Archbishop Joseph Elected Metropolitan of All North America

met-josephSource: Antiochian Archdiocese

His Eminence Archbishop Joseph has been elected Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America by the Holy Synod of Antioch, led by His Beatitude Patriarch John X, meeting in Balamand, Lebanon on Thursday, July 3, 2014. Axios!

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph was consecrated to the Holy Episcopacy on June 30, 1991 at the St. Mary Cathedral in Damascus, after many years of serving as a deacon and a priest. His Eminence was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1950. He was consecrated with the title, Bishop of Katana in Syria, and served as Patriarchal Assistant and Secretary of the Holy Synod of Antioch. In 1995, he was sent by Patriarch Ignatius IV of blessed memory to America.

Here in our Archdiocese, Bishop Joseph was assigned to the West Coast Chancery by Metropolitan Philip of blessed memory. After self-rule status was awarded to our Archdiocese, Bishop Joseph was enthroned at St. Nicholas Cathedral by Metropolitan Philip as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West on September 12, 2004. On December 11, 2011, at the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in the Patriarchal Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand in Lebanon, Patriarch Ignatius elevated Bishop Joseph to the rank of Archbishop, in honor of his many years of service as a bishop both in our Archdiocese and in the Patriarchate of Antioch.

Read Metropolitan Joseph’s full biography here.

View photo galleries of Metropolitan Joseph from the Diocese of the West, including the ongoing 2014 Parish Life Conference.


  1. Guy Westover says

    Well that was a surprise!
    It’s only been since, what? 2010? that most folks have been whispering that Archbishop Joseph was the heir apparent to Metropolitan Phillip! What a shame that all that money was spent on a nomination and election.
    Perhaps, remembering how it felt to be a neutered yet enthroned “auxiliary”, His Eminence will empower the seated bishops to actually rule. What do I know? Time will tell. All we can do is pray that God will guide him and give him the grace for this new cross.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Has anyone thought that the election of Met. Joseph was a really good exercise of conciliarity, a oneness of mind?
      I have.

      • steve knowlton says

        Good grief it was a fait accompli 4 years ago, how on earth could anyone seriously think this was “oneness of mind” or “conciliarity”??? I’ll give you “one mind” meaning Philip’s, and “conciliarity”, meaning some bearded gentlemen sitting in Damascus.

        It would be interesting to take wagers on what happens now to the status of the other bishops. One would think that the word auxiliary will quietly disappear from all the bishops’ titles. I notice that “auxiliary” appears nowhere in the new and official biography of MetroJo.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Honestly, Steve, it wasn’t like that. We were all quite concerned that it might be someone out of Damascus, because THEIR constitution gives them that right. Bishop Joseph was one of the three that WE chose, which is the way OUR constitution reads. This is positive.

          I got my first glimpse of Archbishop Joseph when +MP tried to demote our bishops (for the first time). I could see the strain in +BJ’s eyes. None of us quite knew what to do. He sensed our concern and said, “Do not worry about me. I am a monastic at heart. I am obedient. I will be fine. We will be fine.” That was telling. +MP’s decisions may not have been HIS decisions.

          Another glimpse into his character was when +MP hunted me down to give me a message. It was over a weekend when I got a call from one of our deacons saying that +MP told him to tell me to “back off.” With trepidation in his voice, the deacon ended our conversation saying, “Gail, he asked me to verify your address.” I couldn’t have known what that meant at the time. I suspect the deacon did.

          I remember wondering why a man, so full of self-importance, would lower himself to make a phone call to a deacon about a woman. Why didn’t he tell Bishop Joseph or my priest to handle it? I later learned he had tried to reach my priest. I also learned that Bishop Joseph knew about the letter, because he passed it out at a deanery meeting. By all accounts, Bishop Joseph did not appear to be angry and he did not join the vendetta.

          The third and most enlightening epiphany came when my son died. My son was not Orthodox. My priest called me and said that he had spoken with Bishop Joseph and that Bishop Joseph wanted to offer Chase an Orthodox funeral. He offered this to a woman who was persona non grata to +MP. Just a few weeks earlier, +MP made a point of consigning all of us (everyone who challenged him) to hell.

          In other words, the man you think you know may surprise you.

          It’s also very telling that on the Archdiocese website, they say the following: “After self-rule status was awarded to our Archdiocese, Bishop Joseph was enthroned at St. Nicholas Cathedral by Metropolitan Philip as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West on September 12, 2004.” This suggests to me that “self-rule” and “enthroned” may actually mean something in the future.

          As far as I know (more importantly, as far as any of you know), Archbishop Joseph has never text young girls, had dead bodies in his basement, nephews who watch porn at his residence or been convicted of a DUI. He does not lie, cheat or steal and was not raised by a mother so progressive, she became an Episcopal priest. When a pedophile was found within our midst, he called the police within 24 hours. – I’m good with that. Axios! Axios! Axios!

          What happens to the Antiochians could change the landscape of this continent so please pray earnestly for our new Metropolitan. He has some very serious, serious challenges ahead.

          • Steve Knowlton says

            This is sad, you’re basically painting a picture of a lawless metropolitan with a bishop who at best looked the other way, offered you some consolation.

            Also the idea that a bishop wouldn’t mind being demoted, that he’s sort of OK with being an auxiliary… all that is a portrait of a man who lives in the Old World understanding that the clergy is all about prerogatives, that somehow his episcopate is his own accomplishment, sort of like being an Eagle Scout.

            You misunderstand the nature of the complaint: I don’t have any sympathy for what happened to any of the bishops. What they got was child’s play compared to what most people go through on their way up the company ladder. It has more to do with the fact that local “self-rule” had implications for everyone. It meant that local decisions could be made, and that lowly people like myself who don’t like a decision can always call up someone I know and ask for an explanation, or to offer my 2 cents. But distant decisions in NJ are similar to distant decisions in WA DC, they afford the laity little opportunity to provide feedback. Another way of putting it is that the old model of making decisions *doesn’t require feedback.* Which is the real underlying problem with Greek Orthodoxy, in most countries it has been reduced to a clergy with no laity, because they don’t need a laity.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Steve, in reading your post and trying to construct a response I am simply amazed at how out of phase with Traditional Orthodox understanding of the polity of the Church and how congruent your understanding is with Protestant democratic thinking it seems to be.

              Guess what, I can call my priest of my bishop anytime I want and get a response. I have zero change of effecting any change in polity but that is not my concern. The bishops order the Church, good, bad or indifferent. I don’t. My task is to repent, worship, give alms, pray, forgive within my local community while standing up to the world by God’s grace. Just remember the old saying which has come to me from both the Russian and the Antiochian traditions as, roughly, “Bishops die, but grandmothers live forever.”

              Listen to Gail’s testimony in the fullness of it: Met Joseph is not the same type of man as Met. Philip was, he will not exercise the same type of leadership. Met. Philip had little pastoral experience and he operated in a vacuum for most of his time as Metropolitan. Neither of those things is true of Met. Joseph.

              One cannot object to the alleged disobedience of Met. Philip and the apparent obedience of Met. Joseph at the same time, yet that is what many critics seem to be doing.

              The U.S. ethos is one that challenges all authority and admires revolution and the myth of the individual extrinsic to community. That is not Orthodox.

              Here is what I think happened after the demolition in the desert in which Gail played a central part: after the tantrum in which some really bad stuff happened as Gail can attest, the other bishops got ahold of Met. Philip and began to build a transition, with Met. Philip’s blessing and cooperation. They began to work closely together with each other and communicate with the Holy Synod in Damascus. Met. Joseph as a key part of that process, IMO.

              I have no direct evidence or proof for my scenario, but it is at least as likely as the doom, doom and more doom followed by even more doom and damnation that the critics are putting forth.

              Collegiality or conspiracy? Choose but realize that the one you choose says much more about your heart than it does about what ‘really’ happened.

              Even if there actually was an “Old Country” conspiracy, I prefer to trust God and the Holy Spirit to bring the truth to fruition and to give glory to God for all things.

              • steve knowlton says

                I said nothing whatsoever about making changes in polity. I’m a father in my family, I order things ,it’s not a democracy. I also have an open door to hear what my kids have to say about it. There’s nothing protestant about that.

                I also didn’t say anything about old world conspiracies. However, there are old world *appetites.* You may recall Jesus himself got irritated with the leaders of his day who were preoccupied with got to sit at the head of the table and so forth.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              RE: This is sad, you’re basically painting a picture of a lawless metropolitan with a bishop who at best looked the other way, offered you some consolation.

              No, I’m really not, Steve. I know he looked the other way and I suspect the act of kindness was entirely motivated by my priest. My point is not what he *is.* My point is what he is *not.* He is not his predecessor. Had he been his predecessor, he would have said, “Let her son rot in hell.” – That’s a step up, don’t you think?

              MANY, MANY people “looked the other way,” Steve, including all those who begrudgingly served under him, but did nothing. Some are even heralded as saints, but they did NOT stand up. There were only a few, in key positions, who put it all on the line. They are the true saints. YEARS and YEARS of service to the Church and they sacrificed EVERYTHING because they knew what was happening was wrong. None of them had “Bishop” in front of their name, either.

              Our bishops let us down, Steve. All of them. They allowed +MP to remove their God given charisma. Each and every one of them knew this act was a desperate attempt for +MP to remain in control. You can’t dethrone an enthroned bishop and call him an auxiliary! Where were all of you self-described Traditionalists? Why weren’t you screaming bloody murder?!

              My point is, don’t single out Bishop Joseph. You all allowed it. (Not talking about Steve, who was certainly there to lend an ear when others weren’t.) Not only that, you PRAISE the man who did it.

              I’m done talking about this. I am going to pray for our new Metropolitan. I am going to pray that God multiplies the good and mitigates the bad. I would strongly encourage everyone else do the same, because regardless of what you think of Bishop Joseph, he IS our new Metropolitan and he is in need of our prayers.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            I must disagree with your assessment of Metropolitan Philip. I had many one on one discussions with him through my 34 years in the Priesthood. He always made me feel that he thought what I had to say was really important to him. When I was a young Priest, he visited my parish for a Parish Life Conference. I was scared to death having the Metropolitan come. He made every possible effort to make me feel comfortable with him. When I made mistakes, he always was forgiving. If someone in my parish complained, he always asked for my side of the story and was always fair to me. His Eminence was not a micro manager. Even after the titles of the Bishops changed to auxiliaries nothing really changed in the operation of the Archdiocese. He was a man of vision. Because of his willingness to stand up to Patriarch Ignatius IV, we won the right to elect our own local Bishops and nominate three candidates for Metropolitan. You probably do not remember it but back in 1981, the Patriarch told us that we have no right to nominate the candidates for our Bishops. The Metropolitan stood up to the Patriarch and we went ahead and nominated candidates for Bishop. When the Patriarch ignored our decision, Metropolitan Philip announced that if the Patriarch and Holy Synod did not elect one of our candidate, he would find two other Bishops and consecrate him himself without Patriarchal approval. The Patriarch backed down and we got our Bishop. The Patriarch did not want to grant us autonomy, but again Metropolitan Philip stood up to him and we won our autonomy. He also showed amazing courage when he took in the Evangelical Orthodox when no one else has the guts to do it. It worked out very well. Of all the parishes we took in, we only had problems with one of them. The rest worked out and are fully integrated into the Archdiocese. Despite all the arguments about an outside audit, the majority of our parishes did not want to spend $200,000 for an audit. I know that my Parish Council was strongly against the idea. Like any Orthodox Bishop worth his salt, he expected obedience, but my personal experience with him was that he did not like boot lickers or yes men. As long as you were respectful, you could disagree with him and he would give you a fair hearing. If you look at the Antiochian Archdiocese in 1966 when he became Metropolitan and at the Antiochian Archdiocese today, the progress made under his leadership is amazing. From my personal experience, he did no favor Arab clergy over converts. I also do feel that the Arab Priests treat me as an inferior. I will miss Metropolitan Philip. He gave us leadership that we badly needed.

        • Bruce W. Trakas says

          “[S]ome bearded gentlemen sitting in Damascus?” You’re referring to the hierarchs of the venerable Holy Synod of the Ancient Patriarchate of Antioch, the 3rd Throne in honor among the Holy Orthodox Churches? They are Orthodox Christians as are you and I. How did those first two American born primates of the Orthodox Church in America, +Theodosios and +Herman, work out during their total 30 years of primatial service?

          While during the last 48 years, under the leadership of foreign born Metropolitan Philip, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America quadrupled the number of its parishes. Which ecclesial jurisdiction can boast of such growth?

          Membership Data:

          Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America: ………………476,000
          Orthodox Church in America, including its
          Romanian, Bulgarian, and Albanian Archdioceses …..84,600
          Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
          of North America………………………………………………….75,000

          Many Years to Metropolitan-elect Joseph, and may he continue along the firm foundation established by his two predecessors to lead the AOCANA from progress to more progress.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Mr Trakas, true words. However let us stop with the nonsensical figures that the GOA puts out. They still count me as a member even though I’ve been in the OCA for over 10 years now.


              Yes, these are probably more accurate numbers. It is safe to say that if you use a consistent definition of membership, whatever it is, you will get the GOA being 2 to 4 times the size of the OCA.

            • Bruce W. Trakas says

              The “Membership Data” I cited are from the “2010 U.S. Orthodox Christian Census” conducted by the respected Alexei Krindatch of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute (PAOI) on behalf of SCOBA. This study has been well received as the most realistic study ever conducted in regard to U.S. Orthodox Church membership data. (The GOAA used to promoted numbers three to four times higher than those of Krindatch’s.)

              The GOAA’s “Orthodox Observer” national mailing list of 165,000 parishioner households seems consistent with Krindatch’s figures.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Bruce, let us stipulate that the GOA is at least twice as large as the OCA (probably larger than that at this point). That has never been in contention. My contention has been that the 465K number is needlessly inflated, so much so that’s it’s probably bogus. It’s based primarily on an extrapolation of TOO’s subscription numbers. Well, I have received TOO for almost 30 years now even though the last 11 years I’ve been in the OCA.

                And what do these numbers mean? How many are singletons? (i.e. widowed, never-married, divorcees?) How many are couples (aged empty-nesters or otherwise childless?) How many have only 1 child? How many 2, 3, or more?

                I don’t disavow Mr Krindatch’s work at all but in the final analysis it always comes down to inputs. If they’re reliable, great. If not, we’re talking GIGO (garbage in/garbage out). GOA priests have been notorious for claiming exaggerated numbers whereas OCA priests have bent over backwards to downplay their numbers in order to avoid the dreaded head tax to Syosset.

                Consider: if there really are 465K members in the GOA and 559 parishes that means you have this equation: 465,000/559 = 832 parishioners per parish. That’s absolutely ludicrous. even if you include a nuclear family of 2 parents and 2 children. You can only get that number if you include shirt-tail cousins who had a Greek grand or great-grandparent and feel a need or obligation to go to the annual Greek festival the way some 7th-generation German-American likes to go to an Oktoberfest.

                Admittedly, Krindatch did get the GOA to give up its even more preposterous number of “1.5 million” Greek Orthodox that TOO trumpeted out in every issue.

                • Bruce W. Trakas says

                  Krindatch surveyed the parishes, using mailing lists and seeking information about how many souls the priest feels he is called upon to serve. Sure there are parishes like your former GOAA parish that don’t keep a clean mailing list, or, it may very well be that your former pastor wants to keep you informed of parish and GOAA activities for any number of reasons. Let’s take my parish for example, we typically have 470 “giving units” in “good standing;” some are single like myself, others may be families with 2 parents and 3 children, some with more children, some with fewer. Our mailing list has 535 households on it. Some of the 65 or so difference infrequently contribute financially, but all of them are “C&E’s” considering this their parish.

                  Another factor I look at in terms of parish membership is our funerals; probably 40% of our funerals are for people none of the active parishioners know, many non-contributing members; (our parish does not charge or require “financial good standing” for funerals). Some are elderly who have ceased attending church and their children are not members, but they come to the Orthodox Church for their final rites. The children may come back for a Memorial Service for their loved one. The point is, there are Orthodox Christian souls who are not reflected in mailing roosters.

                  I look at my family too, some of my cousins. 12 of them, all married, most with children, most baptized in an Orthodox Church, but are not members of any church. They come for Memorial Services, and an occasional holiday. Their names show up nowhere in church statistics, but if you ask them to which religion do they affiliate, they’ll say they are “Greek Orthodox.” There should to be a factor in these surveys to account for these type of people, and the status of these people indicate all of our ecclesial jurisdictions are potentially serving more people than Krindatch reports. These are intangible numbers to secure, and not a criticism of Krindatch’s work.

                  I’m guessing my Priest would say, in addition to our 535 household mailing list, he would feel responsible for 1,500 souls, because there are 800 husbands and wives within our mailing list, and he’d add another 400 to account for children and those unknown souls who will at some point contact him for a service. So, using the method you used, 865 members per parish, while appearing high, is not necessarily out of line when you consider spouses, children, and faithful who do not reflect on membership rolls, allowing for a range of small, medium, and large parishes.

                  I wouldn’t be so sure GOAA membership roosters are typically inflated. These under age 50 types of today, Priests and Parish Council members, are big on saving mail (or snail as they refer to it) costs and adamantly argue to cut the mailing list in favor of “electronic” correspondence. We don’t have e-mail addresses for the numerous inactive parishioners who don’t respond to our requests for it, but mail in their contributions.

                  The GOAA did a major revamping of the “Orthodox Observer” mailing list, working directly with the parishes, in 2011, if my memory serves me correctly. As reasonably as can ever be expected, given the lack of clerical staff in many of the smaller parishes, I’ll bet this is a relatively accurate list today, even taking into consideration extras like you, but it does not account for my cousins. When I moved a little over a year ago, the “Orthodox Observer” corrected my address though my USPS change of address form, not from a direct notice from me or from my parish.

                  In regard to the OCA, a local funeral director, who is Orthodox (OCA), prints calendars for many church’s to mail annually to their parishioners, tells me 5 of the the local OCA church roosters are less than half of what they were 20 years ago; one other has remained stable over the years. This is a comparatively large metropolitan area within the OCA’s largest diocese. An 800 family parish has less than 400 currently, the previously 400 member parishes are today composed of 200 households. These parishes are served by talented and dedicated Priests, who conduct a full compliment of the Divine Services, and are assisted by a dedicated core of laity, providing also an array of parish ministries. In regard to the local GOAA parishes, I can tell you first hand (because we share mailing lists for promotion of our affairs), the 4 local GOAA parishes mailing lists have remained stable in this same period, perhaps even a little growth in one of them. And stability is growth, when you consider loss by death.

                  And don’t be so sure the OCA parish mailing lists are not larger than the per capita “head count” used for their national assessment, because the assessment is based on financial contributors, while the mailing lists will likely include the additional type people I made note of in my description of my parish’s membership.

                  You may recall in the early 1990’s OCL published a book with an analysis that refuted the membership statistics the GOANSA was promoting and projected about one million Orthodox Christians in the U.S, versus the 6 million figure that was used for many years. Krindatch came in with 800,000 in his membership compilation of “adherents,” people who in one form of another would have contact with the particular parish.

                  Finally, while a few parishes have since closed, the GOAA had 500 parishes in 1996 after the dismemberment of the GOANSA. Today’s Yearbook, 18 years later, reflects 540 parishes; (there are about 35 of these parishes, not the new ones, that do not have a priest assigned due to insufficient revenue, but there are souls in these communities who are served by retired Priests and non-GOAA Priests on an irregular basis). There’s been a lot of substantial reduction in membership in the rust belt parishes, but a large growth in the South and West, factors encountered by the GOAA and the OCA. I don’t recall them off hand, but Krindatch’s survey reported upon increases in parishes in each jurisdiction.

                  I think, too, the national mailing lists corroborate Krindatch’s work. If you take the 476,000 GOAA members from his survey, divided by the 165,000 mailing list, that’s 2.9 members per household. Likewise, take the 84,600 OCA members, divided by the 33,000 (a 2008 figure) OCA mailing list, that’s 2.6 per household.

                  If you check around, you’ll find Krindatch’s survey was respected by the bishops and many others. I have yet to read a challenge to his work, although understanding its inherent limitations.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Thinking allowed here: 465,000 / 540 = 861 people per parish. Krindatch’s multiplier is 2.8 people for each suscription of TOO. That is a realistic multiplier. The question then becomes what constitutes a subscriber to TOO? A shirt-tail cousin? Somebody who isn’t an adherent but inherited his dad’s subscription?

                    Leaving aside the plummeting figures of the OCA and other jurisdictions, I can’t reconcile myself to the idea that the average GOA parish has 861 even nominal people in it. I’ve been in too many GOA parishes in which typical Sunday attendance is 55+. I realize St Demetrius in Corona has 1,0000 somewhat regular attendees and Annunciation in Houston has 800 regular attendees. Perhaps there are 10 other mega-churches that mimic these figures. Let’s say 12 mega-chuches x 1000 attendees = 120,000. That leaves 528 churches to fight over the remaining 340,000.

                    340,000 / 528 = 644 adherents. <--this is the real number when the rubber hits the road. I guarantee you that no middling parish has this many members. This number only exists if we play fast and loose with terminology, i.e. "adhererents" = "members" (or part-Greeks who will be members because of some impending tragedy). Still, I applaud Krindatch for his admirable work. He accomplished much, including getting the GOA to give up its delusional membership figures. If I had to guess, he also had to learn how to deal with bad inputs from skittish priests.

                • George,

                  The figures for the OCA are way off. At best, the number of financially supporting members is 30,000. About 21,000 for “metropolia” parishes and the rest for the ethnic dioceses. Canada, Alaska and Mexico have never been part of any count since Alaska sends a nominal amount and Canada does not transmit funds to the USA.

                  These numbers continue to decline especially in dioceses in the northeast and Pennsylvania. The Midwest diocese membership is also dropping at an alarming rate. The West and the South are holding their own, but barely.

                  Very sad.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Of course the OCA numbers which Krindatch produces are “way off.” The way that Syosset has acted in the Jonah situation has driven people by the hundreds if not thousands out of the OCA or at the very least depressed giving.

  2. God help us. We had 2 significantly better candidates and the least capable was chosen. Connections, even in the church, make a difference.I heard BJ speak on several occasions and the man was not prepared, rambled, prated and in the end had nothing to say. Could the position have been given to the highest bidder?

    • Since the “other” bishops of the (giggle) Self Ruled Archdiocese are actually *not* bishops, this will leave a hole on the west coast where there already wasn’t a bishop, and where they’ll have to put a new non bishop. The Antiochians continue to have the purest of papal administration. Every meeting of their bishops has every issue settled one to nothing.

  3. Michael Bauman says

    So you say johnkal but, thankfully, your opinion means nothing. Your prayers however for the Holy Spirit to guide and bless Met Joseph could help.

  4. Damascus (Balamand) had to make sure they had one of their boys in power to keep the flow of money up. Of what value or use is the patriarchate and the Holy synod to us in the US? After going along with Met. Philip’s decommissioning of the enthroned bishops to “auxiliary”, whatever that is, they can join the ranks of the clowns who run the OCA and the GOA. I suppose we must give him the benefit of the doubt but if the grape vine has any truth, do not hold your breath.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Speaking for reality: when the so-called decommissioning occurred the existential reality of how the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America is run by his Grace Bishop Basil did not change at all.

      It seems to me that most folks anti-Papalism is conditioned by Protestant ideology and the revolutionary mind of the world rather than Orthodox Tradition.

      I am tired of the xenophobia concerning “old world” churches as well. I am a recovering xenophobe myself so I know the temptations. The fact is, we need the roots of the old world. We are just beginning to put down roots here. Frankly, it seems to me that the Antiochian Archdiocese is doing most of that work. In any case, whining and moaning and throwing tantrums doesn’t get the work done.

      I am disgusted with the venom, anger, the anti-Christian bias and pre-judgement that informs so many of these posts. “Doom, doom, all is doomed!” Not exactly the approach of a people ready for the responsibility of complete self-government. Much more like a 2 year old in full “me, me, me” mode don’t you think?

      If Bishop Basil had been elected Metropolitan and he didn’t immediately put into action all of the stupidity of agenda of the nay-sayers the chorus of crap that would have come down on his head would have been truly stupendous. You’d be like the Rolling Stones groupie who wanted more than anything to have sex with Mick Jagger. Each time she got closer to her goal she would say, “That was good but not as good as Jagger would have been” only to say the exact same thing when she reached her goal.

      Thank God we are all saved from that by the grace of God. Unfortunately you are still free to worship your Bishop Basil idol.

      May our Lord have mercy on us all! Come Lord Jesus!

      • Nope. When one bishop runs everything that’s papalism, not the Church. A mafia. Allegiance to a “patriarchate” across the planet named for a place it hasn’t been since the 13th century is allegiance to pyramids. Crumbling stone monuments. Basil ran his diocese the way Philip ** let** him run it. He remains bishop of nothing. Let’s see if Joseph leaves it that way or restores things to the way the Orthodox Church understands a bishop. I bet he doesn’t. That would not be to the liking of the bishops in Isis.

        • Pere LaChaise says

          I’d be surprised if the new Metr. gave away power he inherited from the old Metr. Parallels growth of US Security State from one administration to the next (the Permanent Government). Unless there is significant pushback from those deprived of power, those who have it generally keep it.
          If Metr. Joseph ‘devolves’ his papal position, he will be called a saint in his lifetime.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      RMR asks, “Of what value or use is the patriarchate and the Holy synod to us in the US?”

      I don’t know who his “us” is.

      With respect to the “value or use” of our communion with an Apostolic See, however, let this Antiochian priest answer him: This Archdiocese benefits immensely from the authority, experience, guidance, and wisdom of the Patriarchate and the Holy Synod.

      I would hate to see any development that might diminish our ties thereto.

      No matter who was elected our new Metropolitan last week, this Archdiocese would have taken great care to maintain those ties to Antioch and Damascus.

      • Since Antioch ceased to be a city around the 13th century, what ties could you or any living person possibly have to it? I happen to go to a Greek archdiocese parish with a woman who is actually from the real, live city of Antikiah. Her husband is from Tarsus. Neither one spouts the nonsense that “Antiochian” clergy are taught to recite. They never mentioned it until I happened once to ask them where they were from. I know you can’t imagine that. They have actual ties to that place, I wonder what makes them not wear it on their sleeve? Could it be normality? There is just as much tie to an “apostolic” see as you wish to fantasize. The one thing Antiochian clergy fear most is church history available to laymen. The amount of authority, experience, guidance and wisdom you get from Damascus may be seen by the candid admission by Joseph that he and the other auxiliaries never were bishops. Along with honesty I guess you get the full package from there.

        • Michael Bauman says

          bob, wow such linear literalism. How about one of the oldest diocese in the Christian world, the Diocese of Houran in southern Syria founded in the first excursion of the Apostles outside Jerusalem by Philip, I believe. It happens to be one of the diocese where the founders of my home parish came from due to one of the periodic Islamic purges. The families that founded my home parish can trace their Christianity back to earliest of Apostolic times, continuous, unbroken and enduring. That is just one example.

          Excuse me for thinking your attitude sounds nothing like an Orthodox one. You seem to question the legitimacy of every hierarch. That is simply wrong thinking.

          All of the Antiochian Bishops were consecrated canonically and so they are bishops. To deny that is to deny the Church. The test of a bishop is whether or not he will lay down his life for his flock. Certainly as Fr. Philip notes above and as my own priest has commented to me, Met. Joseph left home and family to come to a strange land. During his time as Bishop in Los Angles, he has grown and adapted.

          I would suggest that the anger that you and Mr. Hadad display has little to do with the actual situation of Met. Joseph but of something more deeply out of place in your own hearts. During my bouts of similar anger in the past (for similar reasons) that is what I found to be true about myself. It almost drove me from the Church at one point. God was gracious and did not allow that to happen. I pray the same for both of you.

          The governance of the Antiochian Archdiocese will no longer be that of one man as it was under Met. Philip. For that alone, you ought to be thankful given your past objections. Obviously, monasticism will be a greater priority, the development of regional retreat centers and many other things will change. I am sure you will not like any of them since you have already decided that we are an ineffectual anachronism that is not even legitimately Orthodox. If that is your position, you simply need not worry about us any longer. Dust off your feet and move on. That would be sad.

          We need to develop strong local Orthodox communities in this land that have the same strength and resilience as the communities in Syria have shown themselves to have over centuries. Tied to the land, embedded in the hearts of our people. That is something quiet foreign to the U.S. mentality, it is not modern, industrial or progressive or individual enough. It is tough work that will be unlikely to happen at all if we cut ties with the so-called “Old Country” Patriarchates.

          I don’t know about you, but I know of many parishes in various jurisdictions who are doing that sort of work: OCA, Antiochian, Patriarchal Bulgarian, Serbian, ROCOR, even Greek and that is just the ones I know of personally. They are doing it while anchored to the living history of their respective Patriarchates.

          Boy, boy, crazy boy, get cool, boy
          Got a rocket in your pocket
          Keep coolly cool, boy

          Don’t get hot
          ‘Cause man, you got some high times ahead
          Take it slow and Daddy-O
          You can live it up and die in bed

          Boy, boy, crazy boy, stay loose boy
          Breeze it, buzz it, easy does it
          Turn off the juice boy

          Go man, go
          But not like a yo-yo, schoolboy
          Just play it cool boy, real cool

          • Fr. George Washburn says

            Mr. Bauman:

            I think you have hit the nail on the head. This Bob reminds me of a man I used to know by that name, and once traveled with, who avoided focus on his own issues by criticizing leaders in this sort of vein.

            Fr. George

          • steve knowlton says

            It’s really much simpler than all that. The modern diocese of Houran is the same as the ancient one in the same sense that a modern day library on the outskirts of Cairo is the “Library of Alexandria.” You’re the victim of a simple slight of hand. You’re the one employing the linear literalism.

            • The diocese of Hawran has been continuously there for 2000 years… Damascus, Beirut, Tyre, etc. are all pretty well continuously extant apostolic foundations. Christianity, and to a very significant degree the institution of the Patriarchate of Antioch has been continuous in Syria and Lebanon from the beginning. That counts for a lot.

  5. The position may have been given to the one showing the most obedience to the Syrian agenda. Watch to see how a more traditional Orthodox spirituality will grow and develope among the Antiochians in America. Or not.

    • Sam Haddad says

      “Watch to see how a more traditional Orthodox spirituality will grow and develope among the Antiochians in America.”

      Oh, like the phony spirituality of ROCOR? Pony tails, long beards, cassocks everywhere, liturgical hats everywhere, weird hats in public, etc. How about American Orthodoxy with an American Typikon and American traditions?

      • Michael Bauman says

        So just another exercise in phylitism. Not surprised.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Mr. Hadad, if you think that His Grace Bishop Basil would support your agenda, you are delusional.

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        Sam Haddad, who usually expresses himself more felicitously, says, “Pony tails, long beards, cassocks everywhere, liturgical hats everywhere, weird hats in public, etc.”

        Calm down, Sam. Everything is going to be okay.

        • I was talking to a young priest in another jurisdiction the other day, before the selection was made. His main point: Oh to have the choice between those three bishops. From his perspective, the Antiochians faced a positive problem.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Fr. Patrick, Fr. Jon Morris, and Mr. Mattingly,

          You all present such a sobering, and such an assuring sentiment in a time when indifference and the “days of rage” reign: Mr. Mattingly notes that the unlikely “struggle” was that our God set before the Church three fine men known for their piety. Fr. John emphasized that there was no undo influence or coercion, and that in the context of the greatest authority God has given to the Church, gathering in council, they freely expressed their voice. And Fr. Patrick, like the father of a friend of mine who is a retired state trooper who really hated to give tickets on Friday to people headed home, eased his car ahead of the speeders so everyone would get home safely. No conspiracy, no questioning of the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and no questioning of the authority to act. Combined with the report of Fr. George and the anonymous priest (heaven knows why you are anonymous), I found your comments refreshing, inspiring, and informative. We do not often see such profound events in our lifetime, and I sincerely thank you all for your thoughts.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            I saw no campaigning during the special convention. No one asked me to vote for anyone. The Holy Synod did wave the Arabic and age requirements, however, allowing Priests who knew little or who were over the maximun age of 65 to be on the ballot. We have a fair and free election. The Holy Synod honored our intentions and chose one of our candidates for Metropolitan.
            I did not serve in Metropolitan Joseph’s Diocese, but he was always friendly and never showed a trace of arrogance. I was extremely impressed by his organizational abilities and the way he presided at the meeting last year of the Pastoral Committee of the Bishop’s Assembly. I trust in the Holy Spirit that He has led the Holy Synod to make the right choice.

      • .

    • Pere LaChaise says

      By ‘traditional’ I take your meaning as ‘all-Arab, all the time’. We’ll see. I wonder how the AEOM guys are feeling about this.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        That is pure nonsense. I have never ever felt treated as an inferior by Metropolitan Joseph because I am not an Arab. Two years ago I was suffering from an injured knee that eventually led to a total knee replacement. He could see that I was in pain and expressed sincere concern for my health.
        I think that if I were OCA, I would not criticize any other Orthodox considering all the problems the OCA has had with its Bishops during the past few years. Clean up your own house before you criticize our’s.

        • Pere LaChaise says

          Glad you can share that anecdote about a personable and caring hierarch. Maybe he will surprise me – we need more of those. But I have a friend serving under Joseph who complains how egoistic he is. I guess he’s a complex person.

  6. Sam Haddad says

    Everyone knows that the ONLY real salvation for the Antiochian Archdiocese would have been Bishop Basil Essey. All the talk of educating Antiochian clergy in this country since the 1950′s and they were; then to choose an “Old Country” bumpkin over the “BEST” Orthodox Bishop in North America, BAR NONE, is just stupid. There is no “SELF-RULED ANTIOCHIAN ARCHDIOCESE;” this is a joke. Again, the only way to solve this skata is to have a true American Church not subject to foreign bishops. We have one; it’s called the OCA! This will happen with the GOA, ROCOR and ANY church still tied to “Old Country” patriarchs. The American Orthodox, especially this weekend, should take note from America’s Independence and cut it’s ties with overseas domination by foreign bishops. After all, this is exactly what Orthodox Canon Law says we should do. “Foreign bishops have no authority outside their own local territory.” I call on the Board of Trustees of the Antiochian Archdiocese to reject + Joseph and insist on + Basil. If not, watch the Antiochian Archdiocese crumble and revert to 1940. + Joseph will be a pawn…

    • gimmeabreak says

      If the OCA is the “answer” then apparently the question is, “What US jurisdiction is shrinking at the fastest rate?”

      And you’re talking about +Joseph being a pawn? Is it possible to have a more timid pawn than the current OCA Metropolitan? Sure, he’s a nice guy, but they only chose him because they know he’ll do what the Metropolitan Council and +Benjamin and Jillions want. The OCA has nothing to teach the Antiochians, thank you very much. The Antiochian Archdiocese has done quite well the past 20 years and has grown at a tremendous rate.

      And how’s that so-called autocephaly working out for you? Pretty soon you’ll have more retired bishops than active ones. I would rather have a strong bishop who’s a true leader than a Protestant/congregationalist church masquerading as Orthodox who has to march to the tune of the Metropolitan Council.

    • steve knowlton says

      Actually, the “Archdiocese” would be fine with either candidate, simply on institutional momentum. It’s really a question of what it becomes. Obviously Bishops Joseph and Basil represent very different temperaments. Bishop Joseph represents a return of the “antiochian” church to its basic raison d’etre of being primarily a Syrian refugee church, i.e. a GOA for Syrians and Lebanese. He has never really understood the concept of converts and doesn’t know how to communicate with them. He would show up to our parish every year and just read the same poorly reasoned, poorly written sermon.

      • Pere LaChaise says

        This is what I meant by “All-Arab, all the time”. Same old same old. No matter how nice he may be, if he doesnt get America and Americans, he’ll just be arabizing out of habit, like he has done in LA.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      RE: I call on the Board of Trustees of the Antiochian Archdiocese to reject + Joseph and insist on + Basil.

      Is it Orthodox to “insist,” Sam? I didn’t learn that as a catechumen. I certainly know, first hand, how destructive negative spiritual energy can be so, presumably, heartfelt prayer would have a restorative quality about it. What am I missing here? We HAVE a new Metropolitan, Sam. Pray for him, as I am sure Bishop Basil does. God may surprise you.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I have the highest regards for Bishop Basil. Naturally, I had conflicting emotions when I learned that the Holy Synod of Antioch had not selected him: first, slight disappointment, but second, a sense of relief for +Basil because more than anything else he wants to get his monastery going. That said, there is absolutely no grounds for any Orthodox body to gainsay the decision of the Holy Synod. Any Antiochian parish or church body would simply cease being Orthodox if it decided to substitute its own preference to that of the Holy Synod. I wish my Antiochian brothers and sisters the very best under the leadership of Metropolitan Joseph, and although it is not my place to say it, “axios” indeed!

  7. Fr. George Washburn says

    Good morning friends:

    By random assignment I happened to be the junior celebrant at the PLC Gt. Vespers yesterday, the first service presided over by the newly-elected, just-returned Met. Joseph. I heard his entire report to the laity and his later meeting with the clergy, and took decent notes.

    The conventions, habits and biases of this kind of forum, which seems to run so fundamentally by anonymity, rumor, pessimism, instantaneous negative reactivity, simplistic, dismissive surface explanations of this or that “fact” (or seeming fact) and good old-fashioned American drama-creation and love-hate attitudes to whoever holds high office, in my opinion make it impossible to have a productive discussion of what can be expected in Met. Joseph’s administration, let alone what will actually happen. So I am not going to try, and wish most others wouldn’t either.

    It was a fine start. Suffice to say that he really seems to “get” what a demanding job he has undertaken and to be prepared to put his shoulder to the wheel on the real issues we face and the real goals of the Church. In the coming weeks he can be expected to undertake a punishing schedule of listening and consensus-building travel between the W. Coast, Englewood, Antiochian Village for the clergy symposium, and the Middle East.

    There will doubtless be pseudonymous prophets peddling parsings of whatever glimpses they think they’ve had of some of the tea leaves. Far better to pray and, give our own best support to a united transition and wise assessment of both a) priorities and b) well-considered first steps toward addressing them.


    Fr. George

    • steve knowlton says

      “instantaneous negative reactivity…??” No, no, I’ve always thought Joseph was a tool.

    • M. Stankovich says

      “Pseudonymous prophets peddling parsings.” Holy Cow! This is the alliteration to constitute my first tattoo! You are the next José Saramago, Abouna Jorge!

    • Fr. Philip (Speranza) says

      My experience of Bishop Joseph was primarily liturgical, i.e., serving with him when he visited Edmonton. Rarely have I encountered a presbyter or bishop so intensely focused, not just on serving the Liturgy, but on actually praying the Liturgy. He made it not just easy but inescapable for the rest of us truly to lift up our hearts. I have also seen (albeit as an outsider) him handle thorny administrative issues; he did so (publicly, anyway) with tact and respect for the people with whom he was dealing. He seems to me to be both a good man and a good Orthodox Christian and a good bishop.

      Concerning criticisms of how he handled or did not handle past problems, I have seen little acknowledgement here that there is in every ministry a learning curve. Bishop Joseph, as he then was, had to grow in his episcopal ministry, all the while trying to adapt to a new cultural mind-set, a new societal value system, etc. One cannot but wonder how many of his critics would do as well if they found themselves plopped down in the middle of Zahli. In a learning curve, one cannot but make mistakes from time to time; but those can become learning opportunities for the wise person. And Bishop Joseph strikes me as a wise man.

      I realize it may seem quaint or horribly old-fashioned, but I’d still like to suggest that we are all still bound by the apostolic teaching of 1 Corinthians 13:7 that love “believeth all things:” not in the sense that love is gullible, but that love chooses to believe the best about another person and their intentions until proven otherwise.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Fr, one of the things that gives me cautious optimism about the future of the Antiochians are anecdotes such as this. I’ve heard from more than a few priests over the years that all of the other bishops are far more liturgically rigorous than Philip was. That’s not a slam at Philip, he had his peculiarities and his preferences and being a stout leader he was entitled to them, but the Philip/Iakovos era of 50s-type corner-cutting is over.

        I pray that the Antiochians continue along the more rigorous liturgical path, including robust monasticism. I can’t tell you how gratified I was to read that Joseph, Silouan and others went to venerate the relics of St John Maximovitch upon first arriving in SF. That speaks well to the future.

  8. There have been bad bishops and great bishops. Luckily I don’t have to spend my time worrying about their salvation as I have my own to figure out. The church has and always will be there for those
    That need her. At least this is resolved so we can all go back to the important stuff. Like prayer fasting and giving of ourselves to others.

    • …And the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom, especially its moral terms to an immoral generation, its vision of life to those who are blind to the judgment to come, to those who identify with the Church and to those outside.

      There is not a single person who does not need the Church.

      We need to put off the ghetto mentality to which our conception of the Church has descended.

  9. I clicked on this: Read Metropolitan Joseph’s full biography here. and got “page not found” Just curious as to when Orthodoxy will have a native born clergy. Will America always be a “mission” not a church?

  10. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD asked me in another thread, now closed to comment , this question:

    “Vladyka, what precisely is your point in quoting the ROCOR hierarchical statement on 3 July 2014 concerning Metropolitan Jonah?”

    I’m surprised someone with a doctorate in philosophy (and who posts here frequently) would put such a question which indicates he didn’t get the point of my quotation. So I’ll try to answer as simply as possible:

    The status of Metropolitan Jonah has been a frequent topic of discussion here, and often assertions were made about his status relative to ROCOR and an alleged RELEASE of Metropolitan Jonah by the OCA to ROCOR. The hierarchical statement offers FACTS, rather than gossip or unfounded assertions. I believe that a PhD reading the statement would learn that there has been no release of Metropolitan Jonah to ROCOR. He should also be able to determine that any reception of Metropolitan Jonah in the future would be a reception of him as a RETIRED hierarch. Here, again, is what the episcopate of ROCOR has publixhed relative to Metropolitan Jonah and also to Bishop Nikolai (Soraich).

    Here is that statement again, making the same point(s):

    “The Council confirmed the Synod of Bishops’ decision to receive His Grace Bishop Nikolai (Soraich), former Bishop of Alaska of the Orthodox Church in America, as a retired bishop. Deliberating on the request to receive His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah, former Primate of the OCA, the Council expressed the willingness to receive him as a retired bishop on condition that he receive a canonical release. Should future requests for the reception of bishops from other Local Orthodox Churches be received, the President of the Synod of Bishops will first request the opinions of all the members of the Council of Bishops of ROCOR, and then send a corresponding request to His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia for blessing.”

    • Dear Vladika Tikhon,

      I am no authority on either the ROCOR or the OCA so I was impressed by your posting. The quotation you gave on Bishop Nikolaj indicates that he was received back into the OCA from the Serbian archdiocese in Australia since his release came from the OCA. Also, it seems that in order for a bishop from another jurisdiction to enter the ROCOR, it must have the permission of the Moscow Patriarchate. Before this post of yours, I was under the false impression that as part of the reconciliation, the ROCOR retained self rule as to ordinations in a version of canonical autonomy..

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        “Yo,” Bishop Nikolai wss given hospitality in the Australian diocese of the Serbian Church much as Metropolitan Jonah has been given hospitality by Father Potapov of ROCOR; however, neither hierarch left the OCA until now, when one of them, Bishop Nikolai, was received from the OCA by ROCOR.

        I don’t see any point to your last sentence. The reception of a hierarch is not an ordination, although the bizarre and, one might say, indecent reception of a deposed deacon as a ‘retired bishop” into the OCA without even a HINT of a canonical releasea would make one puzzle; “What WAS that?”

        • Dear Vladyka,

          Thank you for the clarification of Bishop Nikolaj’s former status with the Australian Serbian Orthodox Church. I hope his health has improved and that now, as a retired bishop within ROCOR, he can finally be allowed travel to the church he founded near his home. I find it absurd to see bishops like him and yourself restricted in travel and celebration because it seems to imply that once retired, the bishop is no longer autonomous in any normal bishop’s action. If a priest can leave retirement to serve, why not a bishop in some capacity?

          I was thinking that the reception of a clergyman something like an ordination. Certainly this is true when a rank of clergy is determined for a clergy convert Even between the Greek Archdiocese and the ROCOR, the ranks are different in meaning regarding Archbishops and Metropolitans.

          Btw, what do you think about the wholesale conversion of bishops in the OCA to Archbishoprics a few years ago?

      • “7. The bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are elected by her Council of Bishops or, in cases foreseen by the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, by the Synod of Bishops. Such elections are confirmed in accordance with canonical norms by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.” – Act of Canonical Communion, signed May 17, 2007

        This is the reception of clergy from another jurisdiction so it is not exactly on all fours with the situation contemplated in the above article.

        Also, and I’d forgotten this language:

        “1. That the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, conducting its salvific service in the dioceses, parishes, monasteries, brotherhoods, and other ecclesiastical bodies that were formed through history, remains an indissoluble, self-governing part of the Local Russian Orthodox Church.”

        I.e., Moscow officially recognized that ROCOR had always remained part of the ROC.

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

      I asked “such a question,” Vladyka, because I cannot fathom why you would persist in taunting a fellow retired OCA bishop, His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Yes, Your Grace, why this incessant need to kick His Beatitude when he’s down?

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        Oh, I have no interest, Father Alexander and George, in either taunting Metropolitan Jonah or kicking anyone who is down. I can’t resist, however, taunting his cheerleaders who have their heads in the sand like ostriches purportedly have. George has STILL not retracted his claim that Metropolitan Jonah has been received into ROCOR.
        I posted a couple of official sentences by the ROCOR Council of Bishops, even though I recognize that such facts and documentation are foreign to Monomakhos-style partisanship.
        Now, George, you are saying that Metropolitan Jonah is “down?” Please explain that. I do not believe Metropolitan Jonah would agree with that, but, then, I think I know him better than either of you guys do..
        I guess that when Father Alexander got his PhD, the school also provided him with a new, kicky definition of “taunt?

        • George has STILL not retracted his claim that Metropolitan Jonah has been received into ROCOR.

          George has never claimed that, thus there is no need to retract it.

        • Well being in limbo is not exactly pleasant. You cannot deny that +Jonah has been requested to enter ROCOR, nor can you deny that the OCA has not released him. They are being petty and unfair with stipulations. But that is between Russia and the OCA.

          • “Do they actually believe Christ looks like a man?”

            Do you actually believe that Christ looks just like that man in His icons and that in reality the Holy Spirit looks like a dove? Or is it irrelevant?

        • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

          Vladyka, instead of professing “no interest . . . in either taunting Metropolitan Jonah or kicking anyone who is down” and admitting only a desire for “taunting his cheerleaders,” you might take a second look at some of your most mean-spirited, ad hominem remarks on this website concerning your fellow retired OCA bishop.

          Here is one on June 30, 2014 at 9:23 pm:

          “I suppose Metropolitan Jonah didn’t want to leave the residence the OCA continues to give him, no? I know that Archbishop Seraphim (Storheim), though retired, still gets his monthly SALARY from the OCA’s Canadian Archdiocese—-perhaps whatever ‘pittance’ the OCA has been giving Metropolitan Jonah is still better than just the UNKNOWN that might be coughed up by ROCOR for….”

          And here, in response to “Helga’s” correction (“Your Grace, the OCA does not give Metropolitan Jonah any residence. The house he lives in is owned by a non-church entity, and the OCA’s stipend is less than the usual monthly rent for a house of its size and location.”), is another disappointing quip on July 6, 2014 at 10:34 am:

          “Sounds like a really good deal, no? Talk about ‘fat-cattin’ it!’”

          There is simply no moral justification for such gratuitous mockery. Further, my academic training in Orthodox moral theology and social ethics for the Doctor of Philosophy degree (which you also, for some odd reason, “can’t resist . . . taunting” repeatedly) suggests that firing such uncharitable broadsides against the character of a fellow bishop ostensibly as a means of provoking third parties is intrinsically disproportionate, unjust, and immoral.

          In short, this is no laughing matter. I implore you, Vladyka, to take a higher road on this message board.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            Father Alexander, you must know what an ad hominem remark really is. How then can you so misuse it here?
            Just to refresh your knowledge of elementary logic, I’d like to remind you that an ‘ad hominem” remark may be derogatory or complimentary toward a person. If Helga would say, “That must be true because Metropolitan Jonah said it was and he is a good man,” that would be an ad hominem remark. A reproach of “ad hominem” is logically directed at any premise or argument that is based on a person rather than any element of the premise or argument.
            I, o Archpriest, have made NO ad hominem remarks relative to Metropolitan Jonah or anyone else. Now do you get it?
            Actually, I am not a friend of credentialism, either. If I were you, I’d HIDE my PhD, since what you produce here indicates it is not an indicator or any particular skill or talent or knowledge. PhDs, as you must know, are plentiful as lice. As to your specialization, moralizing, a PhD does NOT qualify you to moralize which is your preferred mode of communicating with me and everyone else here.
            You should stick to your obsession, inventing an Orthodox “just war” theory to mirror the Roman Catholic one

            You are dishonestly exaggerating, Father Alexander, when you speak of my firing uncharitable “broadsides” against Metropolitan Jonah. The closest thing to such a “broadside’ (!) might be the horrible, clumsy, STINKBOMB of a letter authorized by the OCA’s Holy Synod which even hit the wire services.

            Incidentally, I know Metropolitan Jonah personally better and for a longer time than most people, including you, Archpriest. Do you really think my reference to Metropolitan Jonah’s having his rent paid in an elite DC neighborhood by a stipend from the OCA as “fat-cattin’ it” would offend him? Have you EVER met him?

            You don’t like my irreverent tone towards your utterances here. I don’t think I am capable of hiding my irreverence toward you but I’m really trying, even when you moralize!!!! I don’t’s not for ME to tell you to pray for my improvement rather than inveighing against my iniquities…. Maybe it will come to you.

            • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

              This online conversation is hopeless. Enjoy your retirement, Vladyka.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                I’ll take that as an “Uncle!” Nevertheless, I feel I should encourage any priest to refrain from giving up hope.

            • His Grace writes,

              You are dishonestly exaggerating, Father Alexander, when you speak of my firing uncharitable “broadsides” against Metropolitan Jonah. The closest thing to such a “broadside’ (!) might be the horrible, clumsy, STINKBOMB of a letter authorized by the OCA’s Holy Synod which even hit the wire services.

              We definitely agree about the quality of the Stinkbomb letter.

              However, your other claims about Metropolitan Jonah are false. He is not “fat-cattin’ it”, since that term implies wealth and questionable dealings. He is not wealthy or privileged, nor did he acquire what he has through any kind of questionable behavior.

              • Dan Fall says

                Well, if Metropolitan Jonah is receiving a stipend of rent paid by the OCA it would be in pure contrast to what people have said here, for one. For two, it would be without quid pro quo, i.e. serving the OCA currently. And third, that could frame it as entitlement or fat catting. Imagine a CEO resigning and getting stipends (happens).

                None of this reflects my opinion on the matter, by the way. My personal opinion is that if Jonah was a failed experiment or asked to leave for disapprovals that were less than termination worthy; then some compensation would be right. Typically, this would be a lump sum severance and a release. Paying someone’s rent is a bit odd, but so is the release matter.

                As to getting something for nothing; it is a perception issue. Getting rent and not released is just odd.

                Corrections welcome.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                Father Helga, I’m afraid that your definition of “fat-cattin’ it” is deficient. It’s not even close. An overweight man relaxing in a big soft easy chair is fat-cattin’ it. The term most definitely does NOT imply or even hint at wealth or questionable dealings as you imagine. If you choose to infer that, you’re doing so in order to be malicious. You are right that Metropolitan Jonah is neither wealthy nor privileged, nor has he to my knowledge acquired any of his possessions through any kind of questionable behavior.
                Why do you insist on that? Is it because I refuse to admire Metropolitan Jonah and refuse to see him as any kind of suffering servant of God? Guilty of that, as charged, But not of ths stuff you made up.
                A fat cat is merely comfortable with no worries about food, clothing or shelter. COMFORTABLE! Get it? Metropolitan Jonah lives a life of unparalleled comfort with no responsibilities in a comfortable house with plenty to eat and drink in one of the most upscale neighborhoods in the capital city of the richest empire in history. Please list ANY other claims I have made about Metropolitan Jonah that you can demonstrate are false…

                • George Michalopulos says

                  At the very least Your Grace, your uncomplimentary remarks about His Beatitude are far from charitable and give a horrible Christian witness. I could go on but I won’t.

                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    I apologize to George Michalopoulos and all others who disapprove of and are offended by my uncomplimentary remarks about anyone.
                    I confess that there are many instances, Metropolitan Jonah included, for whom I can think of no compliments whatsoever, while many of those for whom I have many compliments are belied, betrayed, slandered and backbitten almost daily here with no comment and utter complacency by George. I see no reason now not to withdraw from participation here.
                    A personal note. The last conversation I had with Metropolitan Jonah, AFTER he had resigned,included these words of his, “How cool is THAT,” after informing me he had, AFTER ALL, stood on the very same eagle rug as Pariarch Alexii of blessed memory.

                  • Your Grace, do you think I could get dictionaries to collude with me about the meaning of “fat cat”? (The only one I could possibly influence is Wiktionary, and that entry hasn’t been altered since last March.) None of these definitions say it means “comfortable”.

                    The most polite definitions are that it means a wealthy or powerful person, which Metropolitan Jonah is not. Other definitions are not so kind.

                    From Free Dictionary:

                    fat cat
                    n. Slang
                    1. A wealthy and highly privileged person.
                    2. A wealthy person who is a heavy contributor to a political campaign.
                    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

                    fat cat
                    a. a very wealthy or influential person
                    b. (as modifier): a fat-cat industrialist.

                    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

                    fat cat
                    n. Slang.
                    1. a wealthy person, esp. one who makes large political campaign contributions.
                    2. an important or influential person.
                    3. a person who is lazy, self-satisfied.
                    [1925–30, Amer.]
                    Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

                    From Wiktionary:

                    fat cat (plural fat cats)

                    (slang) A rich person who contributes to a political campaign.
                    (slang) Any affluent person who is perceived to have profited from the labour of others.

                    From Investopedia:

                    Definition of ‘Fat Cat’

                    A slang word used to describe executives who earn what many believe to be unreasonably high salaries and bonuses. These top executives also receive generous pensions and retirement packages, consisting of extra compensation not available to other company employees.

                    From Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary:

                    Learner’s definition of FAT CAT
                    [count] informal + disapproving
                    : an important, wealthy, or powerful person

                    The best seats in the theater were reserved for the fat cats.
                    political fat cats

                    — fat–cat
                    adjective, always used before a noun

                    fat-cat business executives

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Well, Father Gelga, I guess I’ve been misusing the word for most of my life. I once described myself as fat-catting it at Camp Zama, Japan (1956-7) Then I spoke of fat-catting it in the Pentagon when the Air Force Deputy for Security Policy would take me to lunch in the Secretary’s Dining Room. Further, I’ve more than once written that I’ve been fat-catting it in retirement in Southern California.
                      In future, in order not to disturb your peace and cause you to ransack dictionaries and the web, i’ll try to just say that I’m JUST FAT AND COMFORTABLE, like Metropolitan Jonah.

                      I know that’s UNcomplimentary, but that’s it!
                      i understand your angry little search didn’t find any definition of the verb? So sorry. What a waste of energy.

                    • Something about straining at gnats.

                      I dunno. Just laos.

                    • Dan Fall says

                      Helga, Helga, Helga.

                      If someone calls you a name on the playground or in life. It is not a rational response to give them the definition. They don’t care and everyone else thinks you are silly.

                      You either say ‘am not’ and explain or you don’t give them the time of day.

                      Did you play as a child?

                      I’m on your side, but you aren’t making it easy.

                    • Helga, dear Helga.

                      I think it is time to give the +Jonah thing a rest. The dust has all but settled for him and the OCA.

                      He is not going to ever be released to ROCOR not unless and until the OCA gives him a clean and total release without stipulations. Patriarch Kirill ruled on this last week and his ruling is final. For him, the very last straw was the attempt for the OCA, including the Metropolitan Council, to be part of some sort of bilateral negotiation about +Jonah’s release to ROCOR.

                      ROCOR submitted this ridiculous demand by the OCA to Moscow and the Patriarch said, “No. We don’t negotiate episcopal release with stipulations.”

                      So, in the end, this may have been the cynical game plan of the OCA all along, to drag their feet, to keep adding new stipulations to Jonah’s release, knowing full well that in the end, Moscow would say no, not because they don’t want him but because the OCA really wasn’t interested in releasing him.

                      To wit, again, the OCA has lost more credibility with Moscow, of which there is precious little left.

                      So it appears that +Jonah will continue to be in the OCA and for now, spend most of his time at ROCOR venues, of course and until the OCA again tries to tighten their leash on him and stop him from even doing that.

                      Time to close the chapter on this and move on to other matters.

                    • gimmeabreak says

                      Someone please help me understand what the OCA gets out of Met. Jonah (or any bishop or priest) being imprisoned in the OCA. I can’t wrap my brain around it. To me, if someone wants to leave, and another church is willing to take them, let them go. But maybe I’m missing something. Help me understand.

                    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                      gimmeabreak, if we knew, we wouldn’t have had to go through this rigamarole to begin with.

                    • James, my support for Metropolitan Jonah is not contingent on anything you said. Close the chapter? Slam the whole book shut on my hand, if you must, but I do not think you would.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen…or “Pfaffhausen,” as Monk James would have it) has not addressed an appeal publicly or privately to either the Patriarch of Moscow or of Constantinople, although he could. Why not? Does he feel he doesn’t have “a case?’ Or is he really content with not having any hierarchical or diocesan responsibilities whatsoever while receiving a good enough stipend to maintain a ‘really COOL’ status in the nation’s capital. And he can continue to build his legend..the legend-making crew that enhanced the hagiogrqphical status of another bishop-without-portfolio is still in place glad to have a new lease on life. This is just going to go on and on. Why not let it be and let Metropolitan Jonah work at the life he now chooses.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Your Grace, since you seem to know so much, just how much exactly is his remuneration from Syosset?

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Why, George! What makes you think I would know The EXACT amount of Metropolitan Jonah’s ….er, um, “remuneration” (sic)?
                      I’m embarrassed that you would think I know “so much!” Couldn’t answer any of my questions, so you quick made that one up? I’ll take that as an “Uncle.”

                      Instead of repeating my last question, i’ll change it into a statement: Let Metropolitan Jonah enjoy the path he has chosen when he resigned, whether or not he was intelligent enough, capable enough, or competent enough to see all of its permutations and ramifications.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      The reason I asked Your Grace is because in your posts on this subject you’ve been very precise in your accusations. I presumed your pronouncements were based on rock-solid knowledge.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      To what ACCUSATION are you now referring George?
                      And trouble is, you’re still wriggling out of replying to my direct questions, still, but, rather, stating a presumption you’ve never ever presumed. On the contrary!
                      ‘”Rock=solid knowledge?” How’s this for an example: I know you’re about as likely to answer my straightforward questions as Karen the Trawler is likely to reply to Father George!

      • Archpriest Alexander,
        Why do you insist on using your full title with PHD? It really comes across as pompous. Why not just be Fr. Alexander?

        • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

          “JK,” your suggestion re my terminal academic degree is reasonable, especially since it has become such an irresistible temptation for the retired OCA bishop in California and generally has little to do with the ecclesial discussions on this message board. However, the clerical rank is the standard historical form of reference, as I understand it, akin to Metropolitan / Archbishop / Bishop or Priest or Protodeacon / Deacon. In addition, I would not wish for anyone here to infer that I am a young whippersnapper.

          • I don’t see eye to eye in all things with Dr. Webster, but I have no quibble with his entitlement. Ha ha! Usually I only refer to MDs as Dr., but did so here for fun..

            There is nothing wrong with giving Fr. Webster an additional bit of respect for his title, but much of what is written here is opinion. And opinions don’t have yes or no answers as so many wish so.

            That said, PhD means he studied a lot and I would like to believe it means he doesn’t also post as oh really. That is a hat tip in case your education didn’t teach it Fr.

    • The last sentence would seem to provide an explanation as to the confusion over whether Met. Jonah was received into ROCOR or not. The statement implies an individual bishop of ROCOR (perhaps the First Hierarch?) agreed to receive Met. Jonah into his diocese without having first requested “the opinions of all the members of the Council of Bishops of ROCOR” and a blessing from the Patriarch of Moscow. No need to state what will happen with such future requests if that’s what happened. It looks as if either the entire Synod and/or the Patriarch did not approve of the implied ‘unilateral’ reception of Met. Jonah, thus the confusion.

      • No he was received by all the bishops. ROCOR requested him, that was all done properly. The OCA is just putting all these stipulations on +Jonah which are absurd .

        • Dan Fall says

          Like what?

        • So, then it’s Moscow.

          • See James post.

            • Dan Fall says

              There is nothing specific in Jame’s post. Just the word stipulation!

              • Dan Fall,

                Stipulations. Let’s see, how about, Jonah can’t be within 50 miles of DC nor can he start a monastery in Texas, you know Dan, very Christian stipulations like that. I don’t know where you have been Dan Fall, theses stipulations have been reported for many months. There are more stipulations that Jonah is expected to agree to before he would be released to the ROCOR by the OCA but those would require him to lie about his “retirement” thus he refused to accept those.

                To wit, Pat. Kirill wrote in his own hand across the OCA stipulations communicated to him, NYET!!!

                His Holiness is not mad at Jonah, rather he is totally fed up with the OCA. His Holiness has no problem with Jonah serving at St. John’s Cathedral in DC or accepting invitations from ROCOR.

                So, again, the OCA has shot itself in the foot because of their vengeful stupidity and Moscow is even more determined to take full advantage of the ROCOR being their missionary arm in the USA. Bad news again for the OCA.

                I hope this helps you to better understand the situation.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  James, I agree. Syosset is beyond repair. Sad.

                • In a way, I understand Syosset’s dilemma. What if Vladyka Jonah were elevated to a significant position in the Church of Russia (unlikely, but possible within ROCOR)? It would look historically like a promotion from primate of the “autocephalous” OCA to a lower position in a much older established church. I know Melitios IV had a few “lateral movements” in his CV but these were from primacy to primacy. Really, the ROC should probably agree to whatever the OCA wants, receive Jonah, then unofficially repudiate the agreement as unorthodox and let the OCA do its worst. What can they do? Everyone would understand. The ROC is really the only thing that gives the OCA legitimacy in Orthodoxy. However, they may be stupid enough to bite the hand that feeds them.

                  Eventually I think the pro-Constantinople crowd will go under the Phanar, the autocephaly crowd will be stuck with a much smaller church and the pro-Moscow crowd will unite with the ROC. Perhaps the OCA would be able to endure with better management. I don’t see it on the horizon. Probably financial issues will undo them.

                  • I agree with you Misha, but ROCOR wants Jonah, it’s Russia who is horn to horn with the OCA. It is an unbalanced chess game. I have no idea what the OCA is thinking. It seems like there are grudges and fears and that’s what they are running on. Wouldn’t it be pleasant and considerate, Christian and orderly if they just said “ok, you want him you can have him”. We have to see what the next card plays . . . . it’s not over.

                • M. Stankovich says


                  “To wit” His majesty wrote in his own hand, James? Holy Cow! Was there like horns and lightening and frogs and such? I guess it would be pretty pointless in suggesting there is another entirely differently explanation than your Sergei Eisenstein inspired Potemkin II? And seriously, James, how many feet does the OCA have to shoot itself for as many times as you’ve declared it?

                  Perhaps, James, you could prepare a list of “generosities” the Russian Orthodox Church has extended to the OCA since declaring its autocepahly some 40 years ago. No, please, allow me to help: ничего. Nothing. They retained the “rights” to their existing parishes in the US and Canada; they brought new clergy rather than allow the parishes to go to the OCA by attrition; and we suffered for their ecumanistic ties and their KGB connection. And you make the moronic statement “bad news” that ROCOR will be their “missionary arm?” Please be sure to enjoy this video sample of their missionary “vision.” And If I may paraphrase the sentiment expressed previously by Pere LaChaise (hat tip): “James, ‘ya тупица, we’re not Russians. We don’t want to become Russians. This is America.”

                  And finally, James, riddle me this: if his majesty is the all-powerful entity Cat-in-the-Hat you make him out to be, why doesn’t he just take +Jonah himself? Metropolitan of Naro-Fominsk and Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the U.S.A. Holy Cow! The coup of coups! And who could stop him, James? But НЕТ! He does not want +Jonah. And that is the truth, huh, James? He ain’t mad, bro’?

                  While I admit gossip does become you, James, you should be ashamed of yourself for spreading vicious tales. Go back to your day job of mediocre cowardice.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Dr Stankovich, I hardly think that’s fair. The first gift Moscow gave us was our autocephaly. It’s a great gift and the OCA did a lot of good with it even under ineptokrats like Theodosius and Herman. Our apogee was when Jonah was elected and feted as an equal in Russia. That’s another gift. Another one would be Russia going to the mattresses for us during the Episcopal Assembly process. That we are in the process of pissing it all away is our fault, not theirs.

                    But let’s stay with the broader point: the fact that a few secularist apparatchiks in Syosset feel that they can lay out insane conditions for the release of a legitimate hierarch to another Church beggars the imagination. If I were the EPA I’d run a test on the water supply and make sure there are no traces or crack cocaine in the pipes.

                    • Tom Florentine says

                      You continue to make statements as if they are “fact” when in reality, they are just your misguided “OPINIONS.” There was no apogee with + Jonah. He should have never been elected; he was a mess. He tried to make unilateral decisions against the wishes of the Synod. Just a rogue bishop. Further, the OCA has pissed nothing away and the people in Syosset aren’t secularists. You really can’t get over your obsession with + Jonah, can you? You can’t be OCA. You must be ROCOR or may as well be. Most of your assertions aren’t based on real fact, but your wild imagination.

                    • Stankovich,

                      Sorry but your attempts to rewrite the recent OCA history is a non-starter. The fact that you attempt to go to great lengths to apologize for the OCA missteps again proves your inability to see beyond your OCA cousins, roommates, and friends in high places inability to lead.

                      Any church leadership that would attempt to make another person lie to protect their transgressions is shameful but that is exactly what they are doing with their former Primate in their latest “conditions” they sought to peddle to Moscow. Again, HH said “NO.” The “conditions” were unacceptable and in fact he saw right threw them, even if you didn’t.

                      Whether Jonah was good, bad, or indifferent as Metropolitan, and he was certainly good enough to be invited to Russia (our Mother Church) and for them to support him with HH sending Met. Hilarion to try and bring peace to the OCA leadership showed Moscow’s good will but they have had enough of trying to help the OCA out of its current malaise. HH sent a very clear and unambiguous signal, delivered in person to Bp Alexander when he travelled to Kiev last year and voiced his displeasure with how the OCA treated Jonah. Apparently the OCA again ignored that fatherly advise. You may have overlooked that inconvenient truth in your latest spin, but be assured, the MP has not and will not. The OCA continues to show no good will when it comes to its former Primate. And so that you are under no misconceptions, I am not advocating for Jonah going to Moscow/ROCOR. I am rather advocating for good order and charity (love) for a cleric. If that is wrong, then you may judge me on that.

                      As for your assessment of the ROCOR video, it is a shame that after all these decades where the OCA failed to effectively minister to recent immigrants since the fall of the Iron Curtain that there is a void. But I rather see that effort not as an exclusive vision of ROCOR but as an important part of their vision given the fact that ROCOR attracts many converts, planting English speaking missions, effectively projecting and offering a monastic witness, in English at their monastery in West Virginia, one that is visited by scores of OCA clergy and laity, as proof that seeing ROCOR as strictly “Russian” is again, a non-starter.

                      So I bid you a good day full of good thoughts and prayers and hope that someday you will take off your OCA rose-colored glasses because truth, accountability and transparency are still the best disinfectant for the OCA.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Michalopulos,

                      I will again suggest that you are willing to accept a conclusion based on one-sided and inaccurate information and declare it “fact.” Such was your declaration that +Jonah was released.

                      First, and most importantly, the ROC was in no position to “assist,” support, or promote the OCA for its first two formative decades because of Soviet oppression. There are numerous historians who ascribe a direct motivation of the ROC to declare autocephaly so as to have a “voice” in the west that no one comparable could provide. And the OCA provided; as if the voices of Blessed Vladyka Basil (Rodziako) and Fr. Alexander Schmemann alone were not proof. And since the fall of communism? Nothing. Instead, they are attempting to “gather the chicks under their wings” again. This is what they managed to do with ROCOR, but with many deeply unresolved issues that divided churches and families for decades.

                      You say, “Our apogee was when Jonah was elected and feted as an equal in Russia. That’s another gift.” In my estimation, Mr. Michalopulos, that was another gift for the ROC, and I would direct your attention your own posting, “A Tale of Two Churches.” In that article is an interview with the rector of ROC’s St. Nicholas Cathdral in NYC, which is the seat of the administrating bishop of the ROC churches in the US & Canada. He is quoted as saying that Met. Jonah offered to change the status of the OCA to an “autonomous” church under the direct governance of the ROC. This, as we now know, was a “unilateral” decision, unknown and unauthorized by the Holy Synod of the OCA. Everything you read here is already posted on your website, Mr. Michalopulos. You simply choose to ignore it.

                      You have been prognosticating the end like Peter, standing at the fire in the courtyard warming himself. Nevertheless, it is the Lord who plants “vineyards” with His right hand and establishes them. They will flourish or wither by His will alone, not by gossip, conjecture, or the consensus of websites. Like Peter, you somehow cannot imagine an alternate outcome. Wise men avoid painting themselves into corners.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      I totally disagree with George Michalopolos’s fantastic assertion that “Our apogee was when Jonah was elected and feted as an equal in Russia.” The “Our” there is NOT the OCA: That was George’s and Helga’s apogee, maybe, but not the OCA’s.
                      Neither George nor Helga admits to reading of how Metropolitan Jonah threw out “feelers” about reverting to autonomous status. Notice that?
                      I asked an incumbent OCA hierarch this; ‘I have two questions for you. One; how could you ever make Fr. Jonah a bishop? Two: After making him a bishop, what possessed you to elect him as First Hierarch? ‘ He didn’t answer the second question at ALL. And the answer to the first was this: “Well, we thought that Archbishop Dmitri would coach him as his vicar without giving him any administrative authority until he was ready….”
                      Geniuses at work, right? My personal idea is that they couldn’t stand the idea of electing any of the hierarchs that were their own known rivals, and Jonah was an unknown entity who got cheers and applause by publicly excoriating the previous adminiiatration

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Then in your opinion, when was the apogee of the OCA?

                      As for “feelers” regarding autonomous status for the OCA, why is that such a scandal anymore? Especially since it’s long been known that Kishkovsky has wanted to make the OCA an eparchy of Istanbul for decades now?

                      And anyway, isn’t it moot at this point? The long-term trajectory is that the OCA will continue to shrivel, breaking up into three factions: a rump-autocephalous OCA, the Progressives becoming an eparchy under Istanbul and the Traditionalists merging with MP/ROCOR.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      George asked me this:

                      “Then in your opinion, when was the apogee of the OCA?”
                      I’d have to reply it was the time of the incumbency of Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick as Chancellor, and it was most manifest during the first tour of America by Patriarch Alexi and again at the installation of Metropolitan Herman at St. Nicholas Cathedral in DC, where ALL the autocrephalous Churches were represented individually. As for the entire history of North American Missionary Diocese, Metropolia, AND OCA, I would say the apogee was during the incumbency of Metropolitan Leonty.
                      Next, George asked this question:

                      ;”As for “feelers” regarding autonomous status for the OCA, why is that such a scandal anymore? Especially since it’s long been known that Kishkovsky has wanted to make the OCA an eparchy of Istanbul for decades now?”

                      While it cannot be demonstrated that Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky ‘wanted” (sic) to make the OCA subordinate to the EP EVER, I have to say it’s ironic that George would want to justify any action or purpose of Metropolitan Jonah by reference to Father Leonid as an example or model.

                      He then asks:

                      “And anyway, isn’t it moot at this point?”

                      George, if YOU think the question is moot, why did you ask it?

                      The rest is as good as the result of any gypsy fortune teller looking into her crystal ball:
                      Her vision? Here it is:

                      “The long-term trajectory is that the OCA will continue to shrivel, breaking up into three factions: a rump-autocephalous OCA, the Progressives becoming an eparchy under Istanbul and the Traditionalists merging with MP/ROCOR.”

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I agree that the bad actions of one person (Kishkovsky) in this case do not justify the bad actions of another. That’s of course if we assume that putting out “feelers” regarding the possible autonomy of the OCA are “bad actions.”

                      The question then becomes one of intent. Why does Lefty want to bring the OCA under the EP? We can guess from his speeches that because he’s a Prog he sees a fellow-traveler in the Progish Phanar. As everyone knows Soros and the globalists have been propping up the EP for quite some time now.

                      As for Jonah’s intent, we can presume two things: 1) he’s a Trad and recognizes in the resurgent MP a Trad bastion, and 2) politically he had to put out feelers in order to get the OCA to sit at the table of the Episcopal Assembly. He certainly succeeded on the second point (although I must say that I think the EA has no real future in this generation. Maybe the next.)

                  • M. Stankovich says,

                    if his majesty is the all-powerful entity Cat-in-the-Hat you make him out to be, why doesn’t he just take +Jonah himself? Metropolitan of Naro-Fominsk and Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the U.S.A.

                    There already is a bishop of Naro-Fominsk. Just because the OCA thinks nothing of depriving an innocent bishop of his see, does not mean you can expect the Russian Orthodox Church to do likewise.

                    Do you really care about salvaging what is left of the OCA, Michael? Tell your friend in San Francisco to give up his foolish efforts to ‘bury’ Metropolitan Jonah. Metropolitan Jonah is doing you all a big favor by requesting to go to ROCOR. For once in your lives, accept the good thing Metropolitan Jonah is offering you, and do not trouble him further.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Friend James,

                      Your need to continuously dog me with this “friends, roommates, people in high places,” business, while characteristic of your mediocrity, has gotten old, pal. Look around the site, man. I’m hardly “poxed” like your buddy “Helga” with an albatross, stuck being St. Jude to a footnote. “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1Cor 2:2) Anyone who needs me for their defense has a fool for an attorney. Give it up, James, it’s as tired a line as your continuous bitching and complaining. You jump on to the scene, vicious, belittling, insulting, lustfully pointing out the sins – pardon me, missteps – of others in the harshest and ugliest of terms. Yet, given the opportunity to confront these individuals, face-to-face, man-to-man as the Scripture and the Fathers demand, you cower and entertain & regale me with “why it ain’t such a good idea.” Yeah, whatever… I have no respect.

                      Secondly, it would appear that your entitlement knows no limits; it is an “eternal” gift awaiting anyone who naively inquires, “What is the story behind this discussion?” True to the disgust of the Fathers, “like dogs returning to their own vomit,” you gladly fill them in to every bit of conjecture the internet has to offer. “Oh, sorry, did I get some on your new white shoes? My bad.” This more than adequately answers my question, “James, if it is so intolerable, if the actors are so despicable and incorrigible, verging upon collapsing and destroying the very vineyard our Lord has planted on this continent, why don’t you leave the OCA? You’ve done everything a reasonable man of faith can do.” Altruism? “I am rather advocating for good order and charity (love) for a cleric.” Inexhaustible hope? “Truth, accountability and transparency are still the best disinfectant for the OCA.” Or the challenge? ” If that is wrong, then you may judge me on that.” Nah. In the end, James, you simply lack the courage to leave as well. Mediocrity. What would you do with yourself? I have no respect.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Do you really care about salvaging what is left of the OCA, Michael?

                      You seem to have an uncanny gift for the melodramatic Hallmark moment. Seriously, you reek of the letters of Fr. Fester. Are you “Helga” Fester by chance? Regardless, let me say this to you: your continuous need to discredit me by connecting me to “friends, roommates, and people in high places” is common to your cohort James. The reason you continue to do that is because you lack both the wit and intelligence to “undo” me with reason. Period. Are you honestly addressing me as if I have something to do with the release of +Jonah to ROCOR? “For once in your lives… do not trouble him further?” Look around this site. Do I appear to be “poxed” with an albatross like you? Do you see me playing St. Jude to an OCA footnote?

                      You want me to speak to Archbishop Benjamin who you believe to be foolishly “burying” your living saint Jonah? Why not I arrange a conference call with you – using your real identity – and James – using his real identity – and the two of you make your opinions known according to the instruction of the Holy Scripture and the Fathers? I challenge you “Helga.” But it will never happen, and we both know it. Fundamentally, you and James are cowards; masters of accusation, master accountants of the sins – pardon, James, “missteps” – of others. But according to the Scriptures and according to the Fathers, you are untrustworthy (St. John Climacus wrote: “It has happened that men have sinned greatly in the open but have done greater good deeds in secret, so that those who would disparage them have been fooled, with smoke instead of sunlight in their eyes.”), and regardless of your monotonous insistence, this is not “altruism,” as you both demand everyone believe, but cowardice derived of pride. I have no respect.

                    • M. Stankovich, I am sorry I did not see your comment until now.

                      I cannot speak for James. However, I have no objection to participating in a conference with Archbishop Benjamin, real identity and all, once he is retired.

                  • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

                    Gee, Dr. S., when young seminarians like myself in the 70’s pointed out the MP’s ecumenism and KGB connections, we were basically told to “shut up and stop judging.” When we pointed out Patriarch Pimen’s huge girth, we were told,” don’t judge, etc”. (I notice you made an issue of Metropolitan Jonah’s girth; I suspect had he been a gay-friendly liberal, you would not have minded had he weighed 800 pounds and conducted services from a wheelchair).
                    Now, I personally think +Jonah was foolish to have resigned as he did. I admit in his shoes I might well have done the same, but knowing myself, if it were me, I would have been foolish to accept the episcopacy at all; I don’t feel I deserve the office of priest, never mind the title “Archpriest” or the jeweled cross which Bishop Peter awarded me last year.
                    I myself am American born, despite my first and last names, my mother had not a drop of Slavic blood. I had to acquire Russian and Ukrainian on my own, though I sincerely regret not having kept up with my French as you have nor continued with Greek past the one year of New Testament Greek at St. Tikhons’s and one year of Modern Greek later in Houston. For me, English will always be my first language, though I have dabbled in a dozen others.
                    I also did not at first warm up to the ROCOR-MP reconciliation. I am a former OCA man who joined ROCOR after finishing St. Tikhon’s in 1976. I was actually ready to return to the OCA. I had negotiated with the late Archbishop Job for a parish in his diocese, which I visited 6 years ago this month. Had His Eminence lived, I might be there now, though given the situation in the OCA as I see it now, I’ll stick with ROCOR.
                    As to the ”this is America” crap, if one wants to be a real American, perhaps one ought to learn Sioux or Navajo or some other Native American tongue. Amazing how the political liberal wants to have public signs or voting ballot in a dozen languages, while the OCA religious liberal screams bloody murder if even one litany in Slavonic is used!

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Fr. Andrei,

                      As the only seminarian of the ROC in America in the 1970’s who could not be convinced to study – all expenses paid – in Russia because I am not a Russian, nor interested in “becoming” Russian, nor particularly interested at the time in learning the language, I was continuously chastized for my hypocrisy in being with “the communists and those colluding with darkness.” I was 18-years old. That I was humiliated and “switched” to the OCA and received a $150 scholarship was something I did not even comprehend, “morally” or otherwise. What did this $150 buy me? At the time, 35% of the services (60%+ on the Feasts & Holy Week) at SVS were sung in Church Slavonic – the irony of which is that, beautiful theological prose sung by angelic voices in services never served on a parish level were totally and completely unintelligible. It may as well have been in Sioux or Navajo. This was the “this is America crap”: American seminarian side-steps Aeroflot to Moscow to awaken in… Moscow. Please, Fr. Andrei, the only reason I’ll scream bloody murder is because of the fraud of the pronunciation of Church Slavonic of that Deacon in West Virginia is like someone choking a cat. Why? This is America?

                      As to your second point, use your own logic: In his resignation he states, “I had come to the realization long ago that that I have neither the personality nor the temperament for the position of Primate, a position I never sought nor desired.” You say, “Knowing myself, if it were me, I would have been foolish to accept the episcopacy at all.” This is called “introspection,” self-discernment, self-evaluation, and honest self-appraisal. How in heaven’s name was it foolish to resign when he admits he has “neither the personality nor the temperament for the position?”

                      Finally, I overlook this cheapshot of “gay-friendly liberal” which you directed at me in the “heat of argument” because I honestly do respect you. If there is anyway by which I am “liberal” in interpreting the position of the Orthodox Church in regard to the sanctity of Christian Marriage and the life of purity pursuant to the Holy Scriptures, the Patristic Fathers, the Holy Canons, and the Holy Tradition, then accuse me. I am sincere that I keep you in my prayers.

                    • George,

                      Your “apogee” assessment related to Jonah is an overstatement. The OCA was already in decline when Jonah was elected. Maybe he could have injected a renewed vigor but looking in hindsight I would say that he was not ready for the job to be Primate. That being said, the OCA Synod is to blame for electing him.

                      Jonah would have greatly benefited from being the understudy to Archbishop Dmitri. That was HE vision for Jonah. He needed experience and time to fully appreciate the role of a bishop. 11 days was not enough, it wouldn’t have been enough for any current bishop in the OCA. It was a disservice to him and to the Church to vault him into the role of Primate. I don’t think he ever appreciated the forces within the Synod that were working hard to move the OCA from a Primatial Church to a Synodal Church. Now, as a Synodal Church, the Primate is a symbol, some would go so far as to say a “figurehead” with the real power being wielded by certain members of the Synod who are calling the shots and of course, the Metropolitan Council.

                      When the final history of the OCA is written, it could well be that its apogee was March 31, 1970.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I believe your assessment is more accurate. Jonah’s tenure could have been the apogee –given how was received in Moscow, how he was celebrated here in America, etc.–but you’re right, the OCA was definitely on the decline when he was elected. The irony now is that the decline is accelerating.

                    • Sdn. Matthew Dunn says

                      Axios Fr. Andrei!

                    • Kentigern says

                      Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
                      Somewhere here on another thread, now closed for comments, there was criticism (citing a couple Orthodox writers) of a too rigid traditionalism, and I’m posting a thought here, randomly placed. I was reminded of the late Jaroslav Pellikan’s remark that “Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.” This view is often misinterpreted by those who would like to adapt tradition in a disembodied intellectual way. Thus they mistake tradition for traditionalism and vice versa. Living tradition, from the church fathers and holy saints and elders, is personally transfigurative. Traditionalism merely goes through the motions while losing the noetic core of faith experience and easily ends up with a “what me worry” attitude toward change. The latter becomes willing to surrender the living tradition in the face of a changing culture so long as it holds to the eucharist as the center of faith in a ritualistic way, and often ends up down-playing monasticism, asceticism, and hesychasm, thus also losing the eucharistic core while discussing it endlessly. The core of identity as transfigured by relation to God is lost in the accommodating of various fleeting cultural identities of the moment, whether considered to be of the right or left. The intergenerationality of commitment to the “seventh generation” to come and gone before (an Iroquois phrase, to which we can add, “until The Lord comes) makes traditionalism a thing of the moment, as opposed to the long view of living tradition. American civil religion has gone down that road. Let’s pray that we don’t as American Orthodox.
                      Please pray for me the sinner,

                    • I think James sums it up well.

                      Met. Jonah had a great appeal to the “uppity” American character, the revolutionary-pioneer thing. That strain is strong in American Orthodoxy, for better or worse.

                      The thing to remember about Met. Jonah is that, far from being a messiah, he was a loose cannon when he was primate. I recall his Dallas speech got a chorus of “amens” from many Americans in the OCA. However, if you listen to that speech, you will notice he dropped any semblance of comity toward the Phanar (which even Moscow addresses respectfully, if dismissively) and even took a pot shot at the MP (“same people running things as under communism”). That to me was notable. He was simply in enfant terrible mode.

                      That spirit is a problem. It is behind “an American Church for Americans”, “autocephaly now”, “no to foreign bishops”, etc. It is willful impatience and pride. Of course the old world patriarchates sometimes behave badly. Now two OCA primates have resigned in disgrace and a third was shown the door. The Church in America has a large ethnic population (Slav, Greek, Arab) and there has been nothing formed that is characteristically “American Orthodox”. All the music and the customs are from the old world. Certainly the language has changed to some extent, but that’s about it. Now, certainly ecumenism has taken its toll. But that is not “American” but rather “heteropraxis”. If practices were common throughout the old world churches, they are Orthodox, not Greek/Russian/Arab.

                      The Church in America is, by and large, stuck in a modernist paradigm of trying to fit into the American idea instead of replace it with the Orthodox idea. This causes us to perceive ourselves as another denomination instead of the Church and to perceive other “Christianities” as somehow legitimate instead of serious deviations from the Truth. It is not possible to convert the society with that mentality, only to get a share of the sectarian market.

                      Ah, well, not my problem.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Prof. Siewers,

                      Honest to goodness, I would pay to read your thoughts written plainly. Fr. Florovsky wrote:

                      We are living now in an age of intellectual chaos and disintegration. Possibly modern man has not yet made up his mind, and the variety of opinions is beyond any hope of reconciliation. Probably the only luminous signpost we have to guide us through the mental fog of our desperate age is just the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” obsolete or archaic as the idiom of the early church may seem to be, judged by our fleeting standards.

                      The Modern Crisis

                      The first task of the contemporary preacher is the “re- construction of belief.” It is by no means an intellectual endeavor. Belief is just the map of the true world, and should not be mistaken for reality. Modern man has been too much concerned with his own ideas and convictions, his own attitudes and reactions. The modern crisis precipitated by humanism (an undeniable fact) has been brought about by the rediscovery of the real world, in which we do believe. The rediscovery of the church is the most decisive aspect of this new spiritual realism. Reality is no more screened from us by the wall of our own ideas. It is again accessible. It is again realized that the church is not just a company of believers, but the “Body of Christ.” This is a rediscovery of a new dimension, a rediscovery of the continuing presence of the divine Redeemer in the midst of his faithful flock. This discovery throws a new flood of light on the misery of our disintegrated existence in a world thoroughly secularized. It is already recognized by many that the true solution of all social problems lies somehow in the reconstruction of the church. “In a time such as this” one has to preach the “whole Christ,” Christ and the church—totus Christus, caput et corpus, to use the famous phrase of St. Augustine. Possibly this preaching is still unusual, but it seems to be the only way to preach the Word of God efficiently in a period of doom and despair like ours.

                      The Relevance of the Fathers

                      I have often a strange feeling. When I read the ancient classics of Christian theology, the fathers of the church, I find them more relevant to the troubles and problems of my own time than the production of modern theologians. The fathers were wrestling with existential problems, with those revelations of the eternal issues which were described and recorded in Holy Scripture. I would risk a suggestion that St. Athanasius and St. Augustine are much more up to date than many of our theological contemporaries. The reason is very simple: they were dealing with things and not with the maps, they were concerned not so much with what man can believe as with what God had done for man. We have, “in a time such as this,” to enlarge our perspective, to acknowledge the masters of old, and to attempt for our own age an existential synthesis of Christian experience.

                      This article was published in 1951.

                      In 1987 he carefully examined the role of St. Gregory Palamas as an “existential theologian,” placed in the Tradition of the Fathers and the Church, not as we currently use the term “existential,” but whose theology begins with the entire history of our salvation by the Divine acts accomplished in history, and culminating in our final encounter with our God in His Glory. And this living, dynamic, “breathing” Tradition he felt justified in describing as the Fathers did of of the theology of St. Irenaeus: “a theology of facts,” because “it is Biblical. it is Patristic, and it is in complete conformity with the mind of the Church.” Imagine, Prof. Siewers! As St. Symeon the New Theologian wrote in his Hymn 23:

                      Since I am unattainable, I am not inside the creatures,
                      But since I am attainable, I am not outside them,
                      And because I am uncircumscribed,
                      I am neither inside nor outside…
                      I bear all in Me
                      Since I maintain every creature,
                      And I am outside of everything
                      Since I am separated from everything
                      If you seek Me spiritually,
                      You will discover Me as being unlimited,
                      And hence in this respect nowhere,
                      Either inside or outside

                      I believe the point is to say that our Tradition is alive to that which was. to that which is, and to that which is to to come, world without end.

                    • Kentigern says

                      Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

                      And Dr. Stankovich, if you were to pay me for clarity I might take the money on condition of your not posting replies. But seriously, I’m glad to see that we’re on the same page about living tradition! I am glad that you have come out strongly against talk about the need for a new movement of the Holy Spirit in Orthodoxy on marriage, or a new Orthodox anthropology.

                      Such talk in fact exemplifies what I meant by traditionalism that is dead, tending toward only a mechanical sense of the Church’s Mysteries–not alive to how personal identity is already and always formed in relation in the living and breathing tradition of the fathers, saints, and elders, and to the uncreated energies of God made fully engage-able with us through the Incarnation.

                      Living tradition doesn’t need any of our intellectual discussions!

                      Such is the noetic core of the life-changing holy Eucharist, and of hesychastic asceticism, and the source of observance of our tradition, as you note.

                      Claiming a customized inner light to tinker with tradition, and make it more palatable to today’s Western secularism, would be just disembodied dead traditionalism, as you point out.

                      Bravo to you for articulating this so well, in counter to the views of some of our American Orthodox compatriots who would emulate the foibles of our popular culture!

                      Saludo amigo!

                      Yours unworthily in Christ,


                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Prof. Siewers,

                      My only reply is “Grazie.”

  11. I am sure that the Holy Spirit will guide Metropolitan Joseph to be the shepherd that the Church needs at this time. There are many important issues that he will need to address regarding Holy Orthodoxy in the Antiochian Church of North America. My prayers are with him.

    I also pray that he will reverse the decision to label the bishops as auxiliary….and I hope and pray that he will not discipline his clergy for growing long hair, beards and wearing cassocks.

  12. Well, moving along from the less relevant to the more noteworthy . . .

    Many years and Axios to the new metropolitan. I don’t really know squat about him but I have a number of friends who are Antiochian Orthodox and it strikes me as being a fairly stable jurisdiction here in America. I understand it has a divided history so I’m glad it has a new leader in a timely fashion.

  13. Current circumstances make the antiochians the hope for Orthodoxy in America. It is my understanding that only the Antiochians are growing. Even though I believe the other 2 candidates are better choices I pray AB Joseph has the wisdom and discernment to lead Antiochean as God wills.

  14. Sam Haddad says

    You Antiochian converts here; you American born Arabs here; don’t you see what has happened here? You are all 2nd class citizens. Do you really want to crow about how great Antioch/Damascus is? You fools! We are Americans; we need to take on and form our own destiny of our American Church. This current imposition of “foreign bishop” power upon the American Church is skata. Those of you wishing to do nothing are fools. Throw off these foreign dictators and rule your own church. + Joseph over + Basil – REALLY???? This is the stupidist decision I can remember. If this is not reversed, action will be taken to reverse it.

    • Will Harrington says

      Second class citizen? I am not a citizen of the Antiochian Archdiocese. I am a citizen of Kansas and, by extension, of the USA. I am a member of the Antiochian Archdiocese and I can see absolutely nothing that the AOC can say or do that would make m a second class citizen. Your hyperbole really is excessive. I also found you declaration of ROCOR pietism as “phony” t be disturbing and judgmental, When looking for someone to follow i will look for their conformity to the will of God because, Lord knows, need a better example than myself. I’m pretty sure that I haven’t found that example in your writing. haven’t met +Joseph, but I will form my opinions based on factors other thn where he came from.

    • M. Stankovich says

      This is the stupidist decision I can remember. If this is not reversed, action will be taken to reverse it.

      Mr. Haddad,

      There is an already-existing consulting firm, The Sons of Job, who are both familiar and experienced with situations such as you have described. They specialize in anonymous websites, deception, coercive manipulation, underhanded deciet, rumor & gossip, threats of releasing or actually releasing purloined confidential material to the internet, threatening voters with retaliation if they do not vote “correctly,” petitions, call-the-archdiocese campaigns, AND their advertized specialty: holding churches in abeyance. Oorah! Tell them I referred you and get the “vilify an extra bishop of your choice” option as a free gift!

      • threats of releasing or actually releasing purloined confidential material to the internet,

        They must have learned the lessons well from the master of releasing emails on the Internet, Mr. Mark Stokoe. I heard no outrage from you when he did so in the past.

        • M. Stankovich says


          If yours is some backhanded attempt to accuse me of hypocrisy – and Lord knows you would not be the first – let me assure you that my “outrage” is not selective. It is despicable behaviour, whomever the culprit, Stokoe or Sons of Job. So, I am presuming you are joining me in my summer of discontent, or did you just drop in to dog me?

          • M. Stankovich,

            Thank you, albeit very late to the dance and well after it means little that you condemn Mark Stokoe’s actions.

    • Fr. Philip (Speranza) says

      “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Empty head!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22). And that includes you, Mr. Haddad. Your indignation does not excuse your language.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      Metropolitan Joseph was not forced upon us. In a free election the clergy and representatives of the parishes nominated him as one of our three candidates for Metropolitan. The Holy Synod honored our decision and elected one of the three candidates. Everything was fair and open.

      • Sdn. Matthew Dunn says

        So truth gets frequent disapproval here? That is unfortunate and very sad. And of course by this I mean all the “thumbs down” to what Father John posted. I guess I don’t get how things work here too well.

  15. I wonder what the chances of an independent audit of the finances will be now? Not holding my breath on that one.

    • StephenD says

      An independant audit is needed…of ALL of the books and checking accounts.

  16. Anon. Antiochian priest says

    Like Fr. George Washburn, I was at the conference in San Francisco when Metropolitan Joseph returned from the Holy Synod meeting. I was pleasantly surprised by his candor in the meeting with clergy that followed Great Vespers. First, not that many of the pundits would care, after arriving in San Francisco, the first place he went was not to his hotel but to venerate the relics of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco. Glory to God! The next interesting thing he mentioned was his disagreement with Metropolitan Philip on several issues. One was monasticism. Metropolitan Joseph made it clear that he wishes to establish monastic communities in the U.S. Second, he mentioned that he wants to build retreat centers to stop having our conferences in hotels. And while it was just an observation, he did not don a business suit or walk around without his klobuk (elousi). He also mentioned the auxiliary bishop issue, and pretty much said “Get over it. It’s the policy of the Patriarchate of Antioch.” One archpriest pressed him on this and said, “I was at your enthronement. Are you saying it didn’t happen?” I’m paraphrasing but His Eminence, pretty much said, “Yes. It didn’t happen.”

    Metropolitan Joseph also told us that the Holy Synod took their time in coming to the decision and that it was quite possible that they were going to defer the decision. It was Metropolitan Joseph who pushed the Holy Synod to make a decision.

    Okay, pundits, pile on. As a priest in the archdiocese for many years, I am quite well aware of the fact that Bishop Basil is a much better speaker and is clearly much more American that Metropolitan Joseph. But let’s give credit where credit is due. It was not Bishop Basil who was flying to Antioch for the unity conference or pushing the Holy Synod to make a decision. Moses was not the best speaker either and he wasn’t so bad. I believe Metropolitan Joseph will do just fine in the position. It is clear so far that his priorities are in the right place. And for the record, who was the keynote speaker for the Antiochian conference in San Francisco, Archimandrite Irienei Steenburg, and archimandrite for ROCOR. Bringing him in as the keynote speaker also tells us where Metropolitan Joseph’s priorities lie. May God grant him many years!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Although the only assessment I could come up with about HE at this point was “uninspired” if what you say is true, that he’s serious about monasticism, that he went to venerate the relics of St John, etc., then I’m cautiously optimistic for your jurisdiction.

      • DC Indexman says

        Mr. Michalopulos, though it may be a prudent idea for the AOCANA to establish monastic communities here in the U.S,, there is still the concern that most of the ones started here (as you well know) have run into various difficulties and in some cases serious trouble.

        Can you comment on what type of steps or disci;line needs to be embedded as these communities start up — to avoid some of the mistakes of the past?

        Is the problem here in the U.S? I would think that with almost 1800 years of history and experience, the monastic playbook for establishing a monastery should be pretty precise.

        • Monk James says

          It seems a bit odd for ‘DC Indexman’ (whoever that is) to ask a layman for advice about establishing monasteries.

          Oh, how I wish that the laity and some of the clergy would leave us monastics to ourselves. We pretty much don’t butt into the lives of the laity or the clergy.

          On the whole, though, if Bp Basil Essey would found a monastery, I’m confident that he’d emplace the best and most normative practice there.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Forgive me Monk James, I can appreciate the frustration. That being said perhaps some input from lay sources is not a bad thing. I certainly don’t want to meddle but…

            1. Monasteries should not be ‘imported’ from outside the country, they should be organic developments of the life of the greater Orthodox community from which they come.

            2. They should be guided by someone who is at least well vetted by the bishops and overseen by a bishop well suited to the task.

            3. They should not be fully open to lay people to just come. Any such pilgrimage should have the approval of the person’s parish priest, if Orthodox, or a local priest in consultation with the Abbot/Abbess if the person is not Orthodox.

            4. Lay people should leave the monasteries alone–allow the monks to be monks, don’t expect them to be super saints.

            The Monastery of St. Silouan which Bishop Basil has begun was decades in the planning and the result of a great deal of personal preparation on his part which began with him taking seriously the monastic dimension of the episcopate and connecting with St. John in England. He placed himself under obedience. As part of the process he also devoted himself to building up the strength and health of the Orthodox communities in his diocese (although he will argue that the people of his diocese make it easy for him, we know the truth: he makes it easy for us.)

            When it was time, he sought and received the blessing of Met. Philip* shortly before his repose, and Met. Silouan when he visited Wichita as a representative of the Patriarch of Antioch. I am sure Met. Joseph and the local synod will continue in the support.

            There are seven U.S. men, all tonsured monks some for years some with experience on Mt. Athos, who are beginning the monastery (which already has a house not far from the Cathedral that needs some work).

            The Orthodox Monastary of St. Silouan in Wichita, Ks is a reality. Glory to God.

            The Orthodox community here in Wichita (3 parishes) embrace the monastery and look forward to it becoming a fruitful addition to the work of the Church here and in the U.S. as a whole.

            I don’t think it a coincidence that it is an urban monastery in the heart of the country led by a bishop who has devoted his life to our community as first priest and then bishop. He has not only served Wichita for almost 30 years, he was consecrated to the episcopate here.

            There are roots.

            *Yes, the “monastic hating” Met. Philip, memory eternal.

            • Monk James says

              The Tikhvin Monastery for which I was tonsured was located in Kansas, where I lived for eighteen years. Since I was the last monk in residence, the monastery ceased to exist canonically when Abp Job Osacky blessed me to leave the OCA’s Diocese of the Midwest in 1994 to begin working on my PhD (historical theology/patristics) in New Jersey.

              Bp Basil Essey and I have known each other for more than thirty years. It was impossible for me to be present for his episcopal consecration because Met. Theodosius Lazor chose to come to Kansas on that very weekend and I was required to be there for his visit.

              But, some years before then, I did attend Met. Philip Saliba’s consecration of St George Cathedral in Wichita. On that occasion, a relic of the holy apostle James the brother of the Lord was sealed into the holy table. As he had promised me earlier, BpB allowed me (and all of us) to venerate that relic of my heavenly patron on the night before the consecration of the temple and MetP’s very well received announcement that St George would be designated a cathedral.

              Along with all the faithful of the Wichita diocese, Michael Bauman’s love and respect for BpB are well deserved and reciprocated. and I am certain that the monastery of St Silouan will be greatly blessed by the same attitudes and efforts which have always attended BpB’s ministry. Many years!

            • Kentigern says

              Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
              Dear Mr. Bauman,
              This is a blessing, the news of this monastery.
              I would just caution, historically, though, that lists can be difficult and not always appropriate in Orthodoxy. If all your points were folowed to the letter, for example, we might deride Orthodox monasteries in early Ireland. Those tended originally to have been founded often by holy monastics from Britain, could have been judged “extremist” in their asceticism, and often connected with lay people associated with them, practicing various degrees of asceticism outside the inner confines of the monastery. This also seems to have been a pattern in “Celtic” monasteries in what is now Scotland and Wales as well, although in those cases, later in the pre-Norman period, their founders were often Irish. I mention this in part because sometimes (not always) when “foreign” and “extremist” monasteries are decried by some Orthodox Americans there seems to be a need for historical perspective; sometimes concerns are justified but other times applied too broadly. In America there are some situations that oddly parralel those of the early British Isles. Meanwhile today the blessing to American Orthodoxy of many Greek monasteries founded in the past two decades in North America tends to be ignored or even derided by some, instead of being appreciated as it should be. Again, though, I share your joy about this monastic foundation and appreciate the good spirit of your points, and join unworthily with you in the hope that American monasticism will flourish in traditional Orthodox form.
              Please pray for me the sinner,

              • George Michalopulos says

                Kentigern, an excellent analysis.

                I have been troubled by the criticisms leveled against the monasteries founded by the Elder Ephraim here in the States. I have now been to two of them (Kendalia, Tx and Florence, Az) and must say that I enjoyed myself immensely. I don’t think this is the last word on the subject and would gladly engage in a civil debate about these monasteries. Your excursus should give all of us some pause before we jump on our respective bandwagons pro or con.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  I wouldn’t be terribly “troubled,” George. On my very first visit to St. Anthony’s (my very first visit to ANY monastery EVER) I was made a catechumen by Father Paisios, in his office, no questions asked. . . Well, there was one question: “Do you love the Church.” I am sure I don’t have to tell you the answer to that.

              • Michael Bauman says

                In a certain sense all monasteries are “foreign” and “extreme” but there is no foundation for Orthodox monasticism within contemporary U.S Orthodoxy or at least not much. Anything that is really ascetic will tend to be branded “extreme” in a negative sense.

                Most of that is due to the lukewarm version of the most radical faith ever known that most of us live.

                Christians are called to be “not of this world”. I know I don’t live up to that calling. I find myself more easily at home with those who refuse to follow Jesus in the parables and stories of the Bible than I do with the ones who do follow Him.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  RE: Christians are called to be “not of this world”.

                  Your description, Michael, is spot on. Monasteries are NOT of this world. They are glimpses into heaven and I trust Bishop Basil completely. Anything under his direction is sound, trustworthy and (I believe) blessed by God.

              • M. Stankovich says

                Bravo to both of your comments.

                My point about sobornost was to say that it is so easy to to forget the essential need for vigilance, it is easy to rationalize and make excuses, and it is easy to forget those dedicated to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). I will never forget as long as I live, 18 years old, the second day of Great Lent at SVS during a break between Matins and the 6th Hour, I sat on a bench in silence with my roommate, Robert Arida, as a car full of kids raced down Scarsdale Rd., radio blaring and kids screaming. He quietly said, “If somewhere, people like us did not did not keep this minimal order of prayer, the world would collapse into chaos.” Mr. Michalopulos makes the point, “Go and see,” and Prof. Siewers makes the point, “Look where you might never have thought to look.” In both cases, as Fr. Florovsky’s message is abundantly clear: monasticism is not separated from the church of the “empire,” nor was it ever intended as a “rigor” for the a select few; conversely, the church of the empire was never intended a place of less rigorous for the “busy” or “worldly.” Salvation is of the one Church, and the victory is, ultimately, in the struggle, and by the struggle we will be judged.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Personally, I find the concerns of DC Indexman quite appropriate in the context of sobornost and monasticism and monasteries as a vital element of the Church itself. I have several times posted Fr. Florovsky’s comments that the “problems” began when the church accepted the “antinomies” of the worlds of empire & desert. This would suggest that your “wish that the laity and some of the clergy would leave us monastics to ourselves” is reflected in the DC Indexman’s truly charitable observation of the American experience generally as characterized by “various difficulties and in some cases serious trouble.” Secondly, I would further note that your comment is quite disingenuous in that, in the age of the internet, the “the theology of work and labor” has been replaced by mass emailing the “laity and some of the clergy” for money to establish and/or build monasteries; the “perfect” building or property already pre-selected and the mortgage payments already calculated.

            Finally, to necessarily exclude the opinion or expertise of anyone within the rich, diverse, and God-given talents of the Church, simply because they are not of the ordained clergy, or the tonsured laity, or because they are a woman, or because they cannot draw a straight line, or cannot carry a note, is a foolish mistake. I wanted to replace a dining room lighting fixture, so I bought a “For Dummies,” book; no one would refer to me as an electrician. At the same time, I have been so shocked by an insight of a student I was supervizing, I could not imagine I had not realized it on my own. We cannot imagine or predict from where God will send us these moments of “clarity,” and I suspect that we are shocked when they come from “outside the club” to teach us humility. In my opinion, you must be grateful for “new eyes” rather than disparage them; even when they are wrong, the challenge is worth the effort. It is precisely when you are left alone, as DC Indexman notes, “”various difficulties and in some cases serious trouble” arise.

    • Fr. George Washburn says

      Hi friends:

      The anonymous priest posting above mentioned details that I was loath to bring up, but is correct on all facts cited.

      He omits to mention something in the same vein I myself observed a couple of months ago when Met. Silouan and then Abp. Joseph visited the NorCal Antiochian deanery. After the meeting and luncheon, and despite some other business priorities and Met. Silouan’s departure time later from SFO, they went straight to the ROCOR cathedral on Geary to venerate the relics of St. John.

      The janitor who was supposed to let them in wasn’t there at the anticipated time – 2 pm as I recall. So there was a Metropolitan, an Archbishop, a Dean, and a collection of archpriests and spouses and friends waiting patiently on the sidewalk (and in the bookstore) for a half hour or so until the man with the keys arrived.

      It seemed clear that both hierarchs thought they were waiting on a saint, not a custodian, and that it was just fine.


      Fr. George

    • steve knowlton says

      One archpriest pressed him on this and said, “I was at your enthronement. Are you saying it didn’t happen?” I’m paraphrasing but His Eminence, pretty much said, “Yes. It didn’t happen.”

      O, do elaborate.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      Does it not occur to anyone that Bishop Basil is doing a great service to the Antiochian Archdiocese by staying in Wichita and supervising the founding of a real working monastery. Bishop Antoun told me that he already has 7 monks. That is not a bad start. We need sane well grounded monasticism to make up for all the failures, scandals and extremists that have come from other efforts to start Orthodox monasticism in this country. I know that Bishop Basil will see that it is done right, and he will have full support from Metropolitan Joseph.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      RE: “I was at your enthronement. Are you saying it didn’t happen?” I’m paraphrasing but His Eminence, pretty much said, “Yes. It didn’t happen.”

      Obedient to a fault. Let’s pray the shift in roles results in a shift in responsibility from those to whom he is accountable under man to those for whom he is accountable under God.

  17. Sam Haddad says

    Why do you think + Silouan was at the NJ Archdiocese immediately after + Philip’s death? He wanted to check the books. However, before he got there, everything was sanitized. The secret accounts are still safe with + Antoun in Florida. All of you Antiochians don’t get it. It’s a business and the “Old Country” is going to make sure it gets its money no matter what. Really, ALL of you under a foreign bishop (patriarch), throw them off. Orthodox Canon Law says this is exactly what should be done. Pay attention Greeks, Russians, Serbs, etc. You are the ATM’s of foreign bishops!

    • Was there a plan in advance of +Phillips death to hide the assets? Who gets the condo in Florida and what about the million or two in “gifts” that were given to the Metropolitan over the years. That money and the sale of real estate might be helpful for the clergy retirement fund or pay for Antiochian students seminary fees. The powers that be really don’t give a sh.. whether they appear credible or not. Just shut up and keep giving
      Sam Haddad just nailed this one!

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      I have complete faith in the honesty and integrity of His Grace Bishop Antoun. Do you not dare insult my Bishop. He has been my Bishop for 9 years and I have found him to be kind and understanding.

    • Gail Sheppard says


      Do you not see that the Antiochians on this site are united? We don’t always agree, but we agree on this: We have a new Metropolitan (seems like it should be capitalized, right?) and he is worthy of our prayers. PRAY for Archbishop Joseph and we will thrive under him.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I agree Gail. We in the OCA, of all people, have no right to judge AOCNA at this point. You all chose a slate of three bishops and one of them was chosen by Damascus to be Metropolitan. Not some guy out of left field which the OCA did on 3 out of the last four occasions.

        I certainly don’t want to speak too soon but the auguries I’m getting about HE so far are promising. One of the things I like is that all of the bishops are much more liturgically rigorous. Let’s be honest, neither Philip nor Iakovos (in the GOA) were know for their adherence to the rubrics. Nor were they stellar theologians for that matter. That being said, they were good leaders and pick and chose their fights accordingly. What’s promising is that the AOCNA is free to pursue a more orthopractic path and from what I hear about the bishops is that they have every intention of doing so.

        I still am impressed with Joseph’s demeanor and dress, as well as his insistence of paying homage to St John Maximovitch. We need to pray that AOCNA continues on this more rigorous path now that Syosset has permanently damaged the OCA brand.

      • Michael Bauman says

        All I really know at this point: Bishop Basil is still in Wichita and my heart leapt for joy, unbidden and surprisingly, when I first heard Met. Joseph commemorated in the Divine Liturgy.

        With us, with the OCA, with any jurisdiction: If chosen leaders are of God, we will prosper, if not, well… we still might prosper despite the leaders if we live Orthodox lives: Pray, worship, fast, give alms (which includes giving mercy), forgive and repent. No one can stop

        Giving alms encompasses the entirety of our public life and ministries and therefore includes much more than just money.

        We are not gong to change the world. Jesus already did that. All we can do, quite a lot, is allow the Holy Spirit to change us by submitting to His love. What happens after that is significant.

        The rest is irrelevant.

  18. Anon. Antiochian priest says


    You seem really angry at the moment. Pause, reflect, and say a few Jesus prayers.

    Putting aside some of your more vitriolic statements, I would like to address some of the issues you raised. As to the Antiochians in this country being second class citizens, I’m not quite sure I agree. Can we first agree that there is no real American Orthodox jurisdiction in America? Whether you are in the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Antiochian Orthodox Church, or the former Metropolia, aka Orthodox Church in America (whose roots were in the Russian Orthodox Church), or the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, each jurisdiction has ties to ethnic groups of its origin. If one is not of these particular ethnic persuasions, then one is probably going to feel somewhat like an outsider, but that does not make them second class citizens. It is just a fact that each and every Orthodox jurisdiction in America has some kind of ethnic roots. And please, don’t throw up the argument that the OCA is somehow the only non-ethnic Orthodox Christian jurisdiction. I’ve eaten enough perogies in my lifetime at OCA churches to know that that simply isn’t the case. Non-ethnic people keep coming to Holy Orthodoxy in all of the jurisdictions in America and we must give thanks to God for this. They are not second class citizens but they are, indeed, grafting onto a church that has ethnic roots. Your own surname is, of course, ethnic. I would hardly think that you would abandon your own family if it was in need. So too for all of the jurisdictions in America that feel a loyalty and responsibility to care for the patriarchates of their origins. Why is this a bad thing?

    Now how about your comment about a “Self-Ruled Archdiocese.” You are actually correct on this point. There is no self-ruled archdiocese. Okay, so what? How exactly is your life changed by this? As Metropolitan Joseph said to his clergy this weekend, the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America is now in conformity with the rest of the Antiochian church by having one metropolitan and auxiliary bishops. Check out the website of the Patriarchate of Antioch and you will see several other metropolinates with various auxiliary bishops. Take a look at the ROCOR diocese of Chicago and the Midwest. Is Bishop Peter not, indeed, actually administering the diocese? Of course he is and doing it quite well. The ruling bishop is Archbishop Alypy. No one has a problem with it. So Bishop Basil of the Antiochian archdiocese is not the ruling bishop of Wichita. Big deal. He, in fact, is leading the faithful of Wichita quite well. Sorry, but you and others are making a lot more of this diocese issue than you need to.

    I’d like to comment on your point about the canons. Canons are measures or guides to help lead us to salvation. The canons regarding the “Barbarian lands” i.e. canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon never anticipated the vast wave of emigration to the North American continent. We should look to the canons for guidance but we should not lose sight of the fact that the Church, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, continues to change. The bishop of the various jurisdictions in America reflect the obvious fact that they are ministering to their communities in the diaspora, i.e. those people who were displaced from their homeland as well as the ancestors of those who displaced and all of the people that God helps lead into their communities. Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I personally don’t have a problem with acknowledging the reality that America is just plain different, and perhaps we should stop trying to slam the square peg of Canon 28 into the round hole of what is Orthodoxy in America.

    Best wishes and may God bless you!

    • Sam Haddad says

      Dear Anon. Antiochian Priest,

      Canon 28 is specific to certain territories around the Black Sea – that’s it! There is no diaspora. The CHURCH in America is firmly established and can guide itself. There is no need for “foreign bishops” intervention. All of you who have a foreign bishop as your leader in America are NOT following Apostolic teaching nor the Canons of our Church. No bishop (patriarchs included) have any authority beyond their own local territory. The American Church with all it’s diff. nationalities can guide itself. We certainly don’t need BAD decisions being imposed from afar like + Joseph; it will be a total disaster! You Greeks are also duped; do you really think + Bart has your best interest at heart? Just keep paying him. And you fools, the Russians, who are being used by Putin via the church to put KGB operatives in the U.S. Again, there is no need for any foreign bishop to be controlling the American Churches and Church Tradition and Canon Law supports this fully.

  19. Tikhon E. says

    So much bitterness is unbecoming. The new Metropolitan will have to deal with the Old Country, an immigrant community, and very possibly a wave of new immigrants, given the horrors in the ME, and at the same time with new converts and Americanized young people, and (one hopes) with the issues of uniting jurisdictions.

    I know +Joseph a little. He is patient, kind, principled, and a good listener, and very much committed to Orthodox unity, having supported concrete steps in that direction. He dealt with a clergy sexual scandal openly and decisively. Without undue sycophancy, is it too much to give him our confidence, our prayers, and a chance to succeed?

  20. r j klancko says

    as i understand it there are certain powerful and rich families from which antiochian bishops have been chosen – i was also told that the former and the new metropolitans come from such roots.

    secondly if this is to be an american church, spreading the gospel to americans, and not an ethnic enclave solely nurturing its own, then would it not have been wise to choose an american born person as metropolitan – and as the oca in its hey day 1922 – 1970 did choose a widowed priest as its leader – having been married and not a life long parochial celebate, i believe gave metropolitans platon, theopholius, and leonty wishdom beyond compare – ireney was also a widower

    it is sad to say but statistics do not lie, the antiochian archdiocese was excelling until in his latter years phillip began to rearabize it – nice for the immigrants but bad for the americans – it has become an ethnic social club and not a gospel spreading, evangelizing church body – and this is a shame and metropolitan antony of blessed memory must be spinning in his grave.

    the best thing the patriarchate of antioch can do is to let this cash cow loose, allow it to establish itself as truly an american focused church with its own hospitals ( if one man amos jacobs – better known as danny thomas can do it) and universities ( look at oral roberts for an example) and then with this power base advocate for for the church of tis roots in the middle east – a church that is its equal and not one that it is subservient to and as such must be politcally correct lest not to anger the government of syria/lebanon/jordan etc. – the antiochians have made no visible committment to their adopted land and as such does not have the powerbase or visibility to adequately advocate for the church of their roots.

    i see this move as 10 steps back and may lead to the weakening of this archdiocese and the loosing of its 3rd and 4th generatiion americans and american converts

    a very myopic move by a desperate mother church looking solely to the short term and to the the message of the gospel to evangelize and not to preach only to the uncircumsized ( in this case their own ethnic enclave – especially thos who are immigrants

    just a perpective from a very sad person who sees ethic social clubs as our demise as is evidenced by the many church closings and reduction of membership per the studies of alexei kindratch

    in the word of tiny tim ” may God bless us – everyone” amen

  21. Sam Haddad says

    *Here is the man the Antiochian “Old Country” bishops embrace completely*

    WORLD NEWS 07.07.14

    U.S.: Assad’s ‘Machinery of Death’ Worst Since the Nazis
    New evidence of the Assad regime’s mass murder shows a systematic approach to atrocities not seen since the Holocaust, says the State Department’s top war crimes official.
    Tens of thousands of photographs showing the Syrian government’s torture, murder, and mass starvation are evidence of the kind of systematic atrocities not seen Hitler’s Nazi regime exterminated millions during World War II, according to the State Department’s top war crimes official.

    Stephen Rapp, the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for War Crimes and director of the Office of Global Criminal Justice, has reviewed large sections of a huge collection of photos and written records of Syrian government atrocities smuggled out of the country by a former military photographer known as “Caesar.” Rapp spoke about the evidence at a July 3 event at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

    “This is solid evidence of the kind of machinery of cruel death that we haven’t seen frankly since the Nazis,” he said. “If it is as it appears thus far, we’re talking about more than 10,000 individuals being killed in custody over the period from 2011 to 2013, including largely men but also some very, very young men and boys and women… It’s shocking to me, as a prosecutor—I’m used to evidence not being so strong.”

    Another former war crimes prosecutor who has reviewed some of the evidence tells The Daily Beast that he believes the photos indicate at least indirect “Russian government responsibility” for the atrocities.

    Some of the photos first emerged in January. That’s when a team of international war crimes prosecutors released a report based on the Caesar trove that concluded there was “clear evidence, capable of being believed by a tribunal of fact in a court of law, of systematic torture and killing of detained persons by the agents of the Syrian government” that amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    “This is solid evidence of the kind of machinery of cruel death that we haven’t seen frankly since the Nazis. It’s shocking to me, as a prosecutor—I’m used to evidence not being so strong.”
    The report was written by noted international war crimes prosecutors David Crane, Desmond de Silva, and Geoffrey Nice, and was partially funded by the Qatari government. At the time the report was issued, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov publicly cast doubt on its findings and called for independent verification of the allegations.

    Rapp said the U.S. government is nearly finished with its own forensic analysis of 28,000 of the photos and they not only appear to be genuine, but they also show a level of systematic atrocities that implicate Syrian officials including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in crimes against humanity.

    “Thus far the indication is that it would be impossible to have fabricated this kind of material, and having personally seen hundreds of the images of twisted bodies with real wounds and real human beings of every shape and size, this is not phony evidence,” he said. “These bodies were brought to one location from 24 other facilities, in which they had been tortured to death in a variety of ways: ligature strangulation, burning, bruising, starvation, evisceration, the most horrendous things you can imagine.”

    Assad’s crimes may not technically be classified as “genocide,” because they don’t show a concerted effort to exterminate one group. Nor is Assad the worst mass murderer since the Nazis; the Khmer Rouge, for example, slaughtered hundreds of thousands during its reign in Cambodia. But Assad’s actions are crimes against humanity and are as serious and horrendous as other situations in the past that fit the technical definition of genocide, according to Rapp.

    Assad himself is implicated in the crimes for the purposes of future prosecutions, Rapp said, because as head of the Syrian government and military he holds command responsibility and is therefore responsible for what the photos show is a policy of torture and murder of civilians. Assad also granted amnesty for crimes committed by his forces; it’s another action that indicates his responsibility.

    “This is a situation in which clearly there is a high command and a responsiveness throughout those chains of command,” Rapp said about Assad’s Syrian Arab Army, which is shown perpetrating the crimes in the photos. “Clearly there has been zero effort to hold anybody accountable no matter how vicious, no matter how horrid the conduct of the forces of the army of the Syrian Arab Republic.”

    Rapp said a large part of the Caesar archive had also been shared with Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic at the United Nations.

    Some of the images smuggled out of Syria by Caesar were shown to U.N. Security Council members in April. Afterwards, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said, “The gruesome images of corpses bearing marks of starvation, strangulation and beatings and today’s chilling briefing indicate that the Assad regime has carried out systematic, widespread and industrial killing.”

    But a Security Council effort in May to refer the Assad regime to the International Criminal Court failed due to vetoes by Russia and China.

    “Perpetrators of crimes have no fear or thought of consequence. Impunity has made its home inside the Syrian Arab Republic,” Pinheiro said last month.
    Rapp said there was a process underway to prepare the evidence for a future criminal prosecution by placing the evidence in custody outside the direct control of any one country. He did not say when exactly the U.S. would complete its ongoing forensic analysis or what the Obama administration intends to do when that analysis is finished.

    International war crimes scholar Cherif Bassiouni—who led the U.N. investigations into war crimes in Yugoslavia, Bahrain, and Libya, and helped create the International Criminal Court—also saw many of the photos of atrocities brought out of Syria by Caesar. He spoke with The Daily Beast exclusively about the evidence.

    Bassiouni said that top officials from countries directly aiding the Syrian army could also be implicated in the crimes against humanity being perpetrated by the Assad regime. In particular, he said the torture and killing was done in a systematic way he recognized from his time studying the Soviet Union.

    “What I see in the pictures is to a large extent an anomaly to the culture of the Syrian army. The way these pictures were taken show a great deal of systematicity, reflecting a culture that is systematic in its approach. This culture, in my opinion, is more reflected in Russia,” he said. “What you see in Russian bureaucracy today, particularly in the successor to the KGB and military, is really no different than what existed in the USSR. The people haven’t changed and their methods haven’t changed.”

    Soviet tactics of interrogation and mass torture of civilians were also revealed in some of the Eastern European countries whose security services were Russian-trained, Bassiouni said. Those tactics are shown in the pictures to be still in practice in Syria.

    “We see a pattern of systematicity and discipline in the taking of the pictures, the numbering of the persons, etc., which has never occurred before in the history of Syria. It has occurred in Russia,” he said. “If I compare the cultural practices of the Syrian military in the past, their practice has always been to torture, kill, get rid of the bodies, get rid of the evidence. When you look at the practices of the USSR and the eastern European countries, everything is documented.”

    Even if the Russian advisers helping the Syrian army aren’t directly involved in the torture, they could be held responsible for aiding the army in other ways, such as maintaining airplanes that drop barrel bombs on civilians, which is also a war crime, Bassiouni said. Members of the Russian leadership that knew or should have known about such assistance could also be prosecuted.

    “There is a Russian government responsibility on the basis of command responsibility,” he said. “It attaches legal culpability to the military hierarchy supervising those Russian ‘civilians’ engaged in that action.”

    There are three possible options for how the Caesar evidence could be used in future prosecutions against Assad and his cohorts. The U.N. Security Council could again attempt to refer Assad to the International Criminal Court. Alternatively, there is an informal proposal to set up a special inquiry into atrocities in Syria.

    Thirdly, the domestic criminal justice system of Syria could bring the cases after the armed conflict ends, using war crimes laws that are already on the books there. Assad is the commander of the Syrian army, so he could be prosecuted under domestic laws that govern military conduct, Bassiouni said.

    The Obama administration has been too slow to collect, investigate, verify, and eventually announce what is inside the Caesar evidence, in Bassiouni’s view, because they fear that confronting Assad about his own criminal culpability might hamper efforts to negotiate with Assad over an end to the Syrian civil war.

    Assad has been offered safe passage to a third country as a carrot for handing over power. That might not be possible if his crimes against humanity were publicly confirmed, Bassiouni said, but Assad has already passed on that offer.

    When the U.S. government does complete its forensic analysis of the Caesar evidence, the Obama administration will be forced to make a policy decision about whether to announce the results and whether to press for immediate accountability. In Bassiouni’s view, the U.S. will have to act if and when it finally concludes that the evidence is real and definitive.

    “It places a moral and legal burden on the United States. The moral burden is self-evident. But the legal burden derives from the fact that this type of torture killing is a violation of the torture convention, which is ratified in U.S. law,” he said. “It obligates us to take whatever measures we can to prevent the continuation of it. Obviously the very least would be for us to make it public, to create the necessary public pressure on Assad, and possibly the governments of Russia and Iran, to formally notify the government of Bashar Assad of their responsibility under international criminal law.”

    “There is a point,” Bassiouni added, “when you just can’t look the other way.”

    • Fr. George Washburn says

      Well, Sam let’s you and me talk numbers since the Mr. Rapp you so blithely quote doesn’t seem to be a very good counter in this case. He cites more than 10,000 possible deaths in custody to proclaim the Assad regime the worst since Hitler.

      I have read extensively on the Rwanda genocide in which the most reliable estimates say about 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu died in 100 days of state-sponsored killing back in 1994. Would you please let Mr. Rapp know about this, and where he might find a reliable math tutor to help him compare these figures to the ones he cites? Perhaps after telling us what your own comparison of these numbers reveals.

      And would you please compare the number of people who have died in Iraq since we invaded to the number Saddam killed in the same period of time prior to our invasion? Or the number of Christians killed by the Saddam or Assad regimes with the numbers killed by those who seek to replace them?

    • “and was partially funded by the Qatari government.”

      Let me complete that sentence: “….which gives material support to the rebels.”

      Nobody doubts Assad is guilty of the crimes mentioned, but an even-handed report would document rebel abuses as well.

  22. I’m not buying into all the” ethnic social club” gloom and doom. My family converted to Holy Orthodoxy via the OCA about seven years ago, and we now attend an Antiochian parish. We love to attend Divine Liturgy and visit monasteries in the various jurisdictions including: OCA, Antiochian, Greek, ROCOR, Romanian, etc. We see the ethnic leanings of the various jurisdictions as a wonderful blessing. My young (homeschooled) daughter has the great advantage to know, and love, and understand many different cultures from around the world. We love the warmth of the Arabic people….and the piety of the Russians…..and the hospitality of the Romanians…..and the kindness of the Greeks. My daughter speaks a little bit of Greek and understands some Church Slavonic and Arabic. We never feel ostracized and the diverse cultural experiences are a joy for us. And of course , we feel at home at every Divine Liturgy and Church service. We thank God every day that he led us to His one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church…..the Holy Orthodox Church.

    To Metropolitan Joseph, Axios, Axios, Axios!!!

  23. Fr. Michael Molloy says

    Everyone who knows the man, rejoices at his election as Metropolitan. He is a man of God, a true leader and a son of Antioch. We in the Diocese of the West have joyful sadness: joy because we know he will be an excellent Metropolitan, but also sadness that our beloved Archpastor is leaving us in person (though not in spirit). Let all of us Orthodox pray for him and all our hierarchs, bet let us criticize only ourselves. During a period in the past I criticized a Metropolitan, but now I cannot repent enough for that. Let us support in every way our new Metropolitan that God may be glorified in America.

    • Fr Michael, sorry but this sounds rather sycophantic and toady to me. Obviously, not “everyone who knows the man rejoices”, I can assure you of that. Yes, pray for him and remember you only need to repent of a sin once, unless you really don’t believe in God’s forgiveness. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will cleanse us of all unrighteous”. Also, Psalm 103:12 (NIV) as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

    • Wow, nothing more predictable than the ooozing of Antiochian clergy. “joyful sadness…” oh,dear, spare us! And in case you didn’t read the above comment from someone who actually spoke to the new metropolitan, he *never was your archpastor*. Got it? He was an overdressed rural dean. Philip was THE bishop, HE was the self in the self rule. As directed by the patriarch of Damascus. Now Joseph is The bishop, there remain several other rural deans, and you will soon enough have another to be a not-bishop out west. How exactly does Joseph manage to be a “son of Antioch”? Since the last Orthodox bishop left there in 1280, there have been none. All have been based in Damascus. Zero connection. This is pretty typical of a House of Studies graduate and what Antiochian parishoners get fed as a substitute for responsible history. Fr. Michael clearly took good notes.

      • And what, really, is the problem with that setup? In the Byzantine churches, the ruling bishops have the honorific of Metropolitan. You’ll note the GOARCH is the same way. It has been that way for centuries. It is hardly an innovation of Englewood, or Damascus for that matter. Call it title inflation if you will, but it has been this way in the Byzantine sphere for more than a few centuries.

        Perhaps you’d understand it better if you stopped imposing the Slavic episcopal structure on the Byzantine Churches, and stopped making more of “self rule” than it actually is. Because in the end it makes no difference. We have our bishop (Met. Joseph) who has the same autonomy as the other Antiochian metropolitans. We have local auxiliary bishops (like the other Antiochian metropolises have) who administrate and consecrate churches.

        Perhaps, bob, the perfect church you have in your mind never existed. As a convert, it took me awhile to separate the ideal from reality. Such is the nature of mankind. But you’ve really gone over the top here.

        I was critical of Met. Philip on a number of things. I expect some of those things to change. But in any case, for God’s sake, give Met. Joseph a chance. Stop ascribing all that is wrong in the world to the “old world” boogeyman.

  24. Hmmmm, interesting,

    Taking as candid for a moment Anonymous Antiochian Priest’s insights into the new ruling bishop of the Antiochian Diocese of America (let’s call a spade a spade: one bishop, one great big diocese with lotsa auxilaries) then there seems to be some cause for patience. I for one was very happy to hear he venerated the relics of Vladyka John, that he has an interest in monasticism and that he may not be as anti-tradition as Met. Phillip (eternal memory to him). If, as he claims, the deposition of all AOCNA bishops here except for Met. Phillip was indeed the policy of Damascus – and I find that curious and counterintuitive – then he seems to be making lemonade out of lemons.

    • John Michaels says

      You all need to get a life!

      Go spend your time correctly. I am a convert. I left the OCA, thank God. I was welcomed into the Antiochian Archdiocese by Metropolitan PHILIP of blessed memory himself! Thank God for that too.

      He was not anti-tradition. You all are just talking.

      So he venerated relics. Great! Now, we are all saved!!!!

      The real leader knows more than what’s in front of him.

      Is monasticism the goal of Christians? No.
      We are to follow Christ! Some follow him in cassocks. Some follow him in suits. So what?

      Get a life! And good luck converting the world! Actually, good luck keeping who you have!

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      I have spent the last hour reading attacks on the Antiochian Archdiocese. Now I am mad. Forgive me if I express myself honestly. How dare anyone in the OCA criticize the Antiochians.
      If you look at the web site of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, you will see that all the Holy Synod did was to bring the organization of our Archdiocese into line with the rest of the Patriarchate. Ruling Bishops are Metropolitans. The last thing that we need is 8 or 9 separate Archdiocese here in America under Antioch. We need a united Archdiocese with a Metropolitan with some authority not a powerless figurehead like the OCA. Just during the last two years one OCA Bishop was arrested for DUI, an OCA Bishop was deposed for sending questionable e mails to a woman, an OCA Archbishop was convicted of sexually molesting a young boy. How many Metropolitans has the OCA had during the last few years and what were their reputations for morality? An OCA Deacon is still serving although he married a man in California, another OCA Deacon was disciplined for refusing Communion to a woman living in an open lesbian relationship. If that is American Orthodoxy, I want nothing to do with it. I am much happier under Antioch. At least we have some standards of morality for our Bishops and other clergy.

      • StephenD says

        tell that to Father John Allen…I still maintain that there needs to be a complete and transparent audit of all of the books…both the “public” and the “private ” books.

      • steve knowlton says

        It’s not really an attack on the Antiochian archdiocese as such, it’s rather an ongoing observation that the organization is anything but what it says it is. It’s the PR Machine that is so irritating (and destructive). You can say that the Holy Synod brought everything back into line with the organization of the Patriarchate, but by doing so you concede that Philip took the whole thing out of line, back when you were celebrating a dawn of a new age of orthodox unity, no one was complaining that this was irregular or deceitful. Except those of us with more jaundiced eyes, evidently. You say the last thing you need is 8 archdioceses, but actually this is exactly what you needed back when Philip unilaterally took things off the rails.

      • Sam Haddad says

        Dear Morris:

        Nice try, but let’s not talk about the “hidden” problems in the Antiochian Archdiocese. Let’s see: a bishop forcefully retired for going to a casino, getting drunk and fondling a woman; several priests defrocked for child issues; several priests caught in brothels; a priest in NE beating on a woman; etc. So, don’t color the kettle black. The issue here is that American born and educated Arab/American men, who are heads above + Joseph are overlooked for Met – THIS IS THE ISSUE! And why? Because the Antiochian Archdiocese isn’t “self-ruled,” but just a puppet ATM of foreign bishops. If YOU being a convert are happy with that, God bless you, but us Arab Americans are tired of this skata.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          The point is that in all the cases that you mentioned the offending clergyman was suspended. The real issue is that the Patriarchate followed our constitution and chose one of the candidates nominated by our convention. Metropolitan Joseph was nominated in a fair and open vote. If we choose to nominate him, it is really our business. I do not care where a Bishop was born or educated. I only care if the Bishop is a spiritual leader who will help our Archdiocese grow spiritually.

        • Nobody was “overlooked”. The Archdiocese elected three candidates and the Holy Synod chose one of those candidates. That is how elections work. I think Bishop Basil would be ashamed of your tirades if he saw them.

          No, the AA is not “self-ruled,” if self-rule means autonomous. Frankly, I don’t know why Metr. Philip was so obsessed with that designation, as it means virtually nothing. But so what? It’s my opinion that American Orthodoxy is not at all prepared to “leave home,” so to speak. I see such fixations on independence as akin to the Prodigal Son, who hated his father and just wanted to get his.

          Maybe in a few centuries. American Orthodoxy has existed at all for barely 100 years; English has been in widespread use for only decades. I dare say any of the other now-autocephalous churches were not so full of pride as to speak this way about their mother churches after their churches had existed for scarcely longer than one or two human lifetimes.

          • Patrick Henry Reardon says

            Ages says, No, the AA is not “self-ruled,” if self-rule means autonomous.

            Some time ago, for reasons I do not entirely understand, an emphasis on self-rule emerged within the Archdiocese.

            Frankly speaking, I rather hope that designation will be dropped.

            About six weeks ago, in a public letter, I expressed this hope to Father Thomas Zain, our Vicar General.

            Although our family has been in the Archdiocese for a quarter-century, I still remember our search for the true Church. The designation “self-ruled” would have been, at that time, a genuine hindrance to the search. We were Episcopalians, and, as far as I could determine, “self-rule” was a major source of problems in the history of Anglicanism.

            That is to say, self-ruled represents, at best, a problem.

            • steve knowlton says

              “Self-rule” was a term generated by the PR machine when Met Philip couldn’t achieve genuine canonical “Autonomy,” which had been his goal. It would indeed be great if they just dropped it, since it clearly means nothing.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Sam Haddad says, “us Arab Americans are tired of this skata.”

          Sam has been delegated as spokesman for “us Arab Americans”?

          Evidence, please.

          • Michael Bauman says

            “We Arab Americans” BTW.

            I don’t think I’ve ever met Arab Americans. I go to church with a lot of Americans of Arab descent.

            • Skata is also a Greek word, not an Arab one. Do you not know the Arabic word for excrement, Mr. “Haddad”?

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Father bless!

        Dear Father John,

        I do not think it is useful to get into cross-jurisdictional mud slinging, even when it is done in “self-defense.” I have done that in the past and I ask forgiveness for my anger and intemperate words. As you know, some of my fondest memories relate to St Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Austin. Thank you for being part of them.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          Of course you are right Karl. However, I am tired of reading attacks against the Antiochian Archdiocese by outsiders. Our business is our business. Metropolitan Joseph was not forced upon us. He was nominated by our convention for Metropolitan in a fair vote of the clergy and representatives of the parishes. The Holy Synod honored our wishes and elected one of the three candidates that we nominated.

          • Protopappas says

            Hi Father. I agree that your business is your business.

            [sidebar from initial comment] That is, after all, what the independent jurisdictions are all about. We must remain separate because only I know what a bishop should look like in my jurisdiction, and only you should in yours. We must be ethnically purified. Those who were trained Antiochian can alone determine what an Antiochian Bishop should be. That is what Christ had in mind when He said that out of the mouth of two or three Antiochians (or Greeks, or Russians, or Ukrainians, or Serbians) let every word be established (but only for them in the diaspora).

            The aforementioned being intended the way it is probably taken, in all seriousness, I can say that I pray for Met. Joseph to have a great Metropolinate. But I cannot say that I wish him so in a divided diaspora, but rather that he have a major role in fixing the nonsense that has gone on for so long in all of our jurisdictions. Eis Polla Eti Despota!

      • Dan Fall says

        Why would you allow yourself to be exorcised by those that don’t like the Antiochian choice and slam the OCA?

        I find your response childish.

        Grow a pair and keep the OCA out of constructive dialogue about Antiochian decisions. As a priest, you need to be wiser.

        If I got into a discussion about Jonah vs someone else and suggested something about Antiochians, I’d get laughed outta the room.

        • Dan Fall says

          If a non-Antiochian coins in about the choice; call him out. Your justification of your own bad behavior in the sandbox is someone else threw sand, too?

          Unacceptable behavior for a priest.

          Call them out.

  25. r j klancko says

    here is the point, if we are americans and our children are americans, as our grand children and great grandchildren, isn’t it about time that we stopped importing bishops , men who have not been brought up in our culture, know how to navigate our culture, who have never been married and do not know the pressures of family life, and most of all do not create a creduble presence that our society would welcome and espouse but support what appears to be an ethnic cult – yes cult – rubber bands around your pony tails, long black robes in public, long beards – what else would you call it — most of our churches are ehtnic good old boy clubs – if you do not know the secret handshake and secret words you do not get in —i encounter many former members of the church in my business life and why did they leave – ehtnic ghetto propagated and influential myopic clicks – strong words yes, but this is how we are looked at from others and why our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are no longer with us –
    the antiochians had a chance to americanize and they chose not to – ergo the value of the word of God superceded by the word of man —- the facts are there and we choose not to recognize them because we are comfortable in our family run ethnic ghettos

    if these facts are not true – then why are maintain ourselves, if you call it maintaining – solely thru immigration – what arte there protestant mega churches and we have micro churches – we really need to take an honest look as how we are perceived, what we do to turn people away, if all are welcome how do we make them welcome and what do we do to make ourselves look like hypocrites – such an analysis is not pretty nore comfortable – but alas what other choice do we have – we are loosing ground rapidly – our numbers are dwindling

    or do we really care? another tear is shed, and another day in the wilderness

    • rj agree with most of what you say except the part about the importation of bishops. We need Christ centered Bishops who serve Him in love and humility from whatever their country of origin. A secularized American born bishop is no better than a secularized foreign born bishop. By the way, when I speak of secularized I speak of a mind set that conforms to this world rather than to God’s will. One can wear “traditional garb”, have a ponytail, long beard, venerate the relics of JohnM and still be secularized. My prayer for Orthodoxy is that God send us humble loving servants who endeavor to do His will above all else.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      R J asks, “if we are americans and our children are americans, as our grand children and great grandchildren, isn’t it about time that we stopped importing bishops , men who have not been brought up in our culture, know how to navigate our culture, . . . . ?”

      Well, now, let’s consider: The Antiochian Archdiocese is less than a 100 years old. Metropolitan Joseph is, I believe, the fourth Archbishop.

      Why the complaint?

      The See of Canterbury was founded in 597. When a Greek, Theodore of Tarsus, became its seventh archbishop in 668, that see was over 70 years old. Some Englishman could easily have said, “isn’t it about time that we stopped importing bishops?”

      Theodore himself was 66 years old at the time, just a tad older than Metropolitan Joseph is now.

      Right now this Archdiocese needs more bishops. I, for one, don’t give a fig where they come from. I do pray, however, they are cut from the same cloth as Theodore of Tarsus.

    • “what arte there protestant mega churches and we have micro churches”

      As one who came through a Protestant megachurch and into Orthodoxy via a moderate-sized parish of about 150 people, there is nothing to idealize about megachurches. They are an anomaly and should not be taken as an indication of spiritual health. Given the choice, I’d choose a small parish of 100-200 members every time.

  26. Seraphim98 says

    Many years to Metropolitan Joseph. May God grant him grace to build and strengthen the Antiochian Archdiocese and the faith of her members.

    My thoughts on having read this thread. Metropolitan Phillip for all the good he did was not without some serious issues that must be addressed sooner or later, but he is reposed, and a new Metropolitan has the reins now. Best to give the new Met. a chance to do his work and see what kind of leader he will be.

    Comments on Met. Jonah strike me as tangential to this thread.

    We’ve spent a couple of years gnawing on this or that ankle bone of our respective hierarchs, and not without some reason…but, speaking as one who gnawed a lot on Met. Jonah’s behalf, I have to say I’m tired of it from both sides, and I’m tired of it over Met. Phillip. My views have not changed, but I hate the feeling of being perpetually stirred up over this or that new outrage/scandal/tidbit.

    I’m a little concerned though over the out of the gate negativity concerning Met. Joseph…granted other candidates had stronger bases of support among the laity, but that doesn’t mean the choice made by the Holy Synod is misguided. Again, I’m aware of the issues with respect to the Synod and Damascus and Assad and his regime.

    It is this awareness that prompts me to speak. Given what our Orthodox brethren are suffering in Syria and Iraq right now, seeing as they caught between two devilish forces raging against each other, it’s understandable why they align politically with the one that has no particular interest in persecuting them. The other devils are burning churches, kidnapping, raping, crucifying beheading, and using every form of terror to try and force conversions to Islam form area Christians. Thousands have paid with their lives…tens of thousands.

    So given this violent suffering in the Antiochian Patriarchate, is this the right time for gnawing upon our hierarchs. The issues in the American Antiochian Archdiocese can certainly be broached and discussed without the need to defame any bishop living or reposed. There is a season for everything, and I cannot help but think as each day brings us new images and reports of Orthodox Christian suffering, not to mention the suffering of other Christians, and indeed other Muslims over there, that is not the right time to show our claws and bare our fangs over the issues that confront us with our heirarchs in conditions of peace and safety.

    Just my thoughts on this all, one firebrand to others.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      I cannot help but think that some people here are so anti-Antiochian that they would find fault with whoever was chosen and how he was chosen.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Of course they would Father.

      • No Abouna, they have made an idol out of Basil. They would rather follow him than Christ. I love Saiedna Basil and he would’ve been an excellent choice but a lot of you people are idolators and he would not approve of the things you say.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Matthew, you are correct. He would rebuke them.

          He rebuked me when I told him I would have voted for him as a bishop.

          These people have no clue who Bishop Basil is. He would quickly disappoint them and they would turn on him as well.

  27. Archpriest John W. Morris says

    It is not as if Metropolitan Joseph was sent over here directly from Syria. He has been a Bishop here since 1995.

  28. Bishop John may have been the best candidate, definitely the most pastoral, but he committed the sin of matrimony.

  29. Michael Bauman says

    johnkal, if Bishop John is really more pastoral than Bishop Basil it goes to show how strong the Antiochian candidates were.

    I am sure Bishop Basil is saying and I rather suspect Bishop John is too: “Thank you Lord for allowing this cup to pass from me!”

    If Mr. Haddad is at all representative of anybody but himself (which I doubt actually) the office of Metropolitan will be heavy indeed on Joseph’s shoulders.

    May God bless Met. Joseph giving him wisdom, strength and a spirit of mercy.

    • Fr. George Washburn says

      I have some little doubts that Mr. Haddad even IS “himself” – as opposed to someone “crafting” an identity here.

  30. Archpriest John W. Morris says

    I think that those who are so critical of Metropolitan Joseph should read his speech at the Parish Life Conference of the Diocese of the West

    Fr. John.

    • Michael Bauman says

      FIve things I took away from that speech:

      1. We need monasteries (he said we had none, but we do have one already).
      2. The Parish Life Conferences should stop being vacations. (I may actually attend one now.)
      3. We need to do it together, all of us to build up what we have here.
      4. The Archdiocese is not one man.
      5. He has ideas, a vision.


      • Sam Haddad says


        Pleeeese; + Joseph has the charisma of a snail. We don’t need monasteries which breed a place for homosexuals and paedophiles to hide. Parish Life Conf. better be vacations or no one will attend. A vacation with a church centered agenda is perfect. The Archdiocese may not be one man, but a visible, strong leader is necessary and he is not. His ideas and vision are seriously lacking and certainly parochial.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Mr. Haddad: pleeeeeeeeeeeeese pedal your despair, cynicism and personal agenda to someone who cares.

          It just makes me want to throw up.

  31. A forceful message from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the GOARCH Clergy and Laity Conference in Philadelphia where he laid the charge to us that “It is necessary, at all costs, to struggle for the preservation of the traditional Orthodox institution of family with the cultivation of marital fidelity” and that we must “offer witness of the truth of Christ” in these matters.

    He lamented that modernistic societies “nurture fleeting, personal relationships aiming at the release from the duties of the communion of the marriage and the egotistical self-gratification of man, rendering man essentially empty, miserable and isolated, deprived of the blessing of God.”

    Yesterday, for his sermon, our priest read and commented on his address. I have excerpted the the Patriarch’s address below.

    This Clergy Laity Congress…has chosen as its focal point of examination the theme: The Orthodox Christian Family: A dwelling of Christ and a Witness of His Gospel, which is timely and very important, especially now, during the ongoing development of humanity.

    Through this union of the two persons male and female in Christ the family becomes a dwelling of Christ, from Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named (Eph. 3: 15-16); every family, i.e. every genealogical origin and presence on earth of which the family is the cell from Adam and Eve, through which life goes on, the earth is inherited, and the heavenly kingdom granted to the man who has been created in the image and likeness of God.

    Human life is certainly a serious matter, a spiritual battle and a course toward a goal that is heaven. Marriage is the most critical and most important vehicle of this course; the marriage in Christ and the marital bond, the undefiled marriage (Heb. 13, 4), the profound sacrament (Eph. 5, 32). It has also been shown that the success or failure, the progress or destruction in spiritual life begins with the marriage.

    We all realize that in the society we live, the God-sanctified institution of the family suffers serious blows from the prevalent climate of contemporary blissfulness, which does not favor the total offering of one spouse to the other and of both to the children, but nurtures fleeting, personal relationships aiming at the release from the duties of the communion of the marriage and the egotistical self-gratification of man, rendering man essentially empty, miserable and isolated, deprived of the blessing of God.

    The institution of Marriage and the Orthodox Christian family is foremost a course of love, secondly a course of common spirit and common exercise, thirdly a course of creativity, common creativity and continuation of life, and, fourthly a common course toward heaven, toward the heavenly kingdom. It is a calling of God, it is a joining of diversity that leads to perfection, and, therefore, the spouses become also joint heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3, 7).

    Taking into account the Patristic saying according to which nothing holds together life as the love between man and woman, the living together of people of the same sex as couples is not an accepted practice within the bosom of our Orthodox Church, which preserves undefiled the wholesomeness of the evangelical truth. It is irreconcilable with the commandments of God and contrary to the spirit of the Gospel. As deacons of the Church and her salvific work, we ought to keep always a clear and unambiguous stance on this subject that resurfaces constantly, because only where there is husband and wife and children and concord and people connected by the bonds of virtue there, in their midst, is Christ, says St. John Chrysostom (On Genesis, Homily 6, P.G. 54, 616).

    Mother Church who is always affectionate toward all her children accepts and calls everyone to salvation, the devout and the sinners, the healthy and the sick, the strong and the weak. Not only does she accept everyone but also gives everyone the opportunity at a moment of time to repent and be saved. The Church, regardless of the passing of so many centuries, condemns and reproaches sin and does not change her stance against it, as against something allegedly natural but only slightly different.

    Sacrament, then of the Church and norm of the presence of God is the marriage at which man and woman come together and become one. If the two do not become one they cannot produce many … The child is a bridge (St. John Chrysostom, Memorandum to the Letter to the Colossians, Homily 12, P.G. 62, 386-387).

    It is necessary, at all costs, the struggle for the preservation of the traditional Orthodox institution of family with the cultivation of marital fidelity, the treating of one spouse by the other as a person created in the image and likeness of God, the togetherness and the unity, the following of the same path by showing obedience preferably to the same spiritual father, and mostly the constant self-denial and sacrifice, without which sanctification and spiritual progress of the family will be unattainable.

    We know, brothers, sisters and children, that you live in a materialistic society that is continually distancing itself from the Orthodox morals and traditions and not favoring the traditional life; a society where faith and devotion to the principles of our Orthodox tradition often seems or is deemed by some as something anachronistic and foreign to the demands of the modern social life. It is here where the responsibility of both the shepherd and the flock lies. You, our spiritual children in America, on free will and choice and after much toil you possess the treasure of the genuine apostolic faith and tradition, of the truth and genuineness in the Grace of the sacraments, the treasure of tradition and family, despite environmental and societal limitations, as pure as the Mother Church of Constantinople has preserved it throughout the centuries. Thus, by lifting the cross of life may you offer witness of the truth of Christ, from Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.


  32. Archimandrite Denis (Lajoie) - AOCA says

    A beloved teacher of Arabic, once taught me this Arabic phrase “HAKI BELLA HAKI”. It means “speaking without saying (much of) anything.” I am surprised at so much verbiage (HAKI) about things which are at best of passing and tangential interest, and taken as a whole say very, very, little, if anything at all. Really, have we so much time on our hands to cast stones in judgement, time which would be better spent saying the Jesus Prayer?

    “Lord, Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy ON ME, A SINNER!”

    Another priest taught me “We get the bishops we deserve.” He also taught me “Don’t try to spit up into God’s face. You’ll only end up spitting in your own.” He, by the way was from the “old country”. Pardon my being a little too earthy, but let’s cut the crap and get busy looking after our own souls, and leave everything else to God!.

    ” ‘Teacher this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law, commanded us that such a person should be stoned. but what do you say?’ This they said, testing Him, that they have might have something of which to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, AS THOUGH HE DID NOT HEAR. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let HIM throw a stone at her first.’ And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their consciences, went out one by one…” John 8:1ff

    “O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, MEDDLING, lust of power and IDLE TALK.
    But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to thy servant.
    Yea, O Lord and King, grant ME TO SEE MY OWN SINS AND NOT TO JUDGE MY BROTHER; for thou art blessed unto ages of ages.”

    I just thought that we might all stop for a moment and ponder these two quotes and then BEHAVE ACCORDINGLY. I know that my own sins are too numerous for me to waste time judging others when I have so much more repenting to do. Whenever I point a finger at someone, I ALWAYS HAVE THREE MORE POINTING BACK AT ME. As Blessed Seraphim of Platina “It’s later than you think!”.

    As Metropolitan JOSEPH was quoted as saying, above, “get over it”. Let’s all move one! “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for the harvest!” (John 4:35b) Let’s everyone roll up our sleeves and look to the task before us. Enough HAKI! We have work to do! God’s work! Memorize this phrase for the next time you want to comment on things – “Satan, get thee behind me,” and let the temptation pass. I am certainly going to try!

    Forgive me, everyone for presuming to speak. If I have offended anyone, forgive my humble and very unworthy opinion, and pray for me, for I am a sinner.

  33. Fr Denis-What you say sounds good and pious but is not consistent with the teaching of the church. Just read the writings of the Apostle Paul who over and over addressed problems. If your modus operandi were the norm for the church, problems would not be addressed. We must “remove the leaven” around us confronting issues in love, humility and truth and not hide behind the Jesus prayer when serious issues confront us. Turning inward is not always the answer. Surely we can not ‘just get over” the serious issues that confront the church, pretending they do not exist by turning inward and focusing on ourselves. Jesus came to be engaged in the human experience not run from it and we are called to imitate Him. Finally, we do not deserve Bishops who are child molesters–PERIOD.

  34. Anon. Antiochian priest says

    I posted previously about Metropolitan Joseph’s actions and remarks at the recent Parish Life Conference in San Francisco and now I would like to provide a few comments and observations from the recently completed Clergy Symposium at Antiochian Village. Sorry, Mr. Sam Haddad, I think you have it all wrong and you seem like a really bitter man with a wicked agenda.

    His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph did not say much during the conference but he didn’t need to. Actions speak louder than words. Besides the fact that he convened a conference on the subject of healing ministry in the church and had, amongst a number of other speakers, Dr. Paul Meyendorff from St. Vladimir’s Seminary, he also announced a new Doctor of Theology program that will be held at Antiochian Village and wil be managed through the Balamand University in Lebanon. Furthermore, they are working on getting accreditation in the United States as well. His Eminence had breakout forums with subjects like clergy boundaries and liturgical practices and Christian Education and a presentation from St. Catherine’s college (an Orthodox Christian college in San Diego by the way). The presentation yesterday was on conflict resolution. At the dinner last night, he spoke to the clergy about unity and love in Christ and his desire to visit every diocese. And he specifically mentioned that he wants the administration to be “transparent.” Yes, that was the word he used. At the end of the Divine Liturgy this morning he spoke about the fact that he doesn’t want anyone speaking around the Holy Altar while services are going on and that everyone must be attentive to the God-given rubrics. The only thing that he did not mention was the “local holy synod.” He referred to the hierarchs of the archdiocese but never once mentioned the term “local holy synod.” I think he is making it very clear that the bishops are, indeed, auxiliaries.

    As for his leadership so far, I have to give him a grade of A. He is not wasting time setting the tone for what he wants in the archdiocese and so far it has been very refreshing. And no, I am not in Metropolitan Joseph “camp,” to use the vernacular. I’m just one priest of many who is coming away pleasantly surprised that things are going well. May God have mercy on our new Metropolitan and our Archdiocese.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      I was very impressed by the way that Metropolitan Joseph conducted himself. He was friendly, open, showed a good sense of humor and was available to speak with the clergy one on one. I think that we are in good shape and that Metropolitan Jospeh will work out very well.

  35. Sdn. Matthew Dunn says

    To all concerned: It is public knowledge how much Metropolitan Jonah gets from Syosset. In addition to health insurance (which is, admittedly, worth its weight in gold), he receives a stipend of 1,000 dollars a month. is this public knowledge? I will direct you to the minutes of the Spring 2013 OCA Metropolitan Council Meeting:

  36. Gail Sheppard says

    No one is going to read this, which is probably just as well, but when I was a catechumen, I went to a Shakespearean play with my friend, Bonnie, who has been in the Church from the early EOC days. She’s a bit of a “puck” when it comes to having fun, and because we were seeing “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream,” I think she was particularly inspired. In any case, she whispered to me, “Look, there’s Bishop Joseph!” Sure enough, there he was, sitting under the stars, just a few seats away from us. I looked closely at him trying to get my brain around the fact a bishop would be in an outside pavilion watching Shakespeare. I probably looked an instant too long, because from that point forward, this man would not STOP looking at me and trying to get my attention. I was completely unnerved. I finally said to Bonnie, “Bishop Joseph is flirting with me.” She started laughing so hard, she almost fell out of her seat. Needless to say is was NOT bishop Joseph but he certainly was a dead ringer to my inexperienced eyes!

  37. Monk James says

    George Michalopulos (July 18, 2014 at 7:32 am) says:

    (addressing Bp Tikhon Fitzgerald):
    Then in your opinion, when was the apogee of the OCA?


    I have no idea how BpTF will respond to this question, but I say that our OCA was NEVER so well respected, nationally and internationally — and properly — as it was during the time when Fr Robert Kondratick served as our chancellor.

    Ever since Met. Herman Swaiko wrongly deprived FrRK of office, our church has continued in a downward spiral from which it may never recover/

  38. M. Stankovich says

    Today is the 22nd anniversary of the falling asleep in the Lord of Archpriest John Meyendorff, who died in Montreal, Canada exactly 22 days after retiring from the faculty of St. Valdimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary after 33 years, and as Dean for 8 years. He was 66 years old at the time of his death.

    Fr. John was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, of emigre parents forced out of the Russian Empire during the Russian Revolution. He completed his secondary education in France, and in 1948 received a Licentiate at the Sorbonne, and later earned a Diplôme d’études supérieures (1949), a Diplôme de l’école pratique des Hautes Etudes (1954). He also completed his theological education at the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris in 1949 and earned the degree of Doctor of Theology in 1958 with a groundbreaking doctoral thesis on the teachings of St. Gregory Palamas. He shortly became Assistant Professor of Church History at the Orthodox Theological Institute, and a Fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

    Having been ordained to the priesthood in the Orthodox Church, he accepted an offer to move his new family to the United States and become Professor of Church History and Patristics at St Vladimir’s Seminary (1959), while also holding successive joint appointments as lecturer and later Senior Fellow in Byzantine theology at Harvard University, Dumbarton Oaks (to which he returned for a semester as Acting Director of Studies in 1977), and as Professor of Byzantine History at Fordham University, Bronx, NY (from 1967 until his retirement from SVS). He also was Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary and lectured widely on university campuses and at church events. A member of several professional associations, Fr Meyendorff served during different periods as President of the Orthodox Theological Society of America, President of the American Patristic Association, and a member of the Executive Committee, U.S. Committee for Byzantine Studies. He was a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities (1976-77), and a Guggenheim Fellow (1981). He had been granted The Diploma of Honorary Member of the Leningrad Theological Academy, and he was awarded the Order of St Vladimir, 2nd Class, by His Holiness Aleksy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia in 1991. He was long-time editor of St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, chairman of the Department of External Affairs of the Orthodox Church in America, an advisor to the Holy Synod, and was editor of the monthly newspaper The Orthodox Church.

    Fr Meyendorff’s publications include the critical text and translation of Byzantine theologian Gregory Palamas (1959), as well as a number of books in the fields of theology and history, such as A Study of Gregory Palamas (French ed., 1959; Engl. 1964); The Orthodox Church (1963); Orthodoxy and Catholicity (1966); Christ in Eastern Christian Thought (1969); Byzantine Theology (1973); Marriage, an Orthodox Perspective (1975); Living Tradition (1978); Byzantium and the Rise of Russia (1980); The Byzantine Legacy in the Orthodox Church (1981); Catholicity and the Church (1983); and Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions. The Church 450-680 AD (1989).

    Much has been written about the “contentious” relationship between Alexander Schmemann and Georges Florovsky – and I have written of being a poor “nobody” who attended (I believe!) the 40th Anniversary banquet of SVS only because I was a student willing to check coats, and witnessed an extraordinary “reunion” and had an opportunity to spend some time with Fr. Georges – I have read nothing about his relationship with Fr. John. But suffice it to say that these two men are rightfully credited with nearly single-handedly fueling a neo-patristic “hunger” that demanded access to Migne’s Patrologia Graeca; the re-printing of the Ante-Nicean, Nicean, and Post-Nicean Fathers Series translated in the 19th century!; Quasten’s Patrology; the Philokalia; new translations, new volumes, new discussions; and the wisdom of the appeal and the assurance of “joining with those Holy Fathers before us,” even unto those who heard the voice of Lord Himself, for “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” (Acts 15:28) It is truly astonishing what these fathers of our generation awakened in a church stagnating in post-war and cold war, grasping at “traditions,” but having lost a sense of Tradition.

    And finally, I will always recall what distinguished John Meyendorff from Alexander Schmemann, two brilliant men whom God placed together for a very specific reason, at a very specific time. These men were the greatest and the truest of friends, but affectively and by personality, they could not have been more different. Alexander Schmemann was frenetic, he was driven, he was inspired, and he was inspiring. He once described being so excited by a lecture from Archimandrite Kyprian (Kern) that he literally ran home to tell his mother! On the other hand, John Meyendorff was precise, measured, and certain. He taught history as if he had been there, and Patristics as if he had known the Fathers themselves. And in each and every one of these certainties were “revelations” of our God and ultimately His desire for our salvation. And more than anything, Fr. John knew this with his heart.

    Fr. John Meyendorff was the warm, kind, approachable, attentive “pastoral persona” Alexander Schmemann, by temperament and personality, could not be. And should history suggest that Fr. Alexander Schmemann was the greater influence and more profound influence on American Orthodoxy than Fr. John Meyendorff, it will be a profound misperception. Fr. Alexander Schmemann, as David, was incomplete without Jonathan, Fr. John Meyendorff. May the memory of Fr. John Meyendorff be eternal, and may he rest with the saints!

  39. Tina Hovsky says

    Nice Stanko, very nice! We all remember him well. Memory Eternal!

  40. Dear to Christ Michael Stankovich,

    Here is another indication that your assessment of ROCOR is off base.

    A recent ordination by Metropolitan Hilarion for a new outreach by ROCOR and it isn’t to Russians. I am surprised you didn’t mention any of this before since you live in San Diego.

    Anyway, I just can’t understand why the OCA isn’t doing such missionary work since they are the “Local Church.”


    • James, now it’s time for me to burst your bubble.

      Stankovich doesn’t care about truth in the slightest. He just ignores any evidence that doesn’t support him.

      Didn’t he tell us how everyone leaving for ROCOR would be back in the OCA within a year? LOL

      • ChristineFevronia says

        Dear Helga, Dr. Stankovich does indeed care about the truth. I testify here on this site that he loves the Church with his whole being. He wears his heart on his sleeve because he loves the Church and her teachings. I have communicated with him one-on-one and I know that he holds the highest ethical standards–including that of seeking truth in all things. He may rub people the wrong way sometimes with the things he has written–and if you look back through the history on this site, that includes me–but that does not mean that he doesn’t care about the truth. I appreciate your comments on this site very much, however I just couldn’t let that one go by me. Forgive my offenses.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        To say that M. Stankovich doesn’t care for the truth highlights very dramatically “Helga’s inability to an adult reasons….a child picking up any stick or stone that’s handy. Surprising that he or she didn’t add ‘pants on fire!”

  41. Sam Haddad says

    Syrian Defector: Assad Poised to Torture and Murder 150,000 More

    Congress was shocked Thursday when a Syrian defector recounted how he documented Assad’s killing of over 11,000 innocents. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg, according to ‘Caesar.’

    The regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad is holding 150,000 civilians in custody, all of whom are at risk of being tortured or killed by the state, the Syrian defector known as “Caesar” told Congress Thursday.

    According to a senior State Department official, his department initially asked to keep this hearing — in which Caesar displayed new photos from his trove of 55,000 images showing the torture, starvation, and death of over 11,000 civilians — closed to the public, out of concerns for the safety of the defector and his family. Caesar smuggled the pictures out of Syria when he fled last year in fear for his life. Caesar’s trip had been in the works for months.

    (Warning Graphic): Photos of Assad’s Killing Machine

    There was no audio or video recording allowed at the hearing; the House Foreign Affairs Committee said that decision was made in consideration of Caesar’s safety. He sat at the witness table disguised in a baseball cap and sunglasses, with a blue hoodie over his head. “We recommended to Congress a format for today’s briefing that would have allowed press access while addressing any security concerns,” said Edgar Vasquez, a State Department spokesman.

    The packed committee room sat in silent horror as new examples of Assad’s atrocities were splashed on the large television screens on the wall and displayed on large posterboards littered throughout the hearing room. Caesar spoke softly to his translator, Mouaz Moustafa, the executive director of the Syrian American Task Force, a Washington-based organization that works with both the Syrian opposition and the U.S. State Department.

    “I am not a politician and I don’t like politics,” Caesar said through his translator. “I have come to you honorable Congress to give you a message from the people of Syria… What is going on in Syria is a genocidal massacre that is being led by the worst of all the terrorists, Bashar al Assad.”

    The international community must do something now or the 150,000 civilians still held in regime custody could meet the same bleak fate, Caesar said. America had been known as a country that protected civilians from atrocities, he argued, referring to past humanitarian crises such as ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia.

    “These bodies that we have (in the photos)… no one here can bring their life back to them, but I am here to tell you there is more than 150,000 people still incarcerated in the jails of Bashar al Assad and their fate will be the same fate as those who I have taken pictures of,” he said. That figure could not be independently verified.

    Caesar told the committee members his story. After spending two years meticulously documenting the systematic torture and murder of thousands of men, women, and children, he carefully planned his escape with the photos and the files that accompany them. The FBI is near complete in its effort to verify them, increasing their evidentiary value for future war crimes prosecutions.
    “I saw pictures of young children and the very elderly as well, and pictures of women. Sometimes I would come across the pictures of some of my own neighbors and people that I recognized. I was horrified but I would not tell them the fate of their children,” out of fear of the regime’s retaliation, Caesar sad. “My religion did not allow me to be quiet about these horrendous crimes that I have seen.”

    International war crimes scholar Cherif Bassiouni–who helped create the International Criminal Court–testified that the Caesar photos reminded him of the systematic killing and documenting of sad killing devised and used by the Soviet Union and the KGB.

    “The Russian system, the KGB system, was different but is exactly the same as the one the Syrian regime has adopted,” he said. “If there is Russian involvement (in Assad’s atrocities)… than there is responsibility through the chain of command.”

    International war crimes prosecutor David Crane, who led the first large research project looking at the Caesar photos, said that the atrocities evoked memories of the Holocaust, a sentiment expressed last month by the State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Stephen Rapp.
    “We rarely get smoking gun evidence in my business… but what we found was just that,” said Crane. “The photos show crimes the likes of which we have not seen since Auschwitz.”

    Frederic Hof, a former State Department senior official dealing with Syria, testified that the photos should compel the Obama administration not to work with the Assad regime, a plan some senior Obama administration officials are considering in light of the growing threat in Syria posed by extremist groups such as ISIS.

    “This briefing eliminates the moral admissibility of any collaboration with the Assad regime,” said Hof, adding that the only other plausible option was to drastically increase American support to the Free Syrian Army.
    The Obama administration has proposed a new $500 million program to train and equip the FSA, but members of Congress have been complaining that the administration hasn’t provided any details and doesn’t seem to be pushing for the funding on Capitol Hill.

    At the hearing, members of both parties called out the administration for not doing enough to confront the ongoing crimes against humanity in Syria.
    Committee Chairman Ed Royce called for a tribunal to be established to hold the Assad regime accountable for war crimes. “Pure and simple, these photos cry out for justice,” he said.

    “We want to look away, but we must not,” said ranking Democrat Elliot Engel. “This is happening right now in Syria as we speak, and we can do more to stop it.”

    This story has been updated with input from the State Department.

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