As We Begin Our Lenten Journey…

extreme-humility…I would like to announce a four day “time-out” for myself. Until the service of the Canon of St Andrew of Crete, I will withhold from personal commentary and/or the posting of news-stories, editorials, diatribes, etc. If you wish to comment you may do so but I won’t release any comments until Thursday. I hope this doesn’t put anybody out.

In the meantime, please take the time to read Martin Paluch’s comment today. It’s very eloquent. (Note: there are several comments that have not been released over the past several days because I thought they were a little too personal and I didn’t want any of us to get our dander’s up on Clean Monday.)

One last thing: please pray for me a sinner. If I have offended anybody over the last year, I beg forgiveness. God forgives and I forgive.


  1. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    Here’s how Father Oliver Herbel and other American clergy ‘kicked off” Lent:

    Open Letter to Patriarch Kirill from Orthodox Clergy and Faithful in U.S. Regarding Conflict Between Russia and Ukraine
    3 March 2014, 11:50 | Orthodox world | 0 | | Code for Blog | |

    2 March 2014, Forgiveness Sunday

    To His Holiness Kirill Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

    Your Holiness, On the Sunday of Forgiveness, we, the clergy and faithful representing different Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States, are asking you to influence the normalization of the situation in Crimea and the restoration of peace between Russia and Ukraine. The intervention of the Russian Army on the territory of Ukraine is an act of military aggression, which increases ethnic tensions between Russians and Ukrainians. We beseech you, while there is still time, to demand from the President Vladimir Putin to withdraw the Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine, including the Crimean peninsula, in order to prevent bloodshed. Let the peoples of Ukraine and Russia hear the Russian Orthodox Church’s prophetic call to peace, love and mutual forgiveness.

    Asking for your Archpastoral blessings,

    1. Rev. Dn. Dr. Paul Gavrilyuk, Orthodox Church in America, Aquinas Chair in Theology and Philosophy, University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

    2. Rev. Dn. Dr. Nicholas Denysenko, Orthodox Church in America, Assistant Professor of Theological Studies, Director of Huffington Institute, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California.

    3. Rev. Dr. Michael Plekon, Orthodox Church in America, Professor of Sociology, Baruch College of the City University of New York, New York.

    4. Rev. Dr. John Breck, Orthodox Church in America, Emeritus Professor and Former Dean of St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute, Paris, France.

    5. Rev. Dr. Harry Pappas, Pastor, Archangels Greek Orthodox Church in Stamford, CT, and Sessional Professor of Pastoral Theology, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, New York.

    6. Dr. Peter Bouteneff, Orthodox Church in America, Professor of Systematic Theology, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, New York.

    7. Rev. Dr. Oliver Herbel, Pastor, Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, Fargo, North Dakota.

    How intelligent, to counsel the Russian Patriarch to DEMAND something political from President Putin!
    This “open” letter was, in fact, posted only on an American Ukrainian Website. What is it with Clean Monday and these SVS types, I wonder?

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Far from representing “different jurisdictions” they all represent one seminary!

      • GOAPriest says

        Look at all those Reverend Father Doctors UGH…Fr. Herbel might have started Great Lent by celebrating the Vespers of Forgiveness instead…oops, no time for that….

  2. Opportunity to Delineate and Defend the Orthodox Way says

    Sometimes I wonder whether in public forums whether we are brave enough to defend the position of the Church, explain the ordinary lifestyle of the Church or encourage Traditional Lifestyles, not only at conferences for the short lecture, but in print outside of Church publications, like in this opportunity.

    Call for Papers – Religious and Sexual Nationalism in Eastern Europe: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives

    Deadline for submitting abstracts: May 15, 2014
    Deadline for submitting full papers: October 15, 2014

    Description: The Amsterdam Centre for the Study of Lived Religion invites proposals for articles for the volume Religiousand Sexual Nationalism in Eastern Europe: Theoretical andEmpirical Perspectives. One of the prominent and fiercelycontested issues in Eastern European societies regards theposition of religion and homosexuality. The volume will focuson the strategic and ideological assumptions, interests, and effects of present-day constructions of (homo)sexuality and religion in public arenas of Eastern Europe. In recent decades the public perception of both religion and sexual diversity has changed fundamentally in Eastern Europe. Whereas several Western societies consider the acceptance of sexual diversity the litmus test of tolerance and essential to human rights, other societies see homosexuality as a threat to their national and cultural identity. In many of Eastern European societies
    (e.g. the Western Balkans), religion plays a dominant role in strengthening particular cultural identities as appears for example in the problems around gay pride parades. Sexual and religious nationalisms emerge in collective identity markers in political debates and popular culture. This volume will look at the cultural discourses at work and explore the cultural differences in several contexts of Eastern Europe and the cultural and political role of religion in conflicts about sexual diversity. An integrative approach that aims to chart and evaluate the dynamics of religion, nationalism, and homosexuality in different multi-layered political and religious contexts is therefore required. The aim of this volume is to develop a theoretical and empirical framework that will allow a critical and systematic exploration of the oppositional pairing of religion and homosexuality as it is related to the public arena of different national and religious contexts of Eastern Europe.

    We also invite scholars from other Western European countries to contribute to the volume.

    Eligible topics: Areas of interest for this volume include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

    * Religious and sexual nationalism: theoretical perspectives
    * Methodological issues
    * Case studies from different countries
    * Media discourse analysis
    * Religion and the rights of sexual minorities in post-communist Eastern Europe
    * Religion, violence and homosexuality on social media
    * Effects of public discourse on LGBT communities
    * Contextual theological developments regarding sexual diversity
    * The relationship between ethno-nationalism and religion in Eastern Europe
    * Analysis of religious and sexual nationalism in popular culture.

    Submission of proposals: May 15, 2014
    Notification of acceptance: June 15, 2014
    Completed manuscripts (7,000 words): October 15, 2014

    Guidelines for submission: Please send all proposals (300 words) to

    * Amsterdam Centre for the Study of Lived Religion

    Information & contacts:
    Amsterdam Centre for the Study of Lived Religion

  3. Other Matthew says

    Despite what some of your critics will say, you’re an Orthodox Christian first and a journalist/blogger second and I have always appreciated that about you, George.

  4. To Martin Paluch:

    Metropolitan Herman may not have taken any money himself but he certainly played a substantial role in placing certain friends of his in high places. Do you think it was appropriate for Metropolitan Herman to have helped to set up Archdeacon Alexei Klimitchev’s personal jewelry businesses (one in Honesdale and the other in Philadelphia) with money from the monastery? Was it appropriate for Metropolitan Herman to have gone to the bank in Honesdale and repeatedly borrowed money in the name of the monastery without disclosing this really to anyone but Fr. Kucynda and I suppose Robert Kondratick? Was it appropriate to have accepted the gift of the current house you are living in without really disclosing all of the details? Why wasn’t it given directly to the monastery?

    I’m not trying to drag you or Metropolitan Herman through the mud but I don’t really appreciate revisionist history and it appears that some people have very short memories. To be fair, someone earlier used the term “embezzlement” when speaking about Metropolitan Herman. No my knowledge, there was never any proof of embezzlement. But there was a heck of a lot of nepotism and favoritism at the expense of the monastery.

    May his Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, enjoy his retirement. He served the Orthodox Church well for many years but he also made some very poor decisions.

    Blessed Lent!

    • Martin Paluch says


      I don’t know who you are and would rather speak to you face to face as to a friend; nevertheless, I am offering you the following:

      If by your questions you are telling me that these are the “facts”, then my answer to you is that you are fabricating your own so called “facts”, if on the other hand you are able to present some evidence in the form of letters, bank documents or names of first party witnesses, then we can dialogue as brothers in Christ.

      Yours in Christ,
      Martin Paluch

  5. Francis Frost says

    Here are two You Tube vises for your Russian speaking readers:

    First is an eloquent defense of his nation by a Ukrainian soldier in Crimea.


    Next is a video appeal by Russian general Vasili Vasilyevich Krutov calling for an end to the military action. Two important points General Krutov makes:

    War is not a game.

    A fratricidal war will be a catastrophe for BOTH countries.

    Next a response to the KBG propaganda:

    U.S. Department of State – President Putin’s fiction: 10 false claims about Ukraine
    13:50 06-03-2014

    As Russia spins a false narrative to justify its illegal actions in Ukraine, the world has not seen such startling Russian fiction since Dostoyevsky wrote, “The formula ‘two plus two equals five’ is not without its attractions” , the U.S. Department of State said in a fact sheet titled “President Putin’s fiction: 10 false claims about Ukraine”.
    “Below are 10 of President Vladimir Putin’s recent claims justifying Russian aggression in the Ukraine, followed by the facts that his assertions ignore or distort.
    1. Mr. Putin says: Russian forces in Crimea are only acting to protect Russian military assets. It is “citizens’ defense groups,” not Russian forces, who have seized infrastructure and military facilities in Crimea.
    The Facts: Strong evidence suggests that members of Russian security services are at the heart of the highly organized anti-Ukraine forces in Crimea. While these units wear uniforms without insignia, they drive vehicles with Russian military license plates and freely identify themselves as Russian security forces when asked by the international media and the Ukrainian military. Moreover, these individuals are armed with weapons not generally available to civilians.
    2. Mr. Putin says: Russia’s actions fall within the scope of the 1997 Friendship Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
    The Facts: The 1997 agreement requires Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, which have given them operational control of Crimea, are in clear violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
    3. Mr. Putin says: The opposition failed to implement the February 21 agreement with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
    The Facts: The February 21 agreement laid out a plan in which the Rada, or Parliament, would pass a bill to return Ukraine to its 2004 Constitution, thus returning the country to a constitutional system centered around its parliament. Under the terms of the agreement, Yanukovych was to sign the enacting legislation within 24 hours and bring the crisis to a peaceful conclusion. Yanukovych refused to keep his end of the bargain. Instead, he packed up his home and fled, leaving behind evidence of wide-scale corruption.
    4. Mr. Putin says: Ukraine’s government is illegitimate. Yanukovych is still the legitimate leader of Ukraine.
    The Facts: On March 4, President Putin himself acknowledged the reality that Yanukovych “has no political future.” After Yanukovych fled Ukraine, even his own Party of Regions turned against him, voting to confirm his withdrawal from office and to support the new government. Ukraine’s new government was approved by the democratically elected Ukrainian Parliament, with 371 votes – more than an 82% majority. The interim government of Ukraine is a government of the people, which will shepherd the country toward democratic elections on May 25th – elections that will allow all Ukrainians to have a voice in the future of their country.
    5. Mr. Putin says: There is a humanitarian crisis and hundreds of thousands are fleeing Ukraine to Russia and seeking asylum.
    The Facts: To date, there is absolutely no evidence of a humanitarian crisis. Nor is there evidence of a flood of asylum-seekers fleeing Ukraine for Russia. International organizations on the ground have investigated by talking with Ukrainian border guards, who also refuted these claims. Independent journalists observing the border have also reported no such flood of refugees.
    6. Mr. Putin says: Ethnic Russians are under threat.
    The Facts: Outside of Russian press and Russian state television, there are no credible reports of any ethnic Russians being under threat. The new Ukrainian government placed a priority on peace and reconciliation from the outset. President Oleksandr Turchynov refused to sign legislation limiting the use of the Russian language at regional level. Ethnic Russians and Russian speakers have filed petitions attesting that their communities have not experienced threats. Furthermore, since the new government was established, calm has returned to Kyiv. There has been no surge in crime, no looting, and no retribution against political opponents.
    7. Mr. Putin says: Russian bases are under threat.
    The Facts: Russian military facilities were and remain secure, and the new Ukrainian government has pledged to abide by all existing international agreements, including those covering Russian bases. It is Ukrainian bases in Crimea that are under threat from Russian military action.
    8. Mr. Putin says: There have been mass attacks on churches and synagogues in southern and eastern Ukraine.
    The Facts: Religious leaders in the country and international religious freedom advocates active in Ukraine have said there have been no incidents of attacks on churches. All of Ukraine’s church leaders, including representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, have expressed support for the new political leadership, calling for national unity and a period of healing. Jewish groups in southern and eastern Ukraine report that they have not seen an increase in anti-Semitic incidents.
    9. Mr. Putin says: Kyiv is trying to destabilize Crimea.
    The Facts: Ukraine’s interim government has acted with restraint and sought dialogue. Russian troops, on the other hand, have moved beyond their bases to seize political objectives and infrastructure in Crimea. The government in Kyiv immediately sent the former Chief of Defense to defuse the situation. Petro Poroshenko, the latest government emissary to pursue dialogue in Crimea, was prevented from entering the Crimean Rada.
    10. Mr. Putin says: The Rada is under the influence of extremists or terrorists.
    The Facts: The Rada is the most representative institution in Ukraine. Recent legislation has passed with large majorities, including from representatives of eastern Ukraine. Far-right wing ultranationalist groups, some of which were involved in open clashes with security forces during the EuroMaidan protests, are not represented in the Rada. There is no indication that the Ukrainian government would pursue discriminatory policies; on the contrary, they have publicly stated exactly the opposite”.

    • Did you see Crimea has decided to secede and is holding a referendum? Evidently, Russia is supporting them and ready to receive them. Russia sees the Ukraine as open territory now that its democratically elected president has been deposed in favor of mob rule. No legitimate authority there with whom to negotiate, just the leadership of a riotous mob dressed in suits (hopelessly skewed in ideology toward the western half of the country); therefore no violation of sovereignty since there is no sovereign authority. Russia’s primary concern is the security of Russians in the Ukraine (regardless of whatever blather comes out of the State Department) and some sense of stability on its border.

      Interesting times.

      Probably if the referendum takes place and the reunion with Russia occurs it will signal a significant shift in the balance of power. Euramerica may cease to be the measure of all things. Or not. Could also just be a tempest in a teapot.

      It will be interesting to see what if any of Eastern Ukraine chooses to follow the Crimea if in fact their separation and reunion with Russia takes place.

  6. Metropolitan Jonah Sermons says

    I hope that this works. This is a very short sermon at the last liturgy before Holy Lent, To Transform our Suffering, kind of a typical no notes sermon by the Metropolitan worth hearing a time or two. Another one, On forgiveness and love

  7. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    Thanks to Hie All-Holiness for addressing us, the Plenitude!

    Another Fervent Supplicant for all, including Patriarch Bartholomew, before God!

  8. ok, I’ll try to cut and paste again and see if it pastes what I asked it to . . .


    Fanar: Churches reach agreement on pan-Orthodox Holy Synod in 2016
    Representatives of the various expressions of orthodoxy have agreed to meet in synod in two years. Meanwhile, a Preparatory Commission consisting of a bishop from each church will prepare the introductory documents.

    Istanbul (AsiaNews ) – The “sacred and great” pan-Orthodox Synod will be held in Istanbul in 2016 at the Cathedral of St. Irene. In the meantime, the Orthodox Churches, a Preparatory Commission – composed of a bishop from each church will begin preparatory work “in a fruitful manner” for the meeting . The same group will then serve as the secretariat during the meeting. This was decided by the Synaxis , the meeting of all the heads of the Orthodox Churches, gathered at the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

    Prior to this pan-Orthodox meeting , convened in theory to discuss the situation in the Middle East and Ukraine , the head of the Phanar and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill had a long private discussion . Kirill’s participation was in doubt until the very last, as the Russian patriarch had asked for “another date and another location” for the meeting . In the end, however, he was present when the Synaxis opened.

    According to some reports, the great Synod of the Orthodox Churches will be attended by 20 bishops from each Church (if each church has that many), every church will have a single vote during the final voting , decisions will be taken by consensus (ie, by the unanimous vote of the Fathers present).

    In the Orthodox world historically there the autocephalous patriarchates of Alexandria , Antioch and Jerusalem , while the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is called the ” Mother Church”, as she gave birth to the Churches of Moscow , Bulgaria, Serbia , etc. .

    Currently, two realities coexist within the Orthodox world . Firstly, Constantinople, towards which the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Sofia, Belgrade, the Churches of Greek language and culture , and the Church of Albania look. Secondly, the Patriarchate of Moscow which includes Georgia and the Churches of Poland and the Czech Republic; and, surprisingly, the Patriarchate of Romania. The Moscow Patriarchate does little to hide its hegemonic ambitions, especially among the Orthodox diaspora .

    The decision to convene a pan-Orthodox Synod seems to finally draw to a close an issue that has lasted for at least five decades. The Eastern Churches are autocephalous, and the internal discussions of the Orthodox world, there have been significant divisions that have prevented the possibility of a joint discussion . Perhaps the most critical moment was when Moscow – at the time led by Alexei II – ceased to name the patriarch of Constantinople in liturgies, as a reaction to Bartholomew I’s proximity to the Orthodox Church of Estonia. The tension between the two patriarchates – derived from a theological discussion on the issue of “primus inter parese” – had effectively barred any progress on the preparation of a pan-Orthodox council.

  9. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    Has His Holiness, Most Holy Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow, reacted to or answered the “Open Letter” of the SVS-associated American presbyters advising him to confront Putin and demand this or that from him?
    I think he won’t answer at all. Anyhow, they never sincerely expected any response, but probably only wanted to show the American Orthodox public how excellent and “with it’ they are. Puerile, but cute, in a way.