A Potemkin Election…

Art by HeracleidesClick to enlarge

Art by Heracleides
Click to enlarge

…for a Potemkin Village?

Well, it looks like the fix is in for the Diocese of Philadelphia. Syosset, not knowing what to do with Bp. Mark Maymon, The Bishop Without a Diocese, seems to have decided that among the four or five vacant dioceses, the most docile one is Eastern PA. Our guess is that they’ve taken a bead on the people and decided that they wouldn’t raise a ruckus like we did here in the South. And boy did we let out a Rebel Yell!

It’s also possible that they’re not thinking straight given the shrieking that was directed at the diocesan Chancellors and Treasurers who were in Syosset the previous two days. Monies are drying up, partly because of the various dioceses implementing the New York Plan (which decreases the amount in “head tax” they pay to Syosset), partly because the economy is still struggling, and partly because the OCA membership base is drying up. Anyway, Bp. Mark has been on their payroll since he left the South. Might as well have Philadelphia pay his freight.

Perhaps a little history is in order. The South moved heaven and earth to derail the candidacy of Bp. Mark Maymon as Arb. Dmitri’s successor. We succeeded and I for one wanted to call it a day. As far as I was concerned, he was no longer our problem. That would be too flippant and uncaring however. Some very good people from Eastern PA have contacted many of us here in the South (myself included) expressing deep concerns. After about the fourth contact, I’ve had to rethink my apathy. This meant dredging up old memories that were best forgotten — things like hacked computers, betrayed confidences, and generalized ill-will. (Full disclosure: Yours’ Truly was originally a staunch supporter of Bp. Mark and wrote a letter to that effect. It was only later when I found out the extent of the damage to the Cathedral in Dallas that I had to eat crow and admit my mistake.)

Lest we forget, Maymon was a key player in the illegal coup against Jonah; it was he who gave Mark Stokoe the pilfered emails of the former Chancellor of the South and it was Stokoe who dumped them on the Synod’s lap at the very last minute in order to ensure maximum damage to Jonah. From that point, Jonah’s effective primacy was over and done with. For that matter, so was the OCA’s moral legitimacy. Our floundering and flailing about has beclowned us all in the eyes of American and international Orthodoxy. The missteps and unforced errors since Jonah’s departure have multiplied out of proportion to our shriveling numbers. It’s like a horrific roller-coaster ride with no end in sight.

Because of the very real pain in this person’s voice, I promised the last petitioner that I’d give it my best shot.

So here goes:

The people of Eastern PA deserve a choice. Enough of these soviet-style one-candidate elections. If Bp. Mark wins in an open and honest election in which there are at least two other candidates, then he should be presented to the Holy Synod for election as bishop. Otherwise, this entire process is a sham, a put-up job to reward a conspirator for helping the Apparat get rid of Jonah. And don’t tell me that there aren’t any other “qualified” men out there. That’s nonsense on stilts.

Otherwise, file the directive below from the Chancellor of Philadelphia one under “Same old, same old.”

[gview file=”https://www.monomakhos.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Special-Message-from-the-Episcopal-Search-Committee.pdf” height=”800″]


  1. Fr. Stephen Lourie says

    Given the lack of candidates, is it reasonable to expect a real election with at least two other candidates from which to choose?

    • Fr. Peter Preble says

      With all due respect father that argument has no validity to it all. That would claim that with all of the celibate priests in American Orthodoxy there are no qualified candidates for the Episcopacy. If that is true then shame on us as a church for not preparing men for the future of the Church. I find this “there are no qualified candidates” argument very insulting and one that needs to stop.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I agree with you Fr Peter. The very idea that there are no qualified candidates among the celibate priesthood is too preposterous for words. If true, then the various jurisdictions need to cashier all of them and start over from scratch.

      • Mark from the DOS says

        Precisely. The failure to have a second candidate suggests that in all of the OCA, much less American Orthodoxy, there is not even one unmarried male qualified for the episcopacy. If this is true, the OCAs pretension to be an autocephalous church is and should be over.

      • I often wonder if it’s so much an issue of qualifications as it is willingness. The episcopacy must be a particularly difficult cross to bear, and even if you are good and fair and just and a great spiritual leader, there will still be plenty of headaches. I sure wouldn’t want to do it.

  2. Don't be Fooled says

    Words cannot fully describe the outrage I am feeling by the softball questions that Bishop Mark Maymon was asked as part of his “vetting process” by the EPA episcopal search committee.

    He was asked three questions:

     1. Describe your knowledge or preconceptions about the DOEPA
    2. Describe your spiritual life
    3. Describe your administrative and organizational experience.

    If Bishop Mark is going to be truthful with the clergy and faithful of the DOEPA he should answer them fully and transparently to include the following to each question.

    Question 1 – The only knowledge I have about the DOEPA comes from being interested in it when the prospect of being your bishop was presented to me by the OCA Synod last year. Other than that, I don’t know a thing about you. As for any preconceptions, again, not knowing anything before then, your diocese was a mystery to me.

    Question 2 – My spiritual life has been checkered since I have been disobedient and disrespectful to my former Metropolitans and to clergy. I refused to work out my differences with my former Metropolitans in secret but instead used the Internet to defame Met. Philip and to work against Metropolitan Jonah. I have an impulsive temper which I displayed by suspending a priest in Dallas without ever giving him a chance to explain himself.

    Question 3 – This is related to my spiritual life because I have used underhanded, disrespectful and immoral means to hurt others and to discredit them. Although I still don’t think I did anything wrong in stealing private emails from a priest in the Diocese of the South and then giving them over to my friend Mark Stokoe so that he could continue his vendetta against Metropolitan Jonah and in the process harm a priest, I would say my administrative and organizational skills can be summed up, “The end justifies the means.” I used these same skills to leak private information about Metropolitan Philip when I was in the Antiochian Archdiocese to make him look bad and with the help of Mark Stokoe make me look as if I was trying to clean up that Archdiocese.

    Good people of the DOEPA, this man will be a disaster for your diocese. He will bring discord. He did so when he was Bishop of Toledo, he did so when he was in the DOS and he will do it if you nominate him. He will not embrace your diocesan culture. He will try and impose what he likes and not what you are accustom to. He should have never been accepted into the OCA. He is disobedient, he presents a double-standard for conduct and he will dry up the already limited resources of your diocese so that he can be paid and taken care of to the measure he expects. He will reward and protect his friends and persecute those who disagree with him. He is a Potemkin Village.

    Vote NO to Maymon. Demand more candidates of your choosing and not what you are forced to swallow.

  3. Cruise with Archbishop Benjamin says

    Alaskan Cruise. Book soon


  4. There are people who left the Orthodox church because of the damage Bp Mark did in Dallas. They have not been able to reconcile what a bishop should be and how he behaved and then how the whole thing was handled. Rightly or wrongly, they feel so disappointed in our church and Orthodoxy that they cannot even bring themselves to attend another parish in the area.

    • if that is so, then it’s obvious they know little about Orthodoxy history. Not that it’s an excuse, it’s just that when people say the Church is made up of sinners, most seem to think that’s hyperbole. Forgiveness is also a lot harder than we like to think it is – and we’re meant to forgive them over and over again, whether they ask for our forgiveness or not. And such sinners can be saints, bishops, priests, close friends and family, not just bad people, not just ‘liberals’ or ‘conservatives’.

      • Michael Bauman says

        But there are the Biblical criteria for being a bishop. One only ones I know of for being a layman, at first, is maimed, broken and lame.

        I still insist that Bp Mark’s main problem was that he never did or was not allowed to establish a home in the Church as a lay person (that’s on Met. Philip).

  5. My comment January 10, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    I just found out that OCA Eastern PA Diocese is having a special assembly January 17th to nominate a bishop. All correspondence on their website uses the singular “nomination”. Only one person is being brought forward and that is Bp. Mark, the current administrator.

    It is my understanding there were approximately 31 candidates. The Diocesan search committee reduced it down to 7 potential candidates and presented their names to Bp. Melchisidek. I understand his response was along the lines that there are not 7 candidates; there is only one. In my opinion, it was never his intention to have anyone BUT Bp. Mark be considered and put in the chair.

    There is a special message on the website from the Chair of the Episcopal Search Committee that opens with, “According to His Grace, Bp. Melchisidek, the Synod presented 2 vetted candidates.” (Emphasis mine.) Yeah, right. I don’t believe it for a second.

    I saw a document, which I cannot find now (!) that said the Frackville Deanery put forth Bp. Mark’s name as a candidate.

    Isn’t it most convenient that Bp. Mark will get to be E.PA’s bishop without anyone else having an opportunity to spend as much time as he has (1 yr) campaigning, er…moving around the diocese getting to know the parishes and people. The Synod didn’t follow the procedure they used for +Mahaffey in Alaska. How is that fair and transparent to E.PA?

    This all stinks to high heaven.

    I can say with some certainty, Eastern PA is apathetic. When Bp. Mark is elected and consecrated, they will speak with their apathy. And for what it is worth, I’ve heard he has already caused discord, especially among those in ‘coal country.’

    • A Friend In Pennsylvania says

      I can confirm that Eastern PA is apathetic. After the series of scandal-touched bishops and Metropolitans we have had coming through South Canaan, most people just go to church with their heads down and prefer not to know more about the politics than they have to. (Honestly, most of the everyday parishioners do not even know that we don’t have an installed bishop right now.) Of the ones who do know, and do care, many already do not like Mark, but feel helpless to do anything to stop this kind of “election” from happening. I wish the representatives at the assembly had been brave enough to ask for a fair democratic election with more than one candidate. Maybe they did – I was not there – but truly, we deserve more than one choice, and options who are a better cultural fit than Mark.

  6. I live in Toledo,my hometown. I have visited all the Orthodox churches in the area. They lack what I see in abundance in the 650, 000 teens and 20 somethings who march in Washington against abortion. Here, the description of the Christ is fully fulfilled. What shall I liken this generation, children, marchng, piping a love of God and life. Pro-Obama’s do not dance. They also morn the loss of the innocent 1/3 part of thier generation. and the obamaites. who do not weep. This generation will see the return of the Chist . Watch the 2014 March ,if you can,.It uplifts the spirit. It s a sight to see.Glory be to God, Baby John DOe1709. Operation Rescue.

  7. Oh well….looks like E.PA has Bp. Mark. Nomination was yesterday.


  8. So sad today says

    An autocephalous church ought to be able to raise more than one candidate willing to serve. This “nomination” of a bishop that has twice been disobedient to his metropolitan with no alternative candidate in sight gives lie to the tightly held assertion of autocephaly in the OCA. Half the dioceses are vacant, power is held in the hands of a very few bishops, most with questionable pasts.

    An autocephalous church is, at base, one that can be fully self supporting, and most especially can raise its leadership from among its faithful. The OCA has come to the place of epic fail with respect to this. Even Mark is an import.

    Yet the OCA continues to cling to the fiction that they “nominate” from among the people, that the All American Council has authority, that the Metropolitan Council is a board of directors. All fiction, and fiction that separates them from other jurisdictions.

    A very sad day for the faithful.

  9. They need to put Bp. Mark somewhere and he really isn’t as bad as some here make him out to be. He’ll probably do very well in Philly. With regard to all of you homophobes here, this is an opportune time for Orthodoxy to return to married bishops.

    • St. Seraphim parishioner says

      The OCA doesn’t seem to have any problem putting clergy somewhere – often out to pasture. There is plenty of precedent. How many other jurisdictions have so many living Metropolitans? Not to mention other bishops without dioceses littering the OCA landscape. They owe +Mark, however, as he delivered when the demand “Someone rid me of this troublesome priest [Metropolitan]!” was uttered.

      Sorry sam, he’s worse. Much of what went on never made it to the Internet. Many at St. Seraphim’s believe that his behavior contributed to +Dmitri’s death. It certainly caused much unhappiness in the gentle old archbishop.

      Bishop Mark is not a stupid man. He’s been very careful to run everything past +Melchizedek this time. The real test will be after he is enthroned. I will pray that it is repentance, not pragmatism, that shapes his actions in Pennsylvania, both for the sake of the diocese and for +Mark’s sake.

      • “Bishop Mark is not a stupid man. He’s been very careful to run everything past +Melchizedek this time.”

        And because he was a good boy, +Melchizedek made sure to put the kabosh on the 7 names the Episcopal Search Committee put before him as potential candidates. +Melchizedek said there are not 31 names, nor are there 7, there is only 1 and that is +Mark. Eastern PA had no choice given them.

        IMO, the Synod is not going to allow anyone to be seated on an Episcopal Throne that is going to rock the boat they are fighting so hard to keep stable.

        • Older But Wiser says

          The boat they are fighting so hard to keep stable, Philippa, may not be so stable after all. A Potemkin village, with nothing behind its facade, tends to blow down easily when a high wind arises, and high winds always arise, sooner or later. No, all is not serenity in DOEPA. There are dissentions that have not become public, swept beneath the carpet. One is reminded of the bad old days. Back in 2005, the problems were not new, but that was when they first began to be revealed publicly. The ethos and the modus operandi remain the same now as they were then, I fear.

    • just because we follow what the church teaches us does not make us homophobes..I noticed this a lot with gay marriage.. if you are against gay marriage?? that means you bash gays… ???
      And about +Mark?? they should have made him a professor at a seminary………….
      Sadly it is true +Mark has already caused discord …………..

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      What is a “homophobe”? I’ve heard that “word” a lot in the last few years.

      • Michael Bauman says

        A “homophobe” is any one who won’t/doesn’t approve with enthusiasm the nihilist/blasphemous agenda of the homosexual jihad. Homophobes are equivalent to the infidel.

        In other words anyone who adheres to traditional Christianity.
        Sam, you might try reading Washed and Waiting for a perspective on a genuine Christian approach to homoerotic temptation. It mirrors the traditional teaching of the Church as far as I know it.

    • It’s a very insecure person who resorts to calling people names such as homophobe.

    • The Diocese of EPA is one of the OCA’s most strongly ethnic dioceses — I lived in eastern PA much of my life and only encountered meeting a handful of converts, ever.

      Bishop Mark would never fly in one of the more convert-heavy dioceses, as these people tend to be more vocal in what they want (as the South sent him away). The ethnic dioceses tend to more take what they’re given.

      Bishop Mark has a lot of work ahead of him. Take the churches in Philadelphia — St Stephen’s Cathedral used to be very “American,” but is now heavily Russian again. St Nicholas is a beautiful old church in the northern liberties sectionof the city, but it’s nearly empty! How the parish maintains that grand building is a mystery. Assumption Church in south Philadelphia has an energetic young priest but is in such a struggling and tough section of the city that it’s frightening sometimes. St Mark’s in Bucks County had all those problems last year with the priest. St Herman’s in Delaware County has a wonderful priest but again, it’s so ethnic for a suburban parish.

      May God bless your uphill task, Bishop Mark!

      • Protopappas says

        I don’t like what Bp Mark did while he was in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and although I am not in the Antiochian Archdiocese, I followed it closely. However, people can learn from their mistakes. I have met Bishop Mark. He is the Bishop of OCA diocese of Eastern PA. We should all be praying for him that he does well at this point.

  10. There is no such thing as homophobia, It is a term invented by Madison Avenue merchandizers, paid to propagandize the homosexual agenda. It is apparently adopted as a physcoligal disorder by the psyciatrists,, who collectively , then claim it is a social disorder akin to racism.Finding rancid food repulisive, could be claimed a phobia. with this manner of thought. They just wam you te eat $%$%$# and like it. These people are exceedingly wicked, who will go after your children, while your wiping you face, They are organized to destroy authentic Christianity. Stop tonsuring and ordaining anyone who claims fidelity to Jesus Christ, whil also claim he or she is a homosexual. It is easy to impliment, and sooths commonsense in honest people.

  11. Pere LaChaise says

    Bp. Mark is no ogre. He’s not a god either. There is a real shortage of American candidates for episcopacy in the OCA, and since he’s already consecrated, he’s in the offing despite his shortcomings. E PA’s continued existence is demographically moot but its clergy insist no merger with W PA be effected, even though Abp. Melchizedek has been managing quite well.
    While no restructuring of OCA dioceses is in the offing, population and economic decline in the rust belt of Pannslavonia, America’s Orthodox Heartland, casts a certain ‘evening light’ on administrative efforts among the dwindling flock.
    In a few words, I do not think Bp. Mark will cause any real problems there. People do learn from mistakes and I see in him a man who has repented much of his errors. I’m not saying he is ready to be called a saint, but he is no raging beast. Pray for him, and for the Church. Remember to stay Christian.

    • Don't be Fooled says

      Pere LaChaise,

      You offer a balance perspective and I appreciate it. But one fact is still outstanding, Bishop Mark has NOT repented of his published errors which are still outstanding. He still has a chance to make peace with those he has sinned against. He and he alone has the power to ask for forgiveness, and I have no doubt that if he does sincerely he will be forgiven by those he has abused.

      In the end, God Himself is the Judge, but there is no good reason for Bishop Mark to present himself before God and his fellow human beings and supplicate for the things he has done. I will not judge if he has done so with his Father Confessor, but unless that Father Confessor has given him the good direction to go to those he has sinned against and ask for their forgiveness, it is “cheap grace.”

      It is up to him.

    • Has he repented publicly and what exactly did he repent of?

      • Don't Be Fooled says


        Bishop Mark has not. Even worse, he has justified his sinful behavior. This does not speak favorably for him or the Diocese he is called to lead. God help the good people of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania.

        • Then the people in PA better speak up or they will get what they allowed and it will hurt the Church as a whole. I love it when people feel it’s noones business what happens in our parishes. As if scandles and pain in the church doesn’t’ tear down the church as a whole. That kind of thinking has led to the apathy we have today and much of our troubles. Folks it’s time to wake up and fight for your church. You can start by studying it’s past. Noone in the Byzantine church would have thought it wrong speak in church about church politics or problems within the church. Noone would think you go to church only to worship and not talk about concerns of the church, as if that’s what gossip is. People have so many things mixed up. This is taught today as a means of control. It’s not the least bit healthy or Christ-like.

  12. RIght to Life Vespers and March says

    The annual March for Life will be held at the National Mall/ Supreme Court on Wednesday, January 22, 2014.
    His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon invites you to upcoming “March for Life” activities sponsored by the Orthodox Church:

    7:00 pm Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014: Vespers at St. Nicholas Cathedral followed by a reception.

    Noon, Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014: Gather under the “Orthodox Christians for Life” banner on the National Mall near the Smithsonian Castle for a rally and then march to the Supreme Court.

    Y’all come! This is a politics and jurisdiction neutral event, or at least it should be

  13. Fr John Chagnon says

    Our Father, who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy name.
    Thy Kingdom come,
    Thy will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread
    and forgive us our trespasses
    as we forgive those who trespass against us
    (unless of course the person is a Bishop then we’ll just
    keep grinding it in and bringing it up any chance we get).
    And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil…

    • Mark from the DOS says

      ” A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach (unless it’s an OCA bishop, in which case, as long as they don’t rock the boat or think for themselves, we’ll take them and send priests to post internet excuses for them)”

      I like sarcastic parenthesis, too. Can I be a priest?

      • Fr John Chagnon says

        I wasn’t being sarcastic.

        Our Bishops are human beings that are given five people’s work to do and we expect them to do it perfectly every time. If they fail from time to time, and they will because they are human beings and sinners like the rest of us, we seem to like to never let them forget it or give them the grace, mercy, and forgiveness we would expect for ourselves. In doing this we, in effect, make a mockery of this prayer we say every Divine Liturgy and place ourselves in danger of not being forgiven ourselves.

        Would any of us like to have our life inspected and every fault, voluntary or involuntary, broadcast in the public arena with snide remarks to follow? Would to God that we spent as much time praying for our Bishops as we do trying to cut them to ribbons because they may or may not always suit our own ideas of what they should be. We can do and be better than this.

        I know Bishop Mark personally as in he was my Bishop and he also ordained me to the priesthood. He is hardly the caricature that too often appears on this page and the harsh and unforgiving attitudes of so many who write here are simply and plainly not Orthodox in letter or spirit. If you worry about why there are so few candidates for the episcopacy in this country the invective thrown against so many of our Bishops on forums like this and others should be the first clue.

        • tired of it all says

          Re-read your letter, while thinking about how it might apply to Metropolitan Jonah. For extra credit, do the same while thinking about Fr. Fester. And if you really want to exercise those spiritual forgiveness muscles, consider R. Kondratik.

          Then review how each of these men were treated by the Synod and Syosset. If we are called to forgiveness, it would seem we would offer it to all, not just the current apparatchiks in power. Look to the bishops to be examples of the behaviors you suggest – your suggestions should be considered by all and toward all.

          But the snark remains.

          No wonder the faithful is so disheartened.

          But I will take up your challenge.

          • Fr John Chagnon says

            “The man who cries out against evil men but does not pray for them will never know the grace of God.”

            – St. Silouan the Athonite

            • Fr John Chagnon says

              Please note that when I posted this I was not condemning anyone but rather reflecting, as I did with my post on the Lord’s prayer, to make a point.

              If there is evil we need to overcome it with good. If there is sin we need to overcome it with holiness. You may choose to do whatever you want in response to the various “crises” in the Orthodox Church. My suggestion is to fight what is truly a spiritual battle with spiritual weapons and those weapons include prayer for those who would do us wrong. The good that can be accomplished by this is two fold, the sinner is healed and reconciled and those who have been sinned against are freed from the burdens of anger and resentment.

              Is this easy? No. We live in a world that is so fallen that even pathological ways of dealing with conflict, sin, and struggle seem to be “common sense”. We want to do everything in our own strength and for the most part our efforts reflect that lack. How many of us have every convinced someone in sin to return to sanity by the sheer strength of our logical arguments or the power of our activism? We can’t even do that for ourselves so why should we think that some person we may hardly know is going to be changed or a situation made better by doing what cannot even work in our own lives?

              At best all we humans can do is use some sort of force to ensure temporary compliance on people with whom we may disagree or who offend us. Yet God can change hearts and people from the inside out. If you believe someone has sinned bring them in all humility to God and let God do what you cannot, or ever could, do. This is not being passive in dealing with sin, struggle, or evil, but rather being active in the one forum that ultimately matters, the Kingdom of God. In doing that you release grace into their lives and yours as well. This is, in part, why the Saints speak as St. Silouan did.

              What is the goal here? You can replace successive generations of Bishops forever and none of them will be anything more than sinners being encountered by God’s grace as we all are. Each of them, no matter how saintly, will have some flaw because we all do. Quite frankly there is not a single person who has ever lived that is worthy to be a cleric in the Church, myself included. There is also not a single person worthy to be part of the Church in and of ourselves.

              Yes, there are mechanisms within the Church for the accusation, trial, and removal of clerics or for that matter for the excommunication of any person. If people have real evidence then they can, in all humility, pursue those avenues. Yet such is our Christian Faith that even those who have been justly accused, fairly tried, and truly disciplined are still objects of God’s love and mercy and need to be treated as such even if they stubbornly refuse to change. God’s grace is that immense and we are obligated to act as it were so in everything we do.

              So what does everyone want to do? Do you want to spend endless hours pointing out this and that, making arguments about this point or another, or challenging the characters of people many of us hardly even know? Or do you want to break out of the cycle of endless words and actually be part of transforming your Church into what it should be?

              If my memory serves me correctly, and it may not, didn’t St. Seraphim say something to the effect of “Save yourself and a thousand around you will be saved…” ? In other words the holiness of each of our lives has the power to transform the lives of everyone around us. Was St. Seraphim wrong? Or maybe he understood that if we want to have a holy church with holy leaders we have to start by our transformation in holiness and the power of that transformation will impact everything and everyone, including our Clergy, around us.

              The change we want in our Church starts within us.

    • Fr.,

      Yes to forgiveness …

      When he is an alcoholic
      When he is a demonstrated, open, practiciing homosexual
      When he is a proven heterosexual philanderer
      When he is a proven thief
      When he repeatedly bears false witness
      When he openly berates his clerics
      When he openly berates and belittles his flock
      When the “sin” is a peccadillo, a mistake, or misunderstanding.
      And while exceedingly difficult, and for me admittedly impossible, when he is a pedarast or in exchange for a photo-op, he supports those who legislate, promote, advocate for, and sanction the murder of unborn children.

      I think we can all find it within ourselves to forgive … or at least try to forgive … any person whether he is a bishop, priest, deacon or ordinary, un-ordained person. But, the problem is not simply an unwillingness by some to forgive.

      The problem is the misunderstanding, misconstruction, and misapplication of that forgiveness when it is extended. Forgiveness is not an explicit or implicit license to repeat the same evil behaviour over and over and over and over and over and over again.

      They, like the rest of contemporary society, lost any concept of shame. They are, in short, like the rest of contemporary society, defiantly unrepentant and unashamed.

      Last I checked, at baptism and confirmation, each of us sinners was made a defender of the faith. So we all have a job to do over and over and over and over and over and over again.

      And we do that job — a sacred duty — in part and imperfectly by calling out the open, obvious and unmitigated failure to recognize that they are in gross dereliction of office and the sacred duty they have.

      Forgive them yes, but rebuke and hold them to account as well.

    • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

      Why so many negative votes regarding the Lord’s Prayer?

  14. Has anyone given thought if Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto might be interested? He looks like Bishop material, at least by OCA standards.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Wasn’t there even ONE delegate to that Assembly who cared to nominate Metropolitan Jonah and have it go on the record and hear what the response from the Chairman would be?
      Oh, I know! They have to use their real names there—in that the assembly is one step higher on the morality scale than this blog.

      • The various fights over recent years have made clear the powers given in the Statute to both the Synod and to the various clergy-laity assemblies. That is, the Synod must approve any nomination by a clergy-laity assembly, but the Synod must receive a nomination from an assembly. So, while it may feel good to propose a candidate the Synod will not approve, the Synod will not approve him. Likewise, while the Synod may have clear ideas as to who is or is not qualified to become a bishop, they can do nothing permanent without a nomination from an Assembly. Now, the power tilts in favor of the Synod for a variety of canonical and procedural reasons, but the alluring vision of the democratic election of bishops has been squelched (and rightly so). Thus, the Synod pre-approves potential candidates who the Assembly then votes on. The Assembly, very much like the Synod when it comes to the election of Metropolitans, has a certain kind of veto power, but only if feelings run high and deep forcing a clear super-majority against the will of the Synod. Thus, it’s in everyone’s interest to keep things cool and to work together, otherwise dead lock and long-term administration by a locum tenens is the only outcome.

  15. Michael Bauman says

    Father, of course we are called to forgive and that is an act of grace wholly independent of anyone else’s independence but if the selection of a bishop is an election process it behooves questions regarding the character and trustworthiness of any candidate are rightfully asked and truthfully answered.

    The overriding problem is the lack of trust so many in the OCA seem not to have for any of the Bishops.

    How would you suggest that be remedied?

    It is easy for me to trust my bishop because of the love he so obviously has for all of us and the trust he places in us while at the same time calling us to more.

    When trust has been broken — how is it restored. Forgiveness is certainly required with deep humility but without a sincere repentance, trust is a lot to ask.

    • Fr John Chagnon says

      I suggest we remedy it, in part, by being better Christians ourselves. The imperative for holiness is not for clerics only but for us all. Our Bishops are not created in some distant laboratory, they are drawn from the ranks of the faithful and I believe our leaders will be more faithful, true, and holy when the pool they are drawn from becomes the same.

      I have a long way to go on this but I want to give it a try, God giving me strength.

      • Fr John Chagnon says

        I also suggest that as we evaluate our Bishops we pray for them, sincerely, at least a hundred times, and then proceed to pray for ourselves in the same manner. After this it may be possible to make sober evaluations of both our hierarchs and ourselves.

        To “Anonymous by Necessity” I can say only this. I do know what its like to get banged around in the life of the church. I also know that sometimes those who are in leadership can actually help bad things to happen. Still, I’m not going to give up on the Orthodox way because not everyone follows it. I must love my neighbor as myself. I must forgive to be forgiven. I must sometimes die so the other may live. I have to try my best to live like Christ even if I suffer consequences from within the Church. And I’m not going to give up on the power of prayer and the reality of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Too many people are angry. Too many people are in despair. Too many people see the Egyptian army advancing and not enough see the parting waters. I’m aware of what is going on but I also somehow know that God is greater than these moments and that the Church will not be destroyed now or ever.

      • Well put, Anonymous by Necessity.

        I’ll assume that Fr John Chagnon means well with his words, but most of the time the impression it gives is this: “If you were good Christians, then you’d just take the bishops that we give you and shut up. And please be sure to send your checks to Syosset. Thank you.”

        That doesn’t work anymore, if it ever did.

        If things were better, then I’m guessing you wouldn’t need to be anonymous by necessity.

        Doing the same things and electing the same types of bishops over and over again and expecting different results is crazy.

        • Fr John Chagnon says

          No, its not about sit down and shut up, its about realizing that prayer and holiness of life are extraordinarily potent weapons in the spiritual battles we all face. While we direct our attacks on the person who may have sinned we forget to direct our attacks on the source of that sin and thereby incur a double loss, the wounded one is further wounded and sometimes killed and the one, namely Satan, who caused it all remains unharmed.

          Too many people on these pages seem to think that all of this is sort of like Republicans and Democrats and they focus on personalities, bureaucracies, and working the system like politicians. This is actually about spiritual warfare and until we start directing the fight to its proper source, namely as St. Paul says it the “powers and principalities…” by the weapons of Faith we will lose.

          • The people still have the right to say Anaxios, whether the folks in charge like it or not. Look what happened to the clergy that signed the Accord at Florence. Only one of the attendees is called a saint now and we celebrated his feast day this past week, St Mark of Ephesus.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              jacksson. There is no provision for ANYONE to utter “Anaxios” OR “Axios” before the laying on of hands. “Axios” is uttered many times, but only AFTER the laying on of hands; i.e., after the Bishop has uttered, “The Grace Divine ….elevateth N. to be….’ There is no voting before the laying on of hands at anyone’s ordination/consecration, and the cry is not that of opinion or conviction, but one of recognition of the action of the Holy Spirit, which has elevated an unworthy person to be a worthy Deacon, Priest, or Bishop.
              Also, every Priest at the time of the Great Entrance prays, “No one is worthy….”
              None of us, jacksson is worthy or axios of anything ever.
              And yes, St. Mark of Ephesus did not sign, but his not signing accomplished nothing in, e.g., Constantinople, where the Patriarchate and the clergy of the Agia Sophia Church were still confessing the filioque at the time the Turks conquered the city, whereupon the (Uniate) Patriarch fled to Italy, the (Uniate) Emperor disappeared, and the devout Muslim Sultan sought out and found a monk who was against the filioque, commanded he be made a Bishop, and then commanded and APPOINTED him to be the EP. As far as your “look what happened to the clergy that signed,” the Greek Metropolitan Isidor of Kiev, after returning to Russia was finally expelled by the devout Moscow Prince and the Russians never accepted another Greek from Constantinople but began to elect their own Metropolitans.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Father you put your finger on part of the problem. It seems as an outsider that bis North hops in much of the Church in North America they seem to drop full grown from the brow of Zeus. They are not raised up from the faithful. Bp Mark wasn’t even when he was in Antioch. He had no home in the Archdiocese. Obviously he has yet to establish on in the OCA.

        Consequently there is no obvious organic connection to the rest of the body. A bit like The Head in “That Hideous Strength”

        I’m spoiled. I see my bishop frequently as a member of a cathedral parish but he also makes an effort to be accessible and know all of his flock. I have no doubt he would give his life, does give his life to guide and protect us.

        It is easy to forgive someone like that. He calls us to holiness and love by example.

      • Fr John Chagnon says

        I know there can be darkness afoot in the Church. I’ve been at the receiving end of it myself. Yet, as God gives me strength I want to live some semblance of a Christian life in the face of it. Jesus told us to forgive our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Jesus told us that the forgiveness and mercy we extend to others is what will be ours as well. My Faith teaches me that I should desire the salvation of even those who have done me harm.

        I also know that each of us, including our Bishops, are persons in process. We are becoming what we are meant to be and there needs to be a lot of grace given and received in all of that. When we make mistakes do we not want mercy in the face of our sin? Do we not want saving help when we are wounded? Whatever else our Bishops are they are also our brothers in Christ and as they seek to help, as best fallible humans can, us become holy we also need to help them to become holy as well.

        Bishops live in a world few of us can understand, a world full of hard questions often with no easy answers. The situations they are faced with often don’t fall into neat categories. And because they are leaders in the Church the amount of demonic forces gathered against them can be at levels few of us could endure. No sane man really wants the office and most, including from own personal knowledge Bishop Mark, would be happy to have stayed right in their parishes and let the calling pass them by, Yet because they were selected and affirmed in this role they accept it as a matter of obedience.

        I also know that Bishop’s decisions can have wide ranging impact and not everyone will agree with them and some will be hurt and angry over what they perceive as an error or a sin. There are places where I may struggle with the decisions or actions of a Bishop. Yet I can’t give myself over to anger, to judgment, or to harshness because that is not what we as Orthodox Christians need to be about. Name calling, harsh remarks, all of this is unfitting for us and does damage to us while doing little to change the situation or person towards what or whom it is directed.

        I truly believe in the power of prayer. I truly believe in the grace that comes from the Holy Spirit. I truly believe that the Church will not be destroyed by the sins and struggles of its members, including me. If I have to error I want to error on the side of faith and hope and joy and mercy. Will I be hurt by this sometimes? Sure. Yet because that path isn’t easy doesn’t mean its not right.

        For the most part I avoid reading Monomakhos because I’m too busy trying to build and serve to spend my precious lifespan engaged in what can be angry word games. I already know there are problems. I want to be part of the solution and for me that means that I have to try to live the best possible Orthodox life that a sinner by God’s grace can. I trust that if I seek first the Kingdom of God then all the other things will follow for me and the Church.

        Instead of panicking, burning precious life in anger, or seeking out other people’s sins I really believe that this moment in time has been given to us by God so that we would all, whatever our roles in the Church, move towards greater holiness, greater commitment, and greater faithfulness. Often hard times in the Church are the seeds of a revival and if people stop listening to the storm and start listening for the “still, small, voice,” that what God wants us to do and be will become manifest.

        Sometimes I wonder what would happen if everyone who posts here would consider praying for their Bishops, Priests, Deacons, and their parish/jurisdiction? I think it would be revolutionary and the beginning of seeing our great hopes for the Church in the country realized.

        • Heracleides says

          Very well said.

        • Fr John Chagnon says

          Consider that prayer and holy living are, in fact, very powerful weapons in this spiritual battle, and I believe the discerning heart will see that what is happening across the Orthodox spectrum in this country is actually spiritual warfare. This warfare engulfs both those that victimize and the victims, individuals and the Church as a whole. While we focus on people and personalities we sometimes fail to address the causes and St. Paul reminds us that we are not struggling against people so much as we are engaging “principalities and powers…”

          Too often we’ve approached the issues in our Church like businessmen or politicians and perhaps we should contemplate trying to deal with them as saints and with the weapons of saints. Perhaps what Satan would have us do in this time is expend all our energies tearing at each other. When we do that we further victimize people and divide ourselves against each other in effect making each other, and not the Father of Lies who is causing all of this, the object of our combat. Imagine how different things would be if we were to direct our holy anger at the cause of sin and not each other.

          If you truly believe that anyone is sinning you need to understand that they themselves are being attacked and harassed by the devil and those of us who are, at the moment, strong need to be there in support of that person so they can overcome. This is not an easy, or often quick, process but it is the task we are called to and we need to have confidence that God knows, hears, sees, and is in charge of history and the life of our church so we do not become discouraged.

          • Fr John Chagnon says

            Every one of us is in the image of God, and every one of us is like a damaged icon. But if we were given an icon damaged by time, damaged by circumstances, or desecrated by human hatred, we would treat it with reverence, with tenderness, with broken-heartedness. We would not pay attention primarily to the fact that it is damaged, but to the tragedy of its being damaged. We would concentrate on what is left of its beauty, and not on what is lost of its beauty. And this is what we must learn to do with regard to each person as an individual, but also – and this is not always as easy – with regard to groups of people, whether it be a parish or a denomination, or a nation.

            Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          Please, “Anonymous by Necessity!” Let us know the names of any priest whom Archbishop Benjamin “has ripped … out of parishes with no warning and for no justifiable reason.” Since you’re anonymous you should have no fears in revealing this information, and you, of course, would not want to conceal anyone’s innocence.

          • Anon by Nec.

            You present a good approach to the distract and belittle approach so much perfected by the blatant defenders of the OCA corruption or by those who are innocent to their ways. The innocent who defend are not to blame.

            The OCA is so deep in its delusion and corruption that it is better to present the case as you have and let the facts seep up and out to the surface because time is on the the side of Truth.

            People who are vicious are also, in this case, people who have much to hide and deflect to keep their positions of big salaries and benefits.

            Those who know will not relent and will not go away.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Maybe people could be more open about their objections if His Eminence was more open about his own journey to the episcopate?

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            I think Anonymous by Necessity is Lying. Every priest known to be suspended or deposed or removed by Archbishop Benjamin was prior to that investigated by the District Dean and the Diocesan Chancellor, all excellent clergy. You, Anonymous by Necessity, are simply not able to substantiate your claim. Admit it. What’s next? Are you going to claim that Archbishop Benjamin is secretly a Freemason or Satanist? You are discrediting ALL honest and straightforward opposition to Archbishop Benjamin by your reckless, hysterical antics. You can’t name ONE Priest who was ever removed or dismissed without being informed of the EXACT reasons for it and without the full knowledge and agreement of the elected dean and the Chancellor.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              You said, “Anonymous by necessity” that Archbishop removed priests WITHOUT WARNING. I proved that is a lie by mentioning investigations because those investigations, good or bad, were warnings. It is Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick who was removed without warning. I did not say that Archbishop Benjamin’s investigation of ANYTHING was good, perfect or just. Don’t put words in my mouth. I say that when you write that he removed priests without warning; YOUR WORDS: “He has ripped priests out of parishes with no warning… ” are a lie of the kind found lying on the ground in barnyards.

            • M. Stankovich says

              This strikes me as another of the Star Trek Convention jingoisms, and Vladyka Tikhon is standing on your tail. Or as St. Paul reckoned it, we might recognize you as “puffed up, knowing nothing, but doting over questions and disputes of words, out of which comes envy, strife, railings, evil suspicions, perverse wranglings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness.” (1 Tim. 6:4) And notice the phrase “disputes of words,” as the Greek λογομαχία specifically refers to the “trivial and empty.” You’ve managed, in a matter of 2-3 postings to pull in all the doomsday favorites, and with my arrival, you now have license to pull in the STINKBOMB, and few of my posse, some off-beat references to homosexuality, and buddy, you’re good to go. The sad part of all of this? There is so much you do not know, partner, your head would spin! Ask Mr. Michalopulos what he won’t post because he can’t verify it! He can’t verify 25% of what’s posted by anonymous junkyard dogs like you, now dogging Archbishop Benjamin, but I refer a priest to him and he suddenly has born-again “journalistic integrity.”

              Vladyka, kindly finish your martini before you lift your boot.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              “Anonymous by necessity!” An investigation IS A WARNING. Get it?
              As far as your ludicrous statement; “Bishops have a guaranteed income, even when they screw up,” try that one out on Metropolitan Jonah!!!! Or Metropolitan Vladimir (Nagossky) or
              Archbishop Dimitri (Magan), or Bishop Seraphim (Segrist), for example. No Church guarantees anyone anything.
              The only thing more ridiculous than that would be for some Priest brandishing credentials in history to state that Communism was invented in Russia by Lenin!!!!! i had to reach age 80 before I heard and read that howler!

        • Father John, What you say is very true, but skirts the real issue. The Holy Bible delineates the requirements to be a bishop and, unfortunately, several of the existing OCA bishops do not, from all appearances, seem to meet the criteria. It is very interesting that out of 30+ candidates for the episcopal position in question, only one was worthy. If that is true, then 30+ clergy shouldn’t even be clergy. Maybe Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto might be a good choice kind of like Saint Ambrose.

  16. Older But Wiser says

    We shall see, regarding Bishop Mark. The meetings selecting him were held here at St. Nicholas, Friday night, in connection with the Diocesan Assembly held yesterday. Bp. Mel served at Liturgy this AM. He stated the “other candidate, a priest from Ohio” decided he was not ready for the position, and so withdrew his name. Attendance this morning was barely above 60 persons downstairs (the choir is upstairs), smaller by five or so from normal, and a far cry from only five years ago, when 80 were generally in attendance. Before Fr. Eugene Vansuch left in 2005, a Sunday Liturgy was usually attended by 135 souls. Is the situation unsustainable? Only God knows.

    • A Friend In Pennsylvania says

      We must be from the same parish, Wiser. I personally believe that our steady decline in attendance and fellowship has come from the recent priests installed at our parish, chosen for us by Diocesan representatives who do not really know what a “good fit” is for our church. (What a great decline in what used to be such a robust parish. At least the choir is still good. I miss the old days.)

      Likewise, those same Diocesan powers that be are about to choose an equally poor fit for our Bishop, and it makes me incredibly sad.

  17. In this case why would anyone of sound mind jump into such an unfair election which has been engineered by people of such low repute? Isn’t there something in psalm one regarding sitting in counsel with people of ill repute?

  18. Probably Clueless says

    There was a very nice Greek priestmonk, Father Paul Gassios, who served as the locum tenans for the Bulgarian Archdiocese for a while after Vladika Kiril Yonchev’s falling asleep. He and the present Bishop Alexander were competing for the Bulgarian Archdiocese bishopric. Bishop Alexander Golitzin was voted into the position by the laity because it was felt that he knew at least one Slavic language while the Greek priest had none and had shown no interest in learning Bulgarian. So, maybe that wasn’t the best criterion but also Bishop Alexander had written a nice book about Dionysios


    among other theological books. Thus, he seemed like his focus was on holy topics. But there was no reason with his experience and especially his administrative and speaking abilities that Father Paul should not become a bishop.

    So, why hasn’t this obviously interested Greek priest in the OCA been chosen for a bishopric? Why a political choice instead?

  19. No Blueprint says

    Is it true that an EPA priest said that the reason why numbers are declining in the OCA are only because of the “Time of Troubles” and that now that we’ve “turned the corner,” the numbers will increase again? Can someone confirm this?

    I’ve heard that EPA is down to somewhere around 2,500 supporting members. Though this seems better that WPA, since they have around 2,000 but more parishes than EPA.

    • DOEPA Member says

      Yes that “Time of Troubles” remark was made at our Assembly by Fr John Onofrey from Shillington, PA. I almost bust out laughing when I heard it.

      The only corner our diocese turned at our Assembly was into a blind alley.

      God help us.

  20. I grew up in the Metropolia in eastern Pa and it is sad to see the slow demise of many of those parishes. St.Stephen’s is just a former shadow of itself. Very sad.

  21. Sad Canuck says

    Very sad news to report that Seraphim Storheim has been convicted of abusing a minor by a Canadian Court. I would expect he will appeal the conviction. This will be another black eye for the OCA and the Archdiocese of Canada. Let’s pray that the conviction is overturned on appeal because if not it could bankrupt the Canadian Archdiocese and the OCA if they are sued.