Cui bono? Who Benefits?

“Take care that in the process of hunting monsters that you yourself don’t become one.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

Cui bono? is a pithy Latin phrase that literally means, “who benefits?” I decided to use these words as the title of this latest blog posting because it is now necessary to ask this question. Ever since this scandal started, I’ve had to start to take OCANews with multiple grains of salt. Stokoe’s a good writer but careful readings invariably reveal biases. Lately, I (and others) have been able to document outright lies. If I’ve said this once in the last couple of weeks, I’ve said it a dozen times: the ferocity of his indictment against +Jonah shook me to the core. It would be like an employee burning down his boss’s house because his Christmas bonus wasn’t as big as last year’s. Yes, it’s that unreasoning in its intensity. That’s basically what compelled me to re-examine his latest J’accuse! against +Jonah.

So where are we? Why has Stokoe gone off the rails? And more importantly, how much influence does he still have? Are the people named in his e-mail part of his cabal? I hate to ask this, but are they as hate-filled as Mark? (I can only hope not!) A lot of these questions I would leave to a trained therapist. I imagine that the anti-+Jonah feeling is not as widespread or intense as OCANews makes it out to be. Quite honestly, I can’t believe anything he writes anymore. The question I’m concerned with instead is, how and why did Stokoe get so powerful? How could one man shake the very foundations of the OCA (and yes, this means its autocephaly) to the core?

Being a parishioner in the Diocese of the South, I must first of all say that I have been blissfully ignorant of the inner workings of Syosset and the Carpatho-Russian culture which is still dominant on the East Coast. I couldn’t find Syosset on a map if my life depended on it. And I don’t know who the majority of the people on the leaked e-mail list are (or what the Metropolitan Council does for that matter). I’m the son and grandson of Greek immigrants so I know a lot about immigrant cultures and their vibrancy, but I also know that there is no way on God’s green earth that Orthodox ethno-tribalism is going to result in anything but oblivion. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind watching a documentary about the Carpatho-Russian sub-culture on NatGeo any more than I would mind about watching one about the Greeks of Tarpon Springs, but ultimately, its all rather beside the point.

Anyway, now that we got those caveats out of the way, let’s get to the important stuff. How did we get here?

What I’m about to say is going to be hurtful to the vast majority of priests who are decent, hard-working, and vastly underpaid men. Know this: I am not talking about you. So don’t call me a radical, anti-clericalist, or crypto-Protestant. I’m none of those things. In fact, my great-great grandfather was a priest and whenever his name was mentioned in my house we spoke of him in reverential tones. I have a second cousin who’s a priest and another second cousin who’s married to one. Both are fine men.

Instead, I want to concentrate on the mindset that permeates certain levels of the priesthood. And no, I’m not talking about homosexuality per se (although that does seem to be a big part of it). Instead, I believe the problem is one of careerism, that is of men who choose a seminary education because they view the priesthood as a cushy job. Now anybody with half a brain knows that being a parish priest is anything but cushy. The broken marriages, wayward children, frequent transfers, alcoholism, porn addiction, and the other dysfunctions that afflict all of us should alert us to the fact that the parish vocation is anything but a bed of roses. I for one, could never be a priest.

Instead, we need to ask why the priests described above are so crushed by their vocations? I for one think it is because they are caught in a dysfunctional occupational vise –angry laymen on one hand and imperious bishops on the other. It literally is a no-win situation. A certain correspondent on the AOI likes to talk about “ordained young/never married” men who constitute the episcopate. That’s a fair summation of the problem to date. But now we know that in the OCA at least, this Lavender Mafia includes more than a few laymen.

So how did this Lavender Mafia arise in the first place? To answer this question, we must first examine the nature of the Orthodox immigrant experience. For the sake of brevity, I will state at the outset that within all immigrant cultures, there were several phenomena working simultaneously which made such cadres inevitable. One was the desperately poor economic circumstances of 99% of the immigrants. Second, these people were pious. It took all their resources and then some to build their parishes, fellowship halls, and schools. They simply couldn’t afford married priests (which was never an issue for the Catholic immigrants). Third, (and this is what’s going to get me in trouble) the priesthood became a dumping ground for young men who were never all that attracted to women in the first place. Taken together, this mix became toxic.

This is nothing peculiar to Orthodoxy for that matter. This same set of circumstances obtained in the Catholic immigrant cultures. In either case, it was always widely suspected that many of the priests were not honoring their vows of celibacy. In the parish in which I grew up, my mother (God rest her soul) told me that during the Depression, they paid their priest $90 per month. Yes, you read right. He lived at the YMCA, and you can guess the rest. The people of my parish accepted this because he was discreet but also because they couldn’t afford anything more. I’m sure that you readers will know of other stories similar to this one.

Those were desperate times however. I don’t mean to make excuses but merely to point out some historical facts. Unfortunately, this same type of dysfunction continued in the Church even after the boom times that followed World War II. Let’s be honest, we Orthodox laymen still pinched our pennies when it came to the Church, even though we were no longer penniless immigrants. As in all things, you get what you pay for.

So why did we allow this type of clerical dysfunction to continue?

First of course was because our giving remained niggardly (we can’t get away from this fact, so please forgive my repeating it). Second, because we still viewed the priesthood as a refuge for those boys who would never amount to much; this includes those whom we suspected to be homosexual. Third, (and this is more insidious), because the more worldly among us wanted to look down upon our priests. Church was a tribal thing for a lot of us. It was a tedious rite-of-passage we had to endure on Sundays. We certainly couldn’t understand the mumbo-jumbo that the priest, chanter, and choir were singing. Frankly, it was all rather embarrassing. That’s why so many of the second, third, and fourth generations left. The older generation blamed it all on those “evil American hussies” but let’s be honest, the vast majority of those who left did so willingly. But for those of us who stayed, the prospect of a compromised priest or one who was probably a loser, was very attractive in many respects. For one thing, we could refuse to go to Confession and be proud of ourselves. We could engage in sin ourselves, after all, we could always say that being straight and unfaithful or promiscuous was better than being queer.

So there we have it. A combustible mix of immorality, stinginess, and lethargy resulting in cadres of priests who are in it because nothing better was expected of them. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to figure out that the men who fit this stereotype could go far in any of the Orthodox jurisdictions. The fact that a nagging wife and screaming children aren’t part of the mix is a giant advantage. And since all of these jurisdictions were governed from overseas, by men who thought that America was nothing but a land of Cowboys and Indians, it made sense to choose such men and place them in positions of authority. That’s all that was available. (And they could be replaced fairly easily.)

I know at this point that laptops are being thrown against the wall. Hear me out. Things are no doubt better today in many ways. But the fact remains that cadres of homosexuals and careerists have insinuated themselves deeply into the OCA in the past, and even if they are mostly moribund today, we are still dealing with the after-effects of their reign.

This most recent scandal is a case in point. Mark Stokoe, the Agent of Accountability and Transparency, has all but admitted that he was able to conduct his Reign of Terror because he had the goods on many powerful men within the upper strata of the Church. This was recently pointed out to me by a certain Helga, a correspondent who brought this to our attention. Since the “comments’ section of OCANews is all but unreadable to me because of my extreme farsightedness, I asked her to document it. She did so and you can read it for yourself on OCAtruth. I was genuinely surprised at the brazenness of Stokoe’s arrogance, that he felt he could brow-beat a Metropolitan into silence. But he had done so in the past, and given the corrupt nature of the OCA’s upper reaches (which we now know includes him, his parish priest, and by default the Metropolitan Council which has let him act with impunity all these years), he felt he could do so again. Unfortunately for him, he picked on the wrong guy.

I really don’t want to dwell on Stokoe’s sins. I could care less if he shags sheep. I’ve got my own to worry about. But what I do care about is his stranglehold on the OCA. For the life of me I couldn’t understand what he had on these guys which allowed him to get away with this for so long. Now we know, and we’re fixing to find out more soon enough.

I began this posting by asking “who benefits?” We saw historically how poor immigrants benefitted from having “celibate” priests. Also laymen (such as myself) who never wanted to be accountable for their sins. The timer-servers certainly did so as well. But it is now glaringly obvious that Stokoe and his cadres did as well. I never knew how much of an insider he was all these years. I wonder, did any of the monies supposedly embezzled by Kondratick ever line the pockets of him or his friends? If money didn’t exchange hands, how many trips did he take or conferences did he go to on Syosset’s dime? Who else benefited? Equally as important, who was the beneficiary should +Jonah be expelled? Stokoe? His friends? Corrupt bishops and/or bureaucrats?

At this point I was going to speculate on the existence of a more wide-spread lavender mafia, one which infects some of the other jurisdictions but works in tandem with our own. Instead, I would like to posit this question to the critics of +Jonah who have carped incessantly about his supposed squishiness regarding the autocephaly of the OCA. Who would benefit from a weakened OCA, one that had just gone through the trauma of removing its third metropolitan in six years? Who indeed?

And why would Stokoe and his comrades play into their hands, unless they had something to gain by it?


  1. Prospective Nomad says

    I certainly am not throwing any laptops against the wall: I agree with much of what is written here. I would offer a few thoughts that may complicate the narrative a bit.

    Assuming that we are talking about the immigrants who came in the Great Migration before immigration restrictions were imposed in the 1920s, I think it would be generally more accurate to say that the women were pious. Many women of that generation were either dragged here by their husbands or kicked here by fathers (or, in the case of my grandmother, a widowed mother) who couldn’t afford or didn’t want to pay dowries. The churches got built because these women insisted on it and did a lot of the fundraising. Don’t disparage nagging: It built much of American Orthodoxy. The men who were making these emigration decisions knew that emigrees might end up in a place with no Orthodox parish. They certainly knew the Church wouldn’t be the center of life here the way it was in an Old Country village. These men were practically self-selecting for nominalism.

    I had been under the impression that it is a relatively recent phenomenon (i.e. the past 40 or 50 years) for priests to be American-born. The idea that the priesthood became a “dumping ground” for second- and third-generation losers seems in tension with the historical prevalence of imported priests. Perhaps this dynamic varies by jurisdiction. The Greeks, of course, had a wave of emigration in the 1940s and the Arabs in the 1970s. The Slavs did not, as far as I know, until the fall of communism. As to the homosexual aspect of this phenomenon, why did the same dynamic infect ECUSA, which obviously wasn’t dealing with penniless immigrants?

    I agree strongly both that a cadre of senior clergy want to turn the priesthood into a cushy job and that our giving habits are atrocious. I think it’s worth noting, however, that some tithing converts from evangelicalism have inadvertently played into the clerical ambition for comfort by casting moral aspersions on parochial fundraising. To the extent people believe these aspersions, they render small, rural legacy parishes economically unviable. By virtue of its imperial history, Orthodoxy is inescapably a high-fixed-cost religion. It takes a certain number of people of a certain affluence to make a parish viable without external fundraising. Without that fundraising, American Orthodoxy will become a suburban religion, which is exactly what the cushy clericalists want. The Greeks, of course, have accomplished the same end by raising clergy compensation schedules so high that only large metropolitan parishes can afford them.

    In short, I think it’s been a little less about sex and a little more about money than you assert, especially in the old days–although, as you point out, there can be a nexus between the two inasmuch as single priests are cheaper. Thank you for a most thought-provoking reflection.

    • George Michalopulos says


      thank you for fleshing out the picture more fully. Much of what you say is true, the grannies were especially pious. However the men tended to work long hours or more than one job (same thing) leaving boys without the normal father-son interaction that even the poorest families in the villages back in the Old Country enjoyed. The preponderance of “mammas’ boys” was I believe more pronounced in the immigrant cultures.

      As for ECUSA, what we saw there in the true Ruling Class of America, was the overt feminization of manhood. I’ll speak more of ECUSA at another time.

  2. Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

    An interesting exploration, and worthwhile comment from Nomad.

    One factor I would add is the Church’s generally uninformed thinking about homosexuality. The Orthodox today tend to treat same-sex attraction like any other sexual sin. The thinking is, we’re all beset by sexual temptation, but we’re also all expected to be able to resist it, so being attracted to members of the same sex is no different sin-wise than being attracted to members of the opposite sex because the sin is not in being tempted but in giving into the temptation. The result of such thinking is a failure to take same-sex attraction into adequate account in weighing the suitability of individual men for holy orders. As is often said, same-sex attraction per se is not a bar to ordination. As long as a man struggles to resist the temptation to act on his same-sex attraction and confesses his occasional sinful failures, he is given a pass.

    I encountered this thinking recently in a conversation with my eldest daughter, who is working on a master’s degree in counseling. She took the view that no sin is worse than any other sin, and so a man having sex with another man was no more sinful than a man having sex with a woman who is not his wife. To her, both amounted to the same perversion of treating another person as a sex object instead of as a human being. It took me a while to make her understand that if you compare a man who has sex with a female prostitute and a man who has sex with a male prostitute, you find one thing wrong with the former and two things wrong with the latter. (In fact, you find three things wrong with the latter if he also believes there is nothing wrong with same-sex attraction, and four things wrong with him if he also encourages others in his error.)

    The irony is that, by seeing things as my daughter did, the Orthodox unthinkingly end up treating homosexuality very differently from heterosexuality. Traditionally, the Church has kept men and women separate as much as possible because of the danger of heterosexual temptation, but what precautions does it now take to protect men or women from the danger of homosexual temptation? We assign monks and nuns attracted to their own sex to monasteries of only their own sex, where they cannot possibly find the peace and safety that other men and women do there. It should hardly surprise us when such monks and nuns never rise above their sexual sins and instead sink deeper into them.

    To put things in order, we need to stop focusing only on sinful sexual activity and recognize same-sex attraction for what it is — a serious psychological disorder that greatly complicates the sufferer’s life and should therefore disqualify him or her from holy orders. We already screen out people suffering from other serious psychological disorders; we should do the same for same-sex attraction.

    • lexcaritas says

      Fr. Dcn. Brian says what must be said–and says it well. I think our brother Muzhik on OCATruth is being a bit hard of Fr. Ted Bobosh though Muzhik’s concern is understandable. Fr. Ted has said, as Muzhik notes, that he doesn’t consider homsexuality to be a sinful because he doesn’t consider heterosexuality to be a virtue. Reading Fr. Ted’s remaks in context and his reply to a later interlocutor, I see that he is–at least sometimes–using the term “homosexuality” as a synonym of “same-sex attraction.” However, this is an improper use of the term and the ambiguity created leads to miscommunication and misunderstanding on the one hand, and fuzzy thinking on the other. The terms one uses define and determine the outcome of one’s thinking and any consequent discussion, much of which tends to rationalize and justify positions already taxen as axiomatic. The fact is that in the proper sense of the term all human beings are created heterosexual. This is a bilogical fact of human procreation and reproduction. Some species are asexual especially among the lower, simpler forms of life. Among the higher more complex forms heterosexuality reigns. ( A few creatures are hermaphroditic, but even these do not fertilize themselves but other individuals of the species by complementary cross-fertizliation.)

      The term and concept of “homosexuality” was once a neo-logism propounded with the sole purpose of foisting on the public mind the idea that same sex attraction and the decision to act upon it is something natural and inherent to certain persons. But this false. With exremely rare and freakish exceptions, human beings are born exclusively male or female, and each person is either a man or a woman. By nature, humanity, and every member of the race, is heterosexual. We know it from bioligy and we have it on the authority of the unbroken testimony of Holy Tradition, including the Holy Scriptures from Genesis to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Except in the abstract, no one is born “a homosexual;” one becomes such only by conduct and, it may be, by lifestyle. Heterosexuality is a fact of birth; “homosexuality” is a choice of life–and a disordered one which may have various reasons and causes but is at odds with both the natural law and divine law.

      Further, Fr. Ted’s stated reasoning is not logical. He said that he didn’t consider homosexuality sinful because heterosexuality is not a virtue. True enough, heterosexuality is not a virture, but a natural fact of birth and human design. But, “homosexuality” is neither. In fact, Father wants us to translate the term as “same sex attraction” which is not a question of design at all, but a condition of the heart–and, unfortuantley, an objectively disordered one in the face of the design to which biology and Tradition both testify.

      Furthermore, sin is not the opposite of virtue, vice is. Virtue is an habitual practice of doing or dispositioin to do something good; and vice an habitual practice of doing, or diposition to do, something which is not good. The premise and the reference to virtue seem out of place here and lead to a conclusion which is simply a non sequitur.

      Here the comparison is (I suppose) between “same sex attraction” and “opposite sex attraction.” But obviously something more than friendship is intended by the word “homosexuality” or there would be no need to use this neo-logism. What is intended by the term is a desire to satisfy one’s need to express and receive love via sexaul intimacy with another person of the same sex. Now even that kind of attraction is not transgressiv–if it is warded off and banished. But beloved, whatever its cause–and this is not a queston of guilt or shame–the attraction itself, if habitual, is still objectively disordered, and becomes transgressiv if it is welcomed by the mind, entertained and not rejected.

      Moreover, without reaching the point of “transgression,” what is “sin” if not a disorder in a person’s heart, an aspect and manifestation of one’s alientation from God and a falling short from His glory and conformity with the image of Christ ? This is our human condition which requires constant repentance and ascetic disipline to beome holy and good.

      None of this is to make this particular disorder (i.e. sin) of homosexuality worse than any of the innumerable disfunctions and imperfections that beset each one of us. But what is problematic and dangerous is the modern mood–and movement–to sanctify this particular disorder and dysfunction and, in effect, condone it as being an acceptable choice and lifetstyle for some who are disposed to it.

      It further begs the question as to why this particular disorder is on the rise today. Could it be because our society and culture have already made the choice to ostracize God from the public square, to exalt career and the accumulation of wealth over families (nuclear and extended) with many children and grandchildren and to accept serial marriage and no fault divorce to the point where it has become an almost expected state for the upwardly mobile. Are these same causes not implicated in the continued scourge of “unwanted preganancies” and abortion and the growing move towards euthanasia and infanticide–and who knows what other outrages?

      They who suffer from this same sex attraction are not to blame–all of us are. Nevertheless, it will not help to approve the illness and avoid seeing it for what it is: a disordered expression of a deeply sinul and disordered society that is growing more dysfuncional by the day and for which the Gospel and a living relationship with the One of Whom it speaks is the only cure.


      • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

        lexcaritas writes: “It further begs the question as to why this particular disorder is on the rise today.”

        The causes of same-sex attraction are complex, but the problem is basically a combination of gender-identity disorder and sexual addiction. For various reasons, mostly having to do with inadequate male and female role models, a child grows up identifying with the opposite sex, learning its ways of speaking and walking, adopting its likes and dislikes, and seeing their own sex as other than themselves. A sense of otherness is the basis of all erotic attraction. When the attraction becomes physical, the attraction is reinforced by the intense experience of sexual pleasure. Relations with the “other” thereby become fully eroticized.

        Sometimes same-sex physical experience comes first, as with victims of same-sex sexual abuse. In such cases, relations with members of the same sex can become eroticized (and sexually tempting) without causing the victim to self-identify with the opposite sex. The victim may therefore be sexually attracted to both sexes and able to lead a normal life, either successfully resisting or secretly indulging in same-sex relations.

        When the gender-identity disorder comes first, the sufferer is generally not able to lead a normal life, being attracted only to members of his or her own sex. If such cases are on the rise, it is hardly surprising, given our society’s denial of traditional sex roles and deliberate confusion of male and female. Deceived by feminism, we are raising our children not to know the difference between male and female, with the inevitable result that more and more of them turn out confused and mistaken about their own sexual identity.

    • The second comment – hopefull shorter – is this – the issue of sending same-sex inclined people to monasteries and telling them to live celibate lives may well be compounding the problem for the same basic reason – radical self-centeredness on the part of us – not being engaged enough in the Lord and in His people to get to know what they truly need. As in the case that my Lebanese friend spoke of, just because someone is having same-sex inclinations should not any more condemn them to monasticism than sending a straight person who is having sex with everyone they can. A monastery is not a treatment center for sexual problems. It is a place where men and women who are called to pursue their salvation in that particular way, go. As such, it is the greatest of blessings, to live the angelic life – IF that is what one has been called by the Lord to do. Anything else is blasphemous, I think, to the purpose of monasticism.

      I knew someone who was gay, Orthodox, and somehow got misdirected to the idea of going into a monastery. He thought it would bring him peace, but he hadn’t even gotten honest about the homosexuality. Now seriously, how is an untreated homosexual going to feel around nothing but guys, some of them young, whatever, all day, all night? If someone put me in a building full of beautiful women that I’d see every day and every night and I was told not to look, not to touch – and not to ever leave? I’d be insane, and I think my plight would be easier than the gay person’s!

      The issue is not where you go, but what do you do about the problem itself? How do you face it and change from it?

      I will be bold and say that any people who are inclined or even active in homosexual relations can be brought out of it. Once they are out of it, when their sanity returns, then they will be able to consider what comes next. For some, it may well be to join a monastery, but they will go in free. Free of the addiction, and free to pursue God for His own sake and not as a hiding place or escape from one’s own problems.

      But many, I believe, will discover that the monastic way of life is not for them, and that they need to marry someone of the opposite sex who is suitable, settle down and raise a family like anyone else. I know someone who tried monasticism, having apparently some inclinations to same-sex stuff, and they decided to leave the novitiate. Some time afterwards, they got engaged to a very nice fiancee of the opposite sex and they are preparing to marry. For me this is the joy of the Lord – that shows that any change is possible through faith in Jesus Christ. Truly the Lord does wonderful things for those who love Him!

      I’d venture to say that the gay supporters or however you call them are probably pretty incensed at me for saying this, because, if it was true for this person, it might be true for them too, and if they’re in the Church and not changing, uh-oh!

      So if we take all this and NOW look at the problems with the OCA, what is the issue? It looks an awful lot like a lack of real faith in our Lord – a glaring symptom of a radical disconnect between the Church of Jesus Christ, and those who profess to be in His Church and even of those who serve Him in the clerical ranks. I’d go farther, then and say that +Jonah is not one of these sort of people, but that he truly is a Christian, and a very faithful one. And his vision is not about making everyone a monastic, it’s about helping everyone get REAL about their relationship with our Lord. The Services are beautiful, but they are being blasphemed if we don’t do what we pray, and if we don’t do what we say we’re all about as Orthodox Christians.

      The Lord told his Twelve and the Seventy, while they were YET ON THEIR MISSIONARY OUTING, not just “tell everyone the Gospel” – no! He told them, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, preach the Gospel” – His disciples hadn’t even gotten the whole gospel themselves yet, but they went and did precisely what He told them to do. They indeed healed the sick and raised the dead – remember how perplexed they were when they COULDN’T heal the boy afflicted with a dumb spirit that threw him into fire and water? They were really bothered by this, because THEY HAD BEEN DOING IT BEFORE…

      I believe Met Jonah know this and even in our terribly weak times we are still capable of doing so mucyh more – and if we did so much more for the glory of God, maybe our times wouldn’t be so weak.

      God save and bless us all!

  3. “supposedly embezzled by Kondratick”

    OK then +Johna became our Metropolitan because of his speech about how our church
    was raped – and now?? he brings in one of the men who did NOTHING to stop the
    rape to be the new Dean of Washington – very sad
    and i see you are anti-Carpatho-Russian

    • George Michalopulos says

      Sasha, let me knock the easy one out of the ball-park first: I’m not anti-Carpatho-Russian. I am presently involved in an intensive effort to stop a Carpatho-Russian parish in my home state from closing.

      Second: I said “supposedly” because I don’t know what to believe anymore about the alleged awfulness of Kondratick. We now know for a fact that Stokoe uses the same MO that Kondratick used all these years. And I don’t believe that Stokoe and others who benefited from Kondraticks chancellorship themselves have their hands clean. Do you know how many trips around the world Stokoe took on the OCA’s dime? Who cut those checks? Why doesn’t Stokoe return all that money?

      I disagreed with the fact that +Jonah wanted to bring back Kondratick. I think that was a mistake. However we can’t forgo the possibility that he is repentant. And yes, I do want Mark to repent of his sins (primarily his vindictiveness) and I pray for him and the other miscreants who are ruining the Church right NOW (as opposed to 10 years ago).

  4. Anonymous says

    I’m really surprised that no one seems to have picked up on what is, to me, the most central issue of this whole debate. Is it about +Jonah’s speaking against the sin of homosexuality? In part. We need to ask not just “cui bono?”, but most importantly “why now?” It is obvious that a cadre of people have been gathering ammo (whether real or conjured) to use against +Jonah. But their plan of attack was extremely incomplete and strident in its tone. Why? Incompetence? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think their hand was forced by two events:
    1. The firing of Fr Garklavs.
    2. The plan to move Syosset to Washington.

    The first one is easy and now pretty much public. Its the second one I’d like to talk about. Although I have no direct knowledge or contact with HB, +Jonah’s plan to move the chancery from Syosset to Washington is only secondarily about “speaking out.” I think the move was +Jonah’s plan from the day he was elevated to the Metropolitanate as a way to slowly weed out the lion’s den that is the MC, most of whom are from NY. The goal is I think to slowly “reboot” the MC by staffing it with DCers he can trust. This is nothing more than the classic “move the capital” technique used by pretty much every empire in existence. In short, if you are elected as a leader into a position where your council/senate are overwhelmingly against you, move the capital. +Jonah’s first step was spinning off NY as a second diocese. The second step was to manage the church “from the road” so as not to get settled in on Long Island. The third step is the thinning down of the staff at Syosset. The fourth was to find an alternative reason to move the chancery (aka the public square). There are many other points that could be listed here…

    The cabal is nervous because they have lost their “inside” man and they didn’t see the chancery move coming. +Jonah is about to make it much harder for the NY-locals to participate in church government, so they attacked before they were ready in order to stop the chancery move from decreasing their relevance to the OCA.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Anonymous, you bring up some excellent points. I asked one of my godsons who has been in the corporate world for a long time about why he thought +Jonah was always on the road. As a health professional myself, I thought that HB was hurtling towards an early grave. I’m on the road about 5 or 6 days a month and it’s a real stress-inducer at my age (I’m +Jonah’s age btw). Bad food, different beds, monotonous drives, you name it. In November of last year, I told one of HB’s proto-deacons that he needed to slow down.

      Anyway, my godson told me why +Jonah had to take the breakneck lifestyle of being our Road Warrior Metropolitan. He said this: think of +Jonah as Lee Iacocca, a hired gun who came in to take over a failed national enterprise. Thousands of jobs rely on his success. What did Iacocca do? He was on TV every day, he travelled hither and yon, openning new plants, trying to boost the morale of workers, reassure the stock-holders, wined and dined the financiers to re-work debt –the whole nine yards. It was brutal but it worked.

      Similarly, +Jonah came in to take over a failing enterprise (the OCA). It’s institutions were in the toilet. It’s corporate culture was somewhere between sleepy and lethargic. Churches in the Northeast were closing. The best bishops (+Dmitri) were increasingly frail and had to retire. Other bishops were genuinely corrupt men, as were the two predecessors. As someone over at OCAT said, it was “dog’s dinner” we gave him to eat. (More like a bowl of s**t if you ask me.) In addition, one seminary was in danger of closing. Etc.

      Under those conditions, +Jonah had to undertake the excessive regime of travel in order to reassure the “stockholders” and boost the morale of the “workers.” It really makes perfect sense when viewed in that light. If nothing else, +Jonah stopped the hemorrhaging of the OCA. He was lucky in that right after his takeover, +Philip sucker-punched the converts in the AOCNA, and of course the GOA continued its fawning adulation of all things secular. Somewhat as important, he was able to defy the plans of the Phanar which wanted to permanently disenfranchise the OCA by getting it recognized as fully canonical by the Episcopal Assembly. (Ultimately that’s neither here nor there as those who know what I think about the whole EA process.)

      Mistakes were made along the way. How could it have been otherwise? But these mistakes were not criminal, civil, ethical, moral, or canonical ones. At best, they were the result from overwork, not enough sleep, and lack of exercize.

  5. George, Dn Patrick and Nomad: Greetings!

    Excellent thread and article here – and in reading Dn Patrick’s assessment I’d like to suggest that we take it a little deeper – especially on the issue of Homosexuality and the huge gap between the contemporary approach to it in the American Church (that’s everyone not just the OCA) and the approaches used in the past and in other places:

    Just an aside – ever notice that in many cases, our Church people take stands on things like poverty, illness, war – but these are issues that don’t concern SALVATION? Feeding a hungry person is good, but it doesn’t neccesarily get them a relationship with God… and so on… War is immoral – but abortion or gay marriage isn’t? Interesting…. I suggest we take a look at this approach – I don’t think it’s an exact match for the Gospel, but I digress….

    First of all, I think Dn Patrick hit it well when he pointed out that there is empirically more going wrong with a same-sex encounter than there is with a heterosexual encounter, all other circumstances being the same. Regardless of a person’s inclination (which may be genetically distorted as yet another result of the Fall – the corruption of nature, right down to our own DNA), the way we were made, and the way we have been taught how to live is very clear. We cannot give a pass to homosexuality any more than we can for drug-use or alcoholism, or gambling, or child molestation, or stealing, murder, or any other sin. The reason is simple – all of these actions, and many more, are fallen actions, that will intrinsically send us away from communion with God. They will never send us to Him – only our repentance and striving to be away from these things will lead us closer to God. And, look. The other sins I listed are not socially acceptable. I mean, is it a good thing when a drunken man comes home and beats his wife and kids and sets the house on fire? It is something we should just pass off and say “well, he was just born that way?” Should we be telling his family to forgive him without a demand for change?

    The problem is that we have browbeat ourselves – or let others do the same – into thinking that something as ‘intimate’ as sexuality is somehow exempt from assessment in terms of right or wrong. We can all discuss the historical causes, but let’s leave that for now. Simply put, the enemy has been doing his work, and here he’s done it rather well, so that even pious Christians are afraid to call Homosexuality a sin – a grievous one, or as St Paul said, an “abomination”, for fear of being called “hateful” or “judgemental.” And because of what I am about to propose, IMHO, this is where we get in all kinds of trouble with how to deal with approaching an issue that many people really know is terribly wrong.

    Some people, when confronted with this, say “damn the torpedoes” and go right into wholesale condemnation of the homosexuality – the acts and so forth, and then you get something that looks like what the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas does – picketing funerals, or in a skillful victory by the enemy of our souls, they get to be making all Christianity look bad with their terrible rhetoric, condemning our fallen soldiers to perdition for somthing they themselves had nothing to do with, but just because the USA is liberal about homosexuality.

    Their leap, and the Orthodox (culturally in the US) tendency to avoid this issue both stem from the same thing.

    And that thing is this, I believe – that we are so nominal and individualistic (spell it ‘selfish’) as a culture that we have no idea how to help people caught up in aberrant sexual lifestyles to escape. We do well, perhaps to at least say the the homosexual must repent of this to get right with God, and sometimes we go a little farther by saying “let him or her lead a celibate life” as a counter to this. I don’t believe this goes anywhere near far enough, and all it probably does to the afflicted person is set them up for more sin, more despair, loss of faith, and in many cases, an animosity not only to the Church, but to God himself.

    As someone with some counseling experience, I have spoken with many people afflicted with homosexuality. I do mean ‘afflicted’ here in the same sense as someone who is alcoholic is known now to be afflicted with a disease, called ‘alcoholism.’ It’s not *just* drinking too much, it is being unable to keep away from the first drink, even with the awareness of all the shocking things that drunkenness causes the person so afflicted. It is a kind of insanity, and it is deeply spiritual in nature – a true spiritual illness that affects the whole person – physically, mentally, emotionally, and in the usual pattern of the vicious cycle, yet more spiritually. The treatment for alcoholism that has worked the best is a primarily spiritual approach – showing that as one “gets right with God” through honesty, admitting one’s wrongs (sins) and amending the damage caused, and praying at all times for the strength to do this, and of course, helping others to do the same work on themselves… well, as they do this, they are released from the slavery of their own reasonings (which led them always to drink) – and in fact their reasoning is transformed into normal, very reality based, reasoning. As long as they stay close to God they are fine.

    I believe that homosexuality, bisexuality, and the associated things are also manifestations of this same spiritual disease, though here it wears a face that is ideally suited to the destruction of the afflicted person. For example, I have never met a gay person who was authentically at peace with their orientation. The way I knew this was because they always talked about it. In fact, in many cases, it was the thing they led off with when talking about things – even unassociated things, e.g. “I’m gay, and I am having trouble with managing money.” or “I’m gay, and I am worried about going on a hunting trip and shooting a deer.” – you see? totally apples and bricks here. One having no relevance to the other – to one who is sane. But to them for some reason this is important and relevant, and if you tell them it’s not, they may likely either get very defensive or just shut down and no further work can be done with them.

    The other thing I noticed was that in almost every single case, the afflicted person wanted out – or at least said they did. They were usually miserable, even in gay districts like Greenwich Village in New York – surely with all the gays around they should feel happy – no one oppresses them, in fact New Yorkers are more than likely to ignore this issue and not say anything at all. They live often successful lives, but they are miserable. And why? Because they know that there is something intrinsically wrong with themselves, no matter who says or doesn’t say anything. And they have no idea how to stop it, and no one knows how to help them. Ever noticed how many homosexuals kill themselves because of some issue with their orientation? Now think about how many ‘straight’ people kill themselves over being straight. Hmmm…. that’s one that somehow evades a lot of public discourse, isn’t it?

    Repentance is indeed the way out, but as with alcoholism, mere cessation of the addictive behavior often leads to a more serious relapse, or in the homosexual’s case, further problems ensue that will try to push the afflicted back into their behaviour.

    I’ve written a lot, but if you’re with me let me go a little more –

    In helping these people, there are probably several different approaches, depending on the state of the person afflicted. I heard that in Lebanon, from a Lebanese Christian man who said we Americans were “crazy – that we do nothing to help these people…,” that when someone in a community has an issue with same sex attraction, the community (Christians) rally around him or her and support them through it. They are loved by their community, they are supported in doing the right thing – a man marries a woman, or a woman marries a man, they have a family, and there is a sense of love that helps that afflicted person not feel so desperately alone as they would if they were trying to do this on their own.

    I’d add to this that if the inclination is talked about and confessed with brutal honesty, this confession itself – with good counsel from the priest or helper, even friends – will be enough to take the burden – the heavy weight of this terrible secret – off the shoulders of the person – and they may never be bothered by it again. This sort of thinking, since it creates a lot of shame that a person may not want to talk about for fear of humiliation or rejection, can build over years to the point where inadvertently or otherwise, the person acts on the thoughts. When that happens there are only two options – to face it in reality (which often is so shameful that it drives people to suicide) or to justify it as “oh, this I guess, is how I REALLY am…” and then the person “comes out” – but they’re still dying inside.

    For those who have gotten into the lifestyle (and there ARE both elements of choice and inclination at work here, like any other sin) the way out is going to be different. Heterosexual activity, when engaged by people, say, before, or outside of marriage, is hard to stop, and sometimes involves radical measures – anything from a strict “no sex” instruction for people who were living together until they marry, or at times, permanent separation from one another – as happens when the situation becomes addictive, which is easy, since the basis for such activity is usually already radical selfishness. Put it simple – it’s hard to stop, but very simple. It gets cut off, cold turkey, and with the instruction from St Nicodemos and Fr Lorenzo Scupoli – to not even pay the slightest attention to the thought of it, but blow it away with the Jesus prayer the moment it even tries to come up.

    How much harder then, to deal with homosexual behavior? Probably a lot, because there is much more going on here – first – there is stupefying shame – shame that will incline a person trying to change at times to either run away back to the behaviour or to forcibly try what ends up as out of control heterosexual activity, or to kill oneself. Although the Fathers’ instruction applies here as anywhere, the terrible load of sins committed this way must be allowed to come out. Confessions must be deep, long, with a basis of understanding that is too much for many of our clergy currently to handle. – I went through Seminary and watched and listened closely to what my classmates said – sometimes they were really tuned in, but sometimes on some issues they didn’t have a clue what to do – and the same goes for me as well! I believe that a lot of our clergy – good men though they may be – are often not much more than functionaries – rather than truly holy men. There’s room for both, but the ones who are not giften with the charism to help these people are hurting them if they are trying to counsel them in a spiritually inadequate way, and unfortunately, there are priests who assume that as parish priest they are the de facto spiritual father of that parish, and they try to come off as a staretz when they were not given that gift. Its partly a problem of not having enough clergy – but if we make excuses for it because of this or any other reason, we’re just killing people and we’ll be held accountable at the Last Judgement for this.

    Confession at a level not often seen in American culture, except maybe in the deepest spiritual people or in AA or related encounters – they call it a 5th step – is vital. Change in behavior is vital – radical change – like getting totally out of the environment – cutting off the partner, and so forth. Most who are afflicted bail on this when it is presented to them. At least here in the USA. And why? Because they are expected, in my opinion and observation, to do it all by themselves. Oh yes, we’ll be there for them to talk to, but we really don’t want to walk with them in the hell they are in, and be there, to help them walk out. Not that we should coddle or enable – and there are very peculiar aspects I have observed with these people that are surprisingly different from heterosexuals in how to do this. For example, an old woman is probably a more effective messenger to a youngish male homosexual than another guy. The afflicted will not be able to address the other male sanely and will inadvertently try to gain a new partner! An old woman – unattractive in that way on several counts, and more helpful to the needed spiritual and neurological repair that must take place….

    So I wrote a lot – and you know that I could probably go on for much longer. This may not be completely right for everyone at all times, but I think you get the basis – the fundamental issue in helping these people out of their pit is for us to really help them. Not just tell them what to do, or condemn them to hell if they don’t change; that’s not our place anyway. They will do that themselves when they act on their addiction, like any addict does. Presently, here and now, not to mention anything that might come later – or not.

    I’ll stop this entry here, and do a separate one about the rest of the comments – hopefull not so long!!


    • George Michalopulos says

      A lot of food for thought, Seraphim. A fine thinker!

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Seraphim writes, “I’d add to this that if the inclination is talked about and confessed with brutal honesty, this confession itself – with good counsel from the priest or helper, even friends – will be enough to take the burden – the heavy weight of this terrible secret – off the shoulders of the person – and they may never be bothered by it again.”

      This is absolutely true. Temptations and even addictions often fly away when a person of faith confesses them in all humility. It’s just as if a demon has fled and is no longer there.

      A fascinating post. Very insightful. I’d like to hear more, and I’d like to have more of such informed and truly compassionate guidance made available to the Church. I was very disappointed a few years ago when Again magazine published several articles on homosexuality. The writers and editors seemed so intent on “speaking the truth with love” that they offered only half-truths — along with whiny, unhumble complaints from gays against people they viewed as insensitive and judgmental. That tack doesn’t help anyone. It only encourages more whining and more cowardice.

      • lexcaritas says

        A very helpful, insightful and compassionate discussion from our brothers Serpahim and Fr. Dcn. Brian. Thank you, both.


    • Chris Plourde says

      Seraphim: “Just an aside – ever notice that in many cases, our Church people take stands on things like poverty, illness, war – but these are issues that don’t concern SALVATION?”

      Jesus: “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

      Jesus: “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

      • George Michalopulos says

        Chris, poverty is not necessarily hunger or thirst. We live in societies where as Elton John sang: “…and the poor get fat.” And no one in America is naked, instead, many spend thousands of dollars adorning their bodies with all sorts of tatoos. We should feed the hungry and clothe the naked, but we should not encourage sloth, gluttony, and drunkenness/addiction. And we most definately shouldn’t make these sins transferrable from generation to generation. I don’t think that that is the way to salvation.

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