A Sign of Things to Come?

Source: ROCOR – Eastern American Diocese

On Thursday, January 31, having been dissolved as a mission parish in the Archdiocese of Washington by the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America & Canada, and with the blessing of the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, St. Herman of Alaska Church in Stafford, VA has officially joined the Eastern American Diocese.

Archpriest Victor Potapov, Dean of the South, announced the new parish’s admittance with the following words: “The former Christ the Savior Orthodox Mission in Stafford has now been fully accepted by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia as St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church in Stafford, VA.”

The parish was led into the Russian Church Abroad by its rector, Archpriest Alexander Webster, and parish Deacon Alexander Laymon. More information about the parish is available on the parish website here.


  1. Sean Richardson says

    Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me what bishop a parish is under. For me, the only thing that matters is, is that parish bringing people closer to the Kingdom of God? “You will know that they are Christians by their love” and they will be successful inasmuch as they bear fruit for the Kingdom … I pray that they are continually blessed and always keep their focus on Christ and His Holy Church.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Sean says, “For me, the only thing that matters is, is that parish bringing people closer to the Kingdom of God?”

      In the present case, we already know the answer to that question. Father Alexander Webster is the Pastor; that, I submit, settles it.

      • Sean Richardson says

        Alas, I do not know Fr. Alexander … but I will take your word for it

        • Father Alexander is a good priest that I first met in 1994 when he was the priest at Protection of the Mother of God in Falls Church, VA before resuming duties full time as a Chaplain. He brought that parish along and it still thrives today under his successor, Father David Subu.

          Before Father Alexander retired from the service and became the priest of the Stafford, VA parish now renamed St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church, the parish had several great formative priests, among them Father Michael Roshak and Father George Kohno.

          Famous bishops and a Metropolitan have visited the parish during its formation as a mission, including a parish favorite from Canada, The Most Reverend Lazar Puhalo. May the Lord bless its reconsecration as a ROCOR parish and may the great great great grandchildren of its founders support it in faith.

    • But Sean, a bishop functioning as a bishop should, as a shepherd of shepherds and chief overseer of his parishes will be an aid in bringing his people into a more actualization of the Kingdom of God, it is around him in the Eucharist that the Church is most truly constituted–or so have said the Fathers. But conversely, a biship misbehaving or neglecting his office and the gifts which correspond to it will fail to provide such aid and can even become a hinderance to it.

      Is is wise to suggest that the bishop doesn’t matter?


    • You say, “Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me what bishop a parish is under.”

      Where the Bishop is, there is the Church.

      An Orthodox Priest has no authority of his own. In everything he does, he acts as his Bishop’s servant and representative.

      That’s why it matters.

  2. ChristineFevronia says

    Congratulations to Fr. Alexander, Deacon Alexander, and to the entire St. Herman of Alaska parish on your reception into ROCOR! St. Herman of Alaska, pray to God for these beloved Orthodox Christians!

  3. It Is Time To Act says

    The escape of this OCA parish to ROCOR could be a sign of things to come and an admission on the part of the OCA that their grip on parishes is untenable.

    The movement of this parish out of the OCA was made much easier because they had no property. They rent the temple they use. If they owned it, it would have been much more difficult for the entire community to enter ROCOR. This could be bad news for the OCA because there are scores of other missions who don’t own their facilities. If those priests petitioned to leave, the parish in Virginia has shown them the way.

    Is this just one community and nothing more, or is it the vanguard of others seeking to disassociate themselves from the fractured OCA?

    But don’t think that the OCA brain trusts themselves might be reading the tealeaves of their future and they may be sending emissaries to other Orthodox churches, Constantinople not out of the realm of possibilities, to give strike a deal so the OCA, or what it would be called, would gain legitimacy under the protection of a recognized Church.

    The OCA’s flagship seminary, St. Vladimir’s has been making nice to Constantinople preparing a possible escape route if things continue to implode in the OCA. St. Vlad’s will not be caught in the OCA undertow, they will survive and they would not mind being under a head of Church who is without question as to her legitimacy. That makes good sense, business and otherwise.

    This would not be a job for Leonid Kishkovsky. No way. He is the odd man out. So the question becomes, “who is tied to both the OCA, SVS and even the ACOB, from the OCA, who would do their the bidding?

    I know, pure speculation, but if this Virginia parish is the first of many ready to bolt the OCA, things may be coming to a head sooner than later.

  4. Jonathan Johnston says

    Did A Cross-Dressing Priest Sex Ring Bring Down Benedict XVI?
    by Barbie Latza Nadeau Feb 22, 2013 12:43 PM EST
    Did a secret cross-dressing gay sex scandal bring down Pope Benedict?

    Of all the rumors floating around about just why Pope Benedict XVI is hanging up his camauro, one has taken on a life of its own. According to several well-placed vaticanisti–or Vatican experts–in Rome, Benedict is resigning after being handed a secret red-covered dossier that included details about a network of gay priests who work inside the Vatican, but who play in secular Rome. The priests, it seems, are allegedly being blackmailed by a network of male prostitutes who worked at a sauna in Rome’s Quarto Miglio district, a health spa in the city center, and a private residence once entrusted to a prominent archbishop. The evidence reportedly includes compromising photos and videos of the prelates–sometimes caught on film in drag, and, in some cases, caught ‘in the act’.

    Pope Benedict XVI receives Guatemala’s President Otto Perez Molina during a private audience at his private library on February 16, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Vatican pool photo by Alessia Giuliani)

    Revelations about the alleged network are the basis of a 300-page report supposedly delivered to Benedict on December 17 by Cardinals Julian Herranz, Joseph Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi. According to the press reports, it was on that day that Benedict XVI decided once and for all to retire, after toying with the idea for months. He reportedly closed the dossier and locked it away in the pontifical apartment safe to be handed to his successor to deal with. According to reports originally printed by La Repubblica newspaper and the newsweekly Panorama (and followed up across the gamut of the Italian media), the crimes the cardinals uncovered involved breaking the commandments “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” the latter of which has been used in Vatican-speak to also refer also to homosexual relations instead of the traditional reference to infidelity.

    The trio of cardinals who authored the report, known in the Italian press as the ‘007 Priests,’ were commissioned by Benedict to dig into the Vatileaks scandal that rocked the Holy See last fall when the pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, was convicted of stealing secret papal documents and leaking them to the press. The sleuthing cardinals ran a parallel investigation to the Vatican tribunal’s criminal case against the butler, but theirs was far more covert and focused not on the mechanics of the leaks, but on who within the Roman Curia might be the brains behind them. And, according to the leaked reports, what the ‘007 Priests’ found went far beyond the pope’s private desk. “What’s coming out is very detailed X-ray of the Roman Curia that does not spare even the closest collaborators of the Pope,” wrote respected Vatican expert Ignazio Ingrao in Panorama. “The Pope was no stranger to the intrigues, but he probably did not know that under his pontificate there was such a complex network and such intricate chains of personal interests and unmentionable relationships.”

    The existence of a gay priest network outside the fortified walls of Vatican City is hardly news, and many are wondering if it is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of sex scandals. In 2010, investigative journalist Carmello Abbate went undercover with a hidden camera to write a shocking expose called “Good Nights Out for Gay Priests”.

    “What’s coming out is very detailed X-ray of the Roman Curia that does not spare even the closest collaborators of the Pope.”
    Abbate caught the priests on hidden camera dirty dancing at private parties and engaging in sex acts with male escorts on church property. He also caught them emerging from dark bedrooms just in time to celebrate mass. In one postcoital scene, a priest parades around seminaked, wearing only his clerical vestments. “This is not about homosexuality,” Abbate told The Daily Beast when he published the expose. “This is about private vices and public virtues. This is about serious hypocrisy in the Catholic Church.”

    Because so much of the secret lives of gay priests is actually not so secret thanks to Abbate’s expose and subsequent book, Sex and the Vatican, many are wondering what else could be hidden in the alleged red-covered dossier. Vatican elite have also been loosely tied to a number of other secular scandals during Benedict’s tenure, including the ultra-tawdry affair between former governor of Lazio Piero Marrazzo and several transvestite prostitutes, including one named “Brenda” who was found burned to death in 2009. At the time that Marrazzo’s relationships with the transvestites were discovered, his driver reportedly told investigators that several high-ranking priests and even cardinals were customers of Rome’s elite transsexual circuit, though no proof was ever provided and no one has ever been arrested tied to the transsexual prostitution circuit . Nor has anyone mentioned whether reference to these crimes might also be in the dossier. But Marrazzo was whisked off to the Vatican-owned Monte Cassino abbey south of Rome to do his penance, and he even wrote a letter to Vatican Secretary of State Tarciso Bertone asking for Pope Benedict XVI’s forgiveness.

    Whatever secrets the red binders supposedly hold will have to remain just that until the next pope is elected. But Ingrao believes its contents are so important that the dossier will be like the 118th cardinal in the conclave. “Many new skeletons from the closets of the cardinals could come out until the beginning of the conclave,” says Ingrao. “Many voters know or claim to know the secrets of their brothers, but it is already clear that the new pope who leaves the Sistine Chapel will have to be scandal-free in order to proceed with cleaning up [what] Ratzinger has left for his successor.”

    Barbie Latza Nadeau, author of the Beast Book Angel Face, about Amanda Knox, has reported from Italy for Newsweek since 1997 and for The Daily Beast since 2009. She is a frequent contributor to CNN Traveller, Departures, Discovery, and Grazia. She appears regularly on CNN, the BBC, and NPR.

    • No that was a story about the oca, nor Benedict.

      For years there was a similar rumor about the oca. This is what the entire oca scandal hinges on. The Church still has not been washed clean from all this. +Jonah was on the trail, he had to go. Righteousness is dead everywhere in the oca except for the dos, and look, they canned Archbishop Dmitri. MEMORY ETERNAL!

    • Jonathan Johnston says (February 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm):

      Did A Cross-Dressing Priest Sex Ring Bring Down Benedict XVI?
      by Barbie Latza Nadeau Feb 22, 2013 12:43 PM EST
      Did a secret cross-dressing gay sex scandal bring down Pope Benedict?
      When reporters and their editors can’t get the spelling of people’s names right, it seriously undermines their credibility.

      Caveat lector.

    • Thanks Jonathan says

      Well if the lavender mafia brought down the Pope of Rome, who would question the lavender mafia bringing down Metropolitan Jonah. Jonathan, you have made our case for the lavender mafia in the OCA. Thanks. Time for the pink OCA to disappear.

    • Catholic Observer says

      Dear Jonathan:

      Oh freaking brother.

      Benedict is retiring because he is old and very ill (his health has reportedly deteriorated drastically in recent months), and he does not feel he can fulfill the complex duties of the modern papacy any longer. Period, end of sentence.

      Where do youse guys get this stuff? The National Enquirer?

      Let me guess. You’re a convert from some sort of rabid anti-Catholic fundamentalism, and you’ve brought all your anti-“papist” bigotry into Orthodoxy with you.

      Smells and bells, valid sacraments, beautiful liturgy, plus carte blanche for all your old nativist anti-Catholic bigotry. What’s not to like, right?

      • Catholic Observer,
        If you think the pope’s resignation has nothing to do with the various scandals rocking (sic!) the Roman church you are in denial. He alluded to it himself in his announcement. What the scandals reveal is a crisis of faith within the Roman church that amounts to a falling away from the faith (ἀποστασία). The pope realised, after searching his conscience, that his health did not permit him to deal effectively with the crisis, thus he is withdrawing to a life of prayer and making way for a more energetic man to take his place.

      • Catholic Observer,

        Our dear Jonathan is, well, a sort of loose cannon. I would take whatever he says with a very large grain of salt. In fact, I would just give him a big LOL because his view of things is possibly altered by a strong incense substance or two! 😉

      • Carl Kraeff says

        That was somewhat of an over-reaction, no? As far as I can see, he merely posted a news item that has been on the front burner in Italy.

  5. ImHappyJustToDanceWithYou says

    There are a number of OCA parishes/missions which would like to remain in the OCA, but which feel compelled to look elsewhere because of the corruption among our bishops.

    I talked to Fr Alexander about his plans months before this move to ROCOR, and his church was in a unique position to make the move easier (i.e., transfer without legal action by the OCA):
    1) the mission owned no property, but rented their sanctuary, so there was no monetary incentive for the OCA to take legal action against them leaving;
    2) the mission was just that: a mission, and not an established parish, so embarrassment to the OCA would be lessened;
    3) the people were frustrated over several various synodal offenses and wanted to leave the OCA.

    I sympathize with their concerns over OCA corruption (uncanonically conspiring to oust Metropolitan JONAH by financial blackmail, publishing false and outrageous slander against +JONAH before the world press, allowing bishops to keep large caches of sodomy videos, firing whistleblowers of priestly sexual misconduct and deviancy, saying we have a “zero tolerance” for sexual misconduct but bringing back a bishop perpetrating such, allowing an archdeacon to serve despite his marrying another man, bishops propositioning priests for homosexual sin, ruining priests’ reputations and setting up sham spiritual courts, allowing conflict of interest in financial dealings with seminaries, silencing disagreement, bullying and intimidation as the means of pastoral care, etc.) and various injustices perpetrated and/or covered up by our bishops (e.g., against +JONAH, against Fr Zacchaeus, against Fr Ray Valencia, against Fr Vacille Susan, against Fr Gregory Jensen, etc.).

    While most parishes are not in a position to leave without legal repercussions, individual parishioners and families are free to see the corruption in the OCA Synod and reject it. I know of folks who have done so.

    At Parma, V. Rev. Thomas Hopko gave a wonderful and inspiring sermon, which focused on the OCA’s history of enduring trials. He cited saints, metropolitans, bishops and priests as having brought us this holy faith through their suffering. His point was that the OCA made it through terrible trials before, and we will make it through this one (the Metropolitan JONAH resignation). His sermon was, as I say, inspiring, and I don’t want to take away from the virtues of our past. However, he was applying examples of past *outside* persecution to our present *internal* corruption, and that’s like comparing apples to oranges. Today, we have immoral, careerist, corrupt bishops who go uncorrected by their brother bishops, a general consensus to tolerate and cover-up homosexuality, and a Synod which publicly slanders its morally sound Metropolitan with false charges. That’s not persecution from the outside, but spiritual decay and death coming from the inside. And that’s completely different from trials of the past which Father Hopko cited, about St Tikhon’s suffering or Metropolitan Leonty’s and others’.

    I’m not saying we’ve never had scandal; the church has always had its wolves, and serious sin has often ensnared some leaders. In the past a lot was covered up, no doubt. But today we have open immorality undisciplined and known misconduct uncorrected and blatant corruption given public episcopal blessing. That’s a different story, and that’s why folks want to leave. Blaming the world wide web is only attacking the messenger, and is as short-sighted as our bishops’ attempts at internet gag orders.

    I’ve always said that Americans will stand for a lot of things, including terrible wrongdoing and sin, but Americans will not stand for cover-ups, flagrant hypocrisy, or corruption. That’s what we’ve got, and with every oca.org site post ignoring it, we get further from being recognized as the Bride of Christ, even by our own people.

    I believe in the vision of the O.C.A., in the teachings and intentions of Fathers Schmemann, Florovsky, and Meyendorff (and Hopko!), and I’m the kind of guy who will stick around, no matter what. But I can’t blame others for jumping ship.

    How much institutional corruption is so much that it justifies leaving, especially when there are other Orthodox jurisdictions to go to? That’s what people are asking.

    • Just a note to the previous poster: Fr Florovsky was never a member of the OCA, nor an ideologist for its cause. He certainly believed in Orthodox mission to America, and in the implementation of the English language in liturgy, preaching and instruction. He was in favor of a united Orthodox jurisdiction in the US — which, however, he expected would be under the leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He was indeed brought to the US in 1948 at the invitation of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Metropolia, and later served in Metropolia and OCA parishes. He also served in ROCOR during WWII, and the GOA from time to time while at Harvard and Holy Cross. But while he was not uncritical of the leadership of the Greek leadership both in Turkey and America, he was and remained until his death a priest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (in which he had been ordained in 1932). To claim him as a poster-boy for the OCA — or indeed for the GOA, should someone seek to do that — shows a mistaken understanding. His status is that of a universal teacher — as two of his former students at Harvard, Bishop Danilo Krstic of blessed memory and Met John Zizioulas both called him. It is twisting things to enlist him as as an ideological support for the dream of the OCA.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      It is a sign of the times, seen clearly in the rampant divorce rate. Folks do not believe in sticking together and working things out anymore; if it does not suit one’s sensibilities—divorce. Or in this case, jurusdictional shopping (or hopping).

      • Richard Saunders says

        For a Church that permits divorce and remarriage, what is it, two or three times, this analogy, although poignant and well-meant, falls flatter than a pancake in Kansas.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I would submit to you that the Orthodox approach to divorce and remarriage is much more common sense than annulment-for-a-fee, even if there is issue.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Its not marriage that is the problem. It is the hardness of our hearts. Sometimes hearts can change for the better. Sometimes they just get harder. It is possible for one party to be faithful and the other not.

            Many married outside the Church have no real understanding of what marriage is. Many married in the Church don’t care. Is that a marriage problem?

            “I will have mercy, not sacrifice.”

            It is impossible to annul a marriage. It is also possible for God to bless what seems irregular and give new life to dry bones.

            • Indeed. I was blessed to attend my oldest daughter’s church wedding to her third husband in a church of the Antiochian Archdiocese. The service was decidedly penitential. Here is one prayer that caught my ear:

              “O Lord Jesus Christ, Word of God, who wast lifted up upon the precious and life-giving Cross, and didst thereby tear up the handwriting against us, and didst deliver us from the violence of the devil: Do thou cleanse the transgressions of thy servants, for, unable to bear the burden of the day and the burning of the flesh, they have come to a second communion of marriage, in accordance with that which thou hast lawfully appointed by thy chosen vessel, Paul the Apostle, saying, because of our humble state, “It is better to marry in the Lord than to burn.” Do thou thyself, as thou art good and the Lover of mankind, have mercy, and pardon, cleanse, cast off and forgive our debts, for thou art he that tooketh our infirmities upon thy shoulders. For there is none that is sinless or without defilement for as much as one day of his life, save only thou, who, without sin, didst bear flesh, and who bestowest upon us eternal passionlessness. For thou art God, the God of them that repent, and unto thee we ascribe glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.”

              • Michael Bauman says

                Still there is no question that multiple marriages are a problem spiritually, legally and emotionally. It is quite difficult to have a deeply intimate marriage after a divorce or even after the death of a spouse. The other spouse is always there. The more “other spouses’ there are, the more difficult it is. As I said, it is impossible to annul a marriage, even a bad one.

                Re-marriage is unquestionably an accomodation to the hardness of our hearts and our inability to forge stong enough bonds with Jesus Christ to obviate the need for intimate human companionship.

                As I read recently: Marriage is not a sin so it is not really amenable to repentance. Certainly the sins committed within marriage are fruit for repentance, but not the marriage itself.

                The Church recongnizes the saddness inherent in the fact of multiple marriages despite the hope and joy of a new union and the opportunity to write a new icon on top of an older one that has been desecrated.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Thank you Saunca. It is my opinion that if we each go deeply enough we find points of agreement.

              It does not hurt that it is a description born of acutal experience rather than mere theory and speculation.

              It is tough work even with repentance and God’s graciousness but a work well worth the effort.

          • Richard Saunders says

            If divorce and remarriage is common sense, then, to follow your analogy, jurisdiction shopping (or hopping), while not ideal, is common sense, too.

          • The Catholic Church does not make money through its marriage courts or through annulment proceedings. The fees simply cover the actual costs of the trial and not even all of those. The point of any annulment trial is to determine if the marriage was valid from the beginning or null from the beginning. When it is done correctly, it can be a source of healing and education. When it fails, it is either because the process was not taken seriously enough or because at least one individual didn’t truly want to learn or change as necessary. But clearly there are factors that can invalidate a marriage from the beginning, and clearly there are lessons to be learned from any divorce, regardless of what the marriage tribunal concludes. Since marriage existed before the Church and was valid even between Adam and Eve, the Catholic Church sees this as a sacrament enacted by the couple themselves with the Church in more of an educate-witness-support role. There are some Catholic archdiocese in the US who are doing a better job in these facilitator roles than any religious group anywhere in the world. Some are not doing as well, but I’m certain the OCA has no room for triumphalism vis-a-vis the RC dioceses in the USA on the issue of marriage. It is something we all need to take more seriously, even us heretics and non-believers.

            • Gregg Gerasimon says

              I suppose that the process of Roman Catholic annulments could theoretically be healing for the parties involved, but it seems that these can simply be a bit ridiculous. An annulment essentially declares that a marriage never existed, but to say that a couple who was married for 25 years and had four children and then gets divorced for whatever reason — to say that such a marriage never existed from the beginning is going against reality. And if one is divorced and is not Roman Catholic but is going to marry a Roman Catholic in a RC church, then there is the bizarre predicament of going through an extensive process of getting a RC annulment of a previous marriage in which neither party had anything to do with the Roman Catholic church and may have been a Southern Baptist wedding, for example.

              To top it off, the entire issue of Byzantine Catholic annulments raises more problems. In the West (and thus in Roman Catholicism), the couple themselves are the minister of the marriage sacrament, so an annulment presupposes that couple did not enter into the marriage in good faith (i.e., their “I do’s” were not sincere, not truthful, ill-informed, etc.). However in the Eastern Christian tradition, the priest is the minister of the marriage sacrament, not the couple. Anyone who’s been to Eastern Orthodox weddings, for example, knows that there are no spoken “vows.” Byzantine Catholics retain this eastern Christian practice, yet in the case of a byzantine catholic divorce, they must also get a western, Roman Catholic-style annulment as well. This makes no sense given that an annulment in a byzantine catholic marriage would mean that the priest himself did not act in good faith in marrying the couple. For similar reasons, this is one of the reasons why it makes no sense to talk about annuling Eastern Orthodox marriages.

              This may be a job for the Episcopal Assembly over the next 50 to 100 years, but I think that the various Orthodox churches in America currently all have different policies on how they deal with divorce. In some of the Orthodox churches, a couple has to apply for and get an “ecclesiastical divorce” (whatever that means), while in others, the church is not in the business of granting divorces and simply uses the civil divorce that the couple gets in their local county or state. It makes sense to standardize this process across all Orthodox churches in America, so that they way the Greek Archdiocese handles divorces is the same as the way that ROCOR, the Serbian diocese, or the Antiochian Archdiocese would handle them, for example.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Its a mess. Some don’t accept any marriage that was performed outside the Church, others do.

            • Catholic Observer says

              Thank you, Um, for making this valiant effort to set the record straight. 😉

              Michael Bauman, where are you getting your info? The Catholic Church does not vary from diocese to diocese in its assessments of the validity of marriages performed in non-Catholic ceremonies. There are explicit criteria governing such matters.

              One example (assuming this is the sort of situation you allude to): If a Catholic gets a dispensation from his / her bishop to marry a non-Catholic in a non-Catholic ceremony, then the marriage is sacramentally valid (on those grounds, at least).

              If he / she does not bother getting such a dispensation but goes ahead with with the non-Catholic ceremony anyway, then validity is in question. In that case, the couple must obtain a “sanatio” (signifying that the marriage is “healed at the root”) before their marriage can be considered sacramentally valid. Once they have a sanatio, their marriage is considered valid and hence indissoluble.

              I know this for a fact; I have a sanatio.

              As I have said before at this site: If you want to retain all your ingrained anti-“papist” prejudices, fine; good luck to you. But at least get your facts straight…please!

              • Michael Bauman says

                Never said the Catholics did. We Orthodox, because of our jurisdtionalism do.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Surely, CO, you realize that the office of the Papcy is the primary reason for the schism that divides us in the first place. It is only reasonable for Orthodox to be anti-papists. For us it is an illegtimate assumption of power.

                If you really want anti-papist read http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/encyc_1848.aspx

                And this was before all the nonesense of Vatican I.

                But if you want to continue to treat us as poor little schismatics who are going to hell that’s fine, just try to understand the nature of what divides us.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  I always thought it was the Filioque. I can see however that the pope’s prerogatives may have gotten out of hand and remained so for a millennium but I think we can come to an understanding, enlightening our brothers in the West about the true prerogatives and demarcations of the papacy are.

                  • Jerry WIlson says

                    Check out Philip Sherrard’s, Church, Papacy, and Schism: A Theological Enquiry to see how they are related

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    The Filioque was only one cause of the Roman Schism. Cardinal Humbert who was the one who went to Constantinople and began the schism also condemned the East for allowing married clergy. In fact, the first time that the East officially criticized the West was a canon at the Council in Trullo that condemned the Roman requirement that married priests refrain from sexual relations with their wives. Cardinal Humbert called the wives of married priests prostitutes and their children illegitimate during a debate at the palace. That alienated the clergy and people of the imperial capital Cardinal Humbert was also rude to Patriarch Michael. Actually, the Patriarch was correct to ignore Humbert because the authority of a papal legate ceases when the pope dies and pope Leo IX had died before Humbert reached Constantinople. Despite the fact that he had no canonical authority to do, the arrogant cardinal placed the bull of excommunication on the Holy Table of Agia Sophia. Therefore, technically it was invalid. However, it began process of schism which became a reality when the Crusaders took Antioch in 1098 and removed the Orthodox Patriarch replacing him with a Latin Patriarch.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Triumphalism is always wrong…and its “we” heretics and unbelievers.

        • Wrong. There is only one marriage. But sometimes a second, or in extreme circumstances, a third is ALLOWED. There is the rule, but the Church is also merciful. It does not negate the rule, that’s western rationalism.

          • Even mercy can be defined and considered within a logical and coherent system.

            Rationalism if it is a human problem is not a Western problem.

            Please address your errors on these points going forward. With sincere respect, these kinds of comments make you and your religion look more petty and self absorbed than it should.

            The critical question you must raise here, whether Western or Eastern, whether Orthodox or not, is what mercy is, whether it is relevant in the case being considered, and whether it is most beneficial. You cannot give out mercy to everyone who divorces by allowing them all to remarry and still call it mercy. That is no longer mercy. That is a change in the rule. If you claim that it is still a heavenly law, then you give your mercy without love if you are not doing everything possible to educate through the pre-marriage, divorce, and re-marriage process. It is unhelpful to say the Church has the power to allow remarriage and so it is automatically merciful (implying a good thing) when it does allow remarriage after divorce. An Orthodox Church can and must do better than that.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Mercy can only be efficacious if the sinner realizes that he deserves justice. Otherwise it’s empty posturing and its fruits shall be sterile. Think of all the grievance groups out there who take no responsibility for their actions.

              • Jerry Wilson says

                Mercy, compassion and love are always efficacious. You just have to wait long enough.

                • Tell that to Judas, Jerry. Or the people who saw our Lord crucified but mocked him.
                  Apocatastasis – if that’s what you’re advocating – was condemned at the 5th Ecumenical Council.
                  Some people reject the grace of God – sad but true.

                • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                  If a person makes a mistake and marries the wrong person, they should not have to pay for it by remaining single the rest of their life. There is always forgiveness, even for sins that lead to the failure of a marriage.
                  I may be wrong, but I believe that the Antiochian Archdiocese is actually stricter than the OCA. Whenever a person is divorced, he or she is automatically placed under penance and cannot receive Holy Communion until their case is reviewed by the Metropolitan who decides whether or not further penance is necessary or if the person should be restored to the Sacramental Life of the Church including permission to marry. As I understand it, in the OCA the only time that a Bishop is involved in a divorce is if the person wants to remarry.

                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    Does anybody care whether the OCA is more or less punctilious relative to divorce than the Self-Governing Antiochian Archdiocese is? Is there competition here? is there a panel that determines the results of such competition? Is the matter reviewed annually or semi-annually?
                    What, by the way, was our Lord’s comment? When did HE indicate there was such a concept as “marrying the wrong person?” Is there an Orthodox doctrine of “right” spouses? I think it goes like this. In the Roman Church, the bride and groom are the ministers of marriage, but in the Orthodox Church GOD is the Minister; no vows, no statement “I take you as my spouse,” Admittedly, the Russian Church takes a step towards Roman Catholic theology when it inserts its questions about “intentions.” Nevertheless, Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us that God joins a man and woman together in marriage. God makes no mistakes, but the discovery that a spouse has also married an additional person, all by himself or herself, without God, this is ground for divorcing the man and woman that God married.
                    Surely, no one tells God, ‘YOU made a mistake in marrying us!!” Or, “Please take away that blessing YOU gave us!”
                    I think the concept of ‘right’ and “wrong” spouses is wholly atheistic; moreover it makes marriage a combination social-civic pastime.
                    “Pay for it by remaining single? ” Is remaining single a punishment?
                    Nothing could be more amorphous an ethic than “There is always forgiveness.” Perhaps Father includes that in his pre-marital spiritual counseling: ‘Don’t worry. If you later learn this was all a mistake, there’s always forgiveness, and, anyhow, why punish yourself by remaining single, if you’re not absolutely sure?”
                    I wonder if Father George Johnson agrees with this approach.
                    And if a man and wife have children, and decide they made a mistake? oh, I forgot, there’s always forgiveness.
                    Is it a sin, I wonder, according to this new ethic, if a person marries the “wrong person” but fails to “right” things and get a divorce?

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    If a person makes a mistake and marries someone when they are young who abuses them mentally and physically, commits adultery and then sues for divorce, the innocent party should not be forced to pay for their mistake the rest of their life. When we are forgiven, God’s forgiveness is complete and he gives us another chance.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    My comparison between Antiochian and OCA practices was a question and was not meant to be a criticism of the OCA practice as some people seem to have taken it.
                    My understanding is that in the OCA if a person gets a divorce the Bishop only gets involved if the person wants to remarry. Is that the case? I am just curious.
                    If a young person marries a person who mentally and physically abuses them, commits adultery and then files for divorce, I do not believe that the innocent party should be forced to live the rest of their life paying for their mistake, but as an act of mercy should be allowed to remarry with the blessing of the Church.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      you are being untruthful in your characterization of your message, Archpriest Morris. Look at it again. NOW, you’re asking a question.
                      He SAID this:
                      “If a person makes a mistake and marries the wrong person, they should not have to pay for it by remaining single the rest of their life.
                      Now he SAYS this:
                      “If a young person marries a person who mentally and physically abuses them, commits adultery and then files for divorce, I do not believe that the innocent party should be forced to live the rest of their life paying for their mistake, but as an act of mercy should be allowed to remarry with the blessing of the Church.”‘
                      That’s a big, big stretch from what he first said—not the same thing at all.
                      And he claims he did not compare the OCA and the Antiochians!
                      But these are his exact words:
                      “I may be wrong, but I believe that the Antiochian Archdiocese is actually stricter than the OCA.”
                      That is NOT a question. That is a clear statement of belief. Admitting he is not infallible does not turn it into a question.

            • Michael Bauman says

              The problem comes when tolerance is mistaken for mercy. Mercy is never wrong, tolerance always is.

              • I think that sometimes the problem lies with our not realizing that we should consult God about whom we should marry. I know I didn’t. I asked Him to bless something without getting His opinion of the situation.

                This can be extended further to all walks of life. We always seem to want God’s blessing on every thing we do/say, but we rarely ask for His opinion.

                What happens when we ask God to bless something that He does not want to bless? That is not in His realm of kingdom living? Are we just fooling ourselves into thinking that we have received a blessing?

                For example, today many same-sex couples seek a blessing on their union. Because the priest or pastor has pronounced the words is this union really blessed?

                Closer to home, the powers that be in the OCA illegally dumped the previous Metropolitan and selected one who suits their tastes more. Did God bless all this illegal maneuvering?

            • The Orthodox Church does not bless remarriage as a rule. It is taken on a case by case basis and requires the bishop’s involvement and blessing.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                That certainly was the case in my daughter’s remarriage. Bishop Basil of Wichita runs a tight ship.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Carl, yes he does, but mercy primary without in any way sacrificing the teachings of our Lord. Legalism brings death.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                Helga. I think you’re being a little over-optimistic in affirming that Orthodox Churches here in America do not bless remarriage as a rule. In my experience, the opposite is true. I would say, rather, “As a rule, few and far between are the rare instances of any request for a second, or third marriage being refused.’ I remember one priest telling me (when I was still a priest), that a fellow priest o his had said that he had presented a case to Bishop Boris, who had, unusually, refused a blessing for ti. The priest he told about it said that he should learn his lesson and ‘Next time, don’t go asking the bishop!”
                Formerly, in Bad Old Nineteenth Century Russia, one of the first things a parish rector was obligated to do when his bishop made a canonical visit was to bring out the “Metrical Books” (parish registry) for the Bishop to inspect to make sure nothing like a second marriage had been done without his written permission. Most OCA bishops and parish rectors today are ignorant of such TRUE examples of accountability, since no cash is involved, apparently
                Since St. Paul allowed remarriage (of widows) rather than risk their being “ruined,” (better to marry than to burn), the the Church officially allowed a second marriage when the SALVATION of the petitioning person was threatened by remaining in the single state. THAT is the only justification, after the destruction of a marriage done by God, for remarriage of a widowed or divorced person: the conviction that the remarried person would be absolutely damned if left in an unmarried state.
                Now, in America, we have “no fault” divorces. Such is completely contrary to Christ’s teaching on marriage and divorce. HE ONLY allowed ‘FAULT divorce. None of this, “Well, my first marriage was obviously a mistake: everyone agrees….” Neither Christ nor the Apostle leaves room for “mistaken’ marriage, and for remarriage as “correction” of a mistake. In plain words, it’s supposed to be “If I don’t get a blessing for this second marriage, there’s nothing but ruination and dsstruction and damnation in store for me, like the plight of oppressed and degraded widows in the society of St. Paul’s day. ironically, the Orthodox Church teaches that marriage is not a contract accomplished by a man and woman, but an act of God, the minister of which is NOT the bride or groom, but God’s priest. The Roman Church, with its teaching that marriage is a contract (even sealed by vows as all contracts once were), allows itself to “dissolve’ marriages, while tut-tutting about divorce provided the proper bureaucratic and financial devices are used.
                I would say rather, Helga, “The Orthodox Church, in singular and rare cases, occasionally and theoretically, might withhold blessings for up to two remarriages.”

                • Harry Coin says

                  All this discussion of marriage and its tenure and inner life. You’d think the folks speaking knew the first thing about it, as if they were married for 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                As a rule the Orthodox Churches in America bless remarriages.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Mercy cannot be contained or constrained. The attempt to do so is legalism.

              Rationalism is a fundamental denial of the humanity Jesus assumed and it was introduced as a method in the West.

              Our rational faculty is God given but like any of our faculties subject to debasement by our passions. Chief of which is to usurp God.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                Is Michael Bauman criticizing the Saviour’s CLEAR *********condemnation of divorce******* except on grounds of adultery? Was our Savior in that being merciless?
                Did our Savior condemn ANY other moral “lapse” with such vigor and energy and decisiveness?

                With divorce, He didn’t demand that only the morally pure condemn it, as in the case of the woman caught flagrante delicto. He BLAMED the man who divorced his wife except for adultery.
                If you want to point a finger at me for legalism, you’re pointing in the wrong direction!

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Your Grace, I was not even thinking of you or anything you said in any of my respones on this point, neither do I advocate going against the condemnation of divorce or being more lenient than we already are within the Church. I don’t know of anyone in the Orthodox Church I would call legalistic in this matter and I agree there are times when we are too lenient so that tolerance is labled as mercy. That is a shame.

                  All I am saying is that once a divorce occurs, especially in people raised outside the Church there are many oppourtunities for grace. My wife and I are living proof of that. That fact gives me much cause to rejoice in God and savor His graciousness of which I am totally unworthy. It also compells me to testify to His graciousness to one such as I (a stiff-necked and rebellious child). There is nothing in the canons or in episcopal authority which can condem what God has blessed.

                  Once a divorce has occured, espeically before coming to the Church, what ought to be the Church’s pastoral response? Are we to hold those outside the Church to the same standards as we are to hold ourselves? We do a bad job of teaching what marriage is to folks in the Church. Outside the Church there is a literal wasteland.

                  Is physical abuse on the same level as adultery, how about attempted murder, or leaving a woman destitue because the ex stole most of the money and other assets while leaving the woman with the children?

                  All of these are common occurences. When someone comes to the Church who has been subjected to all of this and more, is there not room in our hearts to accept them and bless any subsequent union within the Church (given proper repentance)? Is she to be forever without intimate human companionship because of the betrayal perpetrated upon her? Is she to be locked out of the Ark of Salvation by giving her unnecessary offense? Jurisdictions vary on this point; I suspect that various bishops within jurisdictions vary on this point.

                  Divorce is always a heart and soul rending event even when one of the spouses is clearly the most offending party. The Church, IMAO, is duty bound to do all that she can to prevent it and bring all appropriate remedies for healing if it is not preventable or occured prior to coming into the Church.

                  I am sorry that my lack of facility for the language is such that you were able to infer what you apparently did from my posts. Sometimes I feel as if what I read and interpret as English, others do not. Obviously that was the case here. Remember, I am always open to questions concerning my meaning if you are truly interested. Likewise I strive not to give offense to anyone. Forgive me for the offense I inadvertantly casued you. It was completely unintentional.

                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    Thank you for commenting on my last sentence. I accept that. Now, what about my questions to you that were the main part of my posting?
                    As for marriages existing before conversion/Baptism, there is some difference of opinion and practice there. Saint Ambrose clearly wrote that while all sins are washed away in bsptism, marriage is NOT a sin, and is not washed away, while the “majority opinion” seems to be that we may ACT as if it did not exist before baptism, and if converts are not “re-crowned’ they are living in an unmarried state. The Russian Church and I think, the Greek Church do not remarry converts. Some other Local Church(es) may proceed otherwise.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Your Grace, IMO, the moral lapse Jesus condemns the most is that of the Pharisees who had the keys to the kingdom and neither entered in nor allowed others to enter. In general, hypocrisy, in my reading of the Scripture, is widely and consistently condemned by our Lord above all other sins. But, I could be wrong.

                      Divorce and remarriage is definately something that should not happen amongst we Christians, but it does and at no less a rate than the surrounding culture. Our hearts are selfish and hard. So, how is it that we can bind with great burdens those who have little or no knowledge of the truth of marriage revealed in the Church, when we ourselves do not practice it?

                      Shoot, even clergy are allowed to remarry and retain their priesthood and leadership positions. Some are more equal that others, it appears.

                      I am beginning to think that much of the ‘marriage’ that takes place outside the Church and some even within the Church is not marriage at all but a sham of sin that does not deserve the name of marriage. A legal contract that is all in which even the children of the marriage are considered property of the state when the marriage fails.

                      When the marriage canons were written there was quite a bit of syncronicity between civil and eccelsial law and practice. However, the ruling elites considered themsevles above both (not much of a change to now).

                      Now there is little sycronicity between the truth of marriage revealed in the Church and the way it is described legally and practiced outside the Church. To the extent that our own marriages conform more to worldy standards than to the Church’s, we suffer greatly.

                      What similarity there is between the Church and the world will soon pass into oblivion as such blasphemies as “gay marriage”, “tri-marriages”; “temporary term marriages”, etc, etc. gain increasing legal status and social acceptance. The state is simply codifying people’s passions.

                      When someone enters into the Church and wishes to conform themselves to Christ in the Church while having partaken of the sinful understanding of marriage taught in the world, it seems to me there ought to be a remedy for them. Or is a bad marriage entered into for the wrong reasons the ‘unforgivable sin’? Is the sin of adultery in marriage to be born equally by both parties even when only one committed it?

                      Is it better for people to live in sin fornicating and raising bastard children with multiple partners than to marry and attempt to make a go of it despite not having the tools to do so?

                      What it seems the Church is saying: “Hey be as promiscuous as you wish with as many partners as you can manage and if you repent, we’ll bless your subsequent marriage. However, if you get married and fail too many times because your spouses abandon you or commit adultery or your spouses die, you are out of luck. “No soup for you!!!!”

                      I have difficulty with that. It seems capricious and a denigration of real marriage in the guise of defending it because when chastity is attempted and violated, that is punished while wild debauchery is rewarded if one tires of it.

                      We must and should have the standard that Jesus commands and not tolerate any divergence from it. BUT, when people fail (lay people and those outside the Church initially), they ought to have the ability to ‘go boldly before the throne of grace’ under the guidance and correction of their confessor and their bishop and be restored.

                      However to routinely allow remarriage out of convention and an unwillingness to uphold the standard is a deadly wrong. That brings us back to the beginning of this post of mine.

                      I hope I have addressed your points. If I have not then I guess I need more specificity from you as to what I have failed to address.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Michael BAuman, you still did not comment on what I wrote; instead you referred to another matter. I assume you fully understand our Saviour’s remark about the Pharisees having the keys to the kingdom. Please elaborate on that and explain also how the main sin of the Pharisees was “hypocrisy.” Are hypocrites forthright about their beliefs? Do they not practice what they preach. Was not the pharisee in the temple with the humble publican not completely honest and forthright about his virtues? In our Church, hypocrisy is not as gravely sinful as pride. THAT was what differentiated the publican and the pharisee.
                      No matter, however, if the Saviour as you say MAINLY dissed the pharisees as hypocrites, that does not diminish in any way the very categorical and unambiguous and not-subject-to-casuistry outright condemnation of divorce except for adultery by him In So Many Words. Ever-memorable Fr Alexander Schmeman characterized that Pharisee as “the guy that did everything RIGHT: the one we’d feel deserved a “Gramota” (certificate of achievement hand writen by a bishop, or chirograph)!
                      Their instructions to the people were not hypocritical they were prideful. The Publican was free of pride, while otherwise being any enemy of the people..

          • Catholic Observer says

            Western rationalism. Now I’ve heard everything. 😉

            Jesus must have been a Western rationalist, then. He said something to the effect of: “What God has joined together, let NO man put asunder.” Sounds pretty darned definitive to me. 😉

            • Michael Bauman says

              CO. I am sure it is not a surprise that the attitudes expressed here by some toward the RCC exist. While the attitudes may be excessive, the reality behind the attitudes is undeniable.

              Your own thinly disguised contempt for the Orthodox way does not help.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                I see no contempt at all, disguised or undisguised, in Catholic Observer’s post above. Not EVERY conservative position is Roman Catholic legalism. The Orthodox Church has never been exempt from or free of scholastic and rationalistic attitudes. Moreover, the words of our Saviour quoted by that observer are also quoted in Orthodox teaching on marriage and divorce. I think that Catholic Observer made the point, ironically, that when it comes to rationalising, no one can hold a candle to the Orthodox in getting round our Saviour’s clear direction I believe that Tsar Ivan iv, Vassilievich, or “the Terrible” married 12 times without being censured by the Church, while in Byzantine history, the top number achieved was “only” 8 (eight).
                Further, the Orthodox Church blesses divorce in order for a man to become a hierarch, if his wife agrees to the divorce and demonstrates it by taking monastic vows herself.

            • Harry Coin says

              That’s where annulment comes from. Obviously, if there is a ‘sundering’ then God must not been the one to have ‘joined them together’.

              (The ‘obviously’ part was supposed to be in humorous jesuitical style quotes, but George’s upgrade filter rejected them.)

          • Dan,
            If His Grace Bishop Tikhon is correct (and he should know) and priests in America routinely remarry people for a second and even third time, it would seem to me that is tantamount to negating the rule. I understand and agree with the need for mercy, but mercy enacted without repentance can easily be taken as a license to continue in sin. Btw, if by “western rationalism” you mean the use of logic generally and the law of non-contradiction in particular, there is nothing “western” about it. Logic is key to proper reasoning, whether you are in New York, Moscow or Beijing. In fact, every time you board a plane, train or automobile you are placing your confidence in logic – your life depends on the designer having designed the vehicle logically.

            • lexcaritas says

              Well, said, Basil. Thank you, my brother.


              • Thanks kindly, lexcaritas.
                Michael Bauman – yes, there is “rationalism” and there is logical thinking. I’m just not sure which one Dan is referring to. I’m alerted to this possible problem through experience with converts (no prejudice implied, convert friends!); cradle Orthodox, Russians at least, and I hope the same can be said for Greeks, seldom think about it.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Basil, many converts approach the Church initially from a rationalist/idealistic perspective in part because that is the way they’ve been trained by their previous confession and by our culture. If such converts don’t allow themselves to experience the life in the Church, however, they will become unstable and move on to something else because they never really converted. They are looking for something they can understand (and therefore control) rather than for communion/union with Christ.

                  Those born into the Church have a similar problem: They can approach the Church in their minds without appreciation or gratitude simply doing what has always been done rather than allowing the living grace to transform them and bring them into something deeper. They can endure this way for a lifetime or gradually drift away because they lack inspiration.

                  My reading of western history and my existential experience prior to coming into the Church was one of bifurcation. The whole person was not considered in approching God. Heart or head. Strict legal adherence to the commands of Scripture or a too easy sentimentality that Jesus takes care of everything or the Magisterium will do it for them.

                  The Church takes man in our brokeness and, by the grace of God, returns us to wholeness through our participation in prayer, fasting, almsgiving, worship and repentance. It is both rational and experiential; uniquely personal but embedded in community; depends on hierarchy while requireing a deeply personal, intimate committment from each member. As my recent convet wife puts it: “I didn’t join the Orthodox Church, I am becoming Orthodox.”

                  I mean no triumphalism. Of course there are people witin western confessions that have been lifted up into real communion and the Church is not free from the centrifugal forces of bifurcation, nominalism universalism and legalism to be sure. That is part of our common falleness.

                  However, IMO, western Christianity has tended to embrace those forces in a manner that the Church has not. Indeed that is the whole point of the debate between Barlam and St. Grregory of Palamas is it not?

                  The Church does not embrace the false dicotomies that seem to abound in the west as either/or choices rather than as both/and realities. The exception to this is the divide between life and death; virtue and evil which are real dicotomies.

                  The ultimate expresson of the both/and approach was made plain by our Lord, God and Savior becoming man. That antinomical reality that was articulated at Chalcedon and greatly resisted by many ever since.

                  • Thanks Michael.
                    I’m not sure I follow you but I’m sure if we had this conversation over a good bottle of red (wine) we’d end up terrific friends.
                    Again, it’s not an West-East dialectic if you’re talking about logic.
                    Rationalism, meaning the usurpation of the prerogatives of God by the finite human mind, is found in all cultures too, although I’ll grant the West between the middle ages and the destruction of the Pruitt-Igoe complex (symbolically inaugurating postmodernism) has gone too strongly at it. Lamentably, the West now seems to have renounced logical thinking along with the dreaded rationalism, and there’s the rub.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Basil, since my wife’s family owns a winery with over 500 international awards, I think I can get you a great deal on a good bottle of wine. If you are ever in Wichita, Ks come and worship with me at St. George and then we can break bread together. Great idea.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Rationalism is a system of thought that arrogates the capacity of the human mind to,essentially, the level of the divine while minimizing all other human capacities to experience and express real divinity. The un-holy trinity: rationalism, humanism, egalitarianism: “I think, therefore I am”; “Man is the measure of all things”; equality means no differences allowed.

      • Carl,

        You present a perfect picture of how the divorce mindset was deeply seeded in the hearts of the Holy Synod with +Jonah. It was “too hard” for them to work it out, so they Synod divorced +Jonah. What an image of leadership for us to follow in our personal relationships.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          You forget that the Holy Synod tried to get help for +Jonah. By his own admission, all of the problems between himself and the Chancery staff, the MC and the Holy Synod were the fault of one person–himself. They had tried to get him help in Santa Fe but +Jonah reneged. Even at the end, he had a choice: he chose resignation. I would say that it was +Jonah who divorced himself from his marriage to the primacy. His explanation was that he had been living a lie for a long time, that he had known for a long time that he was not suited to be the primate. He is the one who abandoned the marriage and not the other way around.

          • Carl,

            You are accepting as fact that +Jonah was more than administratively challenged because they is not a reason enough for a Primate to resign. Rather, you are accepting the “gravely troubled” diagnosis of Fr. Thomas Hopko and the backstage work of Fr. Leonid to use the same tactics previously used against Bishop Rodzianko as the “road map” to get rid of +Jonah.

            Whether you accept the truth that +Jonah was forced to admit in Seattle that all of the problems in administration were his, which was and is not true, yes, he was an administrative dolt but there are plenty of bishops in the history of the Church who disposed that aspect of their calling, some who also left their See, like St. Nectarios, just to name one, I believe another poster here listed several others.

            I continue to object to the basic premise of the OCA Synod that +Jonah was mentally defective and thus needed professional help. That is where we may always disagree. And lest we forget, +Jonah’s own chancellor, Fr. Garklavs was actively working against his bishop behind the scenes a reality that +Jonah brought with detailed evidence to the Synod of which the Synod had no choice but to relieve Garklavs of his duties, yet they still would not leave +Jonah alone and continued their quest to remove him and then gave Garklavs a soft landing into a new position while the proof of the Synod’s distrust for +Jonah was finally revealed not only in how he was removed but how he has been treated since his removal.

            At least +Jonah is not making it easy for the Synod with their Pilate like attempts to wash their hands of the “troublesome” bishop by offering him $1000 per month and a room at St. Tikhon’s Monastery or their mandate that if he wanted to start a monastery he could not place it within 100 miles of DC or Dallas. More indications that they think he is a nut. Further the Synod will not revoke the STINKBOMB letter that appears to have had to purpose of justifying their actions and leaving the impressions for others that he is “gravely troubled” and should be in the untouchable caste.

            +Jonah was far from a perfect Metropolitan, but what was also far from perfect was a serious and Christian attempt to bring this baby bishop along so that he could learn on the job because those same bishops elected him to be the OCA Primate. You may disagree but I saw little in the Santa Fe smack down to help +Jonah grow into his position and much more a overreaction on the Synod’s part to brand him defective. Seriously, they wanted +Jonah to go to a drug and alcohol rehab center, suggested by Bishop Benjamin when the man ever presented any profile of an addict. That was cruel and I don’t blame him for resisting that attempt given that it would have served no spiritual or clinical purpose except to brand him by his admission to such a facility as some sort of addict.

            Of course this is all hindsight now and indeed +Jonah was not very good at taking any advice, but that was his choice. Some advice may have been good for him but some was clearly inappropriate. The apparent fact that the OCA now will simply ignore their past and go on as if all is well with no admission that they were also part of the problem, sources of the time of troubles, is what is most disappointing and which causes many to doubt the viability of the OCA under its current leadership.

            Simply stating, “the time of troubles are over” by Chancellor Jillions further cements the idea that the OCA is living inside of a very small bubble. This gives me great concern as a layperson who is struggling to remain in the Church I grew up in and have sacrificed much to promote in the past.

          • Carl,
            You are accepting as fact that +Jonah was more than administratively challenged because that is not reason enough for a Primate to resign. Rather, you are accepting the “gravely troubled” diagnosis of Fr. Thomas Hopko and the backstage work of Fr. Leonid to use the same tactics previously used against Bishop Rodzianko as the “road map” to get rid of +Jonah. You believe that +Jonah was mentally and spiritually troubled, don’t you?

            Whether you accept the truth that +Jonah was forced by the Synod to insert the paragraph in his speech under the treat that if he didn’t he would be removed after the Seattle Council, admitting that all of the problems in administration were his, which was and is not true, is up to you to reject, but it does not change the veracity of that event in Seattle. Yes indeed, +Jonah was an administrative dolt but there are plenty of bishops in the history of the Church who despised that aspect of their calling, some who also left their See, like St. Nectarios, just to name one,who was also defamed by his pursuers.

            I continue to object to the basic premise of the OCA Synod that +Jonah was mentally defective and thus needed professional help. That is where we may always disagree. And lest we forget, +Jonah’s own chancellor, Fr. Garklavs was actively working against his bishop behind the scenes a reality that +Jonah brought with detailed evidence to the Synod of which the Synod had no choice but to relieve Garklavs of his duties, yet they still would not leave +Jonah alone and continued their quest to remove him by forcing +Jonah to still work with Garklavs while Syosset and the Synod provided a soft landing for the ousted Chancellor into a new and very lucrative parish position. Of course the Synod has given no such accommodation to +Jonah after his ouster/resignation.

            At least +Jonah is not making it easy for the Synod with their Pilate like attempts to wash their hands of the “troublesome” bishop by offering him $1000 per month and a room at St. Tikhon’s Monastery or their mandate that if he wanted to start a monastery he could not place it within 100 miles of DC or Dallas or the attempts to poison the well by opening his private files in Syosset so that the MP and ROCOR can look at it, and God only knows exactly what has been placed in that file and by whom since +Jonah’s departure. So, +Jonah now finds himself in the “OCA untouchable caste.”

            +Jonah was far from a perfect Metropolitan, but what was also far from perfect was the lack of a serious and Christian attempt to bring this baby bishop along so that he could learn on the job. +Jonah had no choice but to learn on the job. He had little, let’s face it, no episcopal experience. This being the case, I believe it was the DUTY of the Synod who elected him to be the OCA Primate to do whatever was necessary to help him. This is what is so troubling about the Santa Fe ambush because you may disagree but I saw little in the Santa Fe smack down to help +Jonah grow into his position and much more a overreaction on the Synod’s part to brand him defective. Seriously, they wanted +Jonah to go to a drug and alcohol rehab center, suggested by Bishop Benjamin of all people, when the man never then or since has presented any profile of an addict. That was cruel and I don’t blame him for resisting that attempt given that it would have served no spiritual or clinical purpose except to brand him by his admission to such a facility as some sort of addict or a substance abuser. But that event irreparably damage the working relationship of the Synod with Jonah because from then on the posture of the Synod was to prove their point that +Jonah was mentally unfit as Primate. The reaction of the Synod to the Washington Post article was clearly their attempt to prove that +Jonah was beyond help and they needed to move against him. Why else even respond to the WaPo article?

            Of course this is all hindsight and indeed +Jonah was not very good at taking any advice, but can he totally be blamed for being wary of the Synod’s advice when they wanted him committed? Some advice may have been good for him but some was clearly inappropriate and harmful.

            The apparent fact that the OCA will now simply ignore their past and go on as if all is well with no admission that they were also part of the problem, creators in part of the very “time of troubles” that beset us is what is most disappointing and causes people to doubt the viability of the OCA under its current leadership.

            Simply stating, “the time of troubles are over” by Chancellor Jillions further cements the idea that the OCA is living inside of a very small bubble. This gives me great concern as a layperson who is struggling to remain in the Church I grew up in and have sacrificed much to promote in the past. Unless the OCA leadership starts to show some basic Christian charity and a willingness to admit its mistakes towards +Jonah, it will be hard for me to believe that any future growth can be built upon such a faulty foundation of Christian praxis.

            Carl you may believe that all is well, however I do not share your unbridled optimism, thus I suppose we will continue to agree to disagree.


            • Carl Kraeff says

              Speaking of the OCA bubble, here is a fairly large bubble.

              OCA’s saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary–the only doctorate granting Orthodox institution of higher learning in the Western world, has embarked on creating an International Center for Orthodox Christian Studies. As a prelude for this Center, SVOTS has signed collaborative agreements with the Universities of Belgrade and Bucharest. Here are some links on this subject.




              As an avowed OCA partisan, I am understandably happy with this development. OTH, I would not be surprised if the usual suspects were to belittle this project.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                And they are proving my point by giving thumbs down to good news. Thank you.

                • Carl,

                  The aggressive outreach of SVS to foster new and exciting links to other Orthodox Churches is very good news. It is also a sign that SVS is not going to put all of its eggs in the OCA basket. The truth is that SVS will not get caught in the OCA undertow and will position itself to move to a safe harbor if things go very badly.

                  On a related note, it is very sad that STS is not doing very well. They are $1 millions in debt, they had to borrow money from the St Tikhon’s Monastery to pay bills and the money borrowed was taken from a restricted fund account without STS Board approval. It is very sad that Fr. Atty’s health prevented him from moving STS into the future and in a healthy direction. One can hope that they will be able to find a worthy replacement for him, a person who will finally bring some much needed clarity of mission to the seminary and break its shackles as a school run like a “mom and pop” store. There is a real question of whether or not the seminary can financially survive. They are feeling the after effects of the way Metropolitan Herman was treated by the OCA Synod. People in EPA are not giving as they once did to the seminary. Maybe that is one reason why the Synod is now ready to “permit” Metropolitan Herman to pray at the Monastery Church at St Tikhon’s after several years of exile.

                  You and I may disagree on this point but the sooner the OCA can show more charity and a spirit of reconciliation rather than trying to always prove that they are “right” is when the OCA can actually begin to regain its lost credibility.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              James–Thank you for your thoughtful reply. You are correct, I do believe that Jonah’s problems transcended administrative inaptitude. To me, the critical thing that happened at Stanta Fe was not the unanimous fecision for him to go to St. Luke’s; it was +Jonah’s breaking of his word, his agreement, as soon as he left the retreat. Similarly, the bigger problem in Seattle was not the purported demand by the Holy Synod to insert the mea culpa and promise to do all he could to solve that issue; it was Jonah not doing what he promised. Reminds one of a child who lies his head off when confronted and gives the bird when others’ backs are turned, doesn’ it? This pattern of caving in and breaking his word shows a lack of personal honor and betrays an orientation, which for lack of a better term, could be called narcissism. I am certainly not a psychologist and there well may be a term that decribes this pattern better. What I am seeing is conduct that is alternately craven and defiant, that has no compass other than what one wants. Conduct that may be a passing phase in an adolescent, but would be gravely troubling in an adult. Bottom line for me: I would not want him in a foxhole with me.

              • Carl,

                I think you make a good argument and I don’t disagree. However my point of departure with your assessment is that it was the Synod’s job, even unto “70 times 7” to make it work with +Jonah. I am not saying they did not try but they did give up and I don’t think they had a right to give up on him. I think the way they went about trying to “help” Jonah was wrong. There is no doubt that Bishop Benjamin was totally out of line, and still is, in his loathing of Jonah. Like you, I am no psychologist but the amount of projection onto Jonah that Benjamin continues to display is sinful.

                Why would a bishop, in mixed company at a OCA church meeting bellow that “what type of person is Jonah to let his sister who was an alcoholic die while she was living with him.” Is that an example of Christian charity? I think his statement reveals they type of atmosphere that Jonah was forced to deal with while Primate. What is pathetic in Benjamin’s comments is that the very same thing could be said of the OCA Synod when +Job was alive. They all knew that +Job had a serious drinking problem and was prone to severe mood swings in which he would locked in his room for days if not weeks on end while in a depressed condition. Where was the care for him by his brothers? I do know of people, not bishops who pleaded with +Job to get help. Now he is dead.

                Another Benjamin projection onto +Jonah was the death of Mr. Solak while living with Benjamin in Alaska. Mr. Solak was a very ill alcoholic. His disease was visible and unless Benjamin was blind, he did not help Mr. Solak who died from alcoholism while living in same house as Benjamin. Yet, this is the same man who rails against Jonah as the cause of his sister’s demise?

                I will give credit to Benjamin for taking a compassionate view (along with Jonah) in the situation of Fr. Isidore (Brittain) who is an alcoholic but is now trying to live a life of sobriety. With proper limits as they have been set for Fr. Isidore, with the support of his bishop, he is being given a chance to work out his salvation as a priest in a supportive community.

                In the end it again goes to the question of credibility of an organization that allows such reckless behavior to go untreated with thoughtless outbursts by a archbishop of the Church. It is wrong, it is hurtful and every day that the OCA does not address this elephant in the room is another day in which any good news and pronouncements by Syosset are weakened.

                Sobriety in its totality is what the approaching Great Lent is all about, I pray that with greater sobriety the OCA can be more charitable and in fact know for its charity and not its desire for correctness in being proven “right” at the cost of too many scandalized souls.

          • Michael Bauman says

            IMO, Met. Jonah was ‘Gaslighted’. If you haven’t seen the movie “Gaslight” with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman it, IMO, throws a lot of light on the current situation in the OCA.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              Really Michael, are you comparing +Jonah to Paula, who was “gaslighted” by Gregory Anton/Sergius Bauer? Paula was an innocent young woman and she was depicted by probably the most beautiful actress ever–Ingred Bergman. I am trying to see some equivalency there, in either innocence or beauty aspects, but I cannot see one. Similarly, Gregory/Sergius had plotted this long before his marriage to Paula; are you suggesting that somebody orchestrated this whole fiasco from the time that +Jonah was at Valaam? 🙂

              You did make the charge though and let’s follow through. I suppose you would accept the following:

              “From the film’s title, “gaslighting” has come to describe a pattern of psychological abuse in which the victim is gradually manipulated into doubting his or her own reality. This can involve physical tactics (such as moving or hiding objects) or emotional ones (such as denying one’s own abusive behavior to a victim.) The effect is to maintain the abuser’s self-image as a sympathetic person, while simultaneously priming the disoriented victim to believe that he or she is to blame for (potentially escalating) mistreatment.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslight_(1944_film)#Gaslight_as_expression

              This means that, in your view, +Jonah’s Seattle speech and resignation letter were the result of his being so psychologically abused that he had come to believe that he himself was to blame for everything and that he was not suited to be the Metropolitan. Let us suppose that your conclusion is true. I am not a psychologist, but it seems to me that an ordinary person would not let himself be so abused and manipulated. What do you think?

              • Carl, you do not know what humility looks like in the face of conflict.

                Stop justifying evil.

  6. Carl Kraeff says

    Here is something interesting, positive, and perhaps also a sign of things to come:

    “Archimandrite Alexander [Pihach], Representative of the Orthodox Church in America to the Russian Orthodox Church and Dean of the OCA Representation Church of the Great Martyr Catherine here, was welcomed by His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, at the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin on Saturday, March 2, 2013.

    Patriarch Kirill wished Father Alexander God’s help and blessing as he begins his new ministry. He stressed the importance of serving as Representative of the Orthodox Church in America and Dean of Saint Catherine Representation Church. Father Alexander began his duties on November 30, 2012. [See related story].

    Archimandrite Alexander was among those who concelebrated at the Divine Liturgy in the cathedral on the occasion of the Feast of the Holy Martyr Hermogenes, Patriarch of Moscow.”


    • Yes, the picture posted by the OCA was a beauty! HH schooling Fr. Alexander. Would have loved to hear exactly what HH was saying.

      • HH: Welcome!

        Fr. P: I look forward to working with Your Holiness and I bring you greetings from Metropolitan Tikhon and the Orthodox Church in America!

        HH: You screw up, I’ll squash you like the autocephalous bug you are.