As We Go Forward: A Tribute to Alexander Atty

Met. Philip Saliba

Met. Philip Saliba

There has been a lot of news lately on Orthodoxy. Monomakhos has been particularly absorbed with the passing of Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Primate of the Antiochian jurisdiction in North America. At least three different perspectives on this great man have been published within short order on this website, two by Yours Truly, one by Fr Peter Preble. All have been laudatory, as they should be.

Why do I say this? No man is perfect and Philip made his share of mistakes. We are here not to idolize his memory but to take stock of his career. In such a sober light, as we go forward, I don’t think that history will concentrate on his mistakes. The reason is because Metropolitan Philip was a leader, a true leader. I firmly believe that he was a stalwart warrior for Christ. Such men cast giant shadows.

I was talking with a priest this morning and without thinking about it I said “there is now a Philip-sized hole in American Orthodoxy.” As soon as those words left my mouth I felt a degree of chagrin, as if I’d descended to Hallmark Card-like sentimentality, one unbefitting a grown man. Surprisingly (and much to my relief), my interlocutor agreed with me. “George, you’re right, there is a Philip-sized hole in the Church.” I believe that if we were all honest with ourselves –especially as we look at the present wreckage of the Episcopal Assembly–would come to the same conclusion.

Fr. Alexander Atty

Fr. Alexander Atty

Philip however could not have accomplished what he did if he didn’t have good men in the priesthood. One of those men was the late Alexander Atty (who reposed just days after His Eminence). Fr Alexander took a middling parish in Louisville, Kentucky and turned it into a large, vibrant, missionary parish. I’m sure that there are other priests like Fr Alexander in that jurisdiction and I ask you to forgive me for not mentioning your fine work, but we would be remiss if we didn’t laud Fr Alexander upon his recent passing. If Philip cast a long shadow, priests like Fr Alexander lengthened it considerably.

In this spirit, I ask that you take the time to listen to the eulogy given by His Grace, Bishop Basil Essey of Wichita, one of the most successful missiologists in that jurisdiction (courtesy of Ancient Faith Radio; hat tip: Byzantine, TX.)

A Post-script: Because I’m not in the Antiochian jurisdiction, some may think my interest in the legacy of these men is presumptuous. Forgive me if I’m stepping out of my bounds, but I very much believe that Philip will continue to loom large for the foreseeable future. It’s my hope that our Antiochian brothers build on his legacy –that they not retrench. The life of the Church is in the parishes and one of the legacies of Philip was that he promoted stalwart men in the priesthood. To put not too fine a point on it, Philip “had their back.” In doing so, he unleashed the native creativity of men such as Fr Alexander.

Source: Byzantine, TX

Bishop Basil: On the Great Fr. Alexander Atty and his Family


(AFR) – Ancient Faith Radio has been provided this recording of the comments made by Bishop Basil at the funeral of the beloved priest Fr. Alexander Atty. May his memory be eternal.

Listen here:


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  1. Sam Haddad says

    Bp. Basil should have been the Met of the Antiochian Archdiocese 10 years ago. Now, with Met. Philip gone and “overseas bishops” in control, this may be a pipe dream. All the American born Arab bishops have become 2nd class citizens like all the Antiochian converts. Back to 1940 and an Archdiocese that has no real clue about American Orthodoxy. Let’s all praise the mass murderer, Assad!

    • Other Matthew says

      He never wanted to be and if he is elected he won’t accept it, I guarantee it. Howdo I know this? I know people close to Bishop Basil and he has said this. He wishes to retire ASAP and found a monastery. He’s done his part (to say the very least), he deserves a rest.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Sam, I’ll bet you you are wrong. I have faith in the Holy Spirit and our bishops like Bishop Basil.

      I know for a fact he would argue with you that he should be Metropolitan.

      The monastery is in the works–blessed by (hold you breath now) Met Philip before his repose.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        They have bought a house in Wichita to begin the monastery. The Patriarchal Vicar will bless it this week. With Bishop Basil guiding the brotherhood, I am sure that we will have an example of good Orthodox monasticism that will counter the influence of some monastics who go to extremes.

        • GOAPriest says

          Oh brother…which monastics are those? The one’s who wear roman dog collars and smoke cigarettes, like some of the hierarchs in your Archdiocese? Or were you speaking of something else…?

          • StephenD says

            Met. Phillip used to when he was alive and Bishop Antoun still smokes cigars. I was shocked the first time I saw that.

            • Monk James says

              Russian tradition discourages the clergy from smoking, calling tobacco diavolskiy ladan (‘the devil’s incense’).

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                Mk James is partly right, as usual. The Holy Governing Synod and some local diocesan “consistories” periodically inveighed against clergy smoking and, even more often, card-playing. Whist was the bane of many a rectory back then. Our clergy today would find contract bridge WAY too complicated to mess with!
                But calling cigarette or cigar or pipe smoke ‘the devil’s incense” was not directed particularly at clergy but at all Orthodox people.
                I think Father Alexander Schmeman was probably the only person who loved to smoke as much as I did. I quit when I was made a Priest, because I hated the idea of any member of the Church having to kiss a hand which had yellow-brown stains at the fingertips. I did it “cold-turkey” (I’d smoked for about 50 years, three packs a day in the most recent four or five), but, you know, I’ve never stopped missing it. It’s a powerful addiction.
                As for the Antiochenes, we used to think that ALL the Bishops of the Antiochian Patriarchate were both cigar-smokers and Freemasons–that they were never able to come up with a suitable surrogate for the latter, such as AHEPA.

              • Longue Carabine says

                I stopped smoking a daily cigar some years ago, for reasons of prudence, but will smoke 3 or 4 good ones in the course of a year. When overnight backpacking in the mountains, I will often smoke a pipe around the campfire; again, just a few times per year.

                Do priests or bishops ever go backpacking?

                • Abbouna Michel says

                  Yup, at least this one does. I grew up in a family of Wyoming ranchers where pack trips were an ordinary part of life, and I’ve kept up the habit into my 60s. The main difference now, though, is that I let one horse carry the pack, and another carry me! And always with me is an old briar pipe, and a specially confected tobacco called “Bishop’s Blend.”

                  • Longue Carabine says

                    A very sensible expedient, horses!

                    I’m still shlepping the pack on my back at 66, but on the other hand, I generally don’t go more than 5 miles or so back in. I do a lot of one-nighters during the summer, because we can do them at the drop of a hat (pack always ready to go), and we can carry some wine and steaks.

                    “Bishop’s Blend”— splendid!

          • Michael Bauman says

            GOAPriest? Your cynicism does you no credit. If you wish to know the monastics, make a trip here to Wichita. I am sure Bp Basil would be happy to meet with you if you really want to know. If you are unmarried and wish to be a part of it, that too could be considered.

            It will be a sober, well ordered monastery full of love which is immediately obvious in the men who are starting it. It has been in the works for at least a decade and was probably in Bishop Basil’s heart from the moment he became Bishop here. There are four tonsured monks already who are ready to go with it and others already waiting in the wings to become part of it. They are all men of prayer.

            Not that it matters but there is plenty of hair and beards and cassocks and other traditional Orthodox garb right here in the middle of Kansas. It will be an urban monastery at least at first at least as urban as one can get in this part of Kansas.

            What we are building here in Wichita under Bishop Basil’s leadership is a complete multi-ethnic Orthodox community maybe for the first time in the lower 48. It is centered around the Cathedral, but not limited to it. I am blessed to be a miniscule part of it and totally unworthy but I recognize the life in what is being done. Too bad your first reaction is so like Zachariah in the Temple.

            What ever the official status of Bishop Basil is, he is caring for and building his diocese with no interference from the Archdiocese that I have ever seen despite being at odds with some of Met. Philip’s pronouncements. For instance, priests who wish are blessed to wear cassocks outside the parish. Met. Philip was wise enough to leave Bishop Basil alone.

            The work that Bishop Basil is leading will continue no matter who the next Metropolitan is because it is in the hearts of the people here from Texas to North Dakota.

            BTW, anyone who gives thumbs down and has not come to see, you simply are showing true ignorance.

            • GOAPriest says


              My reaction was to Fr. John’s offhanded comment:

              I am sure that we will have an example of good Orthodox monasticism that will counter the influence of some monastics who go to extremes.

              Which means what exactly? Which monastics are those who “go to extremes”? The last time I checked, monasticism is an “extreme” way of life by any worldly measure.

              It will be a sober, well ordered monastery full of love which is immediately obvious in the men who are starting it.

              Wonderful. I have never been to a monastery (and I have been to quite a few here and abroad and spent quite a bit of time in them) that was not well-ordered and full of love. Perhaps you can shed some light on examples of poorly ordered monasteries which are full of hate.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Good grief, your comment implied that it was to be nothing but a shabby sham. And, please, I am sure you know quite well what Fr John meant about extreme monastic practice. Again, cynical word games.

                May our Lord have mercy on us both.

                • GOAPriest says

                  Nope…no cynical word games from me. I am just trying to understand the comments, which make no sense.

                  So, no, I do not know what Fr. John meant about extreme monasticism. Please enlighten me.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    Esphigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos is a very good example of what I mean. Extreme monastics are those who try to impose a monastic life style on clergy in the world and upon laity. They interfere in parish life and undermine the ability of a pastor to function, because they show no respect for the parish clergy. Some even tell people not to listen to their Priest because they without knowing him or what he is actually teaching, accuse him of “modernism.” For example, they baptize people without the blessing of their Priest and impose extreme penances. They tell people received by Chrismation that they are not fully Orthodox and champion the theologically unsound practice of so called corrective Baptism. They obsess about ecumenism, but have no idea of the real nature of Orthodox ecumenism. Extreme monastics denigrate marriage and teach an Augustinian negative view of human sexuality. Some even require that a man receive their blessing before he has intimate relations with his wife. I will give one example. At a meeting a Priest told me that he went to confession at Mt. Athos. The monk told him that God is mad at him because he trims his beard. That kind of thought is absurd. Monastics should support those of us out in the trenches fighting the battle for Orthodoxy in a society that has rejected almost all Christian values, not extremists who constantly criticize the parish clergy. It is very simple. I do not tell monks how to run their monastery. A monk should not tell me how to run my parish. Instead, monastics and parish clergy should act as if we are on the same team not in competition with each other. Monastics should cooperate with parish clergy and not work against them. They should understand that they do not have a monopoly on sound Orthodoxy but that others including parish clergy also share in their devotion to sound Orthodoxy.

                    • Father John,

                      I am a bit puzzled your example of Esphigmenou Monastery on Mt. Athos could possibly be interfering with parish life anywhere…really…anywhere.

                      Your anecdotal account of what a single priest claims a single monk told him doesn’t carry much weight – even if what the priest is absolutely true, so what?

                      Who are these “they tell people received by Christmation…” and “They obsess about ecumenism….” and “Some even require that a man received their blessing…” blah blah…etc. The monks of Esphigmenou are teaching / saying all of this? How do you know? Have you personally spoken to them or visited the monastery?

                      No doubt there are individual monastics who say things they should not, but there are probably as many (I suspect many more) parish priests who say things they should not say and do things they should not do.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Fr, you bring up a good point. I too have heard this oft-repeated story about these monks (or others) who have told people the things that have been ascribed to them. Nobody has ever come forward to say which monk said this on which day. It’s anecdotal at this point unless there is something more solid.

                      Even so, the fact that some monastics are being more rigorous in their teachings only tells me that they are reacting to the loossy-goosyness of what they hear about parish life in the US. And let’s be honest, we wrote the book on stretching the bounds of economia here.

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      To GAO Priest

                      You would have to be deaf not to have heard about all the problems caused by some over zealous monastics. Because I wrote a book at the request of Metropolitan Philip on the problems caused by fundamentalism in Orthodoxy, I receive all kinds of horror stories of problems caused by monks and nuns who teach an overly strict form of Orthodoxy. The example of the monks of Esphigmenou Monastery is well known. They do not obey the Ecumenical Patriarch, who is the Bishop over Mt. Athos. One of our Antiochian Bishops told me that monks at one monastery told some of his covert priests who were received by Chrismation to come to their monastery for a secret corrective Baptism, in direct disobedience to their Bishop. I served a parish near a monastery, which would Baptize children from my parish without even having the courtesy to inform me first to bet my blessing to Baptize one of my spiritual children. I had constant problems trying to explain the true teachings of our Church against the false teachings coming out of the monastery. One of my brother priests told me that one of his spiritual children visited a monastery and was told not to listen to him because he was a “modernist.” It is a sad fact that some monastics have set themselves up as the ultimate authority on Orthodoxy and encourage Priests not to obey their Bishops, especially when that Priest and Bishop are in a different jurisdiction.
                      Just because someone poses as a monk or nun, does not know that they know anything about sound Orthodox teaching. I will not go into all to sordid details of all the scandals caused by monastics in this country who pose as pious men, but are secretly homosexuals or child molesters.
                      I am not against monasticism as long as the monks understand that they should be under the supervision of a Bishop and show proper respect for the position of the local parish priests and work with them, not against them.

                      Fr. John W. Morris

                    • Fr. George Washburn says

                      Hello friends:

                      Blessed feast!

                      A few days ago GOAP *asked* to be “enlightened” about just one example of monastic excess, but when he received a specific reply from me identifying the Esphigmenou monks as a very current example, he doesn’t seem to have been open to any enlightenment at all. Instead he pseudonymously spars with Fr. John Morris over a pseudo issue derived from a misreading, either carelessly or deliberately, of Fr. John’s reply message.

                      Read what Fr. John actually wrote again, friends. Fr. John says that he believes Esphigmenou to be an example of extreme monasticism. Then he goes on to describe some of the things that he believes characterize the **type.**

                      Nowhere in the list does he say that the Esphigmenou monks did all – or any – of those things *to his personal knowledge*.

                      Why then is GOAP “goaping” at something Fr. John did not actually say? He can’t be quiet, and cannot face the fact that his own Patriarch has declared the Esphigmenou monks to be in the wrong for their excesses. GOAP asked for an example and didn’t like getting one that forces him to either a) cleave to what seems to be his naive personal opinion that all strict monks must be in the right (and his Patriarch wrong) or b) accept his Patriarchs’ judgment.

                      And when a man knows he was mistaken but can’t be quiet and won’t face the facts, inventing a straw man (the misreading and mischaracterization of Fr. John’s post) and then pummeling it with distracting questions about an invented issue is a pretty standard dodge.
                      The actual question was whether or not some strict monks or monasteries can go too far.


                      Fr. George

                    • GOAPriest says


                      Exactly correct.

                      Oftentimes we seem to have a deadly focus on what others have been purported to say, without considering that perhaps we are actually the problem.

                      Like Prof. Foundoulis, the great former (now deceased) professor of Liturgic, said, if you want to know the authentic practice of the Church, look to the monastics. They keep the oil lamp burning, they are not wont to give into gimmicks and empty modernisms.

                      We react with anger to their vigilance and try to imagine reasons why they are wrong, since we certainly do not want to be held to a standard (being CHRIST) we find uncomfortable.

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      To GOApriest below

                      Which monastic liturgical usage are we to follow? Different monasteries have different typikons and different practices. Not all monasteries give us an example of sound liturgical practice. I visited one monastery that had its own typikon based on its effort to follow its reconstruction of 8th century Orthodox worship. The services were very different from anything that I have seen anywhere in the Orthodox Church. During the Divine Liturgy, the Priest did not enter the Altar until the Great Entrance. Different monasteries have different liturgical practices. Ultimately a Priest must follow the directions of his Bishop when conducting services.
                      For centuries there has been a difference between monastic and parish practice. In ancient times there were major differences between the monastic and parish typikons. Then the monks of the Studite monastery in Constantinople synthesized the two practices to create the modern Byzantine synthesis. However, there is still a difference between monastic practice and parish practice. It is folly to expect priests in the world and laity to try to live a monastic life style. It is a terrible mistake for a parish priest to try to run his parish like a monastery, or to try to enforce monastic spirituality or liturgics on people living in the world. The Holy Fathers tell us that if we try to go to far too fast in our spiritual lives, we will quickly burn out. It is best to start with a minimum and then grow in one’s spiritual life especially in our private devotions. Liturgically it is best to follow the traditions of their branch of Orthodoxy as directed by their Bishop.

                      There is nothing wrong with some modernisms as long as the doctrine of the Church is not violated. At one time almost every liturgical practice was an innovation. Even vestments were an innovation at one time. Originally the celebrant dressed like a Roman gentleman in his best clothes during the Divine Liturgy. In time as secular customs changed the clergy continued to wear the same clothing that they were used to wearing and our vestments evolved, but no one in Orthodoxy would get rid of vestments. The rasso came into use during the Turkish period from a judges robes because under the Turks the clergy had a judicial role in society. However, despite this fact, I will wear a rasso this evening when I serve Great Vespers. One of the most beautiful customs of Holy Week is the procession with Cross during the 15 Antiphon during the service of the Passion Gospels in the Greek and Antiochian tradition. However, this practice only began in the 19 century. The Typikon only refers to light and dark vestments, however, recently most Orthodox have adopted a color sequence, wearing different colored vestments for different feasts and seasons, which if we tell the truth is probably due to Roman Catholic influence. Bishop Basil of Wichita has a chart on his diocesan web site that I follow. However, then Russians follow a different color sequence. We wear white on Pascha, Russians wear red. Therefore, one must follow the practices of their tradition as defined by their Bishop.
                      One of the problems with Orthodox rubrics is that they are written for someone who grew up in the Orthodox Church. It is very confusing for a convert to understand a rubric such as “The Deacon stands in the usual place and does the usual thing.”
                      After I was ordained a Priest, I was sent to different parishes to learn from different Priests. I was taught in my teleliturgics classes at Holy Cross that only the Bishop uses the hand cross. I was serving with an old Arabic Priest. I could tell that something was bothering him. Finally he took the hand cross put in my hand and told me that it was there for me to use it. So, I now follow Antiochian practice and use the hand cross for some of the blessings.

              • Longue Carabine says

                Is to say that a monastery (or a marriage, let’s say) is “full of love” to suggest that others are “full of hate”? I don’t think so.

              • Fr. George Washburn says

                GOAP, perhaps rhetorically, inquires which monks exactly are too extreme. I will not attempt to speak for Fr. John Morris, but the last time any of us checked, GOAP’s most senior bishop seemed to think that the ones in possession of Esphigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos fit that description and therefore deserved to get evicted. Monasticism, like any other good thing, is susceptible to being twisted out shape, and it is sheer spiritual naivete to pretend otherwise.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                I certainly could give examples of monasteries that have not been well ordered, but it is a sin to gossip. Besides most of the cases I could cite are well known. I try not to write anything critical of other Orthodox jurisdictions, you would do well to follow my example and cease your criticism of the Antiochian Archdiocese. At least, I identify myself, because I am not afraid to express my opinion openly.

                Archpriest John W. Morris

                • Fr. John,

                  You consistently speak by innuendo.

                  The monk of Esphigmenou Monastery on Mt. Athos, whatever their supposed excesses, they have had no effect on your parish or your archdiocese. So why bring them up?

                  You say it is a “sin” to gossip, but this entire thread of messages was based on your offhanded innuendo,

                  I am sure that we will have an example of good Orthodox monasticism that will counter the influence of some monastics who go to extremes.

                  Which you have then “defended” by bringing up a monastery of no consequence to you or anyone else here in the US.

                  Now, if I am wrong and you have had some untoward encounters with the monks at Esphigmenou, I am sure all of us would like to hear about it.

                  But since the truth is that you have never been there, never spoken to a single monk from the monastery, entered the gate of their monastery, you are gossiping about them.

                  So, if you’d like to tell all of us which “extreme monastics…

                  are those who try to impose a monastic life style on clergy in the world and upon laity. They interfere in parish life and undermine the ability of a pastor to function, because they show no respect for the parish clergy.

                  If not, then you should be quiet.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    If group of monks declare their Bishop, who also happens to be the Ecumenical Patriarch, an heretic and break Communion with him, they are a very good example of the kind of extremists monks I meant. I do not need to go there or speak to any of the monks of Esphigmenou Monastery on Mt. Athos to know that they are too extreme. There is plenty of documentary evidence in the press about them.
                    Frankly, I find the tone of your posts offensive and your superior attitude a perfect example of the kind of self-righteous judgmental attitude to which I have referred.

                    • Fr. George Washburn says

                      I bet that GOAP will never tell us whether or not HE disagrees with the Ecumenical Patriarch on the question of Esphigmenou.

                    • Father,

                      You continue to change the parameters – are you seriously telling us that the monks at Esphigmenou are making it impossible to do your parish ministry? Really? If so, why won’t you say it. If not, why do you bring it up?

                      and to Fr. George, what difference does it make what I think? I did not bring up the topic in the first place – Fr. John did. I have never felt threatened by monks on Mt. Athos (or any monk anywhere, for that matter) having deleterious effect on my parish ministry. In fact, I think such a claim is ludicrous.

                    • Fr. George Washburn says

                      Before his next pronouncements here on the subject under discussion somebody ought to invite the GOAPster to read “Five Good Reasons NOT to Visit a Monastery,” published here by George on June 9, 2011 as a reprint from the Winter 1999 edition of the Again magazine. Then GOAP could get a “three fer,” not only ragging on the Ecumenical Patriarch and Fr. John, but also critiquing that article by Met. Jonah, who at the time was abbot of a monastery.

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      To GOApriest

                      I was asked to give an example of extremist monks and did. I did not claim that the monks of Esphigmenou Monastery had directly caused problems in my parish. However, the ideas that they represent have caused great problems in the Orthodox Church because some American monastics share the same point of view and spread these ideas among the laity. I have heard dozens of stories from my brother Priests about problems caused by someone who falls under the influence of some monastics. They become very self-righteous and judgmental of those who do share their obsession with externals like beards and long hair, wearing a cassock outside of the Church, and have a very un-Orthodox Augustinian view of sex. They also totally misrepresent the true nature of Orthodox ecumenism. Finally, they reject the legitimacy of the reception of a convert through Chrismation and advocate the un-Orthodox and heretical practice of telling a convert who has been received into the Church through Chrismation by suggesting that they are not fully Orthodox and should submit to a so-called corrective Baptism thereby denying the grace that they received through Chrismation and Communion.

                    • Seraphim98 says

                      Fr. John,
                      Bless. I am replying here because there is no rely button available on a comment you make below. “…. practice of telling a convert who has been received into the Church through Chrismation by suggesting that they are not fully Orthodox and should submit to a so-called corrective Baptism…”

                      Generally speaking I have a certain sympathy for the monastics and mindset you take odds with…the beards and cassocks and ill ease with things too loosey goosey modernist laxity and all that. But in this case my personal feelings notwithstanding I think on this point you are very correct, both in point of practice and in critique of the opposing mindset. Correct me if my conclusions from the following are mistaken, but some years ago I recall reading of a discussion among priests and bishops about a problem with a convert whom the priest had supposed to have received the form of trinitarian baptism, but in fact had not, yet he had already been confessed, christmated and received at the Holy Chalice. They argued about whether or not he should be rebaptised, but one of the bishops put forward that having received the Holy Gifts…even if accidentally against canonical admittance procedure…the fact that he had received the greater Mysteries…in short that Christ by His own will had received this Chrismated man at the Chalice and this did not admit any sort of sacramental backfilling, since what sacraments came in anticipation of the Holy Gifts. He had not been barred by priestly watch care, nor circumstance, nor did he sicken and die after having communed. If Christ received Him they had no power nor right to subject the man to sacramental do overs (which practice would debase the earlier sacraments towards being some species of magic rite). They heard this bishop’s council and let this man whom God had accepted be.

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      To Seraphim98

                      I also am replying to you here because there is no reply button on your post. The rules of the Antiochian Archdiocese require that a Priest verify that the convert was Baptized using the proper Trinitarian formula. If not, he or she must be Baptized. Because of the growth of feminist theology this is becoming more and more of a problem, especially with main line Protestant denominations.
                      There is an ancient case in which a man who had been receiving Holy Communion for many years went to his Bishop and asked to be Baptized because he was not sure that he had been properly Baptized. The Bishop refused, telling the man that the grace that he received through Communion makes up for any defect in his Baptism.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Sam Haddad. Your message was mostly wrong. I feel your worst mistake was this sentence: “Back to 1940 and an Archdiocese that has no real clue about American Orthodoxy.” That’s just plain untrue. And I’m sure that the people of the Antiochian Archdiocese and of the Patriarchate of Antioch will not consider nationality or ethnicity to be decisive factors in the choice of a new Archbishop There is no Arab or American in Christ. ALL of us are strangers and pilgrims on earth. Surely, both Bishop Basil and the Vicar sent from the Patriarchate are men of God and worthy candidates to succeed (but never replace) ever-memorable Metropolitan Philip, standing head and shoulders above all the other hierarchs in the Archdiocese. Why, Bishop Basil is the first hierarch ever to come along that would be qualified as the First Hierarch among ALL the hierarchs in North America! I might be tempted to say that it is Sam Haddad who has no clue about American Orthodoxy in 1940 or any time.

      • Pere LaChaise says

        I don’t understand all this talk about Bp. Basil as the next Metropolitan of AOCNA. Joseph was elevated to (Auxiliary) Archbishop to indicate his favor in the eyes of Patr. Ignatius. But since his repose, we don’t know if Patr. John still favors him.

        • Steve Knowlton says

          Is there really such a thing as an auxiliary archbishop?

          • Fr. George Washburn says


            • Gail Sheppard says

              The Constitution says that ” . . . after the vacancy of the Metropolitan. . . The Senior Diocesan Bishop, and the Archdiocesan Synod in agreement with the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees, shall prepare a list containing all the names of worthy clergymen who are qualified for nomination as per the list of nominees kept in the records of the Patriarchate and the Holy Synod . . .”

              Father George, do candidates for Metropolitan have to be on the ” list of nominees kept in the records of the Patriarchate” to be considered for inclusion?

              • Fr. George Washburn says

                I think so but I do not know.

              • Steve Knowlton says

                Well, since there is no Diocesan bishop, there is therefore no senior diocesan bishop, so they’re stuck.

                • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                  As an Archbishop, Archbishop Joseph is the senior Bishop in the Antiochian Archdiocese. That is why he became the Locum Tenens. I have no doubt that God will provide worthy successor to Metropolitan Philip who will build on the foundation of the many accomplishments of our thrice blessed departed Metropolitan.
                  Through Metropolitan Silouan, the Patriarchate of Antioch is doing a very good job of traveling around meeting with clergy and laity to assess the needs of our Archdiocese. This shows me that the Holy Synod is very serious about providing the right kind of leadership for our widowed Archdiocese.

                  Fr. John W. Morris

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              Father George Washburn! Many years! I see that you still belong to that small group of truth-tellers that gets at least six thumbs-downs no matter what you write. in this case you declared nothing at all except that you didn’t know the answer and you got your customary six (6) thumbs downs. this is a select group. You could write ‘There is but one God,’ and get thumbs downs!

          • Gail Sheppard says

            One of the best things about the Antiochain jurisdiction is that all things are possible. One of the worst things about the Antiochian jurisdiction is that all things are possible.

            • GOAPriest says

              Trues words have never been spoken.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                To GOApriest.
                Before you criticize us, you should look at your own jurisdiction. At least our Antiochian Bishops do not create the false impression that a unity exists that does not exist by participating in so called ecumenical worship with non-Orthodox like many Greek Orthodox Bishops and clergy have. It compromises the witness of Orthodoxy when a Greek Orthodox Priest or Bishop participates in prayer with a Rabbi, or women clergy. I have great worries about the false impression that unity with Rome is only a matter of time that some of the statements of the Ecumenical Patriarch have given. I worry about what will happen when he meets with the Pope next month. When we Antiochians did the right thing and withdrew from the National Council of Churches, instead of following our example, the Greeks and OCA pledged their loyalty to the NCC thereby undermining the courageous statement against the liberalism that dominated the NCC that we made.

                • When we Antiochians did the right thing and withdrew from the National Council of Churches, instead of following our example, the Greeks and OCA pledged their loyalty to the NCC thereby undermining the courageous statement against the liberalism that dominated the NCC that we made. Excellent point, Fr John. The Antiochians in America under Philip of thrice blessed memory have also been good friends to ROCOR, which can’t always be said of the Greeks or OCA.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    Metropolitan Philip was no ecumenist. I know that for a fact. I have represented him at several ecumenical meetings and had several long discussions with him on the subject. None of our Antiochian Bishops are ecumenists. We do not participate in so called ecumenical worship. Right now there is only one active ecumenical dialogue between Orthodox and non-Orthodox, the North American Roman Catholic Orthodox Dialogue. Eventually, I believe that dialogue with Rome will hit a brick wall over the powers of the Pope and end in failure. That is unless the Roman Catholics are willing to go back to the Faith of the ancient undivided Church of the Holy Fathers and the 7 Ecumenical Councils which I frankly doubt.
                    I might add that the decision of the convention to recommend that we withdraw from the National Council of Churches was unanimous. No one spoke in favor of remaining members in the meeting of our Department of Interfaith relations or from the floor of the convention. It would have made quite a statement had the Greeks and OCA followed our example, but they did not. Thus our withdrawal had no real impact.

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says

              Not all things are possible in the Antiochian Archdiocese. Only those things that follow strict Orthodoxy are possible. The late great Metropolitan Philip of thrice blessed memory saw to that. Our Liturgikon is the most comprehensive and best English language service book published by any Eastern Orthodox jurisdiction. The same thing can be written about our Holy Week book. I served a full Matins and Divine Liturgy this morning equal to anything served in any Orthodox parish in the entire world. Everyone on this site praises Bishop Basil. I remind you that he is an Antiochian Bishop.

              • Father John Allen would tell you that all things are possible in the Antiochian Archdiocese

                • I think you mean Father Joseph Allen.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  StephenD, I well understand the hold that the Fr. Allen event has on people, I was quite angry myself for some time about it. Here’s what I know: the anger did not help me nor did my anger change anything. Constantly bringing up stuff like that does no one any good and it hurts you. Everybody who knows me understands my displeasure with the decision. But, so what? I am not, thank God, a bishop. If I were, I would do things far worse. This I know.

                  The key is one’s own repentance and developing the willingness to forgive. Remembrance of wrongs is something that is advised against by the fathers. The bitterness of such remembrance is a poison that makes it quite difficult to taste the sweetness of the Holy Spirit.

                  My only remembrance of Met. Philip from this time forth:

                  O God of spirits and of all flesh, Who has trampled down Death and overthrown the Devil, and given life unto Your world, give, we beseech You, eternal rest to the soul of Your departed servant, in a place of brightness, in a place of verdure, in a place of repose, from whence all pain, sorrow, and sighing, have fled away.

                  Pardon, we beseech You, every transgression which may have been committed, whether by word or deed or thought For there is no man who lives and does not commit a sin. You only are without sin, Your righteousness is everlasting, and Your word is the Truth..

                  For You are the Resurrection, and the Life, and the repose of Your departed servant, O Christ our God, and unto You we ascribe glory, together with eternal the Father, and Your Most Holy, and Good, and Life-giving Spirit, now and forever, and for ages to come.” Amen

                  “May our gracious and merciful Lord, who rose from the dead, Christ, our True God, through the intercessions of His Holy Mother and of all the Saints, establish the soul of His departed servant in the mansions of the righteous; give rest in the bosom of Abraham, and number his soul among the just, and have mercy upon us and save us”.

                  Memory eternal.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    One reason that I do not criticize Metropolitan Philip for the Fr. Joseph Allen affair is that I do not know all the details of his conversations with His Eminence. Another is that I have made enough pastoral mistakes, that it not my place to criticize the pastoral decisions of any other Priest, much less my Metropolitan. Metropolitan Philip is not the first Orthodox Bishop to allow a widowed Priest to remarry. I understand that quite a few widowed Priests in the Balkans remarried after the Second World War. I was told by a Greek Metropolitan that a divorced Priest was allowed to remarry in another jurisdiction in the area of his Diocese.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      The question was not only about allowing a widower priest to remarry. It’s about a widower Priest acting as a marriage counselor to parishioners, threatening the husband with excommunication for not making a sufficient alimony settlement on the wife, and then marrying the wife. The Priest put a marriage asunder, tried to profit from it, and married for the second time the wife of the destroyed marriage. Oh well, the Metropolitan correctly took responsibility for it all by blessing it. He likewise took responsibililty on himself for a notoriously obvious gay, but married, Chancellor, also a Priest. No one should hold the divorced rector who married the wife of one of his parishioners responsible, since the Metropoliltan charitably took the responsibility on himself.
                      And we certainly don’t blame Archpriest Alexander for never criticizing his jurisdiction. We’ve come to expect it of him. He shouldn’t have to come up with all those anecdotal excuses!

                    • Fr. George Washburn says

                      Hello friends:

                      If Vladyka means that Fr. Alexander Atty was not a public, internet-style critic of Sayidna Philip or the Antiochian Archdiocese, I believe he is correct.

                      If Vladyka is suggesting that Archpriest Alexander Atty never criticized his jurisdiction or its late hierarch in ways or situations where he felt he could be effective, I can say from my own personal experience on at least ten occasions, starting in 1987 at the Detroit national convention, that Fr. Alexander Atty was ready, willing and able to so criticize.


                      Fr. George

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      My deepest apologies to Father Alexander Atty, whom I’ve never met and do not know, and to Father George Washburn,advocate! When I typed ‘Archpriest Alexander” I must have been having yet another senior moment. The object was not he, but Archpriest John W. Morris. Thanks, FAther George, for your response without which I would not have recognized the error.

                    • Fr. George Washburn says

                      An entirely gracious message from Bishop Tikhon about the “senior moment.” And quite understandable that he and we mistype or misread something once in a while. Actually if I had been reading his comments more carefully I could have noticed that he meant to refer to Fr. John before writing my post. .

                • Protopappas says

                  Do you mean Fr. Joseph Allen?

              • Clawdia Chauchat says

                Father John:

                Let me first say that the two cmen, Metropolitan Phillip and Father Alexander were certainly distinguished and very good leaders in American Orthodoxy. Second, the previous and current
                Antiochain Patriarchs were very blessed and capable leaders and pastors.

                Also, I would agree that the Antiochians here in the U.S.A. have produced very good documents on proper and correct liturgical services – complete with multiple languages for prayers and litinies.

                But as far as your comments about the Antiochian Church taking the correct stance for ecumential services with other fiaths and membership in the World Council of Churches, those kind of statements can be spoken only by bishops as the are the sole individuals who can speak for the Orthoodox Church. Other clerics and laity do not have that perogative.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Father bless, Christ is Risen!

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            Obviously, Steve, there is such a thing. There are possibly many things you have not heard before that are true…just sayin’.

            • Steve Knowlton says

              I should have asked, “is there a precedent for such a thing?” Or was it invented along with “Self-Rule?”

          • Why not? When you can choose your own liturgics you can choose your own eclesiology!

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Archbishop Joseph has a monastic mindset (his words). I suspect he was/is favored for his ability to be obedient, which is truly a great thing.

          I’m not sure most of the bishops WANT to be Metropolitans. This doesn’t mean they wouldn’t. It’s a very selfless thing to do and I could see Bishop Basil putting his own aspirations aside to do the right thing for the Archdiocese. Interestingly, I think having someone like Bishop Basil would be huge plus for the Patriarchate, as he would foster what Metropolitan Philip started. Metropolitan Phil knew how to sow; Bishop Basil knows how to reap.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Gail, you are correct. One thing I believe will happen under the new Metropolitan is the real beginning of a home-grown monasticism. Met. Philip blessed several to begin before his repose.

            Bp Basil is deeply involved in that.

            I just don’t understand the prophets of doom.

            Being obedient is not the same as being a yes man. But as a rule obedience is seen as weakness in the American culture.

            There will be challenges but our bishops are not going into this unprepared. If Archbishop Joseph is not named the next Met., I will be surprised.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            Ooooh! I liked that: “Archbishop Joseph has a monastic mindset (his words).” Did anyone concur?

            • I’m no expert, but here’s my 2 cents (a dime, adjusted for inflation) Bp. Joseph has often seemed a political animal (descriptive, not a pejorative). In contrast to a patient re-packaging of his ecclesiastical image over the last 10-15 years, he has also shown an ability to come down hard on some (I.e, in AK) who were seeking a more perhaps traditional expression of Orthodox Christianity. If there’s a “balance” issue in his approach I’d say he leans more towards developing a strong institution rather than nurturing a strong inner spiritual life in his flock. But I’ve not kept up with the Antiochian world. Fr. Josiah Trenham’s parish in Riverside CA seems to have exploded — in a positive way. Though I couldn’t say if that’s the type of spiritual dynamic that a “Met” Joseph would encourage if he came into power.

              • Fr. George Washburn says

                Good morning friends:

                Inflation or not, Elias is vastly overcharging for his services. I refuse to pay.

                Unfortunately the whole Church will pay, and vastly more than the eager-beaver (pardon me for slipping a reciprocal allusion to fauna in there), internet opinion mongers could ever collect, for the pell-mell modern devolution of churchmanship into speculative pseudonymous sniping over delicate issues about which one ** knows** next to nothing. At a time in the Church year when those who, as Elias phrases it, are “seeking a more perhaps traditional expression of Orthodox Christianity;” (or at least imagine that is what they are doing), are supposed to be asking the Living God Himself, over and over and over again, to ” take from them the spirit of lust for power and idle talk” I would like to suggest that Elias might give Him a little more direct help in removal of the latter.

                Is idle talk a sin? Yes. Does speculative sniping about things one does not actually *know* (as opposed to *hear* second or third or more hand) about fit the definition? In my opinion it does, and he should ask right away if his spiritual father agrees.

                I won’t even go far into what I think Elias unwittingly reveals about his own practice of a “more perhaps traditional expression of Orthodox Christianity” by referring to an archbishop in beast-evoking imagery. In a Church where traditional-minded people kiss the hands of mere parish priests, how can he *imagine* that he is not being backhandedly contemptuous (not to say contemptible) with such “descriptive” language?

                In bygone times an average person’s imagination could run away with him quite swiftly and far, but the damage would tend to be limited to his own biological and parish family. Today the blithe blasting of broadsides here and elsewhere by the non or ill-informed infects way more hearers and to my observation tends to inflict way more damage.


                Fr. George

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Fr, bless. If “idle talk” is a sin, what would you consider “bearing false witness against your neighbor” to be?

                • Apologies for the tardy response.

                  As for the somewhat cynical Lenten response from Fr. George Washburn… There was reputed to be a certain Ben Lomond clergyman with the ability (back in the day) to put his juridical skills to work in the bringing down of Fr. Weldon Hardenbrook and the soldifying and/or disolution of the Ben Lomond properties & enterprises on behalf of the Antiochian Diocese…. or is it ARCHdiocese? I find Archvillains more appealing than simple villains. Though I was not privy to an inner circle in the sordid affair. Perhaps it was only a rumor.

                  Being currently (& thankfully) an outsider to the Antiochian soap-opera (of course there are other soap operas) I couldn’t make a guess about Fr. Josiah ghosting for Bp. Joseph. Though even in a perfect world it could happen.

                  • Fr. George Washburn says

                    Hi friends:

                    I think Elias is referring to me!

                    The short answer is that after supporting the Fr. Hardenbrook administration with money and various efforts, legal and otherwise, for just about 25 years I reluctantly but very firmly parted company with him when he **precipitated** the 1998 Ben Lomond controversies. Back in 1986-87, when it was time to decide whether or not to come into Antioch, Met. Philip and Bishop Antoun had been very straightforward and inflexible, despite our express inquiries as to a possible special exception for us (!!!) about Orthodox polity requiring episcopal – not presbyterial or congregational – control of all temporal property. We were accepted in on the condition of agreeing to Orthodox ecclesiology on these points, and when it went to court the civil judge agreed that historic Orthodox polity and our own acceptance thereof by reception into the Church should determine the outcome.

                    But at least Elias is candid that he is judging from well outside Antioch, relying on other people’s reports, has a preference for simple soap-opera story lines casting this person or that as “villains,” and has no wish whatsoever to be disabused of any of it!! And so of course he won’t be!!


                    Fr. George

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                Elias, is that the Father Josiah that allegedly ghost-writes scholarly stuff for Archbishop Joseph?

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          Oh, Pere. So it is who the Patriarch “likes” that is decisive in this?

      • Does anyone know the numbers right now on clergy in the Antiochian archdiocese? Do we know, even at the level of anecdote, the trends on where clergy are coming from these days, in terms of convert-founded and convert-friendly parishes? I also believe that it is totally impossible miss the fact that many Arab- and Lebanese-heritage priests are just as outreach oriented as any converts.

        What we are talking about is a mission-friendly era continuing, at altars, in seminaries and among the faithful standing in prayer. That’s the issue.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Just a limited anecdotal summary of small sample size: Of the priest who have served or been ordained at my home parish(a cathedral) in the last 20 years. The overwhelming number have been converts. Six were of Arabic ancestry with deep roots in the Church, one recently from Lebanon. Our two current priests are both converts. Indeed all of the priests currently here in Wichita are converts.

          Our growth as a parish started under a convert priest about 30 years ago.

          We have a wide mix of ethnic origins from both traditionally Orthodox countries to Anglo-Germanic mutts like me and a few native Americans. And the fact is that despite the used of Arabic in our services and a still overwhelmingly Arabic ethnicity, we are all Orthodox and care for one another. That is largely the way it is in the Mid-America Diocese. The largest parish, however is still heavily Arabic in Houston, but I’ve never been there. Its pastor served as our youth leader and assistant pastor for 11 years before going there where is lovely wife is from.

          In that same 20 years there have been 8 mission parishes founded in my state (Kansas) alone (a couple who left Protestant denominations at the behest and lead of the pastor/priests–non EOC). Several have grown to full-fledged parish status but the diocese continues to support the missions in many ways. On the coasts it may be a different story. I don’t know

          The growth has largely taken place in those states where there are strong Arab Orthodox communities who welcome non-Arabs.

          I honestly don’t think Met. Philip would have reposed if the Archdiocese was not strong enough to continue in our multi-ethnic outreach. God grant that it is so.

          Ahh, a paraphrase of a silly song from a much loved musical: “Plant a parish, get a parish, maybe you’ll get two, that’s why I love the Spirit, you know that He’ll come through…”

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          tmatt sats, “I also believe that it is totally impossible miss the fact that many Arab- and Lebanese-heritage priests are just as outreach oriented as any converts.”

          Very true. There is no daylight between the two groups on this point.

  2. I met and spoke with Fr. Alexander on several occasions. In terms of his basic attitude and the aura of authority which he exuded, he was to me an icon of what a priest can and should be. He was insightful and had a remarkable memory. He will surely be missed. Memory Eternal!

    • Clawdia Chauchat says

      I certainly did not know Fr. Alexander, but I did meet him three times. Once after the Liturgy at his church outside Louisville, Kentucky. Once when he gave a lecture at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. And once at the Antiochian Village sitting around the bonfire on a nice summer evening one mid June. Certainly a gifted man of God – yes he had a good memory. I too just wish to express, Memory Eternal.

      • Dear Clawdia,

        I never met Father Alexander but I have seen seminarians in tears relate how precious he was to them and how they prayed for his suffering to cease. That a man could inspire a future generation of our priests and monks to such love and admiration speaks of his great effort. Memory Eternal!

  3. anonymous priest says

    It was joyful to hear a bishop understand and thank a priest’s family for all they suffer and go through for the Church. If only all bishops could have the insight of Bishop Basil.

  4. Fr. Addy was gentle with American converts. He encouraged his parishoners to grow in their faith. Perhaps because he was married and knew the episcopy was closed to him he was not a careerist. He was a pastor.

  5. M. Stankovich says

    I am grateful to Reader James who sent me the link to this homily early yesterday, and having listened, it was somehow a most beautiful lesson that flowed directly from the the spirit of St. Chrysostom’s On the Priesthood, and was certainly a fitting tribute.

    The only exception I take to Mr. Michalopulos’ kind words in regard to “David” – I never understood how or why he became “Alexander” – is that he was fundamentally a good, honest, and moral person before he arrived at seminary. This should be attributed to his parents and family. Secondly, he was a “confidant,” if you will, of Fr. Alexander Schmemann; not as a scholar or colleague or even particularly as a “friend,” but as someone Fr. Alexander would call to share coffee, lunch, for a ride to NYC, to the airport, to just take a walk. It was not easy for Alexander Schmemann to be “casual” and unguarded, and to whatever extent he chose to do this with students, he did so with David Atty; my thought is that he sensed the inherent morality.

    Thirdly, it should be known that it was God’s wish that David found Olga Nehrebecki who brought to him a complimentary gift of love, talent, and depth that he needed to succeed, and a priestly and churchly family wise in the Orthodox Tradition, who beside decades of service in the vineyard, fed the poor, visited the sick, clothed the naked, cared for the children & widows, and buried the dead. Bishop Basil’s words were an astonishing recognition and, I pray, a comfort.

    And finally, truly last but not least, Fr. Alexander truly loved Metropolitan Philip, the man. At least with me, he never involved himself in the endless “stories” that circulate in the insular environment of seminaries, but he would tell me stories of Metropolitan Philip personally, and always imitating his voice! Unlike some students, he did not fanatically defend the Archdiocese or the Metropolitan; he simply loved the Church and respected the Hierarchs.

    The last time I saw him was at the wedding of the second youngest Nehrebecki daughter in Paramus, NJ – ironically, she was marrying a man she had met in Louisville while visiting her sister & brother-in-law (Fr. Alexander & Olga) – and I was sitting & talking with Fr. Alexander when a doctor I knew who had been Chrismated at the SVS chapel came up to us. He told me he had taken a new position and moved and we started talking about how difficult it can be to leave SVS (e.g. full schedule of services, full choir, etc) and he said, “We moved to Louisville,” and putting his hands on Fr. Alexander’s shoulder’s, “and we love this man. He and his wife made us feel at home the minute we walked in.” My thought is that they sensed the inherent morality.

    Memory Eternal.

  6. Sam Haddad says

    Historic Sinai monastery criticized as threat to Egypt’s security

    CWN – April 02, 2014

    A retired Egyptian general has accused a historic monastery of being a threat to national security, and a Salafist weekly newspaper alleged that the monastery collaborates with Israeli intelligence officials, according to the Egyptian weekly Watani and the Fides news agency.

    Saint Catherine’s Monastery, now Eastern Orthodox, was built by the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century and is located at the foot of Mount Sinai. It stands accused of being a beachhead of Greece and the European Union on Egyptian territory.

    “It is weird that our monks, and there are no more than 37 of us, would be accused of threatening Egyptian national security,” said Archbishop Damianos I of Mount Sinai and Raithu, according to Watani. ““It is ridiculous that Saint Catherine’s has been accused of building ‘settlements’ occupied by foreigners. The only ‘settlements’ in the town of Katreen constitute a housing project built by the town council.”

  7. Christopher says

    Memory eternal

  8. I listened to Bishop Basil’s a couple of times and was very moved by all he said. I would urge all to listen to what Bishop Basil said. Yes it was addressed to Father Alexander’s family and his congregation but it could be addressed to all of our Spiritual Fathers and their families and to all of us. Listen carefully and take it to heart!

  9. Tony Spritzer says

    I knew Fr. Atty since his days at SVS and had dinner with him this past January. We always spoke honestly and openly with each other. He had resigned himself to the inevitable and was physically exhausted. He knew as I knew that in Christ, there was no real death and he wasn’t afraid of death. He was more concerned about his family and was making plans so their burden wouldn’t be so heavy. He was filled with faith and concern for others although he knew his time was coming. He was truly a “Man of God” who served the Orthodox Church faithfully and completely. May his memory be eternal!

  10. News Junkie says

    This just in!

    WSJ Front Page Reports on Ephraim Monastery involvement with Emmanuel Mamalakis’ high speed trading firm, SXP Analytics. The transcript from Mamalakis’ court hearing where his former business partner testifies against him claiming he embezzled funds can be found at this website.

    • Pere LaChaise says

      Quit spamming the blog! That’s rude!

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      I’m surprised the National Herald has not taken a cue from the anti-Obama movement in its false witness against Abbot Ephraim. Shouldn’t they be calling him a Hitler and a Jihadist? Have they inspected his birth certificate? And WordPress seems unable to distinguish between Abbot Ephraim of Florence, Arizona, and Abbot Ephraim of Vatopaidi on Mt. Athos! Neither the wordpress not the nationalherals enlightens anyone or anything, but simply sows discord through logorrheatic ramblings, vituperation, and imprecation.

  11. Sean Richardson says

    I knew Fr. Alexander years ago. He was always an energetic, faithful, loving, intelligent and very competent individual and priest. My prayers are with him and with the family he left behind. How sad that our frail bodies yield to disease. It’s a reminder to us all that life on this earth is short, and we need to share Christ’s love in the time we have, as Fr. Alexander did. Memory eternal!

  12. First off, memory eternal to Metropolitan Philip and Archpriest Alexander Atty! They were both wonderful servants of Christ and helped to make our Holy Orthodox Church a better place.

    Now on the opposite end, we have the OCA, who I see once again stepped in it with regard to the now convicted Archbishop Seraphim. Kuddo’s to the folks at and others who kept up the pressure and forced the OCA to actually follow their own policies with regard to sexual assault and harassment. It breaks my heart to see the OCA continually falling over themselves and having to do things like make “Corrections” or “Qualifications to Statements” when if they had done things right the first time, they wouldn’t have to keep making these types of statements.

    The fact is, had the people of and others not complained, Archbishop Seraphim would have simply retired and the matter would have been closed, despite the fact that the OCA did not follow their own policies and immediately convene a spiritual court. Seriously, what the heck more did the OCA need to convene a spiritual court? Let’s look at it in the real world. If you are a truck driver and are convicted of drunk driving, your employer would terminate you immediately. If you are a daycare workers and are convicted of sexual assault, you are immediately terminated. What am I missing here? In the stupid press release, they mention needing to convene a spiritual court of 12 bishops. Fine, what’s the point? You have numerous jurisdictions in New York you couldn’t find 12 Orthodox bishops? It’s all beyond stupid. And who on earth was guiding the OCA in this process? If this is the type of legal advice or canon law advice they are receiving, i.e. just put your head in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist, they should be fired.

    • Tom Jones says

      A Spiritual Court must be held and only after a complete investigation has been conducted. Just because one judge said, “I don’t believe you,” means nothing. The investigation will tell all.

    • M. Stankovich says

      April 3, 2014
      Clarification concerning the status of Archbishop Seraphim


      In response to recent questions and comments that have been directed to the Orthodox Church in America by the media, victim advocates and members of the Church with regard to Archbishop Seraphim [Storheim], the following clarifications are in order.

      The Holy Synod of Bishops, at its spring session held at the OCA Chancery March 18-21, 2014, retired Archbishop Seraphim as Bishop of the Archdiocese of Canada, effective immediately.

      In a Statement issued by the Holy Synod, dated March 21, 2014, communicating this and related decisions, it was noted that “the Synodal Commission is directed to complete its investigation from an internal Church perspective as part of the ongoing canonical process that will lead to the convening of a Spiritual Court.” That is, while the Holy Synod has within its competency the ability to remove a bishop from an assignment, as was done in this instance, deposition from Holy Orders requires that a Spiritual Court be convened for the purpose of rendering a decision on said deposition.

      Pending the Holy Synod’s receipt of the final report from the Synodal Commission and the transcripts from the criminal trial, a Spiritual Court will be convened. The Church’s canonical tradition clearly requires that, in the case of a bishop, the court must consist of twelve bishops. Given that Archbishop Seraphim cannot travel outside of Canada, the Spiritual Court proceedings will of necessity be held in Canada. The OCA is bound to follow all canonical procedures, and has drawn upon experts to guide the Church through this process. Furthermore, such a process would be insisted upon by the other sister Orthodox Churches as the canonical norm. [It must be noted that the OCA has never been confronted with the possible deposition of a bishop since it was granted autocephalous status in 1970.]

      As further testimony to the above decisions and in accordance with canon law, the Holy Synod Statement further declared the See of Ottawa vacant, appointing His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, as Locum Tenens of the See of Ottawa and Canada. His Grace, Bishop Irénée of Quebec City, will continue to serve as Archdiocesan Administrator. “In due time,” the Statement reads, “a Special Archdiocesan Assembly will be convened for the purpose of nominating a new ruling bishop.

      Until such time as a Spiritual Court can be convened, as noted in the Holy Synod’s statement, Archbishop Seraphim is restricted to the Chapel of Saint Silouan, Spencerville, Ontario, and Holy Trinity Church, Edmonton, Alberta, and “must follow all restrictions placed upon him by the Canadian authorities as he awaits sentencing following his conviction on January 24, 2014 on one count of sexual assault.” Not only is this consistent with the Canadian authorities’ decision, but inasmuch as he is restricted to the chapel in Ottawa [Spencerville] and the church in Edmonton, the Holy Synod in fact has tightened these restrictions.

      Finally, the Statement in no way indicates or implies that the Holy Synod refuses to depose Archbishop Seraphim. To the contrary, as noted above, it clearly states that a Spiritual Court will indeed be convened, as required by canon law as well as the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America.

      Official updates will be provided as they become available.

      Perhaps, “Johnny,” you should leave the matters of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America to the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America; put your head back in the sand, take your intrusive and unlearned opinions from where they do not belong, and re-dedicate them to the Great Fast. And take the shameful characters of with you.

      • Typical Stankyvich attack the mesenger toot. Looks like his Lenten podvig has been progressing nicely.

        The OCA synod will depose Storheim, even if he wins his appeal. They are covering their legal behinds with his latest “statement.” Yet, they still won’t do anything with their homosexual clergy still serving in parishes, deans of cathedrals and on their synod. So really, does it matter what they do to Storheim? They have lost their credibility in the Orthodox world. No one wants to get close to them. It got so bad at the funeral for Metropolitan Philip that one of the Antiochian bishops confronted a certain OCA bishop had asked him, “What you you doing here?”

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        M. Stankovich, while a resignation or retirement BY Archbishop Seraphim may not be problematic, the statement of the OCA’s Holy Synod that THEY have retired HIM seems problematic, especially as they follow that removal of a Bishop from his cathedra/see with statements indicating they may in the future try him for the same offenses which caused them to remove him from his see…I think it doesn’t take a doctorate in canon law to see the possibility of a just plea of double jeopardy or double punishment to be a possibility in any future spiritual court. Retiring anyone involuntarily is punishment. Metropolitan Jonah covered their you-know-what’s when he meekly retired. I defy anyone to say that involuntary retirement/ removal from one’s see/cathedra is not a punishment meted out for misdeed!
        They deposed him from his See. If they think they can, in the future, depose him from the episcopacy on the same grounds….they need someone with half a legal and canonical brain!!!! I feel, in other words, that they GOOFED.

  13. M. Stankovich,

    Why do you feel the need to make personal attacks? For such a supposedly learned individual, you seem to constantly draw on personal attacks when you don’t like the message. I gave you two simple examples from life in general yet you somehow couldn’t seem to make the connections. Frankly, you’re not worth the effort.


    On Friday January 3, 2014 Archbishop Seraphim Storheim became a convicted felon. He was convicted of sexually assaulting an altar boy. The judge said, “”He loves to parse words and concepts,” Mainella said in finding Storheim’s testimony lacked credibility. “Other times he would provide nonsensical answers. I reject his evidence entirely.”

    In a letter dated 21 March, the OCA decided that they’d retire Storheim and that he’d continue in the clergy, as a retired member, take communion with the clergy, and worship in his choice of a church in Edmonton AB or Spencerville ON.

    On April 3, 2014 the OCA issues “Clarification of the Status of Archbishop Seraphim Storheim.”

    I think any idiot should be able to see that (1) the OCA did not immediately try to convene a spiritual court after 1/23/14. (2) The OCA clearly did not take the conviction seriously since they allowed and continue to allow the convicted felon to serve in OCA churches (by the way, the last time I checked we still have altar boys in all of our churches – small ones and large ones). (3) The OCA apparently thinks that OCA’s investigators (the same investigators who did the Sargent Shultz “I see nothing” investigation when the allegations first arose several years ago) are now going to find something new that the Canadian Courts didn’t discover.

    • M. Stankovich says


      Apparently I am worth the effort or you would not have continued this witless, ignorant discussion further.

      Let me first say to you that my primary objection was to your fundamental insensitivity and lack of appropriateness for placing this garbage in a thread specifically dedicated to the memory of Fr. Alexander Atty, a friend and schoolmate of mine, and in consideration of whose wife and her family who had graciously & lovingly taken me in for many holidays when I was a college student, too poor and too far to travel home. It was insensitive and you owe all of us who grieve his untimely loss an apology.

      Secondly, had you taken the moment necessary to examine the Statutory requirements for the Judgment of Bishops at the OCA website and relied on verifiable facts regarding the decisions of the Synod of Bishops, rather than conjecture, presumptions, and ill will, perhaps you would not have embarrassed yourself.