Alexander Solzhenitsyn: Live Not by Lies

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I’ve long believed that the late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was the great prophetic voice of the last half of the Twentieth Century. A couple of days ago, somebody using his moniker on this site wrote some of his most profound statements. The one that jumped out at me most was this:

“Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world,let it even triumph. But not through me.”

Barring repentance on all sides (and yes, this means me as well) I believe that things are not going to get better anytime soon for those of us who remain in the OCA. The main reason is because we have lost the capacity to love. And the other side of love is truth. Though I will try to speak with love, reconciliation requires truth and we should not be afraid to speak it. As a Church we will not be blessed by the Holy Spirit until we face the truth and admit that much of what we’ve been led to believe was fraudulent.

Yes, His Beatitude may have made mistakes. Yes, it is possible to believe that he shouldn’t have been Primate in the first place. But no, none of the accusations against him (even if true) merit the injustice that transpired. More damaging to the man himself, our Church has suffered immeasurably.

This blog will continue to remain an outpost of sanity and truth. Like Solzhenitsyn, it will not cease to state the obvious. Truth could not bear anything less.

Source: | Alexander Solzhenitsyn


Solzhenitsyn penned this essay in 1974 and it circulated among Moscow’s intellectuals at the time. It is dated Feb. 12, the same day that secret police broke into his apartment and arrested him. The next day he was exiled to West Germany. The essay is a call to moral courage and serves as light to all who value truth.


At one time we dared not even to whisper. Now we write and read samizdat, and sometimes when we gather in the smoking room at the Science Institute we complain frankly to one another: What kind of tricks are they playing on us, and where are they dragging us? Gratuitous boasting of cosmic achievements while there is poverty and destruction at home. Propping up remote, uncivilized regimes. Fanning up civil war. And we recklessly fostered Mao Tse-tung at our expense—and it will be we who are sent to war against him, and will have to go. Is there any way out? And they put on trial anybody they want and they put sane people in asylums—always they, and we are powerless.

Things have almost reached rock bottom. A universal spiritual death has already touched us all, and physical death will soon flare up and consume us both and our children—but as before we still smile in a cowardly way and mumble without tounges tied. But what can we do to stop it? We haven’t the strength?

We have been so hopelessly dehumanized that for today’s modest ration of food we are willing to abandon all our principles, our souls, and all the efforts of our predecessors and all opportunities for our descendants—but just don’t disturb our fragile existence. We lack staunchness, pride and enthusiasm. We don’t even fear universal nuclear death, and we don’t fear a third world war. We have already taken refuge in the crevices. We just fear acts of civil courage.

We fear only to lag behind the herd and to take a step alone-and suddenly find ourselves without white bread, without heating gas and without a Moscow registration.

We have been indoctrinated in political courses, and in just the same way was fostered the idea to live comfortably, and all will be well for the rest of our lives. You can’t escape your environment and social conditions. Everyday life defines consciousness. What does it have to do with us? We can’t do anything about it?

But we can—everything. But we lie to ourselves for assurance. And it is not they who are to blame for everything—we ourselves, only we. One can object: But actually toy can think anything you like. Gags have been stuffed into our mouths. Nobody wants to listen to us and nobody asks us. How can we force them to listen? It is impossible to change their minds.

It would be natural to vote them out of office—but there are not elections in our country. In the West people know about strikes and protest demonstrations—but we are too oppressed, and it is a horrible prospect for us: How can one suddenly renounce a job and take to the streets? Yet the other fatal paths probed during the past century by our bitter Russian history are, nevertheless, not for us, and truly we don’t need them.

Now that the axes have done their work, when everything which was sown has sprouted anew, we can see that the young and presumptuous people who thought they would make out country just and happy through terror, bloody rebellion and civil war were themselves misled. No thanks, fathers of education! Now we know that infamous methods breed infamous results. Let our hands be clean!

The circle—is it closed? And is there really no way out? And is there only one thing left for us to do, to wait without taking action? Maybe something will happen by itself? It will never happen as long as we daily acknowledge, extol, and strengthen—and do not sever ourselves from the most perceptible of its aspects: Lies.

When violence intrudes into peaceful life, its face glows with self-confidence, as if it were carrying a banner and shouting: “I am violence. Run away, make way for me—I will crush you.” But violence quickly grows old. And it has lost confidence in itself, and in order to maintain a respectable face it summons falsehood as its ally—since violence lays its ponderous paw not every day and not on every shoulder. It demands from us only obedience to lies and daily participation in lies—all loyalty lies in that.

And the simplest and most accessible key to our self-neglected liberation lies right here: Personal non-participation in lies. Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything, but not with any help from me.

This opens a breach in the imaginary encirclement caused by our inaction. It is the easiest thing to do for us, but the most devastating for the lies. Because when people renounce lies it simply cuts short their existence. Like an infection, they can exist only in a living organism.

We do not exhort ourselves. We have not sufficiently matured to march into the squares and shout the truth our loud or to express aloud what we think. It’s not necessary.

It’s dangerous. But let us refuse to say that which we do not think.

This is our path, the easiest and most accessible one, which takes into account out inherent cowardice, already well rooted. And it is much easier—it’s dangerous even to say this—than the sort of civil disobedience which Gandhi advocated.

Our path is to talk away fro the gangrenous boundary. If we did not paste together the dead bones and scales of ideology, if we did not sew together the rotting rags, we would be astonished how quickly the lies would be rendered helpless and subside.

That which should be naked would then really appear naked before the whole world.

So in our timidity, let each of us make a choice: Whether consciously, to remain a servant of falsehood—of course, it is not out of inclination, but to feed one’s family, that one raises his children in the spirit of lies—or to shrug off the lies and become an honest man worthy of respect both by one’s children and contemporaries.

And from that day onward he:

  • Will not henceforth write, sign, or print in any way a single phrase which in his opinion distorts the truth.
  • Will utter such a phrase neither in private conversation not in the presence of many people, neither on his own behalf not at the prompting of someone else, either in the role of agitator, teacher, educator, not in a theatrical role.
  • Will not depict, foster or broadcast a single idea which he can only see is false or a distortion of the truth whether it be in painting, sculpture, photography, technical science, or music.
  • Will not cite out of context, either orally or written, a single quotation so as to please someone, to feather his own nest, to achieve success in his work, if he does not share completely the idea which is quoted, or if it does not accurately reflect the matter at issue.
  • Will not allow himself to be compelled to attend demonstrations or meetings if they are contrary to his desire or will, will neither take into hand not raise into the air a poster or slogan which he does not completely accept.
  • Will not raise his hand to vote for a proposal with which he does not sincerely sympathize, will vote neither openly nor secretly for a person whom he considers unworthy or of doubtful abilities.
  • Will not allow himself to be dragged to a meeting where there can be expected a forced or distorted discussion of a question.
    Will immediately talk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.
  • Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed. Of course we have not listed all of the possible and necessary deviations from falsehood. But a person who purifies himself will easily distinguish other instances with his purified outlook.

No, it will not be the same for everybody at first. Some, at first, will lose their jobs. For young people who want to live with truth, this will, in the beginning, complicate their young lives very much, because the required recitations are stuffed with lies, and it is necessary to make a choice.

But there are no loopholes for anybody who wants to be honest. On any given day any one of us will be confronted with at least one of the above-mentioned choices even in the most secure of the technical sciences. Either truth or falsehood: Toward spiritual independence or toward spiritual servitude.

And he who is not sufficiently courageous even to defend his soul—don’t let him be proud of his “progressive” views, don’t let him boast that he is an academician or a people’s artist, a merited figure, or a general—let him say to himself: I am in the herd, and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and warm.

Even this path, which is the most modest of all paths of resistance, will not be easy for us. But it is much easier than self-immolation or a hunger strike: The flames will not envelope your body, your eyeballs, will not burst from the heat, and brown bread and clean water will always be available to your family.

A great people of Europe, the Czechoslovaks, whom we betrayed and deceived: Haven’t they shown us how a vulnerable breast can stand up even against tanks if there is a worthy heart within it?

You say it will not be easy? But it will be easiest of all possible resources. It will not be an easy choice for a body, but it is the only one for a soul. Not, it is not an easy path. But there are already people, even dozens of them, who over the years have maintained all these points and live by the truth.

So you will not be the first to take this path, but will join those who have already taken it. This path will be easier and shorter for all of us if we take it by mutual efforts and in close rank. If there are thousands of us, they will not be able to do anything with us. If there are tens of thousands of us, then we would not even recognize our country.

If we are too frightened, then we should stop complaining that someone is suffocating us. We ourselves are doing it. Let us then bow down even more, let us wail, and out brothers the biologists will help to bring nearer the day when they are able to read our thoughts are worthless and hopeless.

And if we get cold feet, even taking this step, then we are worthless and hopeless, and the scorn of Pushkin should be directed to us:

Why should cattle have the gifts of freedom?
Their heritage from generation to generation is the belled yoke and the lash.


  1. Correction of a misprint: “Will immediately walk out of a meeting…”, not “…talk out…”. Feel free to correct the text and delete my comment.

  2. MartyOlson says

    I find his writing very challenging. At least in this prose piece, he is fairly clear about his message. I wonder what kind of lies he means to have us deal with. It is one thing to address the political and zeitgeist lies. What about when you’re invited to someone’s house and you don’t want to go? Will you offer a social lie, or will you tell the truth? What happens when mother calls and asks if your still drinking that horrible alcohol, and there you sit with your glass of scotch in one hand and the phone in the other. Do you tell her the truth and listen to an hour of harangue? I find that we are surrounded by deceit of our own making which we do to avoid other hurts or difficulties. Is his challenge so utopian as to be impossible to achieve? Sort of like the expectations of the church! How can anyone meet them all? Yet, I agree with the issue politically, philosophically, scientifically, dealing with ideology. What is the truth? Pilate asks Jesus this and receives no answer. That there is a spiritual truth that places one in what ought to be a moral framework. Yet, it isn’t strong enough to stop people from trashing others in this website. I will go toe to toe with anyone who wants to take Sol’s challenge seriously.

    • “I wonder what kind of lies he means to have us deal with. It is one thing to address the political and zeitgeist lies. … I agree with the issue politically, philosophically, scientifically, dealing with ideology.”

      That is exactly what Solzhenitsyn is talking about. Also, note that he isn’t necessarily even telling people to stand up and say the truth. He is only saying “Do not lie!” In other words, if you can’t speak the truth, keep your mouth shut! Don’t argue with insincere people – just don’t give your assent to lies, propaganda or balderdash. Withdraw your consent, and the lies start to lose their power.

      I do not see that he is addressing the other stuff you mention. I think that mixing the two things together just confuses the issue.

    • There is no answer from Jesus because (this is my understanding) it was a loaded question. Pilate knew the answer. What is the truth? Our hearts know the truth. Cain asks “am I my brother’s keeper?” why do you ask…you know you are…why do you pretend you don’t know what happened, you know perfectly well…We might lack the language to express it, but inside us, inherently we know right from wrong, just and unjust, truth and lie…ultimately we do know Christ, we know reality….being able to accept it….that’s a horse of an entirely different color.

      • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

        I’d said it was a rhetorical question expressing Pilate’s disbelief in truth and impatience with those who do. That’s why he doesn’t wait for an answer; he immediately goes out to confer with the chief priests. I’ve heard people talk the same way here in Washington.

  3. “Yes, His Beatitude may have made mistakes.”
    The people in Synod, who made a conspiracy against him which lead to his resignation, made the mistake.

    “But no, none of the accusations against him (even if true) merit the injustice that transpired. ”
    All accusations proved to be wrong. If you want to say the truth, say that “crocodiles can not fly”. In your version it seems like “they are flying, but very low”.

    “Yes, it is possible to believe that he shouldn’t have been Primate in the first place.”
    All members of All American Council, who voted for Metropolitan Jonah in November 2008 witnessed that they have been inspired by the Holy Spirit, that they had a sign in their hearts about him. This witness was heard not from one or two people, but from the majority of participants, who elected Metropolitan Jonah. What do you mean by “he shoudn’t have been Primate in the first place”? In the Gospel about the baptism of Jesus Christ, it is written that John the Baptist recognized Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, during the radically important instances of our life, we receive signs in our heart directing our choice.

    There is a famous slogan: “After Auschwitz poetry is impossible”. What happened when the Metropolitan was forced to resign? It was our Auschwitz. The twentieth century together with Holocaust brought an outstanding picture of humiliation to the human race. The Synod humiliated all those who elected the Metropolitan, all of OCA.

    “But one who once was mingled with ashes, will never sing a golden song.” (Khodasevich) We are all mingled with ashes at this present moment and lost the connection with Christ. We lost the grace of the Holy Spirit, and we are no longer capable of bringing fruit to God’s pasture, until we repent, and restore justice.
    Metropolitan Jonah was and will remain as Metropolitan of All America and Canada.
    This is Solzhenitsyn’s truth, if you truly wanted it.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Veronica, thanks for keeping me honest. In the interest of fairness I tried to see the other side of the issue but you have encapsulated the rank injustice of it all. Personally, I don’t see how the OCA gets out of this without an acknowledgment that His Beatitude was maligned and a complete reordering in Syosset. Jonah preached repentance and Ninevah repented so I guess there’s always hope.

  4. Friendly Catholic says


    I know this is off-topic, but I would like to draw your attention to this:

    Lifesite News is a Catholic-dominated pro-life website. Now it comes to the defense of the Russian Church over the Pussy Riot scandal.

    • George Michalopulos says

      FC, thank you for this link. Truth be told, I’ve been trying to write about the whole Pussy Riot flap for about three months now. I intend to still do so. For now, I can say that this stunt was stage-managed and paid for my one of the Jesus-hating oligarchs who is living in London, in exile from Russia. Though this vile man is lionized by the American media (and our wonderful Neocons) because of his antagonism of Vladimir Putin, make no mistake: he pulls a lot of anti-Christian strings in Russia. The PR flap was but one of his many stunts.

      • It’s the BBC, what do you expect?

        • That’s my point Joseph…it’s just one example of the presentation of this issue within the popular press. That is, it is misrepresenting the issue, utterly one sided, no respect for the sacred…shock for the sake of shock, antheistic….stupid, and it’s being heralded by the media as heroic. Where’s my bucket, I need to vomit.

  5. Mark from the DOS says

    As we approach the month’s mark since the incredibly questionable removal of Metropolitan Jonah, I am left to ponder this essay you have provided us. How fittingly titled “Live Not By Lies”. Lest anyone forget, the lies here are demonstrably those of the Holy Synod, or maybe its Crisis Management Team, endorsed by the Synod, but they are proved not only to be false, but to have been knowingly false at the time they were made. Consider these clear examples from the now infamous Statement of the synod:

    Metropolitan Jonah unilaterally accepted into the OCA a priest known to him and to others to be actively and severely abusing alcohol. . . “shortly after he was accepted into the OCA by Metropolitan Jonah. While under Metropolitan Jonah’s omophorion . . “

    The SIC report of November 2010, created in part by Bishop Michael and presented to the entire Synod unequivocally states: that Fr. Simeon “is not now, nor has ever been a cleric of the Orthodox Church in America.” That means that the Synod didn’t just make a mistake. They knowlingly lied THREE TIMES in one paragraph of their letter. Are these men of God?

    The report continues:

    We have started an investigation into the rape allegation, and cannot assume whether the allegation is true or not. We only know that the earlier allegations of misconduct by this priest were handled by Metropolitan Jonah in a manner at a complete variance with the required standards of the church.

    From the same November 2010 report, we are told “Because of the extraordinary nature of this case . . . Metropolitan Jonah recused himself from the investigation process. Thereby, the Holy synod became the supervisory body of the investigation.” Now perhaps the Synod needs to be reminded of what it means to recuse yourself. It means you remove yourself from participation, usually because of a real or apparent conflict of interest. Having recused yourself, it is absolutely IMPROPER to ever re-insert yourself into the process. Once +Jonah recused, any complaints about the handling of the investigation may only be properly laid at the feet of “the supervisory body of the investigation” – which of course would be the Synod. Therefore, it appears the Synod has chosen to oust its Metropolitan for its own failures! Are these men of God?

    He gave to unauthorized persons a highly sensitive, painstakingly detailed internal Synodal report concerning numerous investigations into sexual misconduct.

    I know of no proof of that and the one person who admits having it denies receiving it from Met. Jonah. What I do know is this: since August 1, has received and published the November 2010 SIC report, the Feb. 2011 SMPAC report, and internal OCA e-mails attempting to implicate Met. Jonah in transferring Fr. Simeon. I am unaware of any outcry from the Synod over these leaks, nor efforts to remove any priest or bishop complicit in those leaks, nor do I expect a word will ever be said. Leaking of internal/confidential information is acceptable to the Synod when it serves its goals, and grounds for removing an bishop from active service when it doesn’t. Are these men of God?

    This is a sad and tawdry affair. I don’t care how convincingly Fr. Jillions and +Nikon pacified the DOS assembly. I don’t care how silent the priests are – no doubt they are cowed by fear of being on the end of Synodal-style pastoral care themselves. However, I say to each of them: whether +Jonah was a good bishop or not, your silence in the face of demonstrable lies to the laity by your bishops is cowardice. Understandable cowardice perhaps. I cannot imagine being faced with the option of either losing my livelihood and my vocation or continuing to serve and at a minimum tacitly support liars and hypocrites. But how you can continue to serve and commemorate these people is a mystery to me. Yes we should pray for our heirarchs. But we should never accept dishonesty from them. Never accept rule by fear. If the path is not corrected, I weep for what the OCA will become or, perhaps, has become already.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mark, thank you for continuing to point out the misstatements and utter falsehoods. Part of the problem is that too many of Jonah’s critics have imbided the secular way of doing things (“vetted”, “best practices,” etc.) without the necessary erudition or simple common sense to clearly understand what it is that they are talking about. Very amateurish.

    • Rod Dreher says

      I know of no proof of that and the one person who admits having it denies receiving it from Met. Jonah. What I do know is this: since August 1, has received and published the November 2010 SIC report, the Feb. 2011 SMPAC report, and internal OCA e-mails attempting to implicate Met. Jonah in transferring Fr. Simeon. I am unaware of any outcry from the Synod over these leaks, nor efforts to remove any priest or bishop complicit in those leaks, nor do I expect a word will ever be said. Leaking of internal/confidential information is acceptable to the Synod when it serves its goals, and grounds for removing an bishop from active service when it doesn’t. Are these men of God?

      That’s true. I presume you’re talking about me, re: having the SMPAC report. I’m not going to say from whom I received it, of course, but it absolutely was not Met. Jonah.

      In Animal Farm Syosset, some leaks are more objectionable than others.

      • oh the irony says

        Rod, are you anti-POKROV now? Are you against the public release of the SMPAC report?

        What about that “transparency” stuff?

        Oh the irony!

        • Rod Dreher says

          Of course I’m not anti-Pokrov, though I’m not necessarily pro-Pokrov; I’m for defending victims of sexual abuse, but I don’t know enough about Pokrov to make a judgment about that particular organization. Nor am I against the public release of the SMPAC Report. I find it instructive that Syosset had its knickers in a knot over me having a copy, even though I did not make it public, but Pokrov actually publishes the damn thing, and … crickets.

          • Now there’s the irony, Rod!

            Barely a month ago, Syosset was waxing poetic on the confidentiality of this very document. Even if Metropolitan Jonah did leak it to someone, that person obviously kept his confidence. Unlike Mark Stokoe, who I now see not only leaked the names but a great deal of the report’s actual contents. Yet only Metropolitan Jonah and you were criticized.

            Now it appears the SMPAC memo’s confidentiality, like so many things, depends on politics. When it’s convenient to blame Metropolitan Jonah for leaking it, the confidentiality is sacrosanct. When it’s convenient to use it to continue the assault on Metropolitan Jonah’s reputation, it can be blasted all over the internet for anyone to read.

            • Helga, I got the full SMPAC report as an attachment to a mass mailing to 79 persons,mostly Orthodox Bishops, here and around the world, by a “Rev.Fr. Adrian Fedea.” He is charging Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit with wrongful deposition for homosexuality. I didn’t read the SMPAC report very carefully: I did note however that it reported, mistakenly, that Metropolitan Jonah met Father Symeon Kharon as an alcoholic priest in Moscow. It seems the only “investigations” which preceded the report went like this “And what did YOU hear?”
              In one of Washington DC’s biggest bureaucratic centers, the Pentagon, I worked for over four years in my office on the fifth floor, “D’ Ring, 4th corridor. There was a saying popular among Pentagon employees toiling over documents upon reaching a point of frustration, ‘Oh, well. That’s close enough for government work!”
              They had NO IDEA!
              What has been produced by the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council and other organs of bureaucracy in the OCA, in its dioceses,and in its seminaries OFTEN seems to have been produced while uttering “Close enough for the Church.” I can imagine an archaeologist a millenium or so hence, unearthing an electronic file of the SMPAC or SIC reports, and triumphantly announcing “Another find by the Famous Bard of the Eastern Seaboard, continuing the adventures of the mythical “Sobors” and ‘Pokrovs”, those fantastic mammals of late Long Isle’s cracked-ice age.

        • I wonder what would have happened if the Roman Catholic Church had had a Pokrov. SNAP could be its equivalent but they usually only go where the news cameras are..

          • Mark from the DOS says

            Pokrov is associated with SNAP, and from time to time, when convenient, style themselves as SNAPOrthodox. If the RCC had had a Pokrov, I doubt anything different would have occurred as Pokrov has had almost no prospective impact on anything, and indeed their “style” of presentation diminishes their credibility so that when truly important issues are raised, they are not taken seriously.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Pokrov is very overrated. I despise people who are selectively outraged.

            • Harry Coin says

              Complain though folk do, events reported on pokrov so far have all checked out so far as I know. What’s opinion there is clearly labeled.

              Would the church be in a better position to grow if the sort of thing pokrov reports didn’t happen or if it did happen and pokrov didn’t report it? In the age of the internet and everyone’s phone having a camera, I’d say be glad that group cares about accuracy and attention to detail.

              What most reasonable people are afraid of is the notion that an unhinged accuser could bring false accusations, that could wrongly end the career of an innocent clergyman. Yet, those men with serious issues know this and so they seek victims that have pre-existing credibility issues.

              Were the issues in the case involving Met. Jonah trumped up? Seems unlikely as the entire group, victims and accusers alike, were his supporters.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Harry, again, you miss certain key words in my critique of Pokrov. I specifically used the words “selective outrage” to describe much of their crusading spirit. I have yet to find any mention of the DUI and subsequent assault against the arresting officers perpetrated by a certain bishop. That’s what I mean by “selective.” Any such intentional ignorance causes them to lose a certain amount of credibility.

                • Harry Coin says

                  George they are about sexual abuse, they put that front and center, and that they don’t cover DUI’s and non-sexual assaults is no discredit to them.

                  One thing they do, that you don’t do, is name names front and center in their area of concern. One thing they aren’t is cowards. If you know about a DUI and assault by a bishop as you write why do you hesitate to put it out there? Certainly there are records and so forth, why do you hint if you know?

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    I left out porn addiction, a questionable relationship that led to a man’d death by alcohol poisoning in the other man’s basement, among other things.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      Holy Mother of God. Dead!?

                      Who died???

                    • Harry Coin says

                      Ping! WHO DIED??

                    • Harry Coin says

                      George, what is this? “I’ ve got a secret, neener, neener neener?” You wrote someone died– who? Or were you just having sort of a “well, I’m not sure but it sounded good at the time” moment?

                  • Mark from the DOS says

                    Come on Harry. They “name names” by weaving labyrinth like chains of “connection” and putting the name of anyone in their conspiracy filled chain on their website. I believe one of them was even banned from the Orthodox Forum list for continuing with these accusations based on the remotest of connections. Fr. X once served a liturgy at Monastery Y where Fr. Z, who was accused of abusing a parishioner, was resident two years later. Yes, that is sure helpful.

                    Also, it is simply incorrect for you to say they are only about sexual abuse. Search Fr. Raymond Velencia, and tell me what sexual abuse allegations they post about him. That is to say nothing of the people who are listed as having “public allegations” against them, but no detail provided.

                    I know that the backstory of the pokrov crew makes them very sympathetic. However, their efforts are amateurish; their logic is flawed; and that undermines any good they may do.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Harry, I overreacted. What I meant to say was something along these lines: “OK, it’s hunky-dory that they are avenging angels against sexual predators. That being said, how is Jonah in their cross-hairs? All his critics could pin on him was that he ALLEGEDLY covered up an ALLEGED rape.” Try taking that to any DA.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      I choose to give amateurs a fair amount of slack when it comes to creating websites I don’t pay to read. My minimum standard is pretty basic: Any event asserted to have taken place needs a real person asserting it was so, or an article by an organization that’s putting it’s name on the line as to truth.

                      Let’s be honest here, what news we don’t pay for we can’t rightly complain we don’t get. Pokrov leaves out relevant truth? Post it! All sorts of spots online anyone can create a website and put it out there for others to check and read.

                      Personally I’m still reeling about this death George writes of. Complaints of rape that the police don’t act on of course raise serious concern. But death? How does that NOT feature front and center everywhere and for months? Who died? Right now three women are in jail for giving the Russian Patriarch a scolding for aligning the church with a politician they don’t like. Nobody died! Lord.

                    • No George, they did not even allege that.

                      They tried to present allegations about other people and other things in such a way that simple-minded readers would draw the incorrect conclusion that they were alleging that. In otherwords, they wanted to lie while still giving themselves a legal backdoor out of their lie if they are taken to court.

                      If they had a good reason for removing Jonah, or for placing him on leave in a psyche ward for 6 months, they would have told you what that reason was.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      George, of course the pokrov folk are online and can speak for themselves. If I had to guess what Melanie would say (and it’s just a guess): It would be in keeping with her fairly steady theme that it is a very bad idea to cause a clergyman who is known to have problems controlling sexual urges, especially those known to be willing to consume more booze than sobriety permits, to be put in a position of authority over others who are not given to know the history. It would appear from the paper trail that Met. Jonah did do this, although we don’t know what he might have said to the people involved on the phone or in person. That’s enough to cause alarm at Pokrov. Frankly I’m with them in this regard. Now, Met. Jonah may have disbelieved the accounts of booze and sexual acting out, and for all we know might have had reason to disbelieve these things that we don’t know. But, so far as all the internal documents now public, nothing that contradicts the official reports appear to be in any record so far.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Harry, if that’s the case I have no essential quarrell with Pokrov or your defense of them. It’s just that in their zeal to see sexual abuse everytime they see a cassock, they are tarring a man who is innocent. If anything, look at the SIC report, which was written by men not predisposed to Jonah. Even they admitted that Jonah did the right thing. Go after the guilty, not the innocent.

                    • Mark. You’re wasting your breath criticizing Pokrov to Harry Coin. Pokrov’s main focus, with only enough exception to prove the rule, is the INNATE perfidy of the unmarried clergyman. How could this not warm the cockles of Harry’s heart, I ask you? True, a few unmarried clergymen did get a pass. But does anyone not remember the indignation of the whole crowd about the unfair treatment meted out on Archpriest Michael Roshak? However, how many know what that Archpriest’s ultimate fate was and what kind of conduct precipitated it? Anybody read of it in the SMPAC? I don’t think so. It’s enough to make one go all Old Testamental! If anyone thinks Archbishop Benjamin has an impregnable circle of “in-crowd’ friends amongst today’s OCA nomenklatura, they’d have to say his circle is but a shadow of the one surrounding and protecting the most beloved Archpriest ever. Talk about an “Alumni-Protective Association!” Makes one wonder how Metropolitan Jonah failed to get that protection. Must have said something about those claiming dogmatic theology credentials?

                    • Harry Coin says

                      Would someone decode +BT’s post (I got the part where he puts words in my mouth. I meant decode the rest of it)?

                • George,

                  Pokrov will give +Benjamin a pass EVERY time. They post a picture of a priest’s son who got in trouble but not a mention of the bishop of San Francisco. Nor will they mention that +Benjamin requested that a certain Archimandrite come into his diocese and is allowed to serve there. Until they report on all things, especially in the OCA or any jurisdiction and continue to give passes to people they like, their credibility will be suspect with me.

                  • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

                    I think Nikos knows better.

                    Pokrov doesn’t like Abp. Benjamin, or any other OCA bishop. If you doubt that read what Cappy Larson, a principle member of Pokrov, said at comment #84 here:


                    She references Bp. Nikolai’s accusations against Abp. Benjamin which she “hopes everyone has read”. She (unlike me) clearly accepts the allegations as true. After rehearsing every allegation she can about OCA hierarchs, she writes:

                    “It’s particularly ugly when these bishops start turning on themselves.

                    They all need to go, EVERY last one of them.”

                    I think Pokrov is well disposed to any allegation against any Orthodox cleric, especially OCA bishops. They do not support or like Abp. Benjamin, Met. Jonah, Abp. Dmitri, Bp. Tikhon, Bp. Michael, Abp. Nathanael, or anyone else. One must not mistake the legal care they take in how and what they post as affection for any of us.

                    I repeat, I provide the link above as evidence of the approach of Pokrov, not because I believe or support any of the allegations Cappy Larson makes there.

                    If this is how Pokrove “likes” someone, may all be delivered from their “like”!

                    • So if she believes the accusations against +Benjamin that +Nikolai lodged, why doesn’t Pokrov further investigate it.

                      Unlike you, Fr. Yousuf, I know the allegations vs. +Benjamin are true but his brothers on the synod will continue to protect him because he knows things about them. As Monk James has often said, the OCA synod has become a mutual coverup club, or words to that effect. When Jonah tried to investigate the allegations vs. +Benjamin, the entire chapter of +Benjamin going on the attack vs. +Jonah began. +Benjamin will go to any lengths to cover his tracks and destroy anyone who knows about his secret life.

                      What qualifications does +Benjamim have to be a bishop, let alone a Metropolitan in the OCA?

                      Cappy is right, every last one of them needs to go. They are corrupt individuals and as a group they are dangerous. And now, they have become a laughing stock in world Orthodoxy after their vicious takedown of +Jonah.

                      Their efforts to have a speedy one-day AAC in Parma, OH in November so that they can distract the church from their selfish deed will not work. At this point they are only thinking about themselves and telling each other that the OCA is fine now. Read here if you think otherwise.

                      The Church is in good hands. Sadly they really believe that, which makes their actions painfully absurd.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      Pokrov is not one person, it doesn’t do to take what one posts in an op-ed item and presume it applies generally. I repeat, there is no use in getting upset about that particular effort, if it wasn’t them it would be someone else similarly situated. The only sustainable answer is to drive to zero the events they republish there. Do that and everyone is better off, the church, the society, the parishes, everyone.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      So, you don’t “believe” or “accept” what Bishop Nikolai wrote about Bishop Benjamin in his personal letter to Bishop Benjamin, which was not originally intended for anyone else to read except Bishop Benjamin? And that makes everything okay? And then you discredit pokrov (I don’t like that web site) to bolster your rejection of the letter, because that’s what is the ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. In order for you to reject the letter, you must accept and form an allegation against Bishop Nikolai that he was lying, or is there another alternative? It’s easier to just accept that what he wrote is true than it is to push the idea that he was lying. An old saying in AA: “If enough people tell you you have a tail, maybe you’d better turn around and look at it.” Get real. It’s better for the soul.

                    • Oh, good old Capitolina! I have to say it warms the cockles of my heart and causes my toes to curl up a little when I read how, after pointing to the sins of some other bishops, this is all she can come up with relative to me; “What can I even say about the retired cyber-bishop of the West?”
                      Oh, OH! “What can I even say?” “Even say!”
                      I remember when I first met the Capitolina and her spouse. For some reason, after Liturgy at Holy Trinity Cathedral, AND the festal banquet in the hall, we (Father George Sondergaard and, I believe, Ingrid, Capitolina w/spouse, and some others repaired to a coffee shop across and up the street above Van Ness from the Cathedral. Spouse seemed on edge. Finally he asked “Why did we sing in Russian before the banquet?” I said, “It seemed natural to me. HTC has always been bilingual, and today many Russian parishioners from Christ the Saviour ;parish on Anza Street joined us. I didn’t dream there’d be a problem! We always sing the Lord’s Prayer before meals, and I think everyone knows that prayer, so it could have been sung in Chinese and we’d still be participating in it!” Spouse then fired his last shot: “Well, that’s another thing: where does it say we have to sing the Lord’s prayer?” Chips? Shoulders?

                  • Harry Coin says

                    Well, there is a way to understand ‘pokrov giving someone a pass’ and ‘pokrov wanting all similarly situated replaced’. I don’t usually think this way, but if you give someone a selectively temporary pass who you know if promoted will lead to an explosion later on… Well think about it: when the explosion later on happens, the others who knew about it prior to also would have to go. So, sort of a ‘two – fer’, or ‘three -fer’.

                    Whether this is going on or not I don’t know, but it would explain this whole ‘give them a pass’ thing. However, I rather doubt if somebody died under care of a clergyman (George’s upstream assertion, or bad joke, he won’t say) pokrov or anyone would not report it for ‘strategic’ reasons.

                    • Thomas Mathes says

                      Nikos, if you know the sexual misconduct allegations against Archbishop Benjamin are true, please contact the appropriate civil authorities. Also encourage others with knowledge to do the same.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      The OCA would do well to avoid this future headline, cobbled from George M’s UN-explained allegations upstream, attributed to nobody and so possibly without basis.

                      “OCA appoints new leading bishop having DUI and assault priors, amid unexplained allegations of gay porn and a tragic young death.”

                      But, what if the “DUI and assault priors” are 30 years old with no further incidents?
                      What if the ‘gay porn and tragic young death’ was as connected to the bishop as a dog’s bark is connected to making the moon go away?

                      If the above events George teases about actually attach to a real person, then the truth better be well known prior, not after, asking folk to make leadership decisions. A paragraph the day before a vote takes place, if that person gets the job, would make it very likely indeed we’ll all be back in a couple years doing this again with the latest round of explosions and scandals leading to changes in high places.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I dunno Harry, if Jonah is removed because he allegedly covered up an alleged rape (that they knew wasn’t real), then why should we stand on ceremony when it comes to a bishop who doesn’t meet any of the parameters Paul laid down in Titus or Timothy?

                    • Harry Coin says

                      George, the answer to that is that two wrongs is one more wrong than one wrong.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Of course. And the Synod which attempted to oust Jonah based on a tissue of lies is –what exactly?

                    • Harry Coin says

                      George, I can’t change the past. There’s going to be an election coming up and what’s needed is to make sure a fellow who is capable of presiding over honest growth and who is not ‘owned owing to prior indiscretions’ gets the job. If you think that’s Met. Jonah then rally supporters, get him to agree and propose his name and cast your votes.

                      You seem to know something fairly horrible about another candidate, well let’s be sure if that person is proposed the details of that matter are well known, fully known, broadly known, without shenanigans, by all those voting prior so we don’t have more explosions later. But let’s not arrange little bits of selective focus that lead folk to false and wrongful inferences. It’s on you to make your innuendo clear or withdraw it.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Harry, no, we can’t change the past. Unfortunately, to paraphrase Faulkner, “the past isn’t even past.” The illegitimacy that is staining the OCA right now won’t be washed away by an election, especially such a put-up job as the half-day affair they’re planning for Parma. I mean, c’mon: Parma? A one day affair? No hotel accommodations, no meals? Kangaroo courts operate with more decorum than that.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      “A half-day in Parma” . Sounds like a movie title. Is it close to the Cleveland airport? Folks old enough to vote for Metropolitan are old enough to get their own hotel and find their own lunch. Certainly though it ought to be at an airport that is a ‘hub’ not requiring most folk to make more than one connection to get there.

                      And, you know, there is the matter of the DUI and assault and porn and death you laid at someone’s door. Was it a mistake or do you have links to these allegations?

                    • Parma…That’s in Ohio, also called the center of High Volhynian Culture, the long-time parish of Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky (the father of Father Zaccheus’s lawyer, the peripatetic Vladimir Berezansky, esq. the one who sent an email to Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick saying, “If you touch Father Zaccheus, you’re finished” (or worse)0, not too far from Warren, where the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters once was a promising young pastor, until unfortunately since kicked up way past all known Peter Principle levels of incompetence, and not far from the famed Mingo Junction, the Paris of OCA culture, and not too far from the nest of the Browns! MOST auspicious! Isn’t Parma in th hands of Fr. Garklavs? The good and esteemed Father Memorich has his parish around there, though, so it’s not all doom and gloom as far as intelligence and culture go…

              • Harry,

                You used to say the same about Stokoe’s website, didn’t you? Do you still feel the same about Stokoe’s work?

                • Harry Coin says

                  It’s taken me a bit to be able to write how I feel about that.

                  The first thing that popped into my mind was: What if something like “OCA Truth” existed then, except with the (like them or hate them) fact-check credibility of Pokrov or OCANews? That is, a very creditable source of truth that took a different, yet reasoned, view as to the characteristics of an outcome leading to a good future?

                  OCANews put out a whole great load of facts, and provided a forum that brought out some of the best in many people, and brought it out in ways more broadly seen and read than the reports people actually pay for… you’ve read many of the official news reports, right? Here are all of them at a go: “These bishops traveled to meet one another and guests, they had a meeting where they discussed topics large and small, there was a service in a church where attendance occurred, and they set a date for the next one, please give generously”.

                  Mark did build credibility in the early days by providing extensive facts. He later used that credibility to use his website to argue for an outcome he deemed wise. I admit to being shocked to read of Bp. Tikhon’s “Mrs. Steve Brown” allegations, I daresay many were taken aback by them as I was also. That issue aside, those who disagreed with Mark’s view of a future could certainly ask for a refund for everything they paid to read OCA News. Or Pokrov, Or OCATruth, or Monomakhos, or AOI.

                  What I notice is: whoever has a website that offers the most accurate news in a ‘we report, you decide’ fashion gets support. The publishers have to put their names to their work, and events asserted as true have to always check out as being accurate both in spirit, tone and at least main points.

                  But, how could anyone do such a thing for free? It’s careful work, calls for dedication and finesse and a little panache as well. I did it for a time myself years ago, it’s exhausting as a hobby or moonlight project, really it can’t be done properly unless the position is paid, and with a group of supporters who are available as resources to keep from bamboozling the readers. If I had a chance to do it ‘for real’ I’d go for it in a quick second.

                  • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                    I agree, such a site is needed, and yes, it take deep pockets to fund this. We need more investigative reporting based on solid facts than not. The truth shall set you free, so the saying goes.

                  • You see that? No factual or judicial evaluation of the mendacity of much of what appeared on fazed Mr. H. Coin. It took my mention of Mrs. Steve Brown to finally disturb his complacent enjoyment of a site which was like his Dream Site! Even though it was not I who composed and published for a nationally known newspaper the obituary which unabashedly listed Steve Brown as the late Elizabeth Stokoe’s son-in-law, it appears that i am to be credited with spoiling things for Harry! I’m truly not worthy of that.
                    But thanks! I’m always going to treasure this bit of “fine writing”: “a different, yet reasoned, view as to the characteristics of an outcome leading to a good future?” (That’s what ocanews produced according to Mr. Coin. If you study it, you can figure it out eventually, I’m sure.)

                    • Harry Coin says

                      I did address the bishop’s concern: Whining about websites you don’t like, that you don’t pay to read, as a policy: How’s that been working out for you? Had there been an alternative that named events omitted elsewhere, events that when checked turn out to have been reported accurately, a website that offered a narrative with a different outcome, maybe there would have been a different outcome.

                      Didn’t happen. Why? Perhaps because the necessary facts were being withheld by, for example Bp. Tikhon when decisions were being taken. Or, more likely, that indeed there were no relevant unreported events which could stand the test of actually being checked. All that’s left is table banging.

                      Bp. Tikhon carries on much as we see the church leadership in Russia recently with those foul mouthed women. While the decisions were being made the church was all about nailing them to the wall. After it was done and over, then when it wouldn’t matter, oh by the way, let me tell you something….

              • Michael Bauman says

                Harry, IMO, Pokrov is indiscriminate with its accusations and less that willing to admit that they ever might make a mistake and the harm that such mistakes do. Their interpretation of the events that got them rolling in the first place and the people they blame other than the main actor is still highly questionable.

                • Harry Coin says

                  Michael, so many folk don’t like pokrov if there was anything asserted there that didn’t check out there would be websites about it in less than a day. If there are people about whom events should be reported, who have ‘a special relationship’ with the pokrov folks and so as you assert are being given a pass by them: Fill in the gaps! Post ho! Be the pokrov fact-check site. So far it hasn’t been done because, well, they don’t seem to have gotten any facts wrong that people can check. I don’t read everything of course.

                  Dark mutterings about that which never seems to actually materialize when pressed– that’s just someone playing upon your concerns like a violin for their own reasons.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Or maybe Harry their obvious anti-clericalism and ablity to hook everybody into every possible tale of abuse ever pepetrated by anyone is just so Byzantine that it makes a factual challenge to anything very difficult.

                    They hate and make no bones about it. That is what I don’t like.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      I prefer to believe that every day that goes by without an article they feel is credible enough to post is a good day in their books. It’s also a good day in my little world. So, there we can agree on something.

    • Hey Syosset! There’s someone publishing your precious SMPAC report! Aren’t you going to do anything about it?! Or is it okay, now, that Pokrov is “in possession of OCA property”?

      Now that the SMPAC memo is public, I wonder if Rod would be willing to provide Met. Jonah’s response, since it’s certainly not going to come from Pokrov.

      Synodal Statement Part II: Attack of the Bureaucrats is going to be making its debut pretty soon, I wager, probably after the Monday meeting. We definitely need to pray for Met. Jonah.

      • Rod Dreher says

        I won’t provide the whole of Jonah’s response (which I did not get from Jonah, btw, but from someone who had a copy), but I will say that the response, while not (in my view) entirely exonerative of Jonah’s behavior, does make it clear that the SMPAC Report is a political document. That is, it takes some valid issues with the Metropolitan’s actions, and twists them into an indictment of him. The most telling part of it, I think, is how it blasts Jonah for the way he handled Fr. Isidore Brittain — and Jonah deserved to be blasted!, but doesn’t mention Bishop Benjamin at all, even though Benjamin agreed to receive Fr. Isidore. But Bishop Benjamin wasn’t in the Apparat’s crosshairs. Let this be your guide as to whether the SMPACkers were really about tightening up the ship in the OCA — a worthy, important goal — or doing whatever they could to get rid of Jonah.

        Jonah’s concluding statement from his response is here:

        What is evident here is that there is a constant pattern of mutual mistrust. I my reading of the SMPAC Memo, there is actually no instance of factual disregard by me of the policies or Sexual Misconduct Guidelines. There are certainly areas which I do and have questioned. I have disagreed about timing (Abp Seraphim [Storheim] investigation, in conversation with Bp Nikon). I have disagreed about whether something is in the purvue [sic] of the diocese or central administration (Symeon). There are areas in which I have indeed disagreed with the advice given me by the Synod (in regards to the nuns in DC) and senior staff. But I have never disregarded the advice gien me by the Sexual Misconduct Committee, but have taken it and them seriously; however few and far between are the times that they have bothered to contact me.

        Is it not my role and prerogative as Metropolitan to weigh the advice and information given to me, to be able to experess and work out my opinions with the Synod (as in the above correspondence), or with other advisors, and make a decision based on that? Or am I bound by the committees and the church’s officers?

        Are these committees advisory, or are they in control of the Metropolitan and Synod. I think advisory.
        Never have I intended to deceive or mislead anyone about anything. Undoubtedly I have omitted pieces of stories, which may not have come to mind, given the context of a particular conversation. But neither have I always been given a full picture of what is going on. Had I been asked about a missing piece, I would of course have given it. I believe this is simply part of normal human behavior, and without malice.

        There is one area, 7.02, of the Sexual Misconduct Guidelines that has proven to be extremely problematic: the day to day oversight by the Chancellor. I have previously expressed my view that this is a problem. But the personalities involved have made it a far greater problem than it should have been.

        Is not the role of the Chancellor [who was, at this writing, Alexander Garklavs – RD] to keep the Metropolitan informed, and when he makes a mistake, to help him correct it, for the good of the Church; rather than to throw all of his mistakes back in his face? Is it the role of the Metropolitan to have to pry information out of the Chancellor, or the Chancellor’s role to constantly keep the Metropolitan informed of whatever is going on, regardless of the personal presence of the Metropolitan or not? Is it the role of the chancellor to oversee such a project as this Memorandum, entirely behind the back and secretly, and not even giving the Metropolitan a copy of the product? Is this not complete insubordination?

        It is repeated that I do not like the work of administration. I do, however, have an administrative style: I delegate great amounts of authority to those whom I give particular areas of work, and then hold them accountable. It is based on trust. I am not hands-on, and I am not in any way a micromanager. I should not have to be.

        I expect that those to whom such authority is delegated will be able to handle it, and be accountable. I admit freely administration is not my gift, and that is why we hire administrators. That is what a chancellor is hired to do: to do the day to day work of administration, to keep the Metropolitan informed, and give him the necessary information to make decisions. The chancellor’s work is to support the work of the Metropolitan’s office, and make up the deficits in his abilities. It remains, however, the responsibility of the Metropolitan to make all final decisions. It should be a team, along with the rest of the staff, which is built on the foundation of trust. However, that trust was not earned, but rather squandered and betrayed. It had been before this report; now the damage is irreparable. Forgiveness, yes; trust, no.

        In almost every case of the instances in this memo, the sole contact between the Sexual Misconduct Committee and myself was the chancellor. Every piece of information went through him, and it is his interpretation that was given to them for their own consideration. Almost everything in this document is twisted to put a negative perspective on me. I am not claiming to be without error. However, what is presented here is a grave travesty, and is a malicious caricature of the truth, not to mention mortal sin, if not also a canonical infraction.

        Over the past year, I have had very little personal contact with the members of the Sexual Misconduct committee. In no way did I want to interfere in their work, and it was my understanding, based on good advice by the chancellor and several others, such as [name of priest], that I and my office should be at arms’ length from any investigations. On the Seraphim matter, I was also told by Garklavs to “not be involved.” Am I to be condemned for paying attention to their advice?

        There are several underlying issues. What is the role of these committees in relation to the Metropolitan and Synod? Are they advisory, or are the Met and Synod subject to their decision? What is the role of the Chancellor? Is he the one to whom the Metropolitan and Synod owe obedience and accountability? Or is the Chancellor accountable to the Metropolitan, and through the Metropolitan to the Synod? For whom does the chancellor work: the Metropolitan, or the Metropolitan Council? Is a bishop compelled to go through the central Sexual Misconduct Committee, or can things be handled on a diocesan basis? Can the central administration intervene in such an investigation without being so requested by the Diocesan Bishop?

        Ultimately, who is in charge of this Church: the Bishops or the Metropolitan Council and/or the Chancellor? For the past few years, since Met. Herman abrogated his responsibility, it has been the Metropolitan Council. Before that, with a dysfunctional metropolitan, it was the Chancellor. Do we want that? Are we going to be an Orthodox Church, or some kind of Byzantine rite episcopalianism, where the bishops are present by have no authority?

        This Committee was under my authority, and this report was compiled secretly, behind my back. That is insubordination. Transparency? Accountability? Absolutely none. It was the responsibility of the Chancellor to not only let me know how my actions were being interpreted, but to inform me of the necessary steps to explain my actions. Would you demand anything different of our chancellors? He failed in that, and in fact nurtured these misperceptions for his own reasons, and to his own perceived benefit. This is a complete betrayal of trust, and of his basic responsibility to upbuild the Church, rather than tear it down.

        The SMPAC Memo is not about sexual misconduct, but is about the relationship of the Metropolitan and the Chancellor. The Chancellor, in the name of the committee, does not like the Metropolitan’s style of administration. Their document presents opinion and impressions, not facts. There is nothing documented. There are no canonical breaches, and in fact no breaches of policy or the Misconduct Guidelines that can be cited. This memorandum is politics, nothing else. Their judgments are insulting, and I demand an apology. While this report is a grievous canonical breach, for the peace of the Church I would prefer not to take action.

        As Metropolitan, I reject this report, and seeking the support of the Holy Synod, demand its retraction and consign it to permanent confidentiality.

        End of statement. Good luck to anybody who has to work within this cutthroat system. Uneasy rests the head that wears the white klobuk.

        • Priest Justin Frederick says

          Solomon the wise says: “One man’s case seems just, until another comes and examines him.” One is a fool to pass judgment without hearing both sides of the story. Now the other side begins to come out in the words of one of the primary actors. It puts a number of things in a different light, yes? A good number of very important questions are asked here by His Beatitude to which I’d like to hear the answers.

          In this sad saga, we have one side willing to admit errors and shortcomings; we have another side laying all the blame on one man. Is this just? Is it right? Is it honest? Is it true? Is it honorable? Does it bear witness to authentic life in Christ? Does it heal the Church of sin and error? Does it correct our administrative problems? Does it lay a foundation for success in the future? Does it position us to play an influential role in building a genuinely American Church? Does it make us more attractive to those who would convert? Does it inspire those called to serve as clergy to want to serve in the OCA? Does ithelp us to establish new mission? Does it inspire the faithful to give sacrificially to support the work of the Church in proclaiming the Gospel? Does it give us who already serve here confidence in our church and her leaders as we toil and sweat to build up our parishes? Does it impress us with their pastoral discretion, justice, love, and wisdom? Does it inspire us with love and respect and confidence to obey? Does it give us hope for a better future?

          I, for one, cannot now answer any of those questions in the affirmative. I wish I could. I really do. But mighty is our Lord and Savior: may He grant our bishops His wisdom and discernment when they meet tomorrow. It is in their power, their purview, their office and ministry to do right and make right what is wrong. It is possible, by God’s grace, and it is my fervent prayer and hope, that on Tuesday (or whenever we finally learn of it) we will be able to answer yes to at least some of the questions above in relation to their decisions tomorrow. “Lord, I believe! Help Thou my unbelief!” “For him who believes, all things are possible.” “O Lord, save Thy people!”

          • Rod Dreher says

            The timing of this leak to Pokrov — on the eve of the Synod’s meeting to decide Jonah’s fate — should not escape anyone’s notice.

        • ChristineFevronia says

          George, would you be willing to post this rebuttal by Met. Jonah as it’s own blog entry on your blog? It is hidden here among the comments and I almost missed it. This is the Fr. Jonah I think everyone needs to hear from since he has been silenced. Thanks for considering this, especially since the Synod is meeting to determine his fate. Met. Jonah has indeed fought the good fight and his response clearly indicates he is in total control of his mental faculties, but the Synod is… Crazy!

          • George Michalopulos says

            Christine, I will do so at the first chance I get. Be patient and thank you for your interest.

            • ChristineFevronia says

              Thank YOU, George, for hosting and maintaining this blog. I really appreciate all of your time, effort, and commitment to Monomakhos. I love your posts, and truly am grateful for your creativity, your intellectual inquiries, and for allowing your brothers and sisters in Christ to have a voice during our troubled times. It is the most fascinating cross-section of Orthodox believers in America. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you do!

        • Thanks for that, Rod.

          While there are things in the memo that make me want to take Met. Jonah to my office, sit down across my desk from him, fold my arms on it and deliver a stern lecture, my reaction is basically the same as yours, Rod.

          I found it really funny that they blame Met. Jonah for having “very little interest” in developing a “crisis plan” regarding a certain archbishop, but would also criticize him for getting involved in any way. They then blame him for their own lack of preparedness when the charges came to a head in 2010.

          What I don’t understand is, if they are so smart, why nobody in that pack of super-geniuses thought to simply call the Winnipeg police in 2008. “We’re sorry, we were working on our crisis plan with the full-color cover and shiny plastic protector. Do you think we should print it on eggshell or ecru?”

        • I read that long bit, and I don’t recognize Metropolitan Jonah’s style of writing or thinking in it. I feel someone felt he or she knows exactly what “went wrong’ and was determined to address this through the grateful acceptance of help by Metropolitan Jonah.
          I do read Metropolitan Jonah’s thoughts in the following paragraph, though, no less shameful than his reference to the same instances at the Council where the Holy Synod elected him:
          “Ultimately, who is in charge of this Church: the Bishops or the Metropolitan Council and/or the Chancellor? For the past few years, since Met. Herman abrogated his responsibility, it has been the Metropolitan Council. Before that, with a dysfunctional metropolitan, it was the Chancellor. Do we want that? Are we going to be an Orthodox Church, or some kind of Byzantine rite episcopalianism, where the bishops are present by have no authority?”
          Ask Ms Alice Woog, member of the Metropolitan Council at the time, how Metropolitan Herman “abrogated his responsibility,” relative to the Metropolitan Council. Metropolitan Herman UNILATERALLY FLOUTED the Metropolitan Council by hiring Proskauer Rose (the downtown Manhattan criminal defense firm), and by dismissing the Chancellor before he could protect the files immediately made available to a Protodeacon and his team to dispose of as they saw fit. Metropolitan Herman got rid of the Chancellor LEST HE BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. Metropolitan Theodosius was, indeed, prevented from serious failure and stumbling, by his Chancellor; a totally different animal from the later “watchdogs over the Primate” supplied by the modern version of the “All power to the soviets” types always lurking in the background of the Metropolia. To this DAY, Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick is protective of both Metropolitan Herman and Metropolitan Theodosius, both of whom, in my not humble opinion failed to lift a finger in favor of the truth about his “case,” On the contrary, they hunkered down and still are hunkered down, hoping nobody will bother them. I think that anyone who has known Metropolitan Jonah personally or at school or at the monastery would feel that this written defense is not solely or not mostly his own words.

      • Mark from the DOS says

        Helga, do not forget what our Synod wrote AFTER the phrase you quoted!!

        While those who now possess the report are wrongfully in possession of OCA property, they have not yet returned their copies of these highly confidential and sensitive documents, further exposing our Church to potential legal liabilities.

        Lord have mercy! has now PUBLISHED ON THE INTERNET highly confidential and sensitive documents. Since all that the Synod does these days is trumpeted, especially by its supporters, as being founded in risk management and avoiding lawsuits, where is the outcry? Where are the demands for removal of this stolen property from the internet? Where is the witch hunt to find out which priest or bishop handed these “highly confidential and sensitive” documents to a group that cares not at all for the well being of the church, and has now posted it to the world?

        I think we all have a strong suspicion as to who handed these documents to the ladies from California. And as such, we expect not a word will be said of this. Liars, Hypocrites and Cowards.

        • Rod Dreher says

          Well, like Bp Tikhon, I received the SMPAC Report the other day in a long e-mail sent out by a Romanian priest. I mean, I had it a long time ago, but another copy is going around now.

          The apparent reason the Romanian priest included it was to show that two troubling cases of clerical sexual misconduct — that of Fr. Gregory Becker of the Romanian Archdiocese, and Archdeacon Gregory Burke of Miami — were not mentioned in the SMPAC Report. Why were those two instances left out of a report that was supposed to be evenhanded?

          • Harry Coin says

            Rod, reading your examples I wonder if the working ‘real’ definition of ‘sexual misconduct’ is not the plain meaning of the phrase in the church context, but instead limited to the cases where the one not a clergyman complains or wasn’t an adult. If nobody complains, but ‘everybody knows’, should the person involved retain clergy rank? That’s the real question here.

            • Harry,

              If you want an openly homosexual priest who cats arounds gay bars and porno shops to pick up men and you want an archdeacon who has lived with another man for decades, then decides to leave him and run away to California and marry another man, then divorce him, but no one complains, so it is ok? Are you not in touch with the reality of what the Church demands of its clerics?

              Anyway, in both cases there were people who complained, openly and with just cause.

              The fact that the SMPAC gang didn’t mention these two cases is because both men are being protected by Archbishop Nathaniel. He is the longtime friend of the retired bishop of the Albanian diocese, Bp. Mark Forsberg and Forsberg’s longtime companion deacon, Gregory Burke. Nathaniel Popp, Forsberg and the late priest Benedict Desosio were all colorful classmates in Rome together where they enjoyed all that Rome had to offer.

              Now under the protection of Arb. Nikon, who also has known Forsberg and Burke for years when Nikon was a priest in the Albanian diocese, he has openly said that he will not do anything against Burke. Yet these are the men who stand in judgement of Jonah. Swell bunch of leaders. Quick, let’s have an election to name one of these guys the next Metropolitan, then everything will be just fine.

              • Heracleides says

                I sometimes think that the hiring of good private investigators to tail the bishops of the OCA’s Unholy Synod during their ‘after-hours’ would reveal more sexual escapades than even the most willfully blind layperson could stomach and would (should) bring the farce that is the OCA crashing down in ruins.

              • Well, Nikos, at least one person posting here obviously wants to give “The Friend of OCL amongst the Synod” a break, if at all possible, so ease up on him, OK? You mentioned him twice.

    • Priest Justin Frederick says

      Your questions, Mark of the DOS, are mine also.

      Let us add one more: how is it that the Metropolitan gets blamed for a priest who once served in Alaska and was suspended and was later cleared to serve in the Diocese of the West? The Metropolitan cannot unilaterally impose a priest on another sovereign diocese.The leaked report (by whom, we wonder, and with such an exquisite sense of timing, right before another meeting of the Synod!–who is manipulating whom with this release? What tail is trying to wag the dog and control outcomes?) reads: “His Beatitude canonically released Fr. X to the Diocese of the West without any discipline whatsoever…” That sure makes it sound like the Metropolitan acted unilaterally. But, dear SYMPAC Report writers, it takes TWO bishops to effect a transfer. Why did those objective, truth-loving writers not add the second half of the equation: “His Grace, Bishop___ of the West received Fr. X into his diocese and blessed him to serve in his diocese without him have received any discipline whatsoever for the grave offenses that had been proven against him beyond of reasonable doubt…”

      I have to say, I found the fabled Report underwhelming: too many (but not all) generalizations and unsupported assertions, all directed against the Metropolitan (did someone play off a famous line of yesteryear in uttering the imperative, “We must build a firing line around the Metropolitan”–which means a firing circle and the consequences thereof?) presented in a way calculated to make HB look bad, but, if you read more carefully, you find others, too, should be held responsible for the same cases–but they are not. And some of the accusations that sound bad can be reduced to this: “He didn’t follow our advice or recommendations.” Is that a serious charge or simply pique over having one’s wisdom spurned? It is only bad if the advice and recommendations were good and sound and in accordance with the Gospel (which takes precedence in the Church–the lawyers, or the Gospel–can anyone answer that? Archbishop NIkon memorably answered when I asked him last year what he thought about the OCA Strategic Plan: “Our Strategic Plan is there on the altar.”) What particular advice and recommendations did His Beatitude not follow? The report does not say. And is he as a ruling bishop bound to follow advice or recommendations from the Special Investigative Committee? Is he bound to follow all advice or recommendations given by his fellow bishops? Would they follow his reciprocally? Or should the report have been worded more frankly: “He didn’t follow our commands? He didn’t do what we wanted? He didn’t choose to do it our way?”

      Perhaps the coterie of the SIC needs to be investigated, broken up, replaced; the raw data gathered examined by more objective eyes. Too few interested parties have controlled the flow of information to the Holy Synod for too long. If I were a member of the Holy Synod, I’d be asking for the files, doing due diligence to take a good long read through them, and comparing the raw data I read there to what was presented in the report and reported orally at official meetings, and determining for myself that I had been given an accurate summary of matters on which to make momentous decisions and take actions discomfiting to the Church and not been maneuvered by a carefully crafted presentation to an unjust conclusion and thus unwarranted action.

      From the reaction of our Mother Church and others outside the OCA, it sure looks like we’ve gone and stepped, not in a cow patty, but in the very manure pit, rendering us ever-so-much-more presentable to our sister churches around the world, not to mention those altogether outside of the Church. I hope we’ve put ourselves there for good reason and not been dishonestly maneuvered there by a relentless, self-interested few. As much as I’d like to believe what I’m told at, and at the DOS Assembly and ‘move on’ quietly to focus exclusively on parish ministry after years of turmoil, the facts just don’t add up so far to allow me to come to that conclusion. Please help me!

      • George Michalopulos says

        Very well said, Fr Justin.

      • I got that report, too, but not from Pokrov (not saying it wasn’t got from Pokrov). It came as an attachment to a very long accusation of wrongful deposition against Archbishop Nathaniel, by a Romanian Priest (NOT Fr. Vasile Susan). The SMPAC is rather tawdry, presumptuous, and vain. I think any good attorney could demolish it. I say “any good attorney”. This expression must always be qualified by the natural law: very few members of any profession excel in their job performance. True of doctors, lawyers and teachers. Only a few are really good at what they do. Many of the mediocre lawyers are dying for cases and a decent partnership, they’re not all “ambulance chasers’ because there are other desperate avenues to rise above natural mediocrity: church fights are as good as ambulances, and best if one is a member of one of the churches involved. If successful (variously defined) in accomplishing the aims those who had recourse to you, you may be rewarded with RECOGNITION and being consulted like a Vincent Bugliosi or Justice Brandeis, etc. But you should pray that your “work product” will never have to be tested in a real court of law!

      • Mark from the DOS says

        Fr. Justin,

        Your courage to even ask these questions lifts my soul. I will pray for you and your protection. May the Lord have mercy on all of us!

        • Mark from the DOS says

          I puzzle at the thumbs up, thumbs down votes this site gets. While my original post could certainly get thumbs down from people who think the statement of the Synod is wholly true, or who simply object to the way I wrote about it, I am wondering who the three people (so far) are who say thumbs down to

          (a) my soul being lifted up by a priest asking questions;
          (b) my prayers for the protection of a priest; or
          (c) the Lord having mercy on all of us.

          It makes me wonder, indeed.

          • Mark from the DOS –

            I’ve noticed that depending on the day, irregardless of the content of the comment all comments posted will receive at the very least 2 or 3 thumbs down right off the bat also….it is probably a coordinated effort between several disgruntled individuals…I wouldn’t take them too seriously. The people who give a thumbs down for

            (a) my soul being lifted up by a priest asking questions;
            (b) my prayers for the protection of a priest; or
            (c) the Lord having mercy on all of us.

            could have been present when Christ fed the multitudes and would have been heard exclaiming “what?!!! No tartar sauce!!!! What kind of miracle is that?!!”

      • A hypothetical conjecture. If the bishops have sinned and they now ask us to rubber stamp their sin and join in a cover up, does that make us complicit in their sin? How do we lay people handle this situation?

        • George Michalopulos says

          Jeff, good question. How about if our bishops are leading us into schism?

          • It would seem to me George that the only way to not be complicit is for NO SINGLE PERSON to show up at this travesty of a AAC. Then launch a legal complaint.(or the other way around)
            If they pull it off and people show up— they sign up for more of the same. No wonder they want to act fast, think later.

            • Notice Fr. Jillions’ blog posting from August 14th? This is going to be a PENITENTIAL COUNCIL, you guys! I wonder what he thinks the OCA should be repenting for! I can think of a pretty good number of things the bishops and the administration should be repenting for, but I don’t think Fr. Jillions would be thinking of any of those things.

              • Yes, Helga, I noticed that penitential council thing. Are we back to that day so long ago when the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters advised us to do the same thing? I meant to say ‘informed us that such a council was the ONLY thing to do?” I think his ONLY possible solution that time (he’s got a whole attache case full of ’em) was to come together, repent and pray a Molieben to Saint Herman.
                That was in the days before he put on his judicial robes and pronounced his guilty verdict on Archpriest Joseph Fester, and a verdict of surpassing innocence on Mark Stokoe, as a Clean Week exercise.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Vladika Tikhon wrote:

                  “That was in the days before he put on his judicial robes and pronounced his guilty verdict on Archpriest Joseph Fester, and a verdict of surpassing innocence on Mark Stokoe, as a Clean Week exercise.”

                  Does anyone have any ideas as to why he wrote that note to the people of the OCA? I can’t figure it out. It doesn’t make sense. I like Father Joseph Fester based on what I’ve read by him, and based on his life and what those who know him have said about him. His letter to the clergy seems to be coming true even now. I can understand why a person like Bishop Benjamin, who is an addict, continues to act like an addict (though Fr. Isidore Brittain is “working the program,” Bishop Benjamin doesn’t seem to be doing that). I can understand Father Robert Arida’s reasoning regarding homosexuality and its acceptance in the Orthodox Church, though I disagree. I can understand Mark Stokoe’s way, though it’s not an understanding I like. I can understand other bishops (though again, not a good understanding) being “pressured” to protect their whatever, and I can even understand Metropolitan Jonah’s silence and his passivity. But I can’t understand Father Hopko’s letter. I can’t understand the silence of the priests, especially those of the Midwest. Is it that they don’t want to lose their jobs? What is going on with these people? Aren’t they Orthodox? Don’t they believe what they pray and say as Orthodox Christians? I mean, isn’t it better to not even claim to BE Orthodox if you are NOT Orthodox in your heart? Isn’t it better to be Orthodox in your heart even if you are not Orthodox in your Church attendance. Seriously. Just sayin’.

                • Your Grace, I continue to be grateful for your insights. In this light, I ask you this question: is it possible that the OCA would not have been in these straights had they followed due process and had a standing court with minimal standards of evidence when they tried Fr Kondratick? It seems to me that it’s all very hush-hush, no minutes, no announcements, etc. Almost a star chamber.

                  • Yes, George, it is not only possible but true.
                    A priest may be tried only in the spiritual court of his bishop. That is to say, every priest, without exception, functions as the deputy and substitute for his diocesan bishop and for no other. All the regular canons apply to such a process, including the prohibition of any hierarch from interfering in the diocese of another Hierarch. Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick was a presbyter of the Diocese of Washington/New York whose ruling bishop was Metropolitan Herman. However, the ruling Bishop of another diocese ENTIRELY, Archbishop Nathaniel (Popp) of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate, presided over a meeting improperly labelled a Spiritual Court as the judge of that court, convened to judge Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick.
                    Our Orthodox Spiritual Courts are run, more or less, according to the customs and manner of all courts governed by the Napoleonic Code. The Judge (who is the Priest/accused’s ruling bishop) functions as the prosecutor. Not only did Metropolitan Herman not PRESIDE at any court trying his own Priest, neither did Archbishop Nathaniel PROSECUTE in his stead: he appointed a lawyer, Ms. Faith Skordinski, not a member of the diocesan court, to prosecute the Protopresbyter. Since the dawn of civilization and the invention of the alphabet and writing, the proceedings of courts, civil and criminal, have been recorded. It is a basic component and characteristic of civilized behavior. Of course, the proceedings of some courts, though ALWAYS recorded as the cases proceeded, have sometimes been of limited distribution, as when confidential military strategies, etc., might be revealed in them.
                    In fact. George. the Holy Synod and all its members individually, as well as the Metropolitan Council and all its members individually, ACCEPTED a FICTION as the truth and proceeded to broadcast it and use it as a means of their own self-glorification as “Enlighteners” or Transparent-makers of Christi’s Holy Church! The only thing more noisome than the ‘decree of Archbishop Nathaniel’s personal court, was the congratulatory outcry that flooded the air immediately after it.
                    Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick has NEVER been brought before an Orthodox Church Spiritual Court.
                    It’s my conviction, not opinion, but conviction that a crime was committed against the Priesthood and person of Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick. I don’t understand how a man who served honorably in the U.S. Army who was once known as Sgt. Joe Swayko, and who was ordained Deacon and Priest by ever-memorable Archbishop Kiprian, and elevated to the Episcopate and then elected to be the Chairman (First Hierarch) of the Holy Synod, can sit in his beloved residence in total comfort and HONOR, while he KNOWS that the so-called court of Archbishop Nathaniel was completely non-canonical and a “put-up job!”
                    I pray that Metropolitan Herman comes to his senses. Another hierarch waited too long and received his just deserts, the ultimate disgrace of sudden death away from the brethren, from a Priest, and from the Holy Mysteries and the prayers at the parting of the soul from the body, and NOT from a natural calamity or the assault of the Enemy!
                    Yes, George, beholding what has befallen Metropolitan Jonah, we are but beholding the latest in the series of catastrophes caused by and following from the spiritual assassination of Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick. Go ahead, Harpies, and crow over the Protopresbyter’s mistakes. There is not ONE hierarch, one Archpriest, one Metropolitan Council member, upon whom the same appalled, indignant outcry could and would not be raised tomorrow, by drawing a name from a hat and telling the Chancellor and the Holy Synod, “Sic ‘im!” You’ve never seen or heard the Protopresbyter present the truth, his side of the awful campaign launched against him because there has been no honorable forum in which to present it. Only a complete dunce, a fool, a nincompoop would have spoken before Archbishop Nathaniel’s kangaroo court. This would have been like giving an emolument to Caiaphas..

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Ah… do I hear crickets again? I think that if I had the time, which I don’t, I would write “crickets” after all the posts that speak the truth about what happened to Father Kondratick, and get nothing but silence in reply. I wish I had a quarter for every time since January, 2006 that this has happened. I would be rich.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      Didn’t you write that Abp. Nathaniel was quite property put in charge owing to reasons of seniority once Met. Herman left? Now suddenly he was without the authority to do as he did? Why does it happen nobody ranking in the Orthodox world has gone on record in agreement with you? Why did Met. Jonah not correct matters if he saw them as you do? A wave the of the pen, done. Yet, he didn’t. Could have, didn’t.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Harry, you’re not in the OCA. You have absolutely no room to pontificate on how our Primates act. “A wave of a pen”? Really? Have you been living in a cave since Santa Fe? Have you not seen how Jonah was treated by his “brothers” and how he was forced to go to submit to the Rodzianko treatment. At least when I write critically about the GOA I still have some skin in the game via my extended family and the first forty years of my life.

                    • Rdr. Benjamin says

                      Master Bless. Your Grace, will you be able to attend the upcoming council? If so I implore you to please bring these allegations up before the whole of the assembly. You have the respect of being a Bishop and father of the Orthodox Church and you ought to be treated in a reverent and respectable way.

                      Archpriest John Jillions is right, we do need to repent. Where he is wrong however is in thinking that we need to a “repentant council” in some vain and arbitrary Orthodoxish way. Repentance is not some fadish exercise where we all look down and say “well gee I’m real sorry for whatever I did to whoever” and put on a show where we look good by looking bad. We need real repentance for real sins that are affecting real people! These travesties cannot and should not be confined to just this blog but need to be brought up. If certain Bishops try to shut you up or shout you down as has been done in the past, well be like St. Nicholas at the Council of Nicea and SHOUT LOUDER!!!! God will not be mocked, and the truth must come to light. If that truth is on the Monomakhos side, so be it. If it is on the Syosset side, so be it.

                      But enough of this Orthodspeak where we try to talk around the real issues with somber faces and downcast eyes and just keep letting it continue. The end of days is quickly approaching and we can no longer afford to sit comfortably in the darkness, we must let our light so shine before men that they might see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven. Do not the Holy Scriptures say “See how they love each other?” Indeed.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      George M: On the contrary. It’s my view that every Orthodox Christian person in the USA is a member of the OCA, the GOA, the AOA, and so on and so forth. Analogies always lack upon scrutiny of course; but, in general terms just as everyone has their own parents and siblings, and their cousins — any Orthodox person in America is in one family. I just can’t read the Spirit in our Tradition any other way. I choose not to be divided along the lines of DNA, a division explicitly and most clearly rejected in that gold-encrusted book folk wearing extensive robes (and sometimes large hats) carry over their heads for all to revere every service.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Harry, that’s so naive as to be ludicrous. In fact, it’s even more naive than your idealization about the extent of the OCA primate’s powers. If I were to go to ROCOR and tell them what they’re doing wrong they’d tell me to go pound sand. And they’d be right.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      George, Harry is saying that the shared identity as Orthodox Christians transcends the jurisdiction boundaries that separate us. He’s right. If he wasn’t, we couldn’t take communion in each other’s parishes.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I agree, Fr. Harry’s right generally speaking. However my point is that I have no standing to criticize ROCOR, Serbs, whoever regarding things that are “inside baseball.” I was merely pointing out his naivete regarding the inner workings of the OCA synod.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      George, can you find support for your many assessments in the Gospel? Is division among followers of Christ along the lines of ethnic origin upheld anywhere? I am interested in the politics of administration as a consequence of something else: I choose to keep first in my sight why it is we care about church administration in the first place.

                      I choose to uphold the essential Christian teaching to not be divided in faith in a land based on ethnic origin, while not denying that everyone is from somewhere and that’s a good thing. In the end, accepting more than short term division in a land for reasons of ethnicity is accepting to be divided from Christ. There it is. To be Orthodox in the USA, to respect what it is we teach communion is: is to be in the OCA, in the AOA and in the GOA, and any other ‘…O…’ there is in this land.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Harry, again, we’re talking past each other. You’re quick to criticize MJ for what he did or didn’t do, for how he flashed his pen or didn’t, etc. That’s naive. You don’t know the deep mediocrity which infects the OCA now. Heck, until about 2 years ago, I had no clue either. But I can tell from your continued criticisms that you still don’t realize the extent of the corruption within Syosset. As such, be temperate in your criticisms of MJ. Old Cherokee saying: “Don’t criticize a man unless you’ve walked a mile in his moccassins.”

                      That’s all.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      George there was a lot of time between +MJ’s taking the leading assignment and when it all went wrong. If he wanted to take in a priest or re-open an investigation to review evidence he certainly could have done it. He didn’t. That’s how it is. Whatever else there was going on and who all else was at this or that level of mediocrity or brilliance or dross is of course what it is. Just like he needed nobody’s help to write a letter to the Greek Metropolitan to bring two clergymen over here from there, he could have started the wheels in this matter.

                      Anyone Orthodox has as much ‘standing’ as anyone else whose done their homework to ask and if given basis criticize if it would help, suggest if possible and so on. Either we are all sons in the Lord’s house if the Gospel is to be believed, if there is only one communion– or we are something that isn’t Christian really but likes to borrow what ‘helps the legalistic overseas control freaks’.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Harry, MJ initiated the investigation of the priest in question. And he recused himself from it in order to not interfere. And the Synod took responsibility for the investigation (and thus the priest).

            • M.Vasiliou says

              Right on face-it!

              Even if only a few people show up at the AAC, the OCA Synod will probably elect AB Benjamin as he is the only one who really desires that White Hat. With all his addictions (eating disorder, alcoholism, and mismanagement of funds), the stress of this job most likely will cause him to suffer a melt-down and force him to return to St. Luke for six months, if that insane asylum is still functioning. Would not that be poetic justice? Soon Met. Benjamin will be history, and then another AAC will need to be called.

              How many Primates changing hands will be needed in order for the laity to wake up?

              With OCA priests telling parishioners not to read Internet blogs or post in forums, many of the faithful remain uninformed yet scandalized that the one they loved, Met. Jonah, was forced to retire. He gave them hope and renewed their faith in our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.

              Perhaps the time has come to listen to the words at Great Vespers: “Put not your trust in princes of men, in whom there is no salvation.”

              • MV, I for one will pray for Arb Benjamin if he is elected, just because it’s the Christian thing to do. Unfortunately, the taint of illegitimacy that will hang over him (or whomever) will not be washed away so easily. Truth be told, given the sheer uncanonicity of this whole affair, it is clear that we still have a legally elected Metropolitan. As such, it is possible that we are in schism.

                This opens up a whole can of worms. At the very least, it will cast a pall over the next meeting of the ACOB. And if it continues to stay at the low boil it is presently, the other patriarchates will have to cut their ties with the schismatic branch.

                • Thomas Mathes says

                  George, what will you do if the patriarchs recognize the bishop elected at Parma as the metropolitan of the OCA?

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    That seems doubtful at this point. In the event that they do, I guess it won’t matter since it’s a no-lose situation for them since it’s obvious that the OCA is on its last legs anyway, what’s it to them?

                  • Thomas Mathes says:
                    August 17, 2012 at 10:09 pm

                    George, what will you do if the patriarchs recognize the bishop elected at Parma as the metropolitan of the OCA?

                    What might they require in exchange for that?

    • Mark from DOS, you say:

      But how you can continue to serve and commemorate these people is a mystery to me. Yes we should pray for our heirarchs. But we should never accept dishonesty from them. Never accept rule by fear. If the path is not corrected, I weep for what the OCA will become or, perhaps, has become already.

      I say:

      Weep for the majority of the faithful and clergy in the entire Orthodox Church around the world. It’s been said that you’re not Orthodox until you’ve had a bad bishop. Making the problem worse is that the good bishops, being in the minority, can seldom do anything about the bad ones. It’s the price we pay to practice the faith of the apostles.

      • During Turkish occupation of Jerusalem, Armenians bribed the Ottoman Sultan, Murad III, in order to reserve Temple of the Resurrection for themselves on Holy Saturday. Therefore, Orthodox Patriarch Sophronius (1579-1608) and other Orthodox people were not allowed inside, and were forced to pray in front of the Temple. The Holy Fire, in the form of lightning, miraculously struck a column near the entrance and lit a candle held by the Patriarch standing nearby. He was able to share the Holy Fire with Orthodox people and with all the rest. The column, which bears marks and a large crack, became the monument to the words “God is not in power, but in truth.”

        That was in 1579, and, here we are now in 2012, seeking for God’s help. Metropolitan Jonah was forced to resign, but God’s grace will find him anywhere. We have to defend what is essential to us, our Orthodox Church and the Truth. “Do not be afraid, little flock, because God entrusts you with His Kingdom.”

  6. Does anyone know anything about this letter? It indicates that ROCOR has concluded its investigation of the Monastery in Maryland..It isn’t dated which I think is odd. If it is authentic what now? I remember people icluding Rod saying they trusted ROCOR to do a good upright investigation.Well if this is authentic the investigation is completed.


    Some days ago His Grace, Bishop Thomas announced that we did not have a blessing to visit the Monastery of the Entrance of the Theotokos in Union Bridge MD. The reason for this action was that the jurisdiction which has canonical oversight of the Monastery, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), was investigating a situation involving the Monastery. That investigation has concluded and the ROCOR Metropolitan has decided to relieve the Abbess of her duties and remove the Monastery from their canonical oversight.

    As I understand it, this action by ROCOR means that the Monastery is at the moment non-canonical. This does not mean excommunication. As I understand it, the Sisters have three options: join other already-existing Monasteries, return to Greece under the Bishop there, or possibly reorganise under another canonical Bishop here. I imagine that it will be some time before all this is sorted out. In the meantime, we still do not have a blessing to visit.

    The details of the findings of the investigation are unknown to most of us. What is known, however, is that much of the trouble centred around a priest at the Monastery who was the subject of very serious accusations. Hierarchs of both the OCA and ROCOR believed that there was enough evidence to dismiss the priest. They apparently also believed that the Abbess was refusing to cooperate with their investigation. Whatever else may have precipitated the investigation has not been made public. In any event, the investigation was launched, concluded, and the ROCOR Metropolitan has made his decision.

    Those are the basic facts, as I understand them. There are many rumours abounding and I would urge you not to believe most of them, whatever “side” they represent. I know that this is a deeply troubling, even heartbreaking, situation for many of you, as it is for me. We had prayed for a monastic presence in our area, visited and supported the Sisters, developed relationships, and grown to deeply care for this monastic community. We had dreamed, with the Sisters and others, about the Monastery even being used for summer camps, youth rallies, retreats, schools, and so many other possibilities. Now we have to realise that these things will not happen in the ways we envisioned. But surely God will open other doors.

    As we always have, let us pray for the Sisters that our merciful Lord will guide them into all truth. And please know that I am praying also for all those whose lives were touched by the Monastery, and that I would welcome the opportunity to speak with any of you who are struggling to deal with this unfortunate and regretful situation.

    The Lord bless you all!

    Archpriest Gregory Mathewes-Green

    Pastor, Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      There are indeed other allegations not related to the accused priest. I heard them from my college-age children, who heard them from a Roman Catholic friend, who heard them from a novice at the monastery who had been the friend’s roommate in college (small world). I know much more directly that the novice was removed from monastery by ROCOR for her own good. The allegations are not all that shocking, but they do raise questions about the abbess’s headship of the monastery.

      • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell

        Your blessing.

        Such postings are irresponsible and juvenile. “I heard from x, who heard from y, who heard from z, who heard from a.” So now, Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell, you are the 5th step in the “degree of separation” for this chain of gossip and you make all of us here on the forum the 6th. Do you expect someone to take you seriously?

        • lexcaritas says

          I don’t find Dcn Patrick’s posting irresponsible or juvenile, George. He only says there were other accusationis. He doesn’t claim to know exaclty what they were, or whether they were/are true, but only that there have been some and that he knows, more directly, that a novice was removed from the monastery by ROCOR for some reason (apparently related to one or more of these accusations).


          • lexcaritas-

            My point of contention (I thought I made this clear – apparently I did not, my apologies) is the manner in which the Deacon justifies the validity of this assertion:

            -The Deacon is the 5th person to hear of allegations indirectly in the line of gossip.
            -someone within the line of gossip is outside the faith and may not even understand all of the issues involved. We have people INSIDE the faith that are not capable of understanding all the issues involved, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
            -The Deacon has college age children (plural, that is at least 2). We will assume that he and his wife started their family when they were both 18. We will put their youngest college age child (assuming that their are only 2) at age 18-19. That would mean that Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell is at least 38 years old. He has most likely finished some sort of Degree. He is educated in something. They don’t ordain just anyone.

            . 8Deacons in like manner must be grave, not gossipers, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10And let these also first be proved; then let them serve as deacons, if they be blameless. 11Women in like manner must be grave, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12Let deacons be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13For they that have served well as deacons gain to themselves a good standing, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 14These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; 15but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

            The fifth link in a chain of rumor to make a baseless generalization of the leadership ability of the abbess of a monastery which was transmitted by people who likewise were outside the faith and I and others should take it seriously when NOBODY, BUT NOBODY SHOULD GOSSIP, but especially not a deacon of Christ’s church, and you want me and others to take it seriously? You don’t see how this is wrong?

            • George P., I think you are going much too far when you accuse Deacon Patrick of being a gossip. We know him well and respect him here, and he would not share such information lightly.

              • Helga, should your word be good enough for me, because you know the Deacon and respect and love him? I have never met him. I know him only by his comments on this forum about someone that I do know and love and respect, and it speaks poorly to me.

                Do you see how easy it is to turn that kind of silly reasoning around?

                Who are you, that your word should mean something to me?

                Rev. Deacon Brian Patrick Mitchell, I ask your forgiveness and I ask you to pray for me. I have no right to judge anyone, it was not an authority granted to me.

                • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                  I know Deacon Brian Patrick Mitchell as he used to be at my parish. He may be a bit abrasive, but I do trust what he has to say; he’s not one to talk without getting his facts straight. Additionally, if you go over to and look for his name, you’ll find that he has written a book political systems in America.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              George P,

              I am flattered that you would think me 38 years old. I am 54. You seem unfamiliar with life in America. Who here starts a family at 18? My first child was born when I was 29. Are you writing from Greece? Are you one of Dionysios’s monks? Or are you, as I have been told, Abbess Aemiliane, slyly hiding your personal knowledge to appear to be someone you are not. You really do owe us an explanation as to who you are and why we should trust your extremely, bitterly partisan judgments of the persons involved.

              I explained how I heard about the allegations against the nuns to show (a) that my information was third hand (fourth hand to you, not fifth) and (b) to let you and others judge the worth of it. As I see it, the Roman Catholic friend is an unimpeachable source, having no dog in this fight. She only passed on what a very well-known and trusted friend of hers told her. This trusted friend was right there in the thick of things, having actually lived at the monastery as a novice and been a part of recent events. I consider my three adult children also unimpeachable sources. They have met the nuns but have not kept up with the scandal online or talked to me about it. They heard the allegations against the nuns quite by accident. I myself have defended the nuns in the past and have only changed my opinion based on additional information and experience. So there — I have told you more about my knowledge of things than you have told us about yours.

              The dictate NOBODY SHOULD GOSSIP is just what Fr. Denis Bradley would tell people to shut them up about the profanation of the Holy Eucharist and betrayal of fundamental decency at the cathedral. It is also what one of the nuns told a parishioner who shared with the nun her concern over the overt presence of gays at the cathedral. I suggest you consider the definition of the English word gossip. Gossip is not simply talking about other people; it is “idle talk” about others, “trivial, chatty talk” or “groundless rumor,” in other words, talk for talk’s sake without regard to accuracy. The information I passed on was not idle, trivial, groundless, or inaccurate. It was not gossip.

              God help us all.

              Dn Patrick

              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                On second thought, it makes sense that you would guess me younger because you do actually know me. I am often thought to be 10, 15, even 20 years younger. (It has taken me a long time to grow up.)

                • I am CERTAIN that you are mistaken Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell. You and I have never met.

                  • BTW, I just googled you thinking maybe I could find a picture of you (maybe we had met and I don’t remember?) and I saw your wikipedia article….very cool stuff!!!!! Not shabby! Maybe you have a blog? I’d like to read some of your journal articles if they are available on line.

              • Dn. Patrick-

                I apologized, and I asked your forgiveness. I do so again. Apparently the first time was not enough. I also venerate you.

                My parents started their family at age18. A rarity in American life I admit, but it does happen once in a while, even now a days. My point was, that you are not a little child without discernment. I believe you understood that, and now you verified it.

                I am neither a monk of Archimandrite Dionysios nor Abbess Aemiliane. It would be quite difficult for Abbess Aemiliane to have been present on August 4th with +Hilarion and for me to make the comment that I did on that same date from this same IP address that I do in Greece always (be so kind as to click on the “see all comments” button on the upper right hand corner, you will see that I did indeed make a comment on August 4th – George Michalopoulos can confirm the ip it was sent from if you think you have the right to know). The flight from JFK to Athens can take approximately 10 to 12 hours (one-way non-stop) excluding check in and luggage claim. Try as anybody might, nobody can claim that I am abbess Aemiliane or even one of Archimandrite Dionysios’ monks. Their monastery is no where near Athens. It is in the prefecture of Karditsa. That is approximately 5 hours away by car from my IP address which somehow Mr. Stankovich and Mr. Dreher managed to obtain. That’s some wifi signal isn’t it? Gotta love modern technology. Not everyone in Greece is a monk or nun. I am a long time friend of these monastic communities, and I know these monks and nuns well. That is sufficient for me. It is not subject to anyone else’s approval.

              • Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell-

                The dictate NOBODY SHOULD GOSSIP is just what Fr. Denis Bradley would tell people to shut them up(can I understand the word intimidate here?) about the profanation of the Holy Eucharist and betrayal of fundamental decency at the cathedral. It is also what one of the nuns told a parishioner who shared with the nun her concern over the overt presence of gays at the cathedral.

                I take it from this comment that you feel the nun in question had a responsibility to address the issue of overt homosexuality at the Cathedral.

                – From your personal and pastoral opinion, what would have been a more appropriate response on the part of the nun? Was this the purpose of the nun’s presence at the DC cathedral to “deal with” the presence of “overtly homosexual” individuals, and not the establishment of a monastic community?

                • Fr. Denis Bradley…profanation of the Holy Eucharist and betrayal of fundamental decency

                  Should I understand that you are accusing the nuns of profaning the Holy Eucharist and betrayal of fundamental decency?

        • George P. says:
          August 14, 2012 at 1:08 am

          Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell
          Your blessing.

          Dear George P., just want you (and others if necessary) to know that Deacons cannot bless anybody or anything. Only presbyters and bishops can do that.

          • PdnNJ –

            Thank you for the heads up.

          • Monk James says

            PdnNJ says (August 14, 2012 at 5:21 pm):

            ‘Dear George P., just want you (and others if necessary) to know that Deacons cannot bless anybody or anything. Only presbyters and bishops can do that.’
            That’s true only in the services, although there is something truly special and holy about the blessings given by Christ’s good priests even apart from the liturgy.

            Yet, like many of us, I treasure the memory of being blessed by the hands of my parents and grandparents making the sign of the Cross on me and on each of my brothers and sisters when we were small, followed by a kiss and: ‘Good night and God bless you, and God willing, we’ll see each other in the morning.’

            I bless my godsons and some others in much the same way. There’s even a protocol for this: The person giving the blessing doesn’t put it in the other’s hands as a priest would, but touches his forehead, chest, right and left shoulders so the points of contact are in the same order as would be if that person were crossing himself

            Many people make the sign of the Cross over their ingredients before they start to make prosphora, and on each other when parting company. Etc., etc….

            Vote Saved.

            • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

              I was wondering if anyone would bring up the fact that a deacon can’t give a blessing.That is true,but I’ve noticed that Greeks and Serbs do kiss a deacons hand upon greeting him.The deacon doesn’t bestow a blessing,but he does hold the Body of Christ in his hand.

              • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says:
                August 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm

                I’ve noticed that Greeks and Serbs do kiss a deacons hand upon greeting him.

                Yes, Father Andrei, I’ve experienced that, as well as having the hymn of my robe kissed during a great entrance. In both cases it is, as an OCA Deacon, rather unsettling for me, but I was instructed that whenever that happens to just accept it positively.

                • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

                  Dear Fr.Protodeacon,
                  Since I’m a non-Serb serving a Serbian parish,I try to respect the local customs.My deacon is Macedonian,ordained in the Bulgarian church,but trained in the Russian way of serving.Because of my background and training and the fact that my son is my only Chanter right now,our Sunday Matins and Liturgy are sort of a Russo-Serbian hybrid.
                  When we have altarboys,I instruct them that they don’t kiss the deacon’s hand during the services,but they may upon greeting him or saying goodbye.Thus,it’s clear that the deacon doesn’t bestow a blessing,but one may(in some traditions) kiss the hand as a sign of respect.

              • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev by ‘ holding the Body and Blood in his hand” you mean communion? I was told deacons aren’t supposed to serve communion except when there is a need. I’m wondering how common this is?

                • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

                  What I meant was that the deacon recieves the Body of Christ in his hand at the Holy Altar from the hand of the celebrating bishop or priest.Even a deacon who isn’t serving must be vested to commune.Of course,he drinks the precious Blood from the Chalice given to him by the celebrant.Neither the Serbian nor the Russian church allows the deacon to distribute Holy Communion,but the OCA does,my deacon also did when he was serving in the Bulgarian church.
                  I should think that with the “see-through” Ikonastas which has become commonplace in the OCA,one could observe the deacon recieving the Body from the celebrant.

                  As to the hand kissing,it’s just a local tradition.My late spiritual father used to say jokingly,”When in Rome,do as the Romanians do.”

              • Lil Ole Housewife says

                Dear Father Alexei,

                I was taught to kiss the Deacon’s hand after the service as well as the priest’s. I was taught to call him Father Deacon / Otec Diakon. I was also taught by example, even by Russians, in my youth, to give blessings outside of church, to family members, to other Orthodox Christians when they are taking a journey and otherwise. This by making the cross toward them. I have noticed that Bulgarians and other people of the Balkans also do this.

                There was one deacon at the cathedral in Washington, a convert from Roman Catholicism, who would get upset if you kissed his hand so I stopped this practice in the cathedral, thinking I was in error. So, I am wondering what the practice is in Roman Catholicism.

                • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

                  Dear Housewife,
                  I regret that we’ve gotten away from the topic of Solzhenitsyn,who is one of three Russians who straightened out my thinking.There is no major issue about kissing a deacons hand.Yes,of course,we do call the deacon,”Fr.Deacon” or Otec Diakon”.I think His GraceBishop Tikhon would actually be better versed in the Russian practice than I am.
                  I can’t speak for the Roman Catholic practices.I believe we Orthodox are facing more important issues than whether or not to kiss a deacons hand.It’s not a question of dogma.Maybe His Grace could add some commentary here?

            • Yes, of course, Monk James, “like many of us” as you say. But it is still incorrect to ask a Deacon for a blessing as one would a presbyter or bishop. When that happens to me I just respond “may our Lord bless you!” without any physical gesture.
              And I hope George P. did not take my comment as a “reprimand” which it was not.

              • I didn’t take it as a reprimand at all PdnNJ….you’ll notice that I thanked you.

                Only a foolish person refuses instruction 🙂

    • The lack of a dateline is simply because it was a mass email (parishioners and friends of that particular parish receive a daily newsletter, and email is the standard method of communication). If it helps you may email, to reach the parish secretary (that is the address from which it was sent). My copy (the original mass email) is dated August 11, 2012, 2:40pm.

      Blessings and clarity!

    • Rdr Tikhon says

      Statement from the Chancery of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York

      On Monday, August 13, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, released a statement regarding the Entrance of the Theotokos Monastery in Maryland.

      Dear in the Lord Reverend Fathers,
      Beloved brothers and sisters,

      As of July 17/30, according to Directive № 07.113.12, the Monastery of the Entrance of the Theotokos, a women’s community located in Union Bridge, Maryland, is no longer a monastic institution of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Certain spiritual practices and references to spiritual authority contained within the charter of the monastery are at variance with the norms and traditions of ROCOR. We have released the convent to seek canonical reception into the ecclesiastical jurisdiction whence they originally came, a diocese of the Church of Greece.

      First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
      Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York

  7. Gailina Sheppard says

    Marty Asks: Is his challenge so utopian as to be impossible to achieve?

    Perhaps, but there is value in the effort even when we fail. – Trite, I know, but. . .

    To dream … the impossible dream …
    To fight … the unbeatable foe …
    To bear … with unbearable sorrow …
    To run … where the brave dare not go …
    To right … the unrightable wrong …
    To love … pure and chaste from afar …
    To try … when your arms are too weary …
    To reach … the unreachable star …

    This is my quest, to follow that star …
    No matter how hopeless, no matter how far …
    To fight for the right, without question or pause …
    To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause …

    And I know if I’ll only be true, to this glorious quest,
    That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
    when I’m laid to my rest …
    And the world will be better for this:
    That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
    Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
    To reach … the unreachable star …

  8. Lil Ole Housewife says

    Dear Father Andrei,

    My posting on Solzhenitsin was deleted by the moderator.

    There is a good list for discussions of Solzhenitsyn:

    It was started and is moderated by Steve Petrica, (about, see ) . Professor Alexei Klimoff, who just retired from Vassar, often contributes. He is “Alexis” on the list. You can join, too. 🙂

  9. michael James KInsey says

    The Christ was always Truthful. His Saints and Holy Fathers, when empowered by His Holy Spirit were likewise Truthful. They did the Will of God and felt no need to use deceit. This is what we are,what we have and will become. The practice of honesty is the good ground that brings forth good fruit, and the Royal Law written in our hearts always has love and good will toward our fellow man. It also creates a sense of honor and selfless nobility in all who practice it. It is real gentlemen and gentle ladies.The gut level always despise this in other people. Blessed is he who is not offended in Me.