Banished to Bethesda

oca-burningEver since the unlawful and uncanonical defenestration of His Beatitude Jonah by the Syosset Apparat, the Orthodox Church in America has suffered one black eye after another. Some (such as the removal of Bp Matthias Moriak) came out of the blue. Others were inflicted by sister-churches that were horrified by the egregiousness of the action. The maltreatment by the Russian Orthodox Church of Fr Leonid Kishkovsky and Bp Alexander Golitzin being a prime example. Most however were self-inflicted and brought on by the floundering generated by those leaders who didn’t think through the ramifications of what they did.

Examples of these pratfalls include the notorious Stinkbomb letter which was hastily taken down once it became obvious that it was a poorly-written pack of lies. Another was hastily cobbled-together Help Wanted ad put out by Syosset looking for an executive assistant for the Metropolitan. Then the corruption of St Luke’s Institute exploded in the face of the therapeutae who had seen it as their ticket to Jonah’s “instability.” Other examples could be found by simple archive search on this blog.

Will such blundering continue? And if so, how will the OCA survive it?

In my search for answers, Your Truly reached out to many people who had a stake in this fight. Most were pro-Jonah, others weren’t. The most common refrain that kept popping up almost to a person was that the OCA needed a period of time of relative quiet in order to recover. Some said at least five years, others ten. Other than the grudging admition by some of His Beatitude’s antagonists that his removal was poorly handled, there was no consensus.

My own initial take was somewhat different. I felt that by its stupendous self-immolation, the OCA would become a non-entity in short order. I wrote that in a year or so, few would be commenting on the OCA. Not so much because it would cease to exist sans Jonah but because it would become inward-looking and hide-bound, in much the same way that most other Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States are. Institutionalism would rule.

Whatever his supposed administrative faults were, Jonah — whether by hook or crook — provided a vitality to a previously decrepit Galician-dominated ethnic eparchy and its insipid leadership. Like Archbishop Dmitri Royster of Dallas (whom he was supposed to succeed as Bishop of the South), Jonah at least believed in the stated mission of the OCA, that it was the territorial Church of North America.

That vision of the OCA now looks more like a conceit and not a very well thought-out one as well.

Examples of the floundering abound, the most glaring one being the high number of vacancies on the Synod. Another would be the continued decline in membership. Third would be the continued hemorrhaging of money to Syosset. The sinking feeling that the Apparat is making things up as it goes along cannot be swept away. Here in the South for example, we had the rug pulled out from under us at the last minute when we wanted to nominate Abbott Gerasim Eliel to be our bishop a year ago. In the meantime we lost a year because he wasn’t fully “vetted” (whatever that means). At the end of the day, he came anyway. In the meantime, we lost a year and we stand to lose yet another since Gerasim is to be a mere administrator.

This picture is not a pretty one. Such pratfalls are more reminiscent of The Keystone Kops rather than a territorially confident church. Indeed, it is becoming all the more difficult to defend against the incessant criticism long leveled by the Phanariotes against the OCA –that we are not a spiritually mature church. How do we answer the foreign patriarchates who are wary of letting their American eparchies join us? Especially now when it is becoming increasingly evident that Romanians (under Archbishop Nathanael Popp) are making schismatic noises, hoping to join the Romanian patriachatal archdioceses?

Most recently, we mentioned the unnecessary and scandalous provocation by an archimandrite in New York City. One in which he came down firmly on the side of homosexual provocateurs. It was gratuitous and heaped calumnies on the Russian Orthodox Church. Worse, he published his diatribe on the official website of the cathedral, thereby giving it the official imprimatur of the OCA. Moscow has not been pleased.

Yet the idiocy continues. The most recent being the banishment of Jonah to serving only at St Mark’s in Bethesda, Maryland. Previously, he was treated rather decently by those who intended him harm by being allowed to serve and preach at St John the Baptist, the ROCOR cathedral in Washington, DC. While there these past six months or so, St John’s has grown significantly at the expense of St Nicholas (the OCA cathedral). Moreover, His Beatitude developed quite a following there. For all intents and purposes he was a member of ROCOR, following its liturgicon, its calendar and observing its rubrics. This was supposedly against the day in which he would be formally received into the Patriarchate of Moscow so there was nothing controversial here.

Unfortunately, small-minded men could not abide Jonah’s increasingly popular ministry. Rather than fading away, Jonah grew stronger and more consequential. Unlike his predecessors, Jonah’s vitality frightened Syosset. That is why some two weeks ago his freedom of movement was arbitrarily restricted to worshiping only at St Mark’s. This pettiness came from out of the blue and has not been well-received by many in ROCOR. Though ridiculous to the extreme, there was a method to this madness. Several highly-placed members of St Mark’s are cadres of Archbishop Benjamin Peterson of San Francisco. Thus a pipeline of information exists and the continued stranglehold of Peterson, undoubtedly his most unrelenting nemesis on the Synod is strengthened.

It is unknown how this will play out in the end. What these show instead is that the OCA is not ready for prime time. The rump Synod and the Syosset Apparat continue to be exposed as stumble-bums. The forbearance of Moscow, which created the OCA and has tolerated it for whatever reason, gets ever more attenuated. Whereas at one time the OCA had a chance to be the evangelistic successor to the Russian mission, ever since July of 2012, it has devolved into an international laughingstock. It’s sole utility at present has been reduced to serving as a legal fiction to be waved in the face of Constantinople; that is to say, as leverage against the latter’s globalist pretentions.

Like the most recent slap in the face towards the Moscow patriarchate by the Dean of the OCA cathedral in New York, such contretemps continue to roil the waters. The hope that the OCA will enjoy five or more years of quietude now seems improbable. The question however is how much more embarrassment can Moscow take? At what point does the OCA become a wasting asset? Time will tell.


  1. What a crock! You have to change the name of this forum from, “Monomakhos” to “Attack the OCA with Malice.” George, you’re still on this thing you have for + Jonah. Give it up. No one really cares. + Jonah was a mistake and now the OCA moves on. Remember, it was + Jonah who told people repeatedly that, “I don’t need this; I’ll just return to my little monastery and live out my life in prayer.” What happened to that? What a phony. The OCA will do fine and will not disappear as you may wish and continue to post disinformation here; like the Communists. How about some enlightening posts regarding Orthodoxy or isn’t that your objective?

    • I do not think that Metropolitan Jonah is a phony. He just cannot help changing his mind.

    • Sam,

      The election of His Beatitude was not a mistake. For many people, he was the best thing that had happened to the OCA and he could have been a force to be reckoned with in American Orthodoxy had his brother bishops not decided to force him into retirement. No, Mr. Haddad, His Beatitude is not a phony nor a two-faced hypocrite. If you go on Youtube and listen to his lectures at St John the Baptist Cathedral in DC or watch any other video, you will see that he is the real thing.

      • His Beatitude is a man who feels his faith very deeply, loves others with a child-like innocence and probably cannot understand how people can be so cruel.

        • It is the homosexual lobby in the OCA that did him in. The purity of his faith and mind, his clear understanding of the Gospel and the Church was pornography to them. Now they can wallow in the filth of their own creation. Axios!

    • Sam Haddad, you write exactly like “Stan Poulos” and any number of handles on here, all of which do nothing but shill for Syosset with the same flat arguments and language. You’re the phony one here!

      How hard is it for you to understand that Metropolitan Jonah is his parents’ only living child, and he is responsible for their care? He can’t do that without paying employment, nor can he move across the country on a whim.

      • Helga,

        I am not Stan Poulos. Let me help you here. When a person takes monastic vows, they reject their families; their mother, father, sister, etc. In fact, real monastics never see their family after taking vows. + Jonah needs to return to any monastery and be a true monk. The Orthodox Church doesn’t have monks at large (ha), but they are required to be attached to a monastery. + Jonah is still trying to play Met., but with ROCOR. He has become a disruptive force. Let him go to Russia.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Sam, aren’t our bishops “monastics”?

          • George,

            This is an interesting question. For centuries bishops have been selected from those men with monastic vocations. However, episcopal responsibilities have been seen as additions to the monastic vocation and “are not the purpose or intention of the monastic vocation as such.” See Thomas Hopko, Volume II, Worship, The Sacrements, Monasticism. Is it necessary in some mystical way for bishops to be monks? Or is it the case that being a monk–particularly being the abbot of a monastery–was considered to be good training for a bishop? I don’t know. Interesting question.



          • George,

            Exactly why it’s a joke. Many of these celibates aren’t monastics nor do they want to be, yet, they are forced to take these vows to be consecrated. Stupid! BISHOPS WERE NEVER MEANT TO BE ONLY MONASTICS. Monastics were chosen for practical purposes. They could not pass church property to their progeny. The laws today do not give the church property to the bishop to own. Married and celibate candidates need to be RE-CONSIDERED.

            • George Michalopulos says

              The reason I asked it is because I wanted to expose the hypocrisy of the state of our current episcopate.

        • Ready to Leave the OCA says

          Let me see if I get this.

          First Kishkovsky, Benjamin and a few other malcontents tried to oust +Jonah at Sante Fe using Mark Stokoe to provide public cover. That didn’t work.

          Then they tried to ship him off to St. Luke’s so they could brand him as unstable. That didn’t work.

          They they crafted the Stinkbomb letter that was discredited in less than week and that they never apologized for. That didn’t work.

          And +Jonah is the “disruptive force”?

        • Sam,
          bibilie bobbilie bluba blah blah . . . . .what are you even saying?? This is made up.

    • Um, Bp. Benjamin will not allow him to return to his monastery. And the Synod as thwarted any attempts to plant one on the East Coast. Keep up……

    • Really? Not Really says

      No one cares? Really? Let me get this straight: A former Metropolitan is minding his own business, going to church, teaching at a ROCOR cathedral (because he was actually WELCOMED there), and for no GOOD reason, is yanked back to a parish in which he has no connection. And you say no one cares? I can assure you that due to their stupidity in not leaving him alone, more and more people care.

      Let’s be clear. Syosset was threatened. The OCA DC Cathedral was threatened. Jillions was threatened. Met. Tikhon was threatened. The Holy Synod was threatened.

      Sounds more to me like Acts 16:16–24 where St Paul is arrested because he threatened the livelihood of the divination trade in Philippi.

    • Sam,
      I care. And I know quite a number of people who care. And I don’ think that George’s intention here is to attack the OCA. It is to set it on the right course.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      I think Sam is on to something here! The idea of our George as any kind of “Lone Fighter” is quite problematic. At the very basic and initial level, George has always had his side-kick “Heracledies” by him—like Sancho Panza to George’s Don Quixote—or Jeff to George’s Mutt! So a name change might be welcome.
      True, the site has some fame as a source of more authoritative doctrinal, political, and ideological pronouncements than the Holy Office of Rome in its heyday. And there are many others who, pathologically needy for an audience of a size which they have never been able to obtain otherwise, can vent here on their own hobbies.
      George, perhaps because he knows of my very long association and friendship with ever-memorable Archbishop Dmitri (Royster), has usually observed a certain courteous punctilio toward my posting, but i’m afraid I crossed some border or other when I spoke up in favor of the energetic, hard-working, conscientous priest and pastor of the Protection Cathedral in (note, not OF) New York ‘s Bowery district.
      A contributor here had charged that Metropolitan Theodosius is an “active’ homosexual. I asked for evidence. One may, indeed, evaluate someone as homosexual or blame him as such based on emotion and irrational suspicion or even paranoia without having to produce proof. However in a decent, moral society, when one charges some as being known for homosexual BEHAVIOR, i feel it is my Christian Duty to ask for proof. Archbishop Kiprian, likewise, always asked for evidence when charges of behavior were made against anyone.
      George wrote this somewhat insulting retort to my comment:
      ‘Your Grace, the idea of “proving” a man’s homosexuality is indecent. Nobody I know wants to hide under a cleric’s or hierarch’s bed or take incriminating photographs. That is not the issue nor is it the hallmark of “blamelessness.” Paul’s exhortation to the Church was that in order for a man to be a presbyter he should be “blameless” meant simply that rumor and innuendo didn’t attach themselves to his name. Where there’s smoke there’s almost always fire. For a man to be a bishop there shouldn’t be any smoke”
      George you must prove a man is an ACTIVE homosexual if you wish to label him as such.
      I CHARGE the man who said Metropolitan Theodosius is an active homosexual with false witness; however, I do so politely by asking for any evidence for his allegation of homosexual behavior. This is NOT indecent
      And, George, I’m disappointed in your resort to that old woman’s device of where there’s smoke there’s fire. No, George, where there’s smoke there’s toast.
      I feel that Father Christopher Calin is being unfairly and unjustly maligned for clearly stating his views to his parishioners and the Church on current affairs. If it is his conviction (and this is not unheard-of) that President Putin’s governance is thuggish and retro, and that the Caesaro-Papism and Monarchistic pretensions of the Russian Church’s Patriarchate since the time of Tsar Alexei and Patriarch Nikon is alive and well today, while others SOLELY because of their “courageous” (yeah,right…in Russia…yeah, right) stand on homosexuality are ready to label them both as foremost in holiness, this is no reflection on Father Christopher’s probity. You indicated I was being INDECENT in asking for proof of Metropolitan Theodosius’s behavior. No one needs proof of what President Putin has been doing in Chechnya: it’s been produced in public all over the world.
      When, George (and those with him on this), are you going to provide us with some examples of some fatherly rebuke or opposition coming from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and addressed to President Putin in regards to anything at all?

      • George Michalopulos says

        Again, Your Grace, you miss my fundamental point. To be a presbyter, St Paul lays down some clear, observable markers. He says nothing about a man’s private thoughts, his feelings or even his sanctity. The point is that within the Orthodox episcopate in America, there has been much speculation about this, that, or the other bishop, whether he was openly effeminate or none-too-discrete. I’ve talked to too many priests and laymen who’ve told me off-line that they were accosted by Bishop X at one time. We also know which bishops spent the night in the pokey in some distant land because they were caught in flagrante in public. The stories are legion.

        You may ask: so why don’t you go public? I’ll answer: because it’s not my job. For one thing, the vast majority of my sources are in fear for their vocations so they won’t go public. For another, that’s up to the people in the pews. They may grouse about their bishop being a bad actor but they won’t do a damn thing (also because like me, they are not as pure as the wind-driven snow themselves). Third, reformations and moral crusades never end well. Unintended consequences always happen and the best intentions have a way of blowing up in our faces.

        In the end, I’d say leave it up to God, it’s His Church. In the meantime, I abide by the old Russian dictum: the people get the priest they deserve.

        • His Grace is correct, George. It is not always true that where there is smoke there is fire. People can start baseless rumors and get everyone to believe those rumors even though the rumors are totally untrue. I’ve seen it happen myself to someone that I was close to. Those against +Metropolitan Jonah who started all kinds of rumors so that people would think that His Beatitude was unstable even though those rumors weren’t true. If we are going to use the “where there is smoke there is fire”argument, then we must apply that equally to +Metropolitan Jonah. Would that be fair or right?

          • George Michalopulos says

            Katherine, as someone who has been subjected to unjust but directed insinuation (and lost a business opportunity because of it), I am quite aware that “where there’s smoke, there may not always be fire.” That being said, the principle is usually right. In American Orthodoxy, we have an embarrassment of riches regarding the unseemliness of many bishops and episcopal candidates. Why, His Grace Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald has regaled us with many stories about Igumens who plied young men with Scotch and so on. These ribald stories are interesting as far as they go but the nonchalant manner in which they are related (not just by him) is very much part of the problem. One priest in the GOA even told me that when a certain man was being considered for bishop, he informed a highly-placed hierarch at the Phanar “but he’s a homosexual!” The answer? “Of course he is, that’s how we control them!” Is this what you want? Is this what we deserve? I think not.

            Case in point, ever since the overthrow of Jonah, I have gotten to know many people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from people I respect, “George, don’t be silly, of COURSE Fr Philemon is a homosexual! Everybody knew this!” Or “Bp Barsanuphias was a such a FLAMER that he could barely keep his hands off of young boys!” The first 3 or 4 times I was reproved in my naivete, I was shocked. Shocked not so much that Fr X or Bp Y was allowed to serve while being so openly corrupt but because people I respected thought nothing of it.

            I commented on this phenomenon two years ago in my essay “The Dumping Ground,” the gist of which was that among the Greek-Americans and Carphatho-Russians, the “celibate” priesthood remained the place where mama’s boys who couldn’t otherwise make the cut as secular professionals would be consigned to. As I was told when I was young, “after all, how hard is it to swing a thimiato?” I didn’t like that paradigm and I still don’t. I think the priesthood is a serious profession and I don’t cotton to its debasement.

            That’s what’s troubling. So yes, the Pauline stricture of “good report” and “blamelessness” remains perhaps the best one for electing a bishop. Some men may not make the cut and unjustly so, but would you rather have the corrupted episcopate we have now?

      • Gail Sheppard says

        George can’t change the name of his blog because after all these years, I can now spell it! I rather like the name Don Quhoti, though. Or is it Donn Kehoti? Or maybe Don Quixote. Never mind. Stick with Monomakhos.

        If I had a blog, I would call it the “Quiet Woman!”

        Don’t strike anyone as the “quiet woman” type? Check this out:

        Spent many moons there when I lived in Dana Point. 🙂

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      “BANISHED to Bethesda?”
      The Eucharist offered at Saint Mark’s Church, Bethesda is the same Eucharist that is offered in every Cathedral and parish Church in every Local Orthodox Church, including that offered by Christ with His Disciples. Do some of us think that some parishes are more prestigious than others? That’s not only silly, it’s almost blasphemous. Metropolitan Jonah is to be congratulated on being associated with any Orthodox parish at all. I think, too, that he is prospering and most comfortable in the Washington DC area, or he would have left a long time ago, and if his parents were likewise enduring hardship there, they, too might have preferred living in an area where they could enjoy their same high standard of living as they do now, only at a lower expense. “Banished” to a parish? There is no such canonical punishment.
      Metropolitan Jonah should (and probably is doing so) be giving thanks to God for this latest order of the Holy Synod. The Holy Synod has acted egregiously and never apologized for it, in that they committed a GROSS violation of the commandment not to bear false witness. To complain of a Metropolitan being appointed to a parish is to utterly diminish any rightful complaint against bearing false witness. it’s even counter productive.
      And not only predicting, but announcing the advent of disaster for the Church because of trifles, meanness, pettiness is not really speaking as a grown-up.
      The last time I spoke with Metropolitan Jonah, more than a year ago, he told me that considering that ohly a short time after leaving the monastery of St. John as a Hieromonk, he had already become a Bishop and had served in Moscow, Russia, on the very same Eagle Rug and Spot on which the Patriarch of Moscow himself had served! And he added, in summation, “How cool is THAT?” and snorted and chuckled in his way. Give it a rest you people!. Get a life with our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ!

      • George Michalopulos says

        Your Grace, I made no pronouncement about the efficacy of the Gifts offered at the Holy Table in Bethesda. So I ask you to reconsider whether I was being “blasphemous.” I agree with you that all Eucharists offered everywhere are the same “Eucharist offered by Christ and His Disciples.” If that’s the case, then why forbid him from celebrating that very same Eucharist wherever he wants? Is the Synod implying that only the Eucharist offered at St Mark’s is efficacious? Are they committing blasphemy?

        You lost me somewhere between His Beatitude being “grateful” for this latest pronouncement by the Synod and their “gross violation…against bearing false witness.”

        Let us be honest. They are petty, small-minded men. The hatred they display towards a fellow bishop is unseemly and no good Christian witness. Instead, it causes honest people to flee for their lives from Christ’s church. There will be an accounting for that.

        • I have to agree with you George. It appears to me that the Synod and the achichincles are a bunch of ‘Indian givers’, they agreed to allow Metropolitan Jonah to serve wherever he wished, to establish monasteries, etc. and now they change their lying minds. I left the OCA some years ago and missed it for a time until this stupidity started by the inept clowns that run the wanna be ‘church of America’, lol. They started a campaign against the best thing that happened to the OCA, in the election of Metropolitan Jonah and destroyed any pretences that they had to being the Church of America; to bad. Since this mess started I don’t give them money any more, I stopped giving to Manton, and will not visit any of their churches or attend their functions. I still have many friends in the OCA and do miss them.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          George What are you talking about? Did you read my message. Where or when have I ever spoken of “the efficacy” of any Sacraments/ Mysteries anywhere. That’s Latin acholasticism I said and say that he Eucharist is an Identity, everywhere it is served, outside and above time and place. THAT is why it is blasphemous to characterize being assigned to serve the Eucharist ANYWHERE as ‘Banishment’ is blasphemous. To be blessed to serve at St. Mark’s should be a cause of joy and thanksgiving, George, Why don’t you admit it? Or maybe you don’t believe it? Every Priest is assigned to one Altar, George. Every Bishop is assigned to one diocese. No Bishop and no Priest is a free agent or hireling. I’m sure that Metropolitan Jonah is thankful to God for being blessed to serve and teach at St. Mark’s in Bethesda, as he should be, or else he has no business serving anywhere.
          And don’t forget that no one can be forced to resign for fear God will allow him and/or his family to become impoverished.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Correction Your Grace, “no priest or bishop should be a hireling.” The reality however is far different, isn’t it? Certainly Jonah was (and still is) treated like a hireling.

            If I may, what I fear is that the Synod fears Jonah’s ministry. To the credit of the Synod some twenty years ago, they treated Bishop Basil Radzianko with far more leniency after having gotten rid of him. He was allowed to pursue an active ministry both in the US and Russia. To me that says something positive about the character and sagacity of the previous Synod. It certainly was providential in that Radianko’s ministry kept the ROC on life-support and may have paved the way for its glorious resurrection. I imagine that the Lord will take that into consideration on the Day of Judgment when that Synod (of which you were part of) stands before Him.

            That the present Synod cannot even muster up the barest mercy to extend to His Beatitude, after illegally deposing him and then defaming his character, makes me fear for the future of a genuine Orthodoxy here in America.

            Of course, this could all go away if the Synod/Syosset Apparat would just put out the real, honest-to-God reason why they got rid of Jonah.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              George…I’m not sure how to say it, but you seem to be over the edge here. I have no idea how a hireling is treated.
              George, I was a Priest in the Diocese of the West throughout Bishop Basil (Rodzianko)’s incumbency here, and he had been in retirement for some time before I was elected to be Bishop of San Francisco.
              You placed the words “illegally deposing him” (I.e., Metropolitan Jonah) in bold face. Most persons posting here are a little literate about the Orthodox Church. “Deposition” is a canonical punishment removing a man from the Diaconate, or the Priesthood, or the Episcopate so that he may not execute any functions of those offices. Metropolitan Jonah has not been deposed. The Roman Catholic Church uses the word “defrock” instead of depose. Archbishop Peter, who held a Doctorate in Canon Law from the Leningrad Theological Academy and was the most qualified canonist in North America when he was allve, persuaded the Holy Synod to stop using such terms as ‘permanently remove from the clergy list” or ‘laicized” to refer to the canonical punishment, Deposition. He was not even “INVOLUNTARILY REMOVED” from his position as First Hierarch (or, as those who use the word “defrock’ would say ‘Primate’). HE RESIGNED OUT OF FEAR THAT THE LORD WOULD NOT PROVIDE FOR HIS FAMILY. IF HE DIDN’T RESIGN. THAT IS AS A BIG NO-BRAINER.
              Of course, his character has been defamed, especially in the Stinkbomb letter. Metropolitan Theodosius, Protopresbyter Rodion S.Kondratick, Bishop Nikolai (Soraich), Protopresbyter
              Alexander Schmeman, Mrs. Ellizabeth Kondratick, Archpriest Joseph Fester, Metropolitan Leonty, Archbishop Spiridon, Archbishop Iakovos, Archbishop Valerian, Metropolitan Antony Bashir, Metropolitan Philip Saliba, and a host of other Orthodox people have been outrageously defamed.
              I believe that, perhaps through ignorance, Metropolitan Jonah as a Bishop also blessed teh defamation of others with his remarks about the obects of his defmation having RAPED the Church.
              There was a reason that Vladimir, later Father Vladimir and then Bishop Basil (Rodzianko) was not ordained by the Russian Church or ROCOR and why he had to seek a “career” in the Serbisn Church where he happily flourished until the death of his wife and the invitation of Frs. Meyendorff and Schmeman to allow his name to be put in the pot for an OCA bishopric. He was a disaster as Bishop of San Francisco, but was able to turn over a new leaf and become saintly, indeed, once he had no episcopal obligations with which to contend. I don’t believe he was ever defamed, although his grandfather, the politician who persuaded the Tsar to quit, certainly was.
              YOU are the one who suddenly refers to ‘an hireling” in Metropolitan Jonah’s case, not I. know what a strawman is?
              I also feel that to say that, while the Gates of Hell may not prevail against the Church, gross injustice toward a favorite ecclesiastical character will prevail against a Church.

              • Abbouna Michel says

                Actually, Roman Catholicism uses the term “laicization,” as in “reduced to the lay state.” As far as I’m aware, the canons never ever have used the term “defrock.” Respectfully, it would better if the Rt. Rev. Lord (ret.), of San Francisco, like any good shoemaker, stuck to his own last.

                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                  Abbouna Michel. When I spoke of the use of the term ‘defrocking” amongst Roman Catholics, lay and clerical, I certainly did not refer to any English translations of the Canon law of the Roman Church. THEY, Roman Catholics, clerical and lay,frequently spoke of defrocking as a formal ceremony in Church involving the extinguishing of candles and, if the “perp” is present, the formal STRIPPING OFF of his clerical garments or “frock”. THAT’s what I was referring to. But thanks, Abbouna, for informing us of the limits of your awareness. I have no ambitions in shoemaking, but I do believe in clear English.
                  You, Abbouna, should define ‘Roman Catholicism” before you make blanket assertions about what Roman Catholicism “USES.” if you want to state what terminology is used in the official canons accepted in the Roman Church, then do so, but don’t call it what Roman Catholicism uses. By the way, I believe the Latin terminology used in the Roman Church’s canons expresses very well the deposition or toppling of a man from his elevated pedestal as an ordained cleric. Why not do a little research, rather than referring to what you think you recall?


                That’s not why he resigned.

      • Lets call it what it is, the final silencing, the final exile for Jonah the First Martyr of the swish slime buckets that rule the OCA. Since the time of Boris Borisayevich, and the sewer that spawned Herman Swaiko and Co., that land swindles at St. T’s the foundations in the woods and the sexual assaults, the corporation called the OCA for reasons of taxation is nothing more than a shell game for the sexual and financial gratification of a few on the backs of the many. You know this, you were part of it and you really should come clean. Break out that bar of Lava and take a bath, the ruling class of the OCA stinks. Give Calin a call…Someone open a window and let some fresh air in!

      • Your Grace,
        As a retired Bishop do you need to ask permission from the OCA synod where ever and whenever you serve?

      • I agree, Your Grace. He is probably happier where he is now. He would be a wonderful parish priest. This may do a lot to heal the wounds he was left with in all of this, if the Synod will leave him alone.

  2. George,

    Isn’t it interesting that +Jonah was taken to the woodshed for his close relations with the Russian Orthodox Church and that was bad, but now John Jillions pays homage to Metropolitan Nikodim, (KGB codename “Adamant”)?

    And please, don’t tell me that every ROC bishop was a KGB agent during Soviet times. Yes, bishops and priests were constantly harassed by the KGB but not all of them had KGB codenames like Nikodim. There is a big difference.

    How stupid do these ecumenist Syosset Apparat think we are?

    Thanks for continuing to speak truth to power here on Monomahkos.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Hypocrisy! If you knew ANYTHING at all about security services and intelligence reports, you’d know that an investigating agent NEVER identifies by name ANYBODY in his reports, but that he assigns a nickname to EVERYONE. The first time a person is quoted, encountered, or characterized he or she may be writen of as simply “T-(telephone)ONe”. If Vladimir Putiin was mentioned in a report he might be “Big Bear” or Tschaikowsky’. EVERY Hierarch mentioned in a background or security investigation would be given a nickname. if Metropolitan Nikodim of blessed memory, or Patriarch Alexi II of blessed memory or ANY ONE else had an assigned nickname or “code” name (sounds wonderfully evil, no?) that is the sign of the writer observing the regulations, the SOP or Standard Operating Policy of his job! If an agent were writing a report on “Monomakhos” he’d assign each of us a nickname. He might call you Madam LeFarge, for example. Then in your file, He’d start out by giving your actual name and your alias of “Hypocirsy” as well as other characteristics. Just because the KGB agent gave you the nickname “Madam LeFarge” does NOT mean that you are or were ever a KGB employee of any kind.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        My dossier reveals that they called me the “Crimson Primrose”, the “Scarlet Pimpernel” already having been taken.

        The story of my adventures, though somewhat exaggerated, is largely true.

      • Fascinating that your gentle rebuke of an anonymous coward’s ignorant and stupid libel gets 5 thumbs down (or 38%, @ 11:25 P.M. PDT) from George’s cyber-subset of the allegedly “rational flock.” People used to be burned for gratuitously speaking evil of genuine dignities, once upon a time. Not that I’m nostalgic about it. Necessarily.

        Fr. Johannes Jacobse and Herr Professor Doktor Oberst (ret.) Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster B.A. M.A. M.T.S. Ph.D. usw., I want to congratulate you two, above all, for making so much so clear to so many of us. We are more grateful than you will ever, ever know.

  3. Ready to Leave the OCA says

    Who makes these decisions? Kishkovsky? The bishops? The Stinkbomb letter, St. Luke’s, they never stop trying to defame and discredit the man. Their contributions and attendance are way down but they keep doing the same things again and again. Are they terminally stupid?

  4. pelagiaeast says

    I can’t even bring myself to respond to Sam.

    That the OCA will not release + Jonah does not surprise me. Didn’t we all realize that the money and the people would follow the GOOD shepherd?

    And this probably means the wonderful teaching series will be cut short. What a waste.

    More prayers.

    • Teaching Series says

      The teaching series had a tiny hiatus, but resumed last night at St. Mark’s in Bethesda. It was well attended for something with a day’s notice, folks navigating a different route, commuters finding rides.Father Gregory Safchuk was there and his matushka, the fellow who usually videotapes for the YouTube was not, but someone redorded on their cellphone, so if the battery didn’t run out, then there is an Mp3 or 4 file that folks will have in a week or so.

      The trapeza room was brightly lit and had plenty of chairs and table space.

      I don’t know if there is one next week. He stated he was going abroad for a couple weeks but do not know when.

      There is a dropbox website with all the recordings and sermons and an email list for the lecture series, which is interactive. You can also email the Metropolitan with your questions related to the present series and he will cover them,

      He is a very accessible Metropolitan

  5. Carl Kraeff says

    If I may correct the record:

    1. The cathedral in New York is not the OCA cathedral as your words imply above. As you are aware, the OCA cathedral is the Saint Nicholas Cathedral at 3500 Massachusetts Ave., NW., served by Fathers John Perich and Valery Shemchuk.

    2. You said: “Several highly-placed members of St Mark’s are cadres of Archbishop Benjamin Peterson of San Francisco.” I challenge you to name names and prove your point as this reeks of uncanonical behavior.

    3. You said: “That is why some two weeks ago (Metropolitan Jonah’s) freedom of movement was arbitrarily restricted to worshiping only at St Mark’s.” (my emphasis) I challenge you to prove this rather remarkable fabrication. Prove that this action was arbitrary and contrary to (a) common Orthodox practice regarding retired hierarchs and (b) the agreement that +Jonah had struck with His Beatitude Tikhon.

    4. You said: “For all intents and purposes he was a member of ROCOR, following its liturgicon, its calendar and observing its rubrics. This was supposedly against the day in which he would be formally received into the Patriarchate of Moscow so there was nothing controversial here.” So, he was not acting like a retired bishop would act, am I not correct? Name one another retired primate who went gallivanting wherever he wished to go, even outside his jurisdiction. I also challenge you to prove that this was supposedly in preparation for the day that he would be formally received by the ROC.

    5. You said: “I wrote that in a year or so, few would be commenting on the OCA. Not so much because it would cease to exist sans Jonah but because it would become inward-looking and hide-bound, in much the same way that most other Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States are.” Au contraire mon ami déraisonnable; I cannot speak for the other Dioceses but in mine (and yours), we are not inward-looking and hide-bound. In my deanery, our churches are growing and we are increasing the number of missions. I understand that the other deaneries are also doing just fine. My conclusion is that either your parish is different or your hatred is clouding your judgment.

    • Carl says:

      “1. The cathedral in New York is not the OCA cathedral as your words imply above. As you are aware, the OCA cathedral is the Saint Nicholas Cathedral at 3500 Massachusetts Ave., NW., served by Fathers John Perich and Valery Shemchuk.”

      What ?? I don’t see where George is conflating the 2 Cathedrals . . . ?? And St. Nicholas Cathedral’s priests are Fr. Valery and Fr. George Kokhno good friends of Fr. Denis Bradford. Fr. Perich went back months ago to PA.

      2. It’s no secret that the head priest and Mat. are close friends with +BB.

      And yes +Jonah liked serving at St. John’s, he’s retired let him serve there. Why would the OCA care where a retired Bishop served? It’s childish. since when does the OCA follow rules? They should have given him this blessing from the get go considering everything else that has transpired. But no, Carl this is about control. It is not gracious or kind. It is out of the blue and strange. I so wish you could walk one inch in his shoes!

    • George Michalopulos says

      It is the OCA cathedral for the New York diocese. The OCA has many cathedrals because it has many dioceses (though curiously, not that many bishops, but that’s a story for another day).

    • Damage Control says


      If you are so off on your assumptions in your numbered points, it is no wonder your perception of the OCA is so cloudy.

      Collette is correct about the current leadership at St Nicholas Cathedral, just a small correction, it is Fr. Denis Bradley, the unofficial spiritual advisor for the gay community [not Dennis Bradford].

      Colette is also correct that Fr and Matushka Safchuk, especially Matushka Alexandra, are in almost daily contact with +BB. That is why +Jonah is banished to Bethesda, as George points out, because +Jonah’s ever movement and word will be dutifully reported to +BB. Talk about a Bishop interfering in another bishop’s diocese, but then again this isn’t the first time for +BB.

      And of course, as you comically point out “+Jonah was not acting like a retired bishop”. What do you want him to do, NOTHING? He is “retired” not dead. And to name another retired Bishop, how about Bishop Basil Rodzianko who travelled to Europe and Russia, who continued to work for V.O.A.. The very idea that the OCA Synod is trying to bar +Jonah from even traveling is ludicrous. Who do they think they are, the Vatican, all little Popes?

      Honestly, Carl, there are just some things that are beyond trying to explain or justify and this is one of them. Your OCA bishops are mean-spirited and petty, sticking their noses where they should not while their own dioceses are getting weaker. The OCA won’t show an increase in membership in 2013, it will continue its numerical and fiscal decline, it is going to be in the crosshairs at the upcoming Assembly of Bishops meeting in Chicago because of the loose lip declarations by a Cathedral dean in NYC.

      Oh, and about that “Evangelization Summit”, Summit, really? A Summit? There is one person there who has the institutional history of the OCA. What exactly has Fr. John Parker done to warrant such a leadership position? He built a beautiful church, which is being paid for by the Diocese of the South because his parish, which is not growing by leaps and bounds, can’t pay the mortgage without help. How long has he even been Orthodox? 10 years, not more than 15?

      I know, you will continue to breath deeply from the OCA peace pipe, but you have no idea how ridiculous the OCA presents itself to the world with that Summit article and those musings of Chancellor Jillions. Fr Parker and Fr Jillions are not bad people, certainly not, but they are not experienced enough to be in leadership yet.

  6. Carl Kraeff says

    Does this look like a church that is “inward-looking and hide-bound”?

    “His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, was among those who attended a summit sponsored by the Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Evangelization at Holy Ascension Church here over Labor Day weekend.

    Organized by Priest John Parker, department chair and pastor of Holy Ascension Church, the summit brought together 11 OCA department representatives and leaders to review past and current ministries and articulate a vision for the future.

    The summit opened with a survey of past evangelism efforts in the OCA by Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, and Archpriest Jonathan Ivanoff and Deacon Alex Cadmen, both of whom have been associated with the Department of Evangelization for many years.

    Providing background on current ministries were Andrew Boyd and Deacon Jason Ketz, Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry; Priest Robert Miclean, unique campus ministry; Priest David Rucker and Christina Semon, international missions; Matushka Valerie Zahirsky, Department of Christian Education; and Archpriest Antonio Perdomo, Spanish-speaking ministry.

    Participants discussed areas of cooperative ministry and a broad vision for the next 25 years that includes the prospect of reinvigorating a number of programs that for various reasons had been underutilized or dormant in recent years. It was also announced that a new web site, similar to those sponsored by the Youth and Christian Education departments, will make its debut in the near future.”

    • Really? Not Really says

      And this is evident of exactly what? What is an “evangelism summit”? Are there some secret negotiations? What did they produce? Show me the result. If they wanted to talk, hold a phone conference.

      • George Michalopulos says

        So now chancery meetings are called “summits”? Was this put out on audio or video? Was it livestreamed? Were ordinary people allowed to attend?

        You know what this looks like? Syosset trying to make Tikhon look forward-thinking and bold. When Jonah was Primate, these things were par for the course and people crawled out from the woodwork to attend. Feh.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Yes it does, Carl. This hastily-put together affair was neither advertised in advance nor publicized during. Nobody was invited. It was a mere chancery meeting held in SC. There was no audio/visual of it. One reason of course is because Tikhon is an uninspiring speaker. When Jonah was primate his speeches were major events.

      • You continue to amaze and dismay me. Amazement because you cannot bear to hear of positive developments in your own church. Dismay because you are so bitter and negative. Lord have mercy.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Carl, among my many critics I respect you the most. Mainly because unlike the others, you are actually a member of the OCA. If you can look at the figures put out by Syosset and be “amazed” at them in a positive fashion, I will certainly take another look at them. In the interest of simplifying this matter, please provide some useful statistics.

  7. Join Jonah tonight says

    The Spiritual studies (aka Orthodoxy 101 aka Bible Studies) by Metropolitan Jonah was never jurisdictional and the Metropolitan has continued to remind people that the beauty of Orthodoxy transcends jurisdictions and to pray for an American Church. That said, it is difficult, one would think, to endure maltreatment while continuing to spread the Way.

    The Spiritual Studies is, of necessity, held at St. Mark’s. Although the lovely library at St. John the Baptist where ten of the studies have been held cannot be used at present in this climate at the OCA, St. Mark’s has always been a nice parish, has great parking facilities, and some nice rooms to hold the studies. It is also accessible by public transit

    Friday Night Studies will resume at St. Mark’s in Bethesda.

    Friday night 9/6 at 7:30 @

    Saint Mark Orthodox Church

    directions: From Metro Center in DC or other location on red line
    Take Metro-Rail to the Friendship Heights (RED Line) station and catch the T2 Metro-Bus down River Road towards the capital beltway. Get off the bus at Nevis Road and walk across River Road. Turn right and walk 100 yards down the access road to Saint Mark Orthodox Church.

    From Capital Beltway
    Take Exit 39 (River Road) from the Beltway in Maryland towards Washington DC. Go to the second traffic light (Nevis Road) and turn right. Make an immediate right (a U-turn) onto the access road that parallels River Road about 100 yards to Saint Mark Orthodox Church on the left.
    Hope to see you there!

    From VA
    (GW Parkway to) Beltway, get off River Road Exit, stay in right lane, exit onto River Rd, get in middle lane as right lane ends, exit right at Nevis Rd, take immediate right at service road to church parking lot.

    7124 River Rd
    Bethesda, MD 20817-4770

    • Recordings and Email List says

      I’m copying an email below. It is a website where you can download and hear Metropolitan Jonah in a bible study series, in the current series Orthodoxy as a Spiritual Discipline and giving sermons. This is not an exhaustive collection as there are many public talks and lectures here and abroad, local sermons that were not recorded, and etc. But it is a large corpus for a year..All of the events in this list were advertised and open to the public, open not only to Orthodox, and all pan Orthodox by intention, usually attended by a fair number of clergy of various jurisdictions coming sometimes from quite far. This will be undoubted the case in its present location, St. Mark’s Church in Bethesda, MD.
      A new recording, “Trinity-Who-What-How and Creation,” in the series Orthodoxy as a Spiritual Discipline is now available at the link below.

      His Beatitude, +Metropolitan Jonah is conducting a series of talks regarding Orthodoxy as a Spiritual Discipline. The talks will be uploaded to the following Dropbox link and may be downloaded for personal review. You may share the links with friends and interested parties. If you do so, please email me [ ] the address of the added party, and they will be included in future update notices. Recordings of Sermons and previous talks may also be accessed through the appropriate links below.

      As new recording are acquired, a notice will be sent. If clicking on the link does not work for you, merely copy the link and paste it into the address frame in your browser. Some recordings are in .mp3 format and others in .m4a. They should be interchangeable on most audio players.

      Recordings of Orthodoxy as a Spiritual Discipline are available at the following link:

      Recordings of Sermons are available at the following link:

      Recordings of Holy Orthodox Scripture Study First Corinthians are available at the following link:

      Please see email embedded in paragraph above to join update list for future sound files.

  8. The OCA will do fine and will not disappear
    and the faithful Orthodox will do fine and will not disappear…… just not the latter in the former.

  9. Voices cry out for justice while Complacency shouts, “Shut up!”
    Disappearance looks like desiccation while in process.
    Graveyard whistlers pump up the volume.
    Repentance is a no-show.
    No tithes to the OCA.

  10. Francis Frost says

    Once again, Mr Michaelopoulos launches into a screed against the OCA, replete with mis-statements of fact and internal inconsistencies.

    Mr Michaelopoulos declared that the restriction placed on Metropolitan Jonah is somehow unprecedented and inappropriate. In fact, the ROCOR placed similar and more stringent restrictions on its own Bishop Jerome during the controversy over its western rite parishes. A copy of the ROCOR Synodal decision can be read on the ROCOR web-site.

    As Bishop Tikhon has previously stated, Metropolitan Jonah has not been released from the OCA, because there has been no request for his transfer. Unless, George can produce such a request, then the matter stands as is.

    The problem for Metropolitan Jonah is that he wants to work for the ROCOR; but be paid by the OCA. The reason for that is simple. The ROCOR has no means to pay him or maintain him in the manner to which he is accustomed.

    This fact is demonstrated by a recent discussion on the Yahoo Orthodox Forum:

    On 8/13/2013 11:09 PM, Alexander Lebedeff wrote:
    (Of course, frankly, no priest in the ROCOR receives anything similar to
    a compensation package like that — lots of them serve faithfully for
    $500-$600 a month, with no housing allowance and no health insurance.
    And– the ROCOR has no Pension Plan).

    As I have stated before, the OCA’s autocephaly was never meant to be a final outcome; but rather a stepping stone to a united Orthodox Church in the Americas. Can Mr Michaelopoulos produce a single statement from the founders of the OCA or its Holy Synod in which there was a demand for the other jurisdictions to submit to the OCA? No, of course not.

    In fact, Metropolitan Theodosius stated on more than one occasion that the OCA would surrender its autocephaly to a united Orthodox church in America.

    We might note that the Chambesy process and the operation of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops were agreed to by all of the autocephalous churches, including the MP. The OCA is fully represented in the ACOB and its operations.

    Mr Michaelopoulos claims to be an ardent defender of the OCA’s prerogatives as a local “territorial” church. He fails to note, however, that the primary reason for Metropolitan Jonah’s retirement was Metropolitan Jonah’s offer to surrender the OCA’s autocephaly to the MP without the consent of the OCA’s Holy Synod.

    As regards the “prayer” with Anglicans at Syosett, it is well known that Fr. Chad has been very active for many years in leading Anglicans / Episcopalians into Orthodoxy. Has it not occurred to you that this prayer was an outreach to potential converts?

    These endless strawman arguments are increasingly tiring and silly.

    Francis Frost

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mr Frost, it’s been said that in certain Reformed denominations one can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a straw man. You’ve hit several.

      1. I do not engage in screeds against the OCA. I’m in the OCA. I criticize it where it needs to be criticized. In this I’m in the fine company of many more luminous OCA priests and hierarchs than myself.

      2. The strictures against Bishop Jerome Shaw were because of many stated and enumerated actions committed by His Grace that were objectionable. To date, there have been no factual arguments made against His Beatitude. The calumnies were quickly taken down. As such, we are left with “airy nothings.”

      3. As opposed to Bp Jerome (who is an Auxiliary bishop), Metropolitan Jonah was a sitting, diocesan Ordinary. Moreover, the action which led to his defenestration was completely immoral and uncanonical. The Ordinaries of the OCA met in secret to discuss his removal. That is against all canonical norms of the Orthodox Church and the plain statutory language of the OCA>

      4. How do you know that Metropolitan Jonah “wants to work for ROCOR but be paid by the OCA”? Do you have proof of that. His Beatitude wants to be released, pure and simple.

      5. I concede your point that the OCA has not demanded the subjugation of the other jurisdictions to it. I don’t believe I ever said that they should (even though as an autocephalous Church the OCA has the right to demand such subjugation).

      6. The ACOB process is an argument for another day. For now, I will just state that it is devolving into irrelevance and that the initial criticism made by myself and others –that it was nothing but a stalking horse to derail authentic American autocephaly–is now becoming increasingly evident to the majority of the non-EP bishops who sit on it. It’s an unserious enterprise and the non-EP bishops are basically along for the ride.

      7. I made no mention of Fr Chad Hatfield. Personally, I think he’s a fine man and probably the only conservative/traditionalist stalwart left at St Vlad’s. Among all the straw men you say I’ve created, I don’t know where you came up with this one.

    • Frank says;
      “The problem for Metropolitan Jonah is that he wants to work for the ROCOR; but be paid by the OCA. The reason for that is simple. The ROCOR has no means to pay him or maintain him in the manner to which he is accustomed.”

      Oh no, I’m sure he would willingly work for ROCOR without the payment, but as you said ROCOR won’t take him if they can’t pay him. I personally think he would do fine on his own and would pay for himself if he could freely work, but whatever he brings in a percentage goes to the OCA-unless of course people pledge to Holy Archangels-that goes only his ministry.

      “In fact, Metropolitan Theodosius stated on more than one occasion that the OCA would surrender its autocephaly to a united Orthodox church in America.”
      He may indeed have said that, but you’ve got to convince Carl and his ilk to give it up. The way some people talk on this blog alone leads me to believe the OCA itself has become the goal. Do you think Mr. Frost that the OCA bishops would step down for a united Orthodoxy where the OCA was only a sideline player? This is exactly what I see happening. . . .

      “that the primary reason for Metropolitan Jonah’s retirement was Metropolitan Jonah’s offer to surrender the OCA’s autocephaly to the MP without the consent of the OCA’s Holy Synod.”

      This most certainly was not the reason he stepped down. He never offered-first off. It had more to do with the blame of rape and the slow but eventual death of his sister.

      I like Fr. Chad . . . nuff said.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Collette, if I might add, it’s long been known that Kishkovsky has long sought to bring the OCA under the omorphor of Constantinople. Some of the professors at SVS are likewise making side-bets with the Phanar against the day in which Lambrianides succeeds Bartholomew as EP. In fact, several months ago a certain luminary from SVS went to Istanbul to talk about the possibility of getting SVS placed under C’pole. This was very hush-hush. (Certain professors at SVS really like Lambrianides.) That Jonah was willing to “reimagine” autocephaly (probably under Moscow) and that’s why they got rid of him is a red herring as others in the OCA (like Theodosius, as stated) were willing to place a truly territorial American church under Arb Iakovos.

        That being said, the hypocrisy regarding the jealousy with which the OCA’s autocephaly is protected is astounding. Two of Jonah’s most vociferous critics on the Synod, Archbishops Nathanael and Nikon (two of “The Appalled Four”) are anything but consistent about the OCA’s supposed autocephaly. For one thing, they don’t adhere to the idea of territoriality. They are mini-Metropolitans governing dioceses that span the North American continent (like the OCA). Second, they give nothing from their ethnic eparchies to Syosset, letting the real territorial dioceses carry the financial burden. Third, it’s long been known that Nathanael would have jumped at the chance to join the Romanian episcopate of the OCA with the Romanian patriarchal archdiocese. The only thing that stopped him was that Bucharest would never let him be Primate of the erstwhile “maximally autonomous Romanian archdiocese.”

  11. Thomas Jones says


    No one at SVS wants to go under Istanbul. The OCA will stand until all the Orthodox bishops (canonical) in N. Am. form another autocephalous church where everyone signs on. This won’t happen and + Bart isn’t about to give anything up. Even Prof. Meyendorff at SVS who likes Lambrides would never sell out the OCA. Fr. Behr won’t. Fr. Chad won’t. So, checkmate. Very shortly, the OCA will come into some very big money from an anonymous donor. More well-educated priests, more missions and the Greeks an Antiochians can go suck eggs.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Far from checkmate. You didn’t name all the luminaries at SVS or those associated with it.

    • Really? Not Really says

      Very shortly, the OCA will come into some very big money from an anonymous donor.

      They’ll need it, since the the village of Syosset came out with pitchforks to put the kabosh on the ridiculous cell tower idea. When you need to lease your multi-million dollar property to put a 100 ft. cell tower on it, it can only spell one thing: DESPERATION.

      Maybe they can open a kool-aid stand? They certainly seem to enjoy drinking it!

    • Bruce W. Trakas says

      “…and the Greeks and Antiochians can go suck eggs.”


      You really didn’t need that second last sentence, Thomas Jones. That attitude impeeds the progress of our Holy Orthodoxy on the North American continent.

      So you expect to see an end to the OCA’s 34 years of declining membership, throughout 79% of the period of its claimed “autocephaly,” thanks to a donation of “some very big money?” How much is that “big money,” $2 million like the Dwayne Andreas/Archer-Daniels-Midland grants, which the OCA substantially squandered? I submit the OCA doesn’t know what is “big money.” The budget of “The Autocephalos Orthodox Church in America,” is 8% of the National Ministries budget of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, one of the churches you wish to “suck eggs.” Will the OCA’s membership increase? And you’re pleased that more garage and store front missions will emerge for 7-10 parishioners each, with parish priests having to work secular jobs to feed themselves and their families, contrary to scripture? And do you expect that the donation will enable the OCA to develop an episcopate to fill its incredibly voluminous number of vacant diocesan sees?

      The OCA’s mailing list is 20% of the GOAA’s, which experienced a 24% increase during the first decade of this millennium; a 40,000 person increase, 7,000 more than the OCA has on its total mailing list! (And the OCA’s mailing list includes Canada and Mexico; the GOAA’s does not.)

      The institutional dysfunction of the OCA is yet another symptom of why North America needs unified ecclesial administration. Despite its administrative weaknesses, the OCA has much to contribute to a unified Eastern Orthodox Christian Church in North America.

      I don’t like slamming such a venerable church as the OCA–its priests and pious faithful, its fine seminaries–which has produced our Saints of North America, among many other marks of holiness, but I am being critical of the attitude expressed in Thomas Jones’ post, to promote the fact situation; because attitudes such as those expressed in the quote at the top of my post, must cease in order to enable the building up of Orthodox Christianity in North America.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Thank you for rebuking Mr Jones with some interesting perspectives vis-à-vis the GOA’s budget. When I heard “big money…soon” the first thought that popped into my mind as well as ADM (which was squandered).

        • George,

          The ADM money was given to + Theodosius and RSK to open doors in Russia to sell their seed. Once Communism fell (1989-1991), ADM wanted to get it’s seed into Russia and viewed the ROC as a way to do this. ADM also knew that in Russia, “greasing palms” was the way to get things done. Therefore, the monies given to + Theodosius and RSK. RSK being the agent to get this done. Well, RSK decided to keep most of the money and made a half-hearted attempt to open doors for ADM. There you have it.

          • Tom Jones (September 9, 2013 at 10:39 am) says:

            ‘The ADM money was given to + Theodosius and RSK to open doors in Russia to sell their seed. Once Communism fell (1989-1991), ADM wanted to get it’s seed into Russia and viewed the ROC as a way to do this. ADM also knew that in Russia, “greasing palms” was the way to get things done. Therefore, the monies given to + Theodosius and RSK. RSK being the agent to get this done. Well, RSK decided to keep most of the money and made a half-hearted attempt to open doors for ADM. There you have it.’


            No, we DON’T have it there, and neither does ‘Tom Jones’ — whoever THAT is.

            ‘Tom Jones’ is seriously misinformed. His words here are libelous and probably actionable in civil law.

            It would be a good idea for ‘Tom Jones’ to apologize for making these false accusations and to retract them.

          • Bruce W. Trakas says

            Most of the “ADA” funds were secured through grant application processes. The grants were awarded to the OCA for the construction of a conference center in Moscow, which was never constructed. The grant funds were initially received into a bank account for the “Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Metropolia.” You’ll recall that in the event Mr. Andreas would visit Moscow and the “conference center” he thought he had donated, a bronze sign was secured with the name “Dwayne Andreas Conference Center” emblazoned upon it, to be installed, if necessary, upon the offices of Jonathon Russin, the OCA legal counsel’s Moscow office, which adjoined the St. Catherine Representation Church. (This was one of the more humorous actions uncovered about the financial scandal.)

      • Bruce,

        The GOA has money, but is dying. They don’t have priests. The average age of GOA priests is over 80 yrs. of age. The OCA has many well-educated priests. The GOA wants to tap more & more OCA priests to keep parishes open. Holy Cross is in shambles with bitter infighting and negativism. What a shame. The Antiochians are reverting to an Arab church of 1930. Where do you think American Orthodoxy will flourish?

        • Bruce W. Trakas says


          The GOAA is not dying, didn’t you see the mailing list figures I wrote of above? The GOAA mailing list increased by 24% between 1998 and 2010, a 40,000 person increase. We’re not doing too bad, but of course, we should be doing much better.

          I don’t know what it is, but “the average age” of a Greek Orthodox priest cannot be “over 80.” That would mean that most of the priests are between ages 70 to 90. I’m somewhat involved in metropolis affairs and do not see that any of the active priests are near age 80 (a few are in their 70’s); among 51 GOAA parishes. Though I had seen data to indicate that GOAA priests are older generally speaking. That’s one reason why the “Orthodox Health Plan” is so costly. This data also indicated that OCA priests tend to be younger than the GOAA priests.

          I haven’t heard of significant problems at Holy Cross for some time now. From what I’ve heard, I think Fr. Nick Triatafilou’s Presidency has brought stability to the school over the past decade.

          I seriously believe Orthodoxy will progress and grow on this continent not long after we combine the resources of our talent, and our financial resources, to enable our church with a united administrative structure. There are problems and assets among each of our ecclesial jurisdictions and together we will progress; “How good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell in unity.”

          I’ve been hearing for years that there is a shortage of priests, but again, I see no evidence of it. I don’t know of parishes without priests, and I know of several with two priests. I’ve seen some lag between a priest’s transfer and when his replacement is assigned, though.

          • I attend a GOA parish and am not Greek. My general impression of the GOA is that its parishes are generally large and quite vibrant – for Greek Americans. The struggle is how to minister to a substantially Greek/Greek-American flock while addressing the needs of non-Greeks. This is not an easy thing to do since many parishioners self identify as both Greek and Orthodox. In some ways, you have to really want to overlook the fact that Greek cultural continuity is often central to parish life, since those are often areas of less interest or in which one can feel a bit of an outsider. Another interesting point to note: some of the most dynamic parishes I have visited are within dioceses under the Ecumenical Patriarch including ACROD and the Jerusalem Vicariate (both examples I am thinking of are very much multi-ethnic). These seem to be existence proofs that non-Greek parishes could thrive and benefit from association with the GOA.

          • Bruce,

            Sam is right. The GOA is for all intent and purposes, spiritually dead. This is why they turn to Hellenism to try and preserve anything. Indeed, the average age of GOA clerics is around 80. Do your own research. And yes, Holy Cross in Brookline, MA is in dire need of real spiritual direction. The fighting within the faculty and administration for years has destroyed the school. It really is sad. The GOA parishes, overall, have become Hellenic Social Clubs. If you don’t have Greek roots, you are an outsider. Same with the Antiochians. They won’t say it to your face, but converts are 2nd class citizens. Any Orthodox jurisdiction under foreign bishops is more concerned with preserving their foreign identity than any American identity. You want to be under foreign bishops, even the Antiochians, deal with it.

            • Also Anonymous says

              Balderdash. As an Antiochian priest, I’ve never been treated as a 2nd class citizen.

              • MMMM, as a AOA priest that is certainly at least SOME truth to that….in my experience that is. Your mileage may vary. But yeah, for the MOST part it isn’t true.

            • Bruce W. Trakas says

              I respectfully, but adamantly disagree with the “Hellenic Social Club” characterization of GOAA parishes. It’s an old and now irrelevant criticism. When I was young, in the ’60’s, culture was a more dominant aspect of GOAA parish life. Most of today’s parishes are bastions of Holy Orthodox Christianity. The cultural aspect of parish life is MUCH DIMINISHED, if barely existent TODAY.

              My experience is in one metropolis in the Midwest. There are two of six parishes in my area, that conduct services mostly in Greek. Many, but not all parishes maintain Greek Schools, which are ancillary to parish activities, and for which tuition is charged. I recall recently when I was coordinating a program for presentation of new vestments to our parish priest on the occasion of an anniversary of his ordination, the Greek School Principal thanked me PROFUSLY for including her, as she frequently is not considered in parish-wide activities.

              Have you ever noticed the editorial spin in the national Greek-American publication, “The National Herald?” It is much disturbed by the position promotion of Hellenism has taken in the church.

              By the way, those parishes I noted that conduct services largely in Greek, would have been closed if it were not for the support of Greek immigrants. Even though their services are conducted in Greek primarily, the preaching and message of Holy Orthodoxy is what is overwhelmingly promoted, not the culture.

              Greek culture in parish life today is relegated to programs after church by the Greek School students, for Christmas and Greek Independence Day–mimicking among others, Bishop Germanos of Old Patras who proclaimed the revolt against the oppressive Moslem Turks after celebrating the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Annunciation of the Theotokos; and of course, our annual Grecian festivals, a major fundraiser—-gambling of all sorts is prohibited in my metropolis, no bingo, no raffles, NO GAMBLING. And of course, our festivals include church tours, which explain the church’s architecture and symbolism, thus teaching and projecting Orthodox Christianity to the greater neighborhood.

              During the past 30+ years, marriages have been overwhelmingly mixed. Who do you think comprise a major portion of today’s parish membership? Likewise with parish activity involvement, and leadership. Non-Greeks are a major and positive force among today’s parish workers in GOAA parishes.

              The priests that serve our communities, our metropolitans, and our Most Reverend Archbishop, are dedicated men of God, working “in the Vineyard of our Lord,” preaching the message of the Gospels of Jesus Christ and His saving grace!

              There may be some exceptions of which I am not aware; I haven’t been to all 535 parishes across the country (I’ve heard of parishes in mining towns that are declining, small, and not very active except for the celebration of the Divine Services), but I have visited many while on vacation; (my cousin’s GOAA parish in Tennessee, is composed of more than 75% non-Greeks, and half of the congregation joined Orthodoxy by conversion, not through marriage. My cousin’s husband is a former Baptist, and very active in the parish’s leadership).

              • Bruce W. Trakas says

                Yes, Peter, thank you for your positive comments and information, and for reminding me about a point I have failed to make earlier. It’s only on the internet these days that I run into OCA members who are aggressive “autocephaly fanatics,” who act as though Orthodox Christian holiness resides only in their OCA and they are the only devout Orthodox Christians in America, who assert that other jurisdictions, especially the GOAA, are “ethnic ghettos.” Like you, Peter, the OCA priests and laity I encounter in local pan-Orthodox activities are as reasonable to work with as anyone in the sister ecclesial jurisdictions, (if fact, they tend to be unnecessarily deferential to the GOAA, for various reasons that are not necessary to elaborate upon in this post). In my area of the Midwest, which is within the region of this diocese of the OCA, we’ve been blessed with exceptional OCA holy hierarchs, such as Archbishop Job and Archbishop John (Garclavs). These OCA clergy and laity share rational and hopefully more realistic dreams for administrative unity. My inter-Orthodox encounters are what give me hope for progress toward an administratively unified Eastern Orthodox Christian Church of North America.

                And thank you, Brother George, for enabling exposure of opposing views of Orthodox Christians in North America, about our attitudes and perceptions, which, upon deliberation, can lead to progress on matters in dispute. It would be beneficial for the hierarchs of ACOB to experience such opportunities for exchange of perceptions and views.

                • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

                  I can only speak for myself as a priest in the OCA, but I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. Upon my return to the Orthodox Church 22 years ago, I came back in through the OCA; believing, hoping they would and could be the means to unify the jurisdictions in the US and provide a witness for America to the Orthodox Church by playing down the ethnic, national piece, which I came to really resent as a first-generation born in the US son of Ukrainian and Belarussian immigrant parents. The ethnic, national piece was definitely played down in the OCA by comparison to my experience as a youth in a Ukrainian Orthodox parish comprised almost to a person of WWII refugee immigrants. I was encouraged by this.

                  The reality of what has transpired in the OCA these 10+ years has left me with a very stark realization that the OCA has squandered (I concede from a purely human perspecitve; God can do as He wills) any hope of and real chance to be the vehicle for a unified Orthodox Church in the US. Given this reality and that many of our clergy in the OCA are convert and have learned the history of the OCA from books and not by the personal experience of those who lived the soul-crushing agony of being in a precarious, questionably canonical body for over 40 years (i.e., the Metropolia as a result of the 4th Sobor, 1924), there is, I think, a much greater openness to consider and embrace the work of the AOCB.

                  Interaction with my brother OCA clergy (the younger set) would indicate the work toward a unified Orthodox Church in the US (as worked out by the AOCB, perhaps) trumps fealty to an organization which seems to have squandered its moment and opportunity to directly effect Orthodox unity. I do not make the above comments or observations lightly but with a heaviness of heart for what might have been. And, I acknowledge I may be off-base with some of my observations and the conclusions I attempt to draw from them. I am open to correction. May the effort made to unity and peace among brethren in the Faith be blessed at all levels, laity, clergy and hierarchs.

                  • I remember how excited people were in 1969/1970 when autocephaly was being discussed and I remember a transcendent moment when Father Alexander came to St.Stephen’s Cathedral in Philadelphia and spoke of what it would mean to be an independent Church in America. I too remember the fights between the “Bolshie” and the White Russians and I remember my grandmother yelling at Met.Leonty that we needed services in english because she was frightened her grandchildren would leave the Church. I hope we have not squandered this legacy and the hopeful dremas but it certainly looks that way. There were also horrible things happening back then,,secret lives and money being spent foolishly. That is the true sadness of the OCA.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    An excellent summation Fr. I pray that with repentance we can allow the Holy Spirit to reinvigorate us enough to pick up the pieces and go forward.

                  • M. Stankovich says


                    What a wonderful recollection! I have written several times of my own excitement – not necessarily with full comprehension of the meaning of the events unfolding – but it was the spirit of possibility that made such an impression me. And I believe I also mentioned, ironically enough, the “scolding” a group of us received from Met. Ireney after singing the liturgy celebrating the 50th anniversary of Fr. Florovsky’s ordination to the priesthood: “You must learn to speak Russian! The people complain the priests cannot speak Russian!” Go figure.

                    It is difficult for me to grasp this idea having “completely squandered” this legacy in a matter of 40-years, and it exacerbates for me the great sadness with which I relinquished my dream of seeing an independent Orthodox Church in America in my lifetime. I suspect I will never make “peace” with this, and so it goes… However, I have not lost my exceitement – and I would wish the same for you. For those who say to me and of me, “This is all nostalgia and hero worship,” I say to you, in reality, things were no better historically than they are now. But the “vision” was not driven by voices with “years” in the Church, but wisdom measured in decades and quarter-centuries. Archbishop Averky, of blessed memory, of Jordanville:

                    If we expect to withstand the world, it is first necessary to understand it and keep sensitively in mind that in this present age all that which carries the most holy and dear name of Orthodoxy is not in fact Orthodox. Rather, it is often ‘A fraudulent and usurped Orthodoxy’ which we must fear and eschew as if it were fire. Unlike this spurious faith, True Orthodoxy was given and must be received without novelty and nothing must be accepted as a teaching or practice of the Church which is contrary to the Holy Scriptures and the dogma of the Universal Church. We choose the way of fidelity to the true Faith and not the ‘modern way.’ We choose faithfulness to the true Church with all Her canons and dogmas which have been received and confirmed by the local and universal Councils. We choose the holy customs and traditions, the spiritual riches of that faith transmitted complete and entire to us from the Holy Apostles, the Holy Fathers of the Church, and the Christian heritage of our venerable ancestors. This alone is the faith of the true Orthodox, distinct from the counterfeit ‘orthodoxy’ invented by the Adversary. We receive only the Apostolic Faith, the Faith of the Fathers, the Orthodox Faith.

                    Before Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote Problems With Orthodoxy in America, he wrote:

                    When controversies are ignited and flare up in the Church, which happens and has happened often, alas, we inevitably hear appeals from Church circles to cease these controversies in the name of peace and love. Now, this would be cause for great joy, if only in these appeals there were no unmistakably different overtones: “Your controversy is not important. It is of interest to no one: only ‘specialists’ and ‘scholars’ can understand it, so all this argument leads only to seduction and harm.”

                    Fr. Schmemann was not a hero, he was not a prophet, he does not belong on a pedestal, and frankly, he could at times be quite unpleasant, but he IS a visionary with no rival as to what is wrong here.

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                My youngest son and I formally became catechumens in the local Greek Orthodox church this last Sunday, so I can make some observations.

                Our priest is 44 years old and is not Greek. He got a lot of his priestly education in Cyprus, and the Greeks here say that his Greek is not just very good, it is outstandingly fluent.

                I would say Vespers is about 90% English, Divine Liturgy about 80%. This suits me very well, because I like some Greek in the services, especially in various responses and such.

                The church I would say is much less “ethnic” than it was 30 years ago, but the festival is still a very big deal. Partly this is because in this city it has become a big part of the community landscape over the years. I would venture to say that the festival, as is true in many GOA parishes, is too heavily relied-upon for the church finances. (My “ethnicity” is Scots-English Presbyterian, about as far from Greek as it gets.)

                I can’t say too much about the priest, a truly devout man, with a young family; a very strong pastor and fine preacher, and exactly the opposite of some of the above criticisms. He is a big part of our decision, as is the fact that this is the parish church, only 1.5 miles away from home.

                I don’t much like the idea of “picking” a church. I’m becoming Orthodox. This is the local Orthodox church and it has fine qualities. It’s where I should go, “Greek” or not.

                • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

                  May God the Holy Trinity continue to guide your pilgrimage to Orthodoxy and grant you and your youngest son Χρόνια Πολλά !

            • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

              The chaff will be blown away. Everything that is not of God will be burned up in the purifying fire of His judgment; whether it is excessive emphasis placed on nationality, i.e., tribalism or something as basic as the arrogance, vanity and pride of O, so many Americans (which some may argue is a “cultural” trait; the cultus of ‘I’). I will stand (actually laid out prone with face pressed to the ground) before the dread judgment to give an account of my life and mine alone; as will each of us. Yes, we must by the grace of the Holy Spirit call out sin where it exists, but be O, so very careful of the beam in your eye. Left to our own devices as human beings, we will spin and spin and spin in circles. God permits it. Why? He has enough faith in us to know that at some point we will stop spinning, look up to the heavens and cry out with a heart full of pain, sorrow and remorse for our sins – please make it stop! I give up! Your will O God be done and if You will make me an instrument to do Your will. God is pleased to use us to accomplish His will; but where there is a shortage of the many He will gladly employ the one righteous man or woman to make it happen. Our Holy Tradition is replete with examples. As Gamaliel said to the sanhedrin – “And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God you cannot overthrow it – lest you even be found to fight against God.” (Acts 5:38ff)

            • Michael Bauman says

              Ted, don’t know where you live or what parishes you’ve attended, but by my experience you are flat out wrong for we Antiochians.

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                Considering that I had studied Orthodoxy and attended countless Orthodox services over the decades, and was a sort of an orthodox “fellow travelling” Presbyterian, I was surprised at my own complete ignorance when I first went to an Antiochian church about a year and a half ago, and came to learn about the whole history of the Evangelical Orthodox Church, Peter Gilchrist, Jack Sparks, and all of the many others who were received by Met. Phillip. All of that rather contemporary history had completely passed me by.

                The church was Holy Cross in Yakima, Washington, and it’s a beautiful new building. I happened in on the first day of Lent 2012 when I was in Yakima on a case. I loved the experience. It seemed very traditional to me, reminding me of Russian churches (I knew nothing of Antioch other than that the jurisdiction existed). There were no pews, and all the women wore scarves; beautiful singing. It was in talking to some folks afterwards that I heard a little bit about their origin in that EO movement. I read up on it a bit afterwards.

                Then a few months ago, not long before I stumbled upon George’s blog, I went to St. George Antiochian church in Portland, Or. I was in Vancouver, Wa., on a case, so saw there was an Antiochian church and wanted to look it over. St. George’s building is practically new, and really breathtakingly beautiful. Big, too, with transepts containing baptistry and choir, amazing icons; splendid all around! But there were pews, and no headscarves! And so I gained some more education, some of it here, about the Antiochians and their recent, and not-so-recent history.

                My basic personal reaction to these episodes was delight in finding this ancient jurisdiction, with this most interesting recent development in its reception of the EO, adding to my experience of the wondrous manifestations of the Church in the world.

                While I have become a catechumen in the GOA, as I reported elsewhere, this encounter with Antioch has played an ineffable part in getting me finally into the Church.

                As an aside, I was a student at Cal/Berkeley in 1966-67, and am near convinced I must have seen Jack Sparks at work baptizing folks in the fountain….I remember their presence on campus in those wild and interesting times.

        • Agreed regarding the average of priests. Here in the West, I have never seen an active 80 year old (or older) priest that isn’t retired. In the West the priests tend to be young to middle-aged; I see hundreds of them every year at clergy/laity conferences at the Saint Nicholas Ranch conference center in Dunlap, CA.

    • Money from who, George Soros?

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      Such expressions as “and the Greeks an Antiochians can go suck eggs” only perpetuate Orthodox disunity in North America. If the leaders of world Orthodoxy including the Patriarchate of Antioch decide that we should all unite under Constantinople, or Moscow or through any other form of organization, that is what we must do. The only way that unity will be achieved is if we all reach agreement based on discussions between equals and that agreement is approved by the rest of world Orthodoxy. Unity will not come by trying to force the rest of us to submit to the authority of the OCA, especially if even part of the matters discussed on this blog are true. Remember the rest of Orthodoxy does not recognize the autocephaly of the OCA. Unity must come first, autocephaly will come later when the American Church is mature enough for autocephaly. We are not there yet and will not be until we overcome the petty and un-Christian rivalries between jurisdictions and ethnic groups that divide us and begin to see ourselves as one Church.

      • Fr. Morris,

        You are wrong. No old country patriarch is going to relinquish their hold on American churches. We are their ATM. The talk about unity within the Episcopal Assembly is a big joke. The Greeks want to remain in control. Autocephaly will not come later under the Ep. Ass., but must be taken now. You and many others are delusional if you really think old country patriarchs will give up their ATM’s. This again, is why the OCA was the vision of SCOBA in 1961 and became a reality in 1970. Yet, the Greeks and Antiochians reneged. The Diptychs are not a form of church structure and never have been. Church structure is based on territorial integrity and one unified autocephalous church with it’s own bishops operating within that territory; without the influence or control of any foreign bishops. Orthodox Canon Law is clear, bishops only have authority within their own territory and never beyond it. Therefore, Moscow nor Istanbul, nor Damascus, nor any other foreign bishop has any authority in America. If the Ep. Ass. wants to really have substance, then on Sept. 17th when the bishops meet again in Chicago, they should issue a statement with ALL the signatures of ALL the bishops stating that they are now formulating a new autocephalous Orthodox Church in America called XXXXXXXXXXXXX. That after Jan. 1, 2014, this church will go into operation and all operational ties with foreign bishops will be severed. The new synod of bishops will then elect their own primate to lead with hdqrters at XXXXXXXXXXX. With this type of real action toward an independent, unified Orthodox Church in America, the Ep. Ass. remains a big joke.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Mr Jones, you place me in an uncomfortable position in that I agree with almost everything you say. Unfortunately, you do not see what blows to unity and territoriality have been dealt by the buffoonery of the OCA. And then I’m aghast at your trotting out the canons as a sledgehammer. Again, I agree with you but clearly some of your cheerleaders have a (how shall we say it?) “more expansive” views of those same canons when it comes to perversion?

        • Bruce W. Trakas says

          Just a few comments about Mr. Jones’ most recent post.

          The members of SCOBA had not been working toward an “autocephelos” church in the 1960’s, as stated by Fr. John Meyendorff, in one of his noted letters defending the secretly negotiated, unilaterally issued “Tomos of Autocephaly” by the Patriarchate of Moscow in 1970. SCOBA was working on, and did ask the Preconciliar Commission for the Holy and Great Synod (Council) of the Orthodox Church, meeting in Geneva in 1968, to authorize a “Provincial Synod” among the members of the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in the Americas. Unfortunately, the Preconciliar Commission refused to consider the matter, claiming their agenda was already full. Ironically, the Church of Russia conspired with the Church of Constantinople to preclude the commission’s consideration of the matter.

          Also, there is no reason why an administratively united Eastern Orthodox Christian Church of North America could not commit to continuation of spiritual and financial support of the Mother Churches.

        • Tom Jones,

          Your expectations and assumptions about the Episcopal Assembly are rather naive and defeatist. Your time is not God’s time and it has certainly taken a long time for Orthodoxy here to get into its present uncanonical dilemma. How long will it take for the charge of the Orthodox Patriarchates to be manifested here? Neither you nor I know for sure but can you present a better alternative to the E.A. process? Throwing stones and falling back on preconceived battle lines won’t help the process go forward. Right?

          Orthodoxy will benefit from a united voice from a united Church, I don’t think you would disagree with that obvious notion, so I choose to support the process, as slow and painstaking as it might be for impatient Americans who want answers to everything on their timetable. With such a massive endeavor, I would prefer the process to be prayerful, thoughtful and reasonable so that all can benefit.

          As an example, can you imagine the greater impact a united Orthodox Church here would speak to about the current persecution of Christians in the Middle East?

          The E.A. process may move faster in other parts of the world where the same movement is happening but that does not mean that if it happens here quickly or not that it is a bad idea; it is not. One Canonical Orthodox Church is the goal. Let us support it and not be obstacles to its goal, unless you simply want to continue the unorthodox turf wars we now suffer with.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          Even if the OCA were recognized as an autocephalous Church by the rest of Orthodoxy, which it is not, it still would be accountable to the rest of the Church. The consensus of the rest of Orthodoxy expressed in a Pan-Orthodox Council carries more authority than any autocephalous Church. In the case of the OCA its claims to be the American Orthodox Church are ridiculous because the majority of Orthodox Christians in the United States are not OCA. The autocephaly of the OCA was premature and achieved without consultation with the rest of American Orthodoxy. I am just as American as anyone in the OCA. My concern is godly Bishops. I do not care where they were born or whether or not they are under the authority of a Patriarchate located outside of the United States. Orthodoxy transcends nationality. The narrow nationalism that you express is philitism, which is an heresy. The OCA triumphalism that you express is one of the greatest barriers to the establishment of a truly united American Orthodox Church.

          • Dear Father John– May I make three counterpoints?

            Fr. John: In the case of the OCA its claims to be the American Orthodox Church are ridiculous because the majority of Orthodox Christians in the United States are not OCA.
            ME: If you look at the numbers, you would be 100% correct. OTOH, wasn’t the Church overwhelmingly under the Arians at one time?

            Fr John: The autocephaly of the OCA was premature and achieved without consultation with the rest of American Orthodoxy.
            ME: On the contrary; the OCA had consulted with everybody in SCOBA, including Metropolitan Philip and Archbishop Iakovos.

            Fr John: I am just as American as anyone in the OCA. My concern is godly Bishops. I do not care where they were born or whether or not they are under the authority of a Patriarchate located outside of the United States. Orthodoxy transcends nationality. The narrow nationalism that you express is philitism, which is an heresy.
            ME: If that was the case, the Church of Cyprus would have stayed with Antioch.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Carl, the essential word in Fr Peter’s eloquent indictment (IMHO) is “squandered.” We have truly squandered the promise of the Tomos. Just as we in the South we are presently squandering the legacy of the Venerable Dmitri.

              • I do not think that the OCA squandered that promise all by herself; the Greeks and the Antiochians helped too.

              • Serb from Joliet says


                What is the basis of your assertion that the legacy of Archbishop Dmitri is being squandered in DOS?

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Serb, I pray that I am wrong but permit me to explain my concerns.

                  1. We are now going on five years without a bishop. That’s unconscionable in any circumstances but it plainly violates the plain language of the OCA statutes.

                  2. Vacancies of this duration (and quantity) give credence to the Old World Patriarchates’ interminable criticism that “we aren’t mature enough for autocephaly.” In truth (and I ask this of all my readers), how are we to respond?

                  3. Example: two priests in the DOS have fallen asleep in the Lord. At neither funeral was a bishop presiding. In the first instance (in Atlanta), the GOA metropolitan (Alexios) volunteered to serve. He was rebuffed. Is this spiritually mature? Was such a “thanks, but no thanks” attitude conducive to building bridges with the other jurisdictions? As for the second priest who reposed, does the OCA not have a surfeit of retired bishops and/or auxiliary bishops who could have flown in and served?

                  4. I know of three missions which have opened in the interim (if there are more, please tell me) but then I’ve heard of one which closed and another Spanish-language one in Miami which is in danger of closing as well.

                  Let me expand on this last point. I know that missions closed during the pastorate of Vladika Dmitri even though far more opened. The trajectory as I’ve noted on several occasions was upward and onward since his enthronement as Bishop of the South. (And it really took off after Milos Konjevich came on board to offer his mighty help to Vladika.) But even when the odd mission closed, the fact that there was an engaged bishop in Dallas made a difference to people in the South. Case in point: in Tulsa Bp Dmitri opened a mission in 1985. After 2 years (I believe) it failed. Yet the reputation of His Eminence was such respect and love for him never died among those who were part of it. In our own case, one of the founders of the earlier mission told some of us to “go to Dallas” if we were really serious about opening up another mission. This was in 2002, fifteen years after the first mission closed. There were no bitter feelings about Dmitri but only the deepest respect and affection for him and some of this earlier group helped form the core of the later mission.

                  The overwhelming grief at his passing two years ago is testimony to the apostolic ministry of His Eminence.

                  Unless others from the South are willing come forward to give contrary testimony (and they are welcome to do so), it seems to me that that steady, apostolic hand is missing. Yes, we have a capable Chancellor and several Deans, yes, Milos is still part of that team, and yes we have dozens of dedicated, capable pastors, but it is only a bishop who can ordain men to the clergy, only a bishop who can be a pastor to the pastors, and only a bishop who guide the diocese. These charisms come from the Holy Spirit to the bishop and to no one else.

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says


              The case of Cyprus is a very good illustration of my point. In 431 the Church of Cyprus was united. In 1970 American Orthodoxy was not united. The Metropolia was only one of part of American Orthodoxy in 1970 as the OCA is today. Before we can have an autocpehalous Orthodox Church in America, we must first have a united American Orthodox Church. in every case when a Church has achieved autocephaly, as in the Balkans, the Orthodox have been united in one body. We are not united in one body here in America and were not in 1970. The first requirement for Orthodox unity is that we must learn to respect each other. Frankly, some of the attitudes expressed on this list do not motivate an Antiochian like myself to desire unity with people who attack our Metropolitan or look down on us as second rate Orthodox. I should add that I do not find that attitude here, but have very close relations with the local OCA clergy. Secondly, the Church of Cyprus was given its autocphaly by the Council of Chalcedon in 431, that is its status was recognized by the entire Orthodox Church meeting in Ecumenical Council. That has not been the case with the OCA, because outside of Moscow and a few Churches closely tied to Moscow, the majority of Orthodox Churches in the world do not recognize the autocephaly of the OCA. Even in the cases of the autocephalous Churches of the Balkans although Constantinople at first refused to recognize the new situation, Constantinople eventually came around and recognized the new status of Churches that declared their independence from Constantinople. Frankly, I really do not think that autocephaly is that important, but do believe that American Orthodox Churches should have self-rule status as we Antiochians do. Our Patriarchate does not interfere in the internal operation of our Archdiocese. Of course, we have our current status, because Metropolitan Philip is a strong leader who was willing to stand up to the Patriarchate to win self-rule for our Archdiocese. Because of Metropolitan Philip’s leadership and courage, we have the right to choose our own local Bishops here in America. We will see what happens when His Eminence retires or dies and we will need a new Metropolitan. That could lead to a whole series of problems if the Patriarchate does not recognize our right to participate in the election of a new Metropolitan or tries to divide us the way that Constantinople has divided the Greek Archdiocese.

              • No offense but the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America is not “self-ruled”. The self rule in that phrase means self ruled by Metripolitan Phillip. I deeply admire the Antiochians for their outreach and their publishing but I fear its going to get nasty if and when Met. Phillip does retire or die and the search for a successor begins. The good thing is that there are many fine Bishops in the Antiochian Archdiocese..Bishop Basil comes to mind as a fine Godly man but the “arab” lobby in Troy and here in Jacksonville are going to want a more ethnic favor. The Antiochian Archdiocese is becoming much more arabic due to immigration. I won’t bring up the audit issue but if one is ever done which is independent and transparents things could get very interesting.

                • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                  I agree with Metropolitan Philip on the organization of the Antiochian Archdiocese. We need unity. We do not need 9 different Bishops each doing their own thing. There will be an influx of Arabs as a result of the turmoil in the Middle East, but I believe that they will gravitate towards the parishes that already have a high percentage of recent immigrants. That means that they will probably only effect a few parishes. It may be necessary to start new Arabic speaking missions in places where the existing parish is totally English. However, even parishes with many recent immigrants still use mostly English in most places, because Arabs do not teach their children Arabic. Even people who speak fluent Arabic find literary Arabic hard to read. Some actually find English easier to read than literary Arabic. I have been an Antiochian Orthodox Priest for over 33 years and have never been to a Liturgy that was not mostly in English. When I was in seminary, I made an A in liturgical Arabic. I received a message from Metropolitan Philip telling me not to spend too much time studying Arabic, because it is a difficult language and it is much more important that I spend my time studying Orthodox theology. Besides Arab Christians have a very strong sense of hospitality and welcome non-Arabs in our parishes. Therefore, I am not worried that the new immigrants will radically change our Archdiocese. There are too many converts and second and third generation Arab Americans who do not understand Arabic for that to happen.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  I pray to God that Bp. Basil not be chosen Metropolitan. Archbishop Joseph is the most likely.

        • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

          I seriously doubt a unified Church in the USA would overlook the material needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world. If what you say about the Orthodox Churches overseas is true, my response to our fathers in Christ throughout the world is – continue the work of the EA toward a unified Church in the US and you will see a much greater showering of bounty upon your Churches as has not been seen. Why? Americans when given the opportunity to materially support those in genuine need will happily, gladly open their purses and wallets to meet the need. We will more eagerly and vocally come to the aid and support of our brethren oppressed by unfriendly governments and peoples; that’s who we are as Americans – we will not abide the bully. Right now, it seems as if no one is sure who should say what in response to for example, Syria? We all have the responsibility to speak and act in defense of our brethren and the least of these, but from whom should the response originate and carry forth? Enough with the division; the stakes are way too high!!! I get the impression at times some speak about the Church as if the Church in the US, once unified and self-governed, should be the leader of world Orthodoxy – perish the thought. May God grant us a unified Church with our place at the end of the table; not at the children’s table in the other room (where we are right now).

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          I could no disagree more. Our American Bishops should no do anything that could lead to a schism with the rest of Orthodoxy. For them to take unilateral action as you propose would do just that, put us in schism. We will have a canonical autocephaly only when the rest of Orthodoxy recognizes that we are united and ready for autocphaly. In the meantime, the Bishop’s Assembly is the organization approved by world Orthodoxy to bring unity to American Orthodoxy. The Bishop’s Assembly is far from a joke. I attended a meeting of the Pastoral Committee in May. Every jurisdiction was represented. We worked together as one body in Christ and made great progress in our discussions towards unifying the various practices of the different jurisdictions into conformity. I came away feeling more optimistic about Orthodox unity than any time during my 33 years in the priesthood. The first step towards autocephaly is unity, then and only then will American Orthodox be in a position to discuss autocephaly. However, whatever is done here must be subject to the world Orthodox Church not unilateral. This is very important. I for one am not willing to support unilateral American action that could put us in an uncanonical position of schism from the Mother Churches. Meanwhile, on the local level we all work together, at least where I am. Thus unity comes from two sources from the top through the Bishop’s Assembly, and from the bottom through local cooperation by priests and parishes of the different jurisdiction located in the same area. Eventually the two will meet and we will be one Church.

        • Mr. Jones–You are going too far. I do agree with others that unity (at least in shared goals, objectives, and organizational/administrative approach) must precede autocephaly. I am afraid that we will have to live with foreign bishops for a while longer. However, there are at the present many jurisdictions that do not follow an ethnic approach with an overseas hook, such as the Antiochian Archdiocese who is self-ruled, and the OCA that is home to Albanian, Bulgarian and Romanian dioceses. Patience is a virtue here. Of course, we must be alert and vigilant against any solution that takes us back in time and that does not point towards an administratively united, autocephalous local church in the New World. Proposing immediate action will only ensure that this outcome will be further delayed.

  12. I wish someone would just pull the Tomos and be done with it. Lord have mercy on us!

    • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

      As I understand it, the Tomos cannot be “pulled.” I believe it can be rendered null and void by mutual agreement of the respective Churches (at least that is how I understand the following – Article XIV – Effect of Non-Performance – In the event that this agreement (i.e., Tomos) shall become null and void and of no further force and effect for any cause whatever, the parties agree that they shall respectively remain in the status which each enjoyed prior to the execution of this agreement). Whatever may be the case, the Tomos will remain a part of the rather colorful history of how a nation, so diverse as the US navigated (often sitting upon the hull of capsized boat) to an ecclesiastically unified Orthodox Church in the US.

      • The OCA’s Tomos is legal, canonical, was done with the knowledge of everyone (not in secret or behind closed doors) and can’t be rescinded. + Hilarion, who was in NYC recently, clearly stated that he was talking for the Patriarch of Moscow. He said that the ROC has no interest in altering the status of the OCA in any way, shape or form. He said, some in America have shown this desire. The Tomos & OCA remain in tact and the OCA will continue to be a true “local church” in America. All others under foreign bishops (Antiochians included) are technically non-canonical.

        • George Michalopulos says

          There is an underlying presupposition here: that the Syosset Apparat won’t continue to embarrass itself and its Mother Church.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          Antiochians are most certainly not non-canonical. At the time that our Archdiocese was formed, agents of the pro-Soviet Living Church were using the American courts to gain control of the property of the American Orthodox Churches. That is why St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York is under Moscow. The Bishops of the Metropolia urged the local parishes to incorporate themselves as separate legal corporations and the various ethnic groups to seek ties with their mother Churches to protect themselves from falling into the hands of the Living Church. Antioch was blessed by Moscow, the group of Russian Bishops who became ROCOR, and the Bishops of the Metropolia to assume jurisdiction over the Arab speaking Orthodox Churches to avoid loosing their property to the Living Church. Bishops of ROCOR participated in the consecration of Metropolitan Anthony Bashir. Bishops of the Metropolia participated in the consecration of Metropolitan Samuel David. Making the claim that we and all other non-OCA Orthodox are non-canonical is offensive. If you truly want Orthodox unity in America recognize reality and accept the equality of the other Orthodox in America, because your OCA triumphalism does not further the cause of Orthodox unity in America.

          • OCA triumphalism is such a dead end these days. Only the most extreme in that jurisdiction still try to play that card. If the OCA was so triumphal can anyone explain why they are seated in the least senior position in the Episcopal Assembly? Every Orthodox Church here knows the OCA score. Time to deal with it, make the most of your inferior position and stop trying to flex your “autocephaly” muscles which have atrophied to a near terminal condition.

            If you are confused as to why the OCA has sunk to such a low ebb, you may want to read the amazing self-analysis of the OCA done by Fr. John Jillions, who, without knowing it, actually described the OCA to a tee. His “8” points reveal why people are no longer fooled by the OCA because these are the “8” points that describe how the OCA has and still operates.

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says

              Actually the place where the OCA is seated during meetings of the Bishop’s Assembly is correct according to the dyptychs. The OCA is the youngest autocephalous Orthodox Church and is therefore seated accordingly. Actually one can consider the placement of the OCA as a form of unoffficial recognition of the autocephalous status of the OCA.
              By the way it is no longer the Episcopal Assembly or EA, but the Bishop’s Assembly.

            • Amazed in the Midwest says

              OMG, I had to pick my jaw up from the floor after I read the Chancellor’s Diary linked to September 10. Does Fr Jillions realize how he perfectly pegged several members of the OCA Synod and himself with his bully call out?

              I am more amazed in the midwest than I ever thought I could be.

              • No, Amazed in the Midwest, he doesn’t have a clue. This is not the first time Fr. Jillions is blind to his hypocrisy which he continues to show in his beloved ‘diary’. Frankly, it’s down-right frightening when you think about it. Afterall, he is the Chancellor.

                “Verbal abuse”. “Constant intimidation.” “Undermining your work”. Really, Fr. Jillions? Really?! Maybe I need to resend my message to him reminding him of his hypocrisy and the double standards.

                ” And if the bully seems to win the day and prosper, we take refuge in the inner gift that “Thou hast put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Amen! And Amen! I have peace knowing that God’s justice will prevail and they will reap what they sow. Already there are small bits of evidence of this.

                May God’s mercy be abundant on Fr. Jillions, the Synod and other assorted priests.

                • Amazed in the Midwest says


                  I think Fr. Jillions must have taken his inspiration from Willy Wonka. Should be their new theme song because to him the OCA is a world of “pure imagination of his and +Benjamin’s creation.”

                  Yes indeed. No bullies in the OCA, just pure imagination.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          American can be too xeophobic. We all are descendants of people who came here from some place else. Even the Native American originally came here from Asia. I do not care where my Bishop was born. What is important is his spirituality not his ethnic background or where he was born. The Church is above ethnicism, including the American ethnicism that is expressed by the opposition to foreign born Bishops that some posts on this list express. The argument that we must have American born Bishops is a form of the heresy of philitism. I would rather have a holy Bishop who is an effective administrator who was born in a village in Lebanon, Syria, Russia, Greece or any other foreign country than an American born Bishop who is worldly and an ineffective administrator of his diocese.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            Well, I am the son and grandson of immigrants. When I say this, my wife objects, inasmuch as she had two Croatian immigrant grandparents, and she says that Canada doesn’t count!

            I insist that it does. Some people have no idea how hard it was for them to have come to this country, as foreign-born English-speaking British Columbians of the Presbyterian confession!

            Just because you’re a WASP doesn’t make it any easier. The native children mock you for saying “shedule” and “aboot”. Kids can be so cruel!

    • M. Stankovich says

      Mr. Papoutsis,

      You apparently missed the long, arduous, and humiliating task of the ROC under Patriarch Alexy II to rid itself of the secret everyone knew: by “implicitly stating that it was infested with Communists and KGB officers all [those] years to the its utter embarrassment.” You seriously need to go back and investigate because the climax was the revelation of documents, even by the Washington Post, that suggested that the Patriarch himself was associated with the government for years. He publicly repented for his “operational” contact, and in a 1991 interview to the news service Izvestia he stated:

      Defending one thing, it was necessary to give somewhere else. Were there any other organizations, or any other people among those who had to carry responsibility not only for themselves but for thousands of other fates, who in those years in the Soviet Union were not compelled to act likewise? Before those people, however, to whom the compromises, silence, forced passivity or expressions of loyalty permitted by the leaders of the church in those years caused pain, before these people, and not only before God, I ask forgiveness, understanding and prayers.”

      They canonized the Holy Family, they continue to identify and canonize the New Martyrs, and they will continue to make their amends. The idea that “the communists granted the Tomos to destablize the Russian Church” is ridiculous. I have been reading Russian Society and the Orthodox Church: Religion in Russia after Communism by Zoe Nixon, and recommend it. Likewise, there are many excellent historical accounts for you to examine.

      • Bishop Sergios says

        Dear Michael,

        Would Zoe Nixon (September 10, 10:19 PM post) be Zoe Knox?

        +Bishop Sergios

        • M. Stankovich says

          Bishop Sergios,

          εὐλόγειte ὁ κύριος!

          Zoe Nixon would indeed be Zoe Knox, unless you were dyslexic. In that case, they are, more or less, interchangeable. Unless you were you were Zoe Knox. Many thanks for the errata!

          • Is her book available at a reasonable price? I downloaded a sample and I really want to download the whole book into my Kindle. But, at $43.32 I am somewhat reluctant.

            • M. Stankovich says

              This book is Dr. Knox’s doctoral dissertation transformed into a volume for an academic press. This means it is “small sales volume,” but a particularly well documented (e.g. she reports in the intro having personally conducted 500+ interviews herself) scholarly work. Thus the price. I don’t know if you’re familiar with which is a digital document site – limited free, super by $9.95 per-month subscription. I noticed a bunch of articles by Dr. Knox that might speak to the issue. The book, however, is excellent.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        So Peter A. Papoutsis blames the Communists for not preventing the autocephaly? Is that it? Good NIGHT, Peter! That’s really kicky.
        I’ve never blamed the Greek Foreign Office for not allowing the EP to recognize that Tomos, either.. I understand their antipathy to anything coming from Russia.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          P. Papoutsis wrote in conclusion to one of ever-memorable Archbishop Gregory’s [critiques], “the OCA has less to worry about from Athens and alot more to worry about from Moscow.”
          Please don’t imagine I thought the OCA had ANYTHING to fear from the Greek Foreign Ofrfice which controls, in partnership with Turkey, the Ecumenical Patriarch’s public activities and utterances! What An Idea!
          All I said was that the MP is no more egregious in its activities than the EP!
          The MP was allowed by the powers that be in the Soviet Union to grant the OCA its autocephaly. This is indisputable. One may, indeed, speculate why. This does not make the Tomos to be a creation of the Soviet establishment, the KGB, etc., etc.
          This was such a huge, huge blow to the EP’s ecclesiastical and nationalistic ego, that it is no wonder that they remain fixed in horrified reaction to such “lese majeste!” I mean, all these decades and decades of ecumenical initiatives as “The Leader of the Orthodox World”, the “Primate of the Orthodox Church around the World”, the “Successor to the Apostle Andrew the FIRST-called,” Canon 28. Not only is the Russian Church larger, richer and more powerful than the Church of Constantinople, it’s also FREER. The Church of Constantinople was much better off, much more free, under the government of the (Muslim) Ottoman Sultans, than it is now under the dual, secular, control of Turkey and of the Greek Foreign Office. It’s not the Muslim Ottoman Sultan that closed Halki and deported ancient Greek Pontic colonies and decimated the monasteries and churches. We should pray for the EP, recognizing that he is an almost impotent prisoner in his own See whose public pronouncements to the choir about homosexuality, the ordinary sort of stuff one hears from Orthodox ambos and Sunday Schools around the world, are held to be, solely because of their rarity from THAT source, to be extraordinary expressions of Gospel Truth!.
          By the way, still nothing on the somewhat pressing issue of abortion What’s Your opinion on that?
          George! Do you think the current assembly of hierarchs will make a clear statement on abortion/murder? Or will they, too, console their consciences with some brave, brave, brave announcement that homosexual practices are sin and same-sex marriages are not to be added to the Book of Needs?

          • geo michalopulos says

            Your Grace, since your last paragraph was addressed to me, I’ll try to answer to the best of my ability.

            Personally, I don’t think the EA will address the issue of abortion/murder. The reason of course is because the GOA continues to be a drag on the EA in this matter. And that saddens me. However I have come to the conclusion that it is not the Phanar which is the author of the GOA’s inactivity on this matter but the worldly elite in the person of the Archons/Leadership 100 instead.

            Much of what you say about the relative freedom of Constantinople under the Sultans as opposed to the collusion between the Kemalist state and the Greek foreign office is probably right on the money. And of course the papalism that began under Meletius IV Metaxakis has been a most tragic error.

            Having said that I disagree with your categorization that the EP is not being forthright (and indeed quite brave) in the matter of the creeping ecclesiastical sanction of homosexuality. If anything, Bartholomew could have gotten great kudos from the world if he espoused the opposite, something along the lines of “the Church is the Church but the culture is the culture.”

            I’m going to give this one to the Phanar. As for the EA, I’ll be pleasantly surprised if anything positive happens.

            On another topic: earlier I said that 17% of the US-based bishops won’t be there, the reality is that the 1/3 of the entire North American episcopate won’t be there. Let me say at the outset that having listened to the rationale that 23 of those bishops are in Central America and Canada and they want their own conference (which I agree with btw), the fact remains that they are still “canonically” part of the North American Assembly. Because we have yoked ourselves to the Chambessy process, unless and until that day in which they receive official blessing to form their own conferences (or join another), they should be in Chicago.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            Mr. Papoutsis, the link you provided only reports on CLAIMS that Metropolitan Nikodim of Blessed Memory was an agent of the KGB, but neither the link nor the book by the German author, Besier, demonstrates or proves that he was.
            May God Almight, the All-Holy Trinity always be with you! This is like referencing something by Apostolos Makrakis to prove that the EP is a Freemason!!!!!
            To me, by the way, the absence of any discussion of Freemasonry and its ubiquity in the Oriental Patriarchates is remarkable, but understanable!!!!

            • M. Stankovich says


              I would suggest to that you every hierarch in the Russian Orthodox Church, of necessity, had an “operational” relationship with the Soviet government. This is significantly differently than saying they were collaborators with the Soviet government. The former was a “game” where everything was subject to documentation and approval (e.g. number of living monks in monasteries, number of deceased monks in a given period, number of visitors, number of novices, number of baptisms in the parishes, deaths in the parishes, accounting of precious metals, art, etc.). This is different than revealing those secretly teaching children, those organizing gatherings for VOA/BBC religious broadcasts, anything that could be construed as speaking against the government (even moral injustice), and engaging in activities strictly forbidden by law.

              Fr. Florovsky made note of an odd document issued in 1948 following an “ecumenical conference” in Moscow, from which he quotes:

              The main point made in the report is an utter separation of the field of the church and the state: “the soul” and “the body. ‘For a Christian there is no higher authority than God’ and a characteristic qualification is added: ‘yes, but only in the realm of the soul and spirit, but not in the material sphere, there is a complete sovereignty of the state, responsible before God.’ It is a strange remark indeed when we recall that the state in question is a Godless state. But the thought is quite clear: Christian principles have no application ‘in the material sphere.’ Moreover, we are informed on the next pages that principles of justice, equality, freedom are not Christian. They belong to an independent secular sphere exempt even from a moral judgment of the church. The church simply has nothing to do with the whole area of social and kindred problems. One particular point is stressed: it is admitted that Christ had sent his apostles ‘to teach,’ but they have to teach ‘nations’ only, not the ‘rulers.’ Further, Christ suggested that his followers should avoid an immediate contact with evil. ‘If social injustice is evil— because the world lies in the evil—it is already a sign that it does not belong to our sphere.’ This enigmatic phrase has to mean apparently that Christians should not fight evil, but only do good.

              The point, Peter, is that the hierarchs who “resign[ed] the church’s responsibility for “the material sphere” formed an “operational relationship” with the Soviet government, but those hierarchs who revealed those clergy who did not, in actuality resign, were the “collaborators.” And the difference between these two are the difference between those who stand on the right hand of the Lord, and those on His left. I, for one, Peter, believe this is best left to the Just Judge.

              The 2-volume set The Russian Church Under the Soviet Regime by Dimitry Pospielovsky is available from the SVS Bookstore for $8.50 – it must be going out-of-print!

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says


              I don’t disagree with you in principle, but the KGB had and still have a plan to attack us. Just because the Soviet Union is gone, does not mean the Comunists are gone. The ROCOR were right to distrust Moscow, and I am very, VERY weary as to the 2007 reunification. I would still sleep with one eye open with Moscow. They are NOT to be underestimated.


            • George Michalopulos says

              Peter, while I believe one should always sleep with one eye open, I have a hard time believing the idea that Russia has imperial designs on the US. 30 years ago, different. Then the USSR had over 300,000,000 people and we had 200,000,000. They had a larger army and more nuclear warheads. Plus they were the vanguard of an imperialistic system known as Marxism-Leninism, which you are 100% correct, infiltrated many Western institutions (esp our universities, media, and religion).

              Now, not so much. The US has over 300,000,000 people, Russia is down to 145,000,000. They do have more nuclear material I gather but imperialism? I don’t see it. Short of exercising the prerogatives of great powers (such as bullying nearby smaller nations), I just don’t see how Russia could pull off a conquest of Europe or why it would want to.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Dr S, thanks for mentioning this book. I’ve never heard of it. I’ll look into buying it.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              I think Peter (and he’s not the only one) is extremely gullible relative to the claims made by those veterans of the KGB who made a career of “exposing’ the wickedness of religion in general and of the Russian Church in particular. Many of them, but not all, were out of a job after glasnost and the re-configuration of the KGB into the FSB, but one thing remains constant; the Church and its leaders are frauds, drugging the rank and file of the Church’s membership. Some now make a good living, exposing the Church even well into this century. And there are those who swallow their own ‘disinformatsia” now. But I really relish the stupidity and naivete of those who brandish the nicknames used by investigators to apply to their invormants and everyone they discuss in their investigative files. Even now, if a FSB agent were to report the exchange of views between George M. and M. Stankovich, they would be assigned pseudonyms like, o “AURORA” and “Chopin.” I bet Mr. Papoutsis’s eyes were as big as saucer’s when he read the recent revelations of FSB, KGB and CIA, all professional practioners of deceit and deception. Undoubtedly there were toadish mediocrities forced on the Church, such as Filaret Denyseno of Kiev’ After glasnost, Patriarch Alexi started to clean house and he began with Denysenko (but not only) He managed to get the man deposed, but the U.S. and people like Bush’s ambassador to Ukiraine cultivated him. However the Patriarch’s housecleaning was called to a halt when he started to go after Pitirim. Nevertheless, no more new plants have been made. Hey, you can find someone from Russia to claim ANYTHING about the Church. One senior Priest’s wife, visiting America, told me, recklessly and foolishly in the 1980s:. “KGB? There are more of them on Geary Street than there ever were on Chisty Pereulok”
              In other words, you’re wasting your time and talent on those exposes.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Your Grace, I think you’re on to something here. I’ve heard that FBI files when read with an unfiltered eye can be quite ridiculous. Also, you raise an interesting point I hadn’t thought of: that the continued harping on the KGB infiltration of the ROC is done in order to continue the Marxist program to undermine religion in general. This would explain the Neocon/Neoliberal insistence on continuing to view everything in Russia today as nefarious. Sen McCain for example falls into this trap as do the Neocons at The Weekly Standard and the Neoliberals at The New Republic. Pat Buchanan has called this conglomeration The War Party. Although not anti-religious per se, they derive a lot of their intellectual firepower from anti-religious people who hate Christianity as a rule and the Russian Orthodox Church in particular.

            • On Patriarch Nikodim and the quality of his communism, contact Dr. John Dunlop at the Hoover Institution in California who wrote a monograph on him that was basically passed around both OCA and ROCOR circles. For more information on publications mentioned by M. Stankovic below, see


            • anonymus per Scorilo says

              To understand the magnitude of the Soviet infiltration into the Russian Church, there is an account told by Patriarch Nicodemus of Romania upon coming back from a visit to Moscow in 1946.

              Patriarch Nicodemus met the Russian Patriarch Alexey, and had discussions with him and 15 other hierarchs in the Grand Hall of the Holy Synod. At the end of the discussion, after embracing his brother bishops the Romanian Patriarch left, and soon after he remembered he forgot his prayer rope. He went quickly back to the Hall, to find the Russian hierarchs who participated in the discussions taking off their beards and their mustaches. They were all KGB agents !!!

              This was told to Corneliu Coposu, a Romanian politician who spent 20 years in Communist prisons, and who recounts it in the video below (in Romanian):


          • Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

            I appreciate M. Stankovich’s thoughtful quotation from Fr. Florovsky on the Soviet view of the role of the Church:

            “The main point made in the report is an utter separation of the field of the church and the state: “the soul” and “the body. ‘For a Christian there is no higher authority than God’ and a characteristic qualification is added: ‘yes, but only in the realm of the soul and spirit, but not in the material sphere, there is a complete sovereignty of the state, responsible before God.’ It is a strange remark indeed when we recall that the state in question is a Godless state. But the thought is quite clear: Christian principles have no application ‘in the material sphere.’ Moreover, we are informed on the next pages that principles of justice, equality, freedom are not Christian. They belong to an independent secular sphere exempt even from a moral judgment of the church. The church simply has nothing to do with the whole area of social and kindred problems. One particular point is stressed: it is admitted that Christ had sent his apostles ‘to teach,’ but they have to teach ‘nations’ only, not the ‘rulers.’ Further, Christ suggested that his followers should avoid an immediate contact with evil. ‘If social injustice is evil— because the world lies in the evil—it is already a sign that it does not belong to our sphere.’ This enigmatic phrase has to mean apparently that Christians should not fight evil, but only do good.”

            But don’t these arguments about the limited role of the Church ironically parallel the practice of some in the OCA and other jurisdictions who seem to discourage the involvement of the Church in the public sphere on the issue of marriage?

            I’m reminded of a passage in a history of the early Church by Fr. Alexander Schmemann where he remarks on the significance of the Christian Church placing the state implicitly within the Kingdom of God, rather than vice versa.

            Yours unworthily in Christ,


            • M. Stankovich says

              Professor Siewers,

              I had the opportunity to spend the day today with a Bishop who participated in the 2013 Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, and frankly I drew quite the opposite impression. I believe it is summarized in their first Official Document, 2013 Assembly Statement on Marriage and Sexuality, that quite directly opens

              We, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, representing millions of Orthodox Christians in the United States of America, Canada and Central America, express our deep concern over recent actions on the part of our respective governments and certain societal trends concerning the status of marriage in our countries, in particular the legalization of same-sex unions.

              I am encouraged by this statement. It is direct, it is decisive, and for a mixed, often divided group, it is unequivocal. And for us, it is progress.

            • Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

              Dear M. Stankovich,

              I wasn’t commenting on the Assembly of Bishops, but on how some in the American Church seem to feel the Church should not have a strong voice and role in the public square on this and other issues, due presumably to either libertarian or quietist views, which oddly parallel those of the Soviets in the good quotation you offered.

              Since we’re in agreement on this, let’s plan now on meeting up in the Orthodox contingent at the next March for Life and March for Marriage :).

              Yours unworthily in Christ,


      • George Osborne says

        “Holy Family?” I presume you means Christ Jesus, the Theotokos, and St. Joseph the Carpenter? Oh, I sorry, I suppose you meant the Romanovs. Sorry. I just don’t mentally apply that term to a bunch of Russian autocrats who died as Confessors in horrible circumstances. But “Holy Family”? Really??

        • George Michalopulos says

          I think Dr Stankovich may be correct here. Aren’t we all called to be holy? Does not the priest intone during the Anaphora “The holy things for the holy”?

          • George Osborne says

            That very correct, George. But we don’t use capitalization which implies a uniqueness, a one of a kind, a single category as in THE holy family, implying there are no others. That is why I referenced the family of the Incarnate Christ since it is worth of capitalization as completely and manifestly unique since it will never be duplicated under any circumstances.

            I do not deny the sancity of the Romanov’s as evidenced by their martyric death as Confessors, I just get a bit jaded when it seems to be implied that their deaths were in some way more important than the tens of thousands of others who suffered under the Soviets.

            Perhaps instead of the :holy things for the holy” we should think more in terms of being surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses.”

            Always best regards,

            • geo michalopulos says

              Mr Osborne, thank you for your critique. You are right: the usage of capital letters in describing the Holy Tsar-martyr and his family escaped me.

              And you are correct about the tens of thousands of other martyrs that suffered under Bolshevism. they should not be given short-shrift. Having said that, I believe that the Romanovs have been set up as exemplars of that great theomachy and that the suffering of all Christians behind the Iron Curtain will be remembered by their suffering as a type of hagiographic short-hand as it were.

              • In 1922, the Solovki Camp of Special Purpose, the first Russian concentration camp and a former Orthodox monastery, was established in the Solovki Islands in the White Sea. Eight metropolitans, twenty archbishops, and forty-seven bishops of the Orthodox Church died there, along with tens of thousands of the laity. Of these, 95,000 were put to death, executed by firing squad. Father Pavel Florensky was one of the New-martyrs of this particular period. My spiritual father visited this island and commented that as he walked through the forest, he could see the bones of the martyrs poking up through the moss and plants; his further comment was, “a very holy place.”

                In the first five years after the Bolshevik revolution, an English journalist estimated (underestimated?) that 28 bishops and 1,215 priests were executed. Recently released evidence indicates over 8,000 were killed in 1922 during the conflict over church valuables. This included people like the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna who was at this point a monastic. Along with her murder was Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich Romanov; the Princes Ioann Konstantinovich, Konstantin Konstantinovich, Igor Konstantinovich and Vladimir Pavlovich Paley; Grand Duke Sergei’s secretary, Fyodor Remez; and Varvara Yakovleva, a sister from the Grand Duchess Elizabeth’s convent.

        • Dear son of Jack,

          You are absolutely correct in pointing out that the Romanov New Martyrs and Confessors of the Soviet Yoke should not be called the Holy Family. We honor all the new martyrs of the Soviet Yoke, known and unknown..

          We are all called to martyrdom. May we accept it should it occur. Quite frankly, it may be my only hope given the life I have lived

          • Bruce Wm. Trakas says

            I think the Russian Imperial Family were given the title of “Holy Passion Bearers” upon their “recognition” as saints of the church.

            • George Michalopulos says

              That would be true of most martyrs I believe.

            • The MP officially considers the Romanovs to be passion bearers, those Orthodox who died a Christ-like death but who were not martyred for their faith.

              ROCOR canonized them as new martyrs, hence the common designation “Royal Martyrs”. This perhaps is indicative of a difference in appreciation of their sacrifice. Canonizing them as full martyrs could be seen as an endorsement of the institution of the Russian Imperial tradition. To kill a tsar is to kill God’s anointed minister whose calling was to rule over a Christian empire. Thus he would be seen as having died for his faith, the Orthodox faith, which anoints emperor’s as God’s servants with certain duties. A tsar murdered in order to destroy the monarchy now and forever would be martyred for his faith, which traditionally anoints monarchs, no less than someone who was martyred for undergoing the mysteries of baptism or matrimony or holy orders – – all martyred for their faith. After all, they were not just bystanders who happened to be Orthodox and died as Orthodox. The very reason for their execution was their status as royalty in an Orthodox monarchy which their executioners were seeking to destroy.

              In Russia itself, though many surely think of them as martyrs for the faith, this raises the issue of the relatives of Nicholas II and the question of who might be the rightful Orthodox ruler of Russia, an issue which might prudently be sidestepped at this time.

    • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

      I’m not sure,Peter,that the Carpatho Russians wanted independence per se.Originally,almost all of the Carpatho-Russians(or Rusyns)who had returned to Orthodoxy from the Unia,ended up as being Russophiles.Some,in fact,were both Russophile and pro-Soviet.Some of those who remained Uniate became Ukrainiophiles.Others ,who had lost their identity,tended to call themselves Slovaks or Hungarians.It’s like the Macedonians,there is the Bulgarian faction,the Serbian faction,those who have been Hellenised,and of course,those who say “none of the above.

  13. ? for George M says

    You mention Bp. Alexander Golitzin in your first paragraph. I am not aware that he had anything to do with the ouster of Jonah. People are irritated with him for other reasons. Could you elucidate your comment?

  14. Fr. Peter Dubinin says

    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ – The time is well past for any of us to cling to those things which continue to divide and antagonize us and resolve the administrative, self-imposed obstacles to full administrative, ecclesial unity as Orthodox Christians and Churches in the USA. Yes, there are points and issues of genuine concern, and there always will be, as the work of the EA continues to move at a snail’s pace (snail’s pace is not necessarily a bad thing), but it seems to me the work of the EA, as of today, is the best hope we have to realize our goal of a unified Church. Autocephaly will probably not happen in my lifetime; I’ve come to grips with this probability. But of this I’m sure, the work of our Savior will not be furthered by any of us “sniping” each other, our Churches, our clergy and hierarchs. Orthodox Christians have always been a feisty bunch; that’s OK, but never lose sight of respect for each other as those created in the image and likeness as well as for the offices the ordained hold by the work of the Holy Spirit (as opposed to any merit on the part of the office holder; each of us ordained to Holy Office must know with each passing day how unworthy any of us is to hold so sacred an office). If as a priest I end up in a territory that comes under a bishop with whom I am not familiar, so be it. I will honor and respect the bishop as my father in Christ. Did not the Apostle Paul acknowledge his error when rebuked with a smack across the face for speaking ill of and to God’s ordained; even though one could argue the ordained did not deserve respect (Acts 23:1-4). For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ… We are members together of the one body of Christ, His Holy Church; regardless of jurisdiction. Almost seems we lack this awareness; almost seems as if we think the other (i.e., Greek, Russian, OCA…) is not even a Christian. God forbid! Almost seems as if we are placing way too much confidence in our own ability to guide the Church through the tumultuous waters and none in the grace and power of the Holy Spirit who will make it so in response to those who worshipfully offer it and our circumstances up to God as offering – Thy will O God be done, not mine. If our fathers in Christ throughout the world deem it good and right for the EA to engage the work of unification (don’t forget the EA at least keeps the process connected to this territory in some way) then count me in. As St. Paul admonishes us, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Joyous Feast!

    • Michael Bauman says

      Yes, Father Peter, we seem to love Orthodoxy, but hate a selected list of fellow Orthodox. Very strange.

      I have friends in many Orthodox jurisdiction: Serbia, ROCOR, OCA, GOA, Patriarchal Bulgarian even though I’m Antiochian. I have friends who have experienced difficulties of one kind and another in each of those jurisdictions. That is life in this world. I am just grateful to be in the Church, to partake in the sacraments and the all of the rest. We are called to bear one another’s burdens and be known by our love for one another and a life that is different from the world.

      I have to ask myself all the time why I don’t do that?

      BTW in case you haven’t seen it Pat. Bartholomew came out with a pretty strong statement condemning homosexual activity and so-called marriage. Followed right along with St. Paul in Romans.

      Speaking as one whose personal desires came up against a specific directive of my bishop not long ago and who had to make the decision to submit in humility despite my disagreement or separate from the Church, I can tell you, humility and obedience leads to joy and pride leads to death.

      Its that simple folks.

      • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

        I read the news reports but could not find the statement itself. Evenso, it is good to hear such clarity on the issue from His All Holiness. I am pleased as well to read reports of His Holiness Kyril making similar statements. We will continue to receive ridicule and censure from those outside the household of faith; let us at least be clear on that for which we are ridiculed and censured.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Scarasm on: But Peter you just don’t understand, we love all the folks who are really Orthodox. Its the fake Orthodox we object to. Scarasm off

        “To hate all but the right folks is an old established rule”. It just isn’t Christian

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          You mean like the ones who like to interpret canon and who are not Bishops? Like the one who hate the revised calendar and of us who follow it? You mean like the ones who hate pews and organs but could care less about the Gospel? Yeah, I know what you mean. Oh well.


          • Michael Bauman says

            It is a bit like the Protestants. Inherent in our fallen human nature is the distrust of “the other”. The Church is beyond that, our sinfulness? Not so much

    • Hmmm . . . I have a modest proposal for those who deeply desire autocephaly for the American church and see it as some great tragedy that we are not administratively organized:

      Let’s clean up our canonical practices and see what happens. Let’s stop kneeling on Sundays in violation of canon law. Let’s have women cover their heads as commanded by the Apostle Paul. Let’s observe the one calendar adopted by the Church and not a hybrid one, illegitimately adopted and composed of the Church calendar crossed with a calendar condemned by a local council of the Church as heretical. Let’s create our own Orthodox culture in America and cease piggybacking on Protestants and Catholics. Let’s cease praying with heretics and schismatics. Let’s abide in the canonical norms in our daily and weekly practices.

      You know what might miraculously occur if this happened? Our differences separating us from each other might disappear and the askesis exercised might make administrative unity a foregone conclusion.

      Or maybe we can just continue to be lax and selfish in different ways and lament the lack of canonicity in our jurisdictional predicament while embracing this same lack in our lives. I mean really, if we don’t take the uniqueness of Orthodoxy as THE Church seriously, why should we expect success in evangelization or unity?

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        Sure, but I would hate to miss the weddings of my nieces and nephews, and eventually some of my grandchildren, not to mention those of my friends’ children and grandchildren.

        I’d have to miss a lot of funerals, and not speak at any, something I’ve had the honor, and pain, of doing many times, of people whom I have loved and respected.

        But then I’ll just tell these Christian folk and family that now that I’m Orthodox, I won’t pray with them, schismatics and heretics all (or just heterodox), nor enter their false temples or pray therein. This will surely win many to Orthodoxy!

        I am becoming an Orthodox Christian. I’m not becoming a crank, a crackpot, or a fanatic. One son is following me into the Church (or vice-versa, it’s not entirely clear!) I pray that others may follow. I know what method of “evangelization” I won’t be doing!

        I must make it clear, though, that I only speak for myself, and I know it.

        • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

          You know,Tim,you can confess Orthodoxy without being a crank or boor.Of course,you would want to attend weddings or funerals of loved ones.One can attend without,for example,partaking ofv communion.One can politly decline.I always tell the story of the Greek Old Calendar zealot who happened upon a liturgy at a Ukrainian camp with his wife,a Ukrainian lady from Greece.Upon learning that it was a Uniate liturgy,the man began to behave boorishly.He started cewing gum,he pulled out a newspaper,he told his wife,”don’t dare take the antidoron,”(One hopes nobody there understood Greek).

          I would have suggested he either have stayed without participating,or simply walked away queitly,without making an ass of himself.

          Usually,when paying respects to the dead,I go to the funeral home the night before.On the rare occasions,if I attend the church,I go in a suit with black shirt and collar.If I were to wear a robe,that might give some people reason to think I would be there to serve.

          I congratulate you on becoming a catechumen and wish you and your family the best!

        • Welcome to Orthodoxy, Tim R. Mortiss! says

          I greet you on the day of the Beheading of the Forerunner and Baptist John and welcome you as a new Christian. May you find peace and beauty and soul’s fulfillment in our Orthodox Faith. May your goodness and loving kindness so shine that all that see you will glorify our Father in Heaven and become Orthodox. May you have the length of days to see this fulfilled! May you and your grandchildrens’ children attain theosis and may you be reunited in paradise to sing praises in a family choir!

        • Well, as long as we can see that your argument is with the Fathers and not me . . . I’ll leave you and them to make your peace.

  15. George,

    I have been watching your website for quite sometime while also watching the various websites of Orthodox Churches in the United States, Greeks, OCA, Antiochians. I have a question that maybe you and your readers might be able to help with.

    I recall you and others writing about the infamous Dallas Sermon of Metropolitan Jonah where he said that the Ecumenical Patriarch should not stick his nose in your business. He was roundly criticized for this and it was later used against him by those who wished to remove him from his Primacy. Yet, today, on the official website of the OCA, their Chancellor, Archpriest John Jillions says the exact same thing.

    Why was it wrong back then to say what Metropolitan Jonah said, but it is now acceptable? I can read that Fr. Jillions is couching his words by deflecting saying he is just reporting what he heard from others, but I would be totally surprised if this is a new development since Fr. Jillions became chancellor and not a reality that +Jonah was expressing when he was Primate?

    • Dear Roman,

      You have hit the nail on the head. Father John is a deft communicator, often managing to credential himself in the process. Click on his cover letter when you read the following

    • Dear Roman–There are vast differences between Fr Jillions and Metropolitan Jonah in this instance.

      1. As the primate of the OCA, Metropolitan Jonah was presumed to talk for the Holy Synod. He not only did not have the Holy Synod’s agreement, reportedly some Synod members advised him not to give his speech. (For the text see BTW, I loved his speech as I was very angry at the the Chief Secretary’s earlier speech at Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, MA (see In contrast, Fr. Jillions made clear that he was merely relating the concerns of the diocesan chancellors and in the only instance of taking a policy position, he merely repeated OCA synod’s long-held policy: “going back to the old days of being governed by Old World patriarchs is a non-starter.” I believe the latest expression of this policy was when the Holy Synod (+Jonah included) repudiated the idea of maximal autonomy under Moscow.

      2. +Jonah himself was not the right person to offer a rebuttal to the Archmandrite Elpidophoros Lambriniadis’ intemperate and insulting speech on the canonical territory of the OCA. As the primate of the OCA, +Jonah should have responded only to a statement by another prelate and not to a lowly emissary, even though Fr. Elpidophorus was later promoted to the episcopacy. An equivalent spokesman would have been the OCA Secretary or perhaps the Dean of SVOTS (if a scholarly response was desired). As it is, he lowered himself to the Chief Secretary’s level and dragged his office along with it. In contrast, Patriarch Kyrill’s remarks on the occasion of +Jonah’s visit were how one does a counterattack; “May the invincible and inscrutable power of the honorable and life-giving Cross strengthen the love between our Churches and overcome the demons of feeble impertinence.”

      3. +Jonah’s timing (during Holy Week) and tone were insensitive and uncharitable. I say this not because others have said this, but because +Jonah himself apologized for it. See

      In contrast, Father Jillions comments were not presumptive, inappropriate, uncharitable and insensitive.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Carl, it’d be well if you got your facts straight. I’ll start with the last, first:

        1. Jonah issued this speech in the middle of Lent, at least a good two weeks before Holy Week. (As if that made a difference.)

        2. If not a Primate, then who should have replied to Lambrianides’ startling speech? Primates are there for a reason. Your assertion is merely an opinion and an arguable one at that.

        3. The only person who was shocked/angered at Jonah was Lefty Kishkovsky, who views himself as the real power behind the throne of the OCA. I can assure you that the Moscow patriarchate was giddy with delight at Jonah’s speech.

        4. He was “reportedly” advised by “some” on the Holy Synod to not give that speech? How do we know this? From OCAN? If true, who leaked this information to Mark Stokoe?

        The reality is that Jonah’s Dallas speech was impromptu, off-the-cuff and dead-on. I’d wage dollars to donuts that nobody knew about it ahead of time. If I’m right, then your entire thesis is right in only one instance: Jonah acting “unilaterally.” And like you, I’m glad he did (seeing that we are in agreement with the contents of his speech).

        • Dear Carl,

          I am sorry but your facts are wrong. Knowing something about the Dallas sermon during Great Lent, I know first hand from the source of the sermon that +Jonah was never advised by some on the Holy Synod not to give that sermon. Why do I know this, because +Jonah indeed gave the sermon “off the cuff” with no intention of every saying anything about the EP. Then why did he? The Holy Spirit led him. Carl, you do believe in the power of the Holy Spirit?

          Carl, you use as proof-texts Mark Stokoe’s personal website OCAN as your source of information. Do you consider OCAN to be an unbiased information source?

          If you are so wrong about the facts surrounding +Jonah, and using OCAN for proof-texting, I can hardly take your opinions about Fr. Jillions too seriously. But thank you for your comments. They are indeed clarifying from one of the most strident defenders of the OCA on this site.

          • Dear Roman–If you read my links, you will notice that they are to OCAN articles that contain texts and not commentary. Are you saying that my “proof-texts” are incorrect? If so, I would appreciate it very much if you would point me to the correct versions.

            Regarding your point about the “off-the-cuff” nature of the counterattack, are you seriously suggesting that +Jonah could not control himself on a matter of such importance? Are you saying that he became a mere channel for the Holy Spirit, with all the words being the words of the Holy Spirit? I do not think so; I think that you are saying the Holy Spirit prompted him to speak on the subject. Somewhat like a prophet, perhaps?

            • George Michalopulos says

              Carl, I’ll let Roman respond for himself, but as for me, I will answer thusly:

              1. Yes, I believe that using OCAN as a “proof-text” is too silly for words. Especially after we’ve proven time and again the falsehoods and hidden agendas propagated by its purveyor.

              2. “Couldn’t control himself”? Is that what you call a preacher who is filled with the Spirit? Didn’t Jesus Himself state to His followers that they should not worry about what to say when they are brought before the authorities because the Spirit would give them the appropriate words?

              3. Yes, I am open to the possibility that His Beatitude was indeed open to the Holy Spirit –a “mere channel” as it were. Most ordained ministers of the Gospel are by rights (or at least should be) open to preaching the word in truth. The celebration of the divine services create a sublime atmosphere in which the Holy Spirit is imparted to the holy space and its inhabitants. Whether a particular individual chooses to respond to God’s grace is entirely up to him.

              My question to you is why do you think that he wasn’t? Do you have some interior knowledge (from the same Spirit or otherwise) that compels you to say “I do not think so”? If so, please inform us.

              • George–When I was working in the tower at Clinton-Sherman AFB, Oklahoma, we had occasion to listen to preachers during night shift. Without exception, they claimed to be filled with the Spirit. That was almost 50 years ago and I haven’t heard of one Orthodox prelate claiming to be filled with the Holy Spirit. May be I have led somewhat of a sheltered existence? BTW, I am very sorry to see you dismiss all things OCAN with such finality, even texts. This is is not what a serious person does, George.

              • I forgot to tell you that I am also open to the possibility that +Jonah was prompted by the Holy Spirit. OTOH, are you open to the possibility that +Jonah may have suffered from logorrhea instead? Is it at all possible in your +Jonah-centered universe that +Jonah’s various utterances were caused by himself and not by prompts by the Holy Spirit or threats by others?

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Absolutely it’s possible. And for the record, my “universe” is not “Jonah-centric”: when Jonah gave this speech my first thoughts were “uh-oh, I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

                  What leads me to believe otherwise are these things:

                  1. he was defending the Territorial Church from a scandalous, premeditated speech (I believe even you agree on this),

                  2. whatever “damage” may have been done was quickly undone when it became obvious that relations between Jonah and Bartholomew were warm. The most famous bishop in Constantinople, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware concelebrated the liturgy not once but twice with Jonah. Jonah’s last official act was a pilgrimage to St John Essex, a monastery of the EP.

                  3. regardless of the speech in Dallas (or perhaps because of it) Jonah was able to finagle a seat for the OCA on the ACOB. Whether the ACOB will come of anything is another story altogether.
                  2. The “damage” that was done was quickly rectified (Jonah

            • Dear Carl,

              I believe that +Jonah was prophetic when he spoke about the Orthodox life here in America from the pulpit in Dallas. I also believe that +Jonah was realistic that the OCA should never be an obstacle to Orthodox unity in America. In that, he was repeating the same things voiced by previous OCA Primates, the most notable Metropolitan Theodosius.

              I also know that a Prophet is without honor in his own town. If it is more important for the OCA to hold on to her “autocephalic” status while the rest of Orthodoxy in America is willing to attain the true status of a Local Orthodox Church, then I pray you will be satisfied. I never understood the vision of the OCA and her founders to be sectarian.

              • Your second paragraph is a red herring. I do not hold such a position, neither does anyone else in the OCA whom I know. OCA’s autocephaly will not be given away for any half-baked idea, like maximal autonomy that was advanced by the former primate. OCA’s autocephaly will be given away only in favor of an administratively-united autocephalous church in North America.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Carl, your certitude amazes me. A little humility is always called for when talking about the future. Do you base your rash assertion that the OCA will be autocephalous forever on any inside knowledge? Is it just possible that another scenario will play out? Think on these things: with half of our dioceses vacant and no new bishops on the horizon, missions closing, numbers of adherents dropping, monies drying up to Syosset, the Romanians and Albanians making schismatic noises, there might not possibly be an OCA in the future?

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Mr. Michalopulos,

                    Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Phil. 4:4-9)

                    And undoubtedly, every OCA bishop, to a man, yesterday, and perhaps every day speaks the same words: “Look down from heaven, O God, and behold! And visit this vineyard which Your have planted with Your Right Hand, and establish it.”

                    This is all the “inside” knowledge you need to know for now. It is your business to “let all things be done to edify,” (1 Cor. 14:16) not to openly disparage and discourage. The first two sentences were sufficient to register your “amazement.”

                  • George,

                    Yes, the OCA could implode, in which case the question of its autocephaly will be moot.
                    But until such time I think Carl has a point, and I suspect Fr Alexander Schmemann would agree with him. For the OCA to surrender its autocephaly for maximal autonomy under a foreign omophor would be tantamount to saying, “Hey folks, we got it wrong!”. That would be refreshing, but I don’t expect it to actually happen!

                  • George,

                    Carl is correct! The OCA’s autocephaly will not be going away. Again, SCOBA in 1961 called for an autocephalic church to be created called “The Orthodox Church in America.” Fr. Schmemann made this a reality. The Romanians became part. The Albanians became part. The Bulgarians became part. AND, the Greeks and Antiochians RENEGED. Today, the ridiculous scheme of the Epis. Ass. led by the Greeks and Antiochians doesn’t give the American Church “INDEPENDENCE.” What it does is put everyone under + Bart and creates an Eastern Pope. Your assertions of no new bishops and vacant diocese isn’t accurate. The dismal results of recent bishop candidates has made the OCA very careful in choosing new bishops. Even Mahaffy in Alaska may not cut it. The OCA continues to produce an abundance of WELL-EDUCATED priests and opening more and more missions all over the U.S. Monies are coming back, but no one expected the impact of RSK to be so severe. This too will pass. Sorry ROCOR, you will always be under foreign bishops as well as the Greeks, Antiochians, Serbs, etc. How to solve the mess? Go back to SCOBA of 1961 and join the OCA as everyone agreed to do, not creating an Eastern Pope!

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Ted, I wonder where you get your information. Your assertions that the Romanians, Albanians and Bulgarians “became part” of the OCA is only half true. There are foreign-led Romanian, Albanian, and Bulgarian jurisdictions here in America. If their mother churches believed in the Tomos, they’d have released them long ago.

                      As for your assertion that “the dismal results” of recent bishops has made Syosset wary, that’s a crock. The only reason some of the remaining bishops haven’t been shown the Matthias treatment is that they haven’t got caught. As for one or two of the others they’re fine men but charismatically challenged.

                      There have been many fine men put forward for the episcopate. It’s just that Syosset is torn between these two paradigms: they know that in an autocephalous Church bishops are sovereign so what do you do? Elect a stand-up guy who you’ve got nothing on and who may turn out to be another Dmitri or Jonah or do you elect a man you can control (and you know what I’m talking about)? If you do the former then Syosset loses even more control, if you do the latter (which would be better for Syosset) then you run the risk of exposure and having more egg on the OCA’s face.

                    • I take exception to your favorable comparison of Archbishop Dmitri and Metropolitan Jonah. One would not even think of quitting, but the other did. One thought the OCA Metropolitan to be the Chairman of the Holy Synod, the other tried to treat his fellow bishops as deputies and not equals. And the list goes on!

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Carl, you’re really going to have to get your facts straight. Arb Dmitri retired (too soon in my opinion –I pray he forgives me for thinking that). As for Jonah supposedly treating his fellow bishops as “deputies”, where do you get that? Certainly not from his own actions. And anyway, you’ve really confused me now. I thought you were glad that Jonah was thrown out of office. You’re now saying you’re made because he quit? I don’t get it.

                    • George asked “As for Jonah supposedly treating his fellow bishops as “deputies”, where do you get that?”

                      I got that from his own mouth:

                      “Do we want an all powerful chancellor who controls the Metropolitan, Synod, MC? Or do we want the Metropolitan to determine the policy with the Synod, advised by the Synod and his staff?” (My emphasis) Surely this was a Freudian slip in a an otherwise well-constructed argument that was probably crafted by Father Fester. The source for this quote is the Santa Fe speech by +Jonah in which he made the following claims:

                      – A small group of people in and around the MC are determined to undermine the Metropolitan; and the very nature of the episcopal authority.

                      – There is a conspiracy of several people who believes the MC should control the Church, and the bishops…

                      – Some of these people were involved in the SIC report, others in various committees of the MC. They are bullies, asserting their own will , motivated by their passions, and tearing down and destroying everyone who opposes them. They have to be stopped dead in their tracks, and removed from any position of influence in the OCA.

                      – First among them is the Chancellor, Alexander Garklavs. For a year and a half he has been working to undermine my episcopacy, through deceit, slander, bullying employees, lies and misrepresentations. He has used the committees of the MC as his sounding board to undermine me with the members of the MC, telling the Strategic Planning Committee that I am “destroying the OCA”, slandering me at the Board of Trustees Meeting of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, among a very few cases; and to top it all off, is this SMPAC Memorandum. This document is not about how I handled cases of sexual misconduct, but rather, about him, and his power. It is about how I did or did not consult him,. And where I did, he takes it and twists it, making me sound incompetent…I am not in any way incompetent.

                      – The SMPAC Memorandum is a monument to the dysfunctional relationship between the Metropolitan and the Chancellor, and little else. It is a purely political document, aimed at discrediting me. It is all about the power and authority of the chancellor, and how the Metropolitan has not submitted to the chancellor. And most of it is a twisted subversion of the truth. It begins by flattery of the Synod, and then becomes an essay of disrespect of the authority of the Metropolitan. In tearing down the Metropolitan, it also undermines the authority of the Episcopacy. Using false information and twisted facts, it disseminates mistrust in the Metropolitan, his office and the bishops. There is not one instance of actual violation of policies or the Sexual Misconduct guidelines cited. Nor is there even one violation of the canons cited.

                      – As Metropolitan, I definitively reject this report, and seeking the support of the Holy Synod, demand its retraction and consign it to permanent confidentiality.

                      – There is a small group that has been around a long time, which has a congregationalist idea of the Church; that it should be controlled by the MC and its committees, and all other functionaries including bishops are subordinate to it. It is a false idea of conciliarity. This came as a result of the abrogation of the responsibility by the previous Metropolitan and the Synod, where the MC stepped in to fill the power vacuum. My assertion of episcopal and canonical authority within the church is creating great opposition within this group. It is for this reason, I think, that they are mustering their forces against me, to try to force me to resign and take a leave. I will not. They want someone they can manipulate, who will submit to them, and like Theodosius, be so weak every word is scripted and every appearance stage managed, with the chancellor running the real show. At least they made Theodosius look good; me, they have trashed. But in the end, especially if he has some kind of will, they would throw him out as well.

                      -Underlying this is a very bitter subtext, the gay agenda, which demands one type of moral code for clergy, another for the laity accepting that agenda.

                      -This group is a bunch of bullies, who are willing to use any means to advance their agenda and rip apart their enemies. First among these means is the internet, and Mr. Stokoe’s Through intimidation and the threat of exposure, of, for example, this supposedly confidential document — they try to manipulate the bishops and Metropolitan. How often do we hold back on a decision wondering how it will be spun on And what would be the reaction of the general parishioners, as they find another metropolitan being dragged through the mud? How many of us have been bullied by this threat of exposure? How many of us have been manipulated by fear of the media? Several of us have been bullied and abused by bishops.We need to put this kind of abuse of the Church behind us. It destroys our self-confidence. But it also puts us in a state of fear, and being subject to intimidation. Somehow, this must be exposed, and the people dismissed from service.”

                      Whew! What a load of you know what and a blueprint of all things Monomakhos! Thank God that the Holy Synod did not go along with him, except to ask Father Garklavs to resign, not because the Synod agreed with +Jonah’s baseless accusations but because there was no way that this pair could work together. Thus, when the Holy Synod have +Jonah a second chance, they had to reassign Fr, Garklavs.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Unfortunately Carl, all you are doing is stating facts. And facts that show that there was indeed an illegal conspiracy against Jonah. The indictment Jonah made against Garklavs was proven to be true, as he was fired. Second, the fact that someone on the Synod leaked this speech to Mark Stokoe is further proof of an illegal conspiracy. As for Jonah’s statement on what the Primate does is from the Statutes of the OCA.

                      Or are you of the opinion that an “all-powerful Chancellor” should make OCA policy? I thought you believed in collegiality. Read carefully again what Jonah said: “…the Metropolitan to determine the policy with the Synod, advised by the Synod…”

                      You can’t see the plain text of Jonah’s words (probably sensing some nefarious intent on his part), even so the plain text exonerates Jonah. That you can’t see that further causes your case to fall apart.

                    • Robert Alden says

                      Yesterday the Metropolitan Council had a retreat on “conflict resolution” and had two distinguished presenters addressing the topic.

                      In today’s Chancellor’s Diary a synopsis is offered by Fr. Jillions where he shares the five main points suggested when dealing with conflict resolution……..

                      Here are five useful principles of conflict resolution explored at the retreat:

                      Separate people from the problem
                      Focus on common interests
                      *Invent options for mutual gain
                      Insist on objective criteria
                      Avoid language of enemies

                      I totally agree with these five useful principles however when it comes to how the OCA dealt with Metropolitan Jonah I can only conclude that the OCA Synod stopped at the first point and ignored the rest, especially the last point where they used the language of enemies in defaming their Primate.

                      Like his recent listing of the marks of a bully the Chancellor unknowingly (?) presents another revealing aspect why the OCA seems to preach one thing but do another, again in the context of Metropolitan Jonah and others.

                      Identifying the problem is one thing, applying it to oneself as the OCA, is another?

                  • George–There was one time that you said “Well said” to something very similar that I had posted on your website. Come to think of it, that was before +Jonah took himself out of the equation.

                    • Carl Kraeff says:
                      September 23, 2013 at 3:45 pm
                      I take exception to your favorable comparison of Archbishop Dmitri and Metropolitan Jonah. One would not even think of quitting, but the other did. One thought the OCA Metropolitan to be the Chairman of the Holy Synod, the other tried to treat his fellow bishops as deputies and not equals. And the list goes on!


                      I find your exception to the comparison between Archbishop Dmitri and Metropolitan Jonah to be strange. His Eminence in fact “quit” by retiring and looked to +Jonah has his potential replacement in the South. Is that not the truth? Is it also true that once +Jonah was elected Metropolitan, His Eminence was disappointed because he saw the possibility of his desire to hand over the South to +Jonah a lost opportunity for the South. He saw in +Jonah a man who would carry on the missionary zeal of the South, a man who understood how important it was for the South to set that missionary example for the rest of the OCA. The care and love that +Jonah continued as the Locum Tenens for the South after +Dmitri’s retirement is proof. The fact that the Holy Synod of the OCA refused to consider +Jonah’s humility to return as a diocesan bishop for the South appears to be overlooked in your view of the facts.

                      I have heard that in his last few years and especially when Bishop Mark Maymon was given every chance by +Jonah to carry on the work of His Eminence, but upon seeing +Mark in action His Eminence confided with his Cathedral flock that Bishop Mark Maymon was a man who acted “as if he had no soul.” Many people heard this.

                      You, Carl may not agree with the conclusion of His Eminence of thrice-blessed memory regarding Bishop Mark, but the fact remains that +Mark was pulled from the South because he demonstrated his lack of love and pastoral care. Even Bishop Nikon reached that same conclusion once he met with the people in the South. The fact that the South continued to pay +Mark for many months after his removal while he lived in Miami only demonstrates the loving heart of the people of the South, a diocese that was always led by a pastoral vision and not a punitive one.

                      There was a true bond of paternal love between Archbishop Dmitri and Metropolitan Jonah, a shared spirit and vision for the potential of the Diocese of the South. In its absence for too many years, the South has had to endure something far less in archpastoral care and that is, I would submit a factor in the passing of His Eminence from this life with a sense of uncertainty but nonetheless an undying hope for the Diocese that he founded and loved.

                      Let us pray and hope that the South will one day be blessed with an Archpastor who will fully appreciate the life and legacy of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitiri, who will build his pastoral vision upon and take it to the next level of missionary growth, something Metropolitan Jonah would have done because I believe His Eminence knew best.

                    • Dear Roman–There is a distinction between retiring and resigning. In their own words:

                      +Dmitri: “Overseeing a Diocese, however, is a temporary calling by nature. Thus, after fifty five years in the priesthood and forty years as a bishop of the Orthodox Church in America, I have asked for retirement from the active episcopacy, effective March 31, 2009. It is not a decision I make lightly.” Age at retirement: 86.

                      + Jonah: “To the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, Brothers, As per your unanimous request, as conveyed to me by Chancellor Fr. John Jillions, I hereby tender my resignation as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and humbly request another Episcopal assignment. I had come to the realization long ago that that I have neither the personality nor the temperament for the position of Primate, a position I never sought nor desired.” Age at resignation: 53.

                    • geo michalopulos says

                      So you agree Carl that Jonah was forced to resign based on a set of circumstances which was conveyed to him and which he had no prior knowledge of?

                • Carl,

                  Your assertion that you don’t know anyone in the OCA who holds a radical position on her autocephalic status, respectfully, you don’t know any people in the high echelons of your jurisdiction who precisely hold a radical posture.

                  You may wish to talk to some bishops present last week in Chicago who are not part of the OCA to get an education on how out-of-sync the OCA leadership is on this very important question.

                  I again reiterate, the “OCA should never be an obstacle to Orthodox unity in America” but as of last week it appears that is exactly what the OCA has been reduced to.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    One thing the Autocephalists-uber-alles seem to overlook is the increasing ridiculousness of the OCA in the eyes of other American Orthodox (to say nothing of the foreign patriarchates). While I for one cherish our autocephaly, the fact that we have almost half of our dioceses vacant (and no replacements on the horizon) puts us in the unenviable position of “being brave from afar.” Unless things change drastically (and soon) it’s possible that the OCA has reached the point of diminishing returns right now. At some point in the near future, there will be so few people left in the OCA that the other jurisdictions are going to demand that we disband while they buy up our parishes at fire-sale prices.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Michalopulos,

                      I mentioned in another thread that I had the opportunity to spend the day with a participant in the recent Conference of Bishops. As you inquired of Mr. Kraeff,” Do you have inside information?” As near as I can tell, there is plenty to which we are not privy – and I might add, rightfully so – and the “returns” of the OCA are insignificant for now. Too much allegory, too much conspiracy, too much Helga, Chicken Little, Mr. Michalopulos.

                      They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but stays for ever.As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from now on even for ever. For the rod of the wicked shall not rest on the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands to iniquity. Do good, O Lord, to those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts. As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity: but peace shall be on Israel. (Ps. 134)

                      If you, “for one cherish our autocephaly,” Mr. Michalopulos, edify.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Fair enough Dr S:

                      First, I am grateful that the OCA exists as an autocephalous church because it made evangelism much easier in the South. (Kudos of course to Arb Dmitri of thrice-blessed memory.) That doesn’t mean however that it would have been impossible or unlikely had the OCA remained the Metropolia, after all, ROCOR is undergoing an evangelistic revival at present. However, all things being equal, I think it’s easier under autocephaly.

                      Second, given the missionary impulse of the ROC, the OCA is likewise blessed to have started out life with the proper missionary DNA, so to speak.

                      Third, the OCA long ago settled the language issue. I can’t tell you as a Greek-American how unsettling the language issue is. Arb Iakovos Coucouzis almost had his head handed to him over it. Sometimes it’s petty things. I can’t tell you how many times I heard well-meaning people in the GOA say, “yeah, the Liturgy has been translated into English but they still haven’t got the Cherubic Hymn right. It doesn’t ‘work’ in English.” Or some such nonsense.

                      I guess I could go on but it’s late. I’ve waxed eloquent about the OCA’s gifts to American Orthodoxy in the past so it’s no secret.

                      The problem however is that we are in danger of squandering that legacy. Again, as a Greek-American with boucoups of kinfolk still in the GOA, I can honestly tell you that nobody there gives a darn anymore about the OCA. At one time, they actually feared the OCA because every time they put in a mission somewhere, disaffected GOA members would flock to it.

                      As for the Antiochians, the OCA was able to trump their evangelical status quite handily. Especially after debacle at Palm Desert 2-3 years ago. Now, they’ve regained their bragging rights if only because we’ve thrown ours away.

                      I know that there are several critics of Jonah on this site who don’t (or won’t) see it, but the actions of the past 2 years have hurt the OCA immeasurably. Jonah may or may not have been a great administrator but he was the rock star of American Orthodoxy. Everybody recognized it.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Roman, I’m glad you mentioned the episcopal angle in all this. As many have noted, the OCA has half of its territorial dioceses vacant. I’ve pointed out that there are no candidates on the horizon. One reason of course is because the Apparat can’t decide on what constitutes a “good” bishop. Do they want a real monk or a morally-challenged man (whom they can control).

                    We’re leaving out yet another factor on the dearth of candidates, and that is that there are several good men who could be nominated but thanks to the increasing decrepitude of the OCA, many of them have taken themselves out of the running. I know for a fact that some of them feel they have been burned by the nominating process. Others want nothing to do with the OCA. This ain’t a pretty picture.

                    I remember last year before the Diocesan Assembly in the South, there were at least six men whose names were in contention. We seem to be settling on one. What about the other five for Chicago, Ottawa, or Philadelphia? What about Alaska?

                    On the other hand there are those who do want to be given a diocese but for whatever reason, nobody wants them. Does this sound like a mature church?

                    • George,

                      You continue to harp on this topic of vacant diocese of the OCA and no bishop candidates. There are candidates, but everyone wants to make sure these people won’t destroy the diocese to go to. Having good diocese administrators who are senior priests is a very good way to go. In fact, as others have said, we need to make these married priest administrators married bishops. There is no theological impediment for not having married bishops. And yes, the OCA is a mature church with more well-educated priests than any other American jurisdiction. With more missions and real inroads in bringing Americans into the Orthodox Church. The Greeks can’t get off their Hellenism kick and the Antiochians will have a major influx of immigrants shortly reverting back to 1950. Besides, when + Philip passes, it will all fall like a house of cards. The Greeks are just lost in hubris.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Sam, I’m not going to comment on your desire to have married bishops or your assertions about Greek hubris at present as they are not germane in any way to the growing number of diocesan vacancies. I take exception with your idea that there really “are candidates” but that Syosset wants to make sure that they won’t “destroy the dioceses.” Even if this is true –especially if this is true–then you paint a dire picture indeed. And not one that describes a mature church in any way.

    • Roman,

      Very often, it is not what you say but how you say it. Fr. John’s comments regarding rule by Old World overseas bishops being a “non-starter” is blunt, but it is presented as a summary of the sentiments of the chancellors of the OCA. It should surprise no one that this is the perspective of those who exercise some leadership roles within a purportedly autocephalous American church.

      Without addressing the appropriateness of whether a primate should respond to a mere representative of the Phanar, or whether his comments should have been vetted, or to some factual inaccuracies regarding statistics he presented, the Dallas speech of Met. Jonah was quite combative in tone and had the feel of an “I have a dream speech” combined with a, we’re “mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore” rant. And that’s a problem. I do not suggest that the Phanar is not an offender in this regard, but that does not justify questionable behavior on the part of the OCA. Comity between the churches dictates a civil tone. We can see this in the late Patriarch Alexei’s response (2006) to the Phanar regarding the issue of canon 28. The Phanar apparently said some things to Moscow with a lack of civility. Moscow responded calmly and with considerable restraint. It always pays to be seen as the adult in the room. That is the opportunity that Met. Jonah sacrificed to self-satisfaction. That, of course, does not mean that he didn’t have a point . . .

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Really? Moscow is the adult? Moscow believes in Canon 28 accept for itself and not Constantinople. What the EP said in legal canon law language Moscow has said in practice. Please, with all due respect lets not make Moscow out to be the good guy on Canon 28 when its not. It wants to rule everybody else as well.

        Moscow wants the same thing otherwise what’s all this 3rd Rome stuff all about and that its the biggest so it should rule. Come on Misha your bias towards all things Russian and that all things Russian are good is showing. Even the Greeks are not that biased towards the EP. Please brother just give it up. No one is perfect in this. No one.


        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          I believe that Misha did not characterize Moscow as always being the adult, but only pointed out Moscow’s relatively adult behavior in the given instancce. As for the desperate reference to the sensible medieval labelling of Moscow as The Third Rome, I don’t believe Misha or anyone else subscribes to such a leadership position of the Russian state today. Of course, when the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate and Imperial Throne had both fallen into Unia with old Rome, and after Constantinople’s APOINTEE, the Greek Isidor of Kiev had done the same, it would be natural to look to the head of the Russian Empire to rescue the Orthodox from the Unia. Of course, Constantinople remained Rome (actually the Muslims including Mehmet the Conqueror continued to refer to THEIR Empire as ‘Rum” and their capital city as Constantinople). The Muslim conqueror replaced the Uniate Patriarch (who fled to Italy) by seeking out an Orthodox monk and commandinfg that he be made a Bishop and then commanding that be be installed as Patriarch, thus showing the care an Islamic dictator can show towards Orthodoxy. (Ironic, is it not? Twice in history, infidels have imposed Orthodoxy on the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate: First, Julian the Apostate replaced, FINALLY, for the first time after Nicea, the Arian Patriarch with a Nicene one: second, Mehmet replaced the Uniate Patriarch with George Scholarios) Constantiople, historically, has a very mixed record in the matter of Orthodoxy…if it wasn’t Arian, it was Nestorian, if it wasn’t Iconoclastic, it was Uniate. But of, course, Constantinople is first in honor……(!) not ever because of its Orthodoxy, but for its attachment to the Roman Emperor, whether Christian or Ottoman. I’m afraid that Peter, like many of his tribe, can’t imagine Moscow NOT coveting an identity like that of Constantinople. Constantinople has the same kind of “primacy” as the last Manchu Empress of China had, one of honor and honorifics. I think the Russian government is like Oldl Rome, even today, in that it, like the classic Romans, knows what REAL power is.
          I have no cock in this fight, being neither Asiatic nor Russian…

        • Peter,

          How silly of you.

          Moscow has never, not once, invoked canon 28 of the IVth council for itself. How could it? It applies to Constantinople. It just doesn’t say what Constantinople wants it to say.

          The “Third Rome” idea was from a medieval cleric’s letter to one of the tsars. While it is an interesting idea, I have yet to hear a contemporary Russian cleric invoke it for any serious purpose.

          That being said, Moscow is behaving as a leader in the Orthodox-sphere. This does not mean that it is being followed, just that it is leading. Simply because of its size and its relationship with the Russian government, the ROC does have serious influence. For example, despite the fact that the Turks will not reopen Halki, they are letting the Russians build churches for their own people living in Turkey (technically under the omophorion of the Pat. of Constantinople, of course). It has also been reclaiming church property which had belonged to the ROC and/or the Russian Empire before the revolution.

          If this activity, support for Christians persecuted throughout the world, cooperation with other conservative forces attempting to preserve or resurrect Europe’s Christian heritage and identity, resurrecting the Church of Russia from decimation, etc. conjure the specter of a Third Rome, then so be it. Christendom could do worse.

          Peter, you heard Lambrianides. He spoke for the Phanar. They really believe that crap. Show me the ROC or ROCOR bishop who claims America for the Church of Russia, let alone every territory in the world that is not alloted to an autocephalous church.

          You’re better than this nonsense.

          What is interesting, and very telling to me, is that I have heard talk about the Russians and the Church of Russia in Greek churches. And I have heard talk of the Greek Church and Patriarch Bartholomew in OCA parishes, most emphatically around the time of Met. Jonah’s Dallas speech, but from time to time it comes up otherwise.

          But I only recall hearing about the Greek Church in a Russian Orthodox church once, from a convert, regarding the statements of a lady who called into a radio show and said she was Greek Orthodox. Other than that, in my experience at several Russian churches and monastaries, it is as if Constantinople and Greek Orthodoxy was something from Mars. Total lack of preoccupation or even passing interest. They know it’s there, it just doesn’t mean much of anything to them and I honestly have almost never heard them comment upon it at all. Oh, actually, another time I did hear a Russian priest say they used the Greek lamentations before the Cross because they were more upbeat than the Slavic version. But that’s about it. They focus on the Russian Church, Russian society, their neighboring Slavic brothers, and lately the plight of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, to some extent.

          Now, I wouldn’t waste my time on such rivalries. If the ROC does something that tics off the Phanar, I’m sure they will demonstrate to the world that they can do it better, if anyone is paying attention. As for America, perhaps one percent of the Orthodox of the world live here. Let’s not give it more importance than it is due.

          • “The “Third Rome” idea was from a medieval cleric’s letter to one of the tsars. While it is an interesting idea, I have yet to hear a contemporary Russian cleric invoke it for any serious purpose.”

            Not true. When all the Eastern Patriarchs signed the agreement for union with Rome at the Council of Florence, the Kievan/ Rus kicked out + Isadore (their Constantinople appointed bishop) and declared autocephaly. After all, Constantinople fell into heresy with this union. This gave the original notion that Kiev should become the “Third Rome” since Rome & Constantinople were no longer Orthodox. Know your history!

            • ted,

              You’re confused:

              “The idea of Moscow being the Third Rome was popular since the early Russian Tsars [note: Ivan IV was the first to claim the title “Tsar”]. Within decades after the Fall of Constantinople to Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire on May 29, 1453, some were nominating Moscow as the “Third Rome,” or new “New Rome.” Stirrings of this sentiment began during the reign of Ivan III, Grand Duke of Moscow, who had married Sophia Paleologue [1472]. Sophia was a niece of Constantine XI, the last Eastern Roman Emperor, and Ivan could claim to be the heir of the fallen Eastern Roman Empire.

              It is noteworthy that before Ivan III, Stephen IV Dušan, king of Serbia, and Ivan Alexander, king of Bulgaria, both related to the Byzantine dynasty, facing the decline of the Byzantine empire in the XIV century, made similar claims. Bulgarian manuscripts advanced the idea that Trnovo, the capital of the Bulgarian empire, was the new Constantinople. These plans were never realized as the Ottomans defeated Serbs at Kosovo Pole in 1389, and put an end to the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1396 with the occupation of the Despotate of Vidin. However, the rhetoric developed to this respect earlier in Trnovo was imported to Moscow by Cyprian, a clergyman of Bulgarian origin, who became Metropolitan of Moscow in 1381.

              The idea crystallized with a panegyric letter composed by the Russian elder Philoteus in 1510 to their son Grand Duke Basil III, which proclaimed, “Two Romes have fallen. The third stands. And there will not be a fourth. No one will replace your Christian Tsardom!” Contrary to the common misconception, Philoteus explicitly identifies Third Rome with Russia (the country) rather than with Moscow (the city).” – Orthodoxwiki [notes in brackets mine and italics added for emphasis]

              You’re confusing the independence of the ROC with claims to be the Third Rome. Yes, the Russians waited a while after Constantinople joined with Rome and then appointed their own Metropolitan since Constantinople had chosen (at least temporarily) to leave the Church. This resulted in de facto autocephaly which was recognized later by Constantinople when it had rejoined the Church. None of that has directly to do with the Third Rome idea. If autocephaly were equivalent to claiming status as the Third Rome, Constantinople would never have recognized the ROC’s autocephaly at all. You notice that Ivan the Great did not even have a claim to royal Byzantine blood until his marriage to Sophia in 1472. She seems to be a major instigator in Russian pretentions to be a sort of political successor to Constantinople, probably bringing with her the double eagle flag. Nonetheless, if you find a prior reference to “Third Rome” than that of the monk Filofey, I’d be interested in seeing it. Even his phrase, though, was not a formal claim of the Russian crown.

              The notion of a surviving Christian monarchy being a successor to the Byzantine Empire seems to have begun even before its fall to the Turks, among the southern Slavs. The explicit claim on behalf of Russia (not by an emperor, but in a letter to one) to be the “Third Rome” dates to the early 16th century, as is shown above. The leaders of Russia did not even claim the title “Tsar” (i.e., “Emperor” or “Caesar”) until 1547 (Ivan IV, the “Terrible”). Prior to that they were titled Grand Princes or Grand Dukes.

              You need to think these things through a bit more.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                You mean that Moscow wants to rule us all. I think ted is correct. Like I said its just Moscow’s Canon 28 argument. However, I think the OCA and the OCL people won’t like it much because the MP is a foreign bishop and no American Orthodox wants a foreign Bishop ruling their American Orthodox Church. Ask around you get your answer on that one Misha which will be a clear no.

                I suggest you take your own advice and think these things through as well.


              • M. Stankovich says

                And you need to make a clear distinction between the “messianic” calling of “Holy Russia,” as the “New Jerusalem,” and “Moscow” as the “Third Rome.” And it is a very significant distinction: Roman as to Roman Empire, Constantinople as to Byzantium, Moscow as to Russia. And apparently your “authoritative source” purloined verbatim your massive quote from Peter J.S. Duncan’s Russian Messianism: Third Rome, Revolution, Communism and After but they (or you) failed to continue:

                By 1461 the Russian Church was describing Vasily II as “the man Chosen by God…only supporter of the true Orthodoxy…Tsar of all Rus”. In 1470 his son, Grand Duke Ivan III, declared the Russian Church independent of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Ivan’s marriage in 1472 to Sophia Paleologina, the niece of the last Byzantine Emperor, provided the occasion for the Grand Duke to adopt the titles of Tsar (probably derived from Caesar, but previously applied in Russia to the Tatar khans) and samoderzhets, equivalent to the Byzantine autokrator. In 1480 Ivan ended the last vestiges of the Islamic Mongol tutelage, and adopted the Byzantine eagle as an emblem. Millennial expectations abounded: the Church predicted that the world would end in 1492, and similar apocalyptic premonitions came in 1500. When the world failed to end in 1492, the Metropolitan of Moscow marked the event by proclaiming Ivan III to be the “new Emperor Constantine of the new Constantinople—Moscow”.

                If you would snark, Mischa, do so from a position of a little more authority, having yourself thought it through a bit more.

                Personally, I liked Fr. Schmemann’s version – from his course The Church in Russian Literature – with a full poetic license: upon Isadore’s return from Florence, where the news of events preceded him, there was total silence throughout the entire city of Kiev; not even the dogs barked. Then, as the bells began to ring, the Muscovite Grand Duke Vasily II rejected the Council of Florence, dismissed Isadore – a Greek appointed by the Byzantines – and appointed a Russian without the approval of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and proclaimed the autonomy of the Russian Church. And calling all to fall to their knees, he declared what everyone knew: the Byzantines had sold the Faith and would be shortly vanquished. The destiny of Orthodoxy had fallen to the Russians – “Holy Russia” – and Moscow was destined to be the “Third Rome.” And poignantly, the third and final Rome, “for a fourth there cannot be.”

      • Archpriest John Morris says

        I think that if you do a little research you will find that Metropolitian Philip responded to the statements of the representative of Constantinople with statements very similar to those made by Metropolitan Jonah. Canon 28 of Chalcedon has no relevance to the North American situation. We have here and in the rest of the so called diaspora a unique situation not envisioned by the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils that requires creative thinking and compromises by all sides to achieve Orthodox unity.

      • Misha,

        I could not agree with you more how the Primate of the OCA delivered his speech in Dallas. It was unpolished and as you say, “in your face.”

        On the other hand, the lecture by the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch which precipitated the response by Metropolitan Jonah was a polished “in your face” speech.

        +Jonah went on to apologize not for what he said but how he said it. However Archmandrite Elpidophoros Lambriniadis never did. So if you say it with footnotes it’s ok, but if you speak from the heart, you lose your job.

        As for your debate with Peter, there is enough blame to go around toward the EP and the MP, however I don’t see the OCA as the answer to that turf war here in America.

  16. A few words about Russia, the Soviet Union, the KGB, Putin and the FSB are in order:

    There is no longer an entity called the Soviet Union. The Russian Federation exists on most of its former territory as do the Ukraine, Georgia, etc. Also, there is no longer an entity known as the KGB (the Committee for State Security). Putin was an officer in that organization, apparently having been impressed with the heroic glamorization of KGB officers on Soviet TV (much like Elliot Ness, I suppose). The Communist Party was the only game in town in those days. Later, toward the end of the Soviet period, he quit the Communist Party. He became the head of a successor agency known as the FSB (the Federal Security Service).

    One thing to bear in mind about Russians is that they love their country and also loved it when it was under Soviet rule. Party membership was the only way to rise in the establishment and get to do anything of note. Putin specialized in propaganda in East Germany when he was with the KGB. It gave him an uncanny appreciation of the potential use of media (like the NYT, I suppose).

    Now the main thing to understand about Russia is that our real conflict with them during the Soviet period was over politico-economic ideology. They were communists; we held to mixed market capitalism. They believed, and largely practiced, government ownership of all means of production. The only real private sector was their black market, largely dominated by the Russian Mafia.

    We did not have a Cold War over authoritarianism vs. democracy. We were friendly with many, many authoritarian countries during the Cold War period, sometimes overthrowing governments that were more representative of the popular will in favor of those that were anti-communist dictatorships. What the conflict was ultimately about was the economic system, not the degree to which the political system was representative.

    I’m not suggesting that Russia has not always been an imperialistic power. Far from it. They are now, always have been, and probably always will be. I’m certain they want to control their front yard. I’m also fairly certain they will succeed in this effort. If we weren’t going to go to war over Georgia, we’re not going to go to war over any of those other countries in their “near abroad”. We will not use nuclear weapons to defend them, nor will we put troops on the ground that close to the Russian border. Either scenario is no win.

    What is different now is that the relations between the two countries, the US and the RF, need not be antagonistic as they were in the Cold War. Russia has a mixed market economy, as does the US. The balance of public to private may be different, but the principle of a strong private sector is respected in both countries. There is no longer an effort by the Russians to evangelize the world, by force at times, for Marxist-Leninism. That religion is dead. Russia is a world power like any other, with its own interests which sometimes coincide with and sometimes contradict ours. However, they are not some monolithic dark empire anymore. Just another emerging mixed market capitalist economy.

    Now, some Americans cannot get over the Cold War and are still fixated on the perceived ghost of the Soviet Union. McCain seems to be in this camp. His editorial in Pravda was written with quite the deaf ear. Evidently there are no Russia experts on his staff.

    More importantly, you get the Right jealous of any challenge to projection of US power, nostalgic for the
    Cold War; and you get the left who begrudge the Russians for throwing in the towel on socialism and re-embracing some measure of traditionalism.

    The life or death struggle with the “focus of evil in the modern world” is long over. If there is a focus of evil in the modern world, I would suggest it is either the DNC or al-Qaida. 6 to 5 and you pick em.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      The ghost of communism is real. Just like the Devil’s greatest achievement is to make people believe he does not exist, when in reality he does. So Communism is still there, just under wraps.


  17. cynthia curran says

    M. Stankovich, I now qualify for job help through the Vocational Rehabilitation service in my state of Arizona. I had to go through academic skills test, IQ Tests, and a psychological questionnaire and interview to qualify. The state of Arizona Vocational Rehabilitation had a psychologist that administered these tests and I was not charged . I qualify in Tier 1 now. which means that Vocational Rehabilitation will help me get a job. During the past two years I was terminated from 3 jobs since they became more difficult to perform at a proficient level.

    • M. Stankovich says


      My sincere apologies for not seeing this until now! Thank you for your comment. My neurologist suggested I go for neuropsychological testing for the extent of dyslexia and the extent of deficit as the result of head trauma, etc. and gave me a referral. My health insurance does not cover the testing and the out-of-pocket expense is outrageous! The other reality is that, whatever the testing determined, it can’t be “fixed”regardless. So, I thought I might go to the CA Dept. of Rehab… I don’t need a job! Leave me your email at my website (contact me or leave a comment)) (No one will see it but me).

  18. cynthia curran says

    Now, some Americans cannot get over the Cold War and are still fixated on the perceived ghost of the Soviet Union. McCain seems to be in this camp. His editorial in Pravda was written with quite the deaf ear. Evidently there are no Russia experts on his staff.

    More importantly, you get the Right jealous of any challenge to projection of US power, nostalgic for the
    Cold War; and you get the left who begrudge the Russians for throwing in the towel on socialism and re-embracing some measure of traditionalism.

    The life or death struggle with the “focus of evil in the modern world” is long over. If there is a focus of evil in the modern world, I would suggest it is either the DNC or al-Qaida. 6 to 5 and you pick em.
    Some Republicans are living too much in the 1980’s, Reagan changed the demographics of the country and the Country is going to have to learn to live in a post-industrial society where truck driving jobs are more available than factory jobs. Its part of the problem since even the Chinese that got a lot of US manufacturing are also going to automation and Robots. That’s why the economy was much better under Clinton than Bush or Obama.
    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

  19. The ROC issues new rules on Confession & Communion. Every time a lay person receives the Eucharist, they must have gone to Confession. And, women cannot receive the Eucharist while menstruating. Both practices are an aberration of Orthodox practice and distort Orthodox Sacramental Theology. Do we see the clergy going to Confession before every Divine Liturgy? And, the entire discussion of a woman’s time is something from the Old Testament and not part of the Church. So, the ROC again wishes to lead; right back to 1600. They really need some real Orthodox theologians to back up what they say and do.



      This is not news in the Church of Russia. This has been standard ROCOR practice for quite some time. I don’t know about the menstruating issue but I assume it has some basis in canon law. As to communion, it depends on the level of piety of the communicants. No one is worthy, but the question is whether someone is aware of their unworthiness and nevertheless prepared, or whether they simply take communion for granted. See above article. The Russians do better than most on this issue.

      • Engaged observer says

        Just to be quite clear about this — I go to a ROCOR mission in the diocese of Chicago/Midwestern America, and our priest does NOT require a confession before every reception of Holy Communion. I think some people do that, though certainly not everyone.

        The 1:1 confession:holy communion ratio dates from a time when people received Holy Communion once a year! And of course you’d go to confession before that. Often families had their Sunday when they’d receive, sometimes Palm Sunday or Holy Thursday, or something like that. Our priest requires regular confession, but what that amounts to is different for each person. We do not become “worthy” to receive Holy Communion by going to confession.

        Perhaps in some of the more “Russian” of the ROCOR parishes this 1:1 ratio still exists, but certainly not everywhere. In our parish, only a couple of people are remotely Russian — the rest of us are mutt Americans.

        So please don’t spread rumors like this that aren’t true. I love my parish and I love my diocese and ROCOR — with such saintly leaders like St John of San Francisco. And I’ve grown to love the old calendar too. I hope you new calendar folks know that the new calendar is a huge obstruction to orthodox unity, especially among our non-Chalcedonian Orthodox friends like the Copts and Ethiopians. Not to mention that the old calendar is an important (and underused) evangelical tool. Just sayin’!

    • The ROC issues new rules on Confession & Communion.

      As a Russian saying goes, “He heard the ringing but does not know where it comes from.” It rhymes in Russan: “Слышал звон, да не знает где он.” This means that you heard something but got it all wrong. The ROC did not issue new rules. There is a draft document (a proposal) published for public discussion. I have read a number of comments by well known priests who criticize individual parts of the document. It certainly has not been approved and if such a document with a set of rules is to be adopted, I am sure it will differ from the draft on many points.

  20. He heard the bell but knew not from where it was says

    Please give a URL for the document and where to comment. Confession before each and every communion used to be a way Roman Catholics controlled their laity. It would mitigate against having a spiritual father who knew one very well and with which one continued his/her spiritual progress.

  21. George Osborne says

    Regarding the OCA’s supposed autocephaly (real on paper, not so real in actuality), I am reminded of what I consider to be a clever quote from the prolific science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle. In a novel entitled “Inferno” (which is a very clever retelling of Dante’s famous piece by the same name), the protagonist a dead author named Thompson who is taken on a tour of hell by none other than Benito Mussolini in the role of Virgil. Towards the end, Thompson makes this observation: “Hell is just the violent ward in a hospital for the theologically insane.” Now, I’m not going to argue that this statement is theologically relevant, obviously it’s not; however, it did get me thinking about the OCA and autocephaly. Frankly, I’ve come to the conclusion that – reagrdless of its original intent – the Russian Mother Church regards the OCA as the “violent ward for the theologically incapable.” It’s nice to be able to, on the one hand, to affirm the authocephaly with a “Hey, they’re autocephalous, don’t look at us when they do stupid things!” and, on the other hand, regard the OCA as part and parcel of the Mother Church when it’s convenient or helpful, like counting Russiophile noses at the Bishop’s Conference. It’s really politically very clever. You can distance yourself from the madness but be close when you want or need to be. So, maybe when we see things like +Jonah be restricted to Bethesda or vacancies in the dioceses, we ought to look for guards outside the doors wearing white jackets just wanting to keep the madness and silliness contained! [BTW, before anyone gets too incensed and their fingers get itchey to write a reply, I was only HALF kidding!]

  22. Carl Kraeff says:
    September 25, 2013 at 10:17 am
    Dear Roman–There is a distinction between retiring and resigning. In their own words:

    +Dmitri: “Overseeing a Diocese, however, is a temporary calling by nature. Thus, after fifty five years in the priesthood and forty years as a bishop of the Orthodox Church in America, I have asked for retirement from the active episcopacy, effective March 31, 2009. It is not a decision I make lightly.” Age at retirement: 86.

    + Jonah: “To the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, Brothers, As per your unanimous request, as conveyed to me by Chancellor Fr. John Jillions, I hereby tender my resignation as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and humbly request another Episcopal assignment. I had come to the realization long ago that that I have neither the personality nor the temperament for the position of Primate, a position I never sought nor desired.” Age at resignation: 53.


    You are digging yourself even deeper into the reality of +Jonah’s demise. You have carefully omitted that +Jonah requested of his brothers to be assigned to another diocese; is that not true? He never understood his stepping aside as Primate to be his retirement, which, as you know, the Synod took into their own hands and sent him out to pasture.

    There is no doubt that +Jonah was forced into his resignation. If you don’t believe me, why not ask +Jonah personally. He will tell you. It is really quite simple to ascertain the truth, if in fact truth is what you are trying to determine.

    I would go far as to submit that his “retirement” was the only way that the largess of his brothers, $1000 per month to their former Primate would be achieved since the Synod rejected every other option that +Jonah put forth, which included him being considered for any number of the now current vacant dioceses in the OCA or if that was not going to happen, a “retirement” package which incarnated the words of Patriarch Kirill which said that +Jonah should be treated with respect and honor.

    Anyway you cut it, dear Carl, the Synod and the Syosset folks had only one goal, the removal of +Jonah as Primate and his disappearance from the life of the OCA. They succeeded in that goal but the bitter fruit of their example is still producing, not calm, as Metropolitan insisted at this week’s Metropolitan meeting but increased skepticism here and abroad that the OCA leadership is loving and caring for one of her own.

    What is on display now is that the new Primate of the OCA cannot meet with his Metropolitan Council but now must be surrounded by other members of the Synod to make sure that he is kept under control. The proof of this was when they imposed themselves upon the Metropolitan Council when they viewed +Jonah with suspicion. That uncertainly that the new Metropolitan will not meet alone with his Council is another proof that the OCA is slowly coming apart. And you can be sure that Metropolitan Tikhon will never try to assert his Primatial responsibilities. No, he will meekly buckle under and smile. Lest we forget, the people in Parma voted for Bishop Michael, but the Synod chose +Tikhon.

    And tomorrow we will be greeted with words by Chancellor Jillions that “frank discussions were held on a variety of topics” again showing the new way of the OCA as inclusive. Yes, inclusive if you toe the line and not speak up, because if you do, you will be marginalized and go the way of +Jonah. Any opposing views at the Metropolitan Council meetings this week will not be reported in detail, only “frank discussions.”

  23. cynthia curran says

    The ghost of communism is real. Just like the Devil’s greatest achievement is to make people believe he does not exist, when in reality he does. So Communism is still there, just under wraps.

    Well, there is a lot of recent changed that makes communism popular with bad economies and such.