distributed by Jonah and Matthias on Orthodox teaching on homosexuality was required to be read aloud in all DoM churches on a particular Sunday. Because of the odd nature of the request, some priests probably read it before anyone arrived or after everyone exited. It was taking things too far to be required reading aloud. My father said the topic should have been overeating and more would have been helped. Don’t think for a minute this had nothing to do with the erasure.

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            • Least you can do is get your facts right. There never was an “investigation of Jonah”. So go back and rewrite that section of your story.

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            • As for the pastoral letter, you have not explained what was “odd” about it, what it was “taking too far,” nor have you attempted to explain why this is grounds for removing a bishop or primate from office. Is oddness a canonical impediment to service? I do not doubt that you, your father, and other gay activists and alleys found the letter offensive. I want to know why, in English words, it was inappropriate in your church. We are talking about an “Orthodox” church here, not a GLAAD meeting, right? Did it take 45 minutes to read the letter on a day when you had a roast in the oven? Was it written in Old English or Russian? Were you unable to find a literate person on short notice who could read out loud? Have you guys never seen or heard of homosexuality in your neck of the woods? Do bishops not have the authority to address pastoral matters in their own church, in their own dioceses? Do you feel the same way about reading the first chapter of Romans out loud in your parish, is that grounds for removing all of St. Paul’s writings from active use in the OCA?

              Is it possible that St. Paul, in the first chapter of Romans, anticipated and explained the response of your parish to this pastoral letter?

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            • Apologies for typos, the preview and edit functions are not working on my phone this evening.

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              • Dan Fall,

                Amazing. You say that Fr Gakrlavs was part of the cabal, including Kishovsky, Stokoe, Nescott, Skordinski, Reeves to get +Jonah. Remember that email that surfaced written by Stokoe to all those folks on the MC at the time?

                Recall that Kishkovsky told Garklavs to go to the Rozianko file to see how to rid the OCA of Jonah? Brand him crazy, isolate him and then remove him. That is what the sage bishops of the OCA did back then and they replayed it again with +Jonah.

                You try and breeze over Garklavs disobedience to his bishop, yet you praise clergy who were possibly “letter of the law” followers by reading the mentioned letter before or after their flock was absent from a service. That is not disobedience?

                A priest, like a soldier, is under the authority of his superior, like it or not. If a priest does not like what his bishop does, he owes it to him to tell him, face to face, and then resign his position or ask to be transferred to another diocese or Church. What Fr. Alexander did was try to have his cake and eat it too. And, guess what, the new OCA rewarded him. Just another sign of how far the OCA has slipped into the mire of double-dealing and lies.

                Thanks for your post, just another proof text of good people like you trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

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                • Daniel E. Fall says:

                  Just simply explain why it was necessary to read aloud the churches stance on homosexuality and what exorcised our leaders to do it unless you expect me to be like a lemur and call it disobedience if I don’t jump.

                  Was it two gay women proclaiming their marriage in Washington that drove such a need? Or a gay woman in MN raising a child without a father? Or was it secular gays fighting for marriage in New York? Or was it Mark Stokoe? Was it the notion that a grand culture war exists in our society?

                  You see, my dad is wiser than you and our bishops on this matter (and sometimes he isn’t the wisest guy in the room, but on this he was). He said simply that the subject could have been anything and many things would have been more relevant to most people. Dad said overeating. And all we were asking is why…we weren’t trying to fit a square peg in a round hole my friend, we just asked why is this seen as a need. Why was it so important Joe?

                  How many people are gay in the Orthodox Church? Is it 1 per 1000? Probably about that few. That means this letter was really important for 1 person per thousand. Of the other 999 people, or 99 attendees, there is no benefit and they all ask why with the exception of a few pat themself on the back folks. The rest of us were just perplexed.. I know the truth is hard to take, but it was unnecessary teaching. I am not certain as to what clergy did what and I certainly didn’t praise them above, but if you want my opinion, if a priest didn’t read it to the group, he was probably right to be cautious and wise enough to see like my Dad.

                  Have you read the SMPAC report? It is available on pokrov and Jonah was named quite a lot on it. Garklavs was in a clear conflict of interest and yet, you prefer to call it cake and eat it too? You can’t be of service to the church body and serve the Metropolitan separately either Joe unless you believe doing so is a total rebellion against the church. Do you believe that? You would be one of a few of a minority.

                  I am not familiar with the Rozianko file, nor the email you cite. Feel free to provide a link. I don’t disagree there ultimately was a group of people that found severe problems with the Metropolitan-it may have been administrators first, but ultimately, the rest of the Synod agreed.

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                  • George Michalopulos says:

                    Daniel, your meanderings are the reason that sophistry has such a bad name. I’m sure that if Metropolitan Jonah had told the priests to read a letter condemning violence against homosexuals you would be turning sumersaults. And I could say in reply “was this necessary? Just how many Orthodox engage in gay-bashing? One in a 1000?” A little honesty would be nice but one would have to acknowledge his own biases in order to do this.

                    BTW, if Jonah had issued a letter condemning violence against homosexuals, I would have agreed with its spirit and its vocalization in our churches.

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                    • Daniel E. Fall,

                      Why it is necessary for the bishops of the OCA to annually in January have their letter on the sanctity of life read in parishes? Is it not to remind the faithful of basic teachings of the Church on this subject?

                      If the bishop directs his clergy to read something in Church and it is not against the teachings of the Church, he is duty bound to do so. It is that simple.

                      Rather you seem to give parish clergy the power to determine what is the Teachings of the Church and what is not and to be the final arbiter. The parish priest serves at the blessing of his bishop, it is the bishop’s signature on the antimins not the parish priest. He is to uphold with his life those teachings as we have witnessed by the countless millions of clergy who did exactly that under the yoke of Godless atheism in soviet times.

                      This becomes even more important when one considers that we are a small minority in this land, our parishes are tiny in number and thus even one member espousing wrong teachings can have a devastating effect on the flock. We don’t have the benefit of scores of old babas who would correct such a person in their motherly ways with a swift kick or a smack upside the head of a wayward soul.

                      Homosexuality is not God’s way, just as abortion is not God’s way, as just two examples. Thus it is good anytime a bishop of the Church, who’s role as archpastor is to teach the Faith and to protect it against any wolves that might wish to invade the flock.

                      If a priest objects, he can bring it up to his bishop, but he does not have the authority to counter the bishop (except in the case of the teaching of heresy.) If Orthodox Church is a hierarchical then that is what a priest is ordained into and is expected to be faithful to that reality, with blood if necessary, but just as importantly in his daily witness in the myriad of “white martyrdoms” against those who would wish to chip away at the edges of the Truth that is the Gospel of Christ and reshape it into their own desires.

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                  • Archpriest John Morris says:

                    The Church is forced to speak openly on the issue of homosexuality because the media, the Democratic Party, and secular culture are openly promoting the pro-gay position. If there were no gay pride parades, proclamations from the president proclaiming May (I think that it is May) gay pride month, places like California that mandate pro-gay teaching in the public schools, the drive for same-sex marriages and whole areas of our major cities taken over by gays. Then there is the open persecution of groups like the Boy Scouts that refuse to be intimidated into a pro-gay position.

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                    • You got it Father, the proclamation in the church regarding the sins of homosexuality and abortion more or less is an effort to offset the constant barrage of pro-gay and murder of the unborn information from the secular society, schools, media, etc. Thank you.

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                    • Rather, the Church FEELS it is forced.. Nobody can force our Church to do anything at all. Such an idea is repulsive.
                      Please give us some links to “open persecution” of the Boy Scouts of America: i missed all that. Are they being jailed? Put in stocks? Stoned? Just how does this “open” persecution go? Do any Boy Scouts KNOW they are being openly persecuted? Tell us more!
                      Necessary to read something aloud on the topic? Possibly. No argument. But “forced?”
                      Nobody writes carefully anymore (if they can), and I blame it on the Internet and inconsistency in the quality of our schools.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Your Grace, the persecution is more surreptitious and therefore more insidious. One example I can give (if I may speak for Fr Morris) is the forcible admission of homosexuals as scoutmasters. Mind you, this was done during the very same time that the Catholic Church was suffering from the huge paedophilia scandal.

                      A lot of the “persecution” that is being perpetrated against the Church in general is a soft type. The local GOA priest who serves on the local interfaith council where I live told us a story about one of the pastors of a very large, prestigious Methodist church here. Our city likes to hold 5K runs and mini-marathons throughout the year. Invariably these were planned on Sunday mornings. Once it took me an hour to get to church whereas it usually only took me 20 minutes. I had to make so many detours it was pathetic. Anyway, the local Methodist pastor (no arch-conservative BTW) ran into the same problem. He lived literally 3 miles as the crow flies from his parish but it took him two hours to get to church. He was incensed, rightly so. He later found out from a Romanian acquaintance that the commies did the same sort of thing behind the Iron Curtain, not harsh persecution but just made it an overall pain in the butt to do anything Christian, like simply going to church. Whereas Sundays were always a time of rest in Christian societies they chose this day and always in the morning to schedule things.

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                    • Nate Trost says:

                      You are seriously, seriously going to claim that a community holding an event on a Sunday, the day of the week that the highest percentage of the population is likely to have as a day off and thus able to participate in a community event, is a form of soft persecution against your faith? Oh noes! A minority of the public is holding an event that inconveniences the majority of the public, including another small minority that feels it holds some kind of special privilege!

                      Forget the islamists, the ACLU and the marxists! Reebok is truly the greatest persecutor of Christians since Nero!

                      You aren’t being persecuted. You are being inconvenienced. That you think you have some special right to never have to deal with traffic delays on a Sunday morning due to scheduled public events is one of the most hilariously self-centered, selfish pieces of whining I’ve read in a long time. And to top it off, you compare delays in detouring around a 5K run to the persecuted church during the Cold War behind the Iron Curtain?

                      I think you’re going to get a Christmas Carol experience when the ghost of Solzhenitsyn appears to force feed you a bunch of running shoe soles for such banality.

                      In America, in 2012, you are entitled to wear the crown of a martyr if you spend an extra half-hour getting to church on a Sunday a couple times a year. The saints of the early church never imagined such a burden was possible for the average humble human being.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      No Nate, I never said it. However this Methodist minister did bring it up as a way to expose the insidious nature of the secularists and how they want to diminish Christianity from the public square. That was my point.

                      His own further investigation by talking to a Romanian emigre opened his mind as to how Marxists “soft-persecute” Christians when they gain control of a regime. Things like (1) no higher education, (2) menial jobs, (3) public mockery in the various media, etc.

                      Nobody compares this to throwing Christians into the arena to fight lions and bears but we forget that most Christians throughout the Roman persecution were almost always second and third class citizens who were always fearful of being open about their faith.

                      When Lenin took over Russia, a massive and violent persecution against Christians took place. After his death, it morphed into soft persecution. I have a friend from Russia for example whose father was a Party member and atheist. He refused to allow his son to be baptized. His mother went to such great lengths to baptize him that it was worthy of a Mission: Impossible episode.

                      I consider what this family had to undergo to try and practice their faith to be a type of persecution. What reinforced it was the pervasive anti-Christian attitudes put out by the state, which are mimicked in the story of the Fun Run several thousand of us Christians here in Tulsa had to endure in order to try and get to Church. For me it was not necessary but for the minister in question, it was his job to be there. (I forgot to mention that he didn’t make it to the service.) How would you like it if the government put roadblocks in your way as you tried to get to your job?

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                  • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                    Just simply explain why it was necessary to read aloud the churches stance on homosexuality. . .

                    Why was it necessary? Simple. To show that the Church does not swim with the cultural tide that seeks to normalize homosexual behavior. It’s the same reason why the Church is clear about the immorality of abortion and other hot button topics.

                    . . . and what exorcised our leaders to do it unless you expect me to be like a lemur and call it disobedience if I don’t jump.

                    I think you meant ‘exercised’ and ‘lemming.’ Nonetheless, there is no need to jump. It’s clear that you heard the teaching which was the intent of the letter. If there was no attempt to normalize homosexual behavior in some Orthodox quarters, then no pastoral letter would have been necessary.

                    Don’t confuse episcopal directives that make clear the teachings of the Orthodox moral tradition with pastoral practices one on one. They are similar in moral substance but differ in tone, approach, and application.

                    Take abortion for example. The prohibitions against abortion are clear. Yet the Church does not shame or humiliate a man or woman involved with it. Instead it seeks their healing. If a pro-abortion activist started teaching that abortion was moral however, then a directive is needed in order to keep the teachings of the moral tradition clear.

                    It’s the same with homosexuality. The Church does not shame or humiliate anyone dealing with same-sex attraction. But if someone was to rise up and say the moral tradition grants moral parity to same-sex couplings as it does heterosexual marriage, then he would have to be corrected and the proper teaching brought forward.

                    Of course it’s the Bishop’s call whether or not to issue a directive. We might not like that, but we don’t have much say in the matter. If you think the Bishop is wrong you are free to disagree but don’t expect him to give you a call before he issues the next one.

                    If you feel the bishop is teaching error, that’s another matter entirely and a challenge might be needful, perhaps even blessed. However, the letter explaining that homosexual behavior is intrinsically immoral is squarely in line with the moral tradition. Not much to disagree with there unless one wants to change the tradition and follow, say, the liberal Episcopalian track. In that case it is probably better to become Episcopalian rather than drag the culture war into the Church.

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                    • I’m glad George thought over what he had written and changed it. He had said the Church was Forced to do something. And he referred to the ‘Open” persecution of the Boy Scouts. Thanks for changing that to “more surreptitious” persecution.
                      As for the way to Church, maybe if we’d give up our tax exemption, we could protest as tax-payers? After all, some may truly “feel” somewhat “forced” to behave based on that exemption, no?
                      As for the letter , rather than taking refuge in a kind of generalized paranoia about subversive and insidious anti-American and anti-Christian powers at work, I’d say it was the right thing to do: my only question is whether or not it was read aloud in Christ the Savior in Miami, where a Bishop and an Archdeacon “cohabit.” Are the Faithful in that parish or anywhere else in the Diocese of the South writing to their rectors and their district deans about that. Or are they waiting for somebody else to do something? Just because the King is lazy doesn’t mean his subjects should have permanent siesta.
                      if the Churches would pay taxes then they might expect the same lofty treatment big corporations in general were given by the Supreme Court, no? Wouldn’t then the tax-paying churches be entitled to be treated as persons?

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                  • Fall, You don’t understand how the church is supposed to work. It had to be read to all the parishes because too many Orthodox Christians never heard the Orthodox belief on this subject and because of that they believe the secular cultures teaching that homosexual sex and same-sex marriage is not a sin. Also because several priests in the OCA do not see it as a sin. They believe it is a sin that is passing-like slavery. They believe people are born that way-which science has not proven, but it’s popular so it must be so. (Who cares about truth or accurate science-right?) There must be a response to this by the church because it has invaded our culture with little intelligent response from the churches. And why? We have our ways which are not of this world. If you want what the world teaches, why bother with being Orthodox?
                    The statement read aloud opened up the discussion (step 1) and was the best spotlight given to it-although it was painful-it was necessary. People HAD to talk about it and still need to. Step 2 could have been a series of lectures at the parish level to go more in dept and for the parishioners to talk with one another about it with the guidance of the priest. Our priests need support and direction in this area-they are supposed to get that from the bishop-(hence the letter). Your response to this makes me think you are not used to having the church function as it should. We have had no voice in society and yet we have a lot to offer. Metropolitan Jonah did exactly the right thing, but he was not supported. That was not his mistake . . . . .

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            • Dan Fall,

              Do you have the slightest idea what “obedience” is?

              Your Metropolitan asks you to read aloud a proclamation regarding the Church’s stance on homosexuality, and here you are, judging your Metropolitan as “going too far.” Have you ever read the writings of St. Paul that are in our Holy Bible? Do those statements “go too far”? What about all those harsh comments Our Lord made about being cast into outer darkness?

              Your statement is truly at the heart of the entire problem with the OCA. There is NO FAITH in our leaders. There is only doubt, fear, questioning, judging, analyzing, one-upping, ad nauseum. Whether our dislike of our leaders is the fault of the bishops themselves (such as temper-tantrum Benny, sexual harraser Matthias, canonical-status dubious Melchisedek, ego-maniac Nathanial, etc.) that leads us to not just doubt but to dislike them; or if it is the fault of our own lack of faith in our leaders due to our own unwillingness to surrender and sacrifice our own egos (such as you have displayed)… well, the OCA has doomed itself. There is no clear leadership. There is no clear discipleship. Without the sanctity of the teacher-student relationship being preserved through mutual trust, it is impossible to maintain (let alone grow) the church.

              It is astounding that you can sit in judgment of your Metropolitan’s request to read his statement (jointly written with Met. Tikhon) regarding homosexuality, and you call his request that this missive regading homosexuality be read aloud in OCA churches as going too far!

              If your Priest, Bishop, or Metropolitan asks you to do something, you do it. That is standard practice in Orthodoxy the world over. However, here in the OCA, if you don’t like something your Bishop or Metropolitan says, you have the option to “go Syosset” on them. You can form a Syosset SICK Committee to shake its magic eight-ball with the options of “He is a criminal!” or “He is crazy!” as grounds for removal of the person who challenges your status quo.

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              • Daniel E. Fall says:

                First of all, you Nate define a “problem” in the church of an absence of faith in our leaders. I don’t see that as a problem, so I’m not interested in hearing a solution. Faith isn’t automatic; it is earned and learned as is trust and the faith.

                And, no Nate, if the Bishop asks you to do something, the first thing isn’t to do it, the first thing is to ask yourself if this is what Christian teaching has told you. and whether you understand the request. It is possible the Bishop might tell you to sign something you know is untrue, for example. You would like to hold the Bishops above reproach, but you should know many, many bishops, and Popes of the past have not been above reproach. Or do you need a history lesson? I can think of 3 bishops of the Orthodox Church, no 4 in my lifetime, no 5 that were certainly not, all to varying degrees. The fifth is certainly the least. Think of the imfallibility of the Pope argument we so steadfastly disagree with for Pete’s sake!

                It is certainly true I include Metropolitan Jonah in the 5, but relatively speaking, I would also include him as the best in the group, albeit not above reproach. Read the SMPAC report if you need edification as to why, or recognize the placement of a priest unofficially and problematically as another reason. I would say the church has a bigger problem with divisiveness; we are not supposed to be polarized based on political party and that was another thing Jonah did wrong that I never witnessed before.

                I do plenty of things wrong, my ego isn’t a part of this discussion to be honest. We didn’t judge the requirement, we just asked why and had no answers. Here is what was stated,

                “In light of the ongoing discussions and debates about “same sex marriage”, I felt the need to address our faithful concerning this issue. Although it would appear to me that the Church doctrine and Scripture has been clear about this issue, there are those who “twist” the Scriptures and the Canons of the Church to fit their own needs. We have always believed that the interpretation of Scripture lies within the framework of “Holy Tradition” and the experience and interpretation of the Holy Fathers before us. Who are we to interpret the Scripture outside of this Sacred Tradition? Only those, who do not have the light of Christ, will interpret Scripture to their own ends.”

                So, first it was same sex marriage, but in the same paragraph it was twisting the Canons and Scriptures by s-o-m-e that required the need for a-l-l to hear the churches teaching. What?

                Why wasn’t the churches teaching on the poor more important Nate? Nope, it was more important to pick on the 1/10th of 1% of Orthodox Christians that are gay to set things straight out of fear they were twisting the entire world upside down when they never were. Actually, not all the gays were twisting things, so this letter is really addressing a handful of gay Orthodox people twisting Scripture and Canon, but it was important for all to hear. What?

                Here is the final bulletpoint. I know George will enjoy this one.

                “•Persons struggling with homosexuality who accept the Orthodox faith and strive to fulfill the Orthodox way of life may be communicants of the Church with everyone else who believes and struggles.”

                (they added a blurb to the end of it, but just for George, I’m leaving it out, sorry George)

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Last things first: if you mean to impute to me that repentant sinners are not eligible or cannot partake of the divine mysteries, then you are clearly wrong. To the best of my feeble knowledge I suspect that as long as they are repentant that they can and should take Communion. (If I’m wrong on this, I hope some theologically trained respondent will set me straight.)

                  As to Jonah not being “above” reproach, I simply don’t know what you’re talking about.What little of the SMPAC report that was put out there said nothing of the sort and/or in those minor details that indicated possible maladministration, Jonah’s counter report was exculpatory. And anyway, we know now that one of the the details surrounding one of the alleged perpetrators were far from accurate. If however you insist on putting your trust in reports and the committees of men, then I would refer you to the SIC report which has likewise been found wanting (and which curiously was never meant for publication).

                  For your own edification, the words “above reproach” refer to the individual moral character of a single individual, not hamfisted critiques put out by people who despise that individual. The question is do YOU know Jonah to be a man above reproach? Failing that, do YOU know anybody who thinks Jonah is above reproach (or not). I know Jonah and I have found no fault in him. Moreover I know dozens of people who know Jonah and they likewise find no moral failing in him. Curiously, the SMPAC report and all other critics likewise cannot come up with a valid moral failing for him. Hence the STINKBOMB letter which was based on lies was used to get rid of him.

                  To be truthful, I wish there was a valid condition that Jonah suffers from which would make this whole mess canonical. At least then, we could really “go on” (pace M Stankovich). Unfortunately, because his assassins relied on lies and/or are themselves morally compromised men, this thing is not going away anytime soon, is it?

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                • Wow Fall, you really don’t get it . . . .

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              • Archpriest John Morris says:

                I do not know exactly what letter from your Metropolitan you are writing about, but I know that the growing movement towards same sex marriages led most Orthodox jurisdictions in the US to issue statements reaffirming the teaching of our Church on that subject. The Bishop’s Assembly republished the old SCOBA statement on the issue. The Greek Archdiocese put a statement on its web site. Our Antiochian Archdiocese passed a resolution at our National Convention reaffirming the teaching of the Church. Whenever our people are bombarded with propaganda designed to lead them to reject the teachings of our Church, our leaders need to speak out and remind the Faithful what we believe.

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    • Catholic Observer says:

      The rottenness of the bishops does not obviate the validity of the sacraments, nor does it eliminate our need for them.

      There is so much irony here that words fail me….

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    • Why go to Church after all? Why pray, pay for, and obey bishops who acted in such a sinful manner? Why fast? Why honor the Church’s moral strictures if in the end might really make right?

      No Orthodox Christian who believes in God would write those sentences. Whenever I think this website can decay no further, I find something new, such as those outbursts.

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      • George Michalopulos says:

        These “outbursts” come not from me but fromm honest seekers who are scandalized. Why leave an apostate religion only to find that the One, True Faith is led by men who cannot see their sin and thus, cannot repent?

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        • I wanted to share the following letter:

          Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk congratulates newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury

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          • Archpriest John Morris says:

            One thing about Metropolitan Hilarion. He does not hesitate to state the Orthodox position on the issues. We need more people like him in ecumenical dialogue, not people who tell the others what they think they want to hear or who soften our message to make it more “diplomatic.” We do not need the acceptance of the Anglicans or any other group of those who call themselves Christians, but reject basic Christian teaching. We need to speak the truth with love, but we need to speak the truth to the non-Orthodox.

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        • because every religion, Christian or other, is followed by human beings, the majority of whom (obviously including myself) think and behave sinfully. I want to say that anyone can understand that fact. A true seeker of God seeks Him, not the flawed adherents of a religion. If ever I had bought into such an argument as George outlays, then I would have abandoned my children’s religious upbringing and told them to figure things out by themselves when they grew up. They have witnessed my sinful failings all of their lives, yet all have grown up to stand firm in the Orthodox faith. I did not leave my former religious organization because I was blown away by the holiness of every Orthodox person whom I met. I ran as hard as my soul and body could run toward the Orthodox faith because I recognized that within the Orthodox Church, and there only, is found the clearest forgiveness of sinners and the best opportunity available on earth to find, worship and serve the true God. That is the Good News we are obligated to share with the world.

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      • shuttlecock says:

        No seeker of God through the ‘one true faith’ can help but question thusly. As long as the Church continues this behavior, it’s claim to the ‘one true faith’ has little credibility.

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  9. M. Stankovich says:

    First, there is history, then there is what actually occurred. This is a history written to fit a skewed minority’s view that begins with the conclusion and is written backward. Mr. Michalopulos, you have made history fit your cascade of conjecture because you are too cowardly to speak with the protagonists who are still alive, who are still available, and who deserve a voice; you are too arrogant to listen and learn form the individuals such as myself who were there from the beginning, who are the last living connection you have to the fathers, theologians, and “architects” of the Orthodox Church in America – many you only know of by books or YouTube – witnesses to their personal thoughts, their motivations, their dreams for a truly autocephalous church; and worst of all, we were unwitting witnesses – teenagers and late adolescents forward, naive, hopeful, intimidated, and frightened – exposed to the most egregious, scandalous, and unimaginable immoral behaviour by leaders of the church, ordained and not. We appreciate that where there are men, there will be sinfulness and depravity. Just as no Jonah “without guile” could rescue us, no Synod ruined us. You know little and you understand nothing, and it is your own arrogance that indicts you.

    It is a new day and the Church “by the wisdom of men and the Grace of the Holy Spirit” has spoken. Again there is hope and a sense of direction. To disparage the OCA after 40 years demonstrates a fundamental lack of insight “as others which have no hope.” (1 Thess 4:13) Elsewhere I have quoted a priest from a retreat I attended in my adolescence that seems appropriate to repeat again: ““Our churches are full of dead wood, and outside are people yearning for life. We must open the entrances and the exits, sweeping out the dead by force and welcoming the living. We will all die if we do not.” Please watch your step while exiting. We don’t want a law suit.

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      The trouble is that the “history” as we have received it has fallen considerably short. For one thing, the Keeper of the Sacred Texts (OCAN) has been shown to be a severely biased individual. Let us for the sake of argument say that the SIC report are the Sacred Texts, that the sordid pre-Jonah history of the OCA was reduced in writing to that report. Fine. That report should have been explosive. If true –even in part–bishops, priests, monks, laymen, and assorted Syosset hangers-on should be eating off of tin plates right now in Ft Leavenworth. But they’re not. When the only competent civil authority (New York State) was given the authority to prosecute, it declined to do so.

      Are you so sure about that history?

      Even if you are 80% correct, does this not prove the Phanariote brief that the OCA is incompetent and spiritually immature? Pre-Jonah I could give them a pass, saying that the OCA was still steeped in the immigrant values of a dysfunctional culture of the Mon Valley. After Jonah? When he was clearly recognized as a moral force in his own right and these same dysfuntionaries did everything they could to remove him? Not so much.

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        Mr. Stankovich: have you learned your history on the internet? By your standards related to your profession, you have no credibility to comment on anything historical and your comments on the nature of history reveal a less than adequate understanding of it.

        History is a part of the mystery of being human. It is not primarily about facts although facts are important. It is about perception, interpetation and the narratives that emerge from specific events, times and places. It is important that the narratives are not fantasy driven, but they always have bias, agendas and critical mistakes. One can learn from all of those if examined properly.

        Strictly speaking, George is not writing history at all, just a recollection of current events that is one piece in the development of the narrative that is then interpreted and processed by others. Eventually it becomes a part of the history of the moment.

        Ultimately, the writing of history tells more about the writers and their time than it does about anything past.

        We know George’s bias and we probably know yours. Both are part of the history of this moment that is emerging.

        Some facts we can agree on, I think: +Jonah was elevated to Met. of the OCA amidst great fanfare; significant people did not like that or him (and we know, mostly who those folks are); Jonah was removed as Met. of the OCA; many (unknown how many) people are distressed by the removal of Met. Jonah and the treatment of him surrounding his removal (before, during and after).

        The motives driving and the virtue of actions taken by both those who wished the removal of Met. Jonah and those who objected are open to conjecture as are the consequences of both their motives and actions.

        The process of working out the closest approximation of the motives, the virtue and the consequences is both what we live through and the history. By the grace of God, that process reveals more truth than fiction. Those who write history should be motivated with finding the truth despite their own bias, agenda and always incomplete knowledge. Anything less makes them a propgandist, not an historian.

        My own evaluation of the evidence of which I have knowledge in this situation suggests to me that the greater veracity lies with those who object to the removal of Met. Jonah. However, the entire situation is greatly clouded by a spirit of scapegoating that seems to have invaded the OCA and is “in the air” so to speak.

        Until that is faced and addressed, much more damage will occur no matter who claims victory and seeks to consolidate their position and restore ‘peace’.

        My own experience with the spirit of the scapegoat is not happy. There is no victory, no purification that will statisfy that ravenous evil except the hearts and souls of everyone involved. The only antidote is mutual repentance and forgiveness. Unfortunately, I don’t see that at all. I hope I’m wrong.

        To the extent that George’s piece moves us toward repentance, that is good. To the extent that is does not, it continues to be part of the problem. The rest is quibbles, spite and obsfucation.

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        • M. Stankovich says:

          Mr. Bauman,

          Are you purposely inviting a “scene” by addressing me in such a manner?

          NYC is comprised of over 8,000,000 people, more or less, at any given time, Mr. Bauman. And at different points in its “evolution,” its public displays of immorality were anything but “regulated.” In fact, they were Babylon for the asking. Unfortunately, if you had gone by bus to visit someone upstate, out of state, on Long Island, and you were a student, at one point or another you were forced to travel by bus through the Port Authority terminal on 8th Avenue. This usually meant on Sunday evening, after dark. To return to SVS, it was necessary to walk (who could afford a taxi) to Grand Central station, crossing through Times Square, the heart of depravity at the time. It was not, Mr. Bauman, a “day of rest.” Flashing neon, deafening music, “hawkers” yelling at you, “Come on in, cowboy! You look like you need a lesson in life!” Pan-handlers , hookers, and druggies clogged the streets. And with 8,000,000 in the City of NY, Mr. Bauman, out of one of the “gay palaces” steps a very important official of the church, not 15 feet from me. He looked right at me, but he didn’t know me. I didn’t know whether to run, to scream, or to kick his ass. I watched him wave for a taxi and leave. When I got home, I told my roommate – who I later found was homosexual and was, to my knowledge, the first OCA priest to die of complications related to AIDS – and he said, “I know,” and left. He got another roommate. I “reported” what I had seen; I “confessed” my rage, gossip, and “intolerance”; I avoided “communion lines”; I minded my business. And this, Mr. Bauman is but one example.

          Am I stupid, or blind, or bias so as to deceive or misconstrue the facts? Is this my “opinion” and “interpretation” of what I witnessed? I, and those with me, agonized and suffered over such matters. We were unwitting and even scorned witnesses who lived with “secrets” and bore the brunt of a facade. To you this is “quibbles, spite and obfuscation.” To Mr. Michalopulos it is projection of his own bitterness. To me, this history is a painful, wrenching lesson that where there are men, there will always be sinfulness and depravity. And yet, “by the wisdom of men and the Grace of the Holy Spirit,” the Church speaks again in Council and we move on to a new day, reinvigorated and with hope. Our God will right the injustices of this life where we fail, and it is time to move on.

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          • Michael Bauman says:

            Um, you raise and interesting question. We are certainly called to rightly discern the truth and act upon it. In order to do that, however, we must be quite aware of our own motives. If we are influenced too greatly by the desire of ‘justice’ or ‘righting wrongs’ or a desire to ‘purify’ the community, we will go wrong. At the same time, we must not refuse to act becasue we are not pure enough.

            The problem, however, does not lie with any one person. There is no question that Met. Jonah and perhaps Kondratick and others before him were made scapegoats. .

            I just do not want to see a similar passion set in that seeks to rid the OCA of all the malefactors in response. That does not mean that appropriate action should not be taken to remove people from office who need to go.

            George’s retrospective is a good attempt, IMO, to bring a prespective to the situation that will allow proper action to take place. I should have made that more clear.

            Too, I may be overreacting because of my own past experience.

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          • Michael Bauman says:

            Mr. Stankovich, I finally had the opportunity today to talk with his Grace, Bishop Basil regarding our dispute. He graciously said he would review what you have written. I sent him a link to your web site. However, I had a great deal of difficulty getting it to load and was unable to make the “Contact you” button work. That may be my machine/connection, but if there problems with your site, I thought I’d let you know.

            I gave him a brief summary of our contention but attempted to be as general as possible so as not to even attempt to influence him (although I think that would be rather difficult on matters of the faith).

            Have a blessed completion to your Nativity Fast.

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        • Michael B., If you assign cause (or blame) accurately, then there is no possibility of scapegoating.

          Humility and self-examination is important in any relationship. But I’ve seen activists use the tendencies of religious pacificists (which is how I would characterize your approach) to ram their agenda through (often ignoring agreed upon rules) and to get away with it. Gay activists in the Episcopal Church, for example, have been very good at using the guilt of heterosexuals about irrelevant sins to paralyze opposition to their efforts. Sometimes relationships really do require looking beyond the self and dealing with the reality “out there” — like when a wife refuses to accept a husband’s abuse or enable his addiction any longer.

          I guess my question for you would be: Is it possible you are using scapegoating itself as a scapegoat in this situation?

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        • Mike Myers says:

          The scapegoat deception is a horrible factor in human affairs, at all levels. God help us always to be on the watch for it and escape its trap. An antidote of mutual repentance and forgiveness is needed, indeed. That about sums it up.

          “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

          I look back on some of my posts here with sadness and in a few cases even a bit of alarm. I heedlessly wrote things I didn’t even mean, I hypocritically castigated George and a few others for things I’m guilty of myself, I’ve been unkind, pretentious and worse, far too often. I’m ashamed. I’m overwhelmed and drowning in my own past sins, so burning up these tares in my own heart and utterly mortifying that old man of sin is more than enough to keep me busy for life with what should be deeds of true repentance, in a spirit of mercy and humility, and thanksgiving. Please pray for me, as I have prayed for all of you. May God convert us and deliver us from evil so we can strengthen one another in Christ.

          I’m learning painfully yet again the truth about how much trouble the tongue and pen can cause, even with the “best intentions,” not to mention when driven by our passions in delusion, prejudice and bias. I ask the forgiveness of anyone I may have offended. Let’s fast from smashing one another with the fist of wickedness. Lord have mercy.

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    • oliver douglas says:

      “Cowardly”? “Arrogant”? M. Stankovich must be creating his postings while sitting in front of a mirror. Add illiterate and uninformed and you have the grand slam. As for his threat or comment regarding lawsuits, it is probably best that he restrain himself and stick to whatever profession he purports to practice. Civil lawsuits are always two-way streets. Those bringing the lawsuit need to be cautious lest many things that they would have hoped would remain secret are forced by the legal discovery process to be disclosed to the world. Have you ever heard of the (Barbra) Streisand effect – the process whereby a slight or canard that is initially disclosed to and known by a select few become “viral” as a result of a complaint or lawsuit. So, to those who elect to make use of the legal system, bring it on. Let us not lose sight of the basic fact – a bishop respected by many for his willingness and ability to speak the truth, proclaim the gospel and reach out to many was tossed out like yesterday’s coffee grounds because he made some other bishops uncomfortable. The self-same bishops, who when presented with blatant misconduct or wrongs, sit by, doing nothing. Simply put, this is wrong and cannot be tolerated.

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    • Mr. Stankovich, you have never, and are yet to present here THE FACTS for “your side of the story.”
      What you present is basically “just believe me only because I’m so much more of a insider and intelligent than anyone else here.”
      George has presented the facts for his side of the story.
      Are you unable (or maybe just too cowardly) to do that?
      Until you do, your personal opinions “carry no more weight” than any others posted here, no matter how superior you believe and present yourself to be.
      (PS. superiority complex – noun – an attitude of superiority that conceals actual feelings of inferiority and failure.)

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      • M. Stankovich says:

        PdnNJ,

        In that you seem to have missed a most important point, let me reiterate (To repeat (an action); to do over again): as the person who posts as Thomas Paine has duly noted, many of the “protagonist” are alive and pushing air. I have no intention of answering for anyone and, I will not ever further the cause of salaciousness and murderous gossip. You deem this cowardly (Like a coward; with cowardice or base avoidance of danger)? As you wish. I suspect I avoid more danger in any given week than you avoided in your long and prosperous life. It is pointless, it is empty, no one is edified. It is history, we have learned, and there are no lessons left to be learned from it. It is time to move on.

        I would add that it should be obvious to anyone at this point that you do not like me personally: tango: message received. You have made your point.

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        • M. Stankovich says:
          December 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm

          I have no intention of answering for anyone and, I will not ever further the cause of salaciousness and murderous gossip.

          In other words, as Yogi Berra said,
          “If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.”
          And here is some other good, reliable, down-to-earth, relevant advice that Mr. Stankovich may be able to understand:
          “Never make predictions, especially about the future.” – Casey Stengel
          “It ain’t over till it’s over.” – also by Yogi Berra

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        • George,

          Thank you again for re-presenting the steps that the new OCA took to strip away from a man, Metropolitan Jonah, who’s wished to lead the OCA in a new, exciting and necessary direction here in the USA, away from the business as usual of the OCA. He is still respected by the OCA’s Mother Church, and Russia continues to watch very closely how +Jonah is being treated by the synod. And, sadly, their mean-spirited attitude towards +Jonah has not diminished. His requests for release to ROCOR are not only being ignored by spitefully rejected.

          Metropolitan Tikhon has stated that “he does not wish to release +Jonah because he has so many talents and gifts that the OCA needs.” Really? Wasn’t this the same man along with his now synod that called +Jonah a protector of rapists? Wasn’t he the same man with his synod that slandered +Jonah by saying that he unilaterally received a rapist into the OCA? They lied then and now they wish to cover their ignorant and cruel attacks against +Jonah by continuing to punish him by “offering” him to be a glorified priest in Los Angeles as an auxiliary bishop under his main antagonist, Bishop Benjamin? Is that how the synod defines treating +Jonah with respect and providing for him? He was a bad Metropolitan, but he is now a possessor of “so many gifts” as a subject cleric un +Benjamin? Do they really think that we and Russia are going to buy their continued punishment of this man and expect us to just get over it and move on?

          The facts are this, +Jonah did not shield a rapist. He never received him as a cleric into the OCA. These were two planks in the synod’s platform and campaign to justify their isolation of +Jonah and then his seeking his “voluntary retirement.” Their misdeeds have been exposed to the light of truth and the synod is still found lacking and not a word or even an oblique gesture of sorrow.

          They branded him “gravely troubled” thanks to bizarre outbursts of Fr. Thomas Hopko and now his friend, Mark Stokoe is a spokesperson for the OCA. They rode their apocalyptic horse into Parma and now the synod has a Primate of their own liking, someone who will maintain the status quo that is now the OCA. A Primate who will not stand up to the bullies on the synod and will meekly steer the OCA into the calm lands of continued oblivion.

          A recent conversation I had with a high ranking cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow put it bluntly and succinctly, “we don’t think about nor consider the OCA to be important in the USA. We now look to the ROCOR and the MP parishes in America as the missionary arm of the Russian Orthodox Church in America and around the world.” They once looked to the OCA to spread the faith given to them by their Mother Church. Now they know that their daughter Church, like the Prodigal son, is on an alien journey.

          Moscow wants +Jonah released and they wish him to be accepted into the ROCOR. The requests have been made, officially! But the petty synod of the OCA will not let him go. They would rather bury him, as Bishop Benjamin starkly proclaimed, than do the right thing. Until they release him, the OCA will not be free of its unsavory past in how they disposed of their Primate and the consequences of their self-centered and myopic decision will be the continued weakening of the OCA. More clergy and faithful will leave the OCA. It won’t be easy for clergy, we know this already because requests to be released from the OCA are being stalled, if not totally ignored. But, for the laity, it will be much easier. They are already leaving and more are ready to leave, to form new mission communities under other jurisdictions, or simply leaving and joining Orthodox communities that are free of the poison of bad leadership that is now the OCA.

          So, for those who think that everything in the OCA is now on the right track, that our “time of troubles” are over, I say to you, God’s speed and may you get the Church you deserve. But for those who have had enough of the dysfunction and distractions that have become the OCA, there is life outside the OCA.

          Remember, you are not leaving the OCA, rather the OCA left you. For so many of you who left your former confessions for the same reason and came to the OCA, your journey will just need to take another step towards finally coming home.

          Peace and strength to all of you.

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          • Disgusted With It says:

            Well, a gang of immoral bishops buried +Innocent, so I guess it’s just history repeating itself with this new gang of immoral bishops looking to do the same to Metropolitan Jonah.

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            • Digusted With It, et. al.,

              Don’t forget that the OCA did the same thing to the Thrice-blessed Bishop Basil Rodzianko, a man referred to with great reverence in the best-selling (over 1 imillion copies) “Everyday Saints and Other Stories” by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov). Bishop Basil after his – first call him crazy, then retire him – actions of the synod back in the 1980’s was and is still regarded as a shining light of Orthodoxy in Russia and by an ever growing number of people here in the USA. Yet, he did not fit the “style” of an OCA bishop, so he was sent into internal exile. And not to forget, it was Leonid Kishkovsky who said to the band of MC members and chancery staff, (Garklavs, Stokoe, Reeves, Skordinski, Nescott and Solodow) “get the file on Rodzianko and you will have your blueprint to how to deal with +Jonah.)

              Of course there are those, some who post here, who would like to overlook that conversation and those plans to remove +Jonah. Nay, no conspiracy going on here. Just move along. This may be enough to fool the OCA synod, but it wasn’t and isn’t enough to fool the OCA’s Mother Church, not then with Bishop Basil and not now with Metropolitan Jonah.

              The OCA has a long history of treating bishops who fall out of favor with abject distain. Say what you will about the foibles of the GOA, but when Archbishop Spyridon was retired, money was found to care for him the rest of his life. +Jonah? His fiscal cliff starts January 1, 2013 when the synod washes their hands of him. No care, no concern, just the self-righteous decision that they he is no longer their concern. Do we wonder why clergy and faithful are fed up with this “do what I say, not what I do” OCA leadership. Shameful.

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              • Monk James says:

                Nikos says (December 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm, after many other things):

                …The OCA has a long history of treating bishops who fall out of favor with abject distain. Say what you will about the foibles of the GOA, but when Archbishop Spyridon was retired, money was found to care for him the rest of his life. +Jonah? His fiscal cliff starts January 1, 2013 when the synod washes their hands of him. No care, no concern, just the self-righteous decision that they he is no longer their concern. Do we wonder why clergy and faithful are fed up with this “do what I say, not what I do” OCA leadership. Shameful.

                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                Not just shameful, but unmistakeably sinful.

                No wonder people, clergy, and whole parshes are thinking about leaving the OCA. Why would they stay, when their bishops behave like functional atheists?

                Maybe these bishops and OCA functionaries really ARE atheists. Whyever do they remain in their churchly positions? It’s certainly not for money — there isn’t much — but maybe for some adolescent fantasy of ‘dress up and play church’.

                Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that a good shepherd would lay down his own life to protect his sheep. What we have here in our OCA lately is the clearly unchristlike phenomenon of false shepherds sacrificing nearly everyone else to save their own rear ends. But why and for what?!

                It’s obvious that The Powers That Be have forgotten (if they ever knew it) that everything we do to anyone else, we do to Jesus Christ our Lord.

                Still, there really are some good bishops in our OCA. May the Lord grant them the vision to see what must be done, and the courage to do it.

                ‘Lord of the Powers be with us, for we have no hope but You. Lord of the Powers, have mercy on us!’

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            • I don’t know of any bishop who defended the conduct of the late Bishop Innocent (Gula) except Bishop Seraphim (Storheim). Presumably the evidence in the case is still in the (dead) files of the Holy Synod since Bishop Innocent’s death prevented it from being presented before a canonical court. There was no point at ll in revealing all that material after Innocent fell asleep: that would look like “hitting a man when he’s down!”

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              • George Michalopulos says:

                I dunno, maybe because they hope that the case of another innocent bishop (no pun intended) being persecuted by Syosset will confirm their perfidy?

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      • PdNJ. Please inform us the full title of the dictionary which defined “superiority complex” as you have done.
        ((PS. superiority complex – noun – an attitude of superiority that conceals actual feelings of inferiority and failure.)” I assume it’s a dictionary because it included ‘noun.” But I don’t think you can find a psychology tezt either, that refers to concealing ANYTHING, either (let alone “actual feelings”!

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    • Disgusted With It says:

      “You know little and you understand nothing, and it is your own arrogance that indicts you.”

      Well now, isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black!

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    • Alexey Karlgut says:

      “you are too arrogant to listen and learn form the individuals such as myself who were there from the beginning, who are the last living connection you have to the fathers, theologians, and “architects” of the Orthodox Church in America – many you only know of by books or YouTube”
      Mike, you are not the only one who was “there from the beginning, who are the last living connection”,
      I was there as well! You want to get into theological or personal discussion? I am always glad to oblige!
      Fr. Alexey Karlgut
      I know you, your past, your history, as well as your academic accomplishments!

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      • Even though I wasn’t an “insider,” I can truthfully say that I was a very interested observer and listener “from the beginning.”

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      • Guy Westover says:

        I know you, your past, your history, as well as your academic accomplishments!

        There it is! The old guard OCA/KGB mentality. Veiled threats of exposure. I know you, I know your children and where they go to school, and who your mistress is, etc.

        “You might as well confess. We already know what you have done. Let us help you.”

        GW

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        • M. Stankovich says:

          You obviously do not know Fr. Alexey. He is an educated & thoughtful man, a gifted preacher & teacher, and a genuinely warmhearted and gentle person. He is, likewise, an astonishingly gifted and talented wood carver and Orthodox artist – from simple boards prepared for the holy icons to full inconostasis. I will always respect him. Your characterization was uncalled for. If he wishes to discuss anything with me, he should contact me at my site.

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        • Guido. I know Father Alexey, and I don’t believe he was threatening anyone so much as he was saying this: “You can’t pull the wool over MY eyes about yourself because I know the facts about you.” He was, and is NOT what we would call a “company man”, relative to the hierarchy, the MC, or the current “nomenklatura” of the OCA: Hopko, Stokoe, Garklavs. Berzonsky, Bobosh, Skordinski and other attorneys and MBAs, etc., etc.
          M. Stankovich is right on the mark about Father Alexey. In addition to all the sacred articles and furnishing in his own parish made by his own hands from wood, and the things to which Stankovich refers, he also made some wonderful lampadas for the L.A.parish’ iconostasis and other wall icons out of wood–unique in their beauty and lack of BLING. I haven’t seen Father Alexey since the burial of ever-memorable Archpriest Victor Sokolov: they were very close friends indeed. Any parish that is lucky enough to have Father Alexey as their parish priest should thank God daily.

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    • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says:

      Stankovich, Please knock off the ad hominem attacks. If you can accept the situation, you can go to another jurisdiction .This may be an advantage of the disunity of American Orthodox, that all are canonical.

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      • Disgusted With It says:

        I think he already is in another jurisdiction, but still has all the goodness and kindness in his Christ-like loving heart to grace us with his supreme intellect and historical knowledge from elsewhere.

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      • Why are you using the name of a guy who committed suicide as a netname?

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        • “Dear Ilya” must not get out much. I know of AT LEAST one other Ilya Zhitomirsky, teen-ager, who, with his mother was our parishioner in our Los Angeles parish for several years, but now lives back East. He has a Facebook page, and, going by life-expectancy figures, has a long way to go before dying, let alone committing suicide.
          Why, did you assume that is a “netname?”

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        • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says:

          This is my real name, by the way. I did not know of any person by my name that committed suicide. If you need any further disambiguation, my full name is Ilya Markovich Zhitomirskiy.

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  10. Michael James Kinsey says:

    We are not abandoned by Jesus Christ. The Good Thief on the Cross, demonstrated 3 aspects of the sense of the sacred, a sense of fair play, as he understood, he was reaping what he sowed, which implys he had the Royal Law written in his heart, but knew he had fallen short, This causes him to rebulk the evil thief as he says, the Christ was Innocent He became honest with himself in his suffering, which reopened the inate ability to respond to God in every human soul created in the image and likeness of God. This opened his heart to be able to see the Christ, the desire of the ages. He asks, full knowing he does not deserve it, to be with the Lord in His Kingdom. He also felt the comfort that cannot ever be taken away, even though it was slaying him. Divine Justice, which he could rejoice exceedingly in, while even on the Cross. Those Faithful ,who died in the Gulag were never left wihout the comfort of the most joyful, hearfelt trust and Love of God that comes from a belief in the uttermost, to the jot and tittle of the Royal Law, total Triumph of Perfect, Absolute, DIVINE JUSTICE. This is also tempered with a Mercy that is beyond our comprehension. Holy Holy Holy Lord God of Hosts. The actions of these bishops cannot overcome this Eternal Reality, and the Faithful know the Lord would obey His Father’s Command of Life Eternal, and save them, if they repent, if not they will recieve Perfect Divine Justice. It is for us to be sorrowful if they do not repent..

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    • Fr. George Washburn says:

      Good morning!

      I continue in the uncomfortable position of being convinced of the goodness of Met. Jonah and his public positions on some major issues while believing that time proved (and he came to realize) he was not a good fit in that office. It is not easy to find him a place in the OCA that fits with his unique combination of gifts (to say nothing of the ones which, like any or all of us, he does not possess) in light of the whole process that has culminated in his replacement, especially with polarizers ready to quickly seize upon anything that can possibly be spun to the disadvantage of the ordained leadership.

      Yes, ordained. Not popularly elected or thumbs-upped by a sufficient number of blog voters. Ordained. For life. No term limits, or even a “term.” In an increasingly Tweetie-Bird age of instantaneous reactivity and the slap-dash writing of history by its most hasty partisans (and from the lofty and dispassionate [how did I get my tongue in both cheeks at once?] vantage-point of several weeks or months of cackling among those who share one’s own views, but have little time for reflection or actual access to REAL EVIDENCE as opposed to rumor or conjecture) we find ourselves part of a church governed by very rigid, very conservative principles dating back centuries and no visible updating of substance for the electronic age. Do-overs (if that second baseman breaks his ankle or can’t seem to hit the curveball this year, you trade for another one or just use a utility infielder) are just about impossible to get, and the changeover process can become ugly and unfair to all, as we have seen.

      This blog, both by the nature of the very blog beast and as an extension of the personal strengths and weaknesses (and there are both) of its proprietor and participants, in my opinion is doing Hippocratic harm all the more poignant for the participants’ absolute conviction that their points of view have been FedExed straight from the summit of Sinai and their repetition does nothing but good. How is it doing harm?

      I am not smart enough to say definitively, and don’t have the time this morning, but one thing that I believe I have seen here, especially in the weeks since the election, is a lot of discourse that is taking its shape and tone and methods from the political arena rather than the norms of Christian conversation and controversy. Reductionism, for example – in this case the simplistic misuse of Met. Jonah as the Personification of All Good (and he IS a good man!!) and his critics as the Agents of All Evil.

      I bet if we tried we could create a fill-in-the-blanks paradigm that would work for George and many on this site and could be used for both the religious and the political sides of the discussion. Such as “The bureaucracy in ______ (fill in Washington or Syosset) is wasting the people’s money and support, it’s _______’s (fill in Kondratick, Obama or whoever you prefer) fault, and if we can only _____ (keep, elect or get rid of) _____ (Ron Paul, the president, Met. Jonah, or …) then all our problems will be soluble.” And how about “We didn’t ______(elect or keep) _____ because of unfair smears, attack ads, hidden conspiracy and fact-twisting by Enemies such as _____ (Rahn Emmanuel, Karl Rove, Mark Stokoe, Fr. Fester or fill in the name of the guy or the group you think wears the figurative black hat) and so it’s all going down the drain.”

      I believe the editorial to which we are now responding, with pro forma apologies to the effusive DC Indexman who would have given it some sort of “A,” is just such a piece when viewed from a sufficient distance. I would only consider giving it a high grade in a creative writing class, and several letters down the alphabet in a place and for ostensible purposes like this.

      It consists far too much of assumptions and story lines with extremely selective citations to interpretations and guesses disguised as facts. For example: I have no doubt there are some formerly zealous people leaving, or sitting on the sidelines of the Church hurt and discouraged. But the hypocritical and (anti-Hippocratical) who post here need to recognize that “sky is falling” pronouncements (such as George’s overblown and completely unsupported and insupportable dictum that all evangelization is at a standstill) are doing actual harm and contributing **from their own side** to whatever slowdown in evangelism – or other manifestations of malaise – must be expected when Christians quarrel strongly, but unfairly, in public.

      Sure some of the other guys did and said some unfair things that have hurt Met. Jonah and the Church, and I would not be surprised to learn that some of it came from what we might charitably call rather mixed-motives, but, as we tried to teach our kids, the fact that your brother grabbed the toy you were playing with doesn’t justify pulling his hair or breaking down the tower of blocks he was building. And when you break these exchanges down or stand outside them with a critical eye, that is a lot of what inevitably goes on. It takes its drumbeat from the insidious, incessant, and incendiary world of current political discourse (not from earnestly contending with fellow-members of the Body to live and teach the Faith once for all delivered). It is an electronic embodiment of the atavistic human habit of tit for tat. In my view these assumptions and methods do quite as much harm as, and probably more than, the good to which their purveyors aspire when employing them so unconsciously in supposedly Christian dialogue.

      love,

      Fr. George

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      • Disgusted With It says:

        Fr. George,

        With all due respect, maybe you should transfer into an OCA diocese, spend some time in the filth over there, and then form an opinion of what OCA members should and should not believe and feel. You are part of a good and honest jurisdiction. Please try to be more understanding of those who are not.

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      • Fr. George, be consistent.

        Doesn’t matter if Jonah was 100% good, or 99% good. Remember “no term limits or even a ‘term'” … “Ordained. For life” … “Yes, ordained.”

        And yet you have how many living primates?! Do not blame the people here.

        Tell us again why it was necessary to mock your primate for being fat.

        Tell us why he could not choose his staff but could be himself fired for “administrative imperfection.”

        Tell us why it was necessary to libel and slander his good name with perverse lies in the national press.

        Just tidy up these loose ends for us, and I’m sure you will get what you want with respect to tone and message on this blog going forward. But don’t require others to fix everything for you, if you cannot or choose not to find consistency in your own approach.

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        • Fr. George Washburn says:

          Hi friends:

          Um seems to think I am inconsistent about changes of episcopal *assignment,* which I distinguish, as I think we all ought to do, from removals or deposition from episcopal *office.* My position, as it has been re: Met. Theodosius, Met. Herman, and Bishop Nikolai, is that changes of assignment should be done seldom, reluctantly, and only for the best reasons. In actual practice, of course, some would like it done fairly often, somewhat gleefully, and for trivial, selfish, or bad motives, at least so long as the guy in the crosshairs is from the “other party.”

          Let me repeat, Um, as you no doubt had to do many a time while raising your children: remonstrating with those who retaliate here by hair-pulling doesn’t mean one condones the toy-grabbing that provoked the hair-pulling. If we are to have a governable Church, one that is mature rather than childish or adolescent, we gotta learn to use some self control in the face of real or perceived provocation or the whole household descends into the dysfunction and chaos of constant, eye-for-an-eye retaliations.

          “Above all do no harm” in the title above made me laugh and cry at the same time because, of course, the doing of harm is *exactly* what takes place in reaction-based polemicizing of *any* stripe.

          I don’t have to tell you why any of the insults to or undermining of Met. Jonah were OK because I don’t think they were, and I have said so here before. It is tempting to believe that because I disagree with you, I must agree with your opponents, but that is fallacious reasoning of the most common and deceptive kind. My real views ought to disappoint them as much as you. It is is just that sailing against the prevailing winds here on this site tends to make it **seem** otherwise for the moment.

          love,

          Fr. George

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      • Daniel E. Fall says:

        Fr. George, thanks for the good words.

        And Um, for all that you see as wrong, all Fr. George is saying is the ship was not lost with her captain away/removed/retired. He fairly suggests cherry picking.

        If your loose ends need tidying, then how about the loose ends of Garklavs termination? Improper priest assignments without official acceptance? Reading about homosexuality aloud in churches?

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        • The synod lied to harm another human being.

          They have not corrected their lies. They are pleased with the harm they are doing.

          What should happen to any church leader who does the same to Met. Tikhon?

          To address these problems, you propose that Orthodox people stop reading Paul’s letter to the church in Rome?!

          You might silence the Orthodox witness in America, but the real and living God is not mocked. He is powerful enough to make the stones cry out in your place.

          I will never respect people who lie and abuse others to get what they want, gay, straight, or otherwise.

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          • Daniel E. Fall says:

            You know that I as a layperson would not be able to decipher your quizical reference to Apostle Paul, but I assure you I have no desire to silent the Orthodox Church.

            I do think Paul went too far sometimes. Stating women should be silent in the church, for example, is unneeded. Women sing in the choir and read the Epistles and it is all quite nice.

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      • For the Antiochians says:

        When if ever do you all think that the Antiochians will strive to become an American Patriarchate into which all the other jurisdictions can become a part?

        You opine on the OCA and the ROCOR, but as far as I can see, however nice you are, you are less of an independent autonomous church than you were a decade ago.

        While the members of the OCA are considering fleeing to other jurisdictions, why should we consider the Antiochians? Isn’t it time for the western hemisphere Antiochians to join with the ROCOR and the OCA to create one American Church?

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        • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

          I can only speak for myself, not the entire Antiochian Archdiocese. I believe that any true Orthodox unity in this country must include the Greeks and be recognized by the world Orthodoxy. I also believe that any union between the Antiochians and the OCA would have to be between equals and based upon mutual respect. Reading the attacks against us by Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald and a few others on this site does not motivate me to desire unity with the OCA. I do not want to unite with those who consider us second class Orthodox. I am not going to take the pews out of my Temple, abandon my Antiochian liturgical practices or stop getting hair cuts, trimming my beard or wear a cassock to the grocery store. However, neither would I expect OCA parishes to put pews in their Temples or change their liturgical practices. I certainly would not expect OCA clergy to wear short hair, shave or trim their beards or cease wearing their cassocks wherever they want to wear them. I am also worried about all the accusations of immorality of the leadership of the OCA on this site. I do not want to become part of a group that is soft on Orthodox moral teachings. I also disagree with the ecumenical policies of the OCA.
          However, unity is actually taking place on the local level where we all cooperate and treat each other with mutual respect and act as one Church. I have had nothing but good relations and a spirit of brotherhood with the local Greek and OCA clergy. Although there is no ROCOR parish in the immediate area, I also have had nothing but good experiences when dealing with ROCOR clergy. It may very well be that unity will come from the bottom up rather than from the top down.
          At this point I personally believe that the best chance we have for unity from the top down is through the Bishop’s Assembly.

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          • Thomas Paine says:

            Fr. Morris,
            Fr. Schmemann (who died 29 years ago tomorrow) urged + Philip to join the new OCA in 1970. In fact, the early minutes of SCOBA said that the hierarchs would strive toward an American, autocephalous Orthodox Church which they would all join and to be called, The Orthodox Church in America – from SCOBA minutes. Well, Fr. Alexander Schememann was instrumental in in obtaining autocephaly for the American Church and even offered + Iakavos to be Metropolitan, but both + Iakavos & + Philip reneged. The new OCA tried again & again to have + Philip join (as he said he would) to no avail. The Romanians joined; the Bulgarians joined; the Albanians joined, but + Philip refused. If he would have, full Orthodox unity would have been assured by now. Instead, + Philip tried an end run in 1994 with Ligonier and destroyed everything! Today, with the Epis. Assembly, + Bart is trying to set himself up as an Eastern Pope with ALL decisions in America coming under him.

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            • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

              I believe that your account of events is rather simplistic. In 1970 it would have been impossible for Met. Philip to have joined the OCA because unity among Antiochians had not yet been achieved. The union of New York and Toledo did not take place until 1975. Back in 1970 and even now, I doubt that all our parishes would be willing to sever their ties with Antioch. Besides any real unity must also include the Greeks. They are the largest Orthodox jurisdiction in America.
              We must move slowly and let unity come in God’s time, not ours. The first step is to start showing respect for each other and recognize that just because we do some things differently that does not mean that we do not share the same Orthodox Faith. Some people need to cease criticizing the practices of other jurisdictions. When an OCA Bishop, even a retired one, posts a criticism on this site on the way that they conducted one of the Divine Liturgies connected with the burial of our Patriarch, it does not make a person like myself have warm and fuzzy feelings towards the OCA.
              I personally think that unity will come from the bottom up by the kind of cooperation we have between Greek, OCA and Antiochians in this area. Meanwhile,unity can also come from the top down through the Assembly of Bishops which is working to bring us together through a rather ambitious program to find ways to coordinate our practices on such issues as the reception of converts, ecumenism, and a whole host of issues. But more important than anything, we have to learn to trust and respect each other by recognizing that what unites us is greater than that which divides us such as some differing liturgical practices.

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              • Gregg Gerasimon says:

                Father John,

                You write, “We must move slowly and let unity come in God’s time, not ours.” I find myself agreeing with much of what you write here, but I can’t agree with this comment that unity will “come in God’s time.” Honestly I think it’s a cop-out but is used pretty much all the time when discussing administrative Orthodox unity in America.

                The only reason that there is not administrative unity in America is that most American Orthodox Christians do not want it. If we wanted it and were vocal about it to our bishops and to our clergy, we would have it.

                I do not think that God is pleased or happy with the administrative disunity that we have in America. Indeed, I have been told that there is less inter-Orthodox unity now than there was in the 1960s shortly after SCOBA was formed. Things have gotten much worse in the past several decades, even with the formation of the Episcopal Assembly.

                As a pastor, if a parishioner came to you and said that they were cheating on their spouse and they know it’s a problem and promised to stop cheating “in God’s time,” that would sound ridiculous, no?

                Or if a parishioner said that they have brothers and sisters and parents and children in the same city only a short drive away, whom they never see or talk to due to whatever kind of family problems, but they are sure that things will be better “in God’s time” — also ridiculous I think.

                But we American Orthodox Christians are perfectly happy to say that we have Russian or Antiochian or Greek or Serb or Romanian or “convert American” brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and children in parishes in the same cities where we live, yet we never see them or talk to them and have nothing to do with them. But “in God’s time” we will all suddently be unified?

                Orthodox unity in America will come when most Orthodox Christians here want it. The reason it has not happened yet is not because of “God’s timing” but rather because it is simply not a priority for most Orthodox in America. God cannot and will not force His people to do what they do not want to do. We cannot forget that our free will must cooperate — if it was up to God alone, administrative unity would have happened years ago.

                It’s not God’s timing that we must wait for, but it’s rather our free will that must come around to do God’s will.

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                • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                  I am not sure that I agree with you. My experience is that the laity strongly desire Orthodox unity. However, the problem is how to achieve it. If you study the history of church mergers in America, the hardest issue is never doctrinal unity, it is always how to achieve administrative unity. Our situation here is complicated by the fact that there are so many different administrative issues to resolve. What will be our relationship with our former mother Churches? There is a very real disagreement on the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch over the so called Disaspora. As most people know there is a major disagreement on whether or not Canon 28 of Chalcedon applies to the situation here in America. . How will we achieve some sort of liturgical conformity? That will require a more open minded attitude of some Orthodox towards the practices of other Orthodox who do things differently. How will we deal with ecumenism? The Greeks and OCA are members of the National Council of Churches and seem to have a more liberal attitude towards ecumenism than we Antiochians have. Our attitude towards ecumenism is closer to ROCOR’s than we are to the policy of the OCA as formulated by Fr. Kishkovsky. The Greeks allow their clergy to participate in ecumenical prayer with non-Orthodox, while our Bishops strictly forbid it. There will have to be tolerance of different liturgical customs as well as a respect for legitimate differences of opinion on non doctrinal issues. Unity is happening when local Orthodox clergy gather to form a brotherhood and cooperate with each other, but it will take some growing together. At the same time, the Bishop’s Assembly has a very ambitious program to bring about common practice among Orthodox on a whole set of issues, such as how do we receive converts, and how to reconcile differing practices. For example, Antiochians do not celebrate marriage during the entire Nativity fast, but Greeks allow marriage until December 12. The issues are enormous and are frequently more emotional than rational. Many of them are more matters of style than substance. Most of all there will have to be a greater degree of understanding and tolerance than I have seen in some of the writings on this web site. .

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                  • George Michalopulos says:

                    I’m with Greg on this one, Fr. If I may, I think prior to the recent unpleasantness, most lay congregations are worried that their institutional practices and liturgics will be uprooted by an administrative union. Leaving aside the fact that most of us are very tribal and we get our hackles up in the presence of another ethnic group (all of us btw), I think there is more “agin'” unity than “fer” it. And what Syosset just did to Jonah REALLY puts the breaks on any unity as far as non-OCA bishops and laity are concerned.

                    As for the bishops, it’s obvious –none of them want to be forcibly admitted to SLI (especially those with skeletons in their closets). As for the laity, the majority probably think that the majority of OCA bishops acted this way because they’re personally corrupt.

                    I can’t find an answer based on these latter considerations. As far as the former considerations however, I would say that any unity must had a clause in it where it states that any parish has the right to keep its liturgics and rubrics as they’ve practiced them for at least 10 years and that the new diocesan bishop cannot interfere with their practices. Such a regime might alleviate the fears of a Greek parish that is now going to have a Serbian bishop and/or an Arab parish that is going to have a Greek bishop, etc.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      I would suspect that the kind of administrative unity that you desire is a long way off. What we can do is cooperate on the local and national level with the Bishop’s Assembly doing what SCOBA should have done. Any union will have to honor the liturgical practices already used by a parish. Some parishes will need priests and bishops who speak a foreign language because of the large number of recent immigrants in some places. I think that a confederation of Archdioceses and Dioceses representing the various Orthodox traditions will emerge before one united American Orthodox Church will emerge. As of yet, there is no American Orthodox tradition, nor will there be during our life time. It took centuries for the Russian traditions to develop. It will take a long time for American Orthodox to find a way to fuse the different traditions to create our own tradition.
                      However, there are already pan Orthodox parishes with people from different backgrounds working together to build up an Orthodox presence in the community. I have Greeks, Lebanese, converts, and Russians in my parish. I also have very close cooperation with the local Greek and OCA clergy in the area. Everyone in my parish knows that if I am out of town or cannot serve as was recently the case while I am recovering from knee replacement, they can call on Fr. Paul Yerger who is the closest other Orthodox priest to us and is OCA to preside over a funeral or minister to them. . I have been doing prison ministry with Fr. Benedict Crawford of the OCA mission in McComb. We have both asked a ROCOR priest who has established a new mission that is actually closer to the prison to join us. It is through this kind of local cooperation that we will grow together.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Fr, I have seen and participated and tried to actually instigate pan-Orthodox cooperation on a local level. Perhaps I have been the wrong one to do so but flawed vessel that I am only a few of us were able to do so. Some successes, mostly failures. Besides the leeriness of the laity what makes your idea unworkable is that all it takes is one bishop to pull the rug out from underneath one of the local priests to see the pan-Orthodox house of cards crumble. When you add to it the fact that one foreign patriarch can do the same thing then such failures multiply exponentially. Many of us have identified certain of these patriarchs as responsible for the Massacre of Ligonier and that’s true as far as it goes. But the people and the local bishops allowed it. Now of course, with the OCA in self-destruct mode there is even less enthusiasm among the ethnic eparchies to take the necessary steps for true unity.

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                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

                      To George Michalopulos

                      I am sure that what you say is true. It is not always easy to get clergy to cooperate even within the same jurisdiction, especially if one or two priests are pre-madonnas. Where I am now, we do not have that problem. We are glad to have contact with other Orthodox because we are surrounded by Baptists who consider us some kind of Catholic like religion of idol worshipers who practice rituals highly corrupted by paganism.
                      As far as local liturgical practices are concerned. One thing that I have learned during almost 33 years in the priesthood, is that Orthodox laity do not like change. Any union will have to provide for the preservation of local practices.

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                  • Gregg Gerasimon says:

                    Father John,

                    I think that some Orthodox laity desire unity, but I think that most do not or possibly do not care.

                    If, in every Orthodox parish, most of the laity told their priest after every Divine Liturgy that they were upset with the administrative mess we have among Orthodox in America and that it needs to be fixed and that it was silly that they were in one jurisdiction and that the other Orthodox parish 2 miles away was in another jurisdiction, and if they told their bishop the same thing when he came to visit, things would change. The faithful, the clergy, and the bishops would figure out how to fix all the seemingly “unfixable” problems like defining the role of the Patriarch of Constantinople in world Orthodoxy or how to preserve local practices among various churches and not force predominantly Greek parishes to start singing in 4-part harmony or not force OCA parishes to start using mostly Byzantine chant, or whatever.

                    If there were a sense of urgency, and if the bishops both here in America and in the “mother churches” overseas felt this sense of urgency, it would be addressed. It would have been addressed already.

                    But I don’t think there’s a sense of urgency among most Orthodox Americans. Among some Orthodox Americans, yes there probably is, but among the majority there is not. Here in the northeast especially, where “convert” Orthodox parishes are so rare and it is still uncommon to see someone who is not Slavic worshipping at traditionally Slavic parishes, for example, I certainly don’t sense any urgency. However at my former predominantly “convert” parishes in the South and in the West, I did. There may be a difference in how the situation is viewed by adult converts who were once outsiders looking in, and observing that the administrative disunity is ridiculous. Compare this with “cradle” Orthodox (or Orthodox by inertia, as Met. Kallistos Ware likes to say), who say that jurisdictionalism is the way it is and who may actually prefer it.

                    I still believe that to say that administrative unity will come “in God’s time” is so misleading and is theologically unsound — it makes it seem that God does not want administrative unity in America yet, and that someday, when He does want unity, we as His puppets will suddenly do it! That is ridiculous — of course He wants unity now or yesterday, and we are not puppets — our free will must cooperate with His.

                    It is we Orthodox Americans who do not fully want administrative unity yet. The seemingly “insurmountable problems” of how to administratively unite could be easily solved if there was a desire for it and a sense of urgency about it.

                    Once again, my 2 cents.

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                    • Gregg, you do make some good points about unity. Elsewhere on this blog there have been similar suggestions that “laypeople toward up” action might aid the efforts. Would that it be possible! Unfortunately, down at the laypeople level, it is hard-to-impossible to stir up enthusiasm among Orthodox members of a parish (any type parish) who visit, or transfer into, a parish of a different jurisdiction, only to receive icy rejection because they “are not our type”. Far too often have I heard from someone that he or she was told pointblank to “go away”. Usually, though, these Orthodox people are just ignored as if they were invisible. Sure does make one want to band together, doesn’t it?

                      By the way, it is not always the “ethnic group” exhibiting this hurtful behaviour toward other Orthodox. Glance around this website for sufficient showing of “American” disdain for other cultures.

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  11. oliver douglas says:

    Comments about Metropolitan Jonah’s “administrative behavior” are somewhat puzzling. First, it is hard to believe that his “behavior” in any way approached the actions of his predecessors’. Second, even if there is a problem, removal is not the answer. Take away the checkbook. Put a limit on the credit card. Require two signatures for real estate transactions. That seems to cover it all. And, if any or all of these restrictions had been in place during times long past, there would have been nothing to hit the fan during previous situations. It seems clear that all the bishops were let down in some way-they had no one close to them who could grab them by the collar and shake them and tell them to take it down a notch. That is one great big advantage married priests have.

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  12. Archpriest John W. Morris says:

    I thought that you all might find it interesting to read how the new Patriarch of Antioch will be chosen. Please pray for our Holy Synod as they gather to elect a new successor to Sts. Peter and Paul. Please pray for the people of Syria that the turmoil that has overtaken their country will end in peace and democracy.

    Section Three of the Statute of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch

    Paragraph 32: The candidate for the office of patriarch should be one of the members of the Holy Synod who has worked in it for a period of at least five years.

    Paragraph 33: The office of patriarch shall be considered vacant in the event of the patriarch’s death, resignation, dismissal, or permanent disability.

    Paragraph 34: In the case of death, the patriarchal vicar seals the patriarch’s quarters and letters with red wax in the presence of the head of the patriarchal office and members of the community for whom it is convenient to be present. He arranges a register signed by those present. He then announces the patriarch’s death by telegram to the bishops and metropolitans of the See of Antioch.

    Paragraph 35: Twenty-four hours after the announcement of his death and the attendance of the metropolitans, those of them who are present gather under the leadership of the senior in order of consecration to elect one of them as patriarchal locum tenens.

    Paragraph 36: The patriarchal locum tenens immediately announces his position to Church and civil authorities and announces the date of the funeral, indicating his election as patriarchal locum tenens.

    Paragraph 37: The body lays in state in the cathedral, where the funeral is held on the appointed date. He is then buried in the cemetery of the patriarchs.

    Paragraph 38: The competencies of the patriarchal locum tenens are limited to carrying out activities related to the election of the successor patriarch. He remains at the patriarchal headquarters and does not have the right to initiate any change or substitution in status, personnel, property, endowments, or assets of the patriarchate.

    Paragraph 39: After the ceremony of burial, within a period that is not more than ten days from the date of the vacancy, the Holy Synod gathers with not less than two thirds of its members, under the presidency of the patriarchal locum tenens, to nominate and elect. If two thirds of its members are not available, the locum tenens telegraphs those who are tardy to call them to attend. After twenty-four hours from the time the telegraph is sent, the Holy Synod gathers with those who are present. Each member nominates three metropolitans who meet the conditions delineated in Paragraph 32 of this statute. The results are then read publicly and the three who receive the most votes are nominated.

    Paragraph 40: If there is a tie in the votes between two candidates, one of them is chosen by lot.

    Paragraph 41: Nomination is conducted in the following manner:
    a. If a ballot contains more than three names, the first three names are taken.
    b. A ballot containing one or two names is considered valid.
    c. If the same name appears more than once on a single ballot, the name is counted once.
    d. Illegible ballots are invalid.
    e. Ballots that contain names other than of candidates are not accepted.

    Paragraph 42: The process of election takes place in the church in the following manner:
    If a candidate receives two thirds of the votes he is immediately declared patriarch. However, if no candidate receives two thirds of the votes, then the ballot is held again and the one receiving the majority of votes in this round is declared patriarch and the results are recorded in the official register.

    Paragraph 43: The conditions of Paragraph 41 of this statute apply to the ballots for the election.

    Paragraph 44: Immediately after the new patriarch is named, those present perform prayers of thanksgiving under the leadership of the patriarch-elect. Then all come forward to congratulate the new patriarch. The result is published in all media.

    Paragraph 45: The installation of the patriarch takes place on a date that he himself determines and announces to the churches and civil authorities.

    Paragraph 46: The patriarch presides at the divine liturgy on the day of his installation with the participation of the leaders of the Orthodox delegations. He receives the crosier from the senior Antiochian metropolitan in order of consecration and he gives a speech in which he swears to preserve the dogmas and canons and mentions the major lines of his work in the See of Antioch.

    Paragraph 47: The patriarch begins his duties by giving his blessing to the people and sending a letter of peace to the heads of the Orthodox churches.

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    • Short Version says:

      Precis

      Within ten days of the death or loss of the Patriarch, only the Holy Synod will elect a new Patriarch from only Metropolitans; the locum tenans, the senior Metropolitan in the Synod, presides over the election. Synod members voting may vote for no more than two unique Metropolitans.Majority vote wins.

      What you didn’t mention:

      Rum [Roman] Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East’s Holy Synod consists of an unknown number of individuals. The Wikipaedia has a list of Metropolitanates: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_Orthodox_Church_of_Antioch

      It appears from the above that there are twenty-eight Metropolises including the titular ones with four vacancies including the Patriarch. A couple Metropolitans even seem to be English speaking

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      • Archpriest John W. Morris says:

        I suspect that almost every Metropolitan in the Antiochian Patriarchate speaks English. Most educated people in the world speak some English. Non Americans are much more open to learning other languages than we American are. I have seen two different Antiochian Patriarchs serve the Divine Liturgy in English, Elias IV and Ignatius IV. American Priests who travel to the Middle East serve in English.

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        • Archpriest John Morris says:

          Patriarch-Elect Youhanna X of Antioch

          Patriarch-Elect Youhanna X of Antioch
          His Eminence the Metropolitan Archbishop of Western and Central Europe
          has been elected Patriarch of the Great City-of-God Antioch and all
          the East. The Patriarch-elect Youhanna X (Yaziji) was elected by the
          members of the Holy Synod earlier today, December 17, during a special
          session held at the Balamand Patriarchal Monastery of the Dormition of
          the Most Holy Theotokos.

          Born in Syria in 1955, the Patriarch-elect received his primary,
          secondary and university education in Latakiya, Syria graduating with
          a degree in civil engineering. He earned a degree in theology in 1978
          from the St. John of Damascus School of Orthodox of Theology at the
          Balamand University and a doctorate in theology (emphases in liturgy
          and Byzantine music) in 1983 from the Aristotle University of
          Thessaloniki in Greece. He was tonsured a monk at the Athonite
          Monastery of St Paul on the Holy Mountain, was ordained to the holy
          diaconate in 1979 and to the holy priesthood in 1983, and in 1981
          became professor of Liturgical Studies at the St. John of Damascus
          School of Orthodox Theology at the Balamand University. He assumed the
          position of dean of that theological school from 1988-1991 and again
          from 2001-2005. He was elected and consecrated to the sacred
          episcopacy in 1995 with the title Bishop of al-Hosn. He has served as
          superior of the Monastery of St George al-Humayrah in the Christian
          Valley (Wadi al-Nasara) in Syria, superior of the Our Lady of Balamand
          Monastery, and spiritual father to the Convent of the Dormition in
          Blemmana, Syria. In 2008 he was elected and enthroned as the
          Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe. The
          date of His Beatitude’s Enthronement has not yet been announced. Eis
          polla eti dhespota!

          Yohanna means John in English.

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          • As long as you are writing in English, why don’t you use “Patriarch John?? After all, you’re translating the rest of his title. And this will make it plain to us illiterate Americans that he is named after Saint John and not some exotic particularly Semitici Saint, no? I mean, the previous Patriarch was always entitled Ignatius, not Patriarch and then the “original (!)” Semitic formulation of it.

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  13. Nick Katich says:

    A retort to “A Little History” with a little philosophy: “Which is more difficult — to awaken someone [author] who is sleeping or to awaken someone [author] who, awake, is dreaming that he is awake?

    — Soren Kierkegaard, “Works of Love”

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  14. I will leave it to others spar about the main point, fitting their own narratives to the loose string of facts differently that George does. But I will point out that the first paragraph is a bunch of malarkey.

    Until the accidental discovery of penicillin (about 2400 years after Hippocrates) the “scientific” side of medicine killed a lot more people than it cured. They had “theories” about the way the body worked, which led to naive interventions like blood letting, drilling holes in the skull, and other terrible things that did more harm than good (iatrogenics).

    The “artistic” side of medicine is responsible for most of the gains during the time. Surgeons were more like artisans and were actually in the same class as barbers. They learned by apprenticeship, doing things that they have seen work in the past, without any theory.. That’s certainly not what we think of as science and because of this, those “scientific” doctors looked down on the barber/surgeons.

    And then there was the “shamanistic” side. Its incantations, fasting, tributes to apollo had a very important benefit – it kept the patient away from “scientific” doctors. It allowed the body to do what it does, heal itself, without the naive interventions.

    So your opening paragraph reminded me of the singular singular maxim to beware of those that overestimated the quality of their knowledge. They could be in Syosset. They could be in the DOS. There might even be a few that are anonymous blog commenters.

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      I don’t dispute your main point at all Mike. Still, Hippocrates made medicine scientific in the sense that he started the medicine ball rolling in a scientific fashion. Some of what you say is incorrect though: bloodletting is based on scientific principles as is drilling holes in the skull to relieve pressure. They are astill being practiced today albeit under more controlled and less promiscuous fashion. Leeches are part of the US Pharmacopeia for example. Having said that, the Galenic theory of the four bodily humors did much damage to patients over the years.

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  15. Curious. Why did this site ignore the death of Patriarch Ignatius IV? This is a terrible blow to the Orthodox in the Middle East.

    I see comments. No obvious post.

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  16. How far has the OCA slipped in the eyes of the Russian Orthodox Church?

    Gone are the days when Patriarch Aleksy, Patriarch Kirill, or Metropolitan Hilarion, would routinely visit the OCA Representation Church in Moscow on the Feast of St. Catherine. Gone are the days when the Patriarch would bring a full entourage of bishops, priests and deacons with him. Gone are the days when the Primates of the ROC and the OCA would serve together at the OCA Representation Church in Moscow as a visible sign of their unity.

    In the new OCA, it has to supply its own people, Fr. Garklavs in 2011 and Auxiliary Bishop Irenee this year, under the watchful eye of “Lefty” Kishkovsky.

    2011 http://oca.org/media/photos/st.-catherine-representation-church-celebrates-patronal-feast-day
    2012 http://oca.org/media/photos/st.-catherine-representation-church-moscow-celebrates-patronal-feastday

    Of course, the OCA in their effort to rewrite history, eliminated all the pictures of St. Catherine’s when Archimandrite Zacchaeus was in Moscow, or when Fr. Kondratick was Chancellor when St. Catherine Day in Moscow was a huge event showing the close relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the OCA. But that was then we certainly don’t want to be reminded of the old days when we have people like Kishkovsky, Jillions, Stokoe and the synod rewriting the OCA history for us. But, those photos are still out there, you just need to do some digging…..

    2003 – http://www.st-catherine.ru/gallery/his_holiness_patriarch
    2004 – http://www.st-catherine.ru/gallery/photogallery_feast_of
    2005 – http://www.st-catherine.ru/gallery/photogallery_the_feast1
    2006 – http://www.st-catherine.ru/gallery/photogallery_the_feast6
    2007 – http://www.st-catherine.ru/gallery/photogallery_the_feast9
    2008 – Pat. Alesky reposed in December just before the Feast of St. Catherine. http://www.st-catherine.ru/gallery/remembering_his_holiness
    2009 – http://www.st-catherine.ru/gallery/primatial_divine_liturgy

    This year’s snub by Moscow and last year’s when +Jonah was under attack by the synod, in sending NO ONE to St. Catherine’s is intentional and sends another signal that the MP is disgusted with how they treated +Jonah. Unless the OCA releases +Jonah to the MP/ROCOR, Moscow will continue to pull back from the OCA.

    Are you reading this synod and syosset? Hello? Anyone there?

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  17. ChristineFevronia says:

    Bravo, George! Excellent essay!!!

    My husband and I have left the OCA. The tipping point for us was the Synod and Metropolitan Council’s unChristian treatment of Met. Jonah. The nails that drove it home were the various mean-spirited actions taken by the Synod following Met. Jonah’s removal… The Synod choosing to hold the AAC in the church where the fired (for insubordination to Met. Jonah) ex-Chancellor was moved to and serves as rector; the posting on the official OCA Church website of Mark Stokoe’s interview regarding Met. Jonah’s removal; the fact that it is now five months after his resignation and he still has not been given another assignment… And of course the glaring sore that refuses to heal over–the accusation written by the Synod that Met. Jonah harbored and protected a “rapist priest”–and the fact that five months later, they have refused with hard-hearted stubbornness to issue even a single sentence to clear up that flagrant lie. There have been too many instances of pettiness and/or hostility to count…

    I thank you for continuing to host this site and will continue to visit it often for news of all things pan-Orthodox. You do a great service for all of us, and I wish you and your beloved family a very blessed Nativity season.

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  18. Eastern Diocese of ROCOR news says:

    December 10, 2012

    The Protectress of the Russian Diaspora in the Capital of the United States of America

    http://www.eadiocese.org/News/2012/dec/dc.en.htm has a link to a photo report and several photos within the article that can be clicked on for a larger version.

    article:

    The wonder-working Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, Indicator of the Path for the Russian Diaspora, spiritually warmed the hearts of Orthodox Washingtonians by being with them from December 1 to 8.

    On Saturday, December 1, at exactly 4:00 PM, the beginning of the English-language All-Night Vigil, and to the festive peal of bells, the clergy of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist greeted the wonder-working Icon. The Icon was accompanied by its guardian, Priest Nicholas Olhovsky. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, former Primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), attended and prayed at this early Vigil. The Icon remained at the cathedral through the conclusion of the later, Slavonic-language Vigil. Over the course of these two evening services, the cathedral’s four priests (rector Archpriest Victor Potapov, Priest John Johnson, Priest Alexander Resnikoff, and Priest Victor Klimenko) heard the confessions of a multitude of the faithful, who were eager to be cleansed of their sins and to be made worthy to partake of Christ’s Holy Gifts the following morning in the presence of the Wonder-working Icon. After the conclusion of the Slavonic Vigil, hearing confessions continued while an Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos, as well as other prayers, were chanted.

    On Sunday December 2, the feast day of the Holy Hierarch Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow, a multitude of people prayed before the Kursk Root Icon and an icon of St. Philaret, in which was set a relic of the great 19th century hierarch. Hundreds of people communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, was the principal celebrant at the later Liturgy. Molebens were served after each Liturgy, and each of the faithful received a printed copy of the Kursk Root Icon as a memento of its visit.

    The Icon also enhanced the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist with its presence on the great feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. After the festal Liturgy, once again led by Metropolitan Jonah, the Icon was taken to visit sick and elderly people, who because of illness could not come to the cathedral.

    One particularly memorable visit was to an elderly man in a wheelchair. After a moleben was served in the man’s apartment, his wife revealed that her husband had never been baptized. Fr. Victor offered to baptize him. With the couple’s enthusiastic and joyous consent, the rite of the Mystery of Holy Baptism commenced. It was touching to witness with what trepidation he responded to the question “Do you renounce Satan and all his works and all of his servants, and all of his pride?” by loudly and resolutely exclaiming “I do renounce him!” Tears of joy and compunction could be seen on his face. What mercy was shown that man by God! On the feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, his home was visited by an icon that appeared 717 years ago, one of Holy Russia’s most revered icons, and in its presence, he was able to receive the Mysteries of Holy Baptism and Communion of Christ’s Holy Gifts. In your prayers, please include the grievously ill, newly-illumined servant of God Sergei.

    Every day over the course of the entire week, the Icon would visit the sick and elderly at their homes and at hospitals throughout the Washington area. It was quite touching to see Lydia Anatolievna Feokistova, at age 103 the oldest parishioner of St. John the Baptist Cathedral, pray before the Kursk Icon and talk with the Theotokos as if she were talking with her own beloved mother…

    On the evening of Tuesday, December 4, the Icon visited the campus of the University of Maryland. There, a moleben and akathist were served in English, Slavonic, and Greek at a student meeting of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship.

    On Wednesday, December 5, the parishioners of Holy Apostles Church in Beltsville, MD received the wonder-working Icon at their church.

    On Thursday, December 6, a farewell moleben and akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos were served at St. John the Baptist Cathedral. In his homily, Fr. Victor Potapov shared his recollections of how, in Russia, he had seen people stand patiently in all kinds of weather for many hours, just to have an opportunity to spend a moment with and venerate the wonder-working Icon. Fr. Victor added, “Here, we have had the Icon with us for an entire week! How endlessly we should thank our Lord Jesus Christ for showing us such kindness!”

    Wanting to venerate the Holy Icon again and again, the faithful were reluctant to disperse for a long while.

    On Friday, December 7, the Icon was taken to the OCA Cathedral of St. Nicholas. At the cathedral gates, the Icon was greeted by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, newly elected Primate of the OCA, and by cathedral clergy. Also praying at the moleben was world-renowned theologian and author of religious works, His Eminence Kallistos (Ware), Metropolitan of Diokleia. In a brief homily, Metropolitan Kallistos said that he had first prayed before the Kursk Icon 53 years ago in New York, and that he will forever have fond, thankful memories of the wonder-working Icon, which imparts to all who turn to it the warmth of Christ’s divine light.

    Early in the morning on Saturday, December 8, Priest Nicholas Olhovsky, the Icon’s guardian, took the Holy Treasure to the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City, which on Monday, December 10, will celebrate its patronal feast day.

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  19. Michael Bauman says:

    The runs in Tulsa are only persecution if you believe the organizers actually care about folks going to church. I suspect they have no clue. It would be great if they did care, but mostly we are irrelevant.

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  20. Fr. George Washburn says:

    Hello friends:

    It is grey and rainy here today, which may help account for me posting in this vein. Earlier today George M, our proprietor, posted and answer which began with the words “No, Nate…” and demonstrate that sometimes George is kidding himself, not just Nate or the rest of us, with the special pleading.

    Bishop Tikhon sent a message to which George replied with the assertion that the “persecution” of the church today is “surreptitious and therefore more insidious” than what he imagines it to have been in some other place or time. Mark you the words “persecution” “surreptitious” and “insidious” were George’s, not anyone else’s not were they words being put into his mouth by someone else’s misinterpretation or misquoting.

    George then proceeded to finish his opening paragraph with an example concerning gay scoutmasters.

    The second and final paragraph – that George wrote, not someone else – begins with the sentence “A lot of the persecution that is being perpetrated against the Church in general is the soft type.” Please note the words “persecution that is being perpetrated against the Church in general.” George’s words, nobody else’s. And the entire balance of George’s second paragraph is taken up exclusively with an anecdote told by a Methodist minister about the traffic hassles good churchgoers encounter on Sunday mornings around there. There is no other possible conclusion from looking at the totality of this post than to say George was illustrating his point about soft “persecution” “being perpetrated against the Church in general” by citing the local Sunday traffic problems.

    To this Nate Trost perceptively replied to the general effect that this kind of thinking is paranoid whining.

    George then proceeds to deceive himself and the inattentive readers by denying that he was citing traffic slowdowns as “persecution” of the “Church in general.” There is no other rhetorically and logically consistent way to interpret the post than the way Nate T did, namely as generalization supported by example.

    George is being dishonest with himself to deny that he said what Nate understood. Sure, he “said” it by putting the words in the mouth of a Methodist, so in the most weasely and technical sense perhaps he didn’t, but for our purposes here say it he did.

    Why bother to quibble about this, other than sheer cussedeness on a rainy Saturday? 1. Because these blog proprietors, and we saw it over and over with Mark Stokoe, have a serious tendency to try to pull the wool over our eyes when axe grinding or imposing their fantasies on the attempt to have serious discussion about the life of the Church, and 2. a mutated form of right-wing political imagery – vast and multifarious conspiracy-spotting and paranoia – is a major form of prelest that gets peddled on his site. That is NOT to say that people who want to influence the Church in one way or another don’t create intentional or unintentional cabals, but rather to say that people who are prone to John Birch Society thinking can interpolate into Sunday morning exercise runs a motive of soft persecution being “perpetrated against the Church in general” can also be suspected of having overblown some of the conspiracy thinking about recent OCA politics. Not invented, mind you, but just overblown.

    And why am I posting this reply here, at the end of the string. Because curiously enough reply buttons were completing from George’s message of this morning and all the others in the thread, at least on my computer.

    So right on, Nate Trost. And George, watch yourself. You actually believe what you write.

    love,

    Fr. George

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    • Michael Bauman says:

      And George, watch yourself. You actually believe what you writelove,

      Fr. George.

      Does that mean you don’t believe what you write or that somehow, hypocrisy is better?

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      • Fr. George Washburn says:

        You tell us Michael. Is it better for the self-deceived to believe what they write … or not? And please explain.

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          Fr George, I take your criticism to heart. However sloppy my reasoning was, in the sense we are fortunate indeed that if being inconvenienced every now and then is the worst thing to befall Christianity here in America, the fact remains that the implosion of the Church is going to be done here by non-violent means. Think of the analogy of the frog in the boiling pot.

          That being said, consider a few things:

          1. His Beatitudes was castigated because he asked that a letter condemning sodomy and cohabitation be read aloud in the churches of his diocese.

          2. Some priests refused to do it and were lauded.

          3. This same Metropolitan was forced to go into a mental institution.

          4. This same Metropolitan was later forced to resign by means that were foul, unfair, and based on lies.

          If this happened to the primate of the only autocephalous church on this continent, what does it portend for the future?

          And yes, I believe what I write. For the record however, I have a spiritual advisor and several esteemed friends who are priests and theologians and discuss my ideas beforehand. In my comments I sometimes engage my mouth before my mind but as in my actual editorials and essays, I strive mightily to be as precise as possible.

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        • Michael Bauman says:

          Fr. George it is just that you comment is a bunch of words meant to sound sophisticated but mean nothing. Pure cattiness that does not address anything of substance. You have a problem with what George says, address his ideas. You don’t do that.

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          • Fr. George Washburn says:

            Well Michael,

            Wrong. I DID address several ideas of substance. FIrst I said that I thought that George seems to bring to Church discussions a conspiracy-seeking mentality he has borrowed from the right-wing political circles in which he moves. Second I said that mindset had prompted him to discern persecution in traffic impediments where no actual conspiracy existed. Third, I pointed out how he had falsely denied publishing the idea that the rerouting of traffic was persecution perpetrated against the Church.

            Now that I have boiled these ideas down into one-sentence statements, please tell us how you think they miss the mark. And do so in light of my continuing belief in the absolute goodness of George’s *intentions* as a man and Christian. And, come to think of it, in light of my belief that is true of you too.

            love,

            Fr. George

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            • Michael Bauman says:

              Fr. George, I too questionned the traffic problem as persecution but I do not think that George was saying it was, merely that a certain Methodist he knew believed it to be.

              Yes, it is better for self-deceived to believe what they write, much like St. Paul fully believed his persecution of the Church was wholly correct. Of course, at some level most of us are self-deceived and everyone’s intentions are mixed. I certainly do not believe that George has an animus to Christ and the Church beyond the rather normal refusal to submit to Christ’s love that all but the greatest saints hold in our hearts.

              There are real efforts to persecute the Church in this country that have been on-going for quite some time. They are not, yet, overt so much as they are concerted efforts to marginalize, demean and make irrelevant what we believe. However, that can only go so far. The overt moves have accelerated under the messiah Obama (as some openly proclaim him). The HHS and Obama’s left-hand woman, Kathleen are the chief actors. The homosexual activists are also heavily involved. According to these folks Chrisitans are nothing more than mysoginistic homophobes who need to be corraled and taught a lesson. Many Rebuplicans seem to agree.

              The traffic mess on Sunday is a fruit of the successful efforts to make Christianity irrelevant and a largely succesful effort to replace the charity of the Church with all sorts of self-promoting bureaucratic, political entities that have to be fed with constant runs, walks, etc. Those who participates feel oh-so-good about themselves for such activity even when there is no appreciable effect on whatever is supposedly being fought. Talk about self-deceived.

              Unfortunately, we have all too often made it easy by not believing what we say we believe. I think it is perfectly acceptable to call attention to such hypocrisy when observed as long as we too are willing to repent of our own short comings. A trait that I found totally absent from Stokoe and friends and obviously present in George and many of the commentators here. I’m sure you fell differently but that is likely to be a product of bias rather than reality.

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              • Fr. George Washburn says:

                Michael, you must not have been paying careful attention on ocanews.org because I think I criticized him just as often and as roundly as I do George.

                It was a very different venue with a very different agenda, but beneath the surface differences, how many similarities indeed: a) one single proprietor whose strengths and weaknesses show up tellingly, b) agenda-ized, c) agenda rooted in an approach to the Gospel (from the political and social left as opposed to George’s political and social right) that distorts it, d) the willingness to trim the facts and trumpet gossip and ill or un-researched views as “news” and truth if it serves the Agenda, and e) dominated by organized little groups of reactivity that boo or hiss as needed based on the “correctness” of the author and views expressed.

                In reality both ocanews and monomakhos often have eerily resembled a serialized soap opera, to which the viewer tunes in daily to have his emotions engaged, confirmed and manipulated according to expectations, thereby escaping from the banal or troubling realities of what really ails us.

                love,

                Fr. George

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                • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                  In reality both ocanews and monomakhos often have eerily resembled a serialized soap opera, to which the viewer tunes in daily to have his emotions engaged, confirmed and manipulated according to expectations, thereby escaping from the banal or troubling realities of what really ails us.

                  I am going to deconstruct this sentence by taking out the editorialized language in order to find the proposition informing it. Here goes:

                  OCANews and Monomakhos are like a soap opera that offers readers emotional stimulation and both confirms and manipulates their biases, and thereby masks the real problems facing them.

                  Does that cover it?

                  If so, then the sentence is not really about OCANews or Monomakhos. It’s about their readership. But if the readers are really as ignorant as you say they are, then why are you commenting? Or do you exempt yourself from the charge?

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                  • Fr. George Washburn says:

                    Dear Fr. Hans:

                    Thank you for your intelligent and gracious attempt to interact with what I wrote.

                    That’s a pretty good summary, although as I reflect on it, if I were to tweak it just a little it would be to say that is we readers who are more responsible as maskers of our real life troubles, not the sites themselves as the maskers.

                    I would disagree with the first sentence in your last paragraph that begins with the words “If so… and concludes that if I am writing about the readers, then i can’t really be writing about the sites.

                    I think it is completely valid to say two things at the same time: a) the sites are structured and operated by their hosts in such a way as to have a soap opera-like function in people’s lives, and b) the people who use the sites in such a way bear responsibility for so using them.

                    And if the readers, or more accurately WE readers, are so ignorant as to fall repeatedly into the same old trap of artificial drama creation, or at least collusion in the illusions and diversions that vicarious drama provides us, why comment? My answer would be that the problem of illusion, prelest, logismoi, is recognized by Orthodoxy as deadly. With such a subtle problem it takes a long time and lots of repetition before most of US can begin to “get it” and start to catch ourselves in the act and work consciously with the Spirit on the renewing of our minds in Christ (Rom 12:1-2) instead of the reconfirmation of our mental illusions.

                    The WE and US above mean that I do *not* exempt myself. I can hope that my age and the accumulation of mistakes have combined to help me start in the right direction and have something to share with others.

                    And again thanks for the rejoinder. I like what I see of your work and writing and look forward to beneficial questions, critiques, comments, and corrections from you if I should continue to post.

                    love,

                    Fr. George

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                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      Fr. George,

                      I think the attempt the attempt to create a moral equivalence between Monomachos and OCA News is flawed.

                      I think the attempt to infantilize the readership of both sites is disrespectful to the readers.

                      I think the concept of “drama creation” is pulled out of thin air and your employment of the Orthodox moral vocabulary to grant it an air of legitimacy is irresponsible.

                      I listen to Orwell (see: Politics and the English Language) and I apply his lessons to ecclesiastical discourse as much as I do political and cultural discourse.

                      So when I hear statements like “renewing the mind” or “…the problem of illusion, prelest, logismoi, is recognized by Orthodoxy as deadly” bandied about, I don’t assume they are properly applied just because they are drawn from the moral tradition. Ecclesiastical language is as easily abused as any other kind and often is.

                      I’m a free speech guy. I believe the give and take of open discourse is a safeguard against tyranny, especially the tyranny of political correctness which is always a precursor to the tyranny of states and other authorities.

                      George is a free speech guy too. That’s why he allows unmoderated criticism of his views. OCANews did no such thing.

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                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      I think the concept of “drama creation” is pulled out of thin air and your employment of the Orthodox moral vocabulary to grant it an air of legitimacy is irresponsible.

                      And what, Abouna, was missing from the anonymous morons calling themselves “Sons of Job,” outright liars, intent upon manipulation immediately prior to the Parma Council? Earthquake, flood, fire, perhaps the sword? Please, they “headlined” for nothing more than “drama creation.” “Hold the council in abeyance.” Seriously, Abouna? Your “outrage” is shockingly disingenuous.

                      You would apply here the language of traditional “open discourse” with a straight face? Discourse with anonymous, rock-throwing, name-calling cowards and jackasses, empty “instant-authorities” who would perpetuate a chaotic mess that the Church has rendered moot and insignificant? It is you who are attempting to infantilize the readership, not Fr. George! You openly promote the videos of your debates with the atheists on YouTube, but how many YouTube “debates” have you had with anonymous “shadow man” who want to focus on everything but substance, rather focusing on you (your appearance, your name, your supposed motives, your friends, your sexual orientation, etc.) before you cried “foul?” You are a perpetrator of the “tyranny” you safeguard, and I know this personally.

                      I am not Fr. George’s “attorney (Holy Cow! did I just say that!) nor his apologist, but his observations are an essential balance to the free speech Mr. Michalopulos claims to encourage. Ultimately, as the host – and I have never wavered from my statement that he is, indeed, gracious – Mr. Michalopulos seems quite capable of determining his own limits. It hardly seems fair for you to be criticizing anyone’s assessment of “moral equivalence” without first fully disclosing your obvious bias.

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                • Michael Bauman says:

                  Father, without disagreeing on your comment, there is another explanation for the gensis of both sites:

                  The OCA bishops and many clergy in particular (but not only) are not providing the type of leadership we have a right to expect (see Patriarch-elect John X Nativity letter for a description).
                  This includes actual malfeasence and immorality (apparently).

                  The owners of said web sites see a need to get information out concening the malfesance and immorality.

                  There the similarities cease because ocanews.org and Mark Stokoe was activily and pointedly involved in political efforts to change things to reflect their bias without disclosing the bias or the efforts (initially) which included not publishing comments with which Mr. Stokoe disagreed.

                  George has, IMO, been open and honest about his bias and is not part of any shadow synod (to my knowledge) as was Stokoe nor does he (as far as I can determine) keep views with which he disagrees off the site as long as they are not too far beyond the pale. I know I would not have the restraint with some of the posters that George has shown.

                  Like any mildly moderated digital forum, excess is a significant problem as is the inability of the medium to easily communicate nuance, irony, and humor, as well as the penchant for posts to seem more harsh than they might otherwise be because they lack the softening qualities and context of personal presence and body language. Too little reflection before pressing enter is a big problem. Add anonymity and the problem is exacerbated.

                  That is a problem of the medium and few sites are able to. Intellegent readers should be able to sort through the problems to get to the message espeically when the bias on each side is well known.

                  All of that is true, but that does not, in and of itself mean that the effort to communicate is without merit, dangerous or harmful. The fact that your criticisms are published helps to ameliorate some of the excesses (I hope).

                  We are called to discernment in all things, we are called to prudence in all things, we are called to speak the truth without malice (at least). When I care deeply about someone or something, that is much more difficult to achieve.

                  Your posts seem strangely detached to me however in a manner that conotes apathy rather than dispassion. For my taste they wander a bit too much and tend to loose the point along the way.

                  Perhaps mine suffer from the same malady in your eyes. So to sum up, the faults you find here, while real, you tend to exaggerate. IMO, you have elected to put more importance on the style of the message than you have on the message itself: malfeasence and immorality in high places.

                  On the form rather than the ideas.

                  BTW: my experience with ocanews.org has left me we a great deal of caution regading the content of any site addressing similar issues. I have forgotten most of the detials and persons as I am sure they have forgotten me, if any ever took notice.

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                • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says:

                  Father George, I have refrained from replying to your online forays both here and on OCANews, because, among other things, you seem to have aspired to a mild, moderate, respectful critique of views with which you disagree or, on occasion, of which you disapprove. Of late on this message board, however, your comments have become increasingly intemperate, prosecutorial, and personally insulting, particularly toward the host of this website.

                  I could cite chapter and verse to refute your woefully uninformed yet supremely confident remarks about Metropolitan Jonah, as well as your simplistic attempts to construct a moral equivalence between Mark Stokoe’s recent pretentious, tightly controlled, failed exercise in online journalism and George Michalopulos’ current unpretentious, virtually unrestrained opinion forum in which we are now exchanging ideas.

                  Let it suffice for the present for me to suggest that your latest post on 2 January 2013 (http: //www.monomakhos.com/what-now-2/#comment-45473) displays the cynical arrogance of a lesser H. L. Mencken, who, perched astride both sides of an argument trying to appear above it all, reveals not so much a superior intellect as a false sense of superiority.

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                  • Fr George,

                    One of the “journalistic tricks” of the now AWOL Mark Stokoe was to hold particularly critical comments on his flawed ocanews, then launch his “editorial comments” to then direct further comments in his direction and the reading of things, thus proving by the volume of subsequent comments of his minions to lend credence to his assaults against those he built his “credibility.”

                    His site was tightly controlled to produce his end game. Here on Monomahkos, George filters very few if any comments thus providing an open community of commentators. Does George get all the facts correct? No, but his mistakes are not intentional nor are they made to mislead and create an environment for his own aims.

                    The fact that Stokoe after doing his work to “purify” the OCA now no longer attends his oca parish. He has gone AWOL. Why? I don’t know the answer to that but if he remains AWOL from the OCA it leads one to make their own conclusions as to why he embarked on his ways to rectify the OCA only to now leave it.

                    Critical comments about the OCA and ocanews based on their actions in the removal of +Jonah and the quite lacking defenses of OCA leadership by some who post here have done little to restore a sense of confidence. Thus, one can ask, “is the OCA in a better condition than it was 10 years ago?” In some ways, apparent fiscal discipline, maybe, but in other more important ways, not.

                    As of today, +Jonah has forwarded to his brother bishops all the necessary paperwork to be accepted into the MP/ROCOR. And yet, as of today, he is a man who has been cut off by his brothers. One can only pray that finally, Metropolitan Tikhon and his brothers on the OCA synod will do the right thing and let +Jonah go to the MP/ROCOR. What can be any good reason not to let him go? It is apparent that if he stays in the OCA he will be of little or no use to them. Rather he will be quarantined in obscurity with no assignment.

                    Lest one forgets, when he “resigned” he asked for another assignment in the OCA. Even at that moment of being rejected he hoped to be of further service to his jurisdiction. Since then, however, the synod wrote a terrible letter about him further damaging and degrading him, the famous STINKBOMB letter; a letter not worthy of Archpastors but certainly worthy of the lawyers who wrote it. We know now he neither aided or concealed a rapist priest, one of the cornerstones of their rejection of +Jonah and their STINKBOMB letter only confirmed to those willing to look beyond the surface of that self-justifying attempt that the entire movement to get rid of +Jonah was based on some sort of fear of +Jonah and not in any logical and more importantly Christian foundations. They took an unprofessional and biased declaration of a protopresbyter who branded him “gravely troubled” and used that as cover to legitimate their actions. They rewarded +Jonah former chancellor with a plum parish, then used that parish as the venue for the “nomination” and “election” of the synod’s preselected choice and wrapped it in the mantle of the same protopresbyter who defamed +Jonah. An event that was even more tightly controlled than ocanews! Accountability and transparency?

                    So now, after such sub-Christian behavior, he asks to be released. He has a Church more than willing to take him, anxious to add him to their ranks knowing that he can be of good service to them.

                    It is time for the OCA do the right thing. Sadly, there will be many other missteps the OCA will make, which will open them to more discord and clergy and laity leaving their ranks. But for now, +Jonah’s release to the MP/ROCOR is at hand.

                    Thanks again to George and this site so that it can be some sort of voice of conscience to the OCA leadership and to those who read it from other Orthodox Churches so that they can see that all is not fine in the OCA, yet.

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                  • Fr. George Washburn says:

                    Dear Frs. Hans and Alexander:

                    I find myself replying to both of you at once because reply buttons are still missing on my computer from Fr. Hans latest message. I would have preferred to reply separately.

                    For now, however, let’s start by taking up a claim that both of you have made in your latest posts. Fr. Hans makes it more politely. Both of you claim that I have attempted to “construct” or “create” a “moral equivalence” between ocanews and monomakhos.

                    Please excuse me for challenging and demolishing this claim thoroughly, publicly, and directly. First let me point out that the very term “moral equivalence” that is the lynchpin of your claim is straight from the contemporary political discourse in which you gentlemen so often engage, I gather.

                    But I don’t engage in political discourse. I do not use the term moral equivalence, and so far as i can recall have **never** used the term in writing. Please search all my public writings and call it to my attention if i am wrong. I misfired re: our worthy – and I mean that most genuinely – friend Cranmer recently, and promptly admitted it, and I think my mouth is big enough that a little more crow will fit, if necessary, without undue structural damage.

                    But more than denying the term, I deny that I ever suggested **or implied** “moral equivalence” between the two sites in concept but without using the exact term, whether in this latest round of messages or anything prior.

                    One possible explanation for a charge unsupported by hard evidence is that you are so committed to the moral superiority of what George writes and stands for over what Mark wrote and stood for that you are not keeping careful track of the facts re: someone who criticizes GM, and thus are willing to fire too quickly at a perceived “unfriendly target.”

                    What did I *really* write? I attempted to point out a certain “methodological equivalence” between the two sites on five specific points of comparison: single proprietor, agenda-driven, etc. etc. Why don’t we talk instead about that; it isn’t above criticism. Far from it. Maybe we could shed more light than smoke or heat. And yes, I seem annoyed at having words put in my mouth, probably because I am annoyed … but still sincerely respectful of you both as having made such important contributions to the Church.

                    sincerely,

                    Fr. George

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                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      Here are two examples of what moral equivalency looks like:

                      In reality both ocanews and monomakhos often have eerily resembled a serialized soap opera, to which the viewer tunes in daily to have his emotions engaged, confirmed and manipulated according to expectations, thereby escaping from the banal or troubling realities of what really ails us.

                      Why bother to quibble about this, other than sheer cussedeness on a rainy Saturday? 1. Because these blog proprietors, and we saw it over and over with Mark Stokoe, have a serious tendency to try to pull the wool over our eyes when axe grinding or imposing their fantasies on the attempt to have serious discussion about the life of the Church…

                      You are positing that there is no functional difference between OCANews and Monomakhos. I don’t agree for this reason: George’s forum is unrestricted.

                      For example, look at your words in your short paragraph I quoted above. You accuse George of:

                      1. trying to pull the wool over your eyes,
                      2. axe grinding,
                      3. imposing his fantasies on you,
                      4. impeding serious discussion.

                      Those are real charges, all false in my opinion but real nonetheless.

                      Has George ever stopped you from posting your opinions? Never. So how can he be guilty of the charges you lay against him? Further, if you really believe the charges are true, where is the evidence and reasoning that they are? George won’t stop you from making your case.

                      We also see the readership differently. You write (quoted above) that OCANews and Monomakhos readers like to “have his(sic) emotions engaged, confirmed and manipulated according to expectations…” in order to relieve an otherwise “banal or troubling” life.

                      I find that characterization both wrong and disrespectful. I see the contributors engaged in Church and culture including those with whom I have differences of opinion.

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                    • Rhetoric? Anyone? WHO EXACTLY, said that Father George used the terms “moral equivalence’ or “morally equivalent”?” I don’t think anyone did that. Yet, Father George, now righteously indignant, moralizes against making the accusation!!!!
                      Almost hilariously, however, he goes on to “point out a certain ‘methodological equivalence” between the two sites!” He should,perhaps, have thought a little longer and changed “methodologically equivalent’ to “methodologically comparable, i.e, morally speaking.” To intimate that he, an Orthodox Priest, is expressing himself amorally is rather kicky.

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                    • Fr. George Washburn says:

                      Dear Fr. Hans and Mr. Bauman:

                      Same reply button problem for me and my computer again, so here I am replying to myself, seemingly. Oh-oh.

                      Thanks to Fr. Hans for such a clear and pleasant reply with two recent examples of what he sees as moral equivalency in action in my messages. As in most, if not all, discussions it prompts us to re-examine our assumptions and definitions of terms.

                      I think I am operating on a more formal understanding of the term “moral equivalence” than Fr. Hans is. I use it in the sense that we find on both wikipedia and rationalwiki, which can be summarized as a form of equivocation often used in political debates where, in order to support a desired outcome, one fallaciously draws a comparison between two differing things in order to magnify the faults or merits of one while minimizing those of the other.

                      I agree that I have compared ocanews and monomakhos. But all comparison-making is not moral equivalency argument. I am not engaging in moral equivalency argumentation because I am not attempting to reach or advocate the conclusion that one is better than the other.

                      I am simply saying that both have some characteristics – and faults – in common. It may seem for the moment that I am on Mark’s side and not George’s because only George’s operation is alive and kicking, but those who were engaged in the discussions in the “old days” should be able to remember my pretty pointed criticisms of the self-serving editorial policies, or lack of good policies – and the “headline writing department” – of ocanews.

                      Here maybe it is appropriate to to digress to Michael’s recent comment that I sometimes seem to be detached or apathetic about the things that light up others. I tend to agree. I am the kind of guy who hears a hue and cry, but tends to think “who’s getting railroaded now?” rather than “what rat is getting what he deserves?”

                      And back to Fr. Hans ….contrary to what he wrote I am NOT “positing that there is no functional difference between ocanews and monomakhos.” There’s plenty, actually.

                      But I am not attempting a full on comparison of the two or asking people to think one is better than the other. If I were to attempt that, and I promise I won’t, one of the things I would mention is how some of the more pointed things I wrote and sent to ocanews about its proprietorship and the causes it was pushing seemed to be delayed ….or go missing altogether. They went missing three or more times as i recall, twice at least, but frankly I am not sure of an exact number. And maybe they should have been edited or canned altogether, but it hasn’t happened here. So yes, in my experience George’s practices are superior to Mark’s … on that score.

                      But rather than overall comparison or evaluation, I am trying to call attention to weaknesses inherent in such operations so long as they are share the characteristics mentioned so that we’ll all be a little less likely to swallow things whole. A person is either wiling to consider or not, and it is the “true believers” who most need to consider it who are probably the least open.

                      And Fr. Hans, I have previously called attention to specific examples of axe-grinding, fantasy, discussion impeding, etc. by George, whether as a writer or as host of one-sided, ill-supported editorials by others. Several come to mind: the egregiously one-sided packaging of Fr. Vasile Susan’s “case” in order to unfairly trash Abp. Nathaniel, the tendentious reporting of an EEOC **lawsuit** in order to trash Bishop Michael, a “suit” that nobody has ever filed as far as I can tell (since George insists on calling it that without any supporting evidence I am doing his homework for him by checking with the federal and state court clerks to see whether or not there’s ever been a filing), the ill-researched “reporting” on the Monastery of St. John,, and George’s use of the footrace traffic jam/Methodist minister anecdote as an example of the deliberate persecution of the church.

                      i do not mean to cite these as incitement to wholesale condemnation, or to detract from the good intentions that underlie the attempts. I do cite them as identifiable instances of poor editorial and reporting practices and bias in action which I believe should give us all pause about leaving the sidewalk to jump on board as the various bandwagons proceed down the parade route.

                      My point is not that George is all bad or that Mark was better, but rather that **SOME** of what goes on here is not true and real, but rather artificial and “spun” by people with the best of intentions to fit the party line.

                      And as to my point of comparison between bloggery and soap operas, I am not saying that is all that goes on here, or even most, or that it is the conscious motivation of anyone. Neither do I mean to detract from serious contributors like yourselves, or to accuse anyone in particular on any precise occasion of a soap opera addiction to these goings-on. But out of whatever pastoral experience/insight ( and some self-reflection, I’m afraid!!) I’ve got, I am pretty sure that beneath the surface there is plenty of the soap opera dynamic in operation, that getting of our daily fix of drama, along with the higher motives we profess. Sinners with mixed motives, what an idea, and among the Orthodox, no less!

                      And how ’bout that new old guy, Artie the Great? What a despot!

                      love, and blessings of the Feast to all!

                      Fr. George

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                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      Moral equivalency occurs when moral distinctions between two views are collapsed in order to posit a third way. It deals with politics only to the extent that political programs draw from a deeper view of human nature, culture, and so forth. It is not restricted only to political questions however.

                      Your exposition of the ostensible weaknesses of both OCANews are vague, imprecise, and calculated more to create an appearance of moral coherence of the third way rather than offering any substantive critique of either venue.

                      When you depart from that approach however and offer factual critiques your points are strong. That is the approach that George endorses and he has corrected himself when the facts prove him wrong. That too is a critical and crucial difference between OCANews and Monomakhos.

                      And yes, Artie the Great is definitely o’ δεσπότης.

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                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      Mark Stokoe commented to posters complaining of “censorship” that he would not post comments on his site that he personally knew to be false. An otherwise noble sentiment is, however, neutralized in Pilate’s simple question, “What is truth?” (Jn. 18:38) That, it seems to me, is the heart of the matter.

                      There is truth and there are facts, but I maintain that the only ones who may settle these bored-out-of-my-mind questions – for reasons known only to themselves (and perhaps their legal counsel) – never will answer. Ever. Logically, with that being the reality, anyone with common sense would learn the lesson and move on. Not so fast! Thus, we begin with the “story” of facts: the substantively equivalent guess, assumption, presumption, conjecture, gossip, theory, “logical conclusion,” and so on. In this sense, Fr. George’s observation is accurate: both sites present(ed) as methodologically & functionally equivalent purveyors of the “story of the facts,” pick your favorite flavour. In that I do not know Mark Stokoe personally, I give him a point for at least having acknowledged scurrilous commentary, but it is, after all, moot at this point.

                      And good heavens, the story is incomplete without OCATruth, the “new wave” who, in a world of storytelling, figured the introduction of “the end justifies the means” was the gift of anonymity. But as is the custom of the arrogant, they missed the footnote in the Anarchist’s Cookbook, “a jackass & his anonymity are soon parted.” Parishioner: “Oh you said karma. Now I get it. I thought you said Parma would catch up with me.” “Quelle que différence?” Satan asked Job.

                      And just what the doctor ordered, another pseudonymous простак dandy (“kicky,” seriously, champ?) dives in headfirst to further the gift of tears… pardon me, boredom. Only now, I am unable to argue to Vladyka Tikhon that any re-consumption of regurgitated “matter” would seem to qualify under the umbrella of the Father’s statement, “like a dog returning to his own vomit.” May I refill your wine as you enjoy your “regurgitated matter,” he-whose-name-is-unpronounceable-to-Greeks? With my compliments.

                      Consolation is knowing that the full resolution of this issue is… well, pointless, now and forever.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Mr S: your memory is faulty. Mark Stokoe knowingly (as opposed to accidentally) edited out entire paragraphs of comments that he found offensive –as was his right. Fr Mark Hodges posted one such massive comment in which an entire three paragraphs (if memory serves) were excised by Mr Stokoe. I won’t go into the details of what offended Mr Stokoe, even though it is important in that it was probitive about the sincerity of OCANews regarding the “culture wars.” (You can connect the dots.) The fact remains that Fr Mark proved that OCANews was not an “open forum.” Perhaps this was the only time that Mr Stokoe resorted to such wholesale censorship, I don’t know. But the fact that he did so once leads me to believe that he probably did so on several other occasions.

                      To all: at this point, you may wonder about my own editorship of this blog. As I’ve prided myself, I keep things as open as possible. After a few warnings (in the form of “time outs”) to the general readership, I can honestly say that I have deleted entire comments that I felt were too defamatory only on a few occasions. In a few instances, I have removed only a sentence or two from an otherwise important posting. The rules of thumb are simple: 1) I don’t want to be dragged into a fishing expedition by a lawyer working for an aggrieved party, 2) if the comment is otherwise good and lengthy, I remove those phrases and/or sentences which I feel are too inflammatory, and 3) any mention of my personal life, that of a personal friend of mine and/or family member will be removed. In either case, I have endeavored to contact the poster to let him know that I am going to do so. On two occasions I was unable to do so because there was no way I could get ahold of the commentator (bogus or misspelled email address).

                      M S: as for your disdain for OCAT, what exactly did they post that was incorrect? Please don’t hide behind such fancy-pants phrases as “new wave” reportage. Was their reportage accurate? In comparison to OCAN –which you seem to forget manufactured the news and then reported it, it was stellar.

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        • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

          You tell us Michael. Is it better for the self-deceived to believe what they write … or not? And please explain.

          I am trying to figure out what the question means.

          If a “self-deceived” person doesn’t really believe what he writes, then he is not self-deceived. He is instead a liar.

          If a person really is self-deceived, then who can he not write what he believes?

          To explain?

          What you are asking doesn’t make any sense.

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          • Fr. George Washburn says:

            I agree, Fr. Hans. Since Michael’s comment didn’t make sense to me I was trying to reply in the same vein.

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            • Michael Bauman says:

              Then we make no sense to each other. How lovely. Your original comment Fr. George was a non-sequitor that attempted to leave the impression that nothing George says should be beleived–an interpretation which you have, IMO, supported by your subsequent statements.

              (Authoritative voice): “What are your intentions, young man?”

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      • No, he means that unlike himself and his own writings, which don’t indicate any need to watch out, he cautions George that what he writes and then claims not to have written but believes anyhow indicates a need for alertness in the future. It’s the same sort of warning any of us who believes what he writes, might give to a heretic. We might say to a predestinarian or Protestant of the Eastern Rite or an Eastern Orthodox Calvinist, or Conciliaristic Roundhead, “Watch out! You believe that heresy that you are perpetrating!”

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