And the White Hat Goes To…

…the Bishop of Pittsburgh. At least that’s what the most recent word on the street is, now that Bps Michael and Tikhon lost the inside track due to the legal troubles faced by St Tikhon’s Seminary.

Trouble is, Bp Melchisedek is not without his own problems. His though are of a more canonical nature rather than criminal or moral ones. His issue is more legalistic: as noted more than once or twice on this blog, Fr Melchisedek Pleska never received a blessing from his Abbott to leave the monastery from which he received the Great Schema. In monastic circles, this is a big no-no.

His handlers on the Metropolitan Council however wanted him here to keep the vacant Dioceses of Pittsburgh up and running. (It was slated to be merged with the Diocese of Philadelphia.) Unfortunately without a canonical release, his election would be null and void. In order to avoid asking for Dionysios’ blessing, he somehow finagled a release from the nearest diocesan bishop in Greece, a certain Metropolitan Kyrillos II. Unfortunately, the bishop didn’t have the authority to grant this release. As such, it’s possible that he may have broken Greek laws and if convicted, could face time in prison.

This probably explains a lot of the tension that existed between Bp Melchisedek and the “DC Nuns” back in the Spring of 2011. You may remember that Bp Melchisedek and the Syosset Apparat (through their moutpiece Mark Stokoe) tried to get the nuns thrown out of the US. His Beatitude came to their rescue and released them to ROCOR.

It wasn’t just the Syosset Apparat that were leery about the nuns coming to America and establishing monasteries. As you can read for yourself in this email written by Fr Melchisedek (then a candidate for the episcopate) to his superior, Abbott Dionysios; the Patriarchate of Constantinople was concerned as well. This also may explain why later that year, Bp Melchisedek and Fr Alexander Garklavs were seen visiting the GOA headquarters. My sources in the GOA tell me that they tried to get Patriarch Bartholomew to lean on the Elder Dionysios to grant him the release. This didn’t happen and thus there was no resolution to the matter. Instead, Bp Melchisedek was told to remain silent in order to not draw attention to the issue. (Somewhat tangentially related to all this, the bishop in question has been trying to confiscate the monasteries of Dionysios, so there are many layers to this onion.)

This is all very interesting. What is important for our sakes is that the OCA went ahead and elected Fr Melchisedek to the episcopate anyway. Regardless, it’s all probably moot because Syosset has decided that canonical good order are not as important as getting rid of Metropolitan Jonah. When the election of Benjamin became untenable, then they had to settle on the next best candidate. The problem is that there may be no next, best candidate. As the Sons of Job so eloquently stated in one of their missives, all of them have severe impediments.

What does this mean for the OCA? Well, what do you think? If the new Metropolitan is beholden to the Phanar, then how solid is its autocephaly?

From: “Thomas Pleska”
To: “Boanerges”
Sent: Friday, November 14, 2008 9:19 PM
Subject: Are you ready? From Fr. Melchisedek

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rev. Geronta, Your Blessing.

In late October the my name and the name of the other ‘finalist’ were
published in the Pittsburgh newspapers. With reference to me, only my name (lay
and monastic) was given and the fact that I was in Greece. About one week after
that notice, Fr. Deacon John Chryssavgis called Fr. Hopko (who lives at Ellwood
City, in the diocese) and introduced himself as the official representative of the
Ecumenical Patriarch, and they were concerned that I, a spiritual child of Geronta
Dionysios would become bishop and invite you to make monasteries in the U.S.
Fr. Hopko referred him to the Chancellor of the Diocese and he told the chancellor
that: You were twice kicked off Mt. Athos, the second time with your community.
You and your entire community is presently persona non grata with 1) the
Archbishop of Athens/Greece, 2) the Patriarch of Jerusalem and 3) the Ecumenical
Patriarch. Three or four members of your communities have been deposed by one
or another patriarch or bishop. You and your monastery have been back and forth
between Mt. Athos and the Churches of Greece and Jerusalem numerous times
over the past few years. It is thought that you are anxious to enter America and
establish monasteries here, “should one of his monks become a bishop here”. I
gave answers based on your Biographical note in your 30th anniversary Book. So,
that, for instance, you were invited Abbot of Pantocrator Monastery, Holy
Mountain. That you have 4 monasteries in Greece, and, at the invitation of
Patriarch Irenaeus sent nuns to Jerusalem. On the basis of my answers, the
Diocesan council felt that the whole thing was an unwarranted intrusion of the
Ecumenical Patriarch into the affairs of the OCA and the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
I still have the pictures and information.
So, you ask, Am I ready? Well, for what? Sometimes I feel ready for
anything, sometimes for nothing. You choose.

In Christ,
Fr. Melchisedek

About GShep


  1. Well, if he’s a member of AA, that should count for something.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says (November 11, 2012 at 9:58 pm):

      Well, if he’s a member of AA, that should count for something.


      But that’s just it. People I know and trust in Pittsburgh say that Bp Melchisedek is still drinking excessively.

      Substance abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, abuse of authority, enabling some or all of the above — which of our OCA bishops is least likely to be compromised by his personal (yet well known) history, and so not be liable to manipulation by the ‘culture of mutual embarrassment’ ?

      While I don’t know the details of the situation, and while I’m very sympathetic to Fr Alexander Atty’s position, I do know that Bp Michael Dahulich has a long history at St Tikhon Seminary and significant administrative and educational experience. I have no reason to think that he is in any way less committed to the well being of STOTS than is FrAA.

      It’s my feeling that, if anyone but BpMD gets elected primate, we’ll just sink back into the same immoral morass from which we (everyone but the bishops) are striving mightily to escape. That escape will, of course, involve neutralizing the evil continually perpetrated by some of our bishops. That can’t happen if one of the bad guys gets the nod from his cronies in the Holy Synod.

      This whole process reminds me of nothing so much as crabbing in New Jersey when I was a boy.

      When we pulled them in, we could put them in a bucket until it was half full. There was no need to cover it, just not overfill the bucket. That’s because the live crabs would attempt to climb out of the bucket, and if they were piled too high, they might succeed. But if the bucket were kept less than half full, every time one of the crabs reached up to the rim, another crab would pull him back down, so none could escape. A scene from Dante’s Inferno….

      • Why exactly does Bp. Mel not drive? Is it because he is blocked from driving? Was there a DUI when he was in CT. and his drivers licence revoked? It would seem to me that he should answer these questions before his name is even considered for the office of Metropolitan.

        If he is a recovering alcoholic, people should know so that they can vote with full disclosure, one way or the other. Just seems fair. Accountability and transparency and all that!

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          I have heard of Greek Bishops who do not drive lest they are involved in an accident that causes a death. An Orthodox Bishop who kills another person can no longer serve as an Orthodox Bishop.

          • You heard correctly, Father Morris. In the Russian Church at least up into the 1990s, hierarchs were not allowed to drive. This came from a directive by Patriarch Alexi the First (Simansky) after a hierarch
            DID cause someone’s death in an accident. In about 1992, the cousin of one of my Los Angeles parishioners visited us with his wife. He was an Archpriest from Ryazan. We were invited to a meal with several families at his cousin’s house. When it came time for me to leave, i went out the front door and the Archpriest asked who would be driving me. I said, “Nobody. My car’s right here in the driveway.” He ran into the house, calling his wife, Milla! (she was Ludmilla Andreevna) Come quick, Bishop Tikhon is going to DRIVE!!”. Then he and his wife both came out on the porch and she snapped a couple quick photos as I backed out–both their mouths were open in awe.

      • Is Monk James saying that after thinking through the possible candidates, the only hope for the OCA is an active alcoholic with a doubt-begetting past not unlike that of “Archbishop” Lazar Puhalo? Is this really what is being said, or did I misunderstand? I am an OCA catechuman… I and my wife have a stake in this too, wouldn’t you say? A compassionate reply would be most helpful and appreciated.

        Lord, have mercy!


        • Ivanov says (November 12, 2012 at 5:35 pm):

          Is Monk James saying that after thinking through the possible candidates, the only hope for the OCA is an active alcoholic with a doubt-begetting past not unlike that of “Archbishop” Lazar Puhalo? Is this really what is being said, or did I misunderstand? I am an OCA catechuman… I and my wife have a stake in this too, wouldn’t you say? A compassionate reply would be most helpful and appreciated.

          No. That’s NOT what I’m saying. Not at all.

          I suggested that Bp Michael Dahulich seemed to me to be the least compromised of all the bishops currently in the OCA’s Holy Synod, and therefore most likely to be the best candidate for primate.

          Other people have their own opinions on the matter.

      • Monk James. They don’t realize, any of them, how these things happen now and will keep happening. If Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick had been the Chancellor Bishop Michael and Bishop Melkhizedek and Bishop Alexander were proposed for candidacy to the episcopate, they would not be bishops today, because He ws the kind of Chancellor who supported the Metropolitan one hundred per cent, and the worst thing that could happen to him, he always thought (until Metropolitan Herman slipped the knife in his ribs, a knife handed to him by Bishop Job and honed in the workshops of Stokoe, Wheeler, Hunchak, and Company, with the blessings of Sarah Rose of Proskauer and Rose,while Nomenklatura entities like T. Hopko and V. Berzonsky piously looked away), was that someone would make the Metropolitan stumble. Herman though he could go it alone. Typical. Not so much the company clerk as a Lieutenant Fuzz or any other 2nd lieutenant.

      • M. Stankovich says

        If you exist verifiable, trustworthy information from individuals who have the integrity to reveal themselves, they were obligated to make this information know prior to the AAC in the best interest of the Church. Not in the form of a Tartuffe of a monk who revels in “murderous gossip.” I tell you that there are fewer things more offensive, more hurtful, and more defeating that an addict/alcoholic who is committed to an anonymous program of rehabilitation and recovery to hear an inconsiderate rumor of their “relapse.” And if there is relapse, they deserve an outstretched hand of mercy and acceptance for the path home. Certainly not scorn and derision from you. If I were your “abbot,” you would be sitting on that crab bucket in a corner, praying that your ugly rumor is unfounded, and that the Archbishop is sober and grateful to God for delivering him.

        • happy joyous and free says

          Mr. Stankovich,

          In going to the source document, one finds this bit of advice regarding “those committed to an anonymous program of recovery” in a chapter entitled: “To Employers,”

          “In case he [the alcoholic] does stumble, even once, you will have to decide whether to let him go. If you are sure he doesn’t mean business, there is no doubt you should discharge him. If, on the contrary, you are sure he is doing his utmost, you may wish to give him another chance. But you should feel no obligation to keep him on, for your obligation has been well discharged already.”

          from the book Alcoholics Anonymous pg 147

          So the question (largely irrelevant with respect to the white hat at this date, but likely relevant to his diocese) is, “Is the good bishop in fact so afflicted and if so, has he relapsed?”

          While I could not agree more with you regarding the rumour aspects of this, there is a funny thing about the disease of alcoholism. It is progressive. So if the rumour is true, over time it will be very clear…to everyone else, if not to the good bishop.

          And as you have so eloquently stated regarding other various maladies, these souls do deserve a hand of mercy outstretched. But deserving recovery is not the same as deserving eternal job security. So, as the folks who penned the advice above said in 1939, if a relapse has occurred, an employer is under no obligation to continue employment.

          So we go back to the real question. What are the verifiable facts?

    • Parma or bust says

      Please forgive my ignorance. Traveling to Parma now, and have last minute questions. What were the circumstances surrounding +Michael’s car accident, and was he impaired or at all to blame? Also, regarding +Irenee…any issues that would cause concern?

      • Fr James Worthington says

        The facts are that he was traveling with his new bride a few months after their wedding. They were t-boned by another driver who was under the influence. She was killed instantly and His Grace was in a coma for 3 months and missed his wife’s funeral. Even implying that there was guilt on Bp Michael’s part, even if in the form of a question is reckless and causes false ideas to circulate.

        • Fr. James, if I recall correctly, the accident was not even a month after Fr. Michael and Deborah’s wedding and his ordination.

          But you are right, the Dahuliches were not at all at fault. It was a horrible accident.

      • I really hope they leave Bp Irenee out of this. We quite like him in Canada where he is- our diocese has a good leader after the heartbreak of Abp Seraphim’s charges. Also, there is the issue of immigration- he is not an American citizen, it could be tough to make it work perhaps? I know that was part of why Abp Seraphim was unsuitable, not to mention that Canada is a VERY different culture than the US.

      • Thomas Paine says

        The big issue with + Michael was that he was at St. Tikhon’s for many years under + Herman. He turned a “blind-eye” to all the corruption surrounding + Herman’s playing with STOTS property & monies. + Michael says he didn’t know. So, what is worse, as Dean of STOTS not knowing the corruption going on around you in plain sight or ignoring it and doing nothing? Remember, he comes from the Uniate hierarchical philosophy that “the bishop can do no wrong and must be supported at any cost.” The OCA would be open to more problems here.

        • Disgusted With It says

          You mean kind of like those who worked in Syosset under previous Metropolitans and turned a blind eye to many unethical things until it suited their personal interests to all of a sudden “see the light”?

  2. Bruce Wm. Trakas says

    Large sign out front of the property of the Orthodox Christian Church of the Holy Trinity, 6822 Broadview Rd., Parma, Ohio:


    An arrow points to the church.

    Drive-by, cursory exterior view, of the Holiday Inn-Independence and the Double Tree-South the evening of Sunday, Nov., 11th, indicates no signs of AAC delegates or alternates; parking lots are very lightly filled. Understandably, delegates would not be expected ’till Monday.

    A historical note: St. Theodosios Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio was the site of the 2nd and 5th All American Sobors. Holy Trinity Church is a daughter parish of St. Theodosios Cathedral having been formed in the early 1960’s as a parish of the Midwest Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Metropolia, that offered all the Divine Services of the church only in the English language, under the able leadership of Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky, who only retired in February of this year. He’s been succeeded by Fr. Alexander Garclavs, the immediate past Chancellor of the OCA. The church’s architecture is of a country church, akin to the parishes constructed by the Russian Orthodox Church’s mission to Alaska.

    • This AAC should be held in a prison. That is where the synod has us now, after we leave they can stay.


  3. One question to which I would like to know the answer: was he a part of the conspiracy to remove +Jonah? Was he one of those who requested +Jonah’s resignation?

    • George Michalopulos says

      They were all part of the conspiracy at least after the fact. Even though the did not sign their names to the demonic letter, neither did anybody repudiate it.

  4. Fr. George Washburn says

    Hello friends:

    May we rest well tonight, and those of you who travel to Parma tomorrow do so safely and participate wisely.

    I have no idea if this bishop has been agreed or is the right man for the Metropolitanate. I do want to comment further, however, on the unfair criticism of Abp. Nathaniel based on the Fr. Vasile Susan documents and the Ken Miller guest editorial of Nov 1 because I believe it is indicative of the flawed way in which reactive people are (mis)using some claims improperly to smear voting bishops and/or candidates.

    The dedicated reader will recall that on November 1 a guest editorial by Ken Miller called our attention to a document posted by pokrov and furnished by Fr. Vasile Susan. Mr. Miller dubbed it a transcript even though it bears no resemblance to what is normally understood to be a transcript in legal quarters.

    One clue may lie in the purported answer to Q 24 in which Abp Job allegedly says “You cannot take so many notes in writing while we are talking.” This suggests that the document is based on Fr. Vasile notes of an actual encounter – but still far from an accurate verbatim record, which is what we normally understand as a transcript.

    Even if there is some basis in Fr. Vasile’s notes for this record it leaves unanswered just how accurately Fr. Vasile has rendered what Abp Job did say. One spot in particular caught my attention, where in reply to Q 20 Abp. Job purportedly said “Someone jumped over the horse…”

    I have read and heard a lot of American idiom in different places (born in New England, raised in Schenectady, 4 years of college in S. Carolina, 3 of seminary in Chicagoland, and working life in N. California. Never heard anyone use a colloquialism about horse jumping though.

    But it did remind me a bit of the figures of speech one hears from Romanians – I have had Romanian parishioners and traveled there once. I asked one of them if there is such a figure of speech, and heard back today that there is: “ai sarit calu.” It means literally “(you) have jumped (over) the horse,” and is used in a negative way to indicate someone who has gotten out of line or done something wrong.

    When you read the answer to Q 20 that is just how it is being used in context, but in words that the author of the document – a native Romanian speaker – puts in the mouth of Abp Job, who was a native English speaker with no idiomatic facility in Romanian whatsoever!! The strong implication – in fact I cannot think of a reasonable competing inference – is that Fr. Vasile is interpolating his own words on this point in answer 20.

    Which then leads to the question “If he is adding in his own words on such an inconsequential point, to what extent can we trust that any of the words the document puts in Abp Job’s mouth on consequential points were actually spoken by him/” I ask this only because the trumpet has been blown here for the testimony of Fr. Vasile to be regarded by all as credible, and worthy of belief in discrediting the Holy Synod.


    Fr. George

    • Fr. George,

      Since you are an attorney, I was wondering if you would give your free opinion about the possibility of a sexual harassment lawsuit over the Bishop Mathias situation. Mr. Harry Coin recently wrote that he thought the text messaging was just “trash talk.”

      I’m mentioning it here on this thread because it seems to me that this is going to be one of the top five issues to deal with after the new metropolitan is elected. I am not a lawyer but have attended a number of sexual harassment training sessions over the past 10 years. Since it is a requirement for companies who employ over a certain number of employees to give supervisors training, I have sat through several of these programs.

      I’m afraid the holy synod and Mr. Coin have obviously not kept up on recent case law regarding this subject. In the workplace today, even the appearance of sexual misconduct can get you fired. Your “intent” has nothing to do with it. If Bishop Mathias were working for almost any large company in America today he would most likely have been forced to resign.

      This is from the EEOC website:

      Sexual Harassment

      It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

      Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

      Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

      Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

      The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

      • Fr. George Washburn says

        Dear Nicholas:

        I started to write you a reasoned reply with a bottom line opinion and why I felt that way. But it just didn’t feel right to be picking through the bishop’s life or the young lady’s in public, so I erased all that.

        I will simply note from the lawyer side that a) she was not a church employee and b) I do not see the facts as I understand them from the public comments to be likely to lead to a suit, let alone one of any magnitude.

        And now a peep from the priest, who says simply that the conduct was completely inappropriate to clerical office ….period. No further expostulations.


        Fr. George

    • anonymus per Scorilo says

      There is an old Romanian saying: “O Lord, guard me from my friends, for against my enemies I can also guard myself”

      I believe this applies unfortunately to people who have been trying to help Met. Jonah’s case by using Fr. Vasile’s situation, and essentially saying “look, here is another persecuted innocent victim of the evil Abp. Nathaniel.” There is an astronomical difference between the two situations – Met Jonah never photocopied illegally spiritual tribunal documents.

  5. “You may remember that [a combination of the usual suspects and the current hierarch George is trying to smear with FUD*] tried to get the nuns thrown out of the US. His Beatitude came to their rescue and released them to ROCOR. ”

    Are the DC nuns still in ROCOR? Have there been any questions or investigations about their status since joining ROCOR? And, if so, how were these questions or investigations resolved?

    The story you’re peddling is that the DC nuns were rescued by +Jonah by being released to ROCOR, with the implication that if a more “traditional” jurisdiction were willing to receive them, then the OCA must have been wrong to raise questions. Their subsequent experience in ROCOR would be relevant to deciding whether that was indeed the case.

    *FUD= fear, uncertainty, and doubt — a term for a particularly low political ploy used when there’s no substantive basis for attacking an opponent

    • George Michalopulos says

      And yet, Madame, I am correct in my assessment. Just because they don’t agree with your Leonovite anthropology does not make them worthy of the persecution they sustained by the Stokovites.

  6. Priest's wife PA says

    Hi, with all this talk about St. Tikhon’s what ever happened to Fr. Golobov. He was a teacher there and dean when my son was in Serminary? Maybe he could be counted on for stability, he was very kind to my son and we all liked him. I don’t think the bishops get it, and is it so hard, all I [we] want is a church that runs good and bishops that don’t step into a cow pie all the time. The old bishops like Vladika Kiprian were a moral force. I don’t see how we can elect any of them Metropolitan, Father says that the OCA is headed for even more dark times.

    Matushka PA

  7. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    It has come to my attention that Met. Jonah’s sister is very gravely ill and in intensive care at the hospital. She was chrismated yesterday, her patron saint is St. Laura of Spain. Pray for her!

    • Is there no end to the suffering that this man must endure? My family is praying for you Your Beatitude, we love and support you.

      • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

        Ditto. We pray for him as well. God grant recovery to his sister Laura, and let Jonah have a job.

    • Thank you for your concern. We pray for her. We are heartbroken.
      We are her parents living this nightmare. First our son and now our

      Her Mpther and Father – Louise and Jim

      • Our deep love and prayers to you, your son (OUR METROPOLITAN) and for your daughter. Your son is a good man, but he fell into a den of thieves. Somehow the good will come out. God rewards the good, not the bums and perverts in the OCA synod. They are cruel mean people, they will never have the peoples support.


      • Light reveals the truth says

        I hope that you are somehow comforted by the knowledge that there are many, many of us who commend your son, our Metropolitan, Jonah in prayers to God and the Most Holy Theotokos (and I, personally, to St. Demetrius). And, many are praying for your daughter as we’ve become aware of the gravity of her situation, and also pray for you.

      • Mrs. Paffhausen,

        I have known your son for 20 years, and for 6 of them he was my spiritual father. He baptized my baby, gave my wife hope for a new life, and helped me immensely. Wisdom will eventually be justified of her children.

    • Pravoslavnie says

      Word has reached the Orthodox community in DC that His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah’s sister Laura fell asleep in the Lord this morning. She was christmated into Orthodoxy just last week. May her memory be eternal.

  8. What a sneaky email and a glimpse into the heart of this man. He tells his Abbot (I have the goods on you) but then gives answers that are untruthful so that he can get to be a bishop. Not that Elder Dionysios has a thing to be concerned about from +Melchisedek, but I find this email so revealing. +Melchisedek left the monastery without a blessing. That is indisputable. He led a revolt against his Elder. That is indisputable.

    Yep, perfect candidate to be OCA Metropolitan!

    • Hasn’t this site put the monks who “rebelled” against Abbot Meletios in CA as defenders of Orthodoxy? Why would the same people assume Bp Mel “led a revolt against his Elder” (if that is true) for more base reasons than they? What of the monks who left Platina or Brookline in the 80s without blessings from their Abbots?

      • All wrong. You don’t leave without a blessing. It is like going AWOL in the armed forces. It is as simple as 123 to understand.

      • 123: You speak of what you do not know. You should not.

        Did the monks you mentioned revolt against their Elders and leave their monasteries in order to become Bishops, and to this end, did they make agreements with the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople that have had far reaching consequences for the Church in America…and may have even more???

        Don’t bother to attempt to answer these legitimate questions – you don’t have enough legitimate information.

        • Thomas Mathes says

          FYI, what agreement did Bishop Melchizedek make with the Ecumenical Patriarch that has “far reaching consequences for the Church in America”? Don’t leave us in ignorance!

      • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

        Meletios was alleged to have slandered his predecessor. In addition, he left the monastery, and can no longer be counted as a superior, so the monks are on their own.

      • Does a public testimony of one’s reasons for leaving/rebelling count as a relevant difference?

      • 123, Fr Martin left Manton with the blessing of Abbot Meletios. Ask both of them to confirm. They will.

        Also, when your Abbot or Bishop preaches heresy in Church, an Ecumenical Synod provide the option to leave before a trial.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Here’s the difference: Fr Martin and his fellow monks went to Abbott Meletius first, then to their bishop before initiation any self-exile. Nor did they do this with the expectation that they would be rewarded with an episcopal mitre.

        From what I’m told, then-Fr Melchisedek snuck out from the monastery without receiving a blessing.

        Now here’s something maybe you all can help me with: I thought once a monk takes the Great Scehma, he’s bound to the “monastery of his repentance” until he dies. Am I wrong?

    • Gailina Sheppard says

      Well, to be fair, we have led a “revolt” against our “elders” on behalf of Metropolitan Jonah so this is probably not the best argument. What else have you got?

    • Thomas Mathes says

      Nikos, your interpretation of Fr. Melchizedek’s email makes no sense. If the EP represenative has already spilled “the goods,” in what sense can Fr. Melchizedek “have the goods” on Abbot Dionysios? To have the goods on someone for the purpose of leverage usually means that the information is not known, but in this case, the “goods” were shared by the EP representative with the OCA. I don’t see anything that Bishop Melchizedek can hold over Abbot Dionysios. Furthermore, you claim that Fr. Melchizedek gives “untruthful answers” but you fail to point out which statements by Fr. Melchizedek were not true. I would describe his responses as putting Abbot Dionysios in the best light. That seems an appropriate response since the EP representative has already put Abbot Dionysios in a bad light.

  9. Thomas Paine says

    Where do you people come up with this stuff? Bp Melchisedek is none of what you say. More intrigue; more conspiracies; more rumors & innuendo. Sounds like more %$@#& from ROCOR – anti-OCA converts.

    • George Michalopulos says

      All I said was that Fr Melchisedek never received his elder’s blessing to leave the monastery of his repentance. That’s right, isn’t it? A simple yes or no will suffice.

      • An abbot’s bishop outranks the abbot. The bishop’s hands are not tied pending approval from an abbot under him. While it would be typical for the abbot to grant his blessing first and alongside the bishop, Elder Dionysios is far from an uncontroversial figure in the Church of Greece, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the monastic circles of Greece, Mt Athos, and the Holy Land. It’s easy to imagine a situation where a former disciple of the Geronda sought escape/release and only his bishop could come to his aid.

        I think those in the self-styled traditionalist camp of the OCA (who seem more often to be primarily of the conservative political camp in the world, which is different) need to be careful they don’t hitch their wagon to a questionable monastic elder back in Greece as an almost accidental part of defending Met. Jonah and attacking those who supported his removal from office.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Whenever I hear the word “controversial,” especially in regards to the Church of Greece or Constantinople, I often wonder what exactly constitutes that charge.

          • “Questionable” might be a better term, which I also used.

            It seems Elder Dionysios is seen as a liar regarding his spiritual roots and ties with Athonite aristocracy like Elder Joseph the Hesychast and Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra. He is also seen by those in traditional monastic circles as a bordering on cult leader – and this from those who would not question Elder Ephraim in AZ, which is saying a lot about where on the spectrum Dionysios lies. He was also booted out of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre. That is, the typical folks the crowd at Monomakhos would look to as representatives of ‘traditional Orthodoxy’ question Elder Dionysios and think him ‘controversial’.

            As with most of what is written here and in the comboxes, it could likely all be gossip. But, basing an argument against Bp Mel on the fact that Elder Dionysios may not have given then Fr. Mel a blessing to leave the monastery (though their common bishop did) may not prove too strong an argment and may actually do more harm to Elder Dionysios (and the nuns in DC) than good.

            Having met the Elder and asked around about him, my sense is that most pro-monastic, traditionalist Greeks would prefer to let Dionysios alone and not speak to his failings publicly if he would just keep a low profile, not self-aggrandize, not expand his network of monasteries internationally, and be content with what he has built already. He’s not young, and any borderline cult of personality issue will die with him leaving behind the good he has done. It also seems as if the most flagrant instances relative to the Geronda are well in the past, now, so there’s hope that’s where they will stay.

            At base, though, questioning Bp Mel on the basis of any abbot not giving his blessing for a monk to leave is silly as long as the monastery’s bishop has given his blessing. That’s all that’s canonically required. Bishop beats abbot, even if abbot beats monk in this Orthodox version of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’.

        • I must agree with 123. As established in the numerous documents relating to the DC/MD nuns, Met. +KYRILLOS in Greece is the episcopal overseer of Elder Dionysios’ monasteries, and, as such, only he can give canonical release. Though it is unusual for the Abbot and the monastic council not to issue a recommendation for release, the document of the Bishop is what is binding and final in canon law.

          And any Elder who has been kicked out, at various times, from 1) Mt. Athos, 2) America (Greek Archdiocese), and 3) Jerusalem, in addition to having problems with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece must be viewed, at the very least, as controversial.

        • Not in Greece 123. You need to know more before you write. Otherwise you sound like an OCA supporter who thinks the way they do church is the way everyone is suppose to act.

        • 123/DCOrthodox: You are incorrect. You very obviously know NOTHING of the laws governing monasteries, especially those in Greece. Reminds me of someone watching a soccer game and saying they should be the referee because the rules are just the same as American basketball. They are not.

          And by the way, as to your slurs about the Elder in Greece, even B. Mel was supporting the Elder in question in his email by citing the facts in the Elders Biographical note in his 30th anniversary Book opposing the slander waged against him – but you think you ‘know’ better???

          Those who do NOT know should not speculate as though they are experts…it does them and others no service.

        • George Michalopulos says

          well, if that’s the case, then

          1. why is there an e-mail trail between Syosset and Mel, Syosset and Greece, asking that the matter of his release be cleared up?

          2. Why the concern of the EP/GOA about Mel’s possible election to the episcopate?

          3. why the urgency of get rid of the DC Nuns? And lastly,

          4. why the concern of Elder Dioynisios? If there is something fishy about him then how is Bp Mel not tainted?

      • rasputin 111 says

        George just hates this bishop because he is a Slav.
        people like George will be happy unless they get their greedy Johbama back
        fed up
        send Johna to a REAL monastery — NO MEAT

      • George, you had a legitimate question, and now it looks like you have a clear answer. As I see it, your commitment to an open forum has served its purpose in this case. So thanks again for your maturity and leadership in maintaining such a forum.

      • Thomas Mathes says

        George, He did receive his abbot’s blessing. It was on the DC Nuns website. I pasted the English version from their website in my response below.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        It would seem to me that all these issues would have been resolved before the OCA consecrated Bishop Melchisedek would have been resolved before he was consecrated Bishop of Pittsburgh. Now irregardless of what happened or did not happen in Greece, the man is an OCA Bishop. I am a consultant to the Ecumenical Affairs Committee of the Bishop’s Assembly. Bishop Melchisedek is one of the OCA representatives. The head of the committee is Bishop Demetrios of the Greek Archdiocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. If there was a question about his validity, from the point of view of the Greeks, I have no doubt that he would not be in such a position on a committee headed by a Greek Bishop.

    • Mr. Paine, what is your other job at Syosset besides propaganda? According to you, every one of the members of the Synod is a potential candidate to take the office of Metropolitan. Looks like things are lining right up, several homosexual metropolitans in a row, then a godly metropolitan, then CHOOSE between more the same previous ilk after removing the only good one that they have had for many decades; maybe not all homosexuals, but those who have other major problems. It is very obvious that there isn’t a good one in the bunch to choose from.

    • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

      Thomas Paine, where is there evidence for ROCOR doing this to destroy the OCA? Contrary, Metropolitan Jonah and ROCOR have achieved reconciliation between ROCOR and the OCA.. The converts are not anti-OCA, but realists who will attend ROCOR churches if the OCA self-destructs or continues to lose credibility. If Melchisedek had no blessing, why is he Bishop of Pittsburgh?

      • Ilya Z…
        Why is “Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, deposed deacon of the ROCOR, still teaching publicly after having been “accepted” by the OCA, who allegedly imposed a suspension on his teaching publicly in concert with the requirement of retirement?

        Thanks for your help…


    • T. Paine…
      Do you associate yourself with THE Thomas Paine’s book, Age of Reason? Just curious….


  10. The most likely next metropolitan is Bishop Mark Maymon. He’s such an obvious choice I’m shocked that you keep overlooking him.

    • George Michalopulos says

      It really doesn’t matter, does it?

    • James S.,

      I’m sure the Antiochians would appreciate that choice. Our external relations would be, um, interesting.

      A question: why do you think he’s been passed over as an episcopal candidate by dioceses in the OCA?

  11. AAC Observer says

    Political intrigue aside, does anyone have any information or data on how His Grace Bishop Melchizedek has done during his tenure in Pennsylvania? Do the people like him? How are the parishes doing? Do the clergy support him?


    • Based on the results of reports at the WPA Diocesan Assembly held this past Saturday in Pittsburgh, it appears that the membership loss in the diocese is precipitous. I have no idea what clergy morale is in WPA but maybe clergy in that diocese might wish to contribute. The decline in the WPA is ongoing and the diocese will now employ a layperson to help stem the tide. The diocese is very slow to close dying parishes and plant new missions in areas of growth. That is a hard decision by a bishop, but it takes courage to redeploy your assets and make bold decisions. Is His Grace Bishop Melchizedek that bold leader? It seems that unless a diocese in decline does not have an aggressive mission planting program it is faced with doing the same thing and hoping for a different outcome. If His Grace Bishop Melchizedek is elected Metropolitan life in the WPA will be another bishop’s concern.

      • The situation in WPA reflects the overall situation of the OCA on the continental US outside of the South (can anyone provide diocesan statistics from the South? the West? the Mid-West?). Current rates of decline (through “natural attrition”) across the board are between 6-9% (well ,that was 2004; what is it now?).
        Read it here:
        That gives the OCA, what…10-15 years before it becomes a very small church indeed, albeit with a majority convert membership.
        But, the present holy synod and chancellor seem to be doing their best to give those committed, younger converts reasons to leave.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        It would seem to me that a lot of the problems of the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania are a reflection of the economic problems of the rust belt, which has been losing population and jobs for decades.

  12. We have documentation of (a) Bishop M’s release from Elder D. to the OCA and (b) Bishop M’s release from Elder D’s bishop to the OCA. If (a) and (B) happened after Bishop M switched monasteries in Greece, why is there a problem? Indeed, even if (a) and (b) happened before Bishop M switched monasteries in Greece, why is that such a big deal–he had already been released. Canonically. Period.

  13. Got this in from one of the Cabinet:

    The Monomoron crowd is now going after Bishop Melchisadek… posting dribble about him not having a canonical release… it’s like President Obama and his birth certificate.

    Well, well, well… this is proof, even for the slow learners, that Bishop Mel has a real chance at the white hat. I’ve seen a copy of Vladyki Mel’s release… everything’s in order, it’s kosher to the nth degree (I got advice on that from a Greek source… the neighbours are so nice). Then again, we all know that the Monomuckos lot are drooling supporters of Fathausen, so, it’s not surprising that they’re swallowing Vinnie Peterson’s lies whole. There’s a real choice this time. Tikhon Mollard and “(monkey) business as usual” or Mel Pleska and “straight dealing”. I’ve often said that Mel ain’t perfect, but we don’t have the luxury of perfection (do we ever?)… we need to do the best that we can with what we’ve got at hand. That being so, Mel’s the mature adult choice.

    With support from Stan-Barbara, one wonders how fall the OCA has sunk. Needless to say, the gathering in Parma will be a conclusion of which world Orthodoxy will hardly take a care or moment to consider, except to say that if the synod does not heed the word of its only benefactor, The Russian Orthodox Church, all bets will be off.

  14. Thomas Mathes says

    George, When the DC nuns posted several documents on their website, they included a canonical release from Abbot Dionysius for Bishop Melichizedek. I don’t see how you can say that he didn’t get it if even the DC nuns have a copy. I downloaded the document from their website. Here is the English version:

    Ηoly Monastery of Petra GR 431 00 Karditsa
    Tel.: 697.8118604 Fax: 244.1080716 E-mail: Web Site:
    Reg. No. 68
    13 December 2008
    Through the present Document of our Monastery, signed and sealed with its holy seal, in accordance with the decision recorded in Section A of the Minutes of Meeting VI of our Elders’ Council on December 13th, 2008, complying with the petition of the Beatific Archbishop of Washington & New York-Metropolitan of all America & Canada JONAH, of the OCA, expressed by his Letter of Dec. 8th, 2008, addressed to us,
    We Release
    the great-schema brother, dear to us, Very Reverend Archimandrite Fr. Melchisedek, secular name Thomas Pleska, son of Alexander and Eugenia, formerly Professor of Dogmatics at the Theological Academy of St. Tikhon, Pennsylvania, USA, in order for him to serve the Lord from now on with all faithfulness and commitment even outside the monastic sheepfold, through His Beatitude, the aforementioned Metropolitan, who called him to this, with His Eminence, our Metropolitan of Thessaliotis & Phanariophersala, CYRIL II, attesting that his priesthood is without empediment by his sealed and signed sanction hereupon.
    and the Brothers with me in Christ

    • Right. And B. Mel rejected it. Wonder why…??? Well, re-read what George said at the beginning for your clues.

      • Thomas Mathes says

        So, FYI, you agree that Abbot Dionysios gave Bishop Melchizedek canonical release (a direct contradiction of George’s contention). But how does one reject a canonical release and what would that mean? I don’t believe the DC Nuns had the option of rejecting their canonical release by Metropolitan Hilarion from ROCOR. Also, the DC Nuns made no mention about Bishop Melchizedek rejecting it. Where do you get this information? Since this canonical release would get him out of any possible trouble with the Greek government, I don’t see why he would reject it.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      I am asking this for information only, not to interfere in the selection of the new Metropolitan of the OCA. I have met Bishop Melchisedek and work with him on the Committee on Ecumenical Affairs of the Bishop’s Assembly have a good experience with him when I drove him to his hotel after the meeting. So, do not take this question as any criticism of Bishop Melchisedek. However, I am quite sure that our Bishop Basil said that a Great Schema monk could not become a Bishop. Is that just an Antiochism? Someone above mentioned that he does not drive. I have heard of Orthodox Bishops who did not drive lest they kill someone in an accident and can no longer serve as a Bishop.

      • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

        My understanding is that a schemamonk MAY become a bishop.ROCORS Bishop George was tonsured a schemomonk,on Mt.Athos,I believe.Also the late Archbishop Anthony of ROCORS San Francisco diocese was made a schemamonk in Serbia.However,if a man who is already a bishop takes the Great Schema,then he retires from being a bishop
        I think it a good idea that a bishop not drive for the reason you listed.Some years back,a priest I knew of was in an accident in which someone was killed.He did confess to his Spiritual Father,but NOT to his bishop,his cheif mistake.I don’t know the details,but he was allowed to continue serving.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          When I was in seminary a student was in an accident in which someone died, they conducted an investigation to decide on whether or not he could continue to study for the priesthood. However in modern society a priest cannot carry on his ministry without driving, at least in a place without very good public transportation.

  15. I dug up an interview of Bishop Melchisedek when he was interim chancellor. I thought this was interesting, given our current state of affairs:

    Bishop Melchisedek Pleska:

    My primary task in administration is that Central OCA offices function smoothly during this time of transition, and, at the same time, to maintain our commitment to the principles outlined in the document on Best Practises. We have to see that we implement them in full. We should also note that Church life, particularly as pertains to its ministry, is much more complicated now than ever before.

    For example, in 1985, only 26 years ago, I was a delegate at a conference at Princeton Seminary devoted to a WCC document on baptism, the Eucharist, and ministry. It had many participants from various Protestant denominations, as well as Orthodox and Roman Catholic attendees. Someone raised a question about clerical sexual misconduct; in reply, we said that, according to traditional canonical standards, we should depose any clergyman guilty of such a crime from the clerical state. The reaction of some of the participants to this reiteration of the canons of the ancient Church was a huge explosion… “How unchristian, how unloving, what a lack of pastoral sensitivity, etc”. The vast majority of those present were of the opinion that any clergy guilty of such a crime should simply be moved to another parish, in order to work out his repentance, and to continue his ministry. Indeed, that’s exactly what happened in most cases. Today, we’d consider such an attitude to this question criminally negligent.

    In the USA, clergy are in the same position as those in other professions, and they must comply with the same legal, moral, and ethical standards. Thus, we see cases of clerical misconduct as abuse of authority, and it’s no longer sufficient merely to simply remove or replace an offending priest, the Church is liable for the treatment and well-being of the victims, as well. If we don’t implement our rules and policies properly, it subjects the Church to the possibility of serious legal claims against it. This is only one example of a variety of areas in which the clergy, and, through them, the entire Church, are held responsible for the well-being of its flock.

    Seems that putting someone like, oh, Bishop Matthias back to work isn’t all that Orthodox; it’s more like what the heterodox do.

    Then I wonder if, perhaps, some of the slanderous comments about Bishop Melchisedek could be chalked up to “methinks thou dost protest too much”?

  16. LongTallSally says

    “Syosset has decided that canonical good order are not as important as getting rid of Metropolitan Jonah.”
    Once again, George, you nailed it. This says it all.

    I am going to Parma, and I am voting for Metropolitan JONAH.

    I no longer care whether my vote is ‘counted’ or not, because I’m convinced that barring a miracle the Synod is going to do its own, crooked will to justify their mistreatment of +JONAH. On the second ballot, I’m going to vote Metropolitan JONAH, and on any other ballots offered. I feel I owe it to the man, who has been so cruelly mistreated, unjustly and uncanonically forced to resign, and financially blackmailed into choosing between his reputation and service to the Church or providing for his parents and sister.

    I hope Moscow is watching. They know Metropolitan JONAH was grossly mistreated. Perhaps their pressure caused the recent press release on the OCA website (

    They write: “Motivated solely by a prayerful desire to achieve an appropriate resolution” –if this was true, the three men making up the Lesser S.O.B.’s would never have conspired against their leader. Why did the former chancellor get his huge salary continued for so long, but Metropolitan JONAH gets threatened with immediate loss of all pay unless he “voluntarily” resigns?

    And the opposites in treatment are glaring. People Syosset opposes, like Fr Zacchaeus and Metropolitan JONAH, get suspension without pay (or the threat thereof) because of false accusations, but people Syosset supports, like puppet bishop Matthias (whose letter slandered +JONAH to the world community –how do you ‘achieve an appropriate resolution’ to THAT?, and who presided over the Fr Zacchaeus sham trial), when accused get to keep their salary –even after the accusations are substantiated and he is found guilty. Hypocrisy.

    And what about the petitions sent out for all parishes regarding the robber AAC –the third one a thinly-veiled attack on Metropolitan JONAH? How’s that for blasphemy: using prayer and the Divine Liturgy to further destroy your innocent brother? When Syosset and the Synod oppose you, they don’t care if you’re already down; they seek to utterly ruin you in the eyes of all to justify their actions.

    They say they want to “achieve a mutual agreement and understanding that will be a Christian resolution acceptable to both,” but they can’t reverse the slander they have falsely brought against +JONAH before all the world. Associating +JONAH with Jerry Sandusky, the pedophile? The international press had a field day with that false letter, headlines reading: “ORTHODOX LEADER COVERS UP RAPE,” and the like.

    It seems to me that if the synod is truly seeking what it says it seeks, satisfaction for Metropolitan Jonah and a Christian resolution, the Synod (and Syosset) would:

    1) Apologize to Metropolitan JONAH, and publicly beg his forgiveness, for their slander against him;

    2) Retract the entire letter of Matthias against him;

    3) Admit that there is no criminal case ongoing against Metropolitan JONAH, that that was a bold-faced lie, and there never was such a case (regarding “alleged crimes,” the Matthias/Synod letter said, “We have been communicating with, and continue to communicate with, law enforcement authorities”);

    4) Ensure to the best of their ability that the same world press which publicized their false slander gets and is encouraged to publicize their admission of its lies and their apology for it;

    5) Apologize for conspiring against the Metropolitan behind his back repeatedly, and consciously working against him and his vision for nearly two years;

    6) Release him to serve another jurisdiction, or, what would really be just, reinstate him as Metropolitan of the OCA (and either work WITH him this time, or else resign).

    Yep, I’m going to Parma. And I’m voting for Metropolitan JONAH. No matter what.

  17. Fr Joseph Lucas says

    Just a point of fact, the repeated statement that Bishop Melchisedek did not have his abbot’s blessing to leave the monastery or to be considered a candidate for Bishop of Pittsburgh is untrue. I personally met his abbot, who attended Bishop Melchisedek’s consecration in Pittsburgh. His abbot told us the story of how he gave his blessing: Melchisedek turned down the first request from the OCA; but upon receiving the second request, his abbot insisted that it was their right to recall their “son” to America.

    I’m not sure where the rumor originated, but we need to stop repeating it.

  18. Michael James Kinsey says

    The choice of the lesser of 2 or many evils is the devil own trap, . It may be lesser, but it is still evil and violates the Royal Law. The scriptures guides, especially St. Paul, to elect ones who are worthy and blameless. I think the OCA had such a man as this, dispite a poor skill set of administrative experience. This, was not sin and bound to improve with genuine support from his fellow bishops.They left him twisting in the wind, while thieves and drunks and sexual miscreants are extended unwarrented mercy, forgiveness( due to lack of repentance) and compassion. The priest who crucified the Christ, set up His Father’s house back the way they liked it, after He cast out the money changers and offered the poor a scapegoat. Being fingered as a scapegoat for the poor is a cruelity of an uttter most inhumanity. The Zeks of the Gulag, know how this feels. Why follow these bishops?