Who Will Preach to Nineveh?

jonah-iconThe title for this post comes from Michael Stankovich, one of the most prolific and thought-provoking posters on this blog. He asked this question on another blog — the American Orthodox Institute (www.aoiusa.org) — which is run by Fr. Hans Jacobse.

His plaint is real. Except during the brief interlude of Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen’s leadership of the OCA, the Orthodox Church has done precious little over the years to “preach to Nineveh.” Fr. Hans Jacobse, the proprietor of the AOI pointed this out in his reply.

A Moribund Church?

I would like to take this a step further. In a recent essay, I made mention of the fact that several of the Orthodox jurisdictions are marginal and have been so for the greater part of their existence on this continent. The fact that scandals abound in the GOA are a case in point (as I noted). I wrote that people ask me why I don’t write about these, after all, the allegations associated with the Astoria scandal are at least as bad as anything that the Catholic Church here in America was accused of. Unlike the Catholic hierarchy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate made the alleged perpetrators disappear by shipping them off to Greece.

In addition, yours truly has been given information about other scandals involving bishops and priests in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (GOA). Of particular concern to me are married priests who have lost their parish assignments because their bishops are either corrupt or inept; usually the bishops in question received an “honorarium” by well-healed parishioners. Anyway, there are more than a few stories like this. You can see some of these for yourself over at the website of The National Herald. And yet, nothing but a big yawn.

Instead, for almost two years now, all attention has been focused on the OCA and the scandalous treatment of Metropolitan Jonah. I surmised that this was because the OCA was a genuine American Church, that it had American saints, and that its hierarchy and priesthood are largely of American origin. Certainly the OCA had a significant intellectual tradition thanks to theological giants such as Frs John Meyendorff and Alexander Schmemann.

In any event, there was something about Jonah that people took an instant liking to. Jonah represented the traditional wing of Orthodoxy, which was antithetical to the Kishkovskyite/East Coast wing of the OCA. The division was made clear with Jonah’s public appearances and statements and observers noted the the conflict that ensued was similar to infighting in the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) and the other mainline Protestant denominations. These battles resulted in the defeat of traditionalism in these respective denominations. Many Orthodox somehow sensed that something like this was at stake in the war against Jonah as well. And because of it, the OCA — for the first time in a long time—mattered. The issue was not so much Jonah the man but perhaps the very real fear that liberalism/ecumenism would overtake the OCA and from thence, gain a foothold in the rest of American Orthodoxy.

As such, my worry in the previous essay was that within a year, the OCA wouldn’t matter, that people would stop caring, and that whatever scandals came down the pike because of the Syosset ineptocracy would all go down the memory hole. Monomakhos would not be covering them because people will cease to care, for the same reason that we don’t cover the Serbian jurisdiction, the Bulgarian, ACROD, Ukrainians, and the rest. I firmly believe that since the secular-accomodationists have succeeded in ousting Jonah, the OCA will become largely invisible or at best as uninteresting as the more ethnic jurisdictions.

Apathy is the inevitable result of this insipid leadership. This is especially true if the new Primate was indeed given marching orders from Syosset and its legal team as to what he can and cannot do or say. Instead of being courageous (we seem to forget that our Founder died a horrible death, went to Hades, and then conquered death itself), our Primate must listen to the council of the timid. For good measure, the mantra of “Jerry Sandusky” is invoked to remind everybody that the OCA supposedly stands ever at the precipice of financial ruin. This is curious in itself as Jonah himself was never guilty of such malfeasance and he himself tried to investigate credible charges of malfeasance against a sitting bishop. To further drive the point, the Syosset/Synod juggernaut is in the process of creating a Sex Czar, thereby assuring the peasants in the pews that our Glorious Leader will take time out from his epistolary musings and self-congratulation and stand vigilant outside the bedrooms of our priests.

Unfortunately where there is fear, there is no faith, and where there is no faith, Christ is absent. There is no better way to destroy authentic servant-leadership than by hamstringing a Primate in order to prevent the dreaded “unilateralism” that sends ecclesial institutionalists (who are invariably liberals and modernists) into a frenzy. There can be no real vision when bureaucrats rule and where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 28:19). Visionaries are easy to spot — they either have the charism or they don’t. ‘Nuff said.

The Jaharis Speech

So, are things hopeless?

I don’t think so. Two significant events took place within the last month that give me cause for optimism. A new Patriarch of Antioch was enthroned and he appears to “get it.” It’s still a little early in the day to see if he’s got the charisma of an Iakovos, Philip, or Jonah. Being the Primate of one the most ancient Sees of Christendom, he certainly has the potential to be an Athenagoras, John Paul II, or Benedict. In any event, as far as his initial statements are concerned, I’m very impressed. You can read his archpastoral letter for yourself.

The second case for optimism comes not from a hierarch or theologian, but a layman. Mr. Michael Jaharis spoke at the Archdiocesan Council in October and pretty much gave the assembled there some strong medicine. He said things about the archdiocesan structure that had been said for years on this blog, specifically how the newly-minted metropolitans are not really metropolitans and that the present Archdiocesan structure is untenable. His speech was balanced but did not shy away from stating uncomfortable truths.

Full Text of Speech Given by Archdiocesan Council VP Michael Jaharis

October 18, 2012

Your Eminence and Colleagues,

A funny thing happened on my way to Phoenix this summer… which deterred me from giving a variation of this address to a larger audience. In my remarks today, I am going to touch upon many of the topics I was going to address then. Consequently, the address I am about to deliver may be even more relevant and appropriate today as it relates to our new Council.

Firstly, I would like to welcome our new members and also thank the returning members for their great work: time, treasure, and talent.

My address today will cover some of the milestones that we celebrate as successful achievements of the Church, Council and Community; and I will also present an overview of the areas we have to work together on in order to sustain this progress and overcome various challenges that the contemporary times may bestow upon us. It is important to keep examining how we can sustain this and support the future growth of our Church and community.

So for the first part of my presentation, I would like to go over some of the milestones of progress we have made as a Church and as a community. So, on to examining the progress:

When His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios took office, some thirteen years ago, the Archbishop and we, the Archdiocesan Council, were greeted by an incredibly unwelcoming state of affairs and political infighting – things that are detrimental to any institution and also, more importantly should not be associated with our essential purpose or the raison d’ etre of the Church. Not only was this the case but we also discovered that there was an inherited debt of approximately $7 million or more resulting from accumulated annual operational deficits and legal costs — and this was inspite of receiving parish commitments and individual gifts in the amount of approximately $8-9 million. So the first and most critical problems for the Archdiocesan Council were:

• on the one hand, to assist the Archbishop in establishing peace and unity in the Church;

• and, on the other hand, to alleviate the financial discrepancy, a continual indebtedness that could potentially put the Church at risk for bankruptcy.

I say this not for any specific reason other than to identify the reason why first and foremost, major efforts and priorities were set up to insure the operational stability and sustainability in moving forward.

For example, as soon as the Archbishop took office, in September 1999, we started a very strong and continuous multifaceted effort — the difficulties were enormous and seemed relentless. In addition to all other financial difficulties, we had significant legal expenses related to inherited unresolved cases of sexual misconduct that had happened in the distant past but resurfaced. Thanks not only to the steadily increasing contribution by our communities but also to amazing generosity of some of our people, we made considerable progress in implementing various measures.

To return back to the issue of the “main debt”: Subsequently, at some point of time a few years ago, a superlative effort started initially by three people including Mr. Jerry Dimitriou, Mr. George Vourvoulias, and Mr. George Mathews, who together with a strong Finance Committee, were able to effectively create and implement a financial policy that has since ameliorated the situation. More importantly, with the help of the people on the Executive Committee and Archdiocesan Council, and with several trips to/from each Metropolis (at these individuals’ own expense) developed a basis upon which each parishes’ total commitment would be based on a factual non-prejudicial formula (which took into account each parishes capabilities). As a result of this, we have long since eliminated this huge inherited debt. The annual budget of the Archdiocese of America is approximately $25 million (65% in total commitments) which is significantly higher, i.e. more than double of what it was 11-12 years ago; also, I am happy to report that this is essentially a “balanced budget” — but as I will address later, it is not a “complete” budget.

Concurrently, this model of a process was not only successful in meeting the “financial needs of the Church” but it also benefitted of each of the various ministries ( Youth, Education, Religion, Family etc.) in that they were also able to reach out directly to each Metropolis and its parishes.

I am thus convinced that these efforts will continue to improve and will result in a more effective discourse and network of collaboration among the people which should lead to even more positive growth for the Church based on the following pillars/principles:

• Comprehensive Financial Plan and Planning

• Practical Fairness

• Effective Committee Work

• Effective Communication enhancing the Church’s raison d’ etre

So, to what do we owe this success to? I believe that over the last 12 years we have seen an increased participation of our communities in their financial contribution to the Archdiocese and at the same time we developed an Archdiocesan Council which is not only “sit and listen at meetings” but a group of individuals with various professional specializations (legal, financial, communications, planning, etc) who generously and most actively volunteer themselves and their exemplary skill sets (or to use the Greek word, “arete”) throughout the year to promote various aspects to enhance further positive growth and also keep lines of communication clear and open for dialogue and collaboration.

As a Church, we have also been strong enough to mobilize on the philanthropic front. I would like to commend the collaborative philanthropic efforts of the entire community of parishes for rushing to aid the people of Greece as they are struggling through a crisis similar to what our nation went through during the Great Depression. Under the leadership of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, the Archdiocese established a humanitarian initiative, “The Relief Fund for the People of Greece”, which provided and continues to provide essentials such as food, clothing and pharmaceutical support to many thousands of Greeks on a daily basis. The Fund, through the generosity, love, and compassion of the clergy and the laity of the Archdiocese, has collected close to a million dollars — of which $700,000 has already been given as assistance to various ecclesiastical agencies in Greece, known for their well-organized and proven work in helping thousands of people in urgent need or humanitarian crisis. I believe that this is one of the largest international contributions of Humanitarian Aid to the people in Greece this year and it was an effort that was just initiated over the last 7 or so months. This gift symbolizes the coherence and remarkable ability for mobilization within our community for a good cause and also represents the deeply rooted love and compassion of our community for Greece and its people.

On the topic of Philanthropy, I would be remiss not to also recognize and commend one of the oldest charitable entities of the Archdiocese: the munificent, long standing, and ever-present efforts of the Philoptochos Ladies Society. For over 80 years, the Philoptochos society has led many programs offering humanitarian and sociological assistance to populations in need. Whether addressing hunger, poverty, education, medical costs — here in the US and in Greece — the women of the Philoptochos society, past and present, have had a resoundingly positive effect through their charitable work and outreach within and beyond the Archdiocese.

And finally, one more last bit of timely good news to share with all of you. As many of you already know, when the brutal 9/11 attacks at what is now known as “Ground Zero” occurred almost 11 years ago, the only church destroyed was the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church – a very sacred Saint revered by those whose lives involve the Sea. After this most difficult period in our history, His Eminence, members of the Council and I were promised that the Church (which as a community dates back to 1916; the building dates back to 1922) would be rebuilt with in the 9/11 Memorial Park. The Governor of NY at the time had indicated the importance of rebuilding the only Church destroyed on 9/11 and a group of Greek Orthodox volunteers formed a Committee whose purpose was to implement the rebuilding of the Church. In the early years the Committee worked carefully with the Port Authority to identify a location. Given the multiple pressures to ‘thwart’ the project – such as a new Chief Executive of the Port Authority attempting to pull the contract off the table without any logical reason – we were forced to file legal action against the Port Authority for reneging on their promise.

It was only after a major collaborative effort led by a small but very dedicated group of individuals, motivated by the most Christian values of love, peace and justice, that we were able to address Gov. Cuomo to study the controversy and favorably support our side. The good news is that, with the Governor’s support, it will not be too long before the final components of an agreement are finalized (the basic agreement was signed already last October). There is already an external committee of advisors being formed to address the architectural and artistic integrity of the new design.

The project cost is estimated to be upwards of $ 35-40 million with an estimated time of completion in 2-3 years from now. The significance of having the physical presence of St. Nicholas within the historical and geographic context of the 9/11 Memorial of this nation’s history is tremendous. When finished, St. Nicholas will be a visible and inspiring tribute to not only the atrocity that was perpetrated on 9/11, but also a shining spotlight on the Greek Orthodox Faith, and our core values of love, respect, peace, healing, and forgiveness.

Moving on to the second part of my presentation: What is necessary for the continued and appreciable growth of the Church in America and internationally?

I. I would like to begin the second part of my address by addressing the question of what needs to be done to ensure the healthy growth and sustenance of our Church? I will begin by examining on the macro-level an issue that is directly related to Orthodoxy internationally: the Patriarchate.

Our Patriarchate, being historically the ‘first among equals’ of Orthodox Patriarchates, has always struggled to maintain its important status even though in, for the most part, an unfriendly and most unwelcoming environment. It has had great needs for external support, which unfortunately remain and have recently become exacerbated. The refusal by the Turkish Government to recognize our Patriarchate as Ecumenical, despite the fact that Archons and others have gone as far as various legal and diplomatic actions to force such a recognition, a more recent set of problems pose new challenges for its future viability and that is finances.

While we have, as a nation, funded the Patriarchate for the past several years (1 million – 1 ½ million), the majority and their main source of funds we believe have come from a purported historic property agreement with Greece — and we are attempting to obtain further information on this and/or possibly other agreements. However, I strongly believe that, given the extraordinary dismal financial state of affairs in Greece, it might be problematic for Greece to continue its crucial support. Accordingly, the Archbishop has asked for a special committee to identify and examine the issues raised by the circumstances and possible measures to remedy this. We must not overlook the severity of the repercussions that the Greek financial crisis may bear on the Patriarchate and we must be ready to mobilize once again to offer our support. Further losses will undoubtedly undermine the Patriarchate’s position locally and internationally and this has, as many of you are aware, grave worldwide geo-political implications.

II. Next: What is needed for the continued growth of the Church in America?

While each of our Metropolises in the US has its own needs and strategies for implementing the programs of the Archdiocese, the hub of the wheel i.e. the central responsibility resides in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which is the official ecclesiastical Eparchy of Ecumenical Patriarchate in the USA.

During the past 12 years, it has become evident that the Archdiocese, as the central organization and/or headquarters, has worked with limited space and personnel. Consequently, the ministries spread thin and widely, with a minimum of money and people with many important aspects done with a “Band Aid” type of approach. In order for the Church to continue its firmly established and recognized leadership for Orthodoxy in the US, the above deficiencies, especially ones that relate to the operational infrastructure and staffing of the Church must be remedied ASAP. Accordingly, there is the obvious responsibility that specific people and infrastructure ‘needs’ be determined and a new budget be presented at the next and new “Archdiocesan Council.” Without a detailed account of such needs and strategy for implementing them, we will be at risk of seeing our leadership role for Orthodoxy in the USA gradually diminishing, if not lost. For example, certain fields, such as fundraising, public relations, communications, and “in-house legal counsel” have changed and continue to evolve at such a rapid pace, that it is of the utmost importance to have our Church well represented in each of these respects and offices. As a community, we have been blessed with a diverse abundance of professionally successful individuals who should feel welcomed to become more involved in aspects of the Church that may relate to their professional expertise.

III. Defining the Role of what would be considered a Executive Authority (or to use the “corporate business terminology that I am used to “a type of CEO”) for the US Church:

Furthermore, above the obvious operational requirements, I believe that there needs to be a clarification of certain items within the Church’s Charter.

If you will recall (following the departure of Archbishop Spyridon and) prior to the election of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, the Patriarchate elevated our Bishops of each Diocese to Metropolitans of the Throne — which theoretically at least could imply reporting to the Patriarchate and not to the Archbishop. To me – and I wish to underline that this is my personal view – this was creating the potential risks of undermining the unity as well as the ultimate authority and effective administrative function of the Church in the US. As a result, a new Charter was requested and given to us that redefined the role of a Metropolitan as a Metropolitan of a Metropolis that is part of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. And while this was thought to be sufficient to clarify the role of the Archbishop as the ultimate decision maker, the intervening years and the existence of a decisive Eparchial Synod in our Archdiocese have indicated the need for further clarification which I believe can be made with a more precise interpretation or a minor change in some items of the existing Charter.

I would like to emphasize so that there is no misunderstanding of my statement as there apparently was when I stated my position at the Archdiocesan Council Meeting in May and a certain Metropolitan of the Throne conveniently misinterpreted my statement and reported that I was requesting or suggesting that the US Church should be autocephalos or autonomous, separated from our Ecumenical Patriarchate. On the record, I am clarifying that my suggestion only related and relates to removing any doubt or ambiguity as to the so-called ultimate decision-making process and status internally within the Church in the USA. But to connect to my earlier statements commending the bilateral efforts on the part of the Metropolises and the centralized Archdiocese to promote coherence and “unity within the community” through frequent and open dialogue and understanding, we cannot be a strong national entity – in any aspect whether it be spiritual issues, political issues (such as national and international lobby groups), educational policy, religious tolerance etc. – without the authority granted to our central leadership. One just needs to examine the organizational prototypes of other religions in the USA to understand the practical and theoretical reasoning to support this.

IV. Moving on to the topic of the “future of Orthodoxy in America,” I believe we have to next revisit the topic of Hellenic College Holy Cross Seminary:

The Archdiocese was recently requested to review and assist Hellenic College Holy Cross School of Theology in view of a pressing financially problematic issue that created the potential for significant monetary and/or property losses. After such review, it became apparent to me that poor decision making (whether it was due to lack of sufficient information or knowledge) and the lack of the fundamental cushion or foundation of a strong organizational Endowment were the causes of the problem. Why am I raising this issue? For the obvious reason, that HCHC is an essential component ensuring the Church’s existence in the USA and should not have been so vulnerably exposed to such a risk. The Church cannot grow without a strong and stable higher educational institution to train the future clergy. A strong School is a significant contributor to a strong Church. Consequently we have asked an exceptionally talented group of leaders within the Archdiocese Financial Committee, in cooperation with the officers of the School, to review the details of the specific problem and related issues so that they can make realistic recommendations on this and other aspects that they may judge need changes. From my personal perspective – which is largely based on my professional experiences as well as philanthropic experiences on Boards of other universities and educational institutions, I’m suggesting the following:

1. A much smaller Board of Directors including not only local Massachusetts residents required by State Law, but at least one (or two) experienced representatives from each Metropolis to constitute a more effective new Board.

2. The selection of a “proven” group of people with experience in the best practices of fundraising and “institutional advancement” to create a strong Development Department which can help the School establish a significant Endowment — including, for example, among other things a review of past “restricted donations” to determine the possibility and requirements for of removing such ‘restrictions’ if they are no longer practical or valid.

3. A major campaign in each Metropolis to indicate the absolute necessity and responsibility for each parishioner and Metropolis to assist in the financial viability of the School, which may also help with the national admissions recruitment strategy of the school.

While the Archdiocesan financial and other groups will continue to work with the School, it must be understood that the School must take steps as mentioned above as well as other recommendations that may result to strengthen its ability to grow since without such growth, the Church cannot continue to grow. Hellenic College Holy Cross does not just “bear fruit” –- it also bears the seeds needed for new trees and the individuals needed to cultivate the orchards. It is the “sine qua non” in the existence and growth of the Greek Orthodox Church in the USA.

V. Finally, a regrettable and most distasteful subject i.e the current status of monasteries in their relationship with the US Church.

In the US, the monasteries fall within the scope of the Charter and have certain obligations not unlike those of each Metropolis and each Parish. Over the years, it has become regrettably noticed that with respect to many monasteries, the tendency was to “flout” its obligations under the Charter and to go beyond the traditional role of the “monastic ideal.” Sometime ago, a Committee was formed to review and examine several such matters and persisting rumors. Suspicions, however, of irregularities and of existing improprieties, and lack of cooperation, made it impossible for the Committee to further act beyond initial observations. In the meantime, a monastery situated in New York City and reporting directly to the Patriarchate and the not to the Archdiocese (because it belongs to the category of Stavropegial) was accused of inappropriate, unethical, and disgusting activities. Steps have been taken by the Patriarchate to remove those responsible for such unacceptable and reprehensible misconduct. However, the matter still remains in a (volatile) status of potential danger. We are very fortunate that these incidents have received only local publicity; but while the US Church has no authority nor ability to rectify the deplorable and condemnable matters mentioned in this particular case, it could probably be unfairly cast with the shame of the circumstances alleged at this Monastery – and, not to mention, the traumatic scars inflicted on the alleged victims and their families who are members of our community.

Lastly, as a result of a recent horrible fatality of a young person in the immediate area of a monastery in Arizona, we feel compelled to take extraordinary measures to determine the “bizarre” circumstances surrounding that fatality. Following a complete and objective investigation and in conjunction with the expected report by the local Police, we expect to take severe and appropriate action as required to remedy this existing issue – since not doing so could have long term grave consequences. If we are to “bear fruit” as a faith we have to make certain to guard our garden from disease.

Ultimately, I close my remarks with the belief and appeal that it is very important that we work together to address the aforementioned issues as they pose serious risks to our life and mission as a Church and subsequently as a community. As we celebrate our good work and good deeds, we must also make sure that the legacy we leave for our children is plentiful and sustainable.

Thank you for listening. As I have gone on beyond the time I intended to speak, I will welcome revisiting these issues within the context of the meetings.

Conclusion

Personally, I think its rather audacious of a layman to talk to bishops in such a manner. After all, it is they who bear ultimate responsibility before God for His Church. And let’s be honest, they wouldn’t have sat through this talk if Jaharis was not generous with his resources.

Having said that, the history of the Orthodox Church is riddled with honest critics rising to the fore to take on a corrupt hierarchy. Some have been bishops, others priests, yet others monks and nuns, even the odd emperor or two. There’s no reason that an accomplished layman can’t do the same thing. The prophetic ministry belongs to the entire Church, not only to a hidebound clerisy — especially one which precious little moral authority. Nature abhors a vacuum said Empedocles. Likewise a Church cannot remain a Church where there is no honesty, repentance, and vision. And anyway, as Jesus said, “the Spirit goes where it wills.”

Please understand, I’m not accepting of his criticism in its entirety. I certainly don’t agree with his indictment of the Athonite monasteries. Nor do I have any private knowledge about the extent of his displeasure with the entropy that has engulfed the GOA since the Phanar tightened its grip on North America. Would he be more optimistic if the Phanar engendered genuine creativity among the bishops that were “elected” to take over these vast “metropolitan” sees? I certainly would. Authentic Christian evangelism always results in an explosion of creativity. Presently there is lethargy and little else. Does he see the GOA as the vanguard of united, American Orthodox Church instead of a Byzantine nostalgia cult, for example? It’s hard to say. Yet the fact that he is taking the GOA to task for his lethargy, the very fact that he’s publicly asking questions about its infrastructure, may very well bode well for the future.

Other events give me cause for optimism: The National Herald (which is heavily ethnocentric), published a two-part essay entitled “Why Have the Greeks Ceded Christianity?” The very title is inflammatory to some people, particularly the Byzantine nostalgists. For others, the author doesn’t go far enough. By my lights, the very title is spot on. We Greeks have done yeoman-like work in hiding the Light of Christ under a bushel here in America (and the Middle East, in Africa, and the Far East for that matter). Regardless, the very fact that members of the East Coast elite of the GOA are even asking these questions, and offering criticism to the assembled espiscopate of the GOA gives some hope that there are some Greek Orthodox Christians who are not happy with the way things have been going since the loss at Ligonier.

Time will only tell. The only thing we can be sure of right now is that as long as Syosset allows His Beatitude to linger in limbo, the more obvious it will be that the OCA is incapable of repentance. And outside of Jonah, Syosset has never provided vision of any sort. (On the diocesan level, it was only the Venerable Dmitri Royster of thrice-blessed memory who provided a dynamic vision.) Combined with the fact that the new Primate will be chained to a secular model of administration, it is likely that we won’t be writing a lot about the OCA come this time next year.

I could be wrong. I certainly hope that I am. Time will tell. In the meantime, we must all ask ourselves, who indeed will preach to Nineveh?

Comments

  1. Christ is Born! says:

    Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

    Hristos se rodi! Jego go slavi!

    Our Savior the dayspring of the East has visited us from on high; and we who were in darkness and shadow have found the truth, for the Lord is born of a Virgin

    http://youtu.be/kPr9T8JuXpg

    http://youtu.be/e_Pvn_6UhiQ

    http://youtu.be/ngPPjzFD7m8

    Already a star has risen from the tribe of Judah, which having understood, the Kings of the East are coming and hastening to arrive; they may behold Christ born in the flesh in Bethlehem.”

    http://youtu.be/VLkBZ4msIlU

    Nativity CanonI behold a strange but very glorious mystery: Heaven — the cave; The throne of the Cherubim — the Virgin.The manger — the receptacle in which Christ our God, Whom nothing can contain, is lying

    http://youtu.be/vI2zpRz6qpY

    same, sing along with the music:

    Μυστήριο ξένον

    English and other languages:

    http://youtu.be/etw_ekHBJY0

    Both Canons of the Nativity in pneumes or in western notation here:

    http://www.ematins.org/Music-Katavasiae.htm

    in one of the oldest languages of Europe:

    This Song Will Take You to Heaven! Byzantine Orthodox Christmas Nativity Canon – Aromanian Vlach

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  2. Christ is Born! says:

    Last missing Url is http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DHUG_NGJx3M#!

    And for those of you dudes and dudettes on the new calendar, take a look at this pic from the Gulf of Mexico

    http://photos.goarch.org/main.php?g2_itemId=7670

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  3. Carl Kraeff says:

    George–You talk to bishops in such an audacious manner all of the time. That is why I still read you. :)

    Couple of things:
    - I was impressed with Mr J’s speech. It looks like there is conciliarity in the Greek Archdiocese after all.
    - I also liked your analysis, with only one exception: your continued bias for +Jonah and hatred for his detractors.

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    • Carl, is it not right to be biased toward a 10 year old boy receiving anal sex from a 50 year old man, and be biased against the 50 year old man — at least until he stops actively sodomizing the young boy and repents?

      Call on your bishops to release Jonah to any jurisdiction he wishes to move to.
      Demand that they correct their public slander against him.
      Remember the parable of the unjust judge.

      When the abuse stops and your leaders repent of it, then you can have the warm fuzzies you demand — at least from what may be left of the OCA. The rest of the world will just feel relief that the abuse has finally stopped for one of the victims.

      I am not Orthodox, but I know evil when I see it. My bias is against people who persist in doing evil and especially against any who take pleasure from harming others. I am therefore very biased against the All Holy Synod of the so-called OCA, which becomes an increasingly vile institution the longer its perverse evil goes uncorrected.

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      • “Call on your bishops to release Jonah to any jurisdiction he wishes to move to.
        Demand that they correct their public slander against him.
        Remember the parable of the unjust judge.”

        Ditto! We are not going away or settling down until the OCA in authority act like Christians and do the right thing. At least this right thing. There are many things they need to correct, but they can at least correct this mistake. . . .

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      • Carl Kraeff says:

        I see–not Orthodox. Looks like I had presumed you were one and answered you accordingly. I do not think that it would make a difference, but may I ask you what religion that you are currently practicing? Just for context and as an aid to help me better formulate my answers.

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      • M. Stankovich says:

        Um,

        You have neither been privy to information directly from any member of the Synod of Bishops, nor have you been enlisted as a “confidant” or defender of the former Metropolitan. Your sole point of authority is the internet – a vapid, bitter arrangement of conjecture that not one single person here can verify as the truth without contention. Not a one. You know evil when you see it? What you have chosen to see is the story of truth, and in fact, it is the “minority story.” The Church has left this story behind, and it will not be revisited. And the fact that you are not Orthodox makes this entire harangue all the more ludicrous.

        You have reached conclusions only by grossly over-reaching the information available to you, which is always dangerous and is always a breeding ground for error. Worse, you are now insulting, leveling charges, and extending increasingly vulgar analogies to defend “justice.” Think about it. Then take a step backward into the DMZ and cool out lest you regret.

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        • Carl Kraeff says:

          Please ignore the ever-ignorable folks like Um and Knows the Score. And, thank you for your valiant struggle against the scandalizers.

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          • Did I falsely accuse you of covering up rape or lead others to do so? Did I get you fired from your job when I cannot point to one single thing you have done wrong?

            Who are you calling scandalizer here?

            You have a brain. God gave it to you. It is time to start using it for good, not evil.

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          • Disgusted With It says:

            Carl, wake up! You’re better than this, but you are being suckered by liars and tricksters. It’s nice to want to think that everybody in church leadership is honourable and innocent, but there ARE wolves. Take off the role-coloured glasses and see them for what they are.

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        • Alfred Kentigern Siewers says:

          Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

          For better or worse, and often the latter now that the novelty has worn off, the Internet has become a “reality” of communication in our culture, which can be avoided only by taking an Anabaptist-style stance in withdrawing from our technocratic society. The Internet genie was let out of the bottle in the OCA by OCANews as it undermined a First Hierarch, often with insults implied or explicit, for which there has been no expression of repentance, but only kudos for the OCANews editor in the Chancellor’s Diary.

          Back then, the Internet’s use was hailed, by many of the folks who now decry its discourse, as a vehicle for transparency and freedom in the face of Church corruption, even when folks behind the scenes used it as a vehicle for subverting Metropolitan Jonah, by supporting and feeding information to OCANews, or in other venues.

          Now folks in those same social networks in the OCA echo sentiments one would expect from an official Chinese government blog, about the dangers and improprieties of the Internet on which the laity and some clergy are speaking. We are urged to “shame” one another for bad cyber-behavior. That sounds a bit like online Amish-style shunning, a seeming contradiction in terms, and indeed calls for Internet etiquette themselves become a disregarded “minority” when lacking the moral authority to establish a Christian approach to online discourse, alas.

          I have for a couple years now suggested the adoption of some kind of explictly circulated standards (in effect applications of the canons) for Orthodox behavior and discourse online, whether from the Assembly of Bishops or from the jurisdictions, for all Orthodox Christians, whether speaking online officially or not. Given that we live much of our lives online today, the Church needs to provide more guidance. Part of that could involve Orthodox folks of different views providing reviews of sites (including “official” ones!) in light of such standards. That can be done without it being censorship. But it requires leadership ito step up to the task with courage.

          Otherwise there is hypocrisy in first touting transparency and accountability online, after many tolerated (and some supported) the subverting of hierarchical rule online in the case of Metropolitan Jonah, on sites such as OCANews and the Yahoo Orthodox Forum, and then decrying Internet skulduggery, without specific public expression of remorse for one’s own or one’s friends deeds along the same lines, by commission or omission. Meanwhile supportive comments for the former OCANews editor on the Church’s official website (again without any expression of public repentance) unfortunately cancel the effect of needed preaching about internet behavior at our Online Church Café Américain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjbPi00k_ME

          Moral authority is always stronger with practical self-awareness and repentance, of which we all need more, especially myself, in avoiding twin shoals of self-righteousness and hate online: A Dostoevskyan moment of realizing our own responsibility for the sins we decry in others.

          Please pray for me a sinnner,

          Kentigern

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    • Carl,

      If people talk about bishops in an “audacious” way, as you suggest, should not those same bishops not act in such audacious ways towards their own kind? Leading by example? They do teach their flocks for better or worse!

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    • Leadership says:

      ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS TO DELIVER BENEDICTION AT THE 2013 PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL LUNCHEON

      NEW YORK – His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America has been invited to offer the benediction at the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Luncheon following the Inaugural ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol on January 21, 2013. The invitation was extended by U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC), which also hosts the luncheon to honor President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

      “It’s my honor to select Archbishop Demetrios to offer this important task at the Inaugural Luncheon,” Schumer said. “The Archbishop is a tremendous and respected leader to millions in the Greek Orthodox community in every corner of the United States . I am blessed to call the Archbishop a friend, and I look forward to his benediction to conclude the 2013 Inaugural events at the Capitol.”

      Upon hearing of the invitation by Senator Schumer, the Archbishop said:

      “I feel exceedingly honored by such a gracious invitation to offer the benediction at the Presidential Inaugural Luncheon. To participate with a special prayer in such a historic event constitutes a tremendous honor indeed. I express my deep gratitude to my distinguished friend, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, whom I hold in high esteem, love and respect for what he is and for what he has been dong consistently, tirelessly and effectively for the good of the people not only of the State of New York but of the entire Nation, as well.”

      Attendees at the 57th Presidential Inaugural Luncheon will include the newly-sworn in President and Vice President, Congressional leaders, members of the cabinet and former Presidents and Vice Presidents who are in attendance at the Inaugural ceremonies.

      January 21, 2013 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It will be the second time that this federal holiday has coincided with a Presidential Inauguration. The first was President Bill Clinton’s second Inauguration in 1997.

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      • Johann Sebastian says:

        This is the sort of visibility we don’t need and shouldn’t want.

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        Why is it an honor? Why should he feel ‘exceedingly honored’ especially? He sounds like a giddy little school girl whose teen idol looked in her direction.

        I wonder if Abp Demetrios will invoke the Holy Trinity in his prayer and the name of Jesus Christ?

        Isn’t that against the current doctrine of ‘separation of church and state’ ?

        Where is the Americans United for Separation of Church and State? Are they going to threaten a law suit against the JCCIC?

        Arrrgh

        What’s in the water in the northeast, idiot pills?

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      • Jim of Olym says:

        Well, whoopie-do! I’m so whelmed. both by the prez and by the Archbishop. I don’t think I’ll travel to the other side to gaze upon this. Must mean that Orthodox Church is now a ‘ major faith’! with all the thousands of people we have (kinda like the Ecopalians who remain….)

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        A Protestant pastor from Georgia who was also invited to give an inaugural benediction is being
        replaced because he once gave a sermon saying homosexuality is sin.

        The great and powerful Obama can’t have such a man at HIS inaugural.

        So why is Arb. Demetrios going again? To honor those that despise the Gospel? What does that say about him and the perception of the Church?

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        • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

          Arbishop Demetrios is doing what any Orthodox Hierarch would do. Let’s give the man a chance and break. We cannot hide the Light of Christ under a bush, but proundly proclaim it. How many American do you think even know about the Orthodox Church? I want all America to know about us, and maybe, just maybe, it will spark an interest out there that will lead to the salvation of one’s soul.

          Now that we are finally coming of age in this country and we are emerging from our ethnic enclaves we should seclude ourselves again? We withdraw from society at our own peril. This is why society is as messed up as it is morally. I say let the Light of Christ shine and shine brightly even among the Atheists, Secularists and Haters of the Faith.

          Its not time to step aside, but to step up and proclaim the Gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Archbishop Demetrios is doing the right think.

          Peter

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          • Disgusted With It says:

            I’m taking a “wait and see” approach before judging. If +Demetrios goes and in the prayer calls on Obama and the others there to repent of their sinful ways (abortion, gay “rights”, etc.) then I will commend the Archbishop. If he wimps out with some wishy-washy “let’s love one another” prayer, then I will see him as nothing more than a sell-out for his 3 minutes of political fame. The ball is in his court and we should give him a chance to do the right thing.

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          • Archpriest John Morris says:

            It is only because the left does not know what we believe about homosexuality that His Eminence was invited. If they realize that we agree with the Protestant pastor who was dis-invited, the Archbishop will also be dis-invited. We are living in the beginning of a tyranny of the left that seeks to marginalize all traditional Christians. It is only that we are not well known that they have not yet turned their guns on us. In time they will. Obama has already shredded our constitutional system by beginning to rule by decree if Congress does not give him what he wants. This man and his people are the most serious threat to our freedom in our entire history. He has no respect for our country or its constitutional system of government.

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            • Michael Bauman says:

              Father John, if they don’t know, it is because we are ambivalent and refuse to openly preach the Gospel. If the Archbishop had an ounce of integrity he would refuse in solidarity. He won’t because, IMO, he is oblivious to the reality of what Obama represents and believes.

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            • Artakhshassa the Great says:

              Bush issued more Signing Documents than any other President in history. President Obama has a LONG way to go before he surpasses that Bush administration in arbitrariness.
              President Obama has never “shredded our constitutional system” in any way whatsoever. That’s a calumny. President Obama is a constitutional scholar who belonged to the faculty of one of the world’s top universities. Rule by decree? Please, give one example of ‘rule by decree” What decree, EXACTLY?

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  4. Michael James Kinsey says:

    It will not be the GOA who preaches to Nineveh. The Greek author slips by an all important issue, that should have been raised, but was not. Or was raised and the government’s position agree upon to be the Greek Church’s position in order that the Church on gorund zero be allowed to be rebuilt. The men of Neneveh would never accept the government fabrications of how ground zero was destroyed. The massive mass media collaboration on the day of the attack, and the continued following decade, plus the rabid condemnation of tolerance of outlandish conspiracy theorues stated by both Bush and Obama, i viewed on utube.PROVE that they would ever accept a church on ground zero, that would preach the Truth: which is they were destroyed by controlled demolition. They have their ways, those who actually murdered Americans on 911.
    The Vision given by the Christ to His Church, not anyone elses Church, His Words, not mine, are Love the Lord thy God and Him alone shalt thou serve, Live by the Word of God and by bread. Do not tempt God. The moral and spiritual authority of His Words is absolute. Do any have other words more perfect in vision? Nuff said!

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    • Michael Bauman says:

      Nonsense

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      • Michael James Kinsey says:

        It is the type of reply I would of expect from an ex HOOM elitist super evoluved super soul.. The delusions of all those past reincarnations must be still clouding you mind. You, at least have retained to attitude of superiority that such delusion engenders. Elitism is the refined essense of the anti-christ and it is always used as a justification for any abuse.The government will not allow an uncensored church on ground zero, the GOA was compromised, and subdued into not challening the cover-up. Here they agree to believe a lie, and such do not inherit the kingdom of heaven or the scripture of St. Paul is a lie.The HOOM elites always enployed a double standard, the Royal Law is impartial has no friend and does not ever employ a double standard. You may consider this a slap in the face for the decades of double dealing I encountered, and you continue in. Hot shot.!

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        • Michael Bauman says:

          Mr. Kinsey I have never even met you or communicated with you in any manner or form prior to the exchanges on this blog yet somehow I have deeply offended you. Please forgive me.

          Yes, I was in the Holy Order of MANS long ago 32 years ago, half my life. I was at Forestville from 1976-1977 and never once answered the phone that I recall.

          I was expelled from the HOOM because I refused to buy into all of the crap yet I continue to examine and repent of the damage that the various heresies that were taught caused to me and to others. The same holds true for all of the people that I know who are in the Orthodox Church that passed through HOOM .

          Whether you will accept it or not however, Jesus Christ was there and He led those who honestly sought Him through the delusion and heresy that abounded. He led me and others into the safety of His Church. It was a journey I would not have taken had I known the truth. It is a path I left when I found the Truth and was embraced by Him and His Church.

          When is the grace of Christ sufficient for you?

          I am a sinful and ignorant man virtually bereft of spiritual graces, but I am, as far as I am able, a faithful member of Christ’s Holy Church under no ban by any bishop or priest. I refuse to be ashamed of any past associations that I renounced and put behind me when I was received into the Church (after instruction and repentance) by Baptism and Chrismation at the hands of a duly ordained and canonical priest under authority from a canonical bishop. In the course of justice, I would not be in His Church, but He is merciful and I am here.

          I refuse to be ashamed because Jesus Christ condesenced to meet me there in the depths and bring me out of my tomb. I was a lost sheep and He found me.

          Neither will I defend sin. My experience in the HOOM prepared me in many ways to value and not take for granted sound doctrine and right belief, to be compassionate with those who suffer at that hands of the purveyors of heresy, spiritual abuse, tryannical authority and the gnostic sense of superiority. It helped me recognize the subtlity of untruth woven into the truth. So when I seen nonsense, I feel bound to mention it.

          If that is not enough for you, then I would suggest it is you, not I, who considers himself a super-evolved soul. Whatever that means. It is you, not I who have have denied the grace of the Church and replaced it with your own narrow sectarian legalism that will strangle your soul.

          The HOOM is far more alive in you than it is in me. Forgive, my brother, cast off the remembrance of past wrongs and count them as blessings and give Glory to God in all things.

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          • Michael James Kinsey says:

            The point is, 911 was an inside job. Not nonsense.You may justify yourself all you wish as the court is no tin session, yet.One beleif is the truth, the belief that contradicts it is a lie. You accept the government fabrications concerning the 911 attack as truth. I say it was an inside job. One of us believes a lie, and it is not me. My claim is not nonsense. You can’t have it both ways cake-eater.

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            • Michael James Kinsey says:

              I endured the gnostic claptrap and duplicity all during those years. I would have simply walked away had it not been for the fact that Jesus Christ was there. We do confess the same experience concerning the HOOM spiritual transmission. My experiences of the heavenly and it’s graces were and are extensive.The Father candle and the Mary shrines were always open to me. But, this good part was cast off in the move to Orthodoxy and I have not encountered It again, except at Platina at the Kleros of the Most Holy Theotokos, and wonderiously, at the little chapel down the road at Alexi retreat near road kill lane. I felt Her Presense every time I went to prayers. I know perfectly well enough the heavenly finds me acceptable, and the rejection by others is of little concern. If God is with me, who then can be against me. I offer no proof, it can’t be given. Recieve my testamony or reject it. It changes nothing for me.

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              • Michael James Kinsey says:

                The Christ was dispised and rejected by many, but their rejection changed nothing concerning His relationship with His Father and the Holy Spirit. It is the same for all of Christ’s servants.They condemned Him to death and hell for claiming, He was and is YHWH. Thier judgements changed nothing.

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                • My brother, is English your first tongue? I have a hard time following your postings because of grammatical, syntactical, and spelling issues. I’m not judging you, just trying to understand what you are trying to say.

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            • Michael James Kinsey says:

              Having you cake, and eating it to, is impossible. You cannot believe a lie, and claim to be standing on the Truth. I stand on the Truth by declaring the government fabrications lies. I stake my life and my soul on this claim. But,it is no risk because I will die anyway, and I am being truthful and I know my soul is safe. Would you dare to make the same gamble concerning the lies of the government. Keep silent, as the those who wanted the Christ dead, did. How long will I be with you? The Christ also made this lament.

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    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

      Actually it is and the many in the GOA still do. Those Ephramite Monasteries exist in the GOA for reason.

      Peter

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  5. Thank you, Mr. Stankovich, for posting this. Sadly, I think it is too late for the OCA.

    From a previous post:

    And he taught them in parables saying, “A certain man went out and found that an ice storm and a strong wind had broken the top out of his loblolly pine tree. So he called the Great Tree Physician Service to fix it and went into the city to work.

    “When the man returned, the Great Tree Physician had cut the tree down to the ground. ‘Why did you cut down my tree?’ he wailed.

    “’Because the top had broken out,’ said the Physician.

    “’But there was still a lot of tree left!’

    “’Yes,’ said the Tree Man, ‘But it was going to die. You see, this tree grows from the top down. If the top is dead, the entire tree will die.’

    “’But it could have lasted a few more years,’ the man whined.

    “’Yes, but in the end it would die. It is better that it be cut down and not be allowed to take the nutrients from the soil that could nourish another tree.’

    “Then the man looked, and in the freshly filled mound of dirt where the stump had been, he saw that the Great Physician had planted a seedling that with care might grow into another stately pine like the one that had died.

    “And the man was comforted.”

    R.I.P. OCA

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    • Carl Kraeff says:

      I do not think that Mr. Stankovich will object to my pointing out that he did not write the above essay–our esteemed host did. George did attribute the phrase “preaching to Nineveh” to Stankovich from a post of his on AOI.

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      • George Michalopulos says:

        Thank you, Carl for pointing that out. I did indeed borrow the title from a question that M S asked on another blog. It’s an excellent question by the way.

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        • M. Stankovich says:

          My clarification on AOI:

          In that Mr. Michalopulos has set a light on my comment, it seems to beg my clarification:

          The point I was attempting to make was that the “miracle” of Nineveh had nothing to do with the Prophet Jonah per se. He was, in fact, a reluctant, indifferent prophet whose entire admonition is summed up in one sentence: “”Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” (Jonah 3:4). Certainly the people of Nineveh heard him, but they “believed God,” obeyed the king, and joined with one another mutually in fasting & repentance; and by this obedience, fasting, & repentance, they literally changed the mind of God!

          My point, then, was to inquire 1) where are the moral authorities whose “genuineness” of presence leaves no question that they are “sent by the Lord,” and who will, in their person, provoke a “change of mind and a turn of heart?” And 2) where are characteristics of the faith founded in obedience, fasting, and repentance that are the demonstrable “fruits” of the ascetic way? My suggestion is that, ultimately, the answer to the former speaks to the answer to the latter.

          Somehow, my comment – “speaking to Nineveh” – has been has concretized into the literal act of “preaching & speech-making.” This was not my point. I spoke of the moral authority, the one who provokes unity, provides direction, who provokes trust, in whose presence “there is the Church.” One is only reminded of the words of, as St. Chrysostom notes, “that Great Moses,” as to the value of “inspiring delivery”

          “And Moses spoke before the Lord, saying, ‘Behold, the children of Israel have not listened to me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?’” (Ex. 6:12)

          The point is well taken that Nineveh is indeed ministered to by God’s chosen priests, likened to a service above that of the angels and archangels. What is missing, however, is leadership and authority, and this is never derived from its characteristics, but likewise never mistaken in its genuineness: “‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you’. Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord.” (Jonah 3:2-3). The Ninevites, in turn, inspired Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart to proclaim for history, “I know it when I see it.”

          Here I would also add that the question was asked of St. Theophan the Recluse, “What do we do when we are assigned a bad priest?” (and I presume we may extrapolate this to the hierarchs as well). In essence. St. Theophan answered that we have the power to make them change. How? By obedience, prayer, and fasting. “They cannot help but change.” Who would have thought…

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          • George Michalopulos says:

            Jonah was far from “indifferent.” He strived mightily to disobey the Lord in every which way he could. Nature itself turned against him when the whale swallowed him. Jonah’s story was itself the turning point in the history of Yahwism –when the Israelites came to the realization that their monolatry was merely a form of polytheism, and that their God was in fact the only God.

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          • Mr. Stankovich, I apologize for not having read your original essay, but I agree with your description of Jonah above – and your use of the word ‘indifferent’ would indicate the meaning of “questionable” or “curious on the face of it” further borne out in the example of Moses. As it is said in the prophecy about Bethlehem, the least among its brethren, something like that. A surprise, not what one might expect.

            I would submit that we have New Testament and early Christian examples of this also – the Canaanite woman, the commander of troops, and then one of the greatest, Saint Mary of Egypt, whose leadership comes in a tenuous form by way of the narrative from one, only one, who met her out there in the desert where she didn’t even have clothes any longer.

            All of these are such a variety of unexpected sources – we cannot suppose that uniformity of discipleship and ranking on a worldly stage is the most important concern we need to have.

            As I understand it, the leadership that Bishop Jonah (so aptly named) gave and is giving has that unexpected quality about it, and that is what many who are his devotees treasure. It doesn’t happen often.

            The maze of shoulds and oughts don’t make much impression on outsiders; they don’t make much impression on me. I see this good man as continuing to be who he is, and that will not diminish even if the powers that be deny him his place, even if as is said here often, he has been unjustly treated. I can’t judge that from the complicated history of it all, but if he holds to his uniqueness God will love him and help him.

            I was fortunate to come to the Orthodox faith far from the influence of jurisdictions and canons, shoulds and oughts, though of course there were the basic tenets of the faith as in the Creed. I came to it simply through the liturgy, through the respect afforded to the Scriptures and the unfolding celebration of the feasts. The individual texts, their juxtaposition and embellishment in music and art, the comity in community.

            All so unexpectedly glorious. All not by my or any man’s design.

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            • M. Stankovich says:

              juliania,

              I very much appreciate that you are the only person to acknowledge that my selection of the Prophet was purposeful – indeed “apt” as you say – when the examples of the great Moses or David the King and their loss of favor and reward in the eyes of the Lord would have certainly sufficed in making the point. And I would note that everything contained in our several posts – the entire book of Exodus, the entire Book of the Prophecy of Jonah, the entire life of St. Mary, and entire life of David the King – are presented to us in a matter of 47 liturgical days concluding with the Liturgy of Great and Holy Saturday. “He or she who has ears, let them hear!”

              What is so profound in regard to the story of the repentance of Nineveh is that, unlike the detailed horrors of, say, the prophecy of Amos – “Ten will be in the house, and one will be spared to remove the bones of the nine” – Jonah speaks one sentence in the name of the Lord who ” has sworn and will not change his mind” (Ps. 109:4). “They believed the Lord,” together they repented, and they accomplished in their vigor the unimaginable, changing the very mind of the Almighty! My point was to demonstrate what the Fathers have instructed us: we are never saved alone. The prophet was incidental. And when it is necessary, the Lord sends another.

              Our God is a just God, and necessarily a jealous God. He will not suffer injustice and promises to right every wrong. I raised the persons of Moses and David because there was no greater leader and no greater king, but both lost favor before the Lord; Moses was forbidden to enter the Promised Land after forty unbearable years of wandering, and David would not see the Temple. What would seem the greatest injustice in our eyes was, in fact, “unexpectedly glorious.” And as you say, “all not by my or any man’s design,” and we so move on. And when it is necessary, the Lord sends another prophet.

              What a pleasure to read commentary such as yours.

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      • My mistake. Should have read more closely. Thanks to George instead.

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  6. TODAY’S OUTRAGE FROM HERR CHANCELLOR JILLIONS

    In the epistle, James writes at length and passionately about the damage caused by unkind, unnecessary and unchecked speech. “The tongue is a fire,” and sets people, families, communities and whole nations at war with each other. And yet a good word in season can also be a powerful blessing. “With the tongue we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” (James 3:9-10). If only James knew of the internet! I would like to see us all resolve not only to check our own speech (Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?) but also put to shame those in the household of faith who do not.

    Is this guy for real? Where was his outrage when Stokoe and ocanews was at work?

    Where was his outrage when the synod wrote the STINKBOMB letter and used the Internet to spread it around like so much manure?

    Where was his outrage when Maymon teamed up with Stokoe to print stolen emails?

    How about launching your misconduct cases against these people? Oh wait. They are the ones who pay your big salary. I guess they get a pass.

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      I think irony is lost on these people. Is it because of sheer idiocy or prelest?

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    • Hey, as long as one can use Scripture to fool the masses . . . . I could believe Jillions and others in leadership who have have made grave mistakes if only I saw them focusing on themselves and seeking forgiveness instead of playing their game of thrones . . . .

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    • I guess he doesn’t like all this competition to his “Diary.”

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    • Carl Kraeff says:

      Bulgarian folk tale: Two women (substitute as you will) found themselves trying to cross a very narrow bridge over a river, however they were going in opposite directions and there was room only for one. Thus, one would have had to go back to the bank of the river to let the other one complete her passage. They decided that the honor of crossing first would go to the one who correctly answered the following question:

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      • Carl Kraeff says:

        I was distracted and did not finish the story. here it is:

        ….Do you cut the wool off a sheep with scissors or shears? One of them said scissors, moving her fingers to emulate scissors. The other one said, shears and was of course correct. The judge of this contest asked the scissors lady to move back and make way. Nothing doing, scissors lady stood her ground, repeating scissors and moving her fingers accordingly (vigorously. I might add). In any case, this impasse went on for hours until the sun started to set and by this time there was a small crowd who wished to use the bridge. So, they threw the scissors lady off the bridge and she plunged into the waters below. Some in the bank felt sorry for her and threw her a life line in the hopes of saving her from drowning. For a moment, it looked like it might work as her hand arose from the depths. Alas, instead of reaching for the life line, she continued to make scissor motions with her fingers. Moral of the story: Don’t be a Nikos, George, Helga, Amos, pdnj, etc. :)

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        • Disgusted With It says:

          Yeah, so the moral of the story is: sell your soul to save your own a**.

          Sorry Carl. Too many sell-outs these days, even in the Orthodox Church. We don’t need any more.

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        • Michael Bauman says:

          In other words, any one who disagrees with you is a stubborn fool who refuses to recognize reality. How nice, Carl.

          What an insulting and offensive post.

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  7. Trying to figure out what the reference to Serbians, Ukrainians, ACROD, etc., has to do with anything stated above. Our people do indeed care for their church – they show it by actually going to church and participating in all facets of church life. Sure, sometimes our folks disagree, but more often than not they will air their grievances directly as opposed to blogging about each other…

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    • “Sure, sometimes our folks disagree, but more often than not they will air their grievances directly as opposed to blogging about each other…”

      That’s because they have a functional church and are respected as human beings. Once that leaves a church, people seek other avenues to address the problems; whether it is wrong teaching or abuse . . .

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  8. Michael James Kinsey says:

    Spiritual corruption in high places, an axe placed on every tree that does not bear fruit, he will subdue 3 kings, the great falling away of the Church in the last days, seeking false prophets with itching ears, lovers of themselves,woe unto you when all men speak well of you( this is accomplished, ONLY when everyone is terrified to death of you. This terror will not hinder the men of Nineveh. You will be driven out of the synagogues, farin sumptuously every day. ,Chancellor 150k per year.,+Jonah 36k. Works and fruits, not works alone, fruits always do works, works do not alway proves fruits.You cannot serve 2 masters. The financial assistance offered by the government to the US churches in good programs is substancial. Helping the Greeks at this time cannot be faulted, The devil has you trapped, subdued. The Lord will judge, may He have mercy. I am not the enemy of anyones eternal salvation. There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. thus no comdemnation of anyone’s eternal salvation. This is accomplished by not judging, judging usurps God’s perogative.This is the manner of spirit of those who are in the Body of the Christ. I know what manner of spirit I am. I wll henceforth respond only to fruits of the spirit disregarding all clerical hierarchies, until I see with my own eyes, fruits of the Holy Spirit, kindness, joy, Peace, Patience, Longsuffering, compassion and humility, and most especially honesty. I may well cease any further communication here. Those who will find my absence pleasing, give me a thumbs up. I try to speak truth to power alone. thumbs down if you find my posts worth reading. I will respect the ourcome. I am most unaccomplished, except in beatings, fines, and imprisonments, which none of you can match.

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    • Jim of Olym says:

      Michael James Kinsey, if I could figure out what you are actually saying, I might agree with you, or intelligently disagree. As it stands I can’t for the life of me discern what it is you are trying to communicate.
      I suggest you send your messages (prophecies?) to all the bishops directly, and/or start your own blog .

      God be with you! As you go or stay.

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      • Michael James Kinsey says:

        I quote the Christian scriptures in the bible, not my invented phrases. He who has ear to hear, let him hear, concerning these scriptures.Jesus Christ and His genuine servants are communicationing something in these scriptures. If, you can’t figure it out what they are communicating, so be it. All these scriptures have a connection, they are the Words of Truth.

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  9. The new OCA representative to the Moscow Patriarchate was the only representative MISSING from the Patriarchal vespers service for the Nativity (http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/2697046.html).

    In the past, the OCA representative was always invited to and always attended such services. It is a sign of our liturgical unity with the Russian Church.

    The fact that the new rep was’t invited is a sign that Moscow is not interested in dealing with the OCA now. I sure it’s not against him personally, but it does show that Moscow isn’t very pleased with the OCA. This confirms what your wrote, George, under “More from Moscow, Not with Love.”

    Perhaps a “part two” of that article is in order, George?

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    • just saying ... says:

      “In related news, Archbishop Justinian will be the guest of Metropolitan Tikhon for a luncheon at the OCA Chancery on January 22. He will also attend the Enthronement of Metropolitan Tikhon at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC on January 27. On Sunday, March 3, Metropolitan Tikhon will concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with Archbishop Justinian at New York’s Saint Nicholas Cathedral. ”

      doesn’t seem like there’s a problem

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      • just saying….says:

        “doesn’t seem like there’s a problem”

        Really? The OCA is forced to reduce the price of the banquet tickets from $100 to $75 and doing a mass calling to all parishes “encouraging them” not to embarrass the Church and to buy a table!

        A call to the Omni Hotel confirms that the OCA downsized the entire event from a 500 person banquet room to a 150 size room.

        And you will be able to resist this added bonus of a Fr. John Perich antiques road show of supposed vestments of St. Tikhon. That will really boost ticket sales.

        As for +Justinian showing up, short of the MP being represented by a priest or deacon, it is the least diplomatic lift for the MP.

        The OCA should be glad no one is coming from Russia, like Hilarion, because if he decided to come, you can bet it was at the direction of Pat. Kirill and he would coming to deliver a direct message about +Jonah to the OCA synod.

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      • Disgusted With It says:

        Even more of the OCA screaming “The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! See! See! They like us! They really, really do!”

        For an “Autocephalous Church” who claims they are independent and it doesn’t matter what anyone including Moscow thinks, they sure do love to make a big deal out of telling the world every time someone from Moscow sneezes in their direction. It’s so obvious.

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    • Carl Kraeff says:

      On a related matter, doesn’t that church have the most cringe-inducing icons? With all of that money they spent on its restoration, I would have thought that an upgrade would have been a good thing. Instead, they restored it exactly the way it was, as if it is more of an artifact and a museum than an Orthodox temple.

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      • Carl,

        I believe that St. Nicholas Cathedral MP in NYC is a landmark and thus subject to restoration rules. Similarly Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow when it was rebuilt needed to follow the same style of western style icons in the main church. However the basement church in Christ the Savior did not exist in the original Cathedral, thus its iconography is not western since there were no previous restoration covenants.

        And, no the western style icons at St Nicholas are not “cringe inducing.” They have been prayed before by countless number pious people since the time of St Tikhon and St. Alexander Hotovitsky to this very day. It was not then nor is it now a museum. That is a cringe inducing judgmental statement.

        But then again, you all know what is best in the Carolinas!

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        • Carl Kraeff says:

          Nikos–I meant Christ the Savior in Moscow and not St Nicholas in DC. Of course, I am not surprised that you jumped at the worst possible interpretation. Par for the course I suppose.

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          • Disgusted With It says:

            Nikos said “St. Nicholas Cathedral MP in NYC”, not DC as you “corrected” him. I guess we can just chalk it up to more “par for the course” on your part too. ;-)

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            • Carl Kraeff says:

              Well, shucks! I guess I have to read anything that Nikos posts three or four times before I respond to him. I wonder why he brought up St Nicholas Cathedral MP in NYC? We were talking about Christmas at St Nicholas Cathedral OCA in Washington, DC and “IfIFell” linked a u-tube video to Christ the Savior Cathedral MP in Moscow. That was the post that I was responding to.

              Now that I looked up St. Nicholas NYC, I can see why Nikos was so defensive. The first thing that strikes one is the Madonna and Child painting that adorns the Altar; it could have come from most any church in Italy.

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  10. Metropolitan Jonah at St. John's - Nativity says:

    http://marinacavanaugh.com/Photography/Nativity2013/#

    Click to start. Maybe someone recorded the sermon?

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    • I see from the photos that Metropolitan Jonah arrived in white klobuk. I thought that retired (or thrust aside) OCA metropolitans were to go back to black headgear. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. When does the patience of the MP run out, causing them to take Metropolitan Jonah without a release? That would be the the de facto end of the OCA.

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      • JamesP,

        I think the time is drawing near for the MP to make a move. Consider that Moscow is only sending Ab. Justinian to +Tikhon’s “Enthronment.” Consider that ROCOR is sending Bishop George of MAYFIELD. Mayfield was the ground zero of the OCA trying to take ROCOR to court over the calendar issue. Mayfield won, the OCA lost. Sending the Bishop of Mayfield is quite a signal. Kudos to ROCOR. In other words, this is the lowest level of representation the MP and ROCOR can send (not that either bishop is low, in fact both are fine men.) When +Herman was elected Metopolitan, then Metropolitan Kirill, now Pat. Kirill attended the OCA Sobor in Orlando. Moscow sent Metropolitan Philaret of Minsk, an equal bishop of rank for +Herman’s installation.

        Consider that Syosset is pleading with parishes to buy a table for the +Tikhon event and getting not too many takers. This is after Syosset had to ask the Omni Hotel to give them a room that will fit 150 people and not the banquet room that they originally booked for 500.

        Consider that when +Herman was “enthroned” EVERY Orthodox Church was represented with most Churches sending bishops. We will have to wait and see who comes for +Tikhon’s. You can be sure the EP won’t be there, but they were represented for +Herman’s. Consider that a banquet room for 500 was totally sold out for +Herman’s banquet.

        This is the reality of the new OCA.

        As long as the OCA continues to dangle +Jonah, the longer it will suffer and lose whatever credibility it has left. You listened to the voices of Hopko, Kishkovsky, Jillions, Tosi, Garklavs, Benjamin and Nathaniel. Now you have to deal with the consequences, one of which is the lack of excitement about the new OCA Metropolitan.

        Cut your losses OCA. Let +Jonah go.

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        • Disgusted With It says:

          Things must be desperate. Not only did they reduce the ticket price by 25%, but they’re also now saying any profits from the dinner will be donated to OCF. So not only would people not come for the original ticket price (which I immediately thought was overpriced for a church dinner anyway), but now they’re trying to lure people in with the idea that at least it’s a donation to a worthwhile cause. Wow. This is sad to watch.

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        • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says:

          I have only one thing to say: ANAXIOS! ANAXIOS! ANAXIOS! This enthronement should not be happening, because Metropolitan Tikhon would have taken over an occupied see. Washington is still occupied by His Beatitude Jonah, because there has been no ecclesiastical trial that tried Jonah and decided to depose him. If there is a reasonable doubt as to +Jonah’s guilt, then he is not guilty and must continue as Metropolitan of All America and Canada, regardless of what the Synod has done. They are accountable to God and must follow the canons. If I will be at the enthronement, I will say ANAXIOS, because they have put away a just man without cause.

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          • Artakhshassa the Great says:

            Metropolitan Jonah resigned. He was never ever elected to the See of Washington DC, but was a Vicar Bishop who was elected to be the First Hierarch of the Holy Synod. In order to be seated in the Holy Synod, he had to have a diocese of his own, and he allowed to assume, without being elected or appointed, the title and See of Washington. When he resigned from his position as First Hierarch, he automatically lost his membership in the Holy Synod and the See/Diocese that went with it. On the other hand, if he had already been elected to and installed in the Diocese of Washington before he was elected to be the First Hierarch, his resignation might be considered to have left him as ruling bishop of the Washington DC Diocese. EVEN if Ilya’s mistaken hypothesis were true, this would not have made ANY Bishop “Anaxios”. ONe might have cried, “Uncanonical” or “Schismatic”, but not “anaxios.”
            Anaxios does not mean “nay.”

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            • Ilya ZHitomirskiy says:

              If you do not remember, in 1923, a cry of anaxios stopped the installment of Archbishop Philaret Ioannides in Chicago, and in 1984, another episcopal installation was stopped by a cry of anaxios. Even a mistaken anaxios has to be investigated, and if there is any substance, the service must continue without the disputed ordination/installation.

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              • Artakhshassa the Great says:

                Ilya, thanks for mentioning what appears to be one of doubtfully two historical anomalies! Please, tell us in what Local Orthodox Church such a violent disturbance broke out in Chicago that it alarmed a Holy Synod into calling a halt to the installation of a consecrated Hierarch into the see to which they had elected him? I know that in a case in Manhattan, the installation of a new Archbishop in the Armenian Cathedral was halted by an Armenian terrorist who shot the Archbishop with a revolver before he could be installed. I think a gunshot qualifies as an “anaxios”, but it, too, is totally illegal.
                There’s no reason to credit your fable of a second, but totally UNidentified episcopal installation being stopped by a cry of anaxios (where? Ctesiphon? Baghdad? Chungking? Addis Ababa? )
                Did you make that up or dream it up, perhaps? Did old Aunt Flossie recall it?
                Where, Ilya, do you find in the canonical collection of ANY Orthodox Church, whether in a Pedalion (Rudder) or Kormchaja Kniga or whatever, ANY canon which even contains the WORD “Anaxios?”

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              • Carl Kraeff says:

                “June 21, 1923: Fr. Philaret Ioannides was consecrated Bishop of Chicago for the Greek Archdiocese — the first Orthodox consecration in the city’s history. At one point in the service, some in the crowd began to shout, “Anaxios!” and a near-riot broke out.”
                http://orthodoxhistory.org/2012/06/18/this-week-in-american-orthodox-history-june-18-24/

                Yes, a cry of anaxios did occur. Yes, the consecration was indeed stopped–but, that was not the end of the story. After order was restored, Fr Philaret was indeed consecrated bishop.

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                • Artakhshassa the Great says:

                  Carl, the article you linked us to read like this:

                  “Archbishop Alexander, according to custom, had chanted out the query: “Is our new bishop worthy of the honor that has been bestowed upon him?” As if by prearranged signal a dozen or more in the audience sprang to their feet. “No, no, no. He is unworthy.”
                  Those backing Bishop Joannides accepted the challenge by leaping at the shouters and in a moment the ceremony had been turned into one of confusion”
                  My question to, especially those who have familiarity with the Service Books of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and/or the Church of Greece is this; “Is it specified and, if so, where, that anyone would ask the question that Archbishop Alexander so provocatively asked? “.
                  If he uttered such a bizarre question, how can it be consistent with the Gospel and the Divine Liturgy. “None is worthy…” for example is prayed by every :Priest or Bishop before the Great Entrance at Liturgy. No parish can vote on anyone’s worthiness. It is God, the Holy Spirit Who, through the Laying on of Hands makes an unworthy candidate worthy of the Priesthood or Episcopate.
                  The action of Archbishop Alexander looks to my sinful eyes and understanding like a provocation and an invitation to disrupt the service if possible.

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          • That’s right Ilya, things were not properly done-hence the turmoil still.
            Art you can say that line all you want, but you are in the wrong.

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      • In the Russian tradition, the white klobuk is not a sign of being a First Hierarch-of primacy. The white Klobuk is worn by relative multitudes of Metropolitans in Russia nowadays without detracting from the glory of the Patriarch of Moscow or the Patriarchs of Serbia or Bulgaria. Metropolitan Ireney continued to wear his white klobuk in retirement, as did Metropolitan Anastassy. As for the question, “when will the patience of the MP run out, causing them to take Metropolitan Jonah without a release, i.e., uncanonically, I’d guess never, especially if Metropolitan Jonah has NOT requested a release to the Moscow Patriarchate..
        Just WHO says that Metropolitan Jonah has applied to ANYBODY, requesting to be received?

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      • Carl Kraeff says:

        Where did you get that idea? All of the living retired metropolitans are shown with their white klobuks at OCA.org. See http://oca.org/holy-synod/retired.

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        • Yet Another Former St Nicholas... says:

          Sorry, Carl,

          Metropolitan Jonah is not retired

          A nice sermon of his to listen to:

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          • Carl Kraeff says:

            I am sorry; he was indeed listed under “Former and Retired Bishops.” As for his current status, can we agree that he (a) is no longer the primate of the OCA and (b) the Archbishop of Washington or of any other diocese? Since his retirement status is up in the air, can we agree that he is also between assignments, that he is not an auxiliary, and that he may not participate in the meetings of the Holy Synod or the meetings of the Assembly of Bishops? Regarding the Assembly of Bishops, it is “a council of all the active, canonical Orthodox bishops of North America,” so probably +Jonah does not quite fit in at this time. Perhaps we should have another category between active and retired bishops? What do you think?

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              Carl, you’re truly not making sense now. Better yet, since Syosset is not returning my phone calls, why don’t you call them up and ask what Jonah’s status is. Five will get you twenty that they won’t make any more sense to you either.

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            • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

              Carl, this is one of the situation where the answer is either “yes” or “no”; or, “1″ or “0″; or, “true” or “false”. Either a bishop is active or retired; there is no in-between. The only condition that negates these status is “deceased”.

              Yes, Carl, do please ask the Synod exactly what is going on. Lot of us would love to know the answer.

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              • Carl Kraeff says:

                Lola, you and George are playing word games. How can any bishop be an active one if he does not have anything to do as a bishop? +Jonah does not have a diocese. He is not assigned to any particular job as far as we know. In contrast, +Mark (Maymon) is an auxiliary bishop and has a real job in the CA. Yet, he seems to be still negotiating another job. So, let’s say that he is between jobs: not active, not retired, just between assignments. What’s wrong with that as a matter of terminology?

                Let me make an analogy. Let’s say that you are a physician, Doctor Lola J. Lee Beno, the Chief of staff at the Mayo Clinic. You are an active MD. Let’s also say that tomorrow you resign your position but do not have any job (yet). You are not an active practicing MD but you are an MD until you surrender your license or it is taken from you. Let’s suppose that you kick back for a few months or years, during which you are Dr. Beno, effectively retired from practice. You are in that status until you return to work; you can hang out your own shingle or join a practice/hospital if any would hire you.

                What is truly strange to me is the behavior of +Jonah supporters who want him to have a job but insist on insulting and demonizing those folks who can give him a new job. I don’t think that this approach works in the real world. If you doubt me, go ahead and ask for a promotion or transfer after you have written letters to the editor bad mouthing your company and your boss.

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Now you’re being tedious. Either Jonah is an active bishop or he’s retired. If he was deposed then he wouldn’t be a bishop. Lola’s right: it’s either “0″ or “1″. The fact that Syosset doesn’t know right from wrong or down from up does not negate its fundamental stupidity.

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                  • Carl Kraeff says:

                    Have it your way George. +Jonah is an “active” bishop but has no commensurate responsibilities. Nor is he even a rector of a parish. If he ends up released, I hope that the jurisdiction that receives him gives him a job that he can do.

                    Interestingly, one of the usual suspects here intimated that I had suggested the possibility of Jonah becoming the primate of ROCOR. What an idea, as our (at least mine) beloved Vladika Tikhon may say.I have said repeatedly that I fully agree with +Jonah that he is not fit to be a primate. I have also said that, as a consequence, he is not fit to be a diocesan. I will now go further and say that, as a consequence, he is not fit to be a rector of a parish. But, he is of course an “active” bishop.

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                  • A shepherd is found to lead the flock and protect it from predators. From the moment he takes the job he and his flock hear wolves all around them. The sheep are skittish, some gather close to the shepherd, others run away, and still others dart back-and-forth in a fret.

                    The shepherd sees that the flock is nervous and skittish, and hears their bleatings, many demanding his replacement. So he walks away and leaves the flock to their fate.

                    In your mind is the shepherd now “active” or “retired?” Does the owner of the sheep consider that the shepherd is on the job, or that he is due a pension for his service? In the binary world, is the shepherd in state “1″ or state “0?”

                    I cheered when Metropolitan Jonah was elected. I knew his first years would be bumpy, and hoped that over time he would develop the administrative skills necessary to lead the Church. What surprised me, especially after his rousing speech to the Synod, was how conflict avoidant he actually is. That inability to cope with conflict is a fatal flaw in anyone in a role of leadership.

                    There is a large difference between giving great talks and signing even the most awesome of documents, and actually being a leader.

                    As John puts it succinctly: The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.

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                    • Ilya ZHitomirskiy says:

                      Amen! That is exactly what Metropolitan Jonah did. He was forced to go on leave by the Synod, and tried to increase missions, despite obstruction. I have tried to be neutral, but I cannot stand by while someone is trashed by people who should be his own brethren. He will have a valid and valuable job in ROCOR, but the ideal option would be to restore him back to the OCA primacy.

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                • Disgusted With It says:

                  “What is truly strange to me is the behavior of +Jonah supporters who want him to have a job but insist on insulting and demonizing those folks who can give him a new job.”

                  The problem, dear Carl, is that “those folks who can give him a new job” are, and have been for some time, acting in bad faith (Stokoe emails, Santa Fe, stinkbomb letter, to name a few examples). If what we’ve heard so far is true, the so-called proposal to make Metropolitan Jonah an “auxiliary bishop” under the bishop of the West is an insult to say the least — so much so that one cannot even take it seriously. So now do we just stand in awe at their supreme holiness (which, honestly, one can easily assume you do a lot of), or do we recognize the sinful nature of man and rebuke the sins of our brothers toward a Christian resolution and proper cleansing of our Church?

                  (And I’m sorry, but I don’t have any notarized statements with photographic and DNA evidence to go along with my comment, as I am sure you will demand.)

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                  • M. Stankovich says:

                    Disgusted With It,

                    I have no idea what you do professionally or what your vocation might be, but I can tell you in no uncertain terms: if, at the urging of my colleagues, I had submitted myself to an independent assessment of my emotional and psychological functioning by licensed professionals, and the findings of which indicated I was in significant need of help, my colleagues would not return me to my work until I had resolved the issue(s). The reasoning is twofold: to protect those I would encounter (and you cannot assist anyone in becoming healthier than you are yourself), and to protect me.

                    This is an issue glaring in that there is not a living person posting here who was present at that hospital except one man, and there is no one – Synod, Chancellor, Council, or the like – who conducted this assessment, reached clinical conclusions, and drew upon those conclusions to make evidence-based recommendations. And the former Metropolitan chose not to comply.

                    Likewise, it is quite handily forgotten in all the discussions of Canon Law, “take downs,” ruthlessness, and backstabbing, first and foremost, the former Metropolitan was offered a choice: comply with the recommendations made by St. Luke’s – which would have allowed him to remain as Metropolitan & Archbishop of Washington – or resign. As CQ says above, he did not choose what a leader would do; he did not even honour his own promise to “do whatever necessary” to repair the “disaster” for which he had accepted responsibility. And for his four-year “disaster”, through counsel, is requesting a magnanimous pension and a ticket out. I personally find this astonishingly arrogant and shockingly outrageous.

                    He made open, recorded, undeniable public apologies and accepted responsibility for the divisiveness he caused between members of the Holy Synod, and he promised to do everything in his power to correct his mistakes: “I will do whatever is necessary… out of my love for the Church and the faithful.” Then do so. Submit yourself to the help offered to you until you are restored to health, and then serve the Orthodox Church in America as you were consecrated, in obedience, to do.

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                    • Disgusted With It says:

                      M. Stankovich,

                      I can appreciate the thought that if there was an evaluation that had recommendations then those recommendations should be taken seriously. I think however, certain people on the synod and the administration seriously undermined their credibility beginning with the “Stokoe emails”. Doesn’t it look bad to you that the people who disagreed with his positions on issues 1) discussed how to set him up for removal, 2) forced him to a facility of their choosing rather than an independent facility negotiated by and acceptable to both parties, 3) when left having to explain their actions against him put out a document (actually published by +Matthias prematurely — oops!) that is easily found to be full of inaccurate information, and 4) refuse to release him to another Church requesting his transfer (which reeks of spite)?

                      It’s difficult for any of us to fairly discuss or judge the St. Luke Institute’s evaluations and recommendations because none of us have seen any of it, nor has that information been shared with us. I’m sure you would agree that such speculation would be reckless.

                      As for +Jonah’s choice to succumb to the constant, intense pressure put on him, I personally am disappointed. He seems to have gotten to the point where he was tired of fighting with those who were supposed to be his “brothers”. I just try to imagine myself in his shoes and wonder how disillusioned I would become if I rather abruptly was put into a situation where I discovered a deep-rooted culture of hypocrisy. Maybe he just decided to put it into God’s hands.

                      As for his “public apologies”, the “apologies” part of the AAC speech was written by +Benjamin and then emailed around to the synod for their suggested revisions. They basically told him to read it or else they would come after him for disobedience to the synod. The clergy and faithful, most of whom could never have imagined that their bishops would actually perpetrate such deception, were played for fools by their own synod. How low indeed. And the bishops sat there pretending as if they were hearing it and reacting for the first time. Again, I am disappointed +Jonah went along with it, but the whole dysfunctional situation seems to be a blend of misguidance and bullying.

                      But that chapter is over now and the OCA limps along, perhaps wiser but certainly more transparent. Many more people see the OCA leadership for who they are and simply don’t respect them anymore. They love their Faith, they love their parish, they love their priest, but beyond that they just don’t care anymore. If the OCA truly wants to regain respect, those bishops who have questionable “issues” should politely retire and then the OCA should bring in all new leadership who are not related to or close friends of all the current or past players. A fresh start for a positive way forward. But the way they have been acting lately shows they will never do that. “Nothing to see here. All is fine. Please move along.”

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            • Artakhshassa the Great says:

              Carl and George! Metropolitan Jonah resigned; that is, he TURNED BACK FROM THE PLOUGH. It would take considerable gall on his part for him to claim that the title of Archbishop of Washington that was bestowed on him SOLELY because of and as a consequence of his election to be First Hierarch (Latin for First Hierarch: “Primatus”) was still his!!

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              • Ilya ZHitomirskiy says:

                Is it resignation when the other bishops sent him a letter DEMANDING that he resign? If so, this is duress, and is not valid under any law, church or secular. If he was a wussy he would have resigned earlier. The OCA also tried to paint him as mentally unstable, but he still fought on.
                In soccer, players are applauded even when they are substituted off, because of what they contributed to the game. Why did the synod force him out without even a show trial?

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                • Artakhshassa the Great says:

                  Ilya. One: when did the other bishops write to Metropolitan Jonah and demand that he resign? i believe you are mistaken. They did not sent him ‘a letter DEMANDING that he resign”, as you write.
                  Even if they had done, and they did not, he’s still a free, baptized Orthodox Christian and an American citizen. All it would have taken if they did what you falsely write that they did, is a simple answer by him: “Hell, no, I won’t resign!” Two: Ilya! Ever hear of this advice; “Just say no?”
                  But instead he took the easy way out, he caved, he surrendered, he gave in, he threw in the towel, he LOOKED back from the plough. Out of gratitude, they should have given him a bonus and a diocese, but I don’t think he wants a diocese at all. He just wants enough income to live in his coveted paradise of Washington, DC. with his family. Perhaps he could do as well as ever-memorable Bishop Basil (Rodzianko)… travel around speaking, do some writing. No real responsibilities. Look how well Bishop Basil did in those circumstances when he didn’t have any diocesan or even parish responsibilities, and only had to consort with supporters!
                  I don’t understand that Synod’s attitude towards him at all. He resigned with alacrity..just what they wanted! Why did they go ahead and publish that STINKBOMB of a Statement which, instead of stinking up Metropolitan Jonah’s reputation, only stunk up their own! They’re so ungrateful!

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                  • Heracleides says:

                    Now, now Bp. Tikhon – there’s that green-eyed monster rearing its jealous episcopal head again. Please leave Bp. Basil out of your regurgitation.

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              • FORCED TO RESIGN UNDER THREAT OF INSTANT REMOVABLE. It is unbelievable the
                synod’s behavior as human beings and as Christians. They should not even qualify as priests in my book.
                They couldn’t manipulate Jonah so they threw him over the cliff. How do they look at themselves in the mirror or face their families after these actions.

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                • Jane Rachel says:

                  Madam,

                  Was Metropolitan Jonah actually “forced” to resign? I’m not doubting you, but would like to understand. Did he have any choice and if so, did he want to say no to the pressure, and if so, was he threatened? Could he have refused? What do you mean by “instant removal” (if that is what you mean)?

                  Thanks.

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            • Carl says”Perhaps we should have another category between active and retired bishops? What do you think?”

              How about released?

              He can’t work with them Carl and other people want him so why not release him? This is a game and nothing more. It makes the OCA look really bad. It makes +Tikhon look powerless. The way to “get on with things” is to release him.

              All the proper paper work has been filed. So, the ball is in the OCA’s court.

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              • Carl Kraeff says:

                I do not know how this makes Metropolitan Tikhon look powerless. Reassignment and release of bishops is within the jurisdiction and competence of the Holy Synod (OCA Statute, Article II, Section 7). And, as we know any Holy Synod is to strive for unanimity, so even if +Tikhon wanted the Holy Synod to approve +Jonah’s request for release, it may take some time to have all members on board.

                I also do not know how this makes the OCA look bad. Folks have read +Jonah’s immortal words in his resignation letter. I think the OCA looks rather good in not dumping a person who has “neither the personality nor the temperament for the position of Primate” on another church. Indeed,I think that should any release/transfer occur, the OCA should obtain a private assurance that the receiving entity is aware of +Jonah’s judgment of himself.

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                • You don’t know how being dysfunctional makes the OCA look bad? You don’t know how allowing people to suffer because of your pride and incompetence makes you look bad?

                  If you are worried that ROCOR has not read Jonah’s resignation letter, you simply attach a copy to your release papers and reference it in the release letter. If you truly believe you need legal cover, you spell out your misgivings and cite your evidence in the release letter. Problem solved!

                  And if you think Jonah has requested to be the “Primate of ROCOR,” then you really are cognitively challenged. I suspect you know better and are just the kind of person who thinks he can get away with being disingenuous and manipulative, but I’ll keep trying to find an explanation for your behavior that puts your character in a more favorable light.

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                • Because +Tikhon has said to individuals he would release +Jonah and he has not. If he can’t he shouldn’t say he will. Or if he thinks he can, but can’t well he is powerless. If he can’t persuade the Synod it sounds just like +Jonah not being able to persuade the Synod. . . . . OO not good for +Tikhon.

                  Other Jurisdictions are wondering why +Jonah has not been released yet-I should say loyal OCAers are even wondering why he hasn’t been released yet. I’m telling you it looks like a game to people. As for me, I can see very well it’s a game, for others they have to see it for themselves.

                  There is no “dumping”. +Jonah has been requested. They know very well the happenings around +Jonah. Wow Carl you are really in the dark.

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            • Artakhshassa the Great says:

              Carl, in pointing out that the OCA web page lists a category of “Retired and Former Bishops” highlights a certain administrative stupidity in the Central Administration of The Orthodox Church in America. In fact, NONE of those so listed is a FORMER Bishop! They are all STILL Bishops, not “former Bishops.”
              Bad grammar is endemic in modern America. When a Bishop, such as I, retires, he becomes a retired bishop. It is reasonable for me to list after my name, “FormerLY Bishop of San Francisco, now a retired bishop in the OCA. ONLY A HIERARCH EXPELLED FROM THE EPISCOPATE IS A FORMER BISHOP.

              I became a Bishop through the Laying-on-of-hands” by four other Bishops. The process was never ever reversed. I was installed as Bishop of San Francisco. When I retired from the office in which I had been installed, I remained a Bishop. It would accurate to refer to me as Retired Bishop Tikhon, formerly of San Francisco. But I am not a former Bishop.

              It would be accurate to entitle that list on the OCA website : Retired Hierarchs and a Deposed Deacon, but there are NO Former Bishops there.
              When Metropolitan Jonah resigned from the office to which he had been elected by the Holy Synod, he did not become a “Former Metropolitan’ or a “Former Archbishop”. He should have simply been left under “active Hierarchs”. Under his name they should have put “Formerly First Hierarch (Primate) of The Orthodox Church in America,” because that is factual, the truth.

              The Holy Synod erred, when they accepted his resignation, in not awarding him a titular see and listing him as Temporary Vicar of the First Hierarch, with a title, like Bethesda.

              But most of the clerics in the OCA Chancery have never had a real job and they apparently are also challenged when it comes to leadership or personnel administration, though they ALL have ideas.

              There’s no one there, like Father R.S. Kondratick or Bishop Nikolai, to straighten out the administration based on experience. I remember that when a Deacon (Karras? Sp?) loftily pronounced that Father Rodion S. Kondratick had too much “power” concentrated in his office of Chancellor, and I pointed out that his “span of control” did not exceed traditional management principles, and that the amount of “power” he held was typical of Chancellors wherever they existed, such as at Universities, in national governments and EVEN in the Greek Archdiocese, the Antiochian Archdiocese, the Moscow Patriarchate, he said, ‘I don’t know about THEM!” as if what I had said was irrelevant to his claim! Another such “advisor” a Protodeacon, liked to issue his administrative DECISIONS which were supposed to be honored because of his Job!!! Neither of them seemed to be acquainted with management as holders of degrees in “business admiistration” should have been. Father R.S. Kondratick had real hands-on expertise in ecclesiastical administration and he was actually a “natural” (something they all wrongly considered themselves to be). Bishop Nikolai, with a couple of MBAs to his credit, and experience as an executive administrator so accomplished that when he voluntarily retired in order to be consecrated a Bishop, the Governor of Nevada declared an official ‘Nicholas Soraich Day!” He had to listen and watch Deacon Karras obediently lecture the Holy Synod as the entire anti-Kondratick cabal wanted him to do. He saw, as I did not, the utter futility and hopelessness of presenting any other case but the desired one before Metropolitan Herman’s Holy Synod. I was more naive than he.

              Differing with the “wisdom of the day” in that place at that time was quixotic. Stokoe and Wheeler’s day had come: they had the support of the Metropolitan who cared mainly about not having to move out of South Canaan Pennsylvania, and of all the Hierarchs on the Holy Synod who wished to protect Zacchaeus in Moscow and get rid of a Chancellor who knew too much about all of them.

              They’d got rid of him without notice of any kind at the beginning of the day, suddenly locking him out of the Chancery and preventing him from copying or preserving files adverse to their purposes and reputations. A mostly Jewish law firm specializing in criminal defense (!!) was hired at the same time. They summoned Father R.S. Kondratick to meet with them in the Chancery library a couple of times, but when he showed up, he asked to start their conference (inquisition is more like it) with the prayer “O Heavenly King.” Mme. Gold refused. The conference was aborted. And so it went. As you know, when Father R.S. Kondratick agreed to submit to questioning by the whole Holy Synod without his lawyer or other advocate present, the gang reacted swiftly to prevent any testimony by him from being entered into any record. EVEN when they summoned him to a kangaroo court, they refused to agree to have the proceedings recorded!

              Father R. S. Kondratick, though possibly overly discreet and forbearing considering the offfenses of others, never submitted to Metropolitan Herman’s many requests and demands that he resign. Perhaps if Father R.S. Kondratick had only resigned-obediently and fearfully looked back from the plough as did Metropolitan Jonah much later-he too, might still be able to function as a Priest. But no. he did not resign, nor did he accuse. Tell us who, in all this, followed the Gospel’s teachings.

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              • Your Grace,

                You once again present the unvarnished truth about the Kondratick affair. Anyone hitting the thumbs down button must be irritated by the facts and truth as you present them. You were there, you saw what went on. The fact that many of the same players who used the demise of Kondratick to make their church careers are now in power only shows how deeply flawed the OCA now is as they build their jurisdictional careers upon the bones of those they eliminated. God is not blessing their efforts no matter how they try and create the news and reassure people that the OCA is now all good and moving forward.

                It must be a particularly difficult spiritual trial to live within such a make-believe bubble.

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              • Tumorous Baktos says:

                RSK was a manipulator of people and played fast and loose with the monies of the OCA. He was known in maffia circles from Las Vegas to Moscow. Even people like John Gotti did great things for the people in his neighborhood; they loved him. Yet, he was a maffia boss with another side. RSK was a promoter and a likable person, but there was also another side to him.

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              • M. Stankovich says:

                Artakhshassa the Great,

                You might want to scoot over to the website of Dr. Robert Hare, foremost world authority on matters of Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder. Scan your clerical provocateurs grandioses through the Psychopathy Check List (PCL-R) and let me know what you come up with. Personally, I’m predicting BIG numbers – Snakes in Suits… um, make that рясах. Nevertheless, I am encouraged by the thoroughly unvarnished, unapologetic apology of Lance Armstrong, and I’ll pull some strings to see if I can get Oprah’s number. “Robert who? And who cares?”

                I can’t help but think, would they let a man drive with his klobouk on backward?

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                • Artakhshassa the Great says:

                  M. Stankovich! I’m much too old to “scoot over” anyplace. Why don’t you yourself “scoot over”wherever, and let us all know what you find. This beating around the bush brandishing “professional” gobbledy-gook [Oh! "Psychopathy Check List" and then the cherry on top of that dollop of mayonnaise "(PCL-R)!"] My, oh, my! Oprah, klobuks, snakes in riassas, Lance Armstrong. Perhaps scooting outside will be beneficial: you need to get out more and try to conquer what looks like an addiction to the media and their obsessions (even Lance Armstrong! Why did you leave out Algeria? Shows there’s still hope, maybe. Nothing about any cliffs or debt-ceilings or blasphemy against the 2nd Amendment, though—that’s auspicious.

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              • titles,hmmm says:

                Dear Vladika Tikhon,

                I think, if I were to announce you, you would be Bishop Tikhon, former Bishop of San Francisco, retired. It seems redundant but it not. Someone can be a Mitropolit Iona Arhiepiskop Vashingtonskogo even when he is Bivshe Mitropolit Amerikanskogo i Kanadskago…Thus, in that system, we have Metropolitan Jonah, Archbishop of Washington, former Metropolitan of America and Canada. He never retired so that part wouldn’t be there.He never resigned the Archbishopric, so we can still consider anyone else a pretender to that title.

                You bring up a very good point about the change of status problems on the OCA website. Wouldn’t it be good if all former clergy as well as present clergy could be listed with the dates of their times in various offices, their elevations and changes in status, any transfers of jurisdictions, any temporary lending of a cleric to another jurisdiction, all degrees and training, civil names, honors, contact information, retirement dates and release or defrocking, if applicable. A little transparency never hurts and it might prevent abuses like false innuendo, defamation of character, and/or marginalization of worthy candidates. One Carpathorussian parish I attended I especially thought great for publishing their finances and compensations on a monthly basis to all. I also think, and this pertains to you, that we ought do what is done abroad in various jurisdictions and basically allow all retired clergy to participate at will anywhere in their own jurisdiction and to ask permission only when entering the territory of another jurisdiction. Why aren’t we showing honor to our elders? Have we no respect for their offices?

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                • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says:

                  I agree with much of what you write aboved,but it is a matter of protocol for ANY bishop,retired or not,to seek permission from the local bishop before doing anything in the latter’s diocese.
                  From the life of St.Tikhon of Zadonsk,I recall that in the Russian tradition,a bishop who retires to a monastery still retains some privelages of his rank.
                  As I recall,St.Tikhon and,I think,Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky as well;spoke approvingly of the Greek practice,where a retired bishop reverts to being a simple monk.at a monastery.

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                  • Artakhshassa the Great says:

                    When Metropolitan Vladimir (Nagossky) returned to America from Japan, so\me time AFTER the Japanese Church received autocephalous status in the Moscow Patriarchate, he at first became Archbishop of Berkeley, and he was commemorated as Metropolitan Vladimir, Archbishop of Berkeley. Later, after Archbishop John (Shavhovskoy)’s retirement, he became Metropolitan Vladimir, Archbishop of San Francisco and the West, after a diocesan assembly voted for him and the Holy Synod elected him to that See. It was also during his incumbency that the Diocese was incorporated. Formerly, the ruling bishop had the “corporate sole.’ or corporation sole, which is the canonical Orthodox polity which the Roman Catholics still conform to. In becoming separate non-profit corporations with boards of trustees and so forth, the Metropolia conformed to the Protestant model, rather than the canonical one. The apologies for that transformation liked to call it democratization or, worse, shedding Latin influences. Actually, incorporations of parishes took place long before incorporations of dioceses or the Metropolia itself. This was always an undertaking AGAINST the hierarchy and its canonical place in Orthodox ecclesiology, even as DEFENSE against “the Bishop.”
                    I don’t believe that Metropolitan Jonah, after resigning, EVER laid claim to the title of Archbishop of Washington. This is mainly a product of well[-meaning ignorance of Orthodox tradition and an attempt to “re-invent the wheel” as well as an attempt to grab at anything in order to apply force against those who encouraged Metropolitan Jonah to resign. By obsesssing about this or that hierarch’s “right ” to the title of Washington DC, ALL the supporters of Metropolitan Jonah are made to seem inept and uninformed as the Holy Synod was in swallowing that STINKBOMB of a letter that Greg Nescott, Archbishop Benjamin, et al, cooked up.

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Actually, that’s not true. He signed the resignation letter with this title “Archbishop of Washington, DC.”

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                    • Bruce Wm. Trakas says:

                      When the Church of Russia reconciled with the Church of Japan (in 1970?), it granted it “autonomy,” not “autocephaly.”

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                    • Carl Kraeff says:

                      George–You continue to offer that excuse for a faulty argument. Yes, it is true that he signed that letter as Archbishop of Washington. And, he may even have entertained the hope that he was going to retain that see. If that is true, I would think that it is yet another instance of incompetence and administrative error. I am being very generous here, George, for to contemplate the alternatives would inevitably lead one in the direction of delusion and narcissism. If I were you, I would accept the explanation once offered by Bishop Tikhon (retired) that until the official acceptance by the Holy Synod, he was indeed what he claimed to be.

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                    • Archpriest John Morris says:

                      I have no doubt that you will find that the practice of incorporating parishes as independent entities was done at the suggestion of the Bishop of the Metropolia. “Bishop” John Kedrovsky of the pro-Soviet Living Church came to America in 1923 and began to claim control over Russian Orthodoxy in America. After he went to court and gained control of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York, the Bishops of the Metropolia suggested that each parish incorporate itself as the owner of the property to keep from losing control to Kedrovksy and his supporters.

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                    • Artakhshassa the Great says:

                      Of course, autonomous, not autocephalous. Doesn’t affect the case though.

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                    • Artakhshassa the Great says:

                      Archpriest Morris supports what I wrote; namely, that the incorporation of parishes in the Orthodox Church began and continued for some time in order to wrest property from the canonical possession of a bishop or “the bishops.” The most publicized example of that was the case of the Living Church’s Benjamin Kedrovsky, who called experts into court to prove that the Russian Church is a hierarchical Church and that parish properties belong to the Bishop as “Corporation Sole.” They were willing to CEDE their own authority in the uncanonical MESS that resulted from the collapse of the Liberal Government and the rise of the Conciliar, or “Soviet”, Government of the Communists. When Kedrovsky won finally in court, by about 1928=9, they did, indeed, surrender to the anti-canonical forces that they had been previously opposing. The parishes needed little encouragement, since they were already incorporating to escape the bishops.
                      In a similar controversy in the Roman Catholic Church in the late 19th century, sometimes called ‘The Trusteeship Controversy” and sometimes “The “American Catholicism Controversy,’ the RC hierarchy stuck to their guns and sucessfully defended the canonical structure which obtains even today in America’s Roman Catholic parishes.
                      That’s why the Metropolia’s “All-American Councils” since that time have been exact replicas of America’s denominational annual conventions: whereas, in Orthodoxy, councils were called only as an extreme measure to settle questions as serious as heresy, in America they became these conventions whereby, far from being based on issues of any kind, committees had to THINK UP topics and agendas in order to occupy and amuse the conventioneers!

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                  • Artakhshassa the Great says:

                    Father Andrei is quite right.And the practice he spoke of as “the Greek practice” is also the practice of the Russian Church for retired hierarchs.
                    One of the best and most inspiring examples of a retired Bishop was Bishop Innocent (Solovieff)(I think) who was portrayed in a biographical sketch by ever-memorable Metropolitan Benjamin (Fedchenko), former vicar of Metropolitan Evlogy of Paris and then Exarch of the Moscow Patriarchate in America. He retired in Russia and he published his piece on Bishop Innocent in the Messenger of the Russian Student Christian Movement. (Viestnik) several years ago. Father Alexander Lisenko rendered it into English and (then) Father Jonah had it published in the ‘Divine Ascent” periodical

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  11. Freedom of the Press says:

    Radio Liberty Loses its License in Moscow, and Russians Raise Voices in Dismay
    American-financed Radio Liberty, which penetrated the Iron Curtain with news of the outside world during the Cold War, has been trying to join today’s information revolution – and the static crackling around its efforts has been loud enough to reach Washington. The radio station has embraced a digital future dismissing 37 journalists as it downsized just before it lost its only local broadcasting license.

    See the full article (Washington Post, Kathy Lally, 1/3/13) at http://click.newsletters.usip.org/?qs=7d7180d75d88529d7a5fc56ce7325be0704027dc46b1fa50bf9280667218f96d

    Many Orthodox Christians have provided Orthodox news and church services over Radio Liberty and Voice of America. A friend even had a rock and roll show. This is a great loss.

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  12. Archpriest John Morris says:

    Look at http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=17075#.UPNwOvLRY6A

    Why don’t our Orthodox leaders in America speak as frankly and forcibly as Metropolitan Hilarion? Why does it take an official of the Patriarchate of Moscow to speak the truth to American Protestants? We should be doing this ourselves, after all we live next door to these people and some Orthodox associate with them in such discredited ecumenical organizations as the NCC, which the Antiochian Archdiocese left years ago.

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  13. MartyOlson says:

    Blessings & peace to all who read and write in this blog.

    I think, as all Christians are called to share in the evangelization of the world, that each individual OCA member can introduce themselves to new people, or talk with some who have become old friends and engage in very simple ways what Orthodoxy is, why do they belong, how their friend or neighbor could benefit from becoming a member of a truly Apostolic Church. Meanwhile, all of us, need to show, exhibit the true nature of Church by how we love one another. As Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount: We are the city on the hill-if our lamps are under the bushel, we do not shine brightly for all the world to see.

    Jesus also speaks about love of family. Isn’t it true that thieves, murderers love their parents and siblings also? Christians have to love others at our weakest moments. We have to love others as family does: unconditionally, with frustration but not abandonment; with pride, but not so pushy that they have just go to get away from us Yet they do need to leave us in order to relinquish themselves from us in order to love us all the more…usually anyway.

    Anyone who has been to prison, worked or volunteered there, knows that the basic living experience between inmates is brutality, violence, greed and theft. They live from day to day actively keeping others from doing them harm as well as to inflict revenge, an action imposed on them by the leaders of the gang the individual prisoner needed to join to be protected from their own “race” as well as from the others of different races.

    The state/federal gov’ts operate these prisons; people work in very dangerous jobs to feed their family and those who assigned there for ‘petty’ crimes such as using drugs, selling however much of these substances. Yet all of these different types live in a barbaric situation. Literally this is hell on earth. Yet, they are operated in the world. In parts of these jails the kingdom of God on earth exists directly beside horrible cruelty. In fact, it is only love, striving toward love more and more, is the only hope for these individuals who as best they can attempt to love one another.

    The Body of Christ

    The Church teaches us that us members of the Orthodox Church who have been Baptized are part of the mystical body of Christ, and that when we receive the Eucharist, mystically God, just as his body was opened up by the lance of the Roman soldier, Jesus is opening his body for us in a mystical reality. This mystical body is the church, and all who believe what the church teaches. The free and the prisoners will be nourished by the sacraments. Even within this, we can address the idea of freedom. There are as we know people who are stuck in darkness: the drug or alcohol addict who see a distorted sense of freedom. Admitting that they are addicts even today many people of recent ethnic immigrants perceives the alcoholic as lazy, lacking courage,. “If only” the person would truly confess and do penance they would stop. These ideas can easily turn into hindrances. For success, by the gift of God, the addict must go to another organization or rehab to begin to accept their addiction.

    And, we all need to work toward acceptance. With great knowledge of mankind Jesus instructs us, his disciples, to remove the beam of wood from our own eyes before pointing to the splinter in the other’s eye. How easily it is to escape our own feelings of inadequacy, impatience and sin that we are easily fooled to look for the sin in others.There are some social scientists who tell us that the faults we see so easily in others are in fact our faults twisted like a fun house mirror, which distorts our height, weight and girth. Do you ever have trouble looking at yourself in these funny mirrors? I do. Not when I was young-I thought they were really funny. Now, I can only think how the mirrors depict my inner self. Myself is twisted, distorted; so easily seen by others. Not by me.

    Yet, mystically all of us with our distortions and love; jealousies and acceptance; fear and a small amount of faith can change us. How a small amount of grace can rectify wrongs done to another. Yet, God does not provide us with small amounts of grace. Our bodies are completely filled with grace at any time by the sacraments. Only, we feel so small in the presence of such goodness as accepting death on the cross for us. We think all we deserve is a small amount of God’s love. Like the woman who decided to touch the edge of the cloak Jesus was wearing, she wouldn’t ask for any large amount of grace. This little bit will be enough.

    Jesus feels power leaving him. Jesus senses what the woman has done, turns to her, forgives her sins. We are like that woman. I will pray in the lobby of the church in a corner liker the publican. Yet, as a result of these hopes for just a small amount of grace, Jesus instead pours out as St. John tells us is grace upon grace to those who believe in Jesus.

    A long way around to get to the point that you as a believing Christian were given at baptism an abundance of grace. Not only that moment. Grace upon grace. We don’t have to worry about shortages when we talk about the heavenly gifts. There is no shortage of grace. Remember all the time that at the most difficult moments even greater is God’s grace available to you.

    So the prisoner can be in prison and be free. If he believes that Jesus has the power to bestow grace on him or her. The abundance is not lessened by that persons circumstances. It is always available.

    Yet outside the walls of the prison people are in the prison of darkness of those who have not seen the light, believed in it. God has not kept it away from him. It is us who must be the light which saves the world.

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  14. Bruce Wm. Trakas says:

    The GOAA diocesan bishops were promoted to the dignity of “Metropolitan” in late 1997, smack dab in the middle of Archbishop Spyridon’s tenure, upon Patriarch Bartholomew’s return to the Phanar after his first visit as Patriarch to the U.S. They were elevated and elected to active, but vacant sees in Turkey, while maintaining their assignments as “Presiding Hierarchs of [their] Diocese.” I believe the current charter that elevated the dioceses to metropolis’ resulting in the Metropolitan’s election to the sees of the newly established Metropolis,’ was granted in 2003.

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    • Tumorous Baktos says:

      After Ligonier in 1994, the Phanar decided to destroy any independence the bishops of the GOA had. + Iakavos was relieved of his position and forced to retire. The crazy + Spyridon was appointed as his successor who was completely loyal to the Phanar. The other bishops of the GOA were “promoted” to report directly to the Phanar for control purposes. In essence, the entire GOA was emasculated and none of it’s bishops could act in any manner without the Phanar’s blessing. Far from resembling anything of a “local church,” the GOA has become nothing more than an extension of the Phanar and it’s bishops puppets.

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      • George Michalopulos says:

        Spyridon was not “crazy.” He may have been an “ill fit” and ignorant of the way things were done in the GOA but otherwise sane. Because you receive your talking points from Syosset we know how they feel.

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        • Tumorous Baktos says:

          George,

          My assessment of + Spyridon comes directly from GOA priests close to him. Furthermore, his escapades before arriving in the U.S. and while here speak for themselves. Like some other bishops, he was as crazy as a “Mad Hatter.” This seems to be a possible occupational hazard that comes with the territory. As for the GOA, they have allowed themselves to be terrorized by Istanbul with no independent freedom as Greek Americans forming their own destiny. Truly unfortunate. Find out how much money the GOA had to pay to have + Demetrios give the benediction yesterday at Obama’s luncheon.

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          • George Michalopulos says:

            While I cannot disagree with your assessment that the priests in the GOA allow themselves to be “terrorized” by the Phanar, I must ask you what do you think about OCA priests and how they are similarly “terrorized” by Syosset? Do you not see the parallels?

            As for being as mad as a Hatter, I have no first-hand knowledge. If any GOA priest wants to come forward to speak to this, he is more than free to do so on this website.

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          • There is that green-eyed envy about the Greek Orthodox here in the USA. The poor OCA, doesn’t even get a thought by the White House and Inaugural Committee.

            Archbishop Demetrios, whether you like it or not, and you obviously do not, is the leading Orthodox bishop in the USA. Deal with it. Did you expect the White House to invite the newest in the turnstile Metropolitans? Heck, do you think they even know?

            Whether the President is a Democrat or Republican, they come and go (like OCA Metropolitans) but the GOA has a respected leader, known inside and outside the Orthodox Church. He is a loving man who has more smarts in the tip of his little finger then the entire brain trust of leadership of the OCA synod. Deal with it!

            Oh, and by the way, the GOA didn’t pay one penny to be there. They were invited by the White House and they would have been invited if Romney won.

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            • Michael Bauman says:

              Any Orthodox hierarch worth his salt would either refuse the invite once the protestant pastor was disinvited or given a benediction calling for repentance for our national policies of abortion and homosexual normalization and un-Constitutional wars.

              I don’t care what nationality a bishop is. It makes me ill when I see our bishops kow-towing to hate filled men just because our bishops are enamored with worldly power. Greeks make me sick with their infantile and unwarranted superiority complex. I’ll give you that.

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              • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                Easy, easy there buddy.

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                • Michael Bauman says:

                  Peter, you are refreshingly not of the type. I was actually thinking of a good friend of mine when I wrote the Greekness thing.

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                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                    No problem. Although my wife always thanks me for the fact that I grew up American and not “Greek.” I have attempted to ask her what that means because I’m as Greek as they come but she just says “you know, your’re not Greek GREEK.” I think she is giving me a compliment as she is Greek herself and grew up in the Greek community as I did, but being that’s a can of worms I do not want to open I just thank her for her comments and move on.

                    After Ten Years of marriage I have learned that the key is just to wake up every morning the first think out of my mouth is “I’m Sorry” and “I love you.” Its been marital bliss ever since.

                    Now if I could just figure out our kids, especially my daughter, I will have achieved familial nirvana. However, something tells me that little girl has it in for me. I love her but she’s hardcore. Try having a 4 year old tell you your not saying “The Lord’s Prayer” properly in Greek and your the translator of the Septuagint. That’s destroys your ego like nothing else.

                    Peter

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                    • Michael Bauman says:

                      Peter, the only thing worse, IMO, is being a novice kibba maker helping out for our big dinner and having two sittis (Arabic for grandmother) with two different kibba making styles watching over you and instructing you how to do it ‘right’ both of which are different from the way in which one was initially instructed at the beginning of the session.

                      Haven’t been back to that kitchen since.

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            • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

              Yeah, I can see the workings of the all powerful Greek lobby. Scary!

              Peter

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          • Carl Kraeff says:

            I am sure that the GOA did not pay a penny. Archbishop Demetrius was invited to the Congressional Luncheon by Senator Schumer (D-NY) who helped organize it. Indeed, the GOA Archbishop is the logical choice to invite if any function is to have Orthodox representation simply because there are as many Greek Orthodox as all of the other jurisdictions combined. Another reason is that the GOA has a limited political agenda that does not include hot issues like abortion and gay marriage. That means that the invitations to GOA would not offend anyone, except may be the Turks.

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            • The flap over Archbishop D. being invited to be part of the inaugural festivities is puzzling when one hears from Orthodox all the time that we are the “best kept secret” and we need to do more to raise our profile via the media so more people can know about us. Yet, when we get invited to public events there appears to be consternation because the “wrong” party has invited us.

              Personally these events are not always pleasant and I don’t think that anyone would leave the Orthodox Faith because a cleric gives an opening or closing prayer. I find it more probable that people might consider looking into the Orthodox Faith as a result of such exposure and if even one person converts to the True Faith, it is worth it. It is all part of running the race as St. Paul says. He also said:

              To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

              1 Cor 9:20-25

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            • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

              Carl, given the recently neutered OCA I wouldn’t criticize the GOA too much. Just saying.

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              • George Michalopulos says:

                I know Peter. It’s so laughable, all this OCA triumphalism. What a joke. The sad thing that when the lights finally go out, some of these Syossetolatrists will actually look back at Jonah’s tenure and admit that they were wrong. If the Lord wills and I’m still around I’ll very much relish saying “I told you so.”

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                • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                  The sad thing is that once upon a time the OCA was different and in many ways better than the GOA. Now its the same if not worse than the GOA. So I do not want to just criticize the OCA without acknowledging the problems in my own back yard.

                  Peter

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                  • Carl Kraeff says:

                    Peter–I am sorry but I did not mean to criticize. In any case, I wanted to share with you the following development;

                    “Chicago, Jan. 28, 2013— Male-Female marriage received a vigorous defense Monday in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Manhattan Declaration, Inc., the voice of more than 500,000 Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians filed a friend of the court (Amicus) brief. The foundational document of this organization, which has gained over half-a-million signatures, addresses religious liberty, sanctity of life and traditional marriage.

                    “Natural law, the nature of the human person, and common sense provide ample reason to preserve marriage as it has always been understood.” Explained John Mauck, the Chicago attorney with the firm of Mauck & Baker, who submitted the brief on behalf of the Manhattan Declaration.

                    The argument develops further by explaining God’s plan for the family and the social pathologies which emerge when the primacy of family and children is subverted. ”

                    http://mauckbaker.com/content.aspx?site_id=11178&content_id=340940

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                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                      Carl, I just want us to work together and build each other up. This world is currently conducting a full on attack on us as Orthodox Christians. I want us together not divided. This is how we survive and thrive by spreading the Gospel. In any case, no problem, I also ask for your forgiveness.

                      Peter

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            • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

              Besides Carl once Metropolitan Jonah goes over to the ROCOR the OCA is going to be neutered and the OCA will be even more obscure than it presently is.

              Peter

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  15. Tumorous Baktos says:

    Today, Jan. 22, 2013 is the 40th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision. 40 years of legalized murder of children in the U.S. Where is your expose of this, George?

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    • All in the Family says:

      Tumorous Nick,

      If you don’t know already where George stands on Roe v. Wade, then you really should get out more.

      BTW, are you all in CT just waiting for the Lord to call +Nikon home so you can start your drumbeat to ask for Wheeler to be your next bishop?

      Can’t wait for that to happen. Then in the spirit of transparency and accountability everyone can know the real Wheeler. You may wish to ask your good friend if he is still a supporter of Roe v. Wade?

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    • Disgusted With It says:

      Why don’t you ask our bishops about where they are on this. Some, not even all, of them getting some exercise in Washington once a year is nice, it helps to get some attention, but it really is the “least” they can do. Why are they not speaking out and making known to the president that his stand on the issue is wrong — especially the fact that he supported termination of pregnancy (human life) even if the child survives a failed abortion attempt?! The bishops should push, push, push. But they always seem to do the bare minimum, UNLESS of course it’s persecuting one of their own. Then they find a certain “zeal”.

      It’s funny that you expect more out of George and this website than out of that synod.

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      • Disgusted,

        To be fair, the OCA has their annual letter for the Sanctity of Life and special petitions to be used on the Sunday before the March. There is nothing to limit the use of those petitions by a parish priest anytime. Is the annual letter enough? No. Should they speak out more? Not knowing if they have said or done anything else except participate in the March, but knowing that the prevailing thinking in the USA is that a majority of people now believe that R v. W. should not be repealed, there is much work to be done. However it is a challenge for the bishops to speak in favor of life when they abuse the life of one of their own. We lead by example and their recent example is not life affirming. But, they can repent as we all can and should to choose life in all of its wondrous expressions including treating one another with love and respect.

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        • Disgusted With It says:

          An annual letter (ooooo, a letter — which I’m sure 99.9% of elected officials have never even heard of) and a few petitions that the priest rattles off once a year is nowhere near enough. They talk more about the metropolitan’s dog, or the landscaping at Syosset, or who’s meeting who at the chancery, than they do against abortion, gay “rights”, child abuse, human trafficking, and other topics in which the Church has a responsibility to make a difference in society.

          I give immense credit to our parishes and organizations, clergy and laity, who try to make a difference in these areas locally. They certainly do a lot more than the “National Church” or “Local Church” or whatever grandiose title the OCA wishes upon itself. The bishops are meant to lead, not to simply get away with doing the bare minimum.

          Many people criticize various protestant groups, and much of it may be deserving at times, but God bless them for having the courage to preach and defend Christian ethics that our leaders have seem to forgotten. Oh, I forgot, we HAD a metropolitan who did that — and look what his “brother” bishops did to him.

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