Publish and Set a Standard, Publish and Conceal Not

town-crierThe title from this essay comes from the Prophet Jeremiah. There is much wisdom in his Spirit-filled words. There was no need for secrecy among the people of God, either under the Old Covenant or under the New. I’ve tried to apply these words to this blog.

When we started this blog some three years ago, it was to be an enterprise devoted to cultural and political polemics, Christian apologetics, and more or less whatever else suited our fancy. We certainly didn’t envision that it would become a blog that would ferret out corruption, espcially in the Church.

It has –by hook and by crook–become precisely that.

We have been told by several sources that this blog is watched all over the Orthodox world, especially in the various chanceries. IP addresses confirm this. And of course several clerical and edministrative functionaries in said chanceries contact me every now and then. Sometimes it’s to let me know when I’ve made a mistake, other times it’s to give me additional information. I always try to verify what comes to me but I’m not naive: I’m sure Monomakhos has been used to settle old scores but that’s pretty much the name of the game. If I didn’t think that we weren’t doing any good, or that the good didn’t outweigh the bad, I’d hang it up tomorrow (it’s not like I’m getting paid for this after all).

So where am I going with this? Some of our correspondents have taken me to task over the years because I allow people to post comments anonymously or pseudonymously. Men and women I respect have asked me to reconsider allowing the cloak of anonymity. The words of the various commentators would carry more weight if they were signed I am told. These critics have a point. All things being equal, a signed letter packs more power, especially if it’s critical and it points to possible malfeasance by another party. If nothing else, it makes the critic liable for his words. I don’t disagree with any of this. Truth be told, I’ve often considered the idea myself. Would that we had the resources to have a program like 60 Minutes, or stage open, televised debates like the old Firing Line debates hosted by the late William F Buckley, Jr. The idea of secrecy within the Church doesn’t do the Church any good. In a better world, everybody who had a beef would sign their name.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. Let me be blunt, the climate of fear that pervades much of the institutional Church here in America is very real. Priests who come to me with information choose the cloak of anonymity because of the very real fear they have of other priests, their bishops, or well-connected laymen who could destroy their ministries. Likewise laymen who give me information do so in like manner because they fear excommunication or the ruptures that could ensue in their extended families and communities. It’s sad to say but discipline is enforced by retaliation, not mediation or adjudication.

It’s sad that these people who come to Yours Truly have to lurk in the shadows. Though it is true that various jurisdictions have tribunals which can adjudicate disturbances and accusations of malfeasance, the reality is quite the opposite. Where they do exist, these are invariably little more than hastily thrown-together star chambers often outfitted with men who themselves are guilty of transgressions. (Plug into the archive the names Fr Vasile Susan, Metropolitan Jonah, Bp Basil Radzianko, and you will see what I mean.)

Let’s look at this from another angle: if Monomakhos had had a strict policy of mandatory signature, would the general public have known about the various controversies and scandals that have come to the fore recently? Would the people of God have known about bishops who text unmarried females, hack the computers of priests, or resist arrest when pulled over for drunken driving? Would they have known about priests writing checks to bishops out of trust funds? What about the deep and long-standing coup orchestrated against Metropolitan Jonah by well-connected laymen who were aided and abetted by bishops and priests? What about the fact that two bishops involved in a child-trafficking scandal were spirited out of the country in order to escape justice? And so on.

I think not.

Therefore upon much reflection (some of it prayerful), we will continue to operate this site on the same principles as before. After all, if I demanded names, what guarantee could I give that they were real names and not pseudonyms? None. That would be impossible and I don’t have the time or the resources to investigate the IP addresses every Tom, Dick, and Harry. Moreover, the mischief would multiply: someone who has a beef against Bob Smith could very well write the most inflammatory post and sign it “Bob Smith.” If anonymity was good enough for Pseudo-Dionysius and Publius, it’s good enough for Monomakhos.

That being said, my prayer is that the Holy Spirit take control of His Church and that the scandals are behind us. Normalcy is salutary for the salvation of weak people (such as myself). Scandal drives good people from the Ark of Salvation. But if our leaders choose to ignore the path of repentance and continue as before, then –Good Lord willin’ and the crik don’t rise–Monomakhos will continue to do its job.

Happy New Year!


  1. Clearly off topic, but rather important on the ongoing Primacy issue:

    The Russians on December 27, 2013:

    The Phanar shoots back on January 7, 2014:

    Compare. Contrast. Explain.

    • Isa Almisry says

      “Compare. Contrast. Explain.”
      Moscow and Orthodoxy is right, the Phanar and Ultramarism is wrong.

      Any questions?

      • George Michalopulos says

        Isa, I appreciate your distinct way with words. I think you actually hit the nail right on the head.

      • Isa Almisry says

        Unfortunately, the Phanar leaves no doubt to which one can attach any benefit. Instead of keeping silent that it has no case, it makes statements such as the EP did on New Years in Czech/Slovakia, and the statement of the Metropolitan of Bursa posted on the Patriarchates website for Russian Christmas, and proves that it has no case.

        They aren’t even arguing legal fiction-they have gone beyond to canonical fantasy, and ignored facts not for debate.

        • Protopappas says

          Umm, what it left on “Russian” Christmas (gag…lest we forget the other Old Calendar people, such as Ukrainian, Belorusyn, Serbian, etc.) was in response to what Moscow left on Constantinopolitan Christmas. Both statements had factual inaccuracies, and if you say they didn’t, that demonstrates that all of us should write you off on this subject from now on, since you can be proven WRONG.

    • William Harrington says

      the second link leads to a no such document announcement.

    • Alexander,

      I posted this under a couple of other headings here but I didn’t comment much because I didn’t know if George was going to do an article or just wanted to leave it alone. It’s a bit controversial of course.

      I mulled it over in my mind the other night. My initial impressions were that I did not find anything wrong with the statement from the Russian synod and that I didn’t really understand where Metropolitan Elpidophoros was coming from. The whole thing revolves around the Ravenna statement of the joint Orthodox-Catholic commission.

      The question seems to be, underneath all the ecclesio-speak, whether universal primacy is defined or even created by canon law or, alternatively, whether it has an inherent life of its own which canon law, the councils and the diptychs only document or elaborate upon. Is primacy an expedient for the benefit of the Church (i.e., we need order so this is how we’re going to do it) or a doctrinal issue that goes to the essence of the faith? Part of the issue is whether the functions of primacy at the local and regional level transfer to the universal level.

      This all has relevancy because Moscow would prefer that the primacy of honor due the Phanar be construed as extending no further, or little further, than the explicit contours of canon law. The Phanar would prefer that its own appreciation of Orthodox history be the guide as to what the Tradition says as to primacy. The Phanar wants its perceived prerogatives under canon 28, the right to hear appeals, the exclusive right to grant or revoke autocephaly, etc. This latest one, revocation of autocephaly, is a new one I hadn’t heard before but is included in Met. Elpidophoros’ response.

      Same old, same old. Sometimes i think that Moscow just enjoys jerking the Phanar’s chain from time to time.

      One note: the title of the MP synod’s position statement is slightly mistranslated from the Russian. As Metropolitan Elpidophoros notes, the title speaks of the “problem” of primacy. In actuality, the Russian word “вопрос” used in the statement usually means “question”, which works better in this context. If I were to say in Russian, “I have a question”, I would use this word. If it were a problem in the sense of a difficulty to be overcome, the word would be “проблема”.

      To boil it all down, the question/issue seems to be: Is universal primacy in the Orthodox Church an administrative expedient and symbol of unity, a creature of canonical discipline, or a dogmatic principle; and what authority should be attached to it, if any.

      Seems to me if it is based on canon law, canon law governs it. If it is asserted to be a matter of Holy Tradition, it would need to be subjected to the same standard as everything else that is so asserted, namely, the Vincentian canon.

      So, does the Phanar’s interpretation jibe with what has “always been believed everywhere by everyone?” I, for one, would like to hear more on that.

      • Isa Almisry says

        “Is universal primacy in the Orthodox Church an administrative expedient and symbol of unity, a creature of canonical discipline, or a dogmatic principle; and what authority should be attached to it, if any.”

        The answer for the Phanar must state it as a creature of canonical discipline, as the status of Constantinople comes as a creature of the canons: unlike Old Rome (and Alexandria, Antioch, and in their own way Jerusalem and Cyrpus), Constantinople did not arise as a see with Apostolic authority. “The Eternal canons” cannot make dogmatic statements for Patriarchates that did not exist even at the time of the First Ecumenical Council.

    • Thanks for the MP and EP statements says

      The Eumenical Patriarch has an entry page for the document

      choose your favorite language and click

      • Isa Almisry says

        They put it up in Ukrainian-something I don’t think I’ve seen before. The Phanar must be real hell bent on poking the Bear in the eye.

        • CountryGent says

          Perhaps the Patriarchate of Moscow should publish their statements in Turkish…after all, by law, the Patriarch of Istanbul, I mean Constantinople, must be a Turkish citizen

          • Protopappas says

            A bit bigoted are you CountryGent? Since MLK was recently, are Turkish citizens only 2/3 Orthodox in your mind?

        • Protopappas says

          Isa, I love you, I really do. Over the years on different forums, I really have come to believe that you want the right thing. However, I also believe that you are on the wrong side for what you want. How can you claim on one forum to be “Antiochian…etc.” but at the same time beat the drum for the OCA? I love the OCA too. But not its claims. Patriarch John is thusfar a disappointment. How can he sever ties with the rest of Orthodoxy in “unsettled” lands over Qatar? There are other ways to settle that dispute.

  2. In trying to discuss the Met Jonah situation with two clergy I encountered what I call ‘ the party line’ and fear. And I am reminded of the words of St Paul : We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:12-13

    I think that what God is showing us in this blog is how we ought to pray. It is not enough to bring actions to the light and make comments, we must learn to pray through the messes of life.

    • Jackson Downs says

      Dear Jeff,

      I have also experienced a sort of “party line” from clergy in the Metropolitan Jonah situation, but it seems to me to be more about protecting the OCA from implosion rather than condoning everything that happened to him. What are the priests supposed to say – that our bishops are almost all unpredictable when it comes to the homosexual agenda, and that they trumped up some charges against a Metropolitan that clearly needed a little bit of support and guidance in his office?

      I am concerned with more and more OCA clergy and influential laity openly coming out as gay, and either (1) leaving their vocations to becoming activists in a Protestant church or, worse, (2) leaving their tonsures or vocations to become lay homosexual activists in gay-friendly Orthodox Churches.

      Included in this group are Fr. Aaron Oliver of Nevada, who abandoned his priesthood this past year to live with a man and join the Episcopal Church as a priest-spokesperson against the repressive and oppressive witness of the Orthodox Church, and Fr. Killian “Christopher” Sprecher, a monk of the schema formerly of St. John’s Monastery in Manton and a spiritual child of Metropolitan Jonah. Fr. Killian married a man this past New Year’s Eve, without even first having the decency to request removal of his priesthood or his schema (which can’t be removed anyway). The man he married is, of course, a former seminarian at St. Vladimir’s.

      The world is going mad, and, at least for the Orthodox world, the OCA is leading the charge. Last week the OCA joined ACPE as a “member denomination.” There does not exist another member of the COMISS (Coalition of Ministry in Specialized Settings) more radical in its embrace of the LGBTQA movement. And who is leading the OCA charge for this? The Dean of St. Tikhon’s. Lord, have mercy on our Church.

      • Jackson,

        Thanks for not hiding the names of the sodomists involved. If they are loud and proud, might as well be forthright and avoid the confusion that comes with oblique and opaque references.

        • Fr. Aaron Oliver says

          Dear Jackson,

          I was not aware that I lived with or married a man, nor that was any kind of spokesman against the Orthodox Church. I intend to support the Orthodox Church and my alma mater as much as I possibly can, even though my priesthood is now exercised in the Episcopal Church. Be assured that I did not leave my vocation and your reasons for me leaving the Church are not qutie accurate. I hope to “speak out” if that is called for.

          In Christ,


          • Dn Gregory Conley says

            I don’t know you. I don’t know if you are a homosexual actor or not. But, you did leave your vocation. The priesthood of the Orthodox Church is not equivalent to the “priesthood” of the Episcopals. Your intent to support the Orthodox Church is meaningless. It is the Church which supports us and would support you had you not forsaken it. I do not know if you rejected the moral teaching of the Church or the dogmatic teaching or both. But reject it you did, and in so doing you have forsaken the priesthood of the Church.
            Dn. Gregory Conley

      • Nathaniel B says

        Fr. Aaron Oliver wrote on his blog about being profoundly influenced by the suicide of Eric Iliff, a gay SVOTS seminarian: Memory Eternal, Eric Iliff (See Eric Iliff’s lawsuit against the OCA: Lawsuit against OCA/SVOTS. The lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice because of Eric’s suicide, but SVOTS’ Professor of Pastoral Theology was let go due to the allegations.

        There are stories that have been shared on this blog and on other sites by very brave people who have talked about the darkness they’ve experienced within a couple of the seminaries here in America, at the hands of top clergy. They were silenced through bullying and with threats (such as Eric). Now we are faced with stories about homosexual behavior occurring more frequently at SVOTS–Fr. Aaron marrying another man, Fr. Killian marrying another man, the respected Fr. Tkachuk praying that the Lord will crown them, and Fr. Gianulis (an OCA military chaplain) approving as well…

        Some suggest the seminaries have been the centers of liberal-minded theologians and activists for quite a long time, and that these latest events are the result. It reminds me of what has happened in our country’s institutions of higher education: a calculated movement towards extreme liberalism, which has altered the course of our country forever. Has this also occurred within America’s Orthodox seminaries? I could be totally wrong, but it appears as if the evidence is pointing towards an answer. It is worth a discussion. It is also worth intense, heartfelt prayer for all involved.

        However, folks, let’s get real. The problem is not just newly-ordained clergy and seminary students marrying other men, or the congratulations given to those marriages by older respected clergy. Do you recall reading Rod Dreher’s account of Metropolitan Jonah sending correspondence to Archbishop Nikon, requesting that Archbishop Nikon remove an openly gay archpriest from serving? Nikon flatly refused. This problem exists at the top. That is what makes it so insidious.

        • Fr. Aaron Oliver says


          Thank you for plugging my blog! Please also provide the name of the man I married.

          In Christ,


  3. Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

    What do you think about Archimandrite David Mahaffey? He will be consecrated as Bishop of Sitka and Alaska, on February 21st, and will close one of the vacancies that arose. We’ll just have to wait for bishops to arise for Eastern Pennsylvania, Chicago,and the South. Weird that there is no news for elections for Bishops for the other vacant sees.

    • Archimandrite Mahaffey is a nice guy. But I’m leery of someone who really wants to be in a top leadership position and seeks it out like he did. He was okay as head of the Philadelphia Deanery. He’d say he backed you up with the bishop, but then when he was with the bishop visiting your parish, he dropped his support of you/your parish if it seemed to go against the grain.

      I wish him well and wish him many blessed years.

      • even if Jesus Christ himself became a bishop here i bet people on this site will find fault with him

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

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

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

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

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

    This all stinks to high heaven.

    • Дед Моро́з says


      I believe that those at the EPA Special Assembly can vote “NO” to the underhanded, disobedient, email stealing Bishop Mark and thereby send him packing. Of course if they impose an open and not secret ballot, it might be a bit more difficult to send this man away and save the Diocese of EPA.

      Remember, he is the man who worked with Mark Stokoe by feeding him clandestine information about Metropolitan Philip in an act of total disobedience to his Metropolitan. Then when Metropolitan Philip attempted to move him out of the Toledo Diocese and to a new diocese he refused. Another act of disobedience. Then he started to shop himself to other Orthodox Churches and very sadly the OCA took him in where he proceeded to cause total havoc in the Diocese of the South, bringing in a priest as his assistant with the plan to make him the dean of St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas, who later had an adulterous affair and was defrocked, suspended clergy even though he had no right to do so as the Diocesan Administrator, and of course secretly read the email from the personal email account, not the official diocesan email account, of the former DOS Chancellor for months, fed them secretly to Mark Stokoe who then published them in a smear campaign, and then tried to say that he had done nothing wrong. And as his final insult he was a strong supporter for removing +Jonah, the same man who extended the hand of kindness to him.

      So, one has to ask the question, is this the best the OCA can offer the Diocese of EPA? Has the OCA sunk to such a level that they think this man is worthy to be a diocesan bishop? The South didn’t want him, the Antiochian Archdiocese didn’t want him, so now the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania?

      I would say to the clergy and faithful of the EPA, VOTE “NO” to Mark Maymon. He is not worthy, he is not an icon of a good steward of the Office of the Bishop. He should be removed as the diocesan administrator.

      Stand up for the hard work you do, the sacrifices you have made and still make. Don’t let this interloper sneak in as your bishop. You are not alone, there are many clergy and laity in your diocese who don’t want him. Vote “NO” to Maymon.

      • Дед Моро́з, may God grant the clergy of Eastern PA the courage, faith and strength to do what is right for their Diocese and vote “NO”.

        Thank you for what you posted.

        • Дед Моро́з says


          This back door attempt by the OCA Synod to foist Bishop Maymon on the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania should be an article and tread of its own. This is too important a topic for the good clergy and laity of this diocese. It is wrong for Bishop Maymon to be campaigning for his own election under the guise of a diocesan administrator, an administrator who has no history with the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania except for his placement there by the Synod, a Synod who is now telling the diocese that Bishop Maymon is your only choice.

          As Philippa said, “This all stinks to high heaven.”

    • Nathaniel B says

      Why are you surprised at any of this? Haven’t you realized by now that this is how the OCA works? (Although I would love to see the list of 31 candidates and see who they excluded for Maymon.). Heracleides has some fabulous artwork featuring the soon-to-be Bishop.

      • Дед Моро́з says

        Nathaniel B.,

        This week Fr John Kowalczyk EPA’s Chancellor is doing the strong-arming tactics on clergy who are against Maymon and in some cases is not being too timid in his persuasion. Now we have not only open campaigning by Maymon for the job but the Chancellor as his campaign manager.

        Where is the Holy Spirit in any of this? Have these men lost their souls and are blinded by position and power? If Maymon the Carpetbagger is “nominated” by the diocese it will be a bitter and sad day for our people. What knowledge does Bishop Mark have with our people? Of our traditions and long-held customs?

        A convert from Oral Roberts University, kicked out for disobedience to Metropolitan Philip and worked against Metropolitan Jonah who saved him, a thief of emails is now worthy to be the Bishop of Philadelphia and oversee the life of St. Tikhon’s Seminary? Is this the example we want for young seminarians?

        Vote “NO” to Maymon then ask for Kowalczyk’s resignation as Chancellor. Put an end to this shameful display of campaigning. Let it never be rewarded.

  5. Michae lKinsey says

    Eternal life is a gift., in which all who have sinned are unworthy of, Eternal life is God’s command, let us imagine the power of this dictate. It will be accomplished.. What is offered is a goodness, with a power beyond our imagination, of which many have had a taste. I desire to see it be shared to all mankind, as does the Only Holy One. None are excluded of mankind, but it does require Faith of us.
    It seems to me, that those who have this Faith, in each individual way, seeks to obey God’s command who post on this blog. There are also the faithless, who seek to hinder. By their works and fruits, ye shall know them, is how the Christ instructed us to discern between the two. Does anyone not know when they are being treated well or being abused? Hardly none.
    Those who seek to hinder, will not close down their shop, it is al they have got. Selling aternal apples and anthropoid hate< and pressed rat"s collection of dog legs and feet

    • Pere LaChaise says

      Nice Jack Bruce/Cream quote there Mike. I wondered what he meant in that curious song. Can you contextualize “Tales of brave Ulysses” or, perhaps decode “SWALBR”? LHOOQ?

  6. M. Jonah Sermons says

    a little Nativity present available at

  7. Call for Papers and Participation says

    Call for Papers: Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution

    Conference: August 7-8, 2014 at the University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PEI, Canada

    In recent years, there have been numerous attempts worldwide to limit women’s access to safe abortion. In 2012, an anti- abortion bill in the Canadian parliament that purportedly aimed to open a discussion on “when life begins” was interpreted as an attack on abortion rights and was defeated by Members of Parliament in a vote of 203 to 91. In Ireland that same year, Savita Halappanavar was denied an abortion, even though she was miscarrying the fetus. Her subsequent death sparked international outrage and renewed calls to relax abortion restrictions in that country.

    In Texas in 2013, despite an inspiring eleven-hour filibuster by Senator Wendy Davis, Democrats ultimately failed to block stringent new restrictions on abortion availability in that state. Meanwhile, the Mexico City Policy continues to affect the abortion experiences of women throughout the world. Thus, in spite of the many gains that have been made in women’s rights since the mid-twentieth century, reproductive autonomy continues to elude women in many countries around the world.

    Even in Canada, where there is no federal abortion law and abortion is regulated like any other medical procedure, there is tremendous disparity in access to abortion services across the country. For example, Prince Edward Island is touted by the Canadian anti-abortion movement as being a “life sanctuary” since it eliminated access to safe surgical abortions in 1986, a point that was a focus of that movement’s national conference in 2013.

    Attendees are invited to PEI to reflect on the status of abortion internationally.

    This interdisciplinary conference invites proposals on all aspects of abortion. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

    -Abortion rights activism and reproductive justice
    -Barriers to abortion access
    -Lived experiences of abortion
    -Shifting (historical/political) meanings of abortion
    -The place of women in abortion politics/history
    -Historical constructions of the fetus
    -The role of the state in abortion politics
    – The role of the medical profession in abortion politics
    -The influence of medical advancements on abortion politics/
    -Abortion and sexuality
    -Abortion in the classroom: pedagogy and politics

    Those interested in presenting should submit a 250-word abstract, along with a one-page CV, to the conference organizers at: Panel presentations will also be accepted. Proposals are due by January 31, 2014. Attendees invited to present will be notified no later than February 15, 2014.

    Conference organizers:

    Dr. Colleen MacQuarrie
    University of Prince Edward Island

    Dr. Tracy Penny Light
    University of Waterloo

    Dr. Shannon Stettner
    York University

    • Also from Canada says
    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

      Thanks for posting the call for papers for that “interdisciplinary” conference. Hmm: I wonder whether “moral theology” will be included among the scholarly disciplines.

      This particular “topic” sounds intriguing (and quite revealing): “-Historical constructions of the fetus.” Most probably that session will entail an exploration of ways to “deconstruct” the “fetus,” while the “scholars” also congratulate themselves for the myriad ways they have supported the destruction of the preborn child.

    • There’s no such thing as a safe abortion. The purpose of an abortion is to kill, to end a life . That’s as far from safe as you can get. Do you also advocate safe war, safe capital punishment, and safe suicide?

    • Wow, didn’t expect to see an open commercial for the murder of babies. North Korea would also like to hear academic papers on how steamrolling over the heads of Christians might adversely affect the quality of the underlying asphalt.

  8. George Michalopulos says

    BTW, the quotation comes from Jeremiah 50:2.

  9. Archbishop Lazar Christmas Message says