Another OCA Tipping Point?

oca-burning – Now that the new leadership of the OCA is firmly entrenched it is sad to report that the paltriness of the Enthronement of the latest First Hierarch, Archbishop Tikhon Mollard of Philadelphia, was pretty much a bust (as has been reported on this site already). In many ways, this was inevitable given the self-inflicted wounds of the last seven months. It’s a microcosm of what the OCA has become. Basically it was a moribund institution going through the motions.

A brief recap. As is known, Syosset engaged a DC hotel with a block of rooms and a ballroom size similar to previous enthronements. They booked a banquet room for 500 and enough rooms in anticipation of a similar turnout. However within a few weeks they realized that this particular enthronement would not be like the last two. Because the response to the festivities was so flat they were forced to ask for a smaller meeting room for the banquet; not 500 but 150, and they had to inform the hotel that they would not need nearly as many rooms as they first planned.

If that wasn’t bad enough it looks like the new OCA leadership had to beg people to attend the banquet by giving tickets away. Of the 140 people who attended, only 60 tickets had actually been sold. The rest were complimentary. The smaller room was filled but the only at great cost to Syosset. And there is more bad news.

Besides the OCA, only one bishop from oversees was present, a bishop representing the Georgian Orthodox Church. He didn’t need a hotel room because he was staying at St. Nina’s Monastery (the monastery of “the DC nuns”) –a not so subtle message to Syosset. As for the American jurisdictions, the Antiochian Archdiocese sent their most junior bishop, not Metropolitan Philip. ROCOR sent Bishop George of Mayfield (another ironic choice) and the MP jurisdiction sent Archbishop Justinian. The Serbs sent a priest and the Greeks, the Carpatho-Russians(!), and the Ukrainians sent no one.

Here is another sad reality, not one former OCA Metropolitan was invited nor any of the retired bishops who still comprise of the OCA episcopate. An enormous mistake in protocol.

In the final analysis this was nothing more than a little in-house gathering, choreographed and recorded in such a way as to mitigate the cloud of illegitimacy that hung over the entire affair. As mentioned in other reports, When Metropolitan Herman was installed in 2002 EVERY Orthodox Church in the world was represented with bishops or high level representatives, even Constantinople! Even the legal incumbent’s enthronement had near-universal representation from here and abroad. Then the OCA was a Church to be seen with, today, not so much.

All of this goes to the point that the actions of the new OCA leadership in the treatment of her Metropolitans has not been lost on Orthodox here in North America or around the world. Once respected, the OCA has been reduced to a Church that few want to be associated with. Those who have preached for years that the OCA can do whatever it wants, however it wants, whenever it wants, and it doesn’t matter what others think now have their answer –others don’t like what the OCA has become.

So, the OCA is now an isolated Church at best and given only a formal toleration by Moscow.

That the OCA had been reduced to an embarrassing afterthought (or a “little Church” has been noted by John Jillions, its Chancellor) is now obvious. Sadly, from the point of view of the Syosset Apparat, this is not a bad thing. Those now in charge have it the way want it, believe it or not. I guess it’s better to be a big fish in a little pond than a little fish in a big pond –even if that pond is drying up. This is a sad starting point as we go forward, wounded and dealing with the reality of a dwindling membership and less funding; a jurisdiction speaking to few outside their little population, and more grievously, offering nothing to the other jurisdictions in way of American ecclesial governance. How sad and how high the price for the “new” OCA.

As for the new Primate himself, it appears that he will gladly accept the administrative shackles placed upon him by the Revered Protopresbyterians who run Syosset. Unlike the legitimate Metropolitan whose vision and charisma made him chafe whilst wearing them, Tikhon has the soul of a bureaucrat. Not a bad man to be sure but if the speeches and sermons he gave over the inaugural weekend are any indication, he very much exemplifies the dearth of vision in the OCA. It could be said that the man has met his moment. Unfortunately, as can be gleaned from the seating arrangements and the graceless and hateful remarks of Frs Tosi and Kishkovsky respectively, the moment is a mediocre one, therefore the man must be one as well. Those who have spoken privately with him describe him as “nice” but “befuddled.” Like the OCA in general, he is flailing about, uncertain about what to do. What the OCA needed was a bold visionary, one who could weather the upcoming storms and guarantee the OCA the five years of normalcy (at least) that it needs in order to regain its footing. So why not go with a visionary? A bold man? Why not be audacious? Because there was only one man who fit that bill, and he was thrown out. All the rest had impediments of one sort or another. Tikhon was literally the last man standing. And anyway, the bishops don’t run the show.

There are other indications that Syosset cannot make sense of the future and recalibrate its downward trajectory. A hallmark of this failure is the OCA’s continued isolation. The recent visit by Archbishop Justinian to the OCA Chancery was not a happy gathering. Sources close to Syosset report that the meeting of the Moscow Patriarchate’s representative in the USA, as Jillions said in his January 23 Diary, was “congenial, informal, candid and wide-ranging.” The candid part was clear and unambiguous: Moscow continues to reject the manner in which Metropolitan was “retired” and the way he is now being treated. This continues to be the consistent and unchanging message delivered to Bishop Alexander Golitzyn of the OCA and Fr Leonid Kishkovsky by Patriarch Kirill in the Ukraine last year (Al and Lefty’s Excellent Adventure). They were told then and they were told again by Archbishop Justinian that Metropolitan Jonah must be treated with respect as befitting his primatial dignity.

Now the issue is squarely on the plate of the OCA Synod. They met on January 28 to discuss the “candid” remarks by the OCA’s Mother Church. They continue to shackle Jonah. Relations between the OCA and her biggest supporter (so far), the Russian Orthodox Church, will continue to decline and possibly set in motion an intervention by the Russian Church.

Other, internal indications do not bode well for the future. The Diocese of the South has been without a bishop for almost three years now. It’s floundering in ways that would have been unimaginable during the reign of Dmitri Royster, even in his last, declining years. Same story with Alaska. The Diocese of the Midwest is in some kind of episcopal limbo. Rumblings coming from the Albanian exarchate are not irenic and the Romanians continue to think aloud about pulling out of the OCA. It is uncertain whether the Diocese of Philadelphia will accept Bishop Mark Maymon as its head or if it will be merged with Pittsburgh. Even Pittsburgh is not without its concerns regarding the length of Bishop Melchisedek Pleska’s tenure. Will the Diocese of Boston continue after its present bishop retires? Canada continues to be without an archbishop. One OCA priest told me that as long as these dioceses remain vacant, it is not impossible to imagine the GOA putting its foot down and subtly instructing the OCA that there is no need for “superfluous” bishops in cities that already have metropolitans. Metropolitan Methodius of Boston was the first to proclaim this prerogative some five years ago when he forbade all priests in his diocese from having anything to do with the OCA upon the election of Nikon Lalion as the OCA’s bishop there. This embargo stands to this day. (Indeed one correspondent told me that another bishop from another jurisdiction told his priests that they are to have as little to do with OCA priests as possible.)

Under these conditions, even two years of normalcy seem a lot to ask. Regardless, the present matter is more urgent. Will Syosset continue to treat Jonah in a disrespectful way against the wishes of our Mother Church or will they cut their losses and let him go? Their decision will have far-reaching repercussions. Is the present regime up to the task? Is ROCOR up to the task? If not, then the OCA is clearly at another “tipping point.”


  1. Jonathan Johnston says

    Another post of trying to make something out of nothing. This seems to be what people can expect here. Still harping on + Jonah along with casting doubt upon the OCA while trying to elevate ROCOR. Basically, what a crock. Innuendo after innuendo; disinformation after more disinformation; creating issues where no issues exist. George, maybe it’s time to shut this site down. You certainly don’t try to present the truth nor any objectivity.

    • Also Anonymous says

      The fact that there was almost no representation from other Orthodox Churches is a fact, and a rather telling and scary one.

      • Jane Rachel says

        And the fact is that much of the so called “innuendo” and “disinformation” is in fact testimony from people who use their real names, including bishops, priests, deacons and lay people. If you have information that will serve to refute these claims, please share it. We want to know the truth.

        • Pere LaChaise says

          OK, I’ll give you some actual facts. Neither the MP nor ROCOR now wants to take on Metr. Jonah; Patr. Kyill has expressed desire for the OCA to ‘come back to the mother church’ since he was head of external affairs, decades ago. Metr. Jonah was given the red carpet treatment in Moscow in order to impress on him how well it would go if the OCA’s Tomos of Autocephaly was rescinded and a new regime of ‘maximal autonomy’ engaged. You can now see in the example of ROCOR’s new status that there is no autonomy under Moscow.
          Metr. Jonah was willing to place the OCA under the MP, regardless of what his fellow Bishops on the Holy Synod wanted; he did not consult with them and this more than anything made his rule untenable.
          Bishops of the EC are shunning the OCA for several reasons; one, that the OCA’s continued existence annoys them; two, that they want to ‘deliver’ the OCA to Moscow to comfit them. If the OCA were ‘returned to normalcy’ under the MP, then the balkanization/recolonization of North American Orthodox churches would be complete, with no prospect for any autocephalous jurisdiction arising, ever. This is the goal now of both Moscow and Istanbul.
          These are the facts, not vague conjecture.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            That really makes no sense. Even if Jonah himself wasn’t an “autocephalist-uber-alles“, the ROC was always committed to maintaining the fiction of the OCA’s autocephaly.

          • This is fallacious on so many levels. The deadly half truth . . . . One +Jonah never made ANY moves to have the OCA become autonomous. He raised the question and wanted discussion. Why, so the OCA could be recognised, so it could have a say in the Great Council-whenever that will happen, so it would be valid, so it would have a future. As of now, I don’t think the OCA has a future. Right now, it does not look good. This ridiculous fight brought to the world by a certain person on the MC with a grudge (conflict of interest!), Bishops and individual players like Kishkovsky, Garklav and the rest have made a mockery of Orthodoxy! Grown ups keep it quite! As +Jonah has done the whole time-THAT World attention is what the MP is afraid of and why they want +Jonah to stay OCA! (for the time being). And yes-I believe the MP would resend the Tomos if they could and join ROCOR and the MP churches together to put it there instead. I don’t think one can resend a Tomos though . . . .
            Your last paragraph “the EC is shunning the OCA for many reasons”-yep they are, but not for what you say. . . This is conjecture not facts. The OCA days are past. It was an experiment that did not work. I don’t think anyone will be taking them back, they will fade away. We now need to look at a different plan for the Americas. On a good note-I hear there was a good meeting with the Council of Bishops recently. . . . that is where we need to look.

            • Maximal autonomy says

              collette says: “One +Jonah never made ANY moves to have the OCA become autonomous. He raised the question and wanted discussion.”

              Raising the question and wanting discussion IS a move. Same with the normalization of homosexuality (Arida, Leonova, et al). Works both ways.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Even so, Jonah had to say those words in order to get the OCA into the Episcopal Assembly. I don’t think you and other critics of Jonah understood the difficulty that the OCA has long presented to united American Orthodoxy. Even if we admit that the EA process was simply a ruse by the Phanar to augment its hold over North America (and I do) the fact remains that the EA process is what we make it out to be. It can be for good or ill. Regardless, the OCA is now on the inside looking out thanks to Jonah and his skillful politesse in this matter. What we do with it (of if even if the OCA is salvageable at this point) is another matter entirely.

                • Maximal autonomy says

                  George says: “Even so”

                  Thus my point is conceded.

                  George says: “Jonah had to say those words in order to get the OCA into the Episcopal Assembly.”


                  George says: “I don’t think you and other critics of Jonah understood the difficulty that the OCA has long presented to united American Orthodoxy.”

                  Critic of Jonah? My family, not to mention our friends, inquirers, twelve souls in all, left the OCA because of the way they treated Jonah, among other Unchristian actions. I simply drew attention to the logical inconsistency of Collette’s claim. Fair is fair.

                  George says: “even if the OCA is salvageable at this point”

                  It isn’t. Run. Pull the plug. Just because the MP granted autocephaly in 1970 doesn’t mean that the MP has to recognize the current OCA as a legitimate Orthodox Church today. Find a point in history when the OCA violated the canons, +Kirill, and declare the whole kit and caboodle non-canonical. That way, Moscow can save face, and we can drop the curtain on the whole sorry state of affairs.

              • Maximal says, “Raising the question and wanting discussion IS a move. Same with the normalization of homosexuality (Arida, Leonova, et al). Works both ways”.

                But it’s not both ways-They were communing practicing /married homosexuals in my church not just discussing it–quite different!
                You need to check your logic.

                • Maximal autonomy says

                  Chronology is irrelevant. First move or fifth move, a call for discussion is still a move.

                  • Discussion is not the problem, doing the “act” is (when it is sin) and all you can say with +Jonah is he brought up the discussion. You can’t declare anything more.
                    I wish I could say that was the case at my former Church in regards to homosexuality-and the Leovna blog-that it was just a discussion . . . no-that blog was about implementation. We tried to get the discussion going at Church, to include the whole Church, but any attempt was squashed by clergy and the Parish Council . . .

          • Michael Bauman says

            Pere, even if you are totally correct, so what. There is alot more to the Church than the chair moving of the EP and the MP.

            Apparently, once again, the Antiochians are not even considered. I can tell you for sure that in my diocese, there is no foreign rule. We do what we need to do and by the grace of God our efforts bear fruit.

            You may not like pews, converts, translations and Arabs, but Rhett Butler’s final line in Gone with the Wind comes to mind.

          • Priest Peter says

            I am a ROCOR priest. As far as autonomy, we only need the MP nod for bishops-elect. There has never been an issue. Thank God for the reunification.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Thank you for the opportunity to reiterate what Monomakhos is about: politics, religion, and culture, from a traditionalist, conservative, and quasi-libertarian (i.e. classical liberalism) point of view. Ain’t going nowhere. However, as I predicted late last year, it’s very much within the realm of possibility that we won’t be writing a lot about the OCA, for the same reasons that we hardly mention the other mostly lethargic jurisdictions.

      • In other words ... says

        The OCA didn’t pan out as a convenient vehicle for you pre-existing, non-church related political and social agenda, so you you’re losing interest.

        Good to know.

        Go in peace.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          I have been in the OCA for 10 years now and have had the same socio-political views since before then. Although Leonova’s Coven has succeeded in establishing libertine beachheads in the Cathedrals of Boston and Washington, you will soon see that the OCA won’t be a “convenient vehicle for your pre-existing, non-church related political and social agenda” either. Why? Because the any ecclesial body that conforms itself to the world will inevitably implode.

          If you haven’t figured it out yet, we Greeks are a pretty defiant bunch.

          • But why are priest allowing these things to grow and fester in their parishes. They should be suspended and defrocked George.

    • Man what have you been smoking. The OCA, that is the Tikhon, Tossi, and Jello dog and pony show is through.

      You have bishops that are beholding to liberal gay-loving priests. A gay theology creeping out of the Boston church, a drunk in California as ruling bishop, a puppet Metropolitan that has supplanted the legit, sex abuse all over the damn place, and world Orthodoxy running away as fast as it can?! Gimmie a break!

      • This is true. Other Jurisdictions are pulling away from the OCA in very quite but definite ways . . . .

    • Disgusted With It says


      “Innuendo after innuendo; disinformation after more disinformation; creating issues where no issues exist.”

      Can you give specific examples to what you refer?

  2. OK, here’s another practical tmatt question, for voices on both sides in this fight.

    Please name three reasons why Russian Orthodox Church officials have not been more specific in their statements and actions.

    I mean, other than the fact that Byzantine politics can be rather byzantine.

    • My question is sincere.

      • tmatt,

        You must be rather new to the Orthodox Church?

        And why three reasons?

        Surely, one valid one would suffice?

        The Russian Orthodox Church simply does not air its dirty laundry in public if it can at all be avoided. As simple as that. Russians are not Americans. Even Russian-Americans are not Americans! (No offence intended to Russian-Americans.) I’m not suggesting this inclination to keep church affairs ‘in petto’ is always virtuous – it can undoubtedly contribute to misdemeanours and corruption going undetected and unaccounted for – but it’s just the way it is. Most Russians, whether in the motherland or the diaspora, just accept it. To the extent that the OCA has committed itself to more ‘openness’, it represents the victory of Americanisation over its Russian root culture.

        • ok, but there is a “battle going on between the MP and EP and the OCA’s success is very important to the MP. They want us to get it together here ourselves, although from what I’ve heard lately the MP may be making other long term arrangements. . . .

          • I recall the ROC’s push back over the years against the EP’s novel use of Canon 28. It would be very difficult for the ROC to pull back from her earlier stance, especially because of the existence of the Assemblies of Canonical Bishops that are controlled everywhere by EP exarchs. The OCA is an important cog in the wheel in that fight. However, the ROC could decide to sacrifice the OCA in return for a clear shot at Ukraine, for example. May be that was the direction that could have been facilitated with “maximal autonomy.”

          • Pere LaChaise says

            Patr. Kyrill has long openly expressed his desire for the OCA to be part of the MP. That’s a fact. The MP is not betting on the OCA – they were betting on Jonah delivering it to them. Now they are helping to undermine the OCA because their takeover was foiled by OCA’s Synod.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Not that I want to dispute you, but where did you get this fact?

            • Also Anonymous says

              *citation needed*

            • Now that’s new twist.

            • Such a twist by Pere sounds like the stuff that would whip a Synod and Syosset into actions to get rid of +Jonah. Of course none of it is true, but as we now know, truth was in short supply in the +Jonah coup.

              +Jonah did make mistakes but nothing that should have risen to the level of him being kicked out. What a great example the OCA bishops have presented to the rest of the Church. No co-suffering, no bearing one another’s burdens. No patience and forgiveness, “even unto 70 times 7”. Doesn’t bode well for those young seminarians who if they make a mistake can expect to be treated with the same measure of charity and compassion.

              That is what the Orthodox world is objecting to and why the OCA is not even a bit player any longer. May God be praised that there are still good clergy and faithful in the OCA, the Diocese of the South still trying to do God’s will in evangelism. I pray they will not be too tainted by the ambition and hardheartedness of their Synod and Syosset leaders.

      • And continues to draw silence. Is this the heart of the matter?

        • Sean Richardson says

          I suspect the heart of the matter, beyond not wanting to make every item public, is that the MP gave autocephaly to the OCA and wants to see if succeed, not fail, because failure might reflect negatively on the MP. Secondly, anything that tweaks the EP is considered a good thing by the MP, and the OCA does indeed annoy the EP. Also, and thirdly, there are still more OCA churches (for the time being) than there are of all of the other Russian Orthodox churches, combined. For as much as this site rips and bashes the OCA (mostly justified to my way of thinking) the other Russian groups, past and present, have their issues as well.

          • Now ROCOR Was OCA says

            No Orthodox jurisdiction is perfect. It is not that the MP wants the OCA to fail but they also don’t want it to succeed. So, if they just let the OCA die a slow death, without giving them any help privately, while at the same time making nice to the OCA in public, the OCA will continue to drift into oblivion while Moscow gives its full support both public and private to ROCOR.

            In the end both the EP and the MP/ROCOR will be the winners in picking up the remnants of the OCA. This may take 10 years, 30 years, 50 years. Both the EP and MP don’t care about the timeline. In the meantime they will continue to grow here in North America while the OCA declines.

            I think that is the underlying message of “Another Tipping Point”

            • Carl Kraeff says

              Are you saying that Moscow has decided not to oppose EP’s interpretation of Canon 28 by using OCA’s autocephaly as a counterpoint? It looks like you are saying that Moscow will now fight Constantinople by competing for the converts, as well as the diaspora. If that is the case, I happen to think that the OCA may become competitive as well, at least in the South, by being a natural home for converts, while the EP and Moscow will continue to emphasize their Greek and Russian character. I am sure that they will continue to attract converts who are Grecophiles and Russophiles, as well as those who want to put as much distance as possible between their old religion and their new one. However, the unchurched in North America are so numerous that the OCA (and the Antiochians who also do not stress ethnicity) will grow if they continue to be mission-orientated.

              • Now ROCOR Was OCA says

                I believe my point was that neither the EP or MP/ROCOR are concerned about what the OCA does or does not do here in America. ROCOR is free to start as many new communitieswith the full support of the MP and therefore ignore in praxis the OCA “Autokephalie.”

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Carl, I’d like to believe you, as I am also in the DOS. But I must confess, that Syosset is doing everything in its power to make sure we won’t have a bishop for as long as possible. No diocese can long survive –much less thrive–under these conditions.

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  May be after they really messed up by electing +Jonah, they want to be ultra-cautious?

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Carl, even for you that’s egregious.

                  • Not only is that not true, it is a horrible thing to say.

                  • +Jonah was an answer for the OCA-the only one around and part of the reason they don’t want to let him go. +Tikhon even said +Jonah has many talents and we’d like to use him in the OCA. They see he has many followers and that people flock to see him-Orthodox or not. If they let him go they loose people. If they hang on, ROCOR can use him and OCA.

    • michael schnittke says

      There is one clear reason: ROC does not want to change any decisions it made during Soviet period.

      Being more specific would mean acknowledging that the Tomos of Autocephaly was a result of purely political decision made by Nixon and Brezhnev, and that no real Autocephaly of OCA developed as the result of it. That would mean the end of the recognition of OCA as an Autocephalous Church.

      However, this would open a posibility of a revision of other ROC decisions, declarations, etc made in the last 90 years. ROC is simply not yet ready for it. However, it’s just a matter of time.

      IMO, the election of Mitr. Jonah was a God given miracle that could lead to the real self-sufficient Orthodox Church in America. Now this chance is lost unless we see another miracle.

  3. George, you mentioned “the graceless and hateful remarks of Frs Tosi and Kishkovsky.” Can you elaborate?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Yes, I will highlight the comments posted yesterday on somebody else’s blog as soon as I get the time.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mitrich, please go to the commentator identified as “Enthronment Dinner.” His posting came from the blog of for a fuller account of the strange seating arrangments (in which priests were on the dais but bishops were on the floor) as well as the egregious and tactless remarks of Frs Tosi and Kishkovsky.

      • The url here is off by one letter. The correct url is:

        I would urge “Monomakhos” readers to take a look at this account by a very perceptive and articulate young man, in whom there is no evidence of anything other than trying to deliver a faithful account of the reports as he has received them.

        I have long observed that people often follow wrong and unsavory actions with thoughtless chatter and dumb jokes in a fruitless attempt to normalize what they have done. The tastelessness of the remarks, seating arrangement, etc. is further evidence of a bad conscience on the part of the participants.

        • Sean Richardson says

          I read the article and yes, found there is always something said, or implied, in how and where various people are seated. Having said that, however, within many contexts, individuals who are speaking would naturally be seated on the dias. Speakers would not be seated at a table on the floor, even if they were of lower rank or station than others. A good example of this is at some of the Washington diplomatic dinners where a non-political speaker might be seated at the head table while a senator or member of the cabinet who is not speaking would be seated at a table on the floor.

      • AndILoveHer says
  4. Also Anonymous says

    FWIW, Met. Tikhon was not the literal last man standing who didn’t have an impediment. There was also Bp. Michael.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I stand corrected. This also brings us to the curious development that Bp Michael was the hands-down majority winner of both electoral slates.

    • AndILoveHer says

      Not so. Bishop Michael, though he received the most votes, was embroiled in a controversy over his pulling the rug out from Fr Atty while he was sick and taking over St Tikhon’s, as well as St Tikhon’s conflict of interest in having their insurance agent as a member of their board.

      • Fr. George Washburn says

        Hello friends:

        Let’s unpack AndILoveHer’s (does this refer to the Church or someone specific?) comments about Bishop Michael for a minute, because I think they are more symptomatic of internet disease than any infirmity of Bishop Michael.

        First, as to Fr. Atty, we know that both men are strong-minded, able and well-meaning in the extreme. We also know that Bp. Michael had a much longer history with the OCA and St. Tikhon’s than Fr. Alexander – who was a very late-comer to an OCA institution after growing up and serving in the Antiochian Archdiocese all his life. And that the OCA is a hierarchical Church in which bishops and their wishes will always trump priests.

        Strong-minded men differ, as the Book of Acts records of some of St. Paul’s missionary band or even Sts. Peter v. Paul at Jerusalem. It doesn’t make you a bad guy because somebody nice, ethical and able doesn’t agree with you!!

        If Andy is gonna disqualify or besmirch anyone involved in controversy, and the internet spin-meister industry bids fair to do just that, then no bishop will ever qualify anymore because he will have always taken some position about someone or some issue that axe-grinders can exploit. Of course there are now and will be until people stop beating this particular horse – or its remains – differing opinions about who or what was best for the institution at any given time. To extrapolate from the existence of disagreement the fact that Bp. Michael had the worse of the argument – let alone that his position was so a-moral and insupportable as to disqualify him from consideration for higher office, is to invent and apply a totally unfair and unrealistic standard that nobody will ever be able to meet. Or with the possible exception, as some who criticize Met. Tikhon are mumbling in their beards or sleeves or other places, only someone who has avoided all controversy by not taking strong stands.

        Ditto re: the insurance man on the board. Based on my 33 years of forming and advising CA non-profit corporations I can state pretty definitively that it is completely uncommon, unrealistic, and unfair and unreasonable to saddle a non-lawyer member of the board such as Bishop Michael ex post facto with the task of having known and enforced state or institutional conflict rules.

        In fact NOBODY on this site or anywhere that I have read has EVER produced a single PA or seminary conflict rule that was supposedly violated by the insurance man, let alone by the Bishop. You, “ANDI….,” yes you, ought to be quiet until you produce such rules and explain for us the facts of how the insurance man violated them and the Bishop – as opposed to someone else on the Board (or its legal advisor) was both responsible and unfit for higher office because he didn’t!

        In my experience it is *extremely* common for board members to do business with non-profits they serve, and the usual question if the board member’s conduct is called into question is “Was the deal unfair to the non profit?” followed by “Was there full disclosure of the terms of the insurance deals to the board and administration? ”

        Until and unless AndI produce the rules themselves, the facts of violations by the insurance man, and the decisions or practices of the Board or of state that made the bishop morally culpable …as opposed to having overlooked an administrative detail that everyone else seems to have overlooked too!!!! …is AndI anything more than a gossip …with only rather stale wares to peddle?

        is it too much to ask these axe-grinders to operate by actual law, actual rules, actual evidence rather than innuendos? Or to ask the proprietor of this site not to publish any more of the innuendo until they come forward with explicit citations to RULES and FACTS? Apparently so. We are reminded daily, if not hourly, that Met. Jonah’s detractors were wrong for spinning stuff against him, but it is just fine for his supporters to do the same to others, isn’t it?


        Fr. George

        • George Michalopulos says

          For the record, Fr Atty has long had close ties with the OCA, and his parish in Louisville (St Michael’s which he built up) is one of the truly amazing success stories in Orthodox evangelism. He was a great choice to head St Tikhon’s.

          • Archpreist John W. Morris says

            Please pray for my long time friend Archpreist Alexander Atty. George is right Fr. Alexander’s Khoryie Olga is the daughter of an OCA Priest and Fr. Alexander went to St. Vladimir’s.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Fr. Atty – who was “David” when I knew him at SVS – is a special human being. He is kindness, warmth, and sincerity incarnate, and he was greatly respected by Fr. Alexander Schmemann for good reason. His wife, Olga, is the daughter of pious parent – Fr. John & Matushka Eugenia Nehrebecki, stalwarts of the OCA from its beginning & a “haven” for many of us who could not travel home – and is herself pious, educated, loving, and supportive. There is no question that Fr. Atty is a strong personality, but I have never known him to serve anything but the interest of righteousness. Jurisdiction & self-promotion are insignificant. I join Fr. John in praying for both God’s mercy and that His will be done.

  5. AndILoveHer says

    Several observations on Metropolitan Tikhon’s enthronement banquet
    from the blog of “Orthodox In the District”
    Posted on January 30, 2013

    I was not present at this banquet for many reasons, the simplest being that I had a lot of homework to do this past weekend. Several friends who attended asked if I wanted a ticket, and I genuinely appreciate their kind offers. While I wish Metropolitan Tikhon well and genuinely pray that his primatial ministry brings much-needed healing to the OCA, I could not in good conscience attend an event celebrating his enthronement.

    Despite receiving numerous letters, e-mails, phone calls, and petitions from concerned faithful urging them to action, and despite several scholarly essays written which highlight major flaws in their July 16 statement, the OCA Synod still have not followed Patriarch Kirill’s admonition in his congratulatory letter to Metropolitan Tikhon to “make comfortable the further life of your predecessor at the Metropolitan See of Washington”. The reality is that if I had attended the event, as I was asked, my presence would have served as a silent expression of support for (or indifference to) the circumstances and actions which brought about Metropolitan Jonah’s horrifically unjust treatment by the OCA Synod.

    One of my friends who attended the banquet filled me in on many of the details. I was immediately struck by the oddity of the seating arrangement as she described it: the leading OCA administrators, Chancellor Father John Jillions and Secretary Father Eric Tosi, were seated on the raised dais near Metropolitan Tikhon. Several of the bishops, including Bishop +Michael of New York and New Jersey — the man who received the most votes from the delegates at the Seventeenth All American Council in Parma, Ohio — were seated lower than the priests, at floor level. I’ve always had an eye for any potential symbolism in the seating arrangements at any major events, from state dinners to Church councils, but this strikes me as a rather obvious sign of the indifference of many in the OCA administration to the dignity of the episcopacy. Orthodoxy is at its core a hierarchical faith, but not one which supports any kind of inverted hierarchy, with priests seated above attendant bishops at an enthronement banquet.

    This was no real matter of concern or surprise to me compared to what my friend told me about the addresses of two leading OCA priests closely affiliated with the Syosset-based Chancery and central administration. She told me about the remarks which Chancellor Fr. John Jillions and Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, the OCA Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations, made to the assembled guests. According to my friend, in his remarks, Fr. Jillions praised +Tikhon as a “true leader” who was “conciliar” in his approach to Church affairs and had a history of working well with the Synod and Chancery staff. This, as my friend took it, implied that Metropolitan Jonah did not.

    What I found so strange about Fr. John’s wording is that he seems to measure a Primate’s success (or failure) based on how well he gets along with and secures the approval of those in the Church administration. This strikes me as a very bureaucratized and institutional-minded approach to the Church, seeing and understanding “the Church” in this sense only in an administrative and institutional way, in terms of departments, offices, and chanceries.

    On a practical day-to-day level, of course every hierarch needs to work out a kind of modus vivendi to coordinate and execute shared administrative responsibilities with his fellow bishops on the Synod and with Church administrators, but what Fr. John’s words imply is, rather, that the Metropolitan is responsible to living up to the expectations and meeting the standards of the OCA Chancery. This view of the primatial role of the Metropolitan is a marked departure from a traditional Orthodox understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a primate of a local Orthodox Church. Church administrators are not to measure or judge whether or not a Metropolitan is successful in his role based on their impressions of him, nor is he to be held to their standards; such an approach is to treat him more like a chairman of a board than as the primate of a local Synod of the Church!

    My friend told me that Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky praised the bishops and all that they did to keep the OCA going during what he referred to as “the time of troubles”; she took this as a thinly veiled derisive reference to Metropolitan Jonah’s tenure. What I found interesting, and rather amusing, as a student of Russian history, is that the Time of Troubles (Смутное время) was the period of conflict and interregnum in the wake of the succession crisis precipitated among several weak contenders for the throne after the death of Tsar Ivan IV Grosniy, the last of the man Rurikid princes. During this time, the forces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth led by King Sigismund III repeatedly invaded Muscovy and attempted the conversion of the Russians to Roman Catholicism. The irony in all this? Fr. Leonid was born in 1943 in Warsaw!

    Another friend who attended the banquet described to me his shock to hear Fr. Leonid praise Metropolitan Tikhon in his introduction with these words, again a thinly veiled attack on Metropolitan Jonah: “This one is no Lone Ranger!” I respect Father Leonid for his many years of engagement with various ecumenical bodies, such as the World Council of Churches, but I find it difficult to view him as a man of integrity given that he engaged in such derisive remarks about a former Primate of his whom he seems to delight in insulting, regarding as almost an enemy. This just doesn’t seem to me like a Christian way of thinking — or speaking — especially from someone with so many years of active service in the Church.

    Metropolitan Tikhon has been enthroned as the new Primate. These events remind me of a line from Shakespeare’s play Richard II : “Not all the water in the rough rude sea can wash the balm from an anointed king” (3.2.50-51), or in this case, an anointed Primate of the Church. The OCA begins a new chapter, yet for now, I, like so many of you, continue to pray for Metropolitan Jonah, that the OCA Synod at last see fit to release him to ROCOR, where his growing ministry is deeply appreciated and valued, and that the Synod honor Patriarch Kirill’s warning to give +Jonah a fair and just settlement. Only then may what so many of us hope and pray for happen: he may start a new chapter in his life, and his ministry in the Church.

    • Tikhon takes the reins of government by an act of violence against +Jonah and other clergy. There is no way that this will have escaped the notice of the Holy Spirit. In the end, the end will come. The OCA has become something I stepped into on the street, and can totally scrap off my shoe.

      Death…. becomes her.

      • Disgusted With It says

        While I agree the whole situation is a disgusting mess, I would not agree that Tikhon “took” power. Rather, he was put there by the powers that be because he lacks any real backbone to stand up to anyone telling him what to do, especially bishops. He is a very nice man, but not a strong leader.

        • Archbishop Tikhon was certainly part of the collusion. At the very least, he may not have been unlike a certain young Saul of Tarsus, clutching coats so that others could have better aim when hurling their stones at St. Stephen.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            In Metropolitan Tikhon’s ;position, I believe Metropolitan Jonah, as a novice bishop, would have acted or not acted exactly the same.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I agree with the “novice part,” but Metropolitan Jonah never knowingly colluded with others to undermine anyone. . . at least not that I could see. Do you know differently, Your Grace?

            • Your Grace, Metropolitan Jonah was the victim, not a perpetrator of this scheme. Regardless of whether or not he could have been induced to do such a thing at some point in his life, it’s a terrible suggestion to make. See to your own sins, Vladyko.

              At any rate, Archbishop Tikhon was no novice bishop when this happened to Metropolitan Jonah.

          • Dear Helga,

            How can complacency be measured? I personally feel that what should have happened would have been for at least one bishop to say, showing leadership as bishops these days rarely do, that the whole concept of having the quickie council of Parma was wrong and ought be put off. One bishop saying he didn’t feel right about it – not about doing such a rash action that could not be undone, not right about making Parma a one issue AAC, not right about having strapped parishes spend money they could ill afford on such a thing, not right about not including brother Metropolitan Jonah in their conciliar decision-making, not right about failing to resolve the issues connected with defaming the Metropolitan and clearing that up before moving onto filling empty bishoprics before even the Metropolitanate – not right about it being a real council as normally and properly constituted for the sake of the Church.

            There was one brave retired bishop, on this blog, Bishop Tikhon of California who should be applauded for at least speaking up.

        • Except that he directly contributed to a critical event in this whole uncanonical and thus criminal affair. He was one of the three bishops who, on July 5th 2012, met in secrecy from their Primate and conspired to demand his resignation.

        • Interesting comment. Speaking to certain Matushka a few weeks ago, I was astonished to hear that when her husband were attending St Tikhon’s, M. Tikhon was there as an administrator; the students reportedly used to laugh at what a poor administrator he was. So that brings up the question, how can the PTB of the OCA attribute poor administrative skills to Metropolitan Jonah, an able administrator when he was running a monastery, be replaced by someone else who was reportedly a poor administrator? lol

          Schemers scheme and liars lie; whatever it takes to get the job done is exemplified in the removal of the best metropolitan the OCA has ever had in recent memory. Axios, Metropolitan Jonah. And a whole bunch of anaxios for a bunch of spineless bishops. .

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Photios–Your post is hateful, disrespectful and evil. It is a poison dagger that is aimed at your heart and soul.

    • George Michalpoulos wrote in his article:

      “Unfortunately, as can be gleaned from the seating arrangements and the graceless and hateful remarks of Frs Tosi …”

      And in the comments:

      “…as well as the egregious and tactless remarks of Frs Tosi…”

      As far as I can see, these statements are not true. I think you made a mistake about this, George. Though Father Tosi is reported by another commentator to have said something graceless about Met Jonah a while back, and that not in a speech but in a private conversation, I don’t see that he is said to have said anything egregious, graceless or tactless at the enthronement. I think that to be fair, you should edit your comments.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Ryan P. Hunter–May I offer some observations of my own?

      “While I wish Metropolitan Tikhon well and genuinely pray that his primatial ministry brings much-needed healing to the OCA, I could not in good conscience attend an event celebrating his enthronement.”
      Thank you for being up front.

      “…OCA Synod still have not followed Patriarch Kirill’s admonition in his congratulatory letter to Metropolitan Tikhon to “make comfortable the further life of your predecessor at the Metropolitan See of Washington”.
      Pope Benedict is retiring to a convent. Would that sort of arrangement for +Jonah satisfy HH Kirill?

      “One of my friends who attended the banquet filled me in on many of the details.”
      Nice to have second-hand information, something that is so much more advanced than 99% of Team Jonah postings.

      “According to my friend, in his remarks, Fr. Jillions praised +Tikhon as a “true leader” who was “conciliar” in his approach to Church affairs and had a history of working well with the Synod and Chancery staff. This, as my friend took it, implied that Metropolitan Jonah did not.”
      That is what +Jonah had said in Seattle.

      “What I found so strange about Fr. John’s wording is that he seems to measure a Primate’s success (or failure) based on how well he gets along with and secures the approval of those in the Church administration.”
      I do not know why you are disputing +Jonah in this.

      “Fr. John’s words imply is, rather, that the Metropolitan is responsible to living up to the expectations and meeting the standards of the OCA Chancery. This view of the primatial role of the Metropolitan is a marked departure from a traditional Orthodox understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a primate of a local Orthodox Church. Church administrators are not to measure or judge whether or not a Metropolitan is successful in his role based on their impressions of him, nor is he to be held to their standards; such an approach is to treat him more like a chairman of a board than as the primate of a local Synod of the Church!”
      Yes, how dare they not treat him like a Pope!!!

      “My friend told me that Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky praised the bishops and all that they did to keep the OCA going during what he referred to as “the time of troubles”; she took this as a thinly veiled derisive reference to Metropolitan Jonah’s tenure.”
      Again, why are you criticizing something that +Jonah himself has said. In public. Before God and men.

      “The irony in all this? Fr. Leonid was born in 1943 in Warsaw!:”
      Do you know what a non sequitur is?

      “Another friend who attended the banquet described to me his shock to hear Fr. Leonid praise Metropolitan Tikhon in his introduction with these words, again a thinly veiled attack on Metropolitan Jonah: “This one is no Lone Ranger!”
      Why is this an insult? He was indeed a lone ranger, a fighter pilot, a cowboy, someone who acted unilaterally, someone whose world revolved around him and his whims. IAW, if the show fits…

      “…that the OCA Synod at last see fit to release him to ROCOR, where his growing ministry is deeply appreciated and valued, and that the Synod honor Patriarch Kirill’s warning to give +Jonah a fair and just settlement. Only then may what so many of us hope and pray for happen: he may start a new chapter in his life, and his ministry in the Church.”
      He needs to get somebody to ask for him. I hear that no such request has come as of yet.

      • Ryan Hunter wrote: “Fr. John’s words imply is, rather, that the Metropolitan is responsible to living up to the expectations and meeting the standards of the OCA Chancery. This view of the primatial role of the Metropolitan is a marked departure from a traditional Orthodox understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a primate of a local Orthodox Church. Church administrators are not to measure or judge whether or not a Metropolitan is successful in his role based on their impressions of him, nor is he to be held to their standards; such an approach is to treat him more like a chairman of a board than as the primate of a local Synod of the Church!”

        Carl Kraeff responded: Yes, how dare they not treat him like a Pope!!!

        Carl’s response is a total non-sequiter and a red herring. +Metropolitan Jonah never asserted the powers of a pope nor anything close to it. Ryan does hit on the core issue, and that is that church administration has no canonical status, never has, and never will. None. Nada. It’s only legitimate role is to assist in implementing (administering) the decisions of the Metropolitan and the bishops. Since the Metropolitan is the only entity that canonically has responsibility for the spiritual direction and well-being of the entire church (the other bishops should canonically be primarily focused on their own dioces), that means administration reports to the Metropolitan. The battle is not between papists and non-papists, but rather between canonical spiritual leadership vs non-canonical bureaucratic leadership.

  6. Bad links on says

    Bad or disabled links:

    Banquet speech that doesn’t work:

    photo gallery of Vigil before enthronement:

    photo gallery of enthronement:

    Note dead links. Anyone have the content?

    • Disgusted With It says

      The whole event was void of any real content.

      • Those were dead links to Metropolitan Jonah’s Enthronement I consider that to be once full of content

        • Those have been down for a while. I’ll give you three guesses why, and the first two do not count.

        • Disgusted With It says

          Thanks for the correction. My bad. I just assumed that it was +Tikhon’s enthronement because +Jonah’s enthronement pics are still up on They may have changed the addresses, but if you go to the galleries section and search for December 2008 you will find the galleries listed.

  7. Sean Richardson says

    I think history is pointing to the accuracy of the statement that “What is the embodiment of Fr. Schmemann’s vision of Orthodoxy in this country”. Fr. Alexander had a deep seated distrust of the “black clergy” and hoped to establish an Orthodox church here in the United States that was totally dominated by the “white clergy”. To have Fr. John suggest that the success of a metropolitan is based on how well he can get along with the OCA Chancery office is right out of Fr. Schmemann’s plan.

    • Jonathan Johnston says

      “Fr. Alexander had a deep seated distrust of the ‘black clergy'”

      Where did you come up with that skata? Fr. Schmemann didn’t believe any such thing. More lies and disinformation.

      • Sean Richardson says

        I came up with this information (please keep your comments appropriate) from having known Fr. Schmemann in the 1970s and having numerous conversations with him, and from knowing seminary students/graduates who were denied ordination as a celebate, also in the 1970s (for at least one seminarian from California, he was immediately ordained after he was married a few months later, with Fr. Schmemann’s blessing). I’d love to hear your evidence to the contrary, I am always willing to hear evidence that sheds light on any issue.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I remember an Archimandrite relating this to me: He was a celibate seminary graduate who converted to Orthodoxy and wanted to get a bishop’s blessing to be ordained. The first bishop whom he approached in Eastern US somewhere, told him right up front “I don’t ordain no singles!”

  8. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    Thank you for this article, George. In the main it is justified and true; however, it has, to me, a glaring lack: it is written as if everything started to go to hell when the “nomenklatura” of the OCA turned against Metropolitan Jonah. But the problematic and probably inept actions of the Holy Synod were not caused by a sudden and recent inspiration of the spirit of Idleness, despondency, love of power and idle talk which animates it today.

    I feel, or, rather, it’s my conviction, that it was Metropolitan Herman who opened the barn doors and administered the coup de grace that has been playing out lately with no end in sight, a coup de grace of a hundred stab wounds on the Body.

    Act I of this little skit was the reception of a deposed deacon into the ranks of the OCA hierarchy from the ‘Patriarchate of Kiev and the Synod of Milan,” both schismatic and even anti-Orthodox sects. While all the bishops participated in that crime, some of them were specially thereby enabled: Archbishop Job, Archbishop Nathaniel, Bishop Seraphim and their valet, Bishop Nikon, and their support group also enabled by the Puhalo/Haler/Buehler coup was what became the ocanews faction. I’ve written elsewhere of that somewhat sordid matter.

    Act II, scene one, opened with TheLetter, a letter of Protodeacon Eric Wheeler addressed to each OCA Bishop and placed into the pigeon-hole mailboxes at the East Norwich Inn, where Holy Synod members were wont to be billeted when they came together as a Synod at their headquarters in Oyster Bay Cove (p.o. box Syosset), Long Island. The letter was very accusatory and, astonishingly, had not been seen by the Protodeacon’s own parish priest, area Dean, or diocesan bishop. He considered, apparently, that he had some kind of canonical or even moral standing which exempted him from the polity of the Holy Orthodox Church, it was what one might call ‘The Protostinkbomb.” The letter was enthusiastically supported and even pushed by; Archbishop Job, Bishop Nikon, Archbishop Nathaniel, and Bishop Seraphim.

    Archbishop Dmitri and Archbishop Kirill were totally passive and even sleepy in their reactions to it. Bishop Nikolai and I questioned the propriety of considering a letter which was promulgated illicitly and entirely outside any Orthodox standards of propriety, propinquity, or canonicity. The letter, moreover was just the “one” of a one-two punch; the “two” punch was the giving of birth to the The affectionate relationship of Protodeacon Eric Wheeler and the manager/owner of is well known and the Protodeacon recently testified to his association by mentioning it here, on Monomakhos. Insofar as Protodeacon Wheeler’s letter attacked areas of church administration that were shared equally between Metropolitan Herman and Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick, Metropolitan Herman engaged a well-known Jewish law firm specializing in criminal defense and at the same time expelled Protopresbyter Rodion from the administraton of the OCA, unilaterally, not even consulting the Holy Synod or the Metropolitan Council beforehand, no, not even to approve his unilateral contract with Proskauer/Rose. All the files were made available, at will, to former employees of the C hancery let go during the Protopresbyter’s incumbency.

    Act II scene two, was the kangaroo court and trial of Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick under the presidency of Archbishop Nathaniel of the Romanian Episcopate (and never the diocesan bishop of the Protopresbyter) and with a lawyer, rather than a Bishop, appointed to be the Accuser. Verbatim recording, electronically or stenographically, of minutes of the trial was forbidden by Archbishop Nathaniel. The court found the Protopresbyter guilty of the “unminuted’ charges and he was deposed from the Orthodox Priesthood immediately and in absentia. (The Protopresbyter in the weeks preceding the trial had agreed to appear and be questioned at a meeting of the full Holy Synod without counsel, but was prevented from doing so by Metropollitan Herman, Archbishop Nathaniel, Bishop Job, Bishop Nikon and Bishop Seraphim (who was also the Secretary of the Holy Synod throughout those years until removed by ‘circumstances’ rather than good judgment.

    Act III scene one was the retirement of Metropolitan Herman.. I think “they” even tried to prevent him from wearing the white klobuk of a hierarch in the rank of metropolitan!

    Scene two had a prologue: the consecration of Father Jonah (Paffhausen) to the episcopate by the existing active members of the Holy Synod by that time. Then the curtain came up on an All-American Council that must be described as “passionate.” At it the members of the Holy Synod were stampeded into electing that novice bishop as their own president and first hierarch. A somewhat unstable bunch, they regretted their votes almost as soon as the Council was over, and the same characters who motivated and powered the assassination of Protopresbyter Rodion, were reactivated to attack Metropolitan Jonah, who was naïve, inexperienced, but optimistic as always.

    Scene three took place in Santa Fe and was manipulated from behind the coulisses by a cabal consisting amost entirely of the Wheeler/Stokoe axis and their closest friends from SVS days.

    Scene four opened with the publication in the national media of a letter assassinating Metropolitan Jonah’s character which followed on his resignation.

    Act four is basically the above article by George Michalopoulos. The choice by the remainder of the Holy Synod of a hierarch noted mainly for non-resistance and passivity, and the rather dramatic distancing of the Hierarchies of all the Local Churches save the last to bear responsibility for the OCA.

    I feel that I should say this: if Bishop Alejo, or Bishop Irineu, or Bishop Irenee had been elected to be Primate and Bishop Jonah was a member of the Holy Synod, an action taken against THAT primate would be passively observed by Bishop Jonah and he would act exactly as his enemies have acted.

    I feel that many of the hierarchs of other Local Churches who are at all au courant in the recent goings-on in the OCA feel that Grace may very well have departed from the OCA, and that the politic and right thing to do is to maintain as great a distance from it as possible.

    I would title my play, ‘The Flight of Grace.” God is not mocked. The ways of the Lord are unfathomable, and we must pray that He may inspire a correction and restoration.

    • Sean Richardson says

      Your Grace, I am always happy to read you words. I do not always understand them or agree with them, but you shine a light of knowledge on issues that is unique and I for one appreciate it. Thank you.

    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

      “Act I of this little skit was the reception of a deposed deacon into the ranks of the OCA hierarchy from the ‘Patriarchate of Kiev and the Synod of Milan,” both schismatic and even anti-Orthodox sects.”

      I’d go much farther back that, the Metropolia itself should never have existed, the only two Orthodox jurisdictions should have been Moscow (for those who could stomach them) and ROCOR who were operating under Ukaze 362 of Patriarch Tikhon until such time as Communism fell and the New Martyrs were recognized by Moscow. Then I’d go with the dismissal from St. Vladimir’s Seminary of Fr. Florovsky, apparently the seminary was too modernistic to even tolerate him in its presence anymore. I’d prefer if we shut down St. Vlad’s or abandoned it to the Antiochians (maybe St. Tikhon’s also, but St. Tikhon is at least attached to a monastery) and our prospective priests were educated at ROCOR’s Jordanville.

      • About Father Georges Florovski says

        Father Georges would say, when asked, “I have no jurisdiction” Aside from that, when St. Vladimir’s was brought up, he said that as an absent minded scholar, he would sometimes forget administrative tasks while attending to minutiae – one more book, one more footnote..

        So, evidently, he himself thought there was a reason he should not administer the seminary.

        • Jonathan Johnston says

          Florovsky was trying to do the work of 4 people; as was necessary. He was Dean, he was major fund-raiser, he was teacher and he was world representative. He virtually spread himself too thin, but it was necessary. Students at SVS complained that he missed the majority of his classes (as teacher) and spent more time in Paris than at SVS. SVS operated on a shoe-string and Fr. Georges did what he had to do, but his deanship suffered.

  9. Pope Resigns! says


    The news of Pope Benedict’s historic resignation took the Catholic Church by surprise however we should not be too shocked since Bishop Benjamin and Fr. Kishkovsky made a secret trip to Rome over the weekend!!!!!


  10. I don’t understand why you consider Bishop George of Mayfield (ROCOR) as an “ironic choice.” I have met Bishop George and he is a godly man.

    • George Michalopulos says

      He is. The irony comes from the fact that he’s the Bishop of Mayfield, the site of a previous schism from the OCA. Very pointed.

      • Thank you. I understand. Years ago I prayed over a conversion to Orthodoxy. When I realized I trusted my Methodist bishops over the ones discussed here, I decided to stay put.

  11. George: This is a difficult comment to write. I’ve watched the decline of the OCA for years, and now it’s gone fully off the cliff. The public pulling away of essentially all other jurisdictions is pretty much the death knell. The OCA will limp on of course, but any pretense of being The OCA is gone, probably for good. If the OCA is wise it will focus on rebuilding the remnant, but I see little indication of such institutional wisdom.

    These wounds were self-inflicted, which makes it all the sadder. I’ve watched it happen. There are so many things one could point to but I don’t see the point of rehashing the painful minutiae. I think the core problem has been a Manichean, black-white worldview on all sides.

    You have imagined a world were the forces of tradition are on one side, fending off the “pink mafia” and various leftist evils on the other side. This was simply never true. You have templated secular culture wars onto the Church, very imperfectly. Before you jump on me and perhaps imply I am sympathetic to transsexual Bolshevik bloggers – I assuredly am not – let me say that my political views are close to how you describe yours: “traditionalist, conservative, and quasi-libertarian” as you put it.

    That works for me, and it explains why I applauded +Jonah’s becoming Metropolitan, since I felt his political-cum-social agenda was exactly what the OCA and American Orthodoxy needed. But he was simply not the man to do it – by personality, temperament, and background. One can be right, and good-hearted, and have all the right enemies, and still not be up to the job … alas. I don’t like how +Jonah was treated, but in the end he had to go. What happens to the OCA now is just sad.

    While trying to maintain a Christian spirit, I want to state frankly that many, including you, hardly helped the situation by getting in bed with charlatans – not a term I use lightly – who exploited the situation for their own personal agendas. You thought highly of Rod Dreher – that Methodist turned Catholic turned Orthodox, who above all was devoted to some strange self-actualization. And now, having done all he could to foment dissent and hatred in Orthodox ranks – to include sockpuppet online games and worse that cost him his job – he’s ditched the OCA, which he previously though the vehicle of all salvation. Now he’s ROCOR, where so many deranged converts wind up, and he’ll probably be something else in a year or two, What wreckage he and those like him have left behind.

    There are a lot of lessons in this for the OCA and all of us, none of them edifying.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Harry, this is a very thoughtful piece. I agreed with everything you said until you got to the last, when you called Rod Dreher a “charlatan.” On what do you base this scabrous description? Because he was a Methodist as a young man, then a Catholic? Is this a crime, especially in a region (the South) where we historic Orthodox have done everything to express bigotry towards those not in our particular ethnicity? And what’s wrong with him going to ROCOR? Haven’t you seen the essay I did about how they are serious about evangelizing the South? Besides, no other jurisdiction is establishing missions, just ROCOR.

      I take you at your word that you have nothing in common with the Bolshevist Troll but ultimately, that’s his schtick: his precious Valley and the Bohunks who populate it. (Who, if the truth were known, are probably mortified that he considers himself to be their tribune.)

      Anyway, you are right on the other points.

      One further caveat: I have no hatred for the OCA. I’m still here. Just very disappointed because all of this was self-inflicted.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        P.S. I don’t think either one of us would blame Rod for wanting to help start a mission. I can’t, because that’s exactly the reason I left the GOA to join the OCA. The parameters for starting a mission in the GOA were insurmountable, whereas within the OCA we were told that all you needed was “two old ladies and a phone booth.” Ever since the ouster of Jonah, I’m pretty sure that there have been no new missions established. (I know of one that was in the pipeline which finally got its papers in order sometime in Aug I believe. But that one had the blessing of Jonah.)

        If there are any exceptions, I would ask my readers to come forward with any examples as I would like to set the record straight.

        • It may be the one you wrote about but a russian language mission open in Jacksonville,Florida. The mission had been using the property at St.Justin Martyr but recently moved into their own facility…the name of the mission is Annunciation..

        • George: Thanks for the feedback. I have nothing against missions, of course, and nothing against ROCOR per se (some of my best friends, per the cliche, are there). And I can’t have overmuch anger against Dreher since I’ve never met the man.

          But his conduct of the last several years – coming into the OCA like a whirlwind, stirring up all sorts of trouble when I don’t think he really understood all the issues (many of which were decades in the making cancerous), playing bizarre online games – did real damage, making bad situations worse. We all make mistakes, we all mess up, but Rod’s sins towards the Church were real and very public. And now he’s jumped ship. An understandable reaction to the OCA’s current terrible state, but it looks bad, to put it kindly.

          Time to move on with faith and love (and a sense of balance).

          • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

            Before you “move on with faith and love,” Harry, how about a little public repentance for your uncharitable stereotype: “ROCOR, where so many deranged converts wind up”?

            • M. Stankovich says

              Fr. Alexander,

              While noting that charity is a two-way street, and leaving it at that, I have heard this and similar comments since 1971, though never verified nor disproved. It would seem necessary to demonstrate that Harry’s comment is inaccurate before requesting he publicly repent. Given the relative immediacy of your recent release, it strikes as a bit “premature” to be “collecting” repentance in the name of the ROCOR, or is it “team spirit?”

            • +Fr Alexander: As a believer and as a veteran I have the highest respect for you, but my comment about oddball converts going the ROCOR way was intended less venomously than you have taken it. ROCOR is what it is, and does what it does; I have friends and even family there. They are a valued part of the American Orthodox family. But does anyone who has actually spent time in ROCOR parishes not find something a bit …. odd about the converts who find the appeal of an imagined pre-1917 Russia otherworldly? I mean no disrespect to ROCOR as an institution when I observe that converts in 21st century, post-modern American who pine for pre-revolutionary Russia, especially in outward forms, are a matter for psychology, not theology.

              Before anyone jumps on me, I am as Slavophile as they come, by blood and habit, and a good deal more Old World Slav than 90% of today’s OCA. I just find the ways of certain converts odd and even, yes, deranged.

              • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

                Thank you, Harry, for your personal anecdotes. Let’s try this again. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “deranged” as follows: “having or showing a very abnormal or sick state of mind”–for example, “a deranged prisoner who had been in that rat-infested hole for 20 years.”

                Will you demonstrate some humility and walk back your amateur attempt at psychological diagnosis of a sizable group of fellow Orthodox?

                • Father: so you own a dictionary, very impressive.

                  My reply to your rather direct comment to me was respectful, even decorous to yourself. It is regrettable that your last response to me was condescending in a manner this layman finds distasteful to see in a priest – archpriest, no less.

                  On that, you deride my comments as “amateur” yet I would caution you that not all of us are pompous enough to advertise our doctorate to everyone, always.

                  I will not back down my statement that many converts who are more than little “off” eventually wind up in ROCOR after much painful – mostly for others – church shopping. And some do indeed seem deranged a bit in the popular, not clinical sense.

                  If you want to get out the DSM we can do that too, but I’m sure we both have better things to do than continue this silly argument and related word-parsing.


                  • Fr. George Washburn says

                    Hi Harry:

                    I have to go with you on the seemingly patronizing under or overtone of Fr. Alexander’s participation . PhD, archpriesthood, and two (!!) middle initials on the prow of every post …lest lesser lights overlook or forget? His content, by contrast, demonstrates that he knows a lot of good things and has plenty to teach me and most all of us a whole lot of the time. Gotta go with him that the term deranged seems strong for the phenomenon – which
                    I will grant you exists.


                    Fr. G

                    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

                      So much for an appeal to “Harry” to show some grace and walk back his extreme word choice to savage some Orthodox converts. That was an attempt to take the high road. Obviously there’s no point in my bothering to appeal to him further. If he and you, Father George, wish to take the low road, then I’m Irish enough (on my mother’s side) to take off me coat, boys. But what would be the point of such a donnybrook on this message board?

                      As for my two middle initials that seem, inexplicably, to bother you, it’s my way of (1) continuing to honor my Scottish father, Frederick Cameron Webster, to whom I was named his junior at birth, after I took St. Alexander Nevsky as my patron saint when I converted to Orthodoxy in 1975, and (2) to enable anyone who conducts an author’s search on to avoid confusion with the eighteenth century Scottish minister, Alexander Webster.

                      Since you have revealed on this message board that you are also an attorney, I ask whether the prosecution will rest–or, better than that, desist from the cheap shots and get on with a more elevated discussion of substantive issues.

                  • Guy Westover says


                    As almost a life long OCA member who has recently begun attending ROCOR parishes, I must agree with you concerning many converts to ROCOR. Having attended parishes with a majority of converts (including the priest) and with a majority of immigrant Russians and Ukrainians, I “see what you see”.
                    It’s a fair observation.


                    • While there aren’t so many folk named ‘Harry’ these days, the Harry posting here is not me. Just for the few who might not be sure.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Perhaps, Harry, these people are simply looking for a model of simplicity, humility and daily devotion; a model that is nowhere found in our American heritage with the possible exception of the Amish. Not only that, the environment they are attempting to imitate gave birth to a number of saints.

                While I understand that simply attempting to reproduce something from the past in a legalistic way is not going to make anyone a saint, I can definately understand the impetus.

                What would an other worldly life look like in today’s culture? Wouldn’t it be better to look for those hallmarks rather than merely criticizing those you are not comfortable with?

                Keep in mind that most of us would likely be profoundly uncomfortable around anyone who is attempting to live an other worldly life because their very presence is a witness against our own excess. It is also quite difficult for we excessives to recognize what is a legalistic approach and what is simply a more disciplined manner of living.

                Modern American life is spectarcularly un-Christian. it is becoming increasingly so as it decends rapidly into the insane darkness of nihlism.

                Personally I cannot crticize anyone for attempting to find something better, something removed from the insanity. If they seek God, they will be found by Him even in their so-called derangement.

                Orthodox history is replete with men and women whom the world thought deranged or odd whom, in retrospect, proved to be scanctified and scanctifying. St. John Maximovich is one such.

                Many of the monks in the popular book “Everyday Saints” would also fit into that category.

                By worldly standards, all Christians are deranged and what else could be accurately said about us from the world’s point of view?

                Chrisitanity is a radical faith. If we are not living it radically, we are not living it.

                • Mr Bauman: I take your point and agree with a great deal of it. It is far from easy to be a real Christian in 2013 America, and I think it will get worse, much worse, based on current trends. While I don’t see Christians in the catacombs in the USA soon, I fear something rather like dhimmi status in the Muslim world is coming – sooner than people think.

                  But, outside the realm of new technology, there are no “new” temptations to enable sin – there is indeed nothing new under the sun, especially where the human heart is concerned. We live with the same temptations Christians have for two millennia. And what we deal with is so little compared to what Christians in the Soviet Bloc had to endure until barely more than two decades ago. Let’s not over-martyr ourselves here.

                  And let’s not confuse fools for Christ – an honored Orthodox tradition – with maladjusted people. Anyone who spends time in American Orthodoxy gets to know converts who are eternal searchers (I have already cited Dreher, who appears to be a classic case), who enjoy acting out their pathologies among others; nothing is every quite holy enough.

                  As for ROCOR, while it makes perfect sense for people of that tradition, the descendants of White emigres, to hold on dearly to that – and I applaud them for it – it is very strange indeed to see converts adopting traditions not their own and, moreover, mistaking tradition (small t) with Tradition. They do it frequently. Some seem almost beyond parody.

                  Pre-1917 Russia was not Heaven on earth. If it was, how did the Godless Bolsheviks come to power? The need to romanticize Old Russia – especially to misremember it as much spiritually healthier than it actually was – by people who have no ties of blood and belonging to it, approaches a pathology all its own. It is not healthy and, while it’s a free country (mostly!) and people can do as they please, the “ROCOR convert” in its extreme form is not a desirable thing, spiritually or otherwise, and is not something that needs to be encouraged in 21st century America.

                  I have dealt with enough of them – I pray for them and I try to explain, gently, that fake nostalgia is not the path to a healthy spiritual life, much less salvation. Some listen, some don’t, that’s their issue.

                  Christianity is indeed a radical faith, but the notion that pre-1917 Russia (actually, how we artificially remember it) is the universal template for Orthodoxy isn’t radical, it’s downright harmful, even – dare I say it – deranged.

                  • I have been around persons who idolize 19th Russia and think to dress, cook and imitate otherwise as the height of Orthodoxy, but while there might be an abundance in ROCOR I find these people in the OCA and Antioch as well. From what I am observing lately in some ROCOR that is less so than other churches I’ve been in.

            • Jonathan Johnston says

              “ROCOR, where so many deranged converts wind up”?

              Seems like one of the more accurate and truthful statements on this forum. Let’s add, clerics included.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I understand that Rod used to go to an OCA church 45 minutes away from his home. The fact is that there was an OCA mission in his home town, but I will let Rod explain it:

          “Rod Dreher says:
          November 14, 2012 at 9:52 pm

          To be perfectly clear, there has officially been an OCA mission in our town for something like five years. It never really got off the ground, for reasons I’m not entirely sure about, because I wasn’t living here at the time. For reasons having to do with the unhappy experience of the Orthodox folks living here with the OCA (DOS) and the failed mission, and for reasons having to do with the instability at the top of the OCA today, there was a unanimous sentiment that we would not make another bid to revive the OCA mission here, but would instead approach other jurisdictions about the possibility of starting a mission. ROCOR was very generous, and sent a priest down to meet with the local Orthodox community. We loved him, and he and his wife must have liked us and seen potential here, because they’re on their way. If ROCOR or any other jurisdiction hadn’t been willing to work with us, we would have all continued making the long drive into Baton Rouge and being part of the wonderful OCA parish there, with whom we expect to have good fraternal relations.”

          • Sounds like cautious, solid stewardship to me.

            • You don’t say, tmatt?

              Our favorite lunatic transsexual Bolshevik blogger would respond with something about konvertsy sticking together.

              And in this case, s/he/it would be right …

        • Fr. Christopher Foley says

          2 missions come to mind in the DOS established last year – St. James in Beaufort, SC and St. Nektarios in Waxahachie, TX and I am sure there are more.

          • Fr Christopher,

            Bless Father!

            You are correct. But, I don’t think there were other mission started, but that is beside the point. How long will we in the South have to be without a bishop? Maybe you can tell us; was there any indication at the Pastoral Conference in Atlanta that the South will be able to nominate a candidate, and if so, when? Or, are we going to have to wait?

            God bless the Diocese of the South!

          • Not to forget Annunciation “Russian speaking” Orthodox Church which is a mission from St,Justin Martyr,

          • Serb From Joliet says

            Yes Fr Chris, there are more: Annunciation OC, Jacksonville, FL; St Basil, Weatherford, OK; St John of Chicago, Rogers AR; and, Igelesia Ortodoxa Santos Apostoles, Miami FL.

            • George Michalopulos says

              SfJ: yes, I believe you are right, but weren’t these missions already in the pipeline when Jonah was still active? That was my point. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t know of any missions opening up in the OCA once this whole debacle broke out into the open.

              Again, I meant no offense but that’s my impression. I hope that I’m wrong.

              • Hard to make that assertion so early. Some of these missions had the blessing of +Jonah while others were blessed by +Nikhon. Some were initiated years ago while others were constituted recently. While the events surrounding +Jonah are scandalous and discouraging, the recent slowdown in the establishment of missions in the DOS has more to do with the lack of a diocesan bishop starting to take it’s toll.

                I can see your point about Syosset having undue influence on the Holy Synod. On the other hand I look at the recent strategy of placing a Bishop candidate as an administrator (Alaska and soon to be DOS) as coming from people who have become critically risk averse. It seems to me that the situation is not a grand conspiracy, but people who are running scared after all of the scandal and problems these past few years. That’s why you see things like Continuing Education and talk of the Sex Tsar.

                At this point I would rather see our Holy Synod assert itself and deal with the vacancies without all of this pussy footing. If we are Orthodox Christians and accept that we reside in a hierarchical Church, then we have to accept that the Bishop may be someone we don’t like but it’s for our salvation.

                I really don’t want to name names or situations but I have known of situations with very difficult people who at the time seemed like the worst solution possible. However, with time the Grace of God working through that person became apparent, in spite of all their failings. In these situation if one were to reexamine their initial assumptions they would realize they had the wrong perspective and it was they who were getting in the way.

              • You are right george..Annunciation Orthodox Church was planned last Summer..

              • Fr. Christopher Foley says

                George, I took no offense. My point was simply to say that in the DOS, we are continuing to plant missions, seeing continued growth in these missions and are still trying to focus primarily in spreading the Gospel and nurturing the faithful in our sacramental life in Christ. Whether or not these missions were already in process or not last summer is beside the point, in my opinion.

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Fr, this heartens me. I truly hope that evangelism hasn’t stopped in the wake of the blundering and tightening of the reins by Syosset.

      • Archpreist John W. Morris says

        Excuse me,George, but the Anatiochian Archdiocese has a very active program to establish and help missions in the South and the rest of the country. With the exception of my parish and the parish in Lafayette, Louisiana, none of the parishes or missions in the Deanery in which I serve existed 30 years ago. When I became Orthodox, we had three parishes in Texas. Now we have 21. We had nothing in Colorado, now we have 7. We had nothing in Tennessee, now we have 5. In every area of the US we have established successful missions.

        • George Michalopulos says

          What you say is true, however the attraction of the DOS towards many who start missions in the South is manifold: 1) the initial start-up costs were significantly less, 2) the language issue was a complete dead-letter, 3) the sovereignty of the local bishop was unquestioned by the central administration, and 4) the absence of foreign control was a non-issue. Perhaps most importantly, we had Dmitri. That was something that was unquantifiable. Maybe in retrospect that was all we had, that the other issues didn’t matter. Regardless, it was a wonderful time to be alive.

          I will say that as for the AOACNA, the Palm Desert fiasco, in which the ethnic rump raised its head seems to have put a stop to evangelism. Plus (and I speak for others here), there seems to be a sense of foreboding regarding what will happen to the AOACNA once Philip passes from the scene. Will the bloodletting begin? Will the gay activists feel emboldened? I personally think not but that feeling is out there.

          Of course, as far as mission work is concerned in the OCA all that’s pretty much dead in the water thanks to the Wonderboys of Syosset but that was the reality then.

          This is ironic though in another way, isn’t it? ROCOR doesn’t have near the independence and room to maneuvre that the DOS had even 2 years ago, but why are they starting missions? Maybe because people are still hungry for the Gospel? Maybe the GOA should recalibrate its metrics?

          • Archpreist John W. Morris says

            Language is not an issue in an Antiochian mission in most places. Only if there is a large number of immigrants do we use some Arabic. That means that in the vast majority of missions we only use English. There is really no foreign control over the Antiochian Archdiocese, we have self-rule status and manage our own affairs here in the U.S. The only time that we have to refer to the mother Church is when we choose a new Metropolitan. Even then, the Archdiocesan Convention nominates three candidates from which the Holy Synod must choose one. The so called fiasco at Desert Springs, was nothing but a tempest in a tea pot. It was a totally insignificant matter that was blown way our of proportion and in the final analysis really meant nothing. If Mark Stokoe had kept our of our business the whole thing might not have happened. But we know what kind of person he is and the harm that he has done to the OCA. The Bishop who kept the whole thing going has left us and has not exactly been a resounding success in his new jurisdiction. All that really happened was the title of the local Bishops was changed, after that things have continued on as if nothing had happened. The evangelism has not stopped. We did experience a serious loss at the death of Fr. Peter Gillquist, but the work continues. I am not going to lie, I do not look forward to the terrible day when we have to replace Metropolitan Philip. However, I have faith that God will provide us with a worthy Metropolitan.

            • Tell that to Sara Hodges Father…I was at Palm Desert as I gave a presentation and I was shocked at the way she was treated…the Arabic cabal is very much in control..Bishop Mark Maymon may certainly have his problems in the OCA and he should probably be deposed but he did a great job of holding the ethnic cabal in check in Troy,Michigan.. You know it too but I understand why you cannot agree..Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

              • Archpreist John W. Morris says

                I was at Desert Springs and was shocked at the behavior of some of the critics of Metropolitan Philip. I and many of my brother priests were stunned by the disrespectful way a very junior priest who is no longer with us talked to the Metropolitan. Any priest who talks to any Orthodox Bishop that way deserves to be suspended. I cannot believe that an OCA or Greek Bishop would take that sort of abuse from one of his priests. There is no Arab cabal in control of the Antiochian Archdiocese. I am not treated as a second class priest because I am not an Arab. In fact, I was really moved last summer at the clergy symposium at the outpouring of love and concern from all my brother priests because I was visibly ill and have since had to have a total knee replacement. Metropolitan Philip has always treated me with fairness and the utmost concern the way a Father should treat his spiritual children.
                Many of us did not see the need to spend over 100 thousand dollars on an outside audit. I asked my parish council about it and they were against it. We do not have that kind of money to pay a fancy New York bookkeeper to look through our financial records. I trust the Board of Trustees which is filled with successful business men and women to take care of the finances of the Archdiocese.

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  While I agree with you Fr that Fr Oliver Herbel’s open questioning of Met Philip was probably not a prudent thing to do, the questions he asked were not beyond the pale. Would that our OCA priests had 1/10th the cojones to stand up to the Synod to take them to task for their destruction of our church.

                  • If priests in the OCA had asked questions like Fr.Oliver Herbel did at Palm Desert things would be a lot different in the OCA…Bishop Mark had his life threatened becasue of the questions he asked and the accountability he required of the Troy Michigan parish…that was when I admired and respected him

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      If I’m not mistaken, Fr. Herbel was an OCA priest on loan to the mission in Fargo at the time. That arrangement was terminated. Where is he now? Has he shown the same degree of courage back in the OCA?

                  • Archpreist John W. Morris says

                    I was there. The Metropolitan opened the clergy meeting to questions. They even sat up several microphones around the room so that any priest who wanted to could ask the Metropolitan anything. The problem was not that Fr. Herbel asked a question. The problem was once the Metropolitan gave his answer, he refused to sit down and started arguing with His Eminence. He showed total disrespect for our Metropolitan. No priest should ever talk to their Bishop the way that Herbel spoke to the Metropolitan. I actually thought that the Metropolitan handled himself rather well. I probably would have lost my temper with Herbel because he was so persistent and disrespectful. I doubt very much that any Greek or OCA Bishop would be as patient with Herbel as Metropolitan Philip was. As far as the situation in Troy, I really know nothing about what happened. It is really none of my business or yours. This whole discussion about something that happened almost 4 years ago is just a diversion. Whatever problem we have had, they are nothing like the problems that have been reported on this site about the OCA.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    George, I thought highly of Fr. Herbal’s actions at the time, but not so much now. There was a lack of Christian love at that convention on both side which is why those with the most power prevailed and people are still unsettled.

                    We lost our peace. Bp Basil at the time gave a direction: hold onto your peace. It is my attempts to follow his direction that have led me to a place where I can speak positively of Met Philip despite my personal dislike of the man.

                    Speaking truth to power require a level of humility that few demonstrated then or since.

              • Also Anonymous says

                I think this is silly, and I hear it all the time. For some reason, even though Metropolitan Philip has always placed a huge emphasis on missions during his tenure as metropolitan, and brought in huge numbers of converts, and has worked hard to make parishes use English (even ethnically Arab parishes), people (almost exclusively from outside the archdiocese and almost exclusively on the internet) like to talk about the archdiocese as if it’s some sort of ethnic club.

                What makes it even sillier is that when people, who actually have personal experience with the archdiocese and Met. Philip, speak up in his defense, other people, who have no personal experience, dismiss them with condescending remarks like, “Well, of course, you have to say that, don’t you?”

                StephenD’s remark of “You know it too but I understand why you cannot agree..Denial is not just a river in Egypt.” is both silly and rude in its implications.

                As an Antiochian priest, I can also attest to what Fr. John Morris is saying. My experience has been almost uniformly positive. I’ve never been treated as second-class because I’m a convert. I’ve found the archdiocese very supportive of my ministry, very eager for things to go well, very concerned for the well-being of my parishioners, and very pastoral and loving.

                I’m posting this anonymously (mostly because I dislike getting too drawn into internet debates), but in this particular instance, anonymity works to my advantage, because it would allow me to say bad things if I had bad things to say, without the “fear” that people seem to imagine Antiochian clergy live under.

                Also, in terms of the “ethnic club” slur against our archdiocese, it’s worth noting that the latest study of Orthodox parishes showed the Antiochian Archdiocese to be the least ethnic and most mission-oriented jurisdiction.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Father, evidently there is a real hatred for Met. Philp that blinds folks to the reality. The fact is that without Met. Philip the Orthodox Church in the US would be nothing but a very loose confederation of ethnic social clubs slowly dying on the vine.

                  He is not on my list of warm and fuzzy people but he is my bishop’s bishop and I recognize his authority and appreciate the tremendous strength his fearless use of that authority brings.

                  I don’t always agree with what he does or how he does it, but so what? He’s the bishop, I’m not. If I ever meet him again I will ask his forgiveness for my rebelliousness and thank him for teaching me about the true nature of obedience. I still won’t paraticularly like him, but again, so what. He’s not out to be liked, especially by me.

                  Obedience is a hard thing, especially for we Americans raised on a diet of revolution and eqaulity.

                  Ironic though that the majority of the complaints about the OCA all seem to hinge on the fact that the bishops in the OCA have abandoned their episcopal authority and/or been neutered.

                  Can’t have it both ways my friends.

                  • “Bishop’s bishop?” Is that like a pope?

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Only to those who want it that way. Sheez. Met. Philip has oversite given him by the Holy Synod of Antioch for the Archdiocese of the U.S., Mexico and Canada. He is not my direct bishop. My bishop is the bishop of my dioecese and, despite the title to which so many object, he operates that way in most things.

                      BTW, Bp. Basil looks at it this way, the priests pastor the laity. The bishop pastors the priests. It dosen’t take a pope to pastor other bishops. Just one given that authority (see above).

                      You really think that any sort of hierarchy is oppression don’t you?

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Philip’s ministry (unlike Iakovos’) will be viewed as a success. The question is once he passes and his strong hand is not at the tiller, will the liberal rot set in there as well? I think not.

          • Michael Bauman says

            George, the mission impluse is still high on the agenda of his grace Bishop Basil and is still bearing fruit. While there will definately be a transition when Met. Phililp reposes, I don’t think it will be as big a problem as many others seem to. Frankly, I’d take any of our bishops over any in the OCA.

            Right now we Antiochians are the least troubled of the jurisdictions. That stability is primarily due to Met. Philip and the abilities of the other bishops. It is not always an easy or cheerful working together, but they do work together and pastor their priests in the process.

            My guess at this point is the we and ROCOR will get closer in the coming years. St. Raphael is a link, the fact that we both have western-rite missions and are not as troubled by those from the old country. With our new Patriarch, I think that our autonomy will increase.

            Have you been to the Antiochian parish in Tulsa? Fr. George is a very capable priest and I found the community there to be quite warm and welcoming although I haven’t visited in years.

            The bias against us expressed by many here mistifies me.

            Of course, you can always come up to Wichita and break bread with us.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Those 4 folks who voted thumbs down are welcome to come and break bread with me at St. George in Wichita, too. You might be surprised even though we have pews, converts (a lot of us, ewww) and sprinkle a bit of Arabic and Greek plus some occasional Romanian into the celebration of the Euchrist. Our chief chanter’s native language is Arabic, but he also chants in English (mostly) and Greek as well.

              Guess what, Jesus Christ is present and sheds His Grace on us in abundance. Our priests are upright and our bishop, well, there may be a better one somewhere in the U.S., but I can think of only one other possible.

              Come see what a morally upright bishop who is both learned in and adherent to the teachings and tradiitions of the Church can do, one who serves and supports and guides the priests in his diocese while holding us all accountable. He protects his flock and leads us into good pasture with clclear, cool water to drink.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Michael, I never said that it wasn’t. For many who went the OCA/DOS route it was because there was already an Antiochian parish nearby. Plus, there was something about Dmitri that made many take an instant liking to. Very approachable and more than willing to make regular pastoral visits.

              • Michael Bauman says

                And at the time Antioch had only two, largely unapproachable bishops who were far? away . The situation is reversed now.

                Bp. Basil is what, 4 hours up the pike from you. We have good bishops all over the country who are not controlled by a foreign ruler, just connected which is a source of strength.

                All I’m saying to folks is that their vision of we Antiochians is wrong and not based on the current reality.

                If you came up occasionally, it might help you.

            • “My guess at this point is the we and ROCOR will get closer in the coming years.”

              That’s my hope too.

      • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

        Slight correction,George.”Bohunk” properly refers to Czechs,the “bo” part coming frpm the word “Bohemian”.The word you want is “Hunky”,which refers not only to Hungarians(Magyars),but also to those from their former empire,Slovaks,Carpathrusyns and others.

    • Archpreist John W. Morris says

      I do not think that Dreher should have written about the problems of the OCA in the secular media. We do not need the bad publicity if his accusations are true. If they are not true, he has slandered not only the OCA but all of American Orthodoxy. If they are true, however, the leadership of the OCA should immediately laicize the offending Archdeacon.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Respectfully, Fr, I disagree. “Sunlight is the best disenfectant.” For too long, corrupt institutions and Apparatchiks have used this excuse to continue their misdeeds. It wouldn’t be so bad if the Church had an mechanism to correct wrongs but it doesn’t.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          PS, if the only other valid accusation against Rod was that his accusations weren’t true, then I’d be more inclined to agree with you. However, the vast majority of the accusations leveled by Rod and OCAT were not only credible but factual as well.

          That’s one reason I didn’t buy into the “anonymous” anti-OCAT hysteria out there. The protested too much.

          • Archpreist John W. Morris says

            If what Rod wrote is true, why is that Deacon still serving? As much as some of your criticize Metropolitan Philip, I am dead certain that if an Antiochian Deacon married another man, he would be an ex Antiochian Deacon.

            • Fr John,

              Bless Father!

              The Archdeacon Gregory Burke is still in good standing and serving at Christ the Savior in Miami. It is a great stain on the Diocese of the South and it is a scandal. I do not doubt for one moment that His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip would have deposed the deacon at once. In the meantime, he serves at the Altar of the Lord as a self-deposed person. How does one calculate the spiritual harm done while those responsible do nothing!

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Fr, the answer is because the cancer in the OCA is too far gone. That’s why it’s collapsing. You Antiochians are fortunate in this regard.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                We are fortunate in this regard because we have had good leadership provided by Metropolitan Philip. The people who hate him or criticize him in other jurisdictions are only showing their jealousy that we do not have the problems of other jurisdictions. Every time that I look at this web site, I thank God that the only Orthodox Church in Austin at the time that I converted was Antiochian. Had it been a parish that worshiped in a foreign language, I would have thought that is nice, but not for me. Had it been OCA I would have been trapped in the mess that is consuming the OCA. At this point, it is not important who is right, because it is obvious to anyone with a mind that there are serious problems in the OCA. I would not want to serve under a Bishop who allows an openly homosexual deacon to serve for just one example. Nor would I want to serve under a Metropolitan who was a practicing homosexual for years and no one did anything about it.

  12. M. Stankovich says

    Mr. Michalopulos,

    Is it possible that I alone have been reading for days that Protopresbyter Rodion Kondratik, is again accused of embezzling church funds to the tune of $54,000! He who is the key to healing for the OCA is banned by court order from entering his own parish? Holy Cow! And not a peep from Monomakhos? Perhaps not enough evidence? Too much “conjecture” for your taste? Somehow I’m thinking if the protagonist had been Protodeacon Wheeler or Fr. Chancellor, the cancer and tipping point would be 30-feet deep! You wouldn’t be selectively excluding news that doesn’t fit your story, would you, Mr. Michalopulos?

    • All in the Family says


      I read about the problems in Venice and it is terrible. No question about it. But if you are getting your information from that old ugly hag from Voices from Russia, again that crank lunatic gets its wrong when the transexual writes:

      Bobby’s accused of embezzling… his son’s accused of running a Ponzi scheme… my, my, my… what continuity! The apple sure didn’t fall far from the tree (or, the tree sure isn’t far from the apple it dropped).

      Mr. Kondratick’s son has been cleared of all charges in the case that Stan so cavalierly and carelessly writes. All charges were dropped. There are no pending charges against him. So, Stan, shut up about Kondratick’s family members, especially when you get your facts wrong.

      And while I am at it, remember, this is the same hack who just loves Uncle Joe Stalin and just can’t understand why folks don’t like him. Kinda tells you something about the mental stability of the one who hears Voices from the Rodina!

      Again, the charges against Mr. Kondratick are serious. They need to be investigated and all the facts come to light. Until then, Melanie Sakoda who posted the Complaint Report on Pokrov and made sure it got to that cesspool Orthodox Forum (she who still won’t say a word about Bennie Peterson’s DUI or porno addiction) just loves to pick her enemies.

      I for one can’t wait to see Syosset and the MC do another overreach in this matter as they take every opportunity to grab power by sticking their noses in a local parish’s terrible misfortune.

      • M. Stankovich says

        All in the Family,

        And wouldn’t you know, just when the Monk James, attorney at nothing, had everyone convinced that the Suffolk County DA had found Mr. Kondratick “innocent” of all charges and thus refused to bring an indictment (and if I recall correctly, he demanded I repent of my statements to the contrary), brothas’ on the streets suggest that the DA in Florida is, in fact, quite interested in reviewing the NY case. Hmm.

        I was once standing in an AdSeg Unit at San Quentin State Prison – minding my business – next to a group of bad boys cuffed at the waist & ankles, waiting to be transported to medical appointments. “You a lawyer?” “Nope,” say I. “Teacher?” “Nope,” say I. “What then?” “Psych,” say I. They laugh heartily. “Got any advice?” “Yup,” say I, “Karma’ll sneak up on yo’ ass.”

        • Here We Go Again says


          Now that you seem to be in “the know on the DL with the brothas'” on the street, what proof do you have that the FL DA is interested in reviewing the NY case? Sources please.

          Also since you are in the know, are the likes of Nescott and the Pokrov girls sticking their noses into this case? Another over reach of the MC and their consultants?

          More OCA blood lust? Well we all know what it cost the OCA last time they let their blood lust get the best of them- about $750K in legal fees and settlement costs? Best you and the usual suspects that are your friends calm down. This may be just a whole lot of not much there and a complaint filed to create an insurance paper trail.

          Try not to get too excited by the silliness that Stan the Tran posts, nor the Pokrov girls who have no street cred as long as they ignore the abuses of +Benjamin and give him a pass, nor your bro’s on the street.

          Now get back to the brothas’ and their rehabilitation cuz the mo that is revealed will make your excitement wane.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Pal, what do I care if the man absconded with the 3rd finding of the head of Blessed John the Baptizer? Blood lust? Excitement? Are you even capable of appreciating the enormity of the calamity inflicted on the life of this man’s family if this is true? Can you appreciate what it suggests about the entire charade of his “unjust” accusation, his “kangaroo court conviction,” and that he, in his person alone, held to key to healing and the very future and success – before God – of the OCA? And what about the reputation, the good name, the good intentions, the very integrity of ProtoDeacon Eric Wheeler? How many are prepared to repent for the fact that his wife, long-suffering in grave illness, mercifully passed from this life, but still hearing that her husband was destroying an “honest, righteous” man.

            No, you smack-taking cracker, it’s not “here we go again,” it’s time to start rattling the foundation of your house of cards by forcing a few rats out of the basement before the real work begins.

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              Anyone able to figure out what “absconded with the third finding of the head of the Blessed John the Baptist” means? How does one abscond with a finding? Is that something scientifically behavioral?

              At any rate, don’t be alarmed. The head of the Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptizer of our Lord, John, is safely and most reverently maintained in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria (unless, of course, the American backed rebels have destroyed both the mosque and the head!).

            • Artakhshassa the Great says

              M. Stankovich, waxing righteously indignant, as only he can, when he’s in the dark, wrote:

              “And what about the reputation, the good name, the good intentions, the very integrity of ProtoDeacon Eric Wheeler? How many are prepared to repent for the fact that his wife, long-suffering in grave illness, mercifully passed from this life, but still hearing that her husband was destroying an “honest, righteous” man.

              Why, Mister Stankovich, repent of ever-memorable Alla Wheeler having to learn how her husband helped destroy an honest, righteous man? It’s tragic, but it was better that she learned the truth abour Protodeacon Eric’s egregious conduct, was it not? Perhaps she can from beyond the grave help him understand the enormity of what he did.

              You tell us please, what you consider to be any evidence that Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick is not an honest and righteous man. Someone more reckless than I might say that the conduct of Protodeacon Wheeler and Mark Stokoe and company relative to Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick makes him want to puke, but I myself could never say that.

            • Here We Go Again says

              Listen, Pal,

              You were so quick to jump on this Venice matter here, so quick to thump your chest with some sort of queer self-righteousness and then you feign care for Betty Kondratick? You, Pal are a very troubled person and your attempts to make a hero of Eric Wheeler are misplaced, he of the little black suitcase discovered and used to its fullest to keep his career in tact until the day he discovered he was not indispensable.

              Alla Wheeler, may her memory be eternal, died trying to reconcile with the Kondratick’s knowing that what she was going through and about to succumb to was no better than the living death that her husband was putting their former friends through.

              Your outrage is not believed by this person.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      M. Stankovich. Once again, Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick has been unjustly accused of embezzlement. I heard that there’s so little evidence of him embezzling anything, that his accusers have asked the Fla. district attorney to check out the Suffolk County files to see if something wasn’t missed.

      There’s no need to cry out “Pokrovize, him! Pokrovize him!” The ladies there are on 24 hours alert to find something evil to publicize about their bogeymen.
      Those who are chiming in already with shock and anger against the Protopresbyter are even more quick to rush to justice than those misanthropic perverts that composed the STINKBOMB against Metropolitan Jonah….or perhaps I should say, they are actually the same people, suffering from the same ecclesiastical social disease.

      The less you know about the case, as for example, M. Stankovich, the more quickly and indignantly you come out with your “Aha! Aha!” Shame. People who split hairs over lay psychological evaluation here and elsewhere on the Internet now make crystal ball pronouncements: He was cleared TWICE, he’s GOT to be guilty this time!!!!

      Guess what, M. Stankovich: where there’s smoke there’s toast!

      If I didn’t believe in God and salvation, I’d say to you all, “May you ALL suffer what :Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick and his devout wife, Elizabeth (Bette) have suffered, and my no one come to your aid!” But, of course, I could never say that.

  13. once again, folks, I found myself here…. this discussion above must be what hell be like….
    I dare you to get some folks and read it all out loud together… then not weep and gnash your teeth…

    arab cabal..
    No, the Russians,
    the americans,
    ….like dogs lying around a fire, snapping at each other…..
    you people need to repent.
    as in re-think…..
    I’m in no position to judge….except to offer these honest observations….

    If satan wanted to get a hold on “the church,” ….you guys would have a hard time proving it wasn’t “yours” satan grabbed…..and now is running amok in……
    hell, he could hide in the beards, no?

    ask yourselves…what would it take to make you satisfied, content, happy, …. hells’ bells: quiet ….about
    “your” “church?” have you ever been in a “church” where you didn’t snip, snipe, cut and swipe and find fault and sin and demons.?…

    and bohunks
    arab cabals.

    no.. greeks….
    no, Americans…
    forget just about everyone else in the world and keep snipping and sniping at each other…I’m sure it will work out real well in the end…

    • All in the Family says


      If you really want to be depressed, join the Orthodox Forum on Yahoo. What is said here is mild compared to that site. On second thought, don’t go there. It’s a little corner of hell on earth.

      To answer your question, “what would keep us quiet about our church?” Truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help me God, we would be quiet.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        Someone said I had called The Orthodox Forum which “All in the Family” mentions, “The utter toilet of Orthodox internet places.” I never said anything of the kind! I may have, years ago, looked at that site, but I’ve never been a participant. Mitred Archpriest Alexander Lebedeff says that they’ve got so riled up at him that they’ve twice banned him from participation there. Basically, they are the cheerleaders for the SIC report and the STINKBOMB of a statement about Metropolitan Jonah and support Mr. & Mrs. Steve Brown and their patrons in the clergy establishment of the OCA. God, me mercitul to them! They remind me of some characters in Charles Williams’s theological thrillers totally lost in depression frustration at not being recognized as savants of any kind but being bashed as total bores and nincompoops. They need to readjust their aims and strive for more realistic self-concepts. I understand they have unleashed such a bashing of Abbot Gerasim as to cause his name to be withdrawn for consideration for the episcopate!
        May this not be!