How Did We Get Here? Part I: Syosset and the Dearth of Vision


holy-synodClearly very little has gone right for the OCA over the last nine months. Even those who take a Pollyanna attitude have found it difficult to state otherwise. Crying over spilt milk is useless at this juncture, nevertheless it is necessary to ask how we got here. And ask we must for barring public repentance, there is no way that the continued, slow-motion implosion of the OCA will reverse itself.

Some of course claim that the autocephaly of the OCA is to blame. That is to say that its many overseas critics are correct, that the Metropolia did not have the spiritual maturity and clerical depth to accept the heavy burden of autocephaly. Perhaps this criticism, stinging though it may be, deserves some introspection.

In any event, the OCA was not without its signal accomplishments. The successful anglification of the Liturgy, three seminaries, and mission-planting grants are testaments to a robust evangelism. The explosion of Orthodoxy in the Diocese of the South (a region with virtually no Eastern European Orthodox immigration) likewise could not have happened without the shackles of overseas authority stricken from the legs of the Metropolia.

In addition the emphasis on diocesan involvement in the selection of bishops as well as the election of Primates at All-American councils — with vivid, real-time input from clerical and lay delegates — is to be jealously guarded at all costs. An authentic, unified, American Orthodoxy would be the poorer if it abandoned any and all of the above.

So where did we go wrong? In the opinion of this writer, the reasons are many. We shall examine them in a three-part series. As always, the input of our readers and correspondents will be welcome.

Buzzword Bingo

In American corporate culture, there has been a heavy emphasis on “human resources” over the last few decades. In order to motivate workers, the stated emphasis is usually on some nebulous concept like “quality” or “empowerment” or “togetherness” rather than crass concepts such as profitability and productivity. Conferences, memoranda, emails, and what-not are trotted out at various intervals to this effect.

After a certain time though a certain, subconscious lethargy creeps in. Sometimes employees mumble among themselves when they realize the paucity of the latest “message.” At boring conferences some even play a game which they cynically call “Buzzword Bingo,” in which they secretly write certain key phrases down and then cry “bingo!” when the motivational speaker du jour recites them. In the OCA, Corporate HQ (Syosset) and its propaganda arm (OCANews) had two such words which they treated as nothing less than sacred revelation: Accountability and Transparency. These were the be-all and end-all of the ecclesial governance model as far as Syosset was concerned.

Though OCANews had to fold up its tent when it became obvious to all but the most obtuse that its purveyor made the news as well as “reported” it, the modern, corporatist paradigm that it championed is still very much in play in the OCA. This is not to say that there was anything wrong per se with greater accountability and transparency, nor the vigilance required to abide by legal and financial norms as found in the secular world, it’s merely to say the sincerity behind them was lacking.

Their uses were selectively applied. For example Metropolitan Jonah could be castigated for “acting unilaterally” but Archbishop Benjamin could embroil himself in the middle of a political firestorm in Alaska without any consequence. As noted by Monomakhos and others, the conflict of interest presented by Mark Stokoe, who not only operated OCANews but served several terms on the Metropolitan Council, should have raised red flags from the outset. That it did not showed either a stunning level of deceit on the part of Syosset or an astounding level of ignorance.

For our part, we believe that deceit was the modus operandi when it came to Mr Stokoe and his handlers in the Syosset Apparat. This allegation is dramatic but it is not baseless. For proof we can cite a leaked email generated by Mr Stokoe in which he essentially gave marching orders to an anti-Jonah cabal comprised of bishops, priests, a deacon, lawyers, and lay members of the Metropolitan Council as to how best to get rid of the legitimate Primate. This email was leaked on the Indiana Forum and picked up by Monomakhos a little over two years ago. It speaks for itself.

For Syosset “Accountability and Transparency” Never Applies

Like most clichés, “Accountability and Transparency” were used as a sword and shield in the crusade of a militant cadre to modernize the OCA by bringing it into more conformity with American corporate standards. In reality however, this was never really the case. They were used instead as cudgels against those who stood in the way of the Syosset and its continuing centralization scheme, to say nothing of its headlong accommodation to NCC-type theological liberalism.

To achieve this end, any means were used. But first Metropolitan Jonah had to be removed at all costs. Though he and his partisans presented a tenacious resistance, in the end no measure was spared in order to get rid of him. The success of this modernist/ecumenist cabal however was a Pyrrhic one and the OCA has been and will continue to be tarnished for years to come.

That is where we are at present. The question for our purposes at this juncture is how does the Apparat which really governs the OCA continue to function especially in light of its egregious, uncanonical, and possibly criminal actions?

Quite simply by not abiding by their stated principles. The Syosset Apparat has long been severely at odds with Orthodox ecclesiology, however their abidance by a more open, Americanist ethos was never seriously executed. By adhering to these principles it could have salvaged some credibility and perchance acquired some moral credibility vis-à-vis the other Patriarchates.

Instead it was wedded to an institutional mindset, one which precluded this possibility, hence its current morass. Instead of Accountability and Transparency, its autocephalist pretensions allowed Syosset to govern by means of Secrecy and Opacity. The irony is delicious. Yet no other phrase encapsulates the operating system of the OCA.

The various governing bodies of the OCA are anything but transparent. As for accountability, your guess is as good as mine. The Metropolitan Council for example releases only heavily redacted minutes and it goes into “Executive Session” at the drop of a hat. (A year ago, I’d asked for an organizational flow-chart for the OCA but such a Rube Goldbergian scheme would have taxed the artistic talents of a Jackson Pollock.)

Regardless, what’s at stake here is not real transparency but the desire to hoodwink the faithful so that they don’t ask too many question but continue to pray, pay, and obey; at least until the senior-most Protosbyterians are able to retire with their pensions.

Unfortunately as can be seen by the declining census figures and the remittances to Syosset, whatever it is that Syosset has been doing, hasn’t been working.

The Tipping Point?

So where are we as a Church? Where to start? The OCA has so betrayed its mission that our autocephaly (as it is currently practiced) will eventually be a moot point. None of the other jurisdictions want any part of us. As it was, it was only because of adroit maneuvers on Jonah’s part that we were even allowed membership in the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the first place.

In any event, we must start somewhere, so why not at Syosset? Here we must ask: where are we as an administration? One which has fiduciary responsibilities to take care of the needs of its retired bishops and clergy? Do the functionaries there think in the long-term? It is this writer’s contention that they do not. Exhibit A would be the tremendous number of retired bishops in our jurisdiction.

As is known, His Grace Matthias Moriak retired as Bishop of the Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest. As noted earlier on this blog, the OCA has five of its nine territorial dioceses vacant. Two of these diocese (Alaska, Ottawa) provide no material support to Syosset so it’s something of a wash in this regard. Two others however (Chicago and Dallas) are the biggest givers to Syosset. Philadelphia is rather moribund and has been for quite awhile. Chicago, Dallas, and Philadelphia present a long term financial concern. All told however, the five vacancies present a more grievous morale problem for the OCA in its self-identification as the local, indigenous American Church.

The OCA presently has ten active bishops and ten retired ones. Leaving aside the stresses such a ratio could make on the pension for the OCA, what does it say about the fact that the ratio of retired to active is one to one? Is this not a failure of character, or foresight? Compare this situation to Social Security. When this program was started some seventy years ago, it had roughly 60 workers paying the pensions of every one retiree (there was never an actual bank of paid-in funds but merely a “trust fund” loaded with IOUs.) We know how America got to this present scenario, the decreasing number of births and the lengthening of life together caused the present one-to-one equilibrium to be reached.

But how did we arrive at this point in the OCA? Were all of these bishops senile and/or otherwise incapacitated by age and needed to be retired or are these men compromised in some way? If so, then what does it say about the OCA that it elevated them to the episcopate in the first place? As for those that the OCA did not elevate but took in from other jurisdictions, are we to assume that they left one step ahead of the sheriff? Does it not make sense that a few of these bishops (the younger ones at least) could be placed in some of these vacant dioceses? If not, why not?

Barring some scandal, we’ll never know of course what with Syosset being as tight-lipped as it is (except when it comes to Jonah whom it libeled and defamed*). Rather than a studied rectitude being the guiding principle behind such discretion we should chalk it up to an inability to admit mistakes. This is one sign of unrepentance. Even more problematic from an ecclesial standpoint is that the Apparat showed that it would do whatever it felt was necessary to get rid of somebody they considered to be an irritant. Legality, canonicity, and even common decency could and would be shunted aside in order to get the job done.

(*Google Metropolitan Jonah to see the extent of the damage Syosset inflicted.)

Given the above exigencies, it is hard to see how the OCA has not reached the tipping point, one whose trajectory unfortunately is downward —the tipping point being the acme in this case, not the nadir. As to the cadre of retired bishops are we to realistically assume that all were corrupt and needed to be retired? If this is the case then why weren’t they defrocked? Would this have not removed several financial burdens from Syosset?

The answer may very well be that they couldn’t defrock them, not only because some of these men were innocent but because in doing so, nothing would prevent them from seeking legal redress. Then again it should not be forgotten that some of the men who still sit on the Synod are themselves not without a skeleton or two in their closet.

This results in a tenuous Mexican Standoff between the active bishops and the retired ones. In other words, it is better to let a man die with the episcopal dignity (even if he is guilty of some moral transgression) rather than expose those who remain to scandal and quite probably, legal repurcussions.

How Did We Get Here?

Your guess is as good as mine. The best analysis is that the OCA’s administrative organs have succumbed to an institutionalism-at-all-costs ethos. Add in a dash of arrogance and triumphalism, a disdain for monasticism and patriarchal governance, and we arrive at the present, decrepit state. This present reality has been operational for quite awhile. Jonah’s primacy was merely an interregnum of sorts. His tenure attempted to create on the American landscape the traditional Orthodox ideal of monasticism, patriarchal energy, and sovereign dioceses. He failed of course and the Strong Chancellor form of governance that obtained before Jonah has arisen from the ashes yet again.

The only difference between the previous pre-Jonahite corporatist administration and the present one is that whereas in the past the OCA paid lip service to Orthodox ecclesiology, that mask has been removed from the theological and social liberals who presently govern our Church.

To justify their actions they have denigrated asceticism by shouting the terrifying words “Jerry Sandusky!” in order to hide their malfeasance. Hence the need for Sex Czars, Clergy Cops, legal (if inept) directives, Continuing Education for priests who can barely afford to feed their families, video conferences with neat graphics, and a cult of personality centered around the present Chancellor. Bishops are in reality nothing more than mid-level regional managers now. And given the files which are kept on them, they can be kept in line fairly easily.

Of course there are other contingencies which shackle the OCA. As mentioned earlier in this essay, the OCA was not without its successes. Nevertheless, the OCA could never overcome the bane of all Orthodox jurisdictions and that is that when all is said and done, it is still an ethnocentric jurisdiction which is heavily concentrated on the East Coast. Despite all protestations to the contrary this is the reality.

For proof one need only look at the continued existence of the Metropolitan Council. Such a body made sense when the Metropolia was a largely immigrant-based archdiocese of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Metropolitan was the only “real” bishop who was assisted by several auxiliaries. That is no longer the case and hasn’t been for forty years now. As to lay participation in the selection of the Metropolitan, that is belied by the facts on the ground. In three of the last four elections, the overwhelming choice of the delegates at the All-American Councils was overturned by the Synod. The historical trend regarding lay influence therefore is not positive. And of course there is the pseudo-conciliarist form of synodal governance which may prove to be the undong of the OCA.

An example of this is the continued existence of the ethnic dioceses. As is known, the OCA has fourteen dioceses. Eleven are territorial and three are ethnic (Albanian, Bulgarian, and Romanian). Though their existence was based on a felt need at one time, their continuance feeds the false idol of pseudo-conciliarity.

To be sure, their existence within the OCA was an artifact of the Cold War and Syosset did the right thing in granting them ecclesial cover. And of course it must be assumed that the treaties that were enacted between them and the OCA were executed in good faith, but the fact that these treaties were never revisited after the fall of the Soviet Union has led to some deleterious effects.

We are talking especially here about the “escape clauses” that each of these three eparchies have, ones which allow them to have only one foot firmly planted in the OCA. Regardless, these semi-autonomous dioceses with their escape clauses give the lie to the Americanist program of the OCA.

More to the point, they have caused serious harm to the OCA as an ecclesial polity in the interim.

Neither Fish nor Fowl

As stated above, the existence of permanent ethnic dioceses undermines the very vision of the OCA as the vehicle for a genuine American Orthodoxy. The dearth of vision in this area is astounding. Consider: where else could these jurisdictions have gone for canonical protection? Their patriarchal churches were under Soviet control. Constantinople did not appear to be an option for whatever reason. Serbia had its hands full with ROCOR.

In any event, Syosset never sought to reexamine the original treaties that brought in these ethnic dioceses. It could have demanded that as a condition for inclusion into the OCA that after a set period of time the various parishes would merge with the territorial dioceses in which they were resident. In addition it could have asked that the ethnic dioceses contribute to Syosset in levels commensurate with the territorial dioceses.

Of the three ethnic dioceses, the Albanian and the Bulgarian remit only negligible amounts to Syosset. The Romanians give somewhat more (approx. $22,000 in 2012) but even this amount pales in comparison to the six figures that San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago, and the others give. To put this in perspective, consider this: the territorial dioceses give at least ten times what the Romanians give. When viewed on a percentage basis, Dallas gave 38 percent of its income in 2012 whereas New York/New Jersey gave an astounding 88 percent. This hardly seems fair because in number of parishes alone, the Romanians outnumbers the Diocese of the South.

As to the governance of the Church, the Albanians and Bulgarians send delegates to the Metropolitan Council, however the Romanians do not. Yet Archbishop Nathanael Popp (its hierarch) sits at the place of honor in all Metropolitan Council meetings as the most senior bishop and was actually locum tenens for the OCA during the coup against Jonah. In addition, he sits on the Lesser Synod which sets the agenda for the Holy Synod.

Moreover, his disciplinary actions within his diocese have not been subject to scrutiny as can be seen by the suspension of Fr Vasile Susan, a man who brought credible allegations of immorality against a fellow priest within that jurisdiction. Rather than have his day in court, Fr Susan continues to languish in the limbo of suspension, going on eight years now.

This same hierarch has been able to leverage his influence in decidedly advantageous ways over the years. Several years ago for example, he entered into clandestine negotiations with Bucharest in order to unite with Romania’s patriarchal jurisdiction in North America —with himself as its Primate. Although this proposal ultimately fell on deaf ears in Bucharest, he suffered no consequences vis-à-vis Syosset. This is curious to say the least. One wonders what would happen to a Bishop Michael Dahulich (for example) should he desire to unite his diocese with the American Carpatho-Russian Diocese of America (ACROD, an ethnic exarchate of Constantinople)?

The ironies do not stop there however. As far as the Synod as a whole is concerned, Nathanael is quite possibly the most stalwart when it comes to publicly defending the autocephaly of the OCA. Indeed, a good argument can be made that the present, chilly relations that exist between Moscow and the OCA can be placed squarely at his doorstep as it was he who wrote pointed letters to the Patriarch of Russia, informing him that he had no business getting involved in the OCA’s internal affairs.

This of course is a political misstep of the first magnitude given that it is Moscow which at the end of the day is the OCA’s lone supporter. Regardless of its merits as an argument, it was still a rash thing to do. And given the fact that in his earlier negotiations with the Romanian Orthodox Church he was willing to place himself under Bucharest, quite ironic indeed.

This cannot be stressed enough. Although Moscow is presently committed to the tomos of autocephaly that created the OCA, there are limits to its patience with its daughter church. We saw some of these recently with the enthronement of Jonah’s usurper, which was poorly attended.

More ominously, we see it with the resurgence of ROCOR in North America, which as a semi-autonomous eparchy of Russia, is not bound by the tomos of 1970 which restricts Moscow to only thirty then-existent parishes and no more. It would be foolish therefore for Syosset to rebuke Moscow simply on the say-so of a bishop who has only one foot in the OCA. (And that foot only tenuously planted at that.) One has to wonder whether the Department of External Relations is up to the task.

Some have called this type of ethnic particularism “separate but equal.” Instead a better description of this situation is one in which one bishop is “more equal than the others.” The temptation for mischief is irresistible in such circumstances. In the final analysis, such intramural high-handedness will not redound to the benefit of the OCA but will instead help further its continued demolition.

Next: Retrenchment and Resentment.


  1. “How Did We Get Here? Your guess is as good as mine. ”
    George (did you write this?),
    No need to guess. The answer is in the second paragraph, “the Metropolia did not have the spiritual maturity and clerical depth to accept the heavy burden of autocephaly”. Like its ethnic dioceses, the OCA’s autocephaly was also a reflection of Cold War politics. The Metropolia would have done better to wait patiently for the end of the Cold War and then seek rapprochement with a freer Russian church and the Russian Church Abroad. Fr Schmemann’s vision remains just that, a vision; subsequent history has shown that it the OCA could not enact it in reality. The Diocese of the South, while it offers hope, has always seemed like an appendix to the OCA and also the vision of one man. I would not be surprised if at some stage in the future, if the OCA continues to decline, it doesn’t go under the omophor of a bishop of the ROCOR.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      “Wait[ing] patiently for the end of the Cold War” sounds sensible 20 years after it ended. Twenty years before (or, indeed, mere months or weeks before), its end was nowhere in (earthly) sight.

      • The ROCOR prayed and hoped for an end to the Cold War at the time and for decades before, Tim. It pleaded with the Metropolia not to accept autocephaly from a politically compromised mother church. But the Metropolia – in the person of Fr Alexander Schmemann – didn’t want to listen to the “backward”, “sectarian” ROCOR bishops (in fact the cleric who interceded with Fr Alexander on behalf of ROCOR was a son of a Russian Count, but that’s by the by) whose authority, acknowledged in the 1920s and again in 1935, they had repudiated at the infamous Cleveland synod of 1946 in favour of submission to Moscow. They obtained autocephaly and in return Moscow got the Japanese Orthodox Church, among other things. Now Moscow is embarrassed by its wayward child, which lurches from one crisis of immaturity to the next; meanwhile, ROCOR has been reconciled with its mother while yet retaining its authonomy and at the same time is being accepted into the bosom of world Orthodoxy. God truly does “work in mysterious ways his wonders to perform”, as William Cowper wrote and we used to sing in the chapel of my English boarding school – it is worth exercising patience and hope that He will bring good out of evil even when our earthly senses seem to dictate otherwise.

        • Sean Richardson says

          Basil, I know you wish to paint a very rosy picture of ROCOR, and perhaps this has been your experience.
          First, I’d like to commend you for noting the significant role that Fr. Schmemann played in autocephaly and I’d like to add to this that Fr. Alexander was also a chief advocate of the rise of the power of the married clergy, over the monastic clergy (we see the results of this being played out today in what has transpired in the OCA).
          My experience of ROCOR, however,has been quite different. I’ve been to several ROCOR parishes and have several long-standing friends who belong to that church today. What I see and hear is totally different from the picture you paint. My experience, and granted this is based only on the few churches I have attended, is a church that is kept alive only because of massive numbers of immigrants. The services are always 90%, or more, in Slavonic, a language even the congregants admit they don’t understand. While the local cathedral will have thousands of participants at the beginning of their Paschal celebration, literally, by the time the Eucharist is offered, there might be only 20-30 people left in attendance. The priests live in, or close to, poverty with no health insurance and a bishop who is completely out of touch with the needs of the clergy and the parishes. A bishop who even refuses to consider the health and long-term retirement needs of his clergy. My friends refer to priests who are active homosexuals and they admit there is a lack of missionary zeal beyond reaching immigrants.
          I know there is a certain romantic notion attached to ROCOR, but my day-to-day experience has been quite different. It also bothers me that ROCOR was so very cozy with the Nazi regime during World War II.
          I hold no illusions that the OCA has a bright future. It doesn’t, unless it changes its path significantly. However, I also reject the notion that just because ROCOR maintains contact with Moscow that this is something grand or to be emulated. I have read many books on the history of Russia and the Church in Russia and I care not to repeat many of their errors. I am an American. I am a convert to the Orthodox Faith. I am not Russian, Greek, Arabic, etc. but I pray for the conversion of America to Orthodoxy, not to any foreign culture that I, and they, have no connection to..

          • Holy scandalous rumor-mongering, Batman!

            I have been to several ROCOR churches lately. Many of them use English nowadays and gladly receive American converts. The Diocese of Eastern America recently produced a documentary about two ROCOR parishes just like that.

            The only ROCOR church I’ve ever been in that used all Slavonic was the cathedral in New York City. I know of one other, but they have an English version of their website and welcome non-Russians. Maybe they will revisit the liturgical language issue in the future.

            The OCA has profited from spreading scandalous false rumors and stereotypes of ROCOR, but it is clear to me and to a lot of other people which one is on the upswing.

          • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

            Bishops out of touch? I suppose the contrary, because when I went to the ROCOR parish in Poughkeepsie, Bishop Jerome would visit the Mahopac parish at least twice a year, and he would also visit the Poughkeepsie parish on their feast day. In addition, when Mahopac had a feast that the bishop was celebrating, people from the Poughkeepsie parish and other nearby parishes would come to visit. The reason why people don’t regularly commune is that they my not have yet realized that frequent communion is a good thing. If you doubt that, check out St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington,D.C. or Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral on Argyle Ave. in Los Angeles. St. John’s in DC is jam-packed for both the English and Slavonic Liturgies, which is surprising because the English liturgy starts at 7:40! Speaking of the Nazi regime, ROCOR wanted to liberate Russia, because the Soviet regime was militantly atheist. How could ROCOR have known that Hitler was a beast if they had only moved recently to Germany and were not involved in the political process? You also seem to forget about St. Alexander Schmorell, a ROCOR parishioner who died as a martyr in the White Rose resistance organization. The modern day ROCOR admitted that its association with Nazis was a mistake, but it was a mistake of ignorance, not a willing error.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Ilya, if I may reply in support. We forget that history happens in “real time.” It literally unfolds before our eyes. Though some men had Hitler correctly pegged from almost the start –Winston Churchill being one of them–the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of people then living didn’t think of Hitler in negative terms. Time Magazine for example named him “Man of the Year” not once, but twice. Most Europe’s second and third-tier nations actively supported him and actually sent entire divisions to help him overthrow Stalin. Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Macedonia, Croatia, etc. The Irish Free State maintained diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany to the bitter end. When Hitler double-crossed Stalin and invaded Russia he was welcomed as a liberator by millions of Ukrainians, Byelorussians and Russians. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem lent the Nazis support as well. It was only after the war that the atrocities of the concentration camps were uncovered and the full extent of his neo-pagan Darwinist racial struggle became known.

              • Michael Bauman says

                George some of the support for Hitler was because there was fundamental agreement with the political and economic philosophy of fascism (and in the Grand Mufti’s case anti-semitism). The Orthodox support, however, came primarily from hatred of Stalin, although the anti-semitic strain in much of Orthodoxy cannot be entirely discounted.

                As always, we humans act out of mixed motives (the best of us).

              • For the record, I remember Metropolitan Jonah’s telling about his first-ever visit to an OCA church, where the priest turned out to be an emphatic Nazi supporter, telling this “blond Episcopalian boy” that Hitler was right and hadn’t gone far enough! This is the same church where our future Metropolitan, then a teenage boy curious about Orthodoxy, had called for service times and was told by the man who answered the phone, “You no speak Russian? We no want you!”

                Mount Athos purposefully placed itself under Adolf Hitler’s personal protection. They had portraits of Hitler in places of honor. Why? Because they viewed him as a preferable alternative to Stalinism and the Bolshevism that had been rapidly exterminating Orthodox Christians and driving survivors away from the faith. I can bet latent anti-semitism was involved, but a key point is that people forget that Stalin was actually worse than Hitler in terms of death toll and direct persecution of Orthodox, while the extent of Hitler’s racial stratification and genocide was not as well known until deep into the war and afterwards.

              • Time named Hitler Man of the Year only once, in 1938, and not for being a positive influence.

                From Adolf Hitler: Man of the Year, 1938

            • Sean Richardson says

              Helga and Ilya: I thank you for your comments and appreciate the experience that you have had. All I am attempting to do, humbly, is to suggest that I have had certain personal experiences, and these cast a slightly different light on things. All I can say is that the ROCOR parishes that my friends have taken me to recently, all west of the Rockies, but in a couple major cities, the liturgies were 95-100% in Slavonic. Yes, while they ‘welcomed’ converts and one or two of them had English liturgies, they were always in a secondary time or place (and I was not taken to these liturgies). Some of the Slavonic liturgies were indeed ‘jam packed’ while a couple others were sparsely attended. Perhaps what I am suggesting, to look at a larger picture, is that every church and organization has its ‘issues’, as we live in a fallen world, and not everything is perfect. We have not reached the Kingdom yet, but by God’s grace we shall. I am fortunate in living in a large metropolitan area and there are multiple parishes that I can choose to belong to. What I am also suggesting, from a personal point-of-view, as a convert, is that I choose to belong to a parish that places a vision of Orthodoxy in America in a primary position, not a secondary “oh, and by-the-way we also offer an English liturgy” position.

              • In many ROCOR parishes, the majority of parishioners are Russians fresh off the boat. If Russian immigrants want to have the Liturgy in Slavonic because they do not understand English and are used to praying in Slavonic, what is wrong with that? The Pentecostals have Russian language churches in this country. Is it not OK for the ROCOR to have Russian language churches? In many places where ROCOR has Russian language parishes, it also has English language parishes nearby. This model for serving the needs of ethnic communities works. The 50-50 model does not work. Telling Russians (many of whom never went to chruch in Russia and are just coming to the faith here) that they can’t pray in their own language does not work. ROCOR has parishes that serve in Spanish nowadays, indigenous missions in Haiti and Indonesia, and even a Western Rite, for cyring out loud, and people still say that it’s an “ethnic club.”

                • George Michalopulos says

                  I heartily agree with you Alex. Even though ROCOR is bursting at the seams with Russian immigrants, it’s not making the mistake that the GOA made in the 60s with the last, great burst of Greek immigrants as you and others have described. ROCOR is in the main very evangelistic and mission-minded.

                  What happened to the GOA was that with the burst of 60s immigration, it lurched back towards Greekification, ironically betraying the Hellenism of Byzantine Christianity. Not that it was making its home in America and indigenizing but nonetheless, a word of warning. ROCOR is happily not making the same mistake.

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    I have some idea after a few weeks here of the OCA’s troubles, and of ROCOR’s. But I haven’t heard a clear statement of what is wrong with the Greek OC or the Antiochian OC here in the States.

                    Can anyone enlighten me? There must be something!

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Tim, what is wrong with the Greeks and the Antiochians? Fallen, sinful humanity, its just everywhere OMG!!

                      I’m Antiochian which is the only Orthodox Church within a 4 hour radius of my home. I’m quite blessed to be part of a great parish with fantastic priests and a good bishop (the best actually but that would be bragging).

                      There are a lot of people on this site who don’t like Antioch because they don’t like Met. Philip, our chief bishop. I understand that, he is not easy to like. I don’t particularly like him, but it doesn’t matter. He is a bishop as are all of our others.

                      I personally don’t know anything about the Greek Church other than its reputation for being somewhet arrogant in its “Greekness”, i.e, I’m Greek — your not, so I’m better”

                      It comes down to what you have locally with the nearest bishop in mind. The OCA has a real problem–not enough bishops and the ones they do have seem to be compromised if one believes the reports here.

                      From my biased point of view Antioch seems to be the most stable and well run of the larger jurisditions. While there may be personality issues with some of our bishops, I think you’d be hard pressed to find any of them morally compromised. The one’s we’ve had that way are no longer around. We have many fine and dedicated priests (most are converts).
                      We are growing.

                      To many, espeically those influenced by Russian Orthodox piety, we in Antioch seem too worldly. I understand that. But we have something that no other jurisdiction can boast (except possibly the Greeks): an Apostolic pedigree that is not just through the Apostolic Succession of our Bishops. There are folks in my parish who’s family can trace their Christian faith back to early Apostolic times. The diocese of Houran, from which many of the founders of our temple came, is one of the oldest Christian dioceses in the world, founded by the Apostle Philip right out of the box so to speak. We have endured, and continue to endure persecution and interference in our faith (Romans,Turks, Israel, Greeks, modern Islam, the Catholic Church and the U.S. Government in league with Islam and Israel) and still we are here, and not in just a small and insignificant way.

                      I will put the saints of the Syrian desert and the strength of lay piety in the region up against Holy Russia any day (not that they are competing). It is just that the deposit of faith in the Antiochian expression of the Orthodox Church is incredibly deep and extends over a much longer period than what flowered in Russia. We also have one of the newest saints of the U.S.–St. Raphael of Brooklyn, Shepard of the Lost Sheep of America. He was jointly recognized by Antioch and the OCA a few years ago, because his ministry was through the early Russian Church for those of Arabic descent. So, consider this my pitch for the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America.

                      I think of the old play Lion in Winter which was loosely about the machinations of who would succeed Henry II of England as King. He had three sons: Richard, John and Geoff.
                      Geoff was competent but did not have the personality or the favor with Henry that his brothers did and at one point he said: “No one speaks of crown and speaks of Geoff, why is that?”

                      We have three major expressions of the Orthodox faith here in the U.S.: Greek, Russian and Arabic. All the attention for leadership goes to the Greek and the Russian for similar reasons: the Greeks have a large personality and footprint, the Russian piety calls to many in our hearts in a special way. Then there is Antioch. Consider her and I think you will be surprised. Eventually, I pray, it won’t matter, and it really doesn’t matter that much now on the day to day living of the faith. The deposit of holiness, regardless of ethnicity is a gift to all of us. Here in the United States we have the rare opportunity to assimilate all of it and bring it all together in a unique and powerful way.

                      If we want unity, we have to call on our native saints (even if they originally came from somewhere else). St. Herman of Alaska, St. John of San Francisco and St. Raphael are special because they not only labored here, but reposed here. Their relics can be venerated in Alaska, in San Francisco and at the Antiochian Village in Ligoner, PA.

                      Further, we have to do a better job of striving for holiness in the Orthodox way so that new saints will be revealed. One thing is for sure, if the current political/social trends continue we will have many opportunities for martryic witness. We need to strengthen ourselves and our children to face that.

                      As a case in point: I just read a report that the Army has blocked access on Army computers and servers to the website of the Southern Baptist Convention for “hostile content” presumably because they refuse to support homosexual ‘marriage’.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Thanks for your reply. The two Antiochian churches I’ve been to have been very welcoming places.

                      I do find some of the political statements raise questions. Like the “US Government in league with Islam and Israel” to persecute the Antiochian Orthodox faith. Is this sort of thing part of the package, so to speak?

                  • Sub-Deacon Gregory Varney says

                    Excuse me but the OCA also has many parishs with Russian Newly arrived and old. Alot of parishs on the west coast are completely in slavonic. Take Christ The Savior Church on 12th San Francisco. Even with the huge ROCOR Cathedral 14 blocks away. Which It was once a dying parish but is now big with a choir that performs in church concerts. I also believe that Holy Protection Cathedral in New York City which used to be a dying parish in a bad neighborhood is filled on Sundays now. Could be wrong on that one.

        • Food for thought says

          Food for thought about the role of ROCOR in the 21st century and the future of Orthodox America:

    • billy randal says

      This entire article is baloney. Constant railing here of imagined issues with the OCA. So who is posting this disinformation and where is it coming from? Enemies of the OCA who wish to misconstrue the truth. This is the same stuff we’d find on the ROCOR Indiana List; lies & disinformation. Amazing this forum has devoted so much energy to doing the work of the devil.

  2. rasputin 111 says

    cant wait to meet you in person George !

  3. Michael Kinsey says

    The crux of the matter is simple, follow the money.New bishops cost money, they have to be paid. The ecumenist bent is more lucrative in dealing with the government handouts, than a firm authentic Orthodox stand. The Syosset is feeling the squeeze, and any impediment,(Met Jonah) needs be elliminated to the primary concern that the top drawer people get paid.The present government is a hard task master, where compromise is almost always prerequiste, which results in refusal to engage in conversation concerning supporting out military agression world wide. Also, a feeble, limp wristed approach to the homosexual agenda.
    This detracts from the beauty, life, sense of purpose, and the most restful and welcome, spiritual satisfaction that only comes from the authentic practice of pure religion.Authentic Orthodoxy is most welcome, it is so good, it bring tears.The OCA has something worth giving, that is most severely needed. Be proud of your Faith, your the salt of the earth, nobody else is. That kindness, joy, Peace, patience, longsuffering, and meekness that is heartfelt, is priceless. It is sad the bishops act as a cross to be borne, but they will not hinder trust in God.

    • George Michalopulos says

      You bring up some VERY interesting points Mr Kinsey. One especially that never crossed my mind. Is it possible that when the Persecution comes it will not be eliminationist in nature but seductive? That only those parishes who have the “right” priests and who belong to the “right” jurisdictions (read: compromised and ecumenist/modernist) will be allowed to operate? While the rest will lose their tax exemptions at first because they will be subjected to “hate crimes” adjudication?

      • Exactly. Have tried to warn people that this is coming. What it will mean at first, is that donations to churches that do not bow down to the gay agenda will be more expensive to the giver – who will not be able to claim the tax deduction for the donation. The next step will be the classification of orthodox belief as ‘hate speech.’

        You all know what comes after that.

        • We’ve already seen this with the other-what 4 or 5 Protestant Churches. I don’t understand why people think the Orthodox are impervious to this. We are just as vulnerable. . . . . America asleep at the wheel again . . .

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

      Mr. Kinsey, I was struck by your reference to “out military agression world wide.” If the word “out” was a typo and you intended “our”–as in the United States–then I would appreciate a more ample explanation–and justification–of that claim.

      • Michael Kinsey says

        The scientific proofs offered by concerned freedom loving Americans are solid. These prove a false flag attack on 911 by elements of our own government. Intellectual honesty and commonsense are all that it needed, if one takes the time to examine the evidence, “Either you with us, or tour with the terrorists” spoken by GW Bush is a defacto declararion of war against the whole world. As we excuted the attack ourselves. this justifies any military aggression that suits the purposes of an imperalistic( control of oil) agenda. Also, eliminating any constitutional hinderances or civil disobedience, with tryannical legislation, and executive orders. NDAA, Patriot Act, Garden Plot. We have millions of dead Iraq citizens, who were not threatening us effectively, or attacking the US in any manner.I do not beleive it is the Will of God, that Orthodox Christians are required by the Christ to be engaged in this mass murder. My beleive is sincere, for my part.I expect authentic Christianity will abandon political considerations and follow the Christ, even if it is costly. I expect the clerics to instruct the people not to engage in any support of this mass murder.

        • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

          Sorry Michael. As a priest serving as a military chaplain my parish is the men, women and families of our armed forces. It would be as wrong of me to abandon them as it would be for a bishop to flee his diocese in time of persecution.

  4. Christopher Toddworth says

    Homosexual agenda at Syosset or in the OCA? You’re really confused. Neither exists. How can someone here be so wrong? In Orthodoxy, we call that “missing the mark” or sin. Twisted thinking, not thinking right. Just as the Radical Islamists pervert true Islam, you pervert the truth also. Come back to reality.

    • Michael Kinsey says

      What was Mark Stokie and who was he associated with. What was he doing there in the frist place. Stokie’ s unseemly influence has been around for quite a while.This is reality, where have you been?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Well, then you explain to me why Fr Jillions writes incessantly about “sexual minorities” and has praised gay activists to the high heavens.

      • I can’t believe I’m writing this but I agree wholeheartedly with George and his statement above regarding Priest Jillions, as well as his previous statements regarding the lavender mafia (some of whose leaders sit on the Synod).

        This, of course, is the second miraculous event in my life this week. The first was telling my husband I was wrong about something! 😉

        • George Michalopulos says

          I’m extremely flattered! And I can tell by the fine thinking that you have exhibited in the past, that your husband is a lucky man.

        • Tanya Hicks says

          There is no “Lavender Mafia” in the OCA. Fr. Jillions isn’t promoting any homosexual agenda. Where do you come up with these lies and distortions? You mention Stokoe; he was never associated with Syosset. He took information and made it public regarding RSK, + Theodosius & + Herman. RSK should have been thrown in jail and now, after embezzling more money at his parish in Florida, he will go to jail. You keep on attacking the OCA here with lies and disinformation. Nice tactics learned from the Soviet KGB.

          • No Tanya, you are unaware of it. It’s not an organised group with a secret handshake. It’s connections of people, often with slightly different motives but largely of the same mindset. They see love as acceptance of sin. They want to blur those who renounce their sin, with those who think there is no wrong with their sin. It’s subtle. They don’t want you to know.

          • Tanya Hicks,

            I am sorry but you are mistaken on several counts.

            1. Fr Jillions self-processed that he is very interested in the rights of religious minorities (including gays). This was part of his biography as a faculty member of the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, a Uniate Seminary.

            2. Mark Stokoe was indeed a very close Syosset aparatchik as the OCA Youth Director and a member of the OCA Metropolitan Council. He is in close contact with Fr. Jillions.

            3. As for your rather caviler pronouncements about RSK, you reveal your Syosset bias by judging a man as guilty before he is tried. Guilty until proven innocent is a typical OCA ploy. They should hire you, unless you already work there because you fit the bill for the type of person they love to hire!

            So, I think we shall put you in the category of Kool-Aid drinker and FOSWBB. Friend of Syosset with Big Blinders!

          • Didn’t Mark Stokoe used to have the title of “Youth Director” on the staff of SYOSSET???? I’d call that association!

          • Jesse Cone says


            Mark Stokoe was employed by Syosset for a time, before OCAN. Syosset leaks like a sieve — trust me, I know — and the information he used selectively on OCAN circulated among a crew (an “Inner Circle” if you will) that frequented the mansion’s halls.

            Also, he served more than once on the Metropolitan Council; and was indeed serving in that capacity while conspiring against +Jonah (a public matter of record) and publishing rants against him on OCAN.

            As for Fr. Jillions, I believe George was just quoting Fr’s website previous to his assignment as Chancellor when he said one of his areas of interest was “sexual minorities”.

            Does that make sense, and make George seem any less like the KGB? Also, in case you don’t know, George is both Greek and Oklahoman. Picturing him as anything like a stealth, secretive, disingenuous state man is impossible. The man can’t help but speak his mind.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Todd according to those who know Islam best it is preverted at its core. So is the normalist approach to homosexuality. Neither is compatible with Christianity.

    • What group do you think this was?

      Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov). I was reading this book late last night and came across the chapter on Bishop Basil (Rodzyanko). Imagine my surprise when I came across this sentence on page 374: But as it happens, he ended up like a fish out of water, not so much for his energetic missionary activity as for his conflict with a very powerful lobby – a group who advocated certain practices that have no place in in the Orthodox Church.

      This was in 1984 and it is still going on.

      • And don’t forget, Mark Stokoe was working in the San Francisco chancery office of the DOW when Bishop Basil met his demise. Funny how this man is aways around when bishop disappear!

      • Yes, This is exactly what +Jonah was up against.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        RE: “This was in 1984 and it is still going on.”

        Too funny! George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” where society is tyrannized by the Party and its totalitarian ideologists, is alive and well in Syosset!

    • The people I know who are trying to persuade the Orthodox populous in this direction are not honest or open about their intent. Why hide it if it’s good and true?

  5. Heracleides says

    “It is sad the bishops act as a cross to be borne, but they will not hinder trust in God.”

    The hell they don’t – especially amongst potential converts.

    • Michael Kinsey says

      There is none Good but God, said the Christ. Trust ye no man, trust God. Love God and serve Him alone. Let the converts start right here and not depart from it. Neither powers, principalities, ect, ect including fuzzy bishops can match the spirit this gives a Christian.

  6. John Jones says

    This article is skata! The OCA’s strength lies with it’s “healthy” parishes where great things are happening. Well-educated priests and growth. The autocephaly of the OCA happened at the proper time and as far as ROCOR is concerned, they are still “sectarians.” Most of ROCOR still enjoys playing 18th century Russia in a 21st century America – seriously out of touch. The Greeks are still playing enthocentrism domination and the Arabs have lost everything in Syria. With Met. Tikhon, the OCA is doing very well. The house is clean and over all healthy. The detractors here would have think otherwise. Poor delusional fools. Believe their lies and disinformation and go to ROCOR. Doesn’t every American want to play 18th century Russia?

    • George Michalopulos says

      I’d rather my church be enamored of an18th century Russia that was Christian and evangelistic rather than a 21st century America that is anything but.

      As for your point about individual parishes doing fine, I agree with you. The longer we go without bishops, the stronger some of us will be. What we are witnessing is the Congretationalization of OCA parishes. Are you sure that’s such a good thing?

      • Michael Bauman says

        With the MC governance model, George, seems like you’ve always been somewhat congregational.

        • George Michalopulos says

          That’s a very interesting point. I’ll have to think on it. I’ve seen the MC in the past as more in a more ethno-particularist fashion (a la the Archons/Leadership 100 model). I could be wrong. At any rate, they appear to be domestic shackles placed upon the Church rather than foreign shackles.

          At any rate, what gets me about the MC is that they are not true to their calling. Their stated purpose is to provide lay oversight to the OCA, yet when push comes to shove, they never put up. It’s always heavily redacted minutes on the one hand and hypersecretive Executive Sessions on the other. I think if they’re going to exist that their proceedings should be videotaped like C-SPAN does with Congress.

          • Providing Lay Oversight? says

            How can the Metropolitan Council be considered “lay oversight” when ii is the following? (from ) Also, consider that if the Holy Synod can redefine the purpose and content of an AAC, as it did in the last one by defining its purpose as only replacing Metropolitan Jonah, then how much oversight is there, anyway?

            [Statute of OCA: Article 5 – The Metropolitan Council] – The Metropolitan Council is the permanent executive body of the Church Administration which exists for the purpose of implementing the decisions of the All-American Council and continuing its work between sessions.

            It consists of the Metropolitan as Chairman, the Chancellor, the Secretary, the Treasurer, two representatives from each diocese, one priest and one layman elected by the Diocesan Assemblies, three priests and three laymen elected by the All-American Council. Vacancies occurring among diocesan representatives are filled by the respective dioceses. Two alternates are elected by the All-American Council, one priest and one layman, to fill vacancies occurring among members elected by the All-American Council. All elected members, whether representing the several dioceses or those elected by the All-American Council, succeed themselves in office for one term only.

          • One of the West says

            Unfortunately, George, CSPAN doesn’t broadcast those meetings in the hallways, or the confabs with lobbyists etc, that determines much of what comes out of Congress! sort of like those many ‘Executive Sessions’ of the Metropolitan Council.

    • Seraphim98 says

      Just a few comments on your post John:

      The OCA’s strength lies with it’s “healthy” parishes where great things are happening.

      Define healthy. I suspect we may have substantially different standards of what constitutes a healthy Orthodox parish.

      Well-educated priests and growth.

      Why do you associate “well educated” with growth. While education is certainly to be valued, from what I have come to understand of the faith…growth is associated more with love, true piety and holiness on the part of the clergy, and a vision that inspires the faithful to be faithful to what was once and for all delivered unto the Saints.

      The autocephaly of the OCA happened at the proper time


      Most of ROCOR still enjoys playing 18th century Russia in a 21st century America – seriously out of touch.

      You say this as if he were a bad thing…though I would dispute your assertion of “play”…I might say instead “aspire to emulate the saints of” instead of “playing”. There is a Russian proverb, “Look to the past, lose an eye. Forget the past, lose both eyes.” In my book intentional blindness just because it is current and fashionable is no virtue….but then again virtue is no longer fashionable…in America we have values now…that’s progress, right?

      With Met. Tikhon, the OCA is doing very well.

      That remains to be seen. Reports say he’s a good man, no dispute there…but since given the power structures of the OCA, it’s not likely this good man is firmly at the helm…oh those who are may let him spin the wheel from time to time, and let him declaim a few carefully scripted “orders”…but so far there has been no overt evidence of his leadership on the Holy Synod…maybe there is something he’s doing privily with the Holy Synod…but from the parish eye view…we’re still waiting for a demonstration of his leadership (a good start being ownership and a profound apology for the misrepresentations the Holy Synod has let stand against Metropolitan’s Jonah’s good name and character)….but no one is holding their breath anymore on that front, as good as it would be to see.

      The house is clean and over all healthy.

      In which fictional universe might that be?…even if things are clean (Met. Jonah did try to do some cleaning), to think we are healthy is delusional…check the financial reports…there’s a whole lot of the faithful still ticked off and still not giving the powers that be their money. So tell me again about this “health” you see.

      The detractors here would have think otherwise.

      That’s easier to do when truth and history are on your side…but that’s just how I see it.

      Poor delusional fools.

      Some fruit fresh off that well educated clergy tree perhaps? And this reflects what teaching of the Gospels?

      Believe their lies and disinformation and go to ROCOR.

      Well I would hardly classify the faith of ROCOR as either lies or disinformation…they’ve had very little to say about our current round of shooting ourselves in the extremities. As for going to ROCOR…if I weren’t in a great parish in the DoS I would be so tempted. Don’t think this has not crossed a great many minds of the faithful. If there were more ROCOR parishes in the South (and doubtless there will be)…unless the OCA gets it’s head and heart right, ROCOR is just where you will find more and more former members of the OCA.

      Doesn’t every American want to play 18th century Russia?

      Given the choice of playing that or playing at becoming Episcopalian….I’ll pick Russia….so I’ll pretend to be Bishop Innocent and you can pretend to be Bishop Sprong. Naturally…just in the interest of full disclosure, I speak as a fool.

    • Fr. John Whiteford says

      Having as many retired bishops as you do active bishops is hardly a healthy situation, particularly when you have so many vacant dioceses. ROCOR doesn’t think liturgics should follow fads, or be subject to the whim of individual clergy. That’s not playing 18th century Russia — that’s Orthodox Christianity.

      • ROCOR doesn’t think liturgics should follow fads, or be subject to the whim of individual clergy.

        And there you have it! Now go back and listen to Vladyka Matthias’ words, and revisit Met. Jonah’s moral stance.

        May God bless you and grant you many blessed years Fr. John!

    • damage Control says

      John Jones,

      Thanks for trotting out the OCA’s boogyman line about the ROCOR…..18th c. Russia, blah, blah, blah. But I totally understand why you would do so, you see, without stereotyping the ROCOR, you would have to face the crumbling OCA edifice.

      18th century Russia, didn’t have parishes that were all-English, nor did they have all-English monasteries, nor a diocese producing first-class video productions which feature, among other things, the evangelization efforts of the ROCOR, even in Dixie! Heck, the ROCOR even has a “western-rite” (whatever that is).

      So you see John Jones, the OCA has some very serious competition in the very areas that they have for so very long claimed exclusivity, and as for their claims about lay participation in the Church, maybe, maybe not. But I don’t see the ROCOR shrinking in size because it doesn’t have the “OCA style” Actually, the ROCOR is growing while the OCA is shrinking.

      So, John Jones, thanks again for actually reminding us how little the OCA has become and once again trying to puff itself up at the expense of the ROCOR. That dog don’t hunt no more!

    • Mark from the DOS says

      What is healthy about 5 orphaned dioceses?

      What is healthy about the conclusion after years without a shepherd that there are no qualified candidates for bishop of the Diocese of the South?

      What is healthy about retiring bishops under the age of 70 and putting them on a shelf?

      What is healthy about shrinking attendance, shrinking donations and shrinking relevance?

      What is healthy about concentrating moneys and management at the centralized location rather than the diocese level?

    • My name is John too says

      Almost a decade ago, when I was a member of the OCA, some of my very vocal brethren liked to scornfully link the ROCOR with the 19th Century Russian Orthodox Church as if this were some kind of obvious and pitiable deficiency.

      As I was a youngish convert at time, this attitude confused me. I pondered to myself: “Do they mean the 19th Century Russian Orthodox Church that produced St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. John of Kronstadt, the Optina Elders and St. Ignaty Brianchaninov?”

      If they were trying to damn ROCOR then it seemed to me that they were damning them with very high praise. I eventually realized that I had to get me some of that” 19th Century” and left the OCA to go to where they told me I could find it.

      Coming to this blog, I see that someone is attempting to use “playing” like 18th Century to slander my Church. You mean “18th Century” as in St. Xenia of St. Petersburg?

      Sorry, it’s a reflex.

      I’m here to tell you all about what is inspiring ROCOR in the 21st Century.

      From the 20th Century, we’re inspired by (just to name a few ) modern Saints such as: St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, Saints Elizabeth and Nun Barbara the New Martyrs and St. Luke of Simferopol.

      Crossing over the 20th and the 21st Centuries, we’re liking : Metropolitan Philaret the Incorrupt, Brother Jose Munoz-Cortes- Chosen of the Mother of God and Blessed Seraphim Rose.

      Why yes, they are all very much like the Saints of the 19th Century and come to think of it, very like the Saints of the 18th Century too, but they are Saints for our own troubled time.

      With these Saints in mind, I ask the ROCOR-scorners to discard their vain attempts at slander and nonsensical calumny.

      Please, get with the times.

      • Michael Bauman says

        John too, excellent comments. Of course with these folks you just blew all credibility by even mentioning the name of Seraphim Rose. He is, in the minds of the modernists, a perfect example of why ROCOR is a living anachronism. The fact that he inspired a whole generation of convert Americans is one of the reasons that they don’t really trust converts either. There was a time when nearly every convert I talked to in any jurisdiction was inspired by Fr. Seraphim to some degree. His direct influence seems to have waned, in part due to the incessant propoganda against him waged in ignorace, fear and hate.

  7. Michael Bauman says

    Wow no stereotypes here John, just clear thinking marked by deep understanding, compassion and warmth.

    • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

      Mike, that was some nice sarcasm. Of course John Jones must be on weed or something else to write posts like that.

      • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

        To those who say that ROCOR is not a Church inspired by saints, read “my name is John too”. His post is very nice. I couldn’t have put it into better words myself. I felt at home in a ROCOR church, and in multiple ROCOR churches. If what “my name is John too” said is true, then ROCOR is definitely worth considering. I thought about whether to go to STOTS (St. Tikhon’s Seminary) and Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, and am definitely leaning to Jordanville now.

  8. George,

    Your article was quite thought-provoking. As I recall, the “Transparancy and accountability” terms started around the time that Dn. John Zarras of blessed memory was hired to overhaul the staff at Syosset. We can debate whether or not Dn. John was or was not successful in his endeavor, but either way, I think we can agree that there was a fundamental problem with the “transparency and accountability,” namely that the bishops of the OCA never got the message (or rather ignored the message) that it should apply to them. Everything that is still happening to the OCA is due to the fact that the bishops of the OCA do not believe that these terms apply to them. And with the wonders of the internet, these sneaky things like ilicit emails to young women, DUI convictions, Canadian indictments, internet postings of monks jumping ship to other jurisdictions, etc. just keep coming out.

    As I recall as well, Metropolitan Jonah was elected because of one night in Pittsburgh, PA a few years ago when a bunch of delegates got together for an All American Council and not one of the bishops in the OCA would get up and answer the questions posed from the floor about what exactly was going on in the OCA. Metropolitan Jonah was the only person to properly address the delegates and he showed something remarkable, genuine honesty. My heart goes out to him for how he has been treated by the OCA.

    It seems pretty clear that the hierarchy of the OCA has several issues that it has not fully come to grips with: (1) homosexuality, (2) honesty and integrity, (3) greed, and (4) lack of a legitimate pool of men to draw from for the episcopacy. Let’s take the first one, homosexuality. Almost no other Orthodox Christian group in the United States has received as much attention over gay clergy. Sorry, where there is smoke there is fire. The OCA episcopacy wants to couch its position in the “they’re struggling model” “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” I know people in their nineties these days who know what homosexuality is. The decline in membership in the OCA is a bell weather whether some people believe it or not. Something is drawing people away from the OCA. Is it all because of homosexuality? Of course not, but it is exacerbating the problem because of the constant coverups. If you don’t tell on me, I won’t rat you out for your DUI. It won’t happen in my lifetime but it would be quite an interesting show to see what, exactly, is being discussed in Executive Session. The attorneys aren’t going to the meetings because they love Jesus. They are being paid to resolve legal issues.

    There are gay bishops in the OCA who take the position, you don’t rat on me and I won’t rat on you. This is a tragically-flawed system. If the OCA wants to be the church that is open and accepting of gay clergy, come on out and see where it takes you.

    My second point concerns honesty and integrity. Since the episcopacy can’t seem to decide who or what they are, they can’t lead their flock very effectively either. Why didn’t the OCA ever address the charges of the monks at. St. John’s monastery in Manton? Why, exactly isn’t Bishop Nikolai allowed to serve? Why wasn’t Metropolitan Jonah given the opportunity to be the shepherd of the Diocese of the South? What on earth is Bishop Maymon really doing now? How long is the OCA going to wait before it takes some affirmative action int the case of the Diocese of Canada? These and many other questions just never get answered. Archbishop Dmitri of blessed memory was a great leader. You knew where you stood with him. What a miracle, God blessed his flock and it grew considerably under his leadership. Can we say the same of any other OCA bishop (except perhaps, of course, about Archbishop Job of blessed memory as well). As the expression goes, the fish rots from the head down. The problem is not the metropolitan council, nor in my opinion the three or four minions left to manage the OCA in Syosset, NY, the problem lies with the bishops who are a den of thieves. There’s more trust amongst inmates at San Quentin than there is at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the OCA.

    The third thing that is killing the OCA is greed. Hmm… why are there so many vacant diocese? Could it be that the locum tenens of each diocese also gets a little remuneration for administering its affairs? How convenient if a diocese is so large that you only have time to fly in, do a liturgy, and collect a check. No sane person would believe that the vacant dioceses in the OCA are being properly administered (except, of course, those who are collecting a check off of the system).

    The fourth thing that is killing the OCA is the lack of a legitimate pool of episcopal candidates. St. Tikhon’s monastery, St. John’s monastery, and a few sketes here and there are not a thriving monastic community. Part of what got the OCA into the current mess was the fact that Metropolitan Theodosius, a bird of the gay feather, was chosen despite the fact that many of the most important people in the OCA knew he was openly gay and let his election to the primacy takes place anyway. Why? Because they felt he was still the best candidate of course. So what has changed in the past 30 or so years? How about the monastic population in the OCA has actually declined. Boy, that sure bodes well for future bishops doesn’t it?

    The Syosset Apparat that you speak of, in one humble reader’s opinion, can be found by looking for the guys with the big white and black hats and panagias around their necks. I have to agree with other posters here, that looking to Russia (whether it’s the MP or ROCOR) is not the answer. When your Holy Synod/Metropolitan Council spends as much time in Executive Session discussing lawsuits as you do outside talking about other administrative matters, and very little if any time on the building up of God’s Holy Church, it’s just time to start over. And may I ask, why is that so bad? Why can’t the current OCA Diocese of the South or any other part of the OCA just simply secede? I’m not trying to start a war here, but I for one would be delighted to follow Metropolitan Jonah if he wanted to have the Diocese of the South secede and start over. The current morass of OCgAy, pending lawsuits, Executive Sessions, locum tenens, etal. is just not what I think God had in mind on the day of Pentecost.

    • George Michalopulos says

      There is a LOT here to chew on. Thank you for these insights.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Nick says:

      And may I ask, why is that so bad? Why can’t the current OCA Diocese of the South or any other part of the OCA just simply secede?

      That course of action is problematic. It is only raised as a solution since the whole situation for we Orthodox in the new world is un-canonical. Even if you could get 100% of the parishes and priests on board (unlikely), the diocese would likely quickly be dubbed schismatic and be without any home, totally outside the Church.

      An absent, compromised bishop is better than no bishop.

    • “I have to agree with other posters here, that looking to Russia (whether it’s the MP or ROCOR) is not the answer.”
      It’s not that simple, Nick. A bishop and diocese can’t simply “secede” and “start over” without seeking legitimacy from a higher ecclesial power, lest they appear to the rest of the Orthodox world as schismatics or sectarians and even actually become such. Granted, that power need not be the MP or ROCOR, it could be the EP (the Carpatho-Russians are under the EP for eg). But given the DOS’s history and liturgical traditions, and the American context, I would argue that ROCOR makes the best sense. I doubt, however, that the OCA would release Jonah to ROCOR precisely out of fear that what we are speculating about would actually happen. That leaves Jonah and the DOS in a kind of limbo for the foreseeable future, as I’m sure Jonah would not leave the OCA without a canonical release.

      • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

        “That leaves Jonah and the DOS in a kind of limbo for the foreseeable future, as I’m sure Jonah would not leave the OCA without a canonical release.”

        Oh, he might, if the OCA manages to cross some red line that would lead to it to no longer being in communion with the rest of Orthodoxy. Could be acceptance of homosexuality, or married bishops, or female clergy, or whatever, in which case the OCA would quickly become a tiny sect like “American Orthodox Catholic Church” complaining about how the ethnics had turned away from her using (whatever) as a reason and how most had never recognized her “authority in the New World” even before that.

        In 1927, Aftimios was commissioned by the Russian diocese in America to form an English-speaking “American Orthodox Catholic Church,” which, despite Aftimios’ leadership and vision, only lasted for six years. During this time, however, Aftimios consecrated three bishops for his new jurisdiction, Sophronios (Beshara) of Los Angeles, Joseph (Zuk) for the Ukrainians, and Ignatius (William Albert) Nichols in September of 1932 as his auxiliary bishop of Washington. Additionally, in 1931 the Society of Clerks Secular of St. Basil, a Western Rite group, was established under the auspices of this diocese and subsequently led by Nichols.

        In 1932, Archbishop Aftimios was invited to come to St. Mary’s Syrian Orthodox Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to arbitrate a dispute regarding the transfer of its priest, Fr. Constantine Abou-Adal. When Fr. Constantine left St. Mary’s in November of 1932, the parish was without a pastor, and so Archbishop Aftimios served in that capacity until February of 1933, organizing a choir and Sunday School at the parish. During this time, he met and became involved with one of St. Mary’s parishioners, Mariam Namey, then subsequently married her in a civil ceremony in April of 1933.

        Reports vary at this point as to what happened regarding Aftimios’ episcopacy. According to the parish records of St. Mary’s, he “was retired” and lived in nearby Kingston until his death in 1966. With the withdrawal of support for the American Orthodox Catholic Church, it lost its canonical status. According to the book Orthodox Christians in North America (1794-1994), however, Aftimios “resigned his episcopacy and married.”

        One of the groups which now traces itself to Aftimios characterizes the situation differently: “We are not under and do not have a patriarch as head of this Church since the ethnic patriarchal orthodox bodies all turned their backs on this Church and use the marriage of Abp. Aftimios as the reason, although most had already refused to recognize this Church and its authority in the New World.”

        The biography by Ofiesh’s widow Mariam claims that Aftimios fully intended to function as a married bishop, having that intent even before he met Mariam.

  9. Sean Richardson says

    While I can agree with much of the historical comments of this article, I think it is too fixated on the past nine months to a year. The real vision of the OCA was established decades ago, and what we see playing out is a result of the vision of such men as Fr. Alexander decades ago. What has brought failure to this vision, however, may ultimately not be so much a failure of vision as failure of men who were given the task of carrying out the vision. Over the decades, the OCA has done a number of things right: During the Cold War they chose to quasi-stick by the POM, which has turned out to be the right thing, and doesn’t carry the huge burden of guilt that ROCOR carries in having been too cozy with the Nazi regime during WW II. The OCA has at least attempted to develop an indigenous American Church, although other churches have in fact done an even better job, on occasion (the Antiochian initiative and the Evangelical Orthodox Church, for example). The final story of the OCA definitely has not be written, but we see it evolving, for better and also, for worse.

  10. George Michalopulos says

    Yes! My son is Supreme President of the Sons of Pericles and he and the other members of the AHEPA family were invited to the White House last week. I’m presently sifting through his 87 photos that he posted on his Facebook sight. My only regret is that he wasn’t able to shake Pres Romney’s hand. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

  11. Ivan Vasiliev says

    I used to think that the (OCA) house was burning down, but now I see it is more like the water and electricity has been shut off, the laundry is no longer being done and everything stinks to high heaven (intentional pun). Meanwhile, the tenants are wisely leaving for reasons of health and sanity. But that’s OK, everything is operating as it should be says the Party Officials who run this Proletarian Home for the American Orthodoxy (using English language at most every services).
    My New England friends would just say, it’s wicked sad. A long, slow, nasty, end is much uglier than a quick one. Its easy to make fun of ROCOR as playing 18th century Russia especially if one hasn’t actually visited some of their mission parishes–I mean the ones that are growing and are filled with regular people (“ethnic” and “converts”) seeking God. There are also OCA parishes like that, too. Who wants to make a bet that by the end of this decade they don’t somehow get together? I’ll wager that most of the folks in those parishes won’t give a fig about the “jurisdictional” issues, but they will care a whole lot about fidelity to the Orthodox tradition in morality, theology, and basic ecclesiology.

    • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

      I would agree. It is easy to fall into the trap of “ROCOR is controlled by Moscow, therefore it is bad” if you don’t see it in actions. There are good and bad ROCOR parishes. I went to a ROCOR parish in Poughkeepsie which had only about 20 parishioners and that had a priest who believed that Catholics give communion with worms. I supposed that he was just badly educated. On the other hand, the ROCOR parish in Oxnard (which unfortunately belongs to the schismatic ROCOR-V group under Met. Agathangel (Pashkovsky)), which I visited several times, Holy Transfiguration Cathedral (LA,ROCOR), Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral (Hollywood,ROCOR), and St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington,D.C. are dynamic, growing parishes with an ethnic flavor, but with no evident “ethnic club” mentality. At hte time when I visited the Oxnard cathedral, it belonged to the canonical ROCOR under Metropolitan Laurus. As soon as we received notice that schismatics took over the Oxnard parish, we stopped going there. This is to clarify my comment that the parish belongs to schismatics. My mother and I regularly attended Holy Virgin Mary Cathedrak (LA, OCA) before we moved to New York, and there were no major differences between that church and ROCOR, even though there was a higher level of non- Russians at Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral than the ROCOR churches. St John the Baptist Cathedral, and a few other churches have Youtube pages, and the Eastern American Diocese of ROCOR has social media feeds in Facebook and Twitter. The other dioceses also have feeds as well. ROCOR is not as ethnically polarized as it was in the 1980s and 1990s. This is a new decade.

  12. cyntha curran says

    Yes! My son is Supreme President of the Sons of Pericles and he and the other members of the AHEPA family were invited to the White House last week. I’m presently sifting through his 87 photos that he posted on his Facebook sight. My only regret is that he wasn’t able to shake Pres Romney’s hand. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
    Sons of Pericles Well, I’m a bit lazy on Pericles, I remember his mistress Asparia who he couldn’t legally marry since she was an Athenian. I remember he died during the Plague years and died before the conclusion of the war between Athens and Spara. He was a big supporter of Theatre and the Partheion was built during his term in Office. I read an account in Plutrach years ago.

    Rating: +8 (from 16 votes)

  13. We Have A Problem says

    The Serbian Orthodox Church has approved the resignation of a powerful cleric amid sex-scandal claims that culminated this week with the publication of a graphic video appearing to show him engaged in sexual activity with young men.

    Vasilije Kacavenda, the bishop of Tuzla and Zvornik in Bosnia-Herzegovina, retreated from his clerical duties months ago as allegations mounted that he had used his position for years to stage frequent orgies and rape underage boys and girls.

    But the April 22 decision by the Holy Synod to accept his resignation appears to be the first acknowledgment of the church’s growing unease with the crush of lurid accusations that seem better suited to Caligula’s court than an Orthodox diocese.

    Bojan Jovanovic, a former theological student in Bijeljina, the seat of Kacavenda’s diocese, says he observed numerous orgies organized by the 74-year-old bishop and attended by fellow clerics and prominent businessmen.

    Jovanovic says Kacavenda personally appealed to him to supply young children for sexual purposes and frequently called on high-ranking church officials to organize trysts with young theological students.

    “They tried on many occasions to put me in a compromising situation myself or to pull me into their circle,” Jovanovic says. “[The bishop] also suggested that I should use the school where I was teaching science to bring him children up to the age of 10, but of course I refused. I was also a witness when abbots from other monasteries would bring theology students who would spend the night with the bishop.

    “One morning, one of them called me and asked me to unlock the bishop’s room so he could get his things. I said, ‘What are your things doing in the bishop’s room?’ He said, ‘Come on, it’s not like you don’t know. Don’t pretend to be stupid.'”

    Silent Obedience

    Such anecdotal claims had swirled for years around Kacavenda, who had already drawn public ire for his lavish, gilt-edged lifestyle and notorious wartime ties to Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and military chief Ratko Mladic.

    Bishop Kacavenda poses with Belgrade stripper Dejan NestorovicBishop Kacavenda poses with Belgrade stripper Dejan Nestorovic
    Several people had already stepped forward with accusations against the bishop, including a Bosnian Muslim girl who said Kacavenda had forced her to convert to Christianity and then raped her when she was 16.

    In 2010, rumors thickened when a photograph emerged showing the bishop posing informally next to a well-known Belgrade stripper, Dejan Nestorovic, who admitted to having a personal relationship with Kacavenda.

    But a culture of silent obedience within the church kept hard evidence in short supply, until the Serbian daily “Blic” reported it had seen pornographic videos that appeared to show Kacavenda engaged in oral sex and other sexual activity with young men in various locations. (Brief, R-rated clips from the video have since been published online by a variety of news sites.)

    Kacavenda, now defrocked, may face numerous charges in court. Dusko Tomic, a lawyer in Bijeljina, says he has collected evidence from numerous people claiming to have been sexually abused by the bishop.

    These include two priests, as well as the mother and grandparents of Milic Blazanovic, a theology student who as a 16-year old reportedly rebuffed advances from Kacavenda and later died under mysterious circumstances in an isolated monastery.

    Tomic, reacting to the April 22 ruling, said the decision should send a warning to Kacavenda and other members of the church and government elite that no one is beyond reproach.

    “When I read all the information and all the reports from different people that he abused, from people to whom he did much harm, I’m shocked as an Orthodox believer and as a human being that this kind of person is still present in public life,” Tomic says. “Kacavenda became a politician. And let’s not forget that he is a general of the Serbian Army. Let’s not forget that he’s a close friend of [Serb Republic President Milorad] Dodik and a lot of influential businessmen and entrepreneurs. All of them are in big trouble now.”

    Kacavenda has denied any wrongdoing and on April 22 threatened to sue those who had “smeared and slandered him.” The church, in accepting his resignation, avoided any mention of the scandal, saying only the bishop was stepping down for health reasons.

    But his apparent fall from grace is likely to embolden critics of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which has already stifled a series of sex-abuse charges leveled at a second cleric, Bishop Pahomije, who was accused of sexually abusing four minors between 1999 and 2002.

    The Belgrade-based church has maintained strict silence on all allegations of sexual misconduct, even as its patriarch, Iriniej, has vocally opposed plans for a gay-pride march in Belgrade, saying such an event would cast a “moral shadow” over his country.

    The church’s stance has drawn unfortunate comparisons with the Vatican’s handling of its own sex-abuse scandals. Mirko Djordjevic, a sociologist in Belgrade, says the Orthodox leadership has long thought of itself as untouchable even as rampant evidence of wrongdoing came to light.

    “Our church tried to push these things under the carpet. Or, once things could no longer be hidden, the civil courts have waited for the statute of limitations to kick in,” Djordevic says. “In the case of Bishop Pahomije, the state is simply waiting for the whole thing to get old, even though the phenomenon of pedophilia in the church and in society is widespread. The trouble is that in our country, except for some notable exceptions, the public is asleep or intimidated and doesn’t have the courage to face these problems.”

    • ChristineFevronia says

      Jeremiah 5:26-31

      Among my people are the wicked
      who lie in wait like men who snare birds
      and like those who set traps to catch people.
      Like cages full of birds,
      their houses are full of deceit.
      They have become rich and powerful
      and have grown fat and sleek.
      Their evil deeds have no limit.
      They do not seek justice;
      They do not promote the case of the fatherless;
      they do not defend the just cause of the poor.

      “Should I not punish them for this?”
      declares the Lord.
      “Should I not avenge myself
      on such a nation as this?
      A horrible and shocking thing
      has happened in the land:
      The prophets prophesy lies,
      the priests rule by their own authority,
      and my people love it this way.
      But what will you do in the end?”

    • I am really surprised that this cleric was still in office. He was a well known supporter of Mladic and Karadzic, was accused of raping a Bosnian woman, built a monastery where 11 Muslim houses of ethnically cleansed folk used to livem and raised a mosque to build a church in Bijeljina. Not to mention I think he is a general in the Serbian army. Check out the living room of his house:

  14. Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

    At least its good that the Serbian church defrocked this pervert bishop. The Russian Orthodox Church defrocked Valentin Rusantsov for immorality and schism, and Fr. Vladimir Enert for marrying two men. It is good that the old country churches apparently have more moral fiber than what the OCA has shown, but it is terrible to see the OCA’s state of affairs now.

    • anonymus per Scorilo says

      It is good that the old country churches apparently have more moral fiber than what the OCA has shown

      Come on, they only defrocked him after an extensive press scandal, everybody has known about this for years. Same goes for the Czechs. There are many other scandals going on in the “old country churches,” which just do not make it to the English-speaking press. The OCA looks like Mother Theresa in comparison 🙂

      The communist regimes had a clear interest and a policy in promoting to the leadership of the Church only people who had problems and who could be blackmailed if they showed any opposition, and the present leadership of these countries inherited the files. They can destroy almost any bishop the moment he tries to do anything against their wishes (like it happened to Metropolitan Christopher of Prague), and most of these bishops keep their mouths shut and follow the party line.

      This is why it is crucial to have the churches in the West as independent as possible from the old countries.

      • Ivan Vasiliev says

        I just love the smiley face! It adds just the right touch to what you have to say. Some day I hope to be de-ethnicized enough to be able to do things like that and feel like what I have to say should be taken seriously but I am still too much of a backward Russian.

      • Disgusted With It says

        “The OCA looks like Mother Theresa in comparison.”

        I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen someone insult Mother Theresa. So when is the OCA going to come clean about its perverts? Or will they just keep transferring them, covering them up, and promoting them?

        • anonymus per Scorilo says

          I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen someone insult Mother Theresa

          There are many “Mother Theresa” figures of speech which I believe reflect more her holiness than
          insult her. For example:

          to make somebody look like Mother Theresa = to praise somebody exceedingly, ignoring all his defects

          X looks like Mother Theresa when compared to Y = X has many defects, but Y is so much worse that X looks amazing when compared to Y.

          I stand by my comparison between the OCA and certain “mother churches”. I do not think for example that even the most dirty and gruesome gossip that I have seen on ocanews, 02varvara or here about OCA bishops compares to the reality of what this bishop of the Serbian Church has been doing for 20 years without consequences.

          • Disgusted With It says

            My Mother Theresa observation was tongue-in-cheek. No need to analyze it so seriously.

            I do agree that what the Serbian bishop did was disgusting and he should receive the harshest form of punishment allowed. But at the same time, I think anyone would be foolish to think that disgusting things only happen in what you call the “old country churches” and not at all in the OCA. If you ask the women who run the Pokrov website, for example, I am sure they can attest to the fact that there are many disgusting things that have taken place in the OCA that have been covered up. If you want to live in a dream world where it’s all simply dismissed as gossip then live there by yourself, but don’t be so quick to throw stones at others.

          • One of the West says

            Not to denigrate Mother Teresa, but she did take money from Charles Keating, which he had stolen from depositors in his savings and loan operation in San Diego. Of course she was probably innocent but later the truth came out. I don’t recall her returning any of the ‘donation’.

  15. Alexander says

    Finally this criminal and depraved pervert has been removed. There are more in the SOC that need to go.

    Note how this was finally achieved — video and photos. Given the ubiquitousness of smart phone cameras and the relative ease with which “evidence” can be exchanged, posted and publicized, this is a formula for a simple process for ridding the Church of monsters like Basil.

    Ordinary people can easily shame and force Synods, Assemblies, Sabors and what not into action with cold hard evidence. Not rumors, not speculation, not blog opinions and suppositions, not canonical citations, not argument, but hard evidence. And don’t bother presenting it to the Church authorities, at least not at first. They, as we know, are generally useless and seldom act properly and promptly. They’ll do anything in their power to hide it and sweep it under the rug. Even when their hands were so overwhelmingly forced, the SOC’s official explanation is based on “health reasons.”

    If it is criminal activity, try to stop it in real time and in any event report it to the police ASAP. Then share it, post it, e-mail it, and tweet it far and wide, everywhere you think it has a potential audience. Soon the protopresbyter/episcopal cover-up experts will have absolutely no choice, just like the SOC Synod here did not.

    These evil predators, molesters … these criminals … need to be rooted out. They can work out their salvation somewhere else, certainly not in a position of ecclesial authority in the Orthodox Church and preferably in a prison cell.

    Hear that Lavender Mafia … and the trolls who support you and your agenda here and elsewhere? You and your cohorts are Coming Soon to a YouTube post near you. Then, while awaiting trial, you can go and be a part of a celebrating, colorful, inclusive, diverse, and welcoming Eastern Rite Anglican operation.

  16. Heracleides says

    “How did we get here?”

    “Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards; they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.” (Isaiah 1:22-23)

  17. Heracleides says

    “How did we get here?”

    “Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards; they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.” (Isaiah 1:22-23)

  18. Will the OCA someday be but a memory of the anomaly and conundrum that is Orthodoxy in the Americas?

    • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

      Yes the OCA will be but a memory; and so will the GOA, AOCANA, ROCOR, SOC, UOC, etc. The handwriting is on the wall and the verdict is in – the episcopal assembly and what comes of it (as determined by the recognized self-governed Orthodox Churches throughout the world) is the future for the Orthodox Church in the United States of America.

      • George Michalopulos says

        We can only hope that you are right Fr. Still, I can’t help but be sorrowful at what could have been. Rather than have a “one size fits all/top-down” solution rammed down our throats by non-Americans at Chambessy, the OCA could have shown the way. Instead we shot ourselves in the foot, ran down the street in clown masks with our hair on fire screaming “look at us, we’re the American Church!” Basically we threw the tomos away. What’s even sadder is that though a foreign solution is now our only hope, there’s no guarantee that that foreign solution will ever come to fruition. The long-rumored Great and Holy Council may probably be only a chimera. At any rate, even if it does come to pass, the OCA horribly weakened the hand of Moscow with our antics simply by showing we have not held up our end of the bargain of the tomos. By acting as we did, we ceded whatever credibility we had as a local church which could realistically serve as a model for an authentic, inter-Orthodox American Church.

        Anyway, that’s my take. We made the learning curve unnecessarily steep.

        • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

          I too George am sorrowful.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Romans 8:28
          And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

          No matter the instigator or the mixed reasons, God will win if we seek Him and not our own will.

        • Why employ the violent image “rammed down our throat” to describe an event that is non-violent?

          The language we use has a real effect on how we percieve the world, the routine use of such violent imagry about things we dislike causes us to percieve ourselves as being helpless when, in fact, we are merely powerless. Viewing ourselves as helpless leads us to think of ourselves as victims and to react angrily and passionately. Viewing ourselves as relatively powerless leads us to dispassionately change the things we can change, and to accept the things we cannot.

          The Spirit of Peace is not the souce of violent imagry and feelings of helplessness and reactive emotionality.

        • DC Indexman says

          George, I would agree with your perspective here. Can we also add OCL in this mix as well. Although OCL argues they have performed yeoman’s work to help church renewal and unity, they have induced a certain amount of harm with their actions. Likewise, they are more equivalent to cheer leaders than the actual team that drives the ball down the field. Yet they want everyone in the church to credit OCL for achieving this unity.

        • John Jones says

          The Episcopal Assemblies are dead. Americans and others actually read what Bart put out and these assemblies set him up as an Eastern Pope. Nothing can be done in any country without his approval. So, the Greek solution to unity is nothing more than the Roman solution to unity. It’s anti-Apostolic and against Orthodox Canon Law. The real solution to Orthodox unity in N. Am. is for all the bishops in the Episcopal Ass. to sign a document stating their resignation from their current church and organizing under a self-declared autocephalous Orthodox Church possibly named, The Orthodox Church of North America. Then, chose a Metropolitan to lead and go back to their existing dioceses. This is proper due to Orthodox Canon Law. Exactly what could foreign patriarchs do? Like the signers of the Declaration of Ind., very little. There is power in unity and Canon Law.

          • Michael Bauman says


          • Michael Bauman says

            Mr. Jones, as I’m sure you know your solution is not going to happen. Neither do I think that your assessment is entirely valid.

          • I disagree. The real problem is that Orthodoxy in the West is too immature for self governance. The OCA proves this point. It took Russia 500 years and an innumerable host of Saints before it became independent. Are we so full of ourselves that we cannot see this? No matter how you slice it, the only canonical authority on the North American continent is the Moscow Patriarchate, “eastern pope” Bartholomew non-withstanding. What we need to do is for the Greeks, Antiochians, Serbs, Ukrainians, and all the various churches that are here uncanonically on Russian canonical territory to come under the omophor of the Russian Church until such time that they are capable of autocephaly. We can speak of this autocephaly once the American Church has produced it’s own host of Saints.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Alexandr, the non-Russian jurisdictions are here largely because Russia could not or would not minister to the non-Russians. The phenomenon of immigration and the persecution of the Russian Church has put enormous pressure on us and knee-jerk formulas are no solution.

              Whatever Constantinople’s intention, it is unlikely that any attempt to impose Greek hegemony will get serious traction, even if it is tried.

              Our maturity will be shown by our reliance on God rather than our own wills.

              It is entirely possible we will show forth our saints because of persecution. Who will claim us then?

            • Pere LaChaise says

              Obviously the rate of cultural change is a lot faster than it was 500 years ago. Communication, publication, travel and population growth, etc. have a massed effect to that end. I feel that comparison of American Autocephaly with Russia’s is inapt in general historical terms. But the Tomos is afait accompli and I seriously doubt even Patr. Kyril would militate for its undoing, despite the fact that he was advocating the ‘return’ of the OCA to the MP two decades ago. Probably no one on this list is well-informed enough to know that but it’s a fact.
              The MP is big enough not to be seriously discomfited by missteps in the course of the OCA’s governance. As a ‘little sister’ to the MP, the OCA is indeed on its own in a hostile environment – a North America hostile to Orthodoxy in general and to an Orthodoxy hostile to Autocephaly in specific.
              There is a fine roster of extant North American saints and I suggest we ask them to intercede for us all so that we remain Christian and Orthodox, whether or not the Church becomes more coherent, if and when it may. I suggest that our attitude will bear heavily on the outcome – if we pray and stay focused on Jesus Christ, our hearts will indicate the direction to go when choices need to be made.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            That is nonsense. I serve as a consultant to two committees of the Bishop’ s Assembly. These are most certainly not dominated by the representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Instead a real effort is being made to build consensus among the various Orthodox jurisdictions in this country to develop common practices on various issues as a stage on the road to unification.
            You need to read some history of the development of American Orthodoxy. The Russians gave up their claims to jurisdiction over non-Russian Orthodox in America in the 1920s by encouraging the formation of the various jurisdictions independent of the Russians so that the pro-Communist Living Church representing Moscow could not win court cases giving them control over American Orthodoxy. The decision of Antioch to establish jurisdiction here was officially blessed by Moscow, the Karolvic Synod that that became ROROR, and the Metropolia which became the OCA. Thus all segments of Russian Orthodoxy approved the formation of a jurisdiction under the Patriarchate of Antioch. For that reason, the claim that our presence here in America is uncanonical is completely false.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Fr, I think we all pray that you are right. However the past history of the Phanar and certain statements and actions since the resurgence of the Russian Church lead many of us to conclude that the Church of C’pole is still hell-bent for leather on Hellenistic supremacy. One example would be the curious creation of an ad hoc gathering of “ancient patriarchates and Cyprus” last year to discuss Middle Eastern issues. This was the first time anybody had heard of this distinction within the patriarchal college.

              • Archpriest John Morris says

                Since the Ancient Patriarchates are the ones directly affected by the rise of Islamic Extremism, it is only logical that they should meet to discuss the direct threat to their existence. As far as any threat of Hellenistic domination of a united American Orthodox Church, I trust in our Antiochian Bishops and our Patriarchate not to sign on to anything that would compromise the interests of their North American flock. Metropolitan Philip has shown time and time again that he is not a weak leader, and will do what he believes is best for his flock.

            • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

              I came to the OCA believing it would most readily work for an Orthodox Church for the USA while the other jurisdictions continued to peddle racism under the guise of ethnic pride and continue to hinder North Americans learning of and embracing the Orthodox Church. I still believe the reality of the OCA has had a lot to do with the movement of world Orthodox Churches engaging the question of Orthodoxy in the USA; if for no other reason, than to insure the OCA would not be the leader in this effort. Now, that the OCA has significantly marginalized itself as a serious player in this process it provides the Episcopal Assembly to work in such a way as to bring some of us “doubters” into the fold and get on board. Awesome; I’m open. Be aware however, the OCA is not going away; given time, there is every reason to believe that the OCA will regain its footing. Should the EA not show us anything substantive in time…. there is still the opportunity for the dream for one Orthodox Church in the USA to come to fruition.

              • Tom Jones says

                Fr. Peter,
                You know as well as many that the “GREEK” Episcopal Assembly has failed miserably. WHY? Because “ANY” decision the EA in the U.S. or elsewhere must be reviewed and can be altered or vetoed by the Bishop of Istanbul. This is the creation of an Eastern Pope. This is not Orthodox ecclesiology and does not follow Orthodox Canon Law. Even the Greek Archdiocese in America refers to itself as an eparchy of the Church in Istanbul. Let me also remind you that in 1961 when SCOBA began meeting, in the minutes of their meetings with + Iakavos present, all participating American bishops that their ultimate goal was to strive for a united, autocephalous Orthodox called, the Orthodox Church in America. By 1970, Fr. Alexander Schmemann was able to make this a reality with the Tomos of autocephaly from Moscow granting the former Metropolia to become, the Orthodox Church in America. The Romanians joined as Orthodox Canon Law dictates and so did Bulgarians, Albanians and others. However, + Iakavos and + Philip reneged on their promise to join the OCA. Think of where Orthodoxy in America would be today if these two hierarchs weren’t so parochial in their mind-set. The Episcopal Assemblies do nothing for autocephalous unity anywhere. The Tomos of 1970 showed American Orthodox the way, but many “failed to understand!”

      • RE Fr. Peter Dubinin. “… the episcopal assembly and what comes of it… is the future for the Orthodox Church in the United States of America.”

        A committee is the future of Orthodoxy here? I suppose you have to work with what you’ve got.

        Hope it will be more than motion masquerading as progress.

  19. We Have A Problem says

    Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Bishop Iakovos of Miletoupolis defended the Church’s reputation when he fronted the Victorian parliamentary inquiry on child sex abuse in the church this week.
    The Bishop said the church and the police had a strong relationship and the Church made it its prerogative to inform police of any criminal behaviour.
    “The church would never seek to cover up or sweep under the carpet anything serious,” he said.
    He mentioned the church has a rigorous process for dealing with misconduct complaints, including reporting criminal behaviour to police, but revealed it had never been tested in an allegation of child sex abuse.
    The Greek Orthodox Church kept records of its clergymen and complaints against them, Bishop Iakovos said.
    It has defrocked two ministers following investigations into complaints but neither related to child sex abuse.
    In one case, a priest had been keeping the fees paid for marriage licences.
    If a serious complaint was made the church would establish a board to investigate the claim, Bishop Iakovos said.
    “If there is any criminal element the authorities are notified, of course,” he said.
    But Bishop Iakovos did concede that victims might feel embarrassed or ashamed to come forward.

  20. Sure sounds like the OCA Midwest Diocese is planning on having +Alexander around for quite awhile.

    Why all the protocol if he is just a short-term placeholder (Locum Tenens)?

    • Why all the protocol if he is just a short-term placeholder (Locum Tenens)?

      Because, like every other ‘placeholder’ in the OCA he’ll be there for 3+ years. After all, look at the south and Alaska. By the time they vet someone then put them in place as ‘administrator’ to test if he meets with the Diocese approval as well as not rocking the boat on the Synod, it will be that long or longer period of time. You will recall, His Beatitude is interested in keeping the peace.

      An distant leader allows the local vassals to do what they want without much oversight. All he needs to do is ride in for the parties and celebrations! Heck, I’d take that kind of job if I could get it!

      Also +Alexander is buddies with the powers that be in the Diocese of the Midwest – those wheels who squeaked the loudest to the Synod.

    • lexcaritas says

      Probably because our locum tenentes have proven of recent years not to be short-term placeholders and this is a recipe for stagnation.


  21. cyntha curran says

    I also read about Greeks that saved Jews from Hitler. Now, that was the first time. Usually you read about the Russian Pograms against the Jews but of courss there were Orthodox people that didn’t support such things.

    • George Michalopulos says

      We do read a lot about pogroms in Russia but they are usually blown way out of proportion. It was usually a fracas involving a Jewish tavern owner refusing to serve a drunken Christian any more liquor. They rarely involved more than a half-dozen people on either side. The worst pogrom was the Kishinev pogrom which was more of a race riot involving several of the ethnicities (Romanians included) in that city. When the late tsarist government started to remove the special licenses that Jews had heretofore possessed, especially the distillation and selling of liquors, many cried foul and started immigrating in great waves to the West. Stories among the newly-arrived in Britain amplified the supposed “pogroms” and they demanded that the British government get involved. Finally after a time the British set up a blue-ribbon panel that actually went to Russia and interviewed the participants (both victim and “aggressor”) and came to the conclusion that the majority of stories were overblown. (Again, this was before Kishinev.)

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        Well, George, Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s work has probably not been “overblown”. But then, that was Ukraine….

      • By this standard your concern what’s going on with Christians in the Middle East and Northern Africa is “overblown.” Indeed, a commission that wants nothing to do with the problem but to quiet down Christians in their own land will gladly conclude that the presence of mere hundreds of Muslims sacking and destroying Christian businesses and killing a few Christians in the process is of deep concern but ultimately not as serious a problem as Christians believe it is.

        The Christian pogroms against Jews were as real then as the Muslim pogroms against Christians are now, and the results of those pogroms are similar as well.

      • Nate Trost says

        Mr Michalopulos,

        There is a certain hilarity in basically stating “well, the pogroms weren’t really that bad..until the ones that were”, it doesn’t exactly come across as an objective evaluation of the situation. Kishinev was just when it started to get really bad, and it actually did get worse from there, hand-waving the later pogroms as being artifacts of the 1905 revolution isn’t going to cut the mustard.

        I should add, I suppose I shouldn’t find it surprising, but I still find it disappointing that you espouse an opinion counter to mainstream historical opinion and information from generally accepted primary sources. This does, however, beg the question where are you getting your opinion?

        You throw out your post without citations or reference to your source material. I challenge you to do so.

        Of course, an additional wrinkle is, due to contents of your post, I suspect I might have been able to find what served as the meat of your view, an essay in three parts: one, two, and three. And having done so, now I need to take a shower and scrub the unclean feeling away of having waded through that essay and that site. At least the title of the first part “Revisiting the 19th-Century Russian Pogroms, Part 1: Russia’s Jewish Question” clearly lets the reader know what they are in for.

        I would be most relieved to discover you had primary sources not rooted in essays written by white supremacists. Although given that you already have a couple strikes against you by previously reposting essays written by “white nationalists” (even if one of them is a bit of a heretic for not being anti-Semitic) on your blog, I’m not going to get my hopes up too high.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Nice try, Nate. You’d have better chance finding a chimera than accusing me of Jew-hatred (I don’t use the word “anti-Semitism” any longer as this would include the hatred of Arabs, Chaldeans, Eritreans, and other Semites.) If you want public proof of this simply go to the header above entitled “Michalopulos Essays” and scroll down to my piece attacking Christopher Hitchens for his own curious views about Jewry (even though he himself was about 1/16th Jewish).

          My friends and acquaintances would get a kick out of your insinuations as I have been accused on more than one occasion of being a Zionist. Others are more lenient and call me a “Christian Zionist.” Even though I am very much a neo-Isolationist, I do support the State of Israel as a national entity, that is a nation deserving of existence and not annihilation. But then as a neo-isolationist I don’t desire the destruction of any nation –Iran included. I request merely our retreat from the world stage.

          As for why I mentioned Kishinev, I wanted to bring out that Kishinev was probably a turning point. Before then, the various “pogroms” were little more than inter-ethnic fracases between Jews and Slavs. This was proven by blue-ribbon commissions set up by the British government which had been hounded by recently arrived Jewish immigrants to “do something” about Russia, much like the Neocons of today who wish to harness American power in the service of Israel. Neither Gladstone nor Disraeli (who was very proud of his Jewish ethnicity) were going to get the British Empire involved in a war against Russia simply because anti-Russian bigots didn’t like the Russian majority. The English weren’t fools, they knew that within an empire the various ethnicities do not usually get along. (England had its own problems with the Irish and the Scots Highlanders after all.)

          Indeed, the first pogrom in Russia took place in Odessa in 1821, when the large Greek minority in that town held a procession with the body of Patriarch Gregory V, who had been executed in Istanbul along with 2 metropolitans and 12 bishops. When the Odessa Greeks tried to honor the late patriarch, gangs of Jews in Odessa started harassing the Greeks, wounding many. In no time, the Greeks started fighting back and the Russian constabulary was forced to intervene and beat back the warring parties. In the following decades, the strife between Greek business interests and Jewish business interests kept on erupting in violence. In the end, the Jews won out over the Greeks. This doesn’t sound like passivity to me.

          So when did the bloodletting really begin? It was after the fall of the Tsar. Most of us don’t realize but Russia erupted in a very real civil war after the brutal murder of Nicholas and his family. Whites on one side (most Christian and Russian) and Reds on the other. The Bolshevik Party was led predominantly by Jewish intellectuals and their staging areas were based largely in areas that were Jewish. The nature of the Russian Civil was brutal –no quarter was given on either side.

          As for the three-part essay you find so distasteful, although I can agree that it is controversial, I can most definitely say that it was well-researched. In history, you got to go to where the facts take you. Any group that engages in a “Hooray for Our Side” historiography is peddling propaganda. And this includes Greeks by the way.

          For contemporaneous sources you can read Winston Churchill. Louis Epstein, Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shamir and other Israeli authors have done yeoman’s work in sifting through the primary sources. You could also read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Two Hundred Years Together, a fascinating book which remains untranslated into English for some odd reason. (It can’t be anti-Semitism because Dmitri Sipes has absolved Solzhenitsyn of that taint.)

          • “(I don’t use the word “anti-Semitism” any longer as this would include the hatred of Arabs, Chaldeans, Eritreans, and other Semites”
            Just a note – word meaning is determined by usage rather than etymology. According to current and long standing usage, “anti-Semitism” refers to anti-Jewish prejudice, not prejudice against other Semitic peoples.

            • geo michalopulos says

              True enough, but that’s only because (IMHO) the only Semites who had any contact within the European context were Jews. Had there been large groupings of Arabs and other Semites, then I think they too would have been subject to persecution. Regardless, I think we both agree that anti-Semitism is a sociological phenomenon rather than a religious one. I.e, dislike of Jews because of their race/ethnicity (which is Semitic) rather than dislike of their religion. After all, the ancient Greeks and Romans didn’t give a hoot about their religion but they despised culture.

              BTW, this went both ways: Jews despised non-Jews and would not intermarry with them. The Talmud solidified Semitic prejudices against goyim (gentiles) by giving a theological justification for the exploitation of them. Maimonides for example compared Africans to apes and gave permission for Jews to engage in the slave trade. To do this he gave the “curse of Ham” a racial gloss (which it doesn’t have in the OT), which was picked up by Europeans some five centuries later to justify their involvement in the slave trade. This was au courant in America up until recently, particularly in the South.

              The difference that the Church in the Middle Ages made was that once a Jew became a Christian he was not subject to persecution. Several eugenicists made the leap from anti-Jewishness (religious) to anti-Semitism (biological) in the 19th century and from there it was picked up by the Thule Society, Theosophists, and finally the Nazi Party.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          I remember reading an article in the St. Vladimir’s Quarterly a long time ago, which reported that many Russian Orthodox leaders, including St. John of Kronstadt condemned the pogroms.

    • George Michalopulos says

      My own grandfather hid two Greek Jews (at different times) who escaped from Thessalonica in his house for several days. When I asked my father what happened to them he said the last they had heard they decamped for Palestine.

  22. cyntha curran says

    By this standard your concern what’s going on with Christians in the Middle East and Northern Africa is “overblown.” Indeed, a commission that wants nothing to do with the problem but to quiet down Christians in their own land will gladly conclude that the presence of mere hundreds of Muslims sacking and destroying Christian businesses and killing a few Christians in the process is of deep concern but ultimately not as serious a problem as Christians believe it is.
    Well, Orthodox and some Roman Catholics and Protestants bring it up which they should. Sudan is brought up from time to time as well as Egypt and Syria and Iraq. Iraq wenf from a tyrant that targeted everyone to muslim rule that targets christians.

  23. Michael Bauman says

    Tim. No reply button. Are the “political statements” part of the package?. No. They are my personal observations. We do get info from people actually there not filtered through the US press.

    The fact is Israel doesn’t want us there only slightly less than they don’t want Muslims there. The US government supports Israel while the Greeks don’t like the Arab Christians either. In Syria, he US support of the “Arab Spring” means the empowerment of a more radical Islam and cost thousands of Christian lives there and in Egypt. It is partially responsible for the kidnapping of two bishops, one Orthodox, one Syriac.

    Not to mention the tipping toward Islam begun under Clinton. Truth is, as George has pointed out US foreign policy since, oh Thomas Jefferson, has been designed to undermine Eastern Christianity.

    Theologically, the Church is the Nation of Israel now, not a political Jewish State so there is a bit of a tension there that can’t be wiped away.

  24. Archpriest John Morris says

    I do not know where to put this, so I am putting this here.
    You people need to cease being so provincial. You have not even mentioned the kidnapping by Muslim extremists of the Orthodox Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo and the havoc that American support for the Muslim extremists in Syria is doing to the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. I have been waiting to see something on this site about this serious crisis and have seen nothing. This should be of special concern for American Orthodox not only because many of us are Antiochian, but because our misguided government is supporting the people who committed this terrible crime. In case you and your readers are unaware of it, the Muslims have emptied whole villages of Orthodox Christians in Syria.
    While I am venting my spleen, I want to get something off of my chest. You need to broaden your horizons. The OCA is not the only Orthodox Church in the United States or the rest of the world. Instead of doing all your in fighting in public and making yourself an embarrassment to all Orthodox, you need to show some concern for other issues than the inability of the OCA to administer itself. Keep your internal conflict private because it makes all of us look bad and show concern for the welfare of the rest of the Orthodox Church instead of this obsessive concern for what seems to me an effort at self-destruction.

    I I were considering converting to Orthodoxy, happened on this site and read all the accusations and counter accusations, I would decide that Orthodoxy is so dysfunctional that it is not for me. I do not know who is right and who is wrong, and frankly do not care. The internal affairs of the OCA are none of my business, but when the OCA’s problems become public and make the rest of us look bad, it becomes my business. Both sides need to forget about the past and remember the Doxa for Pascha, “Today is the day of the Resurrection! Let us shine with the Feast! Let us embrace one another. Let us say Brethren! And because of the Resurrection, let us forgive all things to to those who hate, and in this wise exclaim, Christ is risen….”

    Achpriest John W. Morris

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      You make some worthy points, Fr. John Morris, but let me offer my perspective.

      I stumbled upon this blog a few weeks back. I’ve been seriously considering seeking refugee status in Orthodoxy for awhile, as the meltdown of my protestant denomination has passed the point of no return. I happened upon the “For the Record” thread, which had a couple of hundred posts. The discussion was heated. I was appalled for a little while, then entered into the spirit of the controversies. By the end, I’d learned some useful things.

      I’ve been a trial lawyer for 40 years, so strife and conflict is much of my stock in trade. Also, I have had a considerable acquaintance with Orthodoxy going back 30 years, so none of this controversy puts me off. I think that there is much to be said for washing the dirty linen in public; that way it may actually get clean; that overused word, transparency, would have been a good thing for the Catholics, and won’t hurt the Orthodox Church.

      Strongly argued adverse views cast a lot of light in the long run.

      I seriously considered conversion to Orthodoxy 25 and more years ago. But I couldn’t figure out how to get from indifferent Presbyterianism to indifferent Orthodoxy without going through the bottleneck of zeal required for conversion. [emoticon] Now, as a mere refugee seeking a quiet corner in steerage, perhaps at least, and at last, I have a bit more humility about it. And, to tell the truth, in some ways these heated controversies I like better than some of the saccharine “journeys to Orthodoxy” one reads. [emoticon]

      As for the horrors of the Middle East problems you refer to, while I don’t like our policies, I cannot blame this country for the situation. Remember that the interference in Islamic countries by Orthodox powers in the past helped produce terrible disasters for Christians in those lands. Everybody seems to have made a mess of it.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Thank you very much for your words of support. I often wonder myself if we go to far on this site. And I would be mortified if this site was the cause for scandal or otherwise causing honest inquirers turning away from the Orthodox Church. That’s why I allow open and free discussion on this site. It keeps me honest as well.

        However I would hope that we learned the lesson of the American Catholic Church, which swept its sins under the rug hoping that they’d go away. Catholicism is now stronger because people, priests, and (some) bishops were willing to call a spade a spade. It was Jefferson who said “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

        We Orthodox need to hold our bishops and theological eminences to account. Otherwise we’ll continue our attrition. Enough of silence. If that means that some people are put off about joining, then so be it.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Fr John, your points are well taken. In my defense, I was going to write something about the kidnapping about the bishops but I was warned early on that the facts weren’t correct. In looking at different websites concerned with the Middle East, I saw that there wasn’t a clear picture. So I decided to wait until the Antiochian and/or Syriac churches put out something first. In the meantime, Fr Peter Preble got the jump on all of us and posted something on the HuffPo yesterday.

      As for your other criticisms they are pointed and well-reasoned. However I’m not nearly as sanguine as you regarding the ACOB and the ability of your jurisdiction to guarantee that it isn’t a stalking-horse for the Phanar. You rightly say that Metropolitan Philip and the Patriarch of Antioch wouldn’t allow it (and I believe you). However what will happened when His Eminence reposes? Or worse yet, if the See of Antioch is extinguished in the ensuing bloodshed in Syria? I don’t mean to be pessimistic but choose to view the prospects of the ancient patriarchates with a sober eye. Of course I pray that things turn out for the better but the destruction of dioceses and entire churches is not without precedent. North Africa was once the backbone of Christendom.

      • Michael Bauman says

        George, the Antiochian Archdiocese is far more than Met. Philip and will continue to grow and strengthen after the repose of His Eminence, God grant him many years.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I see your point, Michael. A personal aside if I may: the GOA was likewise “bigger” and “more than” Arb Iakovos. However since his ouster it has become invisible on the American landscape.
          Yes, yes I know that it’s more stable and bigger than all the others combined, but that’s damning with faint praise.

          IMHO, the vitality that exists in the AOCNA comes from the infusion of Evangelicals into that jurisdiction. It was because of Philip’s remarkable vision that this happened as well as his willingness to stand up to the theological barbarians that the AOCNA is sitting pretty right now.

          What’s my point? I’ve come to the belief in my relatively old age that Orthodoxy needs strong leaders. Otherwise, why do we need bishops? “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            Although I applaud Metropolitan Philip’s courage in bringing in the Evangelical Orthodox, the Antiochian Archdiocese was already full of vitality already. The Evangelicals were not the first converts in the Antiochian Archdiocese. We were the most welcoming of all Orthodox for converts long before the Evangelicals came into our Archdiocese. We already had an active missions program before they joined us. It the Antiochian Archdiocese were not already filled with vitality and blessed with excellent leadership, the Evangelicals would have never found a home under Antioch.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Father John, I whole-heartedly concur. My family and I were received at about the same time and there has been pretty close to zero influence (except as guest speakers) from the Evangelicals here. The converts here at the same time were all influenced by Fr. Seraphim Rose (OMG, he’s everywhere–hide). We were accepted into parishes that were already begining to look outward under the leadership of some pretty good priests, one of whom was then Fr. Basil Essey who has never been anything but Orthodox.

              As one of the those evangelical leaders remarked, it is the people who evangelize and the people are Orthodox after all, are we not?

          • Michael Bauman says

            George, one big difference between the GOA then and Antioch now: Arb Iakovos had the rug pulled out from under him by his Patriarch who then took control. That is not going to happen with us. Met. Philip will repose one day. We will present the Holy Synod with no more that three names of bishops we want to replace Met. Philip. The Holy Synod of Antioch will choose one of them. As it stands now, we may only send them one name: Arb Joseph of Los Angeles. Whatever happens though, our new Met. will come from us, just as all of the new bishops since Arb Joseph have come from us. Whatever you may think of our self-ruled status, it is not all smoke and mirrors. Whatever you may think of Met. Phllip, he has done quite a lot to prepare his Archdiocese for life after him. Our bishops are prepared to lead, prepared to cooperate with each other (as they already do), prepared to build on the foundation that Met. Philip and Our Lord has laid. There will be challenges, of course, but by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we will meet them.

            We also have a much less nostalgic and therefore more real (as nearly as I can determine) connection to the old country and the faith of the old country than the GOA. Arb Joseph and others have, I think, maintained some of the communication with members of the Holy Synod that was fostered during the spat a few years ago. The youngest member of the Synod, Met. Sava, actually lived here in Wichita for over a year prior to his elevation to the episcopate, and we have supported him in his ministry in Houran ever since. It is not just our bishops and our wealthy who are known.

            Recent more mundane example: My blond haired, blue-eyed wife (even though she is part Delaware, Sac&Fox too) was received three years ago. She was recently helping with the pot-luck we have after Pre-Sactified and bonding with some of the older Lebanese women in the process. In preparing the Lebanese dishes for everyone to eat after the Liturgy, my wife asked one the ladies if this meant she was an honorary Lebanese now. The lady told her, honorary nothing, you are adopted, you are Orthodox, that is what is important. Yet, we have the strength of the thousands of years of faith and holiness that is uniquely Arabic at the same time. Bishops die, the sittis live for ever. After all, the way they make the food (which ever way they make it) is the way Jesus ate it!!!

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              Good points. Sometimes people say that the Orthodox here are too “ethnic”, but they haven’t eaten haggis with the Scots or lutefisk with the Swedes in their church halls, I bet!

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        I guess that we will just have to trust in God to take care of his Church. In the meantime, the public fighting of the OCA is not good for the image of Orthodoxy in this country.

    • Fr. John Morris, I think I should point out that just because we didn’t comment on the kidnapped bishops here doesn’t mean we don’t care about it! I spent a day on the phone sending tips about it to the media all over the world, and then had to spend the next day correcting the exasperating “Tony Yazigi” myth that they had been released. (You would think the media would be more embarrassed about publishing the story without even verifying the alleged bishop’s credentials!)

      Also, George hasn’t opened a thread on the topic and you have to remember that this is a blog, not a message board, so topic availability is not under the authority of the posters but the webmaster. That George allows off-topic posts (even ones that consume threads, like the Rahm Emmanuel thread) does not change this.

      By the way, how would you feel if we said “Your abducted bishop is an internal Antiochian matter and you should worry about it yourselves”?! You would be outraged, and rightly so, but that’s what you have said to us about the OCA’s situation. You simply cannot make a false accusation about us not caring about Metropolitan Paul, when you have deliberately washed your own hands of our concerns. If we are one in faith, let us bear one another’s burdens.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        To Helga

        There is a big difference between the kidnapping of the Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo and the situation in the OCA. The kidnapping of the Metropolitan of Aleppo is a clear and easily understood matter. The situation in the OCA is not. as clear and easily understood matter. In the case of Metropolitan Paul it is clear who is the villain. However, the OCA problems are completely confusing to someone outside of the OCA and I suspect many within the OCA. You want me to become involved in a situation that I find completely baffling. I am not going to commit the same offense that some people in the OCA commit, because they have no trouble avoiding, commenting on the internal affairs of another Orthodox jurisdiction. Frankly, I have read too many statements by OCA people about our Antiochian Archdiocese and our Metropolitan that are offensive and none of their business, especially Mark Stokoe, a man who for some reason that I do not understand seem to have an inordinate amount of power within the OCA.. But others who do not like Stokoe are guilty of the same offense, attacking the Antiochian Archdiocese, its Metropolitan and its liturgical practices. As I wrote before. If you have problems, clean up them among yourselves and in private, not in a way that makes the rest of American Orthodoxy look bad in public.

        • Fr. John, I hope you are not suggesting that the crisis in Syria is somehow clear-cut and easily understood.

          I don’t want to come across as disrespectful, but your advice is hard to fathom. You say you don’t understand what’s going on, but you take it on yourself to tell us what to do about it. You want us to work this out, but somehow do it quietly because our distress is an embarrassment to you. You claim the authority to say all this because other people in the OCA have criticized the Antiochian Archdiocese, while you have no problem making snap judgments about people in the OCA.

          I don’t know if you have noticed, but real people are hurting badly because of what’s going on in the OCA. You don’t have to take anyone’s side in order to show some kindness and concern for other people’s pain.

          The kidnapped Syrian clergy certainly have my deepest sympathy and my prayers for their safe return. At the same time, I certainly hope we don’t have to be kidnapped by terrorists in order to elicit some compassion from you.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        I received the following e mail today. Please sign the petition.

        Dear to Christ,
        Last Saturday I emailed you a petition to sign in regards to the two abducted Archbishops of Aleppo. His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, after reading the petition, which was started by our sister Christian Archdiocese, he has revised the wording and emailed it to all the clergy of the Archdiocese last Saturday night. He would like for us to direct all our efforts to sign it, in hope of reaching 100,000 signatures in order for it to be brought before the Congress.

        Please click on the following link to see the petition, create an account, and sign it.

        Also, please forward this petition to everyone on your email lists and post the link to Facebook and any other social media in order that we reach the needed 100,000 signatures as soon as possible. Every minute counts!

        Sorry for any inconvenience; if you have already signed the first petition, please sign this one as well.

        Yours In Christ,

        Fr. Kamal Al-Rahil

        V. Rev. Fr. Kamal Al-Rahil, Pastor

        • Michael Bauman says

          Father, last night near the end of Lamentations, Bp Basil addressed us about the kidnapping and with obvious sorrow. Then he led us in Lord God of Hosts

    • …the havoc that American support for the Muslim extremists in Syria is doing to the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch.

      I am afraid most people are patriotic first, and only then Christian and Orthodox. Thus they prefer to see no evil when their country’s government is doing something very wrong on the international arena. This, unfortunately, is a universal rule, not specific to the US or any other country.

  25. Fr John,

    I am confused! The OCA put up a couple of posts on their website. What else do you expect them to do? And, in all honesty, the other Orthodox in the USA need to stop the embarrassment now known as the OCA.

    Yes it is your business. It is all of our business, during the most holy days and all days. So how about let’s end this charade so that Orthodoxy can really leave its holy mark on this land and not the wounds of the OCA.

  26. cynthia curran says

    So when did the bloodletting really begin? It was after the fall of the Tsar. Most of us don’t realize but Russia erupted in a very real civil war after the brutal murder of Nicholas and his family. Whites on one side (most Christian and Russian) and Reds on the other. The Bolshevik Party was led predominantly by Jewish intellectuals and their staging areas were based largely in areas that were Jewish. The nature of the Russian Civil was brutal –no quarter was given on either side.

    As for the three-part essay you find so distasteful, although I can agree that it is controversial, I can most definitely say that it was well-researched. In history, you got to go to where the facts take you. Any group that engages in a “Hooray for Our Side” historiography is peddling propaganda. And this includes Greeks by the way.

    For contemporaneous sources you can read Winston Churchill. Louis Epstein, Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shamir and other Israeli authors have done yeoman’s work in sifting through the primary sources. You could also read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Two Hundred Years Together, a fascinating book which remains untranslated into English for some odd reason. (It can’t be anti-Semitism because Dmitri Sipes has absolved Solzhenitsyn of that taint
    Stalin in his later years was throwing Jews into the Camps. The Jews were betrayed by the communist movement which a lot of secular Jews were atttractive.

  27. cynthia curran says

    As for why I mentioned Kishinev, I wanted to bring out that Kishinev was probably a turning point. Before then, the various “pogroms” were little more than inter-ethnic fracases between Jews and Slavs. This was proven by blue-ribbon commissions set up by the British government which had been hounded by recently arrived Jewish immigrants to “do something” about Russia, much like the Neocons of today who wish to harness American power in the service of Israel. Neither Gladstone nor Disraeli (who was very proud of his Jewish ethnicity) were going to get the British Empire involved in a war against Russia simply because anti-Russian bigots didn’t like the Russian majority. The English weren’t fools, they knew that within an empire the various ethnicities do not usually get along. (England had its own problems with the Irish and the Scots Highlanders after all.) I agree on that one.

  28. Just saw a piece of news on the Diocese of the Midwest website that Bp. Alexander will attend the Fifth Annual Saints Cyril and Methodius Lecture on Growth and Evangelism at Saint George Cathedral, 738 Glenwood Road, Rossford, OH on May 13, 2013.

    “Bishop Alexander’s topic will be “Is the ‘Americanization’ of the Orthodox Church a Bad Thing?”

    Any blog readers close enough to attend and video it for public consumption?