First Rule of Holes: When You’re in One, Stop Digging

Metropolitan Jonah, center, is vested by Subdeacon Brother Gregory, left, and Subdeacon Gregory Lardin before a 2009 service at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago. (Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune / July 26, 2009)

Well that was quick. I was wondering if Syosset was going to do something stupid in order to justify their criminality. I thought that maybe they wouldn’t. After all, they got what they wanted. Best thing to do in such a situation is just hunker down and let it ride.

I guess they couldn’t do the smart thing so they they decided to go for all the marbles. That tells me two things: first, they got nothing personal on His Beatitude; second, the blowback must have been horrendous. I don’t know which happened first, Bp Matthias’ letter or the Synod’s? My gut tells me that Bp Matthias’ letter panicked them and so they came out with a slightly more polished letter to undo the damage. Hard to say. One thing I know for sure, there’s no way that they got any decent legal advice. No lawyer worth his salt would tell them to come out of the traces with such a hastily worded, inflammatory letter, one with chronology that can be so easily verified. One thing is for sure, Matthias’ letter is in a .pdf which can be downloaded and edited, the Synod’s letter is an image and can’t be monkeyed around with. So that leads me to think that Matthias wrote first, sent it to Syosset, and then they made the necessary emendations and then disseminated it.

As to the meat of the matter, it is now obvious that they had nothing on Jonah personally, no moral transgression, nothing criminal, no monkeying around with financial records. So they decided to try to hang him on his supposed mishandling of their arcane sexual misconduct procedures. That is to say, that somehow His Beatitude is responsible for a priest who happened to be living in the same city but who was not a member of the OCA.

This bears repeating: this priest was never in the OCA, “unilaterally” or otherwise. Unfortunately, both letters state unequivocally that he was “unilaterally accepted into the OCA” more than once by our favorite unilateralist. Not only that, but the nature of the accusations and the timeline are purposely (?) vague. But why dont’t you jugdge for yourselves? Because you know, there are always two sides to a story. Too bad Syosset doesn’t seem to know that. (The offending, amateurish remarks will be boldfaced, my responses in brackets.)

Source: Orthodox Church of America, Diocese of the Midwest (.pdf here)

Archpastoral Letter of His Grace Bishop Matthias

July 16, 2012
Hieromartyr Athenogenes
Archpastoral Letter
No. 149

Beloved Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Diocese of the Midwest:

Christ is in our midst!

We, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, have hesitated to release further details surrounding the resignation of Metropolitan Jonah as Primate of our Church, this in a desire to preserve his dignity and to prevent further harm to an innocent party. We did this knowing there would be appeals for additional information regarding our decision. We also harbored some hope that Metropolitan Jonah would show a willingness to accept responsibility for his actions and failures to act [hasn’t he complied over and over with all your requests, including admitting himself into St Luke’s Institute?]. However, things said and written by Metropolitan Jonah since his resignation have demonstrated that he is not accepting that responsibility [?!].

Why did we ask Metropolitan Jonah to resign?

In slightly less than four years as our leader, Metropolitan Jonah has repeatedly refused to act with prudence, in concert with his fellow bishops, in accordance with the Holy Synod’s Policies, Standards and Procedures on Sexual Misconduct (PSPs), and in compliance with advice of the Church’s lawyers and professionals in expertise in dealing with cases of sexual misconduct.

The most disturbing and serious matter, indeed the final matter that caused us to ask the Metropolitan to resign or take a leave of absence and enter a treatment program, involves the Metropolitan’s poor judgment in critical matters of Church governance [treatment centers deal with alcoholism, drug abuse, and sexual problems, they don’t treat management styles], lack of adherence to the PSPs, and the risk of serious harm to at least one other person. While the names, dates and other details must be held in confidence to minimize the risk of further harm, we can say the following.

At some point [when?] after his enthronement as our Primate, Metropolitan Jonah unilaterally accepted into the OCA a priest known to him and to others to be actively and severely abusing alcohol [this priest was never in the OCA], which more than once was coupled with episodes of violence and threats toward women. One of these episodes involved the brandishing of a knife, and the other the discharge of a firearm, the former resulting in the man’s arrest. The man was also incarcerated for three days in yet another incident, shortly after he was accepted into the OCA [again, this priest was never in the OCA] by Metropolitan Jonah. While under Metropolitan Jonah’s omophorion, this priest is alleged to have committed a rape against a woman in 2010. [now it’s alleged] Metropolitan Jonah was later told of this allegation in February 2012, yet he neither investigated, nor told his brother bishops, nor notified the Church’s lawyers, nor reported the matter to the police, nor in any other way followed the mandatory, non-discretionary PSPs of the OCA. The alleged victim, however, did report the rape to the police. We know, too, that the alleged victim and a relative were encouraged by certain others not to mention the incident, and were told by them that their salvation depended on their silence. As recently as last week Metropolitan Jonah was regularly communicating with one of those who tried to discourage the reporting of this crime by the alleged victim and her relative [assertion: who did he discuss this with?]. In addition, the Metropolitan counseled the priest to pursue a military chaplaincy, without informing the military recruiter of any of the priest’s problems. Finally, the Metropolitan attempted to transfer the priest to other Orthodox jurisdictions, and ultimately did permit him to transfer to another jurisdiction, in each case telling those jurisdictions there were no canonical impediments to a transfer. [Again, how could he do this if the priest in question was never under Jonah’s omorphor?]

We have started an investigation into the rape allegation [now it’s an allegation again], and cannot assume whether the allegation is true or not[or not?!]. We only know that earlier allegations of misconduct by this priest were handled by Metropolitan Jonah in a manner at a complete variance with the required standards of our Church.

Moral, canonical and inter-Orthodox relations issues aside [up until this point they’ve never been better for the OCA with Jonah at the helm], in light of the recent widely-publicized criminal cases involving sexual abuse at Penn State and in the Philadelphia Archdiocese and the Kansas City Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, the extent of the risk of liability to which the Metropolitan has exposed the Church cannot be overstated. We knew already from past experience with Metropolitan Jonah that something had to change; we had hoped that change would come about as the result of Metropolitan Jonah fulfilling his promise to comply with the recommendation given him by the medical facility to which he was admitted for evaluation and treatment last November [how do you know he didn’t comply, did you see the diagnosis?], as he assured us he would do at our last All-American Council in Seattle. That promise having gone unfulfilled [assertion], when this latest problem came to our attention at the end of June, we felt that we had no choice but to ask him to take a leave of absence or to submit his resignation. The moral, human, canonical and legal stakes were simply too high.

Leading up to this most recent problem, there has existed for several years now a repeated pattern by Metropolitan Jonah of taking other unilateral actions that were contrary to the advice of the Holy Synod and/or the Church’s lawyers, which prolonged or caused litigation involving the OCA, which substantially increased legal fees, which created confusion in negotiations, and which exposed the OCA to otherwise avoidable additional financial and legal liability.

He withheld information from his brother bishops and from the Church’s lawyers concerning litigation matters, and matters which might have resulted, and still might result, in litigation. [Proof? Any instances?]

He has spoken unilaterally with and provided sensitive information to opposing counsel and opposing parties concerning pending and threatened litigation [what other cases are there, would the Vasile Susan case be one of them?], although he had specifically been warned many times of the perils in doing so.

He gave to unauthorized persons a highly sensitive, painstakingly detailed internal Synodal report concerning numerous investigations into sexual misconduct [you mean the one Mark Stokoe leaked to all his friends and then posted on the internet?], risking leaks of names of alleged victims and alleged perpetrators. While those who now possess the report are wrongfully in possession of OCA property [again, like Mark Stokoe?], they have not yet returned their copies of these highly confidential and sensitive documents, further exposing our Church to potential legal liabilities.

What we have said here is based on the Metropolitan’s own words, both during numerous Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council meetings, and established in documentary evidence. We cannot release that publicly, and the Metropolitan Council members have legal and moral obligations to maintain in confidence information pertaining to threats to individuals and alleged crimes. We have however been communicating with and will continue to communicate with law enforcement authorities.

Our request for Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation, or that he take a leave of absence for treatment, came at the end of a rather long list of questionable, unilateral decisions and actions, demonstrating the inability of the Metropolitan to always be truthful and accountable to his peers. The Metropolitan’s freely-chosen resignation [not under duress?] has been characterized by him and others as the result of politics and internal discord among the members of the Holy Synod. Quite to the contrary, the other members of the Holy Synod stand firmly together in our unanimous astonishment at the Metropolitan’s actions. We cannot stress enough that while the most recent events are likely the most dangerous for the Church, these represent only the latest in a long series of poor choices that have caused harm to our Church. We understand and agree that an ability to work or not work well with others, or a challenged administrative skill set, or Metropolitan Jonah’s refusal to comply with the recommendations of the treatment facility, while not the reasons for his requested resignation, were fundamentally related to the consequences of his actions.

Each bishop of the Orthodox Church in America has a duty to Jesus Christ to shepherd his respective diocesan flock, and to be a good steward and trustee of the temporal properties of the Church entrusted to his care. After the developments of the past few weeks, we knew, individually and together acting in one accord as the Synod, that we could no longer exercise our duties as shepherds or as trustees and stewards without asking for the Metropolitan’s resignation.

There are some who are seeking to promote a variety of rumors or other reasons for the Metropolitan’s resignation, in their conversations or on the Internet. Some argue that the resignation had to do with moral or political views publicly expressed by Metropolitan Jonah that conflicted with the views of others in the Church, the so-called “culture wars.” Such views have never been a point of contention in Holy Synod or Metropolitan Council meetings. These issues were discussed, and statements and actions of the Holy Synod have demonstrated their unchanging position on traditional Orthodox views of morality. This speculation as to other motives behind the resignation is simply not true; the reasons for the resignation are detailed in this message.

We continue to pray for Metropolitan Jonah’s spiritual needs even as his brother bishops have provided for his immediate material needs [the blow-back must have been intense]. He has no Church assignment obligations, allowing him to focus on himself and his family. Meanwhile, he is drawing full salary and benefits until at least October, when the Holy Synod next meets.

We ask your prayers for the Church, for Her clergy and faithful and for Her mission in the world.

Your shepherd in Christ,

Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest


  1. Defend The Faith says


    I think the time has come for the to OCA assign a totally independent special prosecutor to investigate this entire matter. That means that there would be no limits to his or her investigative authority. He or she would be free to open every file, question every bishop and every person involved. It would mean that full transparency and accountability is the goal so that the truth can be found and presented.

    The internal investigative efforts by the OCA have, to my conclusion, been too self-serving, too biased to lay all blame on one person. This is the same pattern the OCA used to make their case against others (Kondratick, Nikolai, Rodzianko, Susan, Fetea, Velencia, and more, now Jonah.)

    In all of this there is no display of “arms length” separation. The Holy Synod is compromised, the Syosset Chancery is compromised and there appears to be no one inside the OCA who can look at this sad situation without coloring it with their own biases.

    All of them (Synod and Syosset) should recuse themselves today, give it to an independent (a person outside the OCA) professional arbitrator who can give the Church the entire unvarnished story. I don’t know what the conclusions would be, none of us do, but I would feel a greater sense of honesty and objectivity if they freely took this course.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      I rather like that idea. How about this one: that His Beatitude call an ecclesiastical court and that twelve bishops from various jurisdictions serve as magistrates? Clearly this is uncanonical from soup to nuts. Jonah’s resignation is likewise null and void, given the fact that it was discussed by a clandestine gathering of bishops without his presence and he was forced to write the resignation letter under duress.

      • Defend The Faith says

        Respectfully I have to disagree. There may be a time for a Spiritual Court to deal with the matter, but now is not the time. That would come after the results of a Special Prosecutor report, if recommended.

        This reminds me of the Civil War Battle of the Wilderness in which the battle lines were so intertwined that soldiers from both sides were shooting one another. Both sides, sadly there are sides, have to retreat, call a ceasefire so that an unbiased general can make sense of the issues.

        The time for self-policing has passed. I want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and I am willing to accept an unbiased report no matter what it says. Then the OCA can have a chance to move forward.

      • Thomas Mathes says

        George, If Metropolitan Jonah wants to claim his resignation is null and void, he need only appeal to the patriarchates and the autocephalous churches to continue to recognize him as primate of the OCA. I suggest this because it is the orthodox way (not an independent prosecutor). The most recent example of this concerned the patriarchate of Jerusalem though that case involved the opposite–they no longer recognized Irenaeus as Patriarch and approved the election of a new patriarch. But if Metropolitan Jonah does not want to fight for his position as primate, I don’t see why all of you are doing it for him. He knows that he can appeal to rest of the orthodoxy. He needs to be the actor, not the people on this blog. If he does not have the fortitude and courage to do so, he probably needed to resign. When MJ spoke at the Seattle, his defenders claimed the bishops pressured him. When he didn’t do anything about the archdeacon in Florida, his supporters again defended him as pressured by bishops. Now the same argue that he signed the letter of resignation “under duress”. When are you all going to hear yourselves and get your own message, he may be a holy man, a bishop and orthodox, but he’s not the strongman needed for the position of primate.

        • Harry Coin says

          Getting past a signed document saying ‘I resign’, absent evidence of immediate fear for his life unless he signed, is just Not Going To Happen. And it really shouldn’t you know.

          Did you see this one in the Philadelphia newspaper today? The police reports will either vindicate Jonah or whoever is informing the synod / MC.

          Orthodox Church in America exec fired for not removing rapist priest

          By David O’Reilly


          Citing the sex-abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia and at Pennsylvania State University, the Orthodox Church in America has dismissed its presiding archbishop for failing to remove a priest who had raped a woman and been jailed for other violent acts.

          The Holy Synod of the church, whose members number about 85,000 in the United States and Canada, announced this week that Metropolitan Jonah, 52, had stepped down Saturday after ignoring the church’s procedures for responding to sexual misconduct……

          • Rod Dreher says

            Again, I want to underscore that if what the Synod’s statement claims turns out to be true, then without question, Jonah should have been thrown out. I am especially interested to learn more about the allegation that unnamed church officials were trying to intimidate an alleged rape victim into recanting. If it’s true, and Jonah is behind it, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. I believe extraordinary claims, especially in light of the history of dirty dealing surrounding relations between Jonah and the Synod, demand extraordinary evidence. This is all very, very serious, and I don’t think we should be so quick to dismiss the allegations against Jonah.

            I should point out, though, that the Inquirer has made a serious error in its story. It said that the priest involved was a rapist. That is not what the Synod alleges, nor can it be said of the priest until and unless there is a conviction. Until then, he is an “alleged rapist.” I know it might sound like a fine point of media law, but it is inaccurate, and it’s the kind of thing lawsuits against newspapers are built on.

            • I was just thinking that’s a libel suit waiting to happen.

              You are, of course, right, Rod. We can’t assume there was no wrongdoing involved on Met. Jonah’s part. But the letter was very clear Met. Jonah was not the one silencing the victim, but others (I’m pretty sure I know who and it would seem they are also being investigated). Also, Met. Jonah apparently wasn’t even told of the allegations until earlier this year, which is bizarre because it seems the complaint had been filed and dropped.

        • Thomas, the point of all this is not necessarily to stick Met. Jonah back under the white hat.

          It is to hold the Holy Synod accountable for what appear to be uncanonical activities on their part, and hopefully give Met. Jonah the leverage to negotiate a settlement that will support his family.

    • Harry Coin says

      Folks: The content of these letters, even if the truth of each matter is only half correct– well, ‘fearsome’ doesn’t cover it.

      Those who support Met. Jonah’s posting as Metropolitan need to explain how the OCA could survive if decision making were to continue in such a fashion.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Harry, you’re not a lawyer are you? I’m not either. But I do know that there is such a maxim as “two sides to the same story.” That’s why we don’t take guys out and lynch them when we think they did something wrong. We don’t do that even when they do do something wrong.

        We’re beyond this now. The Synod in the way they acted has now totally delegitimized the OCA in the eyes of world Orthodoxy. There is no way that the OCA will survive their boneheadedness and there is nothing the OCA can now bring to the table should the Episcopal Assembly amount to anything. Nothing. We can jump up and down and scream that we’re Americans and the Old World can go pound sand, but it’s not going to do us a bit of good.

        • Harry Coin says

          George your conclusions need to have the dots connected to reasons and not your feelings about implied reasons. Come now, look at those things alleged in the letters: they can be checked, how do you carry on given what appears to be the whole of the metropolitan council and the whole of the synod not seeing things even a little as you do? To get all those folks to buy into this and nobody proposing other checkable facts? Usually it’s two Orthodox five opinions. This unanimity, and not only among the bishops but the MC too? Nobody given to see the documents explaining to you or others how this was all a set-up and why? Not one? Met. Jonah not coming forward to agree with any of the theories offered here? Maybe he did what he did because he deemed it the right thing to do. If the substance was materially false the Met. Jonah you’ve described would have climbed a high hill, told the whole truth as best he knew it and let his enemies be scattered in the fact of the truth, even if many wouldn’t accept until later. Certainly he wouldn’t let fuss about money stand in the way of high principle, that’s not the fellow you’ve been describing here these many months.

          Why can’t you see this?

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Harry, what makes you think that the “whole” MC and Synod see things all the same way? Do you have inside knowledge of this? You see, I’m skeptical by nature. It’s partly because I have to be in my profession. Plus my years in the GOA, esp at CL 2002 in LA led me to completely be on my guard when a “entire” synod says one thing. I imagine you’re the same way with the GOA eparchial synod. Why are you so trusting now about what we’re being told by the OCA’s synod?

            Prudence would dictate a healthy dose of suspicion.

            • Harry Coin says

              George, according to reports the synod was unanimous, and not one bishop has gone on record to say that’s not correct. Further, not one MC member I’m aware of has come out with facts contrary to the official versions nor even come out against the decision for unstated reasons. Jonah himself has not taken issue with any of the facts asserted. If you know different then who? Where?

              And, well, you know, what a headline ‘fired for not removing rapist priest’. Now, you know, what answer to that is there? Either it’s a total whopper of galactic proportions and the police will expose it, or, well, as much I as liked his talks decision making like that is not compatible with either human or financial stewardship. What of the victims? Give one with those problems also to make decisions affecting others? About as harmful as keeping those who drink booze to the point of feeling the effects of the alcohol more than one-of as serving bishops. Madness!

              • I have never commented on this site before. Harry, with respect, when you write, “Further, not one MC member I’m aware of has come out with facts contrary to the official versions nor even come out against the decision for unstated reasons”, did you ever ask yourself why this might be? I imagine anyone on the MC who might oppose the ‘official versions’ of events might feel pretty uncomfortable giving voice to their concerns right now.

                Likewise, when you write, “Jonah himself has not taken issue with any of the facts asserted”, you simply do not and cannot know that. Just because we have yet to see anyone from the Synod or Metropolitan Council release any statement by the Metropolitan hardly proves he did not attempt to communicate to the faithful. In this climate, it is very likely that any attempt he made to communicate to the faithful through the Synod or MC was stalled by those who did not want the faithful to read his words.

                If the Metropolitan were to write something contesting the Holy Synod’s accusations against him, how would he get it out through the Synod or MC when these are the very bodies who requested his resignation via conference call on Friday, July 6?

                Why should we believe the Synod’s accusations when they cannot and will not even name the identity of the person they claim the Metropolitan hid? You cannot legitimately or fairly accuse someone of being an accomplice or enabler to a crime without having an arrested criminal suspect. How do we know that Metropolitan Jonah actually received the person into the OCA, as the Synod claims without offering any proof? Where is the proof that the Metropolitan actually knew about the man’s alleged crime? I suspect there is none.

                Metropolitan Jonah is not even being permitted to serve or help serve the Liturgy at St Nicholas Cathedral, of which he has essentially been a pastor for the past four years, since it was his primatial cathedral. With such restrictions in place, it is hardly a leap of logic to infer that even if the Metropolitan tried to communicate to the faithful through the Synod which unanimously requested his resignation, or through the Metropolitan Council, those preferring that he remain silent prevented his attempts to do so.

              • George Michalopulos says

                You’re putting a lot of hope in a governing apparatus that is as opaque as anything in the GOA Harry. You’re a good guy but you’re in the GOA. I’m in the OCA now and have a better idea of how things work. It’s not as simple as the “synod” acting this way or that. There’s a “Lesser Synod,” and then there’s the MC and then Syosset. I’m not sure anybody could draw me an organizational flow chart and the decision making is very weird.

    • I know! Ask Father Bob to do it! He’s got nothing to lose.

    • ForcedAnon says

      Many of the assertions in this letter, even I, a nobody, am aware of the “other side of the story.” I am very sorry, and not a little ashamed, that this letter came from the bishop of my home parish. I believe he is a good man, but I suspect he is being used by other, less good men in the Synod, because he is new and without scandal. Nevertheless, this letter of Matthias’ is a testament to cruelty and disloyalty among brother bishops; it is not fitting for any bishop to write in this manner. How very shameful that the national media now publicizes the lies of this letter, representing our Godly Metropolitan as a “Sandusky” who covers up rapists. I understand the pressure the Synod was under to give a reason for forcing Metropolitan JONAH to resign; this was right, and we needed to know why. But to simply publish uninvestigated slander and unverified accusations –and portray Met. JONAH as a criminal, is wrong. Shame on you, +Matthias, for allowing yourself to be so used.

  2. St John Climacus in the Ladder of Divine Ascent (pgs 89-92):

    “Slander is born of hatred and remembrance of wrongs. I have heard people slandering and I have rebuked them. And these doers of evil replied in self defence that they were doing so out of love and care for the person whom they were slandering. I said to them; ‘Stop that kind of love, otherwise you will be condemning as a liar him who said; “Him that privaly talked against his neighbor, did I drive away” (Psalm 3:5). If you say you love, then pray secretly, and do not mock the man. For this is the kind of love that is acceptable to the Lord.

    But I will not hide this from you: Judas was in the company of Christ’s disciples and the thief was in the company of murderers. Yet it is a wondrous thing, how in a single instant, they exchanged places.

    I have known a man who sinned openly and repented secretly. I condemned him as a profligate, but he was chaste before God, having propitiated Him by a genuine conversion.

    A charitable and sensible mind takes careful note of whatever virtues it sees in anyone. But a fool looks for faults and defects.

    Do not condemn, even if you see with your eyes, for they are often deceived”.

  3. To freshly coin an ancient saying:

    If a flour mill starts grinding garbage, swapping out the stones won’t help.

    • Defend The Faith says


      I think, regrettably, that is what we have now, if you are referring to the OCA self-policing. That is why a totally outside the OCA and independent investigation should take place. I can’t imagine why anyone would be against it. Maybe I am missing something obvious. To me, and what do I know, such an action shows a sincere desire on everyone’s part to get to the unbiased truth. It may be wishful thinking on my part but I still hope that would be the goal and that the good will of people and for the good order of the Church would be their motivation.

      • Do you really think the OCA apparat would allow an unbiased report? Too many know too much and have too much to lose to give up control. The met knows where some of the bodies are buried, too. So does everyone else–those graves are marked with spotlights by this point.

        • Rod Dreher says

          You’re right, James P.

          I find myself this morning unable to muster any faith in Jonah’s continued leadership, but also, based on history, including the things to which you refer, unable to trust those who sent him packing — however much he may have deserved to go.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            I disagree Rod. I very much believe syosset would put out a CYA letter (in Peter P’s phraseology). These guys aren’t that bright. I’ve got some institutional memory of the OCA and know that they when things get bad they form a circular firing squad. All you gotta do is dredge up the old Kondratick affair. They pressed charges against him, spent $500K in legal fees and then wound up paying him $250K in damages. How smart is THAT?

          • M. Stankovich says

            So, Mr. Dreher, in all your fives of years of history in the Orthodox Church, your pseudonymous OCAT v OCAN adventure in the “days of judges” (Judges 2:16), and your “inside editions,” will this be as close as you’ll come to an apology? And you are “discouraged” after four years of this Metropolitan? I’ve waited more than forty, and yesterday was pretty much confirmation that there will be no truly American Orthodox Church in my lifetime.

            • And, M. Stankovich, God never said there should be! What an idea!

              • M. Stankovich says

                Vladyka Tikhon,

                While it may be astonishing to imagine, for forty of my years it certainly seemed that God intended there to be an American Church. And while you appear to relish this bit of sarcasm , I cannot imagine a sadder week short of outright schism – and some even “heroically” suggest this is reasonable.

                On every occasion you take to writing about someone who “displeases” or has displeased you, I can’t help but think a condition of having you in their home would be to hide any personal diaries – or for that matter, anything of a discrete or personal nature – as you seem to have no sense of propriety, prudence, dignity, or respect for the living, and sadly, even for the dead. I do not understand it, but God never said I should.

                • Centurion says

                  Hear, hear! What an accurate description of this lunatic bishop: “On every occasion you take to writing about someone who “displeases” or has displeased you, I can’t help but think a condition of having you in their home would be to hide any personal diaries – or for that matter, anything of a discrete or personal nature – as you seem to have no sense of propriety, prudence, dignity, or respect for the living, and sadly, even for the dead.”

        • Defend The Faith says


          A truly independent report with no ties to the OCA by a complete outsider would offer a measure of impartiality that, regrettably, I don’t think we have at the present. It would also be a signal from the OCA that this is not just about +Jonah, but about the future of the OCA. A clean start, a new beginning, with everyone, if such a report would conclude, needing to do things differently going forward.

          The OCA appears to be broken, or at least badly damaged. It would be a step, a first step, in rebuilding trust and credibility. In the absence of this, the OCA will continue to limp along, badly tainted by this latest episode, and I fear consigned to the margins of Orthodoxy in the USA.

          Maybe it is too late, I don’t know, but something novel and humble needs to be attempted because the way they are dealing with this now is not a foundation to build upon. They tried this before and now we are eating the bitter fruit of those past decisions.

          • Defend,

            Agree re: the absolute necessity of such an investigation. The issue though is whether it would be allowed by the synod and/or Syosset. Clearly it would not.

            • Defend The Faith says


              If that would be the case, then I think we would have our answer. I admit the idea is a longshot at best, but unless the OCA starts thinking outside their own comfort zone, and keep doing what they are doing and expecting a different result, it will be a long, slow, and depressing demise which is not in isolation but does impact on the Orthodox witness here. Let’s pray that they might have the courage to do it.

          • Actually, what I had in mind is that the Synod needs to grind wheat, and not bullshit.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Yes I do. These guys have a track record of ineptness. Right now there are a passel of people at the DOS assembly in Miami who have to spend an extra nite and buy an extra meal or two because Nikon unilaterally cancelled the elections.

          And for those who cancelled, their parishes are left with unrefundable tickets.

          If that’s not inept, what is?

  4. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    Now that I have read both official letters (Bp Mathias’ and the Synod’s) it is clear to me that these are cya (cover your ass) letters. The alleged rape seems to me to have involved one of the DC nuns. Maybe. I come to this conclusion as Fr. Symeon would most likely would want to keep his behavior in house among women he knew and could control.

    The same senerio played out at the Crystovalandou Monastery up in Astoria just recently in the GOA. Usually, not always, such sexual improprieties involving priest/monks follow this type of MO. Of course this is just my educated speculation.

    RAPE is a serious charge both criminally and civilly. The OCA Holy Synod had to issue these letters to stop any liability that may potentially attach to the OCA at large. a criminal and/or civil action may still happen, but at least the synod has now papered itself into “credible deniability” at least until the civil case starts and discovery is performed that may reveal otherwise. Only time will tell.

    This was all LEGALLY required. Most likely the Metropolitan will be given some non-disclosure contract to sign in return for a severance package as well as a general release NOT to sue the OCA in the future. He may even be given a “Cooperation” clause in that IF the OCA is sued civily the Metropolitan will assist in the OCA’s defense (This really means, after reading these letters, that he may have to take the fall to some degree or other – The OCA lawyers have set up a Defense for the OCA and compartmentalized the liability – smart move if you ask me).

    What was Met. Jonah’s real problem? At this point I do not know, but when this start to come out, and it will, then the real story will emerge and not from official and legally polished pronouncements. For the time being its over. Let’s see how this plays out.

    Personally the Susan case here in Chicago may shed light on some of this. You never know. Time to take a break. See ya guys.


    • Michael Bauman says

      I agree with you Peter. The trouble here is that there are sides. Each side seeks to justify its position at the expense of the other side. Add to that the whole scapegoating mentality that Stokoe introduced and you have a toxic situation that is difficult to get out of.

      Here’s a novel idea. How ’bout the Synod call for a month of prayer, fasting and confession?

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        I agree 100%. I also agree that this is a toxic situation and I definitely agree that the Synod (as should all of us) should call for a month of prayer and fasting and confession. In all of this we tend to forget that its our salvation that is really at stake. Thank you for the reminder. Its always needed.


        • Sub-Deacon David says

          The trouble is, I think it is all the concerned priests and laity that will repent and confess without nigh a whisper from Syossett.

      • That is a great idea, but I think this is exactly the moment to stand and fight.
        Those in the DOS need to sieze the moment and demand and independent investigation(not picked out by the OCA) and suspension of all Bishops until this is cleared up. NO LESS !

  5. The thing that bothers me the most about the letter is not so much what it says, but what it doesn’t say. It certainly doesn’t mention anything Met. Jonah did to get rid of this guy once he realized he was a problem. The timeline is as convoluted as possible to leave as bad an impression as possible. For instance, Bishop Matthias mentions Met. Jonah’s suggestion for military chaplaincy after going through the worst of Fr. Simeon’s problems, failing to mention that Met. Jonah had that idea well before the worst of those problems became known.

    In fact, I can’t find a single place in the letter where it says even one nice thing about Met. Jonah, or admits to any regret or sorrow over the situation except for how it affects the bishops themselves. Gee, thanks for your concern, guys. Don’t bother trying to release some treacly crap now about “moving on” and “sadness” like Fr. John Jillions came out with this morning, if you really gave a damn you would have said it already, so no credit.

    No consolation do we find in there for people who love Met. Jonah and have been crushed by hearing that he’s a rapist-harboring monster. Nope.

    No help for dealing with the psychological consequences of having this happen to someone you love and trust, who may have baptized your children or performed your wedding or received your family into the Church. Not a word.

    No explanation for people who have become interested in Orthodoxy because of Met. Jonah’s missionary efforts. “Gee, sorry you liked this guy so much, but it turns out he’s a wackjob.”

    No sympathy for the Paffhausen family, no apparent concern, much less intercession, for their well-being. They only reassure us that Met. Jonah’s still drawing his salary and benefits for the time being and has no obligations so he can “focus on his family”. Hmm. He’s too crazy and irresponsible to do his job, but they are totally fine with leaving him to be responsible for three vulnerable adults, on a salary that will end in October? If there is really something wrong with Met. Jonah, the Synod’s inaction in this regard is negligent and dangerous.

    Finally, there is no “mea culpa” from the Synod, which is really startling because they have just admitted they left the OCA in the charge of someone they thought was completely incompetent and psychologically unhealthy going all the way back to February 2011.

    However this turns out on the Met. Jonah front, this tells me that the entire remaining Synod of the OCA, collectively, and as individual members, is PASTORALLY, MORALLY, AND PROFESSIONALLY INCOMPETENT.

    I agree with Defend the Faith that our only way forward is to appoint a special prosecutor to finally sort this out once and for all.

    I would also like to add the proposition that the OCA should ask Moscow to rip up the Tomos and provide spiritual care for former OCA parishes, while the former OCA bishops, including Met. Jonah (it’s only fair), are all suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigations. The administrative staff can stay for the time being in order to oversee the intake of money and disbursement of salaries for the former OCA, and retain a continuity of ministries unrelated to the current crisis for whatever ecclesial administrative structure comes out of the process. Of course, any administrative staff are also subject to investigation as well as legal or ecclesiastical consequences for any wrongdoing on their own parts.

    I thought the OCA’s autocephaly was not at all bad in principle, but it is clear to me that the OCA as an institution is simply no longer viable. The sooner we admit to this and start the painful process of fixing this, the better.

    • Helga, I’m conflicted about your assertion that Moscow should rip up the tomos. Maybe, it should, or at least step in somehow. If it were torn up against the backdrop of the new episcopal assembly, it’s unlikely that Moscow would be able to re-issue it without the approval of the EP. The OCA clearly needs outside help to set things straight, but I’m not sure how or if that could happen. Maybe we simply sink or swim at this point, or more likely continue to take on water for the foreseeable future.

      • Moscow does not have the ability nor the authority to revoke or amend the tomos. Only the OCA could rescind the Tomos and we will never do that outside of a unified and autocephalous Church here.

  6. Anonymous says

    The thing that bothers me the most about the letter is not so much what it says, but what it doesn’t say. It certainly doesn’t mention anything Met. Jonah did to get rid of this guy once he realized he was a problem.

    Correct. The letter very kindly does not mention the persistent rumor that the Metropolitan advised Fr. Simeon to flee the country to avoid prosecution.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Where’d you come up with that? I’ve heard of no such thing.

      People, we’re forgetting one salient point: this priest was never under the omorphor of Jonah!

      • I will not ask you to prove that but may I ask did Met. Jonah ever compensate him in any fashion? Or provide him a place to stay or a church to serve in?

        • As far as I know, Met. Jonah allowed him to serve, then removed that permission once his issues became evident.

    • please site your evidence that Jonah advised this priest to flee.

      What I wonder is if the OCA has contacted the authorities in the Church of Greece to warn them about the monster that this priest is as well as his “elder” dionysius.

      • Anonymous says

        I don’t have the evidence, but my understanding is that the Synod does.

        I said it is a “persistent rumor”. And if true then Jonah potentially faces criminal liability.

        • And we can really trust the Synod for the truth ?

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          And after all this, you would believe Syosset? Based on what? The fact that they shut down an earlier investigation against a sitting bishop?

        • Jesse Cone says

          From reading the letter, which throws the kitchen sink at +Jonah, I am confident that if they had proof of this they would have included it.

          It is no secret that, while +Jonah is fond of the DC Nuns, he was never much a fan of Fr. Simeon.

        • Rod Dreher says

          I don’t have the evidence, but my understanding is that the Synod does.

          I said it is a “persistent rumor”. And if true then Jonah potentially faces criminal liability.

          If they have it, they should release it. Period.

          • Mike Myers says

            Rod, you’re not a lawyer nor do you have any other relevant professional standing that would warrant your issuing such a foolish prescription to your bishops. Please use your head, and consider this matter with more prudence and dispassion. It should be perfectly obvious to any reasonable adult why the Holy Synod could do no such thing.

            Maybe you missed it, but my sincerely friendly advice to you yesterday was to exercise far greater caution in what you post here. You’re generally one of the cooler and more rational heads hereabouts (which admittedly ain’t saying much), but knee-jerk reactions such as this are disappointing and reflect badly on your judgment.

            George’s reputation is not going to survive the scandalous debacle of Monomakhos. Why continue to participate masochistically in his folly, which is becoming obvious to all sane adults? (I’ve been trying to persuade y’all to recognize this for well over a year now, with an easily checked crescendo of urgency.) EDITED TO ADD: Actually, not so easy, because George has removed the option to review poster’s prior comments that his cursed blog featured until a few months ago. A seriously suspect move on his part, imho.

            Don’t allow Michalopulos to drag you down with him. You’ve been had. You and Jesse both. Admit it, and cut your losses while you still can.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Mike, your concern for my credibility heartens me. Just curious, are you a lawyer?

              • Mike Myers says

                No, I’m not a lawyer. I’m a professional bullshit detector, and you’re way off the rational reservation, bozo. I’ve attempted since last year to reason with you. Clearly a fool’s errand.

                I’ll pray for you, not that my prayers are worth much, or could be especially fervent in your sorry case. You need help.

                • Mr. Myers,

                  You’re a “a professional bullshit detector”? You are a philosophy professor? Excellent; it’s good to see a kindred spirit. Wait . . . other jobs might have that description? Hmm . . . police officer, natural scientist, private detective, intelligence agent, insurance claims agent, casino card dealer, trade representative . . . I guess that bullshit detecting is a very useful skill in life.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Joseph, the reason I asked him if he were a lawyer was to point out the vapidity of the letter. I suspected he wasn’t a lawyer because those who are have told me that yesterday’s letter was defamotory and thus actionable.

                    I’m not a lawyer but I formatted Matthias’ letter this morning and I saw so many glaring inconsistencies, slanders, and tautologies that my essay (“First Rule of Holes…”) essentially wrote itself. I was done in 20 minutes.

                    Syosset is clearly desperate. I’m wondering what the next fool thing they’re going to do is?

                    • The letter is vapid and has the style and sloppiness of a failed journalist, not a believer.

                    • Seems like they could have come up with proof that Fr. Simeon was received into the OCA, couldn’t they?

                    • Jesse Cone says


                      FYI, I went on yesterday and went through all the “Pastoral Changes” docs they had going back to Feb ’10. (Fr. Simeon arrived in US in late January of ’10.)

                      There is one doc where the link is dead, but unless it is in there(!) there is no record of Fr. Simeon in the OCA’s official Pastoral Changes documentation going back to his arrival in the US.

                      That means there is also no record of him leaving the OCA last July.

                      It’s almost like he was never part of the OCA.

                    • Jesse, I also checked the Statute of the OCA.

                      Bishop Matthias complains that Met. Jonah “unilaterally” received Fr. Simeon into the OCA, but under Article IV, section 2.j of the Statute, the Metropolitan actually has the right to do that. Only he never appears to have done it at all.

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  You know, if you’re such a profession BS-detector, then you could take down my arguments fairly easily, and without resorting to gratuitous slanders. But since you don’t, I assume that you can’t.

                  • Mike Myers says

                    Bozo, you’ve taken yourself down. You just don’t know it yet, apparently, which is at least half the admittedly unholy fun of watching this train wreck that you insist on making of yourself. Call me an agent provocateur. Beyond that service, I’m content just to stay out of your way.

                    To engage you rationally, as if you were someone who could be taken seriously, is something I’ve already tried, last year. Remember? But you proved yourself an asshat and a risible charlatan, or your cyberpersona did, anyway. So it would be infra dig for me to repeat that experiment in respect now. And you flatter yourself by calling the irrational, ludicrous verbal dumps you take here “arguments.” That’s just laughable self-deception. To style you a hypocrite would do you more honor than these lame performances deserve. Your persona here amounts to little more than a petty helot who’s drowning in a marinade of ressentiments, evidently catalyzed by contemplation of your betters, and a closely related toxic shame — whose precise nature and cause are as yet unidentified, to me. Although I do have my hunches. You are also, potentially, an adopted son of God in Christ. I guess.

                    What is most interesting about you though is your abject shamelessness, and your masochism. As I’ve noted before, your case interests me clinically, Vanity Pundit. Your evident need to publicly humiliate yourself is not without a certain pathos, however. One pities you.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      So, what’s your point?

                    • Masochism? So why are you back here after “last Year”? just wondering.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Michalopulos,

                      I have always considered you a most gracious host, and an exemplary, patient provider. But Mr. Meyers continuously crosses the line of your policy and “reset” to the point where he is embarrassing. Somehow, even his choice to embarrass himself would be less grating if he contributed something otherwise sustaining, but he does not. Secondly, the level of disrespect he demonstrates to you personally is as distasteful and uncomfortable as it is contrary to the simple hospitality you extend. As if it were not painful enough in the past few weeks, this man would resort to insult and tantrums.

                      It seems to me the best advice to give him is “If you have secret knowledge and understanding we don’t, it’s probably best to keep it a secret,” and quietly dust off your welcome mat. I’m sure your grandmother told you as much as mine, “It’s sad, but even hospitality has its limits.” You don’t deserve this, Mr. Michalopulos.

                    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                      I’m with M. Stankovich about the commenter. I’ve been going through the other comments and I think this poster’s tone borders on the abusive. Isn’t one of your rules not to launch personal attacks on other commenters (including the blog owner)?

                    • Elizabeth says

                      Males and females have different writing styles. If you have the knowledge to analyze keywords within Mike’s posts, you can see that Mike’s writing style is very feminine.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Thank you Mr Stankovich. That’s very gracious of you. For what it’s worth, if it doesn’t get out of hand and bother you all, I won’t do anything. Since the offense is against me, I’ll take it as it really doesn’t bother me at all.

            • Jesse Cone says

              MM suggests to Rod,

              Don’t allow Michalopulos to drag you down with him. You’ve been had. You and Jesse both. Admit it, and cut your losses while you still can.

              I’m not sure what you mean by this. Rod has mentioned that+Jonah’s shine has pretty much disappeared from his eyes, and I’m currently of the mind that the way forward for the OCA meant someone other than +Jonah at the helm. (I go back and forth with this.) So has my estimation of the situation changed over the past year and a half? Yes.

              However, I do not think that I’ve been had. I love HB and I want to see his ministry continue and flourish. I also want the truth to come out and I want to OCA to be a safe, God-fearing beacon of light to the world. Inasmuch as HB has failed in his responsibility, he should acknowledge it and repent. The same goes for me. And for Stokoe, Stanky, and everyone else I go toe-to-toe with. God willing we’ll all be communing together in the City of God, so we should desire and expect that even now.

              My goal has never been, and can never be, to get the institution of the OCA to be the way I like it. The goal is for us to be, in our existence, a light in the darkness, not a stumbling block to those who seek the true faith, once delivered.

              There are sides to this, and that is unfortunate. That’s why I objected to the “Team Jonah” label Stokoe created, and tried to find a middle ground with “Team Due-Process”. (Yeah, I know, it doesn’t have the same ring to it!) Rod, Jason and I didn’t start the sides, we just spoke up. I, for one, do not regret it.

              I had hope for the Metropolinate ministry of +Jonah, but my hope is not in him.

              So I don’t know what it means to “cut my losses while [I] still can”.

              I wrote in November that +Jonah is to be lauded because his humility shows us a spiritual way out of this mess; he may still be doing that.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Jesse, if I may echo your sentiments. My hope is not and never was in Jonah the man, or Kirill, or Dmitri, or Iakovos, or Billy Graham. My hope is in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As a bishop though, and primate, Jonah represented a traditionalist, evangelical path for the OCA, one which is now ground to dust. If I thought that there was a good man to replace him, I’d say, “let’s get on it!”

                The problem is that even if we had 10 Jonahs on the Synod, the dysfunction is so entrenched that it won’t be able to right itself. It is possible that the slow-motion implosion of the OCA is necessary in God’s plan of salvation. Our self-idolatry, our incessant invoking of the name of Schmemann, our insoucuant unconcern with Orthopraxy, has made our jurisdiction unviable.

              • Mike Myers says

                At this stage, on the basis of many reports and an adamant consensus among those who know MJ far better than almost any of you do, or possibly could, to chatter about MJ’s “humility” is pathetic and merely demonstrates a bizarre deficiency of discernment, not to mention the most elementary common sense. You’ve been warned. I’ll leave it at that.

                Actors really ought to have more talent. That sums up much of the problem with Orthodoxy: monastic, clerical and lay.

            • Mr. Myers,

              Appealing to fear and to the lower passions of the soul strikes me as ugly. Make your case as you see fit, but please use reason rather than manipulative rhetoric that speaks to the baser instincts of men. Our society as a whole has sunk to such mire where cowards are simply concerned about CTA rather than about doing what is right and just. These issues in the OCA are baffling to those in it and even more confusing to those of us seeing the mess from the outside. Who knows what to make of it other than it is a sad, sad state of affairs? However, it troubles me when I see fellow Christians’ slipping into liability-speak — that domain of wretches, corporate counsel, and trial lawyers — as Twain said, I repeat myself. We should do what is right because it is right. When procedures and legality become the focus of our bishops, then we know that the Spirit has left us. For then we are even worse than the Pharisees, who after all cared about the letter of God-given law. Should our overseers’s chief focus be the dictates of such luminaries as Charles Schumer, Trent Lott, and Barbara Boxer?

              As to Michalopulos’ web site changes that you find “seriously suspect,” that comment list function was never good. If you signed with a web site, like I do, then the link went to your page. If you did not sign with a linked site, then the system listed the all the posts under a given name, regardless of who actually made the post. Thus, Joseph (the First) would have his posts listed along with all the “pretender” Josephs who did not have a linked site. Given the common occurrence of Seraphims, Sarahs, Johns, Anonymous, Georges, Anns, Michaels, and the like, this wasn’t helpful. You would need to list comments according to emails for a real list. Note that you may still use Google’s site search if you wish. There is no “Syosset style” cover up! 😉

              • Mike Myers says

                The Law is the agent of the sword delegated by God to restrain evil. So yes, I would say the fact that MJ has caused the bishops to worry about that speaks volumes. Fear of God, and derivatively the Authority He delegated to the State, is the beginning of wisdom. Please get a clue.

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Unless of course the facts aren’t as this hastily-written and unsigned letter from the Synod presents it.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Then let’s turn over rape allegations to that ministry (the state) which was instituted by God to restrain evil and not to the Church. Fair enough?

      • since when? says

        Excuse me, but if you are going to make such assertions (putting the word “elder” in quotes implies something defamatory in my mind), please back it up.

        Otherwise, I would urge you and all individuals to post responsibly.

        • I can personally attest from the monks of Simonopetra themselves, including the current Abbot Gerontas Elysaios, that the so called “elder” Dionysios left Simonopetra – his place of repentance – without a blessing, has been traveling the world as a self-claimed “Elder”, was kicked out of the Jerusalem Patriarchate by the late Patriarch Diodoros of Blessed Memory for “improprieties”, and the only people he attracts to his monasteries are Westerners who are easily deceived and can’t distinguish real monasticism from charlatan.

          And it’s not just Simonopetra, every monastery I’ve inquired about him after meeting him hear in the States told me to stay far away.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            If true, these are serious charges. However, wasn’t Diodoros himself defrocked as Patiarch of Jerusalem?

          • Isnt’ this the same Elder Dionysios of Somonopetra that Elder Philotheos (Zervakos) specifically requested to hear his final confession and serve his funeral?

            Your account calls into question a number of details from Elder Dionysios’ biographical sketch. For instance,

            Tonsured Great-Schema Monk, by his Elder Archimandrite Aemilianos. in the Holy Monastery of Simonos Petras.

            Called from his Elder Archimandrite Aemilianos, by letter of the blessed Abbot Philotheos Zervakos to become his successor in the Sacred Monasteries of Longovarda and of Thapsana, on the island of Paros, Greece.


            This sketch linked above indicates his very close relationship with the great Elder Aemilianos and so your critical comments do come as a bit of a surprise.

            • People self-justify their current situation all the time, and this what the link you’ve posted essentially does: justifying abandoning your monastery without a blessing.

              The monks of Simonopetra, the nuns of Ormylia – where Elder Amelianos resisdes – dispute this story. It comes down to whom you want to believe. One “elder” and his devotees, or a consensus of multiple Priestmonks and Nuns who were there when it happened.

              All one has to do is contact either Priestmonk Iakovos or Fr. Maximos – both Simonopetra monks who are in Boston at Holy Cross to verify any information. These monks were also featured in the Mt. Athos documentary.

              By the way, I also know that when ROCOR arrived two weeks ago to investigate the nuns, they were handed a legal document from the Abbess in the presence of their Attorney saying that any disparaging remarks directed against their “Elder” would be bet with a defamation lawsuit. Talk about monastic humility. I think ROCOR just inherited a big mess.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Silouan, did this really happen? Did you see it happen or was this conveyed to you second-hand? This needs to be confirmed. How would we go about doing so?

                • George,

                  I have an email from an Eastern Diocese ROCOR priest detailing this event.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Would you be willing to send post it here?

                    • George,

                      Let me inquire about it. There maybe an ongoing investigstion that posting such email could jeapordize. But I’ll see.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      In the meantime, Silouoan, I will not tolerate any more badmouthing of Abbess Aemeliane or Elder Dionysios.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                How can he have “abandone” his monastery if his elder asked him to transfer to another one? I don’t get it. Please explain.

          • Please do not just accept as factual the second-hand information you may hear about either Geronda Dionysios or his monasteries in Greece. I have often visited both St George and The Red Church (from which most of the sisters near D.C. originated) and I have had a personal audience with Geronda Dionysios. He is a holy and charismatic man, whom I will never forget. And the two women’s monasteries (neither of which has ever had more than a small minority of Americans) are wonderful, holy places. In fact, everyone I know who has visited these two monasteries has had powerful, often life-transforming experiences, and visitors often return year after year for spiritual renewal. You need to know that in Greece it is entirely to be expected that all kinds of slanderous rumors will be circulating about monasteries and their elders, due to the fact that for a variety of reasons, many Greeks are really quite hostile to monasticism. This happened to St Nektarios, it happened to Elder Paisios, and it happened to Bishop Athanasios, whom many will know as “Fr Maximos” in Markides’ “Mountain of Silence.” Terrible, unspeakable rumors circulated about all of them. Perhaps even more sadly, it is all too usual in Greece for monastics to engage in uncharitable gossip about other monasteries and their elders, often circulating things they have heard that they are perfectly convinced are true. This was one of the problems that led to the government persecution of Vatopedi, i.e. that other monasteries on the Holy Mountain were envious of their success and indulged in gossip about the fathers there. Dionysios is not perfect, nor are the sisters who are struggling to establish a holy monastery in Maryland. But they are warm and sincere and prayerful people, engaged in good and holy work, and we should be careful not to impede it through uncritically circulating rumors as truth. Orthodoxy in America stands in dire need of healthy monasticism, and if it had existed here already as a nurturing ground for the episcopacy, we would certainly not be experiencing the woes about which many of us are so concerned today.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Maybe it “very kindly doesn’t mention it” because he didn’t say it? Is that a possibility?

    • Pravoslavnie says

      You mean to avoid prosecution over a case that the authorities find themselves unwilling or unable to prosecute? There is an allegation of rape here, and yet the priest in question was supposed released after 3-days and no indictment has come forth in two years? Cool your jets please!

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Why would we want to do that? It’s much more fun to go around screaming like banshees and making all sorts of wild accusations!

    • That’s because they hadn’t heard of it, “persistent” (!) though this person claims it to be.

  7. Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, Christianity continues to die apace with nary a word of protest or disgust from the Orthodox Church in the United States…

  8. Bill Christensen says

    A small but evil assertion of mentioning the Sandusky scandals as somehow related to the “issues” disgusts me. This is obviously meant to inflame or “ignite” readers without even a remote relationship to what it has to do with all the other issues mentioned in “the letter”. It is meant to divert emotions away from the issues and is downright evil in its intent.

    Isn’t the idea of forcing a person to a “mental institution” an old Stalin-esk behavior

  9. Disgusted With It says

    So basically the synod’s statement was:

    “We tried to cover it up, but that didn’t work out too well, so here’s some allegations.”


  10. Nicholas says

    You all are satanically deluded. If you don’t trust the synod, you have a very easy solution. Leave the OCA. leave those of us that want to preach the Gospel to those who need it, and keep your demonic vitriol far far away.

    • I don’t see the Gospel preached unadulterated in the OCA anymore in most places – at least the Gospel once delivered unto the Saints. There is the watered down, OCA-episcopalian Gospel, but I’m referring to the Orthodox one.

      • Nicholas says

        I know at least four bishops on the current synod who most certainly preach the Orthodox gospel, I know because I learned it from them personally. How many synod members do you know? How many have you learned from? How many OCA churches have you visited that you’ve seen this “watered down episcopalian” gospel? This whole site is a lot of bullshit coming from the ass-end of people who really don’t have a clue.

        • jacksson says

          Nicolas, you talk about others and their delusion; that is BS. You state that you have gone to four bishops, whom you personally know, and learned the gospel from each one of them. What is wrong with you, didn’t you get it from the first bishop and then had to go see three more bishops to learn the gospel? I suppose that they all gave you the same ‘gospel’. BTW, what was the gospel that you learned from them; can you give the gist in a few words? You could say it like this:
          Bishop #1 said:
          Bishop #2 said:
          Bishop #3 said:
          Bishop #4 said:
          How long did this process take, the bishops have been changing quite a bit in the last few years; which bishops are you talking about, let us know so that we can all go and learn the gospel from them too. Talk about satanic delusion, perhaps you need to re-evaluate your statement, delusion goes two ways.

        • Nicholas

          Who are these bishops? I think it would be helpful to know who has taught you. I am serious. God knows we are looking for some leadership in the OCA.

          • Nicholas says

            His Grace Bishop Michael – who taught me Ethics, and the importance of the Scripture and the Fathers.
            His Eminence Archbishop Tikhon – who taught me patience, and love through his example.
            His Grace Bishop Matthias – who introduced me to the deep inner life of the Church, and the importance of not compromising the faith.
            His Grace Bishop Melchisedek, who’s sermons are always a great witness to the importance of being ready for our encounters with God.

            I also have had the chance to meet His Beatitude Jonah over a dozen times, I greatly respect him (even now). However, if he did what the Synod claims (and I know that at least the ones I know are not liars) then they were right to ask him to be accountable for it. He was still a great man, and I believe a pious and God loving one. But that doesn’t mean he is blameless.

            • thanks, but are they excellent administrators? That seems to be the most important attribute, not the virtues you ascribe to the bishops you mention. ;0

              • Nicholas says

                So you would prefer a Bishop who lacks piety and faith as long as he is a good administrator? I’m a little confused at your reply. I think some of them are both (especially Bishop Michael), but if they only have one, I prefer it to be piety and Faith.

            • Anon Canadian says

              I can also add to this list Bishop Irenee… he has taken over as the main bishop for the Archdiocese of Canada while Abp. Seraphim is going through the court system, and he has proven to be humble, pious, considerate, and above all, an adept leader to our diocese. I don’t think he’s a big player in the Synod, being an auxilliary bishop, but he’s very well thought of in our diocese.

        • Sub-Deacon David says

          I’m always a bit befuddled when someone comes on a site like this and attacks people in the name of piety. The defensiveness and belligerence of tone certainly stand in stark contrast to the claims of having learned the “Gospel”, not just from Bishops, but from anyone. Of course, the pride and, dare I say it?, prelest illustrated therein seems to be 180° from what is taught in the Gospel. Perhaps a little demonstration of it rather than simply words about it would help your case. In the meantime, your method of presentation simply makes your words suspect.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      I’m sorry Nicholas, but I can’t be deluded in this instance because I don’t believe in episcopal infallibility. It seems that you do.

      • Nicholas says

        Or I personally know some of those men, and the one’s I know are not the people your comments portray them to be. Either the whole synod is lying, or your wrong in your assertions. Which is more likely? Or do you believe the Holy Spirit has abandoned us all?

        • Well according to the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters the Holy Spirit did abandon us in Pittsburgh when the Synod elected +Jonah.

          Who are these bishops you hold up. Maybe we could get a few for the OCA?

          • Nicholas says

            I was at the Pittsburgh AAC, I know the Holy Spirit was there. However, I also believe that the Holy Spirit has not abandoned us now. Perhaps this is all for the good of the Church, and we should be concerned with personally preaching the Gospel in our own communities, and let the Holy Spirit guide the hierarchs?

            • You know, Nicholas, I agree with you. I am starting to think that the Holy Spirit directed us to elect Jonah as Metropolitan in 2008 so that all the slimy, horrible, envious, malicious, heavy-handed, bureaucratic, homophillic, and staunch old-guard factions could have a single, visible, and generally well-regarded focal point for their hatred, that we might finally perceive what kind of men they are and that the OCA, institutionally, is built on unsolid and (dare I say it) nontraditional ground.

              By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

              But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; from of old their condemnation has not been idle, and their destruction has not been asleep.

  11. Because of the pattern that the OCA has established over the years I see a whole lot of red flags popping up over this issue. I am more prone to believe that the OCA has lost its way which mirrors our political climate in the USA. I think our politicians have lost their way and have led many people astray and we are on the verge of loosing our country. I feel we are on our way of losing the OCA. I will never abandon our country nor will I abandon Orthodoxy.
    At what point do we say enough is enough?

    How much more corruption do we have to endure?

    Is there a point in time where we as the Faithful get to say that the OCA has lost its way and has entered into heresy or become schismatic?

    Lord have Mercy on us.

    Are we just salt that has lost its flavor?

    How do we communicate to our Bishops and priests that we want them to advance the Great Comission instead of some perverted social agenda?

    I guess I am just frustrated.

    • Ambrose,
      I agree with your parallelism between the course of the OCA and the USA. There is a deep spiritual link and whatever happens in society at large and in political culture is reflected in our Church life, probably more so than in foreign-headed jurisdictions.
      Lots of people, not just young ones, have had quite enough of business as usual and are publicly voicing their alarm and outrage, and getting beaten by cops for it in this ‘land of the free and home of the brave’. I actually wish our Church life reflected more of that righteous indignation in some engaged spiritual way but I see that most of us continue to lack a grasp the larger issues and the new arrangement which has left our republic in the scrap heap.
      I don’t know what the future holds but it doesn’t look inviting.
      A priest I met in the Denver Metropolitanate of the GOA, former military, told me a few years ago (while Dubya was still in the WH) that he felt we’d already gone around the corner on the slide toward a (fascist) police state and that no leaders had the courage to resist the tide. I wanted to gainsay him, but I can’t, not after what has transpired since.
      And in similar wise, the OCA seems to have slid downhill since then; our well-loved and respected hope-and-change-bearing new Metropolitan seems to have gotten nowhere we’d hoped to get to and the future all the dimmer for trying.
      God save us, even if He doesn’t save the OCA

  12. Alice Carter says

    It would be a great blessing if Metropolitan Jonah would tell his “supporters” exactly why he was asked to resign. Until he does, every negative interpretation on this site of the Synod’s action is spurious.. Indeed the Metropolitan’s silence fuels speculations that lack any kind of charity, reality or honesty. You do him serious disservice by keeping the rumor mill going. Do you know that he is a person, worthy of charity and prayer or is he just your weapon against a hierarchy you despise and a church you vilify?

    • Alice and how exactly would you like him to make such a statement? With approval of the Synod or without their approval? On the OCA website or somewhere else? Are we wrong to not accept the spoon-fed version of events by the Synod which now documented there long-running feud with +Jonah? Are we not free to question?

      We, the people did not chase +Jonah out of his primacy; his brothers did it. We nominated him, they elected him and now they are saying, oops.

      You are right, he is a person, and much of the objection here and other places is how he was treated, not just recently but from the start of his primatial service. It is not the Church we vilify but the OCA, a jurisdiction, one of many here in the USA. A jurisdiction that now has gone through 3 Metropolitans in 8 years. A jurisdiction that has another bishop facing child molestation charges in Canada. A jurisdiction that allows a known homosexual deacon, who married a man then divorced him, to still serve. A jurisdiction that snuffed out an investigation of one of its bishops over his apparent addiction to pornography. A jurisdiction that buried an official complaint by an Auxiliary bishop to his Archbishop over his homosexual lifestyle. Shall I go on? And now, these bishops are going to judge +Jonah?

      Yes, we are all upset and sick of it. This latest episode does nothing to encourage us in the OCA. The Potemkin Village that is the OCA is teetering on the precipice and all we get is a self-serving justification for their actions.

      Is +Jonah guilty of all they say? I don’t know. But I do know that the OCA has found another scapegoat to pin all its problems and failures. Is +Jonah to blame for the OCA’s plunging census figures? Is +Jonah to blame for it being a laughing-stock to other Orthodox jurisdictions in the USA and around the world? Is +Jonah to blame for the ultra ecumenist agenda of Fr. Kishkovsky? Shall I go on?

      And why was it really necessary for the Synod to post its letter? Really, why? Was it necessary for them, convinced of their correctness and the veracity of their facts? Or was it to keep control of the message? To keep us only looking at +Jonah and not at them? When people started to question, they were quick to react. Too quick for me.

      If I seem angry, I am. This precious jewell that was the OCA has been trashed and dragged through the mud again. And what are we to do, just take it? Turn the other cheek as our leaders eat another of their brothers and take NO RESPONSIBILITY. Not in Sante Fe, not in Seattle, nor last week. It is always the other guy in the OCA that is the bad guy. Well, I am sick of it and sick of them, all of them as a Synod. I grieve for the good faithful people and clergy who have to suffer through their family squabble that they have now inflicted on us.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      But Alice, he’s been forbidden from talking. Yet another poorly thought-out stratagem by the wonderboys.

  13. I read site and others over the last few years – and I have to say that it astounds me that people that call themselves Orthodox Christians behave this way. Two things come to mind:

    If you wish to be calm do not read rebellious books or pamphlets that mention Church matters, since you are not responsible for such serious affairs. You have need of books that will assist you in YOUR repentance. If you want to help the Church, correct YOURSELF and immediately amendment is made to a small part of the Church. Naturally, if everyone did this, then the Church would be put in order.

    ~ Elder Paisios the Athonite

    and this one as well

    You complain about people’s unfairness in relation to you. But if you are striving to reign with Christ the Lord, then have a look at Him, how He acted towards the enemies surrounding Him who were demanding His death. It appears that He never complained about how His enemies behaved unfairly towards Him but, in all the horrible afflictions brought upon Him by His enemies, He saw only the will of His Heavenly Father.

    St Ambrose of Optima (1812–1891)

    • Well said, but sadly it will fall on deaf ears and harden hearts. Pray for the people here.

    • Sub-Deacon David says

      Tim, excellent instructions, both. Perhaps you could provide an answer to me regarding this question: it is clear from the Gospel, that when I am struck on one cheek, I am to turn another; however, if my defenseless brother is struck, what is my reaction to be? To turn HIS cheek for him, or to come to his defense?

      • Well taking a look at the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount, Matt. 38-48 in it’s entirety is:

        “You have heard that it was said ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who want to borrow from you do not turn away.

        You have have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

        For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only who do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

        So if you ask me Sub-Deacon, I would say that we are tasked to forsake vengeance even when it is just retribution we must treat others as God treats us, with great compassion and mercy. So in answer to your question, I would comfort your brother after he has been struck. Let your brother decide how he is to respond and if he responds by letting himself be struck, we must abide by his decision and comfort our brother afterward.

        EDIT: And no, I am no where near suggesting it is an easy thing to do.

        • Anam Cara says

          So, in your mind there is no such thing as “just warfare” and we are to allow others to be massacred and then comfort their grieving families? We should have let Hitler have his way and murder anyone he wanted to? As countries across Europe fell to the Third Reich we were to comfort those who resisted, but not assist in any way? Sounds sort of like Star Trek’s prime directive to me. (I know it’s a little off-topic. I just wanted to clear that point up.)

          • Sub-Deacon David says

            Anam, that is indeed what he seems to be suggesting. Of course, his position is a direct contradiction of saints who have served in the military. Carried out logically, his position would mean we should not even support the police since part of their job is to “protect”, which would include the possibility of dealing violence to those who wish to do ill toward others.

            Of course, he parses the Sermon wrong, IMO. I’d be curious if he has any teaching from a Father or Saint to support his novel theory.

            • Michael Bauman says

              There is nothing in the Gospel or the Father’s that I have yet seen that mandates a pacifist outlook especially when one considers the great number of Othodox saints who served in the military with distiinction only being martyred when they refused to sacrifice to Caesar.

              There is nothing that prohibits a pacifist position either.

              People are harmed either way by action or by inaction.

              However, I would strongly caution against the idea that participation in war is a ‘necessary evil’. If it is necessary, then there must be a way for faithful Chrisitians to participate in a righteous manner. If there is no such way, then we should not participate at all.

              It is a question that cannot be answered easily. It is not a dogmatic question and therefore there are some who will choose to participate as righteously as possible while others refuse to do so. Both opotions if done with consciousness and faithfulness require a quite dedication to prayer and acts of mercy and seeking to make peace wherever possible. It should never be a cause for division within the Church.

              Taken to its logical conclusion, hard-core pacifism also requires that one abstain from all actions of civil governement since all law is inforced under the threat of violence by the state. It also can be a denial of the basic synergy between God and man that Orthodox anthropology posits.

    • Thank you, Tim G. No, Cheryl, it won’t. If I have offended anyone here, please forgive me.

    • Ken Miller says

      The injunction to turn the other cheek teaches us, among other things, that we should gladly suffer for Christ and that to react out of ego, anger, resentment, revenge, ill-will, etc is always sin. Subdeacon David is right that it is right and just to defend the innocent when attacked. If we reflect on the “Woe” sermon of Christ against the Pharisees and Sadducees (the leaders of the Old Testament equivalent of the “church” at the time), we see that it is not wrong to expose and challenge ungodly or heterodox motives, actions, or teachings among church leaders, of course without anger, malice, hatred, etc, but out of a love for the truth and for the salvation of the lambs who can be misled by leaders who do not exemplify the teachings of Christ. The Holy Synod took the extra-ordinary step of removing a Metropolitan who by all accounts was a very pure and holy leader who preserved the ancient faith undefiled, and they did so precipitously, without due process, without consulting with the broader church, without filing any ecclesiastical court charges, etc. It is appropriate to call the Holy Synod to account for this and to get the entire story out, though Tim G has a point that it should be done without rancor.

      • Unfortunately for me, I am unable to “expose” the wrongs of others without being motivated by my own anger, revenge, resentment, my ego and my passions. Typically when I “react” to the actions of others, it is not out of love or care…

        I have been guilty, after reading much of what is posted on here, of being angry at many of the posters here, please forgive me.

  14. We have to wait unilt the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters decides he ready to send out one of his ‘urbi et orbi’ letters. He sent one out long ago, advising that “the only solution” was an immediate council and a molieben to St. Herman. He sent another one the day after participating in the Ofiice of Forgiveness, i.e., on Clean Monday, giving the whole Church the benefits of his verdict and instruction on ‘how-to-discern the truth.” How can we possibly proceed until this word comes down from above?

  15. Hate to admit it but it appears that Met. Philip has a realistic and good understanding of Bishops and church politics. Certainly his reducing all his diocesan bishops to auxiliaries avoids many problems (while creating more canonical problems — but then it is North America). I am beginning to think that limiting the pool of candidates for bishop to the unmarried clergy is leaving us with a very limited and untalented pool to choose from.

  16. Poka Innokenti says

    I am by no means late to the game but I still find myself asking ‘What is going on?’ By the comments I read here and elsewhere it is simply taken as fact that we in the OCA cannot trust our Bishops; that to think we can or should do so quite literally considered delusional.

    I have been Orthodox for no less than 4 years. What drew me to Orthodoxy was the substance of the Faith, INCLUDING its ecclesiology. Though I only recently have come to realize how entrenched this attitude is, I know that bullshit like this is nothing new. And like any good convert, I have followed instructions when pat on the head and told not to be concerned with the shenanigans of the Episcopate.

    And here we are. So what about this am I supposed to not be concerned about? It concerns me a great deal that it is simply taken for granted that, as laity, we are doomed to be fed lies and half truths. I’m calling you out fellow OCA Christians, because that shit was there before Jonah, the SMPAC, before Stokoe and before Bishop Mark. It will continue as long as those in power have no incentive to change.

    I am afraid we will get the future we deserve…

    • Poka,

      At least for me, it is not an individual OCA bishop, working in his own diocese that is the problem. Rather when they get together as a Synod that things seems to go terribly wrong. There appears to be some sort of toxic atmosphere when they meet. The record of how they have treated each other long before Jonah arrived is well documented. I would characterize it as dysfunctional. But it now appears that they have projected their dysfunction on to Jonah?

      • Poka Innokenti says

        Toxic atmosphere. Spirit of deceit. Satan. Hocus Pocus. Call it what you will, these men are responsible for their actions, and we are responsible for ours.

  17. David Smith says

    Let’s not loose sight of what transpired with the Holy Synod’s conduct. The facts, as provided by the Synod, speak for themselves.

    1) The Lesser Synod (+Nikon +Tikhon of Philadelphia +Benjamin) meets on Thursday (July5) in NY with +Jonah, Jillion and others present. At the conclusion of this meeting, the three hierarchs with +Jonah enter into a closed session and discuss a variety of clergy issues and related matters.

    2) +Jonah returns to his home in Washington, D.C. after this meeting and on Friday July 6 drafts and endorses his letter of resignation in the presence of Jillions. The resignation is in response to the Synod’s unanimous request, as conveyed to him by Chancellor Fr. John Jillions.

    3) The entire Synod was convened after +Jonah departed NY. But, who convened it and with what authority? Look to Article II, Section 4 where it provides that “…Special sessions may be called by the Metropolitan on his own initiative, or at the request of at least three diocesan bishops.” Surely, +Jonah was not present at the meeting that forced him out. Set aside the fact that the Synod can or cannot meet by conference call — particularly to seek a resignation of the Primate.

    4) Jillions must now travel to Washington D.C. to deliver the Synod’s message. Most likely this occurs on July 6 as indicated by the date of the resignation letter.

    5) Jillion departs Washington D.C. and returns to NY with the resignation letter in hand. Jillion then sends an email to the Synod assuring them that his trip to D.C. was successful. See +Nathaniel’s website that publishes Jillion’s email: “I would like to reassure you that Met Jonah is at home and says he is willing to collaborate with the bishops for the good of the OCA, for the peace and stability of his family and for his own future episcopal vocation.”

    Take some time and digest public facts provided by the Synod and ask yourself? Why would Jillion, on behalf of the Synod, write that +Jonah capitulated for the good of the OCA and stability of his family (take away his salary) and threaten to take +Jonah’s episcopal vocation — not episcopal diocese?

    • Poka Innokenti says

      Good question but I think the answer is obvious. We’re beating a dead horse here.

      A better question is:
      Why are the Bishops being so shady about it?

      And an even better question is:
      Why do we continue to put up with it?

      • We should not put up with it. For starters, withhold all assessments and request that your parish councils do the same. Why should Syosset have a grand mansion HQ when many OCA priests subsist on food stamps and/or have to work second jobs to make ends meet? Why should we support acSynid which has acted uncanonically and un-Christian towards a brother bishop?

  18. Does anybody on Monomakhos have any news about the DOS meeting in Miami? What is the spirit of the meeting? Are delegates angry, confused, anxious, sad … what? I haven’t heard anything yet from our delegation, and I’m wondering if any of George’s readers have heard from theirs.

    • Sub-Deacon David says

      DOSnik, I have not heard anything except what the Chancellor posted, for what that is worth.

    • Theodore says

      1. Worry and caution by clergy and matushki. Also sadness.
      2. Nervousness in Fr. Jillions and +Nikon.

      If HB’s resignation is for the good of the church, how much better would resignation of HS en masse be?

      • I can confirm Theodore’s reply. They are not leaving the DOS Assembly any more comforted by the attempts of +Nikon or Fr. Jillions to lay all the blame on +Jonah. Jillions spend two hours basically trying to make the case for the Synod that Jonah is mentally ill to justify their actions.

        Fr. Jillions also shared that the Synod expects Jonah to check himself into a mental institution for at least six months before they will even consider him for another assignment. Most down here feel that Jonah has been labeled a nut and there is little hope that he will ever be allowed another diocese in the OCA or elsewhere.

        The clergy in the DOS are respectful and they take things in thoughtfully. However it appears that they are not falling in line and with today’s revelations which are being read in Miami, they feel even less confident that the removal of the Metropolitan was the best thing to do.

        The feeling of profound sadness is permeating the Assembly.

        • Knows the Score says:
          July 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm

          The only card they have left is to get everybody to think that +Jonah is mentally ill.

          That looks like the card that will have to be trumped for here on.

        • Let’s clean House!!

  19. Heracleides says

    Playing off of a couple of earlier images, I’ve created a new one that sums up my thoughts on the two pieces of crap spin released by the OCA Synod in the last few days. It is entitled “Shuck & Jive” and may be viewed here:

    Shuck & Jive: “Intentionally misleading words and actions; behavior adopted in order to avoid criticism.”

  20. Christ’s words about “the little ones” is interpreted as referring to his followers, the Apostles.
    Could His warning not be applied as well to the men that sent out that offensive letter?

  21. Alfred Kentigern Siewers says

    Occam’s Razor and Dostoevsky’s Demons ( recently posted on the Yahoo Forum)

    Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

    Axios to our Holy Synod for releasing the explanation yesterday. As Fr. John
    Peck noted in a followup to his earlier piece, (which good words I have also pasted below because I earlier had posted online his criticism on the
    lack of information), it fulfills the Christian requirements of their office to teach the faithful on such a significant action as removing a First Hierarch.

    Although hailed in a post on the Forum for exemplifying conciliarity, the process of releasing this information did not until this announcement yesterday exemplify Sobornost involving the laity as an order of the Church. The removal was done over the Fourth of July holiday, and then it was more than
    a week before this actual information was given to us (first in a statement by His Grace Bishop
    Matthias, then in the same form by the Holy Synod). In the meantime, people who
    had friends in high places in our jurisdiction seemed to have access to
    information that others of us in the OCA laity did not, including at least one
    very vocal online poster who apparently was not in the OCA at all. And when the
    information finally was released, it was done on the eve of the meeting of the
    Diocese of the South.

    That’s not to take away from the good action of explanation done now, but the
    process was unnecessarily confused from the standpoint of the Church’s good
    order. I also think it’s fair to ask why, given the absolute severity of what
    is laid out in the letter, some kind of spiritual court was not convened where
    evidence could have been laid out in a clear way for its narrative, which still
    raises other questions in relation to the most serious and immediate charge,
    namely responsibility for the priest who is alleged to have committed rape. Any
    specific analogies to Penn State and the Catholic Church situation, beyond
    general though understandable organizational concerns with liability, are
    unclear as precipitating cause for this month’s action, given that the priest in
    question had not been under the Metropolitan’s supervision for a couple years.
    The issue of recommending the priest for a military chaplaincy is also very
    troubling, but apparently would have occurred in 2010, and details of what that
    constituted and meant, and when it was done, are disputed in varying accounts.

    One larger question involves the reason behind the degree of animosity and
    ridicule directed against the Metropolitan in the past few years, both online
    and emanating from various ranks of the OCA, and the strange pressure to have
    him sent not once but twice to a Catholic psychological/rehab center. If the
    issues were so clear as outlined, why were they not laid out a long time ago in
    removing him or bringing a spiritual court against him? And if the issues were
    not so clear cut as the Synod understands them to be, is the precedent of the
    manner of his removal really an expression of Sobornost?

    Before the release of the Synod’s letter, people urged us laity not in the know
    not to speculate, often while circulating links that added to speculation, while
    telling us not to speculate. One example was the article by Fr. John Cox
    circulated here, debunking conspiracy theories. In it he raised Ockham’s Razor
    as the weapon to cut through any sense of conspiracy involved in the
    Metropolitan’s removal. But the laity of the Church should not have to wield
    such a Nominalist philosophical weapon in order to be asked to guess the cause,
    when an action of such magnitude in removing a Church leader has been carried

    There were several overlapping cultural networks in the OCA that seemed to line
    up from early on in hostility to the Metropolitan. In such a situation it is
    difficult to provide adequate mentoring or room for a leader to develop. Sending
    him off for psychological rehab is not a solution for any such institutional
    problems that contributed to the situation.

    Those networks were both more nuanced and more subtle than the two stereotypes
    that Fr. John Cox recounted, and included those who (1) are more in favor of an
    open-ended pastoral approach to issues of marriage and sexuality than a moral
    theological one (this is a kind of anti-Kollyvades American movement on sexual
    issues, in evidence at a number of levels and degrees in the jurisdiction,
    surfacing in part in OCANews and in the “Listening” Facebook group, but evident
    in attitudes present in seminaries and even in the Strategic Planning effort),
    (2) those invested in a conventional modern approach to ecumenism, rather than a
    current trend toward social moral coalitions instead of doctrinal dialogue, to
    which the Metropolitan committed in his support for the Manhattan Declaration
    and other issues, (3) those embedded in social networks that support the OCA’s
    peculiar focus on empowering protopresbyters within its governing structure
    while calling this conciliarity (“the protopresbyterianocracy”), opposed now to
    a strong Metropolitanate leader, and (4) those who in the wake of the last
    series of scandals emphasize a more corporate and managerial approach to the
    Church, as evidence in Strategic Planning and wanting to send First Hierarchs
    off for psychological assessment at non-Orthodox institutions.

    Not all the reasons and motivations of those in these networks of interest were
    bad or unreasonable, and their existence doesn’t mean there was a Soros- or
    Koch-style smoke-filled room. But in their overlapping interests and influence
    they became antagonistic early on to the Metropolitan for cultural reasons
    rather than strictly administrative ones. And the process of removing the
    Metropolitan in the past two years did involve evidence of online conspiring
    against him, centered around the semi-official role of OCANews at a sub-Synodal,
    non-canonical level of the jursidiction cloaked apparently by the misuse of the
    term “conciliarity.”

    The advocated use of Occam’s Razor for laity without talkative friends in high
    places during the past two years seemed to suggest that the laity should figure
    things out as simply as possible based on the limited information given to us,
    often by OCANews. But Occam’s Razor was intended for use in metaphysics, which
    deals with first principles, and then in logic and mathematics, which also deal
    with very simple, formal relationships. It is also sometimes useful in very
    theoretical science, such as astronomy or physics. But it is an abuse of the
    principle to insist upon its use in complex, real-world situations, that
    invariably involve many factors of multiple kinds, and in which there is rarely
    a single “cause” for anything. To use it to restrain laity who lack talkative
    friends in high places from thinking for themselves, then, is to insist that
    they maintain the mindset of children, who are content with toddler tales and
    happy talk.

    Yet there is another, more Orthodox, alternative to Occam’s Razor, which can be
    found by reading Dostoevsky’s novel “Demons.” The latter approach assumes that
    there are not always simple reasons, that we are all sinners needing each
    other’s forgiveness, that there can be demonic or demonic-like influences on all
    sides of given issues, and that spiritual conspiracies don’t have to be
    rationally political but can involve ideas that distort human personhood in a
    variety of ways from the absolute model of personhood we have in our Lord and
    Savior Jesus Christ. Anthropologists sometimes speak of a human sacrifice or
    execution bonding a new structuring of community (we Orthodox are reminded of
    this today with the commemoration of Russia’s Holy Royal Martyrs on the old
    calendar). Let’s hope and pray that this not the case with the 21st-century OCA
    as a part of the traditional Body of Christ, and that the problems of any
    renovationist tendences in OCA organizational micro-cultures may be clarified
    rather than emboldened by the deposing of the Metropolitan, for whom we should
    also pray as well as for the members of our Holy Synod and clergy.

    Meanwhile, I ask all your forgiveness, my brothers and sisters in Christ, for my
    harsh words and idle talk.

    Your unworthy brother in Christ,

    Alf Kentigern Siewers



    Bravo! The OCA Synod of Bishops have followed the injunction of St. Paul and
    explained the reasons behind Metropolitan Jonah’s removal. I’m sure it was a
    difficult thing to do, but doing the right thing is rarely easy. I applaud the
    OCA Synod of Bishops decision to release an explanatory letter for this
    exceptional circumstance in the life of the church. Releasing this letter was
    necessary to do.

    The letter can be read here on the website. This action will build
    confidence in their leadership, and bring some relief to observers in this drama
    who love the Church, saw real hope (not Obama-style hope) in Metropolitan
    Jonah’s election, angered by the constant references to him needing `treatment’
    (I still don’t understand that one), and want very much to have church
    leadership do the things, even hard things, which leaders must do.

    I’m particularly sickened by statements like “their salvation depended on their
    silence.” Those who said this must be identified and censured – for their
    salvation! And sending an alleged predator to the Military Chaplaincy, where
    women have a hard enough time dealing with abuse – well, that’s irresponsible to
    the highest degree. I’ve been sent to clean up parishes where this kind of thing
    has happened and it’s a mess.

    The Synod was right to publish this.

    I’m sorry I was so harsh in my previous article, but at least I’m able to say
    that they have been right to say why they did what they did.

    Again, this is Biblical! St. Paul tells us,

    Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three
    witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all,
    so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus
    and of the elect angels, I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging,
    doing nothing from partiality.

    I’m glad to be in the Orthodox Church in America. There are no shortage of
    obstacles for us in preaching the Gospel and remaining faithful to the Orthodox
    Tradition – our bishops have made it easier for us to do it.

  22. At one point I had aspirations of entering St. Tikhon’s Seminary and entering the priesthood through OCA, of which I am a member. those days are over.

    Now I think I want to run off to my nearest MP or ROCOR parish, because it seems OCA is headed downhill fast.

    This letter is horribly drafted and if they paid a lawyer to do it, they ought to ask for their retainer back. It opens up many rich minefields of future litigation. How great for OCA, to have three consecutive Metropolitans resign under clouds of legal investigation, lawyers galore, and banishment.

    And yes, I am a lawyer, so I can say with confidence that the Synod shot itself in the foot with that letter.

    • Mike Myers says

      A sprint from the frying pan into the fire. Good luck with that.

      From an infant national Orthodox church with a shot at genuine independence, under God, from the State, into one compromised by a millenium of ever-growing caesaropapism, winding up in complete captivity to Empire, with a coda of apostasy.

      • What is left? AONA? GOA? Is there any sanity left in American Orthodoxy?

        • Mike Myers says

          I sometimes wonder if Paul’s warning is playing itself out. The wild olive branches may be on the verge of a great pruning.

          The GOAA has grown up from one of the most ancient grafts onto the commonwealth of Israel. Her, and the Church of Rome of course. The MP was late-born, and as I pointed out above it has a very troubling history, ecclesiologically speaking. The trendline in evidence there is definitely pathological. That is not debatable. What’s debatable is, assuming one Rome was plenty, what are we to make of “and then there were three”? Smells like a pagan ideology of the state to me. Just sayin’.

        • Daniel E. Fall says

          Well, what if Metropolitan Jonah in 2 years were led away in handcuffs by civil authorities?

          Don’t you think it is better done in this fashion?

          Metropolitan Jonah, don’t forget too fast, got rid of Garklavs because Metropolitan Jonah didn’t like the SMPAC report as written.

          It really isn’t such a huge leap to suggest something else went wrong. Was this even a smpac issue? I don’t know, but don’t think so with the 2/12 date in there.

          I actually think there are a lot of positive things about this outcome.

          The church self governed.

          Metropolitan Jonah didn’t cost all of us a million on fancy lawyers and such.

          That should be considered in a severance I might add.

          As far as your jump to the other places, wouldn’t you rather be in a place that puts a check on poor decision making by leaders?

          • No one has accused Jonah of breaking any law, nor has anyone accused him of attempting to break any law.

            You need to be absolutely clear about these points, as they have never been in dispute.

            Those who are confused on these points need to consider why they are confused.

      • ProPravoslavie says

        The more I read comments like this, the more I’m convinced that neither ROCOR nor Moscow should step in to help OCA. It simply has too many American Exceptionalists who can never see anything good in their Mother Church

        Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) was right to have refused the attempts of some to nominate him for the post of Primate of OCA. As he said it then, the mere fact that he’s Russian will make it hard for him to work here, simply because he is Russian.

        (Those wondering why Moscow doesn’t seem to be doing anything should refer to Met. Hilarion Alfeyev’s 2008 letter refusing any nomination for the Primacy of OCA.)

        • “Mike Myers” is not Orthodox, but a lapsed Roman Catholic. Also, a troll.

          • Mike Myers says

            That’s my name, dear. What’s yours?

            It’s true I’m not Orthodox. As to being “lapsed,” although I said that here as a sort of shorthand for my status in communion, I prefer to think of myself more as one of those in loyal opposition to Rome’s errors. I honestly think Catholics have a lot to learn from the Orthodox Churches and their histories, on many fronts.

            I am rather alarmed however by any serious talk of submission to Moscow. To me that’s a marker for gross ignorance of ROC history and the U.S. Constitution — not to mention, in some extreme cases, Federal laws against treason.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              I frankly don’t care what denomination you are, you’re not Orthodox and therefore we would be foolish to take instruction from you. Plus, your allegiance to the moral tradition of the Christian Church is somewhat sketchy. Go join ECUSA. You won’t get any grief there.

        • Mike Myers says

          You’re welcome of course to take issue with my opinion that it’d be most unwise for an American citizen to defect from the admittedly quite messy OCA to the MP or ROCOR, weighing oneself down thereby with all that entirely unavoidable nationalist baggage (for an American citizen, I mean). Among other quite serious problems. I take it you aren’t an American. I’ve never at any time written nor implied that I “see nothing good in” the OCA’s Mother Church, btw. Not sure where that misreading comes from.

          Here’s what I actually wrote. I’m wondering which of these statements you’d wish to dispute. If you do:

          “A sprint from the frying pan into the fire. Good luck with that [leaving the OCA for the MP].

          From an infant national Orthodox church with a shot at genuine independence, under God, from the State, into one compromised by a millenium of ever-growing caesaropapism, winding up in complete captivity to Empire, with a coda of apostasy.”

          Setting aside the opinion in s. 1 about the contemplated defection, what’s untrue in s. 2?

          In an immediately following 2nd post on the subject I wrote:

          “. . .The GOAA has grown up from one of the most ancient grafts onto the commonwealth of Israel. Her, and the Church of Rome of course. The MP was late-born, and as I pointed out above it has a very troubling history, ecclesiologically speaking. The trendline in evidence there is definitely pathological. That is not debatable. What’s debatable is, assuming one Rome was plenty, what are we to make of “and then there were three”? Smells like a pagan ideology of the state to me. Just sayin’.”

          If you’re up for a rational, informed and sane discussion, or even a debate, on the issues I raise, then let me know. I’m game. An adult dialogue would be so refreshing.

          Some suggested keywords: ecclesiology; authority; corruption; established church; caesaropapism; pagan empire; the Prophet Daniel; the Prophet Zechariah; mad czars; mad monks; KGB; FSB; SVR; manly independence; treason; sanity. Cheers.

    • I’m with you on this, as another lawyer. That was not a “legal CYA” letter — a decent lawyer anticipating litigation would have never allowed such a screed to be published by his client under penalty of facing a malpractice claim. That was a letter designed to manipulate the readers emotions, particularly by referring to Penn State, which is in everyone’s mind right now due to the news in the past few weeks — the inclusion of which, although it has nothing at all to do with the OCA, +Jonah or the Synod, clearly paints a vivid tone, which was clearly the intent of the letter. It’s a disgrace, really.

      I’ve lost trust in the Synod, to be honest. I don’t know what I will do personally about that — I need to think and pray and decide. But I do not trust this Synod, and certainly this letter has only deepened that mistrust substantially. There is a very good ROCOR parish here, I may opt for that over remaining at the Cathedral in DC.

      • What I don’t understand is if this letter and all the actions of “the synod” are actionable, who is there to take action? Who or what body could do this even if they had the money?
        How do we insist the synod follow process. They clearly cannot be trusted to do that if there is any way around it. The scare tactics work far better and they are cheaper.
        I would really like to know. Can someone make some suggestions?

        • It’s not so much that the Synod would be sued about the letter specifically (although they could be), but that the letter could be used as evidence in litigation about the issues addressed in the letter — specifically any civil litigation about the alleged rape. It’s the main reason why in high profile litigation, you pretty much never see letters like this released to the media — it creates more potential legal problems which can outweigh the benefits of the public relations “upside” (which is normally the motive of this type of letter — “to win in the court of public opinion”).

          At this point the recourse against the Synod is both within the OCA itself (there needs to be an AAC soon to elect a new Met) and within the individual — stay with the OCA or not, contribute financially or not, and what have you.

          • Thank you KB. I don’t think they will allow an election anytime soon. They will want “the body” to have put this all behind them(forget) before moving forward. It seems to have always worked given the short attention span of most people.

            • I think that the Statute requires an election within a certain period of time which is fairly short — if I am remembering right (not looking at the OCA Statute right now), it’s on the order of 30-90 days.

              • Jesse Cone says

                I have heard from multiple places that they are thinking early next year for an assembly to elect the next Metropolitan.

      • But, but, but KB! Hasn’t it been established that Greg Nescott, a lawyer from Pitttsburgh once kicked off the Metropolitan Council, is the author if this letter?

  23. Mark from the DOS says

    I have seen at least two OCA clergy call on Occam’s Razor to guide our interpretation of these events. Surely they know that atheists traditionally cite Occam’s Razor to argue against the existence of God on the grounds that any god is an unnecessary hypothesis. I frankly find its citation here to be faux erudition of the worst kind.

    • Well, either Jonah is an enabler of rape in the mold of Joe Paterno and the Roman Church hierarchy (the official Synodal line), or he was given the bum’s rush for no legally cognizable reason other than the Synod doesn’t like him and thinks he is nuts. Which is the more plausible reason?

    • Or just an attempt to stick fingers in the ears and sing, “La la la, I can’t hear you!”

    • M. Stankovich says

      Mark from the DOS,

      Do you find yourself struggling to find new objects of scorn – overwhelmed by the hundreds of “delicacies” already available at this banquet – but still want to be in the ballpark? Occam’s Razor, pal! Any decent physician employs this measure of probability statistics all day, every day to… be in the ballpark. This is the foundation of “differential diagnosis,” quickly determining what it could be from what it is most likely to be. Imprecise? Sure. Diagnostic? Certainly not. In the ballpark? You’re on deck, pal! “Faux erudition of the worst kind?” I’m going out on a limb here but, you’re from the South, dead of Summer, probably hot as blazes… You are wearing the short pants! Am I in the ballpark?

      • Mark from the DOS says

        Oh my, belittling comments. It seems I have drawn the ire of one of the foremost masters of faux erudition on these blogs! One oh so impressed with his own credentials and what he sees as worldly expertise. And without even addressing him. How did I, a mere peon from the South, merit this? I have nothing to say to you Mr. Stankovich, beyond what I already wrote. Occam’s Razor has really no application to this controversy/dispute. If you understood it, which your post clearly indicates you do not, you would understand that.

        Do have a good evening, sir.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Mark from the DOS,

          To be honest, my evening sucks already, and I’m up all night. What is it about people with psychosis and the heat? They get all dressed up in winter coats – I have pictures – in the heat. Are they actually cold? And the smell! Unbelievable. I actually heard a nurse say, “You are the stinkiest person I ever met!” The dude laughed! Anyway, where was I… Oh, Occam’s Razor.

          Given that I frequently have the time at night, I like to read everyone’s opinion. Why not; it’s a “forum,” right? Now, I don’t know you from anybody, nor you me. I came across your comment without noticing it was restricted – and I certainly didn’t imagine it was written for me, as say an “idea of reference – so I read it. Immediately employing Occam’s Razor, I am set on two “differentials”: snark or pointless disrespect of the clergy. “Snark” would ordinarily leave me amused, and I wasn’t. Hmm. I don’t know if you had the chance to read my post regarding ego-protective mechanisms of defense earlier – and if not, I suspect it won’t be a priority now – your response to me pretty much proves my point.

          So, Mark of the DOS, I ask you, what were you expecting from your insult of the clergy? “Thumbs-up?” There, you just went from +1 to +2 with my compliments. Revel, my friend. I believe I have more than adequately demonstrated the manner by which I utilize the probability statistics of Occam’s Razor to approach this forum, and thereby this controversy/dispute, by rapidly eliminating wheat from chaff, sheep from goats, and wisdom from skat. And, from where I sit, Mark from the DOS, my “worldly expertise,” at least for a while, is the simmering affairs of a gentleman who pooped himself, in a long winter coat. in the dead of summer. Hey, If you don’t want beez, don’t set a trap.

          • Michael, I know you had a pretty awful thing happen close to you a few days ago. Are you doing okay?

          • Alexey Karlgut says

            You owe me close to $4,000.00 in rent in Perl River, NY, and now that you are so prominent and successful, you may send it to me at 210 Hill Ave, Endicott, NY, 13760, to help a poor priest and a family with 12 children.
            Always praying for you,
            Fr. Alexey Karlgut

    • Daniel E. Fall says

      Occam’s Razor is completely out of touch of the human condition, generally speaking. Ilia tries to bring us back to an Occam ideal, unfortunately, nothing is ever that simple with we humans.

      The handling of private matters has been the source of all the churches problems for years.

      It seems good if the church is turning a new leaf and taking a stand against mishandling of these.

  24. Diogenes says

    Orthodox Church in America exec fired for not removing rapist priest

    By David O’Reilly

    The Holy Synod of the church, whose members number about 85,000 in the United States and Canada, announced this week that Metropolitan Jonah, 52, had stepped down Saturday after ignoring the church’s procedures for responding to sexual misconduct.

    “Metropolitan Jonah has repeatedly refused to act with prudence, in concert with his fellow bishops, in accordance with the Holy Synod’s policies,” the synod said in a statement.

    “In light of the recent widely publicized criminal cases involving sexual abuse at Penn State and in the Philadelphia Archdiocese and the Kansas City Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, the extent of the risk of liability to which Metropolitan Jonah has exposed the church cannot be overstated,” it said.

    Church leaders say they are cooperating with law enforcement and investigating the rape allegation. The Rev. Erik Possi, a synod spokesman, said Tuesday the church was not releasing the accused priest’s name.

    There are 36 parishes in the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, which comprises half the state, and about 2,000 members in the Philadelphia area.

    Born James Paffhausen in Chicago, Jonah converted to Orthodoxy from Episcopalianism at 18 and was ordained a priest in 1994. He was made a bishop in early 2008, when he took the name Jonah, and was elected primate, or presiding archbishop, later that year. He was the first convert to head the OCA, which is based on Long Island.

    “At some time after his enthronement as our primate, Metropolitan Jonah unilaterally accepted into the OCA a priest known to him and others to be . . . severely abusing alcohol, which more than once was coupled with episodes of violence and threats toward women,” the synod said.

    These episodes included the “discharge of a firearm” and the “brandishing of a knife,” which led to the man’s arrest. In 2010, he was alleged “to have committed a rape against a woman.”

    Although informed of the rape allegation in February, Jonah “neither investigated, nor told his brother bishops,” and did not report the incident to police or church lawyers, according to the synod.

    When the woman reported her alleged rape to police, however, she and a family member were admonished by unnamed church officials “that their salvation depended on their silence.”

    As recently as last week, the synod reported Monday, Jonah was “regularly communicating” with the person who was instructing the woman to keep quiet.

    Furthermore, it said, Jonah first encouraged the priest to pursue a military chaplaincy “without informing the military recruiter of any of the priest’s problems,” and then allowed the man to enter another Orthodox jurisdiction while assuring it there were “no canonical impediments” to a transfer.

    Church law calls for a new metropolitan to be elected within 90 days, but Possi said there were “many steps that must be taken” and indicated that it could be longer.

    The Orthodox Church in America traces its roots to the Russian Orthodox Church, whose missionaries created their first North American missions in Alaska in the late 18th century. After the Russian Revolution, in the 1920s, the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America became self-governing, and in 1970 severed itself from Russian Orthodoxy to become the OCA.

    While the bishops and archbishops of many Roman Catholic dioceses have been accused of covering up clergy sex abuse, only Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston and Bishop Manuel Moreno of Tucson, Ariz., have resigned for that reason.

    On Tuesday, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge is scheduled to sentence Msgr. William J. Lynn, former head of the archdiocesan clergy office. Last month, Lynn, 61, was found guilty of felonious child endangerment for his 12-year role in recommending the assignments of priests whom prosecutors said he knew to be child abusers.

    Jonah’s resignation is not the first scandal to mar his church in recent years.

    In 2005, the OCA’s former treasurer, Protodeacon Eric Wheeler, accused the administration of spending millions of dollars in church assets for personal use or to mask deficits in church accounts.

    According to some reports, Jonah was elected primate three years later because, as the newest bishop, he was untainted by financial scandal.

  25. Harry Coin says

    Orthodox Church in America exec fired for not removing rapist priest

    Philadelphia Enquirer

    Citing the sex-abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia and at Pennsylvania State University, the Orthodox Church in America has dismissed its presiding archbishop for failing to remove a priest who had raped a woman and been jailed for other violent acts.

    The Holy Synod of the church, whose members number about 85,000 in the United States and Canada, announced this week that Metropolitan Jonah, 52, had stepped down Saturday after ignoring the church’s procedures for responding to sexual misconduct…..

    • Pravoslavnie says

      Evidence of a rape, please? This “story” is full of unverified hearsay and simply reprints the OCA press release which the “reporter” then wraps around irrelevant details involving the RCC and some OCA factoids Googled from the web. This is not investigative reporting, just a regurgitation.

      • Harry Coin says

        And yet such a large respected newspaper went with it. I take that as a sign they checked and don’t fear being incorrect. In any event, the police reports will be decisive.

        • Rod Dreher says

          No, Harry, you shouldn’t take it as a sign that they checked and believe it’s correct. The Inquirer ought not to have convicted the priest, Symeon, in its reporting. The Synod doesn’t even allege that the rape actually occurred, only that it might have, and Jonah handled the allegation wrongly — including possibly having something to do with trying to silence the alleged victim. Media law is very clear: the Inquirer had no business saying that the priest (whom they didn’t name, but whose name we all know) is a rapist absent a conviction in a court of law. This is elementary stuff. I expect there will be a correction in a future edition. David O’Reilly is an excellent and well-respected religion reporter, but it looks for all the world like he got that important fact wrong.

          Pravoslavnie, you can’t expect “investigative reporting” on a matter like this. It’s a short news story about church politics. I certainly would have liked to have seen more context in this piece, but you should understand that reporters have much less space for reporting the news today than they used to have. This is exactly the “first-day” story (journalism jargon for initial reporting of a news event) that I would have expected any paper to run. However, what’s missing from the piece is any context, however truncated, indicating that Jonah and the Synod have been at odds for years, and that there is a lot of mistrust and discord within the OCA; what’s also missing is the line, “Attempts to reach Jonah for comment were unsuccessful.” There is no indication that the reporter tried to reach out to Jonah for comment. He almost certainly wouldn’t have gotten it, but he ought to have tried, and indicated to his readers that he tried.

          Again, this is a comment about journalism, not about the Synod’s actions.

          • Pravoslavnie says

            Rod, you are correct in that I would not expect to see a Woodward/Bernstein type investigative piece on this, but it was sloppy reporting. In any case my points have been made.

            The local authorities supposedly had their man, but let him go. They have not issued a criminal indictment against Fr. Symeon which points to a lack of evidence or a recanted accusation. In the meantime both he and Met. Jonah have been convicted on the Internet and I see a lot of unsubstantiated hearsay being treated as the fifth Gospel.

        • Pravoslavnie says

          I’ve worked around the media for 35-years, and I know how press releases get recycled to fill column inches on slow news days. It’s the kind of reporting I’d expect to find in my Weekly Shopper.

          Supposedly there is a victim out there who called the cops herself to report a rape. This “rape” incident is nearly 2-years old, but the authorities seem unable or unwilling to produce an indictment against a suspect they already had in custody and released after 3-days. The priest has been tried and convicted on the Internet, not in a court of law.

        • Jesse Cone says

          “Church law calls for a new metropolitan to be elected within 90 days, but Possi said there were “many steps that must be taken” and indicated that it could be longer.”

          Anyone know about this “Possi” character? Must be someone important and in the know for such a large and respected paper to go with it.

          • It’s Tosi not Possi. LOL. What a sloppy bit of reporting. And how about that 85,000 OCA membership? Maybe we should call the possi out on Tosi for that whopper!

            Now, can anyone tell me if the alleged rape case is the same one that Faith Skordinski, Mark Stokoe, and +Mel tried to push? Or is there another complaint?

    • The media’s inaccurate, uninvestigated slander for the sake of sensationalist “news.” Shame on them.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Up to a point, I very much agree with you. However there is such a thing as professional ethics. At least in my profession, ignorance is no excuse. I can be liable for a criminal or civil action even if I act in good faith. Or I should say that good faith would mitigate the punishment meted out to me.

    • Monk James says

      Harry Coin says (July 17, 2012 at 10:46 pm, citing David O’Reilly’s piece in the Philadelphia Enquirer):

      ‘Orthodox Church in America exec fired for not removing rapist priest

      Philadelphia Enquirer


      I wrote to the author, correcting several of his misstatements, and I posted a version of that note to the ‘comments’ after the article, all of which (but mine) completely ignored Met. Jonah and the OCA, referring instead only to the RC scandals.

      Perhaps some more of us ought to write to Mr O’Reilly and or the newspaper.

      Here’s my contribution:
      Comment From Monk James Silver
      Hello, Mr O’Reilly — Your article contains the same sort of misinformation which is being spread even in our Orthodox Church in America to discredit Metropolitan Jonah, whose main fault seems to be that he’s not controlled by the lawyers who are advising the other bishops and the Metropolitan Council. How the harry was MetJ supposed to discipline a priest not under his authority? Why would MetJ turn Fr Simeon Kharon in to the police when the police had already been informed? And FrSK was arrested on a weapons charge, some sort of ‘disorderly conduct’ issue; the charge of rape was dropped, or so I was told. Must the OCA conduct a criminal investigation parallel to the one conducted by the police? Why? That’s just posturing, since we don’t have the resources or the trained personnel. Let the police do their job, and let us do ours. The church should react appropriately only when the civil process is concluded, and not a moment earlier. Neither MetJ nor our OCA is in any way comparable to the events in Philadelphia or Kansas City – that’s a red herring. It’s true that MetJ is the ‘endorser’ of orthodox christian clergy who wish to serve as military chaplains in the United States, but the claim that MetJ failed to disclose FrSK’s arrest record to the military is a canard, since it hasn’t been determined that FrSK actually applied to the Chaplain’s Corps. BTW: The priest who serves as Secretary of the OCA is Fr Eric G. Tosi, not ‘Possi’. Perhaps you need some better fact checkers.

  26. “If you wish to be calm do not read rebellious books or pamphlets that mention Church matters, since you are not responsible for such serious affairs. You have need of books that will assist you in YOUR repentance. If you want to help the Church, correct YOURSELF and immediately amendment is made to a small part of the Church. Naturally, if everyone did this, then the Church would be put in order.” -Elder Paisios

    • Geo Michalopuls says

      That’s actually a very good saying. I’m not sure how the Iconodules would have accepted it in their 250 year struggle against the Iconoclasts, but it does have merit.

      • Let’s not forget, George, that the iconodules, like St. John of Damascus, Vizier to the Umayyad Caliph of Damascus, and like the brethren of the St. Catherine Monastery, were sheltered by the followers of islam.

  27. MartyOlson says

    Joy to all. I had to stop reading all the posts due to time concerns. Time. I wonder if it’s really possible to add up all the hours, minutes used to read and respond to this post. Back and forth there are arguments based on the HS letter, which just a few days ago most of you were demanding be posted to explain the HS reasons. So, you get the letter and surprise of surprises, you don’t accept much of what they wrote. There are some matters of fact that could be cleared up, but poor Jonah’s goose is cooked. I have no idea who was advising him from the beginning, but I think that is where the troubles can be focused. If he was so egotistical to jump into this new role without wise men and women close at hand to whom he would listen, then a lot of the fault falls on him. He may be a holy man, but I doubt anyone here would claim that he speaks with angels. Not that could be expected of every holy man or woman. If he was listening and following advise of others, then it was poor counsel. I hope he wasn’t relying on anyone posting here to tell him the truth. Objectivity is not your/our strongest suits.

    Also, the HS will never agree to an “independent Investigator.” Plus, if the investigator proved the HS correct, many of you would say he was in the tank with them. Many of you have but one note to sing. Maybe you should try harmonizing for better effect.

    • Hear, Hear!!! I wish all those who I know read this blog, but disagree with it’s premise would speak up. In a loving way of course….

      We must be careful not to do what we accuse others of doing…human nature and all that.

    • Geo Michalopuls says

      Marty, you assume a lot here. Specifically that Jonah had no good advisors. That is far from true. He did have a lot of kibbitzers who disdained him for not being a Syosset stooge and who undermined him at every turn. I’ve seen this happen with parish priests, once they get on the wrong side of a certain faction then it’s only a matter of time before they slip up on some matter (usually trivial) but it gets enough traction that he gets transferred. This happens all the time in the GOA where compromised bishops are always eager to accept a “gift” from these factions.

      The stories are legion.

  28. Mike Myers says

    A poster inquires: “Isn’t one of your rules not to launch personal attacks on other commenters (including the blog owner)?”

    Yeah, although launching the most vicious personal attacks on OCA bishops and others not present to defend themselves appears to be perfectly OK, in your little clique’s arbitrary rulebook of etiquette. Is this correct?

    It should be clear to any adult that George’s “hospitality” here to his hierarchs and their reputations is grossly provocative and uncanonical behavior. This summons forth my nasty side; I take a bead. M. Stankovich’s importunate and rather unaccountably motivated ass-smooching is very far from my style, but I’ll go so far as confessing to being a bit harsh on ol’ George. I suppose I could be persuaded to exercise a bit more restraint, if George were to reciprocate. Fat chance of that, though, since it seems that ignorantly speaking evil of dignities is his schtick. A one-trick pony.

  29. I’ll be blunt, one of my contacts in Northern California saw Dreher and Freddie driving from Platina, after visiting their guru, Gleb Podmoshensky.

    (From Voices from Russia)

    Rod, would you please, once and for all, address this constant strum of Stan Drezlo that you are a long-time follower of Gleb Podmoshensky? When did you first meet him? When was the last time you visited him at Platina or anywhere? Is there any other information that you can offer to help poor Stan? It appears his crack, or should one say crank contacts is feeding him crank information.

    • Rod Dreher says

      Stan Drezhlo is a gibbering crackpot of the first order. When he first accused me of being a “disciple” of Gleb Podmoshensky, I had to look up Gleb Podmoshensky on the Internet to find out who he was. Podmoshensky sounds like an utter creep, and the fact that Gerasim Eliel was a follower of his troubles me. Anybody who knows the slightest thing about me, publicly or privately, knows that I have no truck with sexually abusive priests, or the bishops who cover up for them. I’ve never been to Platina, couldn’t find it on a map, and know next to nothing about it. I don’t know if my dear friend Frederica Mathewes-Green has ever been to Platina, but I can tell you that she had no idea who GP was until I told her that the Bolshevik trannie was accusing us of being tight with Gleb.

      I hope Fr. Ray Valencia’s libel lawsuit against Drezhlo is a resounding success. I have no doubt that he will be successful. Drezhlo posts lies about me all the time. I wish I had the time and the money to sue him, but fortunately, most people I know who bother with that site read it not as a source of reliable information, but for its freakshow qualities. And why not? It’s run by the only fanatically Russophilic transsexual Orthodox Bolshevik in the world?

      • George Michalopulos says

        How come he never says anything about me? I’m hurt!

        • Rod Dreher says

          Because I’m cuter than you, ah reckon. 😉

          It’s also hilarious how Stan indicts Frederica M-G and Terry Mattingly for being far-right GOP apparatchiks. Terry is a conservative Democrat, and Frederica is apolitical, but as far as I can tell, would qualify as an Orthodox Peace Fellowship kind of person (e.g., pro-life, pacifist, traditional on sexual morality, but also opposed to Republican economic and national defense policy, etc.). But I don’t know. She’s just not a political person.

          It’s pretty clear that Stan has no idea at all how libel law works. I hope Fr. Ray Valencia and the courts manage to teach him a lesson. I wonder if Stan lost his mind when he lost his schlong, or if he was always that kooky.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Rod, I resent that. I’m not that bad looking, I’ve gone from a Al-Pacino-as-Serpico look 30 years ago to a dignified, Burl Ives-esque man-of-the-world look.

        • George: “How come he never says anything about me? I’m hurt!”

          You are not among the dreaded konvertsy.

          Apparently there is a new moral standard according to which one is justified in converting from one sex to another, but not from one faith to another.

      • As we know from Byzantine, Persian, Mongol, Turkish, etc., history, the Eunuch can be a formidable force especially in intrigues. There’s no reason a eunuch hooked on hormones would be different.

    • ProPravoslavie says

      “It appears his crack, or should one say crank contacts is feeding him crank information.”

      Yep, like Stan’s accusation that Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) concelebrated with Catholics at the International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland held recently. Problem is, Met. Hilarion was in Cyprus with His Holiness Pat. Kirill I on the day it was supposed to have happened.

    • Why didn’t any one spot Freddie leaving MY house a week ago. Rod wasn’t with her either.

      Konvertsy scum for the win!

      • Rod Dreher says

        Rod wasn’t with her either.

        Ah, that’s what the First Families want you to think! God do help us …. 😉

        • Rod,

          Thank you for your answer and for the other colorful replies. Stan, aka Barbara, is a sad person. Angry, bitter and consumed with attempting to prove that he/she is important. God loves him/her and so do I but I can’t accept or like the terrible things written on his/her blog nor the persistent lies presented there about people.

          And now let us read how Stan deflects and takes no responsibility for his actions…..

          “At present, Rod Dreher denies that he even knew Podmoshensky or was in Platina… that’s OK. I wonder what he’s going to claim next. As JP is now a liability, is he going to deny that he knows Fathausen, Eliel, Brum, and Christiansen, too? Probably… Roddie has a habit of attacking his old confrères viciously. Look at how he attacked the RC bishops… that wasn’t necessary, nor was it seemly (I apologise to all of my Catholic readers for his uncalled-for outbursts). Well, he attacked the RC bishops, now, he’s attacking Podmoshensky, next, he’ll attack JP, as JP’s no longer an asset to Sir Roddie. Rather nasty sort, isn’t he? It does take all kinds in our sinful-ginful world, and some are utterly crank opportunists like Roddie. Live and learn, I say… and don’t turn your back on Dreher… now, that’s something that you’d live to regret…”

          Was that an apology?

          • Rod Dreher says

            Have you ever known Stan to apologize for anything, or ever to admit error? This is as close as we’re going to get. Not that anyone cares. I think Stan’s “sources” are a handful of cranks, loons, and crypto-Cossacks sitting in suburbia.

            • ProPravoslavie says

              The most offensive thing about Drezhlo is his crusade to convince everyone that the Moscow Patriarchate is Bolshevik. Not only is this extremely unhelpful and does great harm to the Mother Church, it also flies in the face of all the evidence of the past 20 years. Friendly meetings between Patriarchal representatives and Russian Communists are miniscule compared to the numerous glorifications of Soviet-era martyrs, the repeated condemnation of Soviet actions in Russian Orthodox websites and circles, and the open campaigning in some Orthodox circles (without any obstacles from the hierarchy) for a monarchist restoration and for Lenin to be thrown out of his tomb.

              The Moscow Patriarchate is NOT capitalist either, but this does NOT make it red. It makes the Patriarchate red only in Drezhlo’s confused and bitter mind.

              The fact that the Patriarchate refused to support Zyuganov and directly supported Putin (who is not exactly a Communist, as his recent remarks on the treason of the Bolsheviks and his long record of insulting the Communists in parliament indicate) during the elections, and did not support the Communist-backed protests afterwards against Putin, should be enough proof that the Patriarchate is not the religious arm of the hammer and sickle.

              • Joseph A. says

                There are many things about that Person Who Shall Not Be Named that I don’t understand, but I find his bitterness and numerous slanders against Fr. Victor Potapov among the most bizarre. Fr. Victor fits the mold of a Russian priest perfectly. He is intelligent, patient, wise, thoughtful, caring, and he has a wonderful voice and an impressive, serious, almost aristocratic presence. He is everything that one would want in a pastor. Why would our confused coreligionist hate this good priest so?

  30. Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are those who mourn,
    For they shall be comforted.
    Blessed are the meek,
    For they shall inherit the earth.
    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    For they shall be filled.
    Blessed are the merciful,
    For they shall obtain mercy.
    Blessed are the pure in heart,
    For they shall see God.
    Blessed are the peacemakers,
    For they shall be called sons of God.
    Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven

    Love God with all your heart

    Love your neighbor as yourself

    • Thanks, Cheryl! Let’s pray that the Holy Synod will some day show interest in that sort of thing, the Gospel. Right now, they’re otherwise occupied. They’ve got to investigate a rape case from a couple years ago. They’re so busy they didn’t have the scribes write their last letter, but the lawyers!!

  31. Brian McDonald says

    I’ve been mulling over a lot of things the last few days but was relieved this morning to read a meditation a friend sent to me at the following URL. I hope this might take discussion in an entirely different direction:

    Among the many important reminders that were included in this meditation of a spiritual son of Metropolitan Jonah is the following:

    “Another temptation in this uncertain period is for those of us who feel a close connection to Metropolitan Jonah to give in to hyperbolic and exaggerated notions of despair or ruin. The idea that the OCA is coming apart internally over the ‘culture war’ disputes is absurd, given that the bishops joined the Metropolitan in compassionately but firmly defending the Church’s ancient views on the sanctity of human life and on human sexuality.This unfortunate happening is not a death knoll for Orthodoxy in America. Outside of the OCA, life for other of our Orthodox brothers and sisters continues on, though many of my friends in other jurisdictions have expressed their shock and sadness at hearing of the Metropolitan’s resignation.”

    A line from an old Dave Mason song has been running through my mind this morning: “There ain’t no good guys/There ain’t no bad guys.” Might that not be true of this tragic situation? As one who’s identified himself in previous posts as “instinctively” pro-Jonah, I join those who naturally want to be charitable in judging him. As do others, I want to attribute what appear to be some fatal pastoral misjudgments to his own impulsively warm, sympathetic, but perhaps undiscerning and erratic nature. To me, he seems a good man with blind spots, not a “bad guy.”

    But must our bishops be “bad guys” just because Jonah’s not? Shouldn’t we be willing to extend that same charity towards the Synod’s bishops who had to make what is clearly for many of them at least a painful decision?

    And why talk of something as anonymous as “The Synod”? Why not start thinking of the individual human beings who serve as bishops on it? I ordinarily like to stick to issues and stay away from personalities, but since I will be making only positive comments, let me just put a name and a face the following three about whom I have some personal knowledge.

    Nathaniel: He’s come in for a lot of criticism on this blog. He is my bishop. Here’s what I know personally of him. He devoted an extraordinary amount of time to our small church in dealing with two rounds of conflicts in the dark days of the early nineties when it looked as though we were on the verge of closing. His care and compassion for all sides in our conflicts (as well as the priestly appointments he made since) were one of the most important reasons why we survived and have flourished. He is also someone who was one of the main supporters of the Ligonier attempts to move towards American autocephaly in l994 and has been an outspoken advocate of right-to-life Issues attending rallies for Sanctity of Life Sunday on more than one occasion in Washington.

    Michael: I met him on a visit to St. Tikhon’s when he was the dean there and was impressed by his sincerity, his faith, and a kind of blue-collar, down-home bluntness. Those qualities were quickly revealed when on the day after New York legalized Gay “marriage,” he issued a pastoral letter firmly upholding the Church’s teachings.

    Matthias : wasn’t he formerly a hero on this blog? He took decisive action in removing Mark Stokoe from the Metropolitan Council and has also worked to restore some liturgical consistency and discipline in his diocese as well as issuing his own pastoral guidelines upholding Church teachings on marriage? I find it hard to believe that he has suddenly transformed himself into a “cat’s paw” for nefarious elements.

    I’m not naïve enough to believe that the “culture wars” have not agitated the church or will continue to intensify. But I’ve come to the conclusion that ordinary Christian charity and the welfare of our Church mean that we should take Jonah at his word and our bishops at theirs that Jonah was not a victim of those culture wars.

    • Ryan P Hunter says

      Dear Brian,

      I am the spiritual son of Metropolitan Jonah who posted the piece on my WordPress blog, “Orthodox in the District”. Thank you very much for your kind reflections on your personal experiences with the other bishops of the Church. I do not have any personal experience of meeting these bishops, but I have watched Bp. Michael’s “7 Questions, 7 Answers”, which are really helpful and illuminating, and read about his and Bp. Matthias’ participation with His Beatitude in the March for Life.

      I hope and pray that we will continue to move toward a spirit of Christian love and forgiveness. Like so many of you, I love Metropolitan Jonah very much and cannot (certainly cannot without definitive proof) bring myself to believe the grave accusations leveled against him. I hope and pray that others will not rush to condemn him without any evidence, and likewise, that we will also still think the best of the Holy Synod’s intentions.

      I cannot believe that my spiritual father would knowingly hide a man if he knew this man committed such a terrible sin, and likewise, I find it very difficult to believe that the Holy Synod would intentionally and deliberately mislead the faithful in such a malicious way about their Primate. I suspect that we will soon understand more about the facts surrounding the Synod’s allegations against Metropolitan Jonah. In this time of great confusion, it is my hope that we not pursue this path to Christian forgiveness at the expense of making all efforts to determine the veracity of the Holy Synod’s allegations against Metropolitan Jonah.

      He is my spiritual father and I love him very much. As I have said, I also love their Graces the other bishops. I am sure they have inspired and touched many of the faithful with their example of faith and spiritual wisdom just as Metropolitan Jonah has inspired me with his. All I ask and pray for is that the independent, third-party investigation of the Synod’s claims which ought to take place be conducted, insofar as is possible, in a spirit of openness, Christian understanding, and above all a desire that the full Truth might be illuminated for us.

      Let us continue to love God with all our minds, all our souls, and all our hearts, and love our neighbors, remembering that even in such times as these, all are icons of Christ.

      In Christ,
      -Ryan Hunter

  32. Is it possible that the Holy Synod is so frightened of litigation that none of them would attach his name or title to that gossipy letter?

    • Monk James says

      While I don’t know if any of the other bishops did so, Bp Michael and Bp Matthias both sent out this letter over their own signatures,via their respective eparchies’ websites in addition to the general edition posted on by unnamed members of the Holy Synod.

  33. John Valens says

    So, whatever JONAH did, or did not do, the Holy Synod essentially had him removed. Is JONAH in the right, or is the Holy Synod in the right? In the absence of all the facts, none of us really know. Will we ever have all the facts? We’ll have to wait and see on that one…

    Regardless of finger-pointing, this letter the Holy Synod sent out was pretty disgusting, even if they had good intentions. If they’re attempting to claim the higher moral ground by giving their reasons and getting information out there, I believe they severely miscalculated how their letter comes across.

    Do I respect my bishop for having put out that letter? Not even remotely. After this, if they really want to come across as moral, just and an example of who we should look up to, they should confess their mistake (the letter) and to be blunt, resign en mass. Let’s face it, this issue isn’t going away anytime soon, and it will probably still be reverberating within the OCA for several years. Do any of us really want that? Maybe it really is time for a do-over, and time to start with fresh, untainted, moral bishops.

    JONAH’s resignation was one thing. It may have been right, it may not have been. However, this letter is close to the lowest of the low.

    • Mark from the DOS says

      And look at the wonderful treatment the church has received in the press from this letter. Harboring rapist-priests! Oh my.

    • Theodore says

      John Valens

      I agree. If the HS is truly concerned about what is best for the church, they should all resign and not let their names be put forward for the HS ever again in order that we can have a new unstained beginning. Nothing else will convince me now that they care more for the church than for themselves. My tithes will remain directed outside the OCA until they regain my trust. For that to happen see second sentence above.

  34. “. . . and Frederica is apolitical, but as far as I can tell, would qualify as an Orthodox Peace Fellowship kind of person . . .”

    Rod, she’s on OPF’s advisory board.

  35. Seraphim says

    This is heartbreaking any way you look at it. I too am a great supporter of Met Jonah and his vision for the OCA. I know that he made some mistakes and aggravated the Synod in ways – I am told that the Metropolitan is not the ruler of the Synod but that he is the chairman of it, and that there is a protocol about acting in concert with, rather than independently of, the other bishops. I know there are times MJ seemed to disregard this. What does NOT make sense is how bad things got – like all this stuff about a treatment program and psychological evaluations and such. This stuff we hear about, but not why.

    With the release of the letter from the Synod that was analyzed here, at first I was heartbroken that apparently Vladyka had really run afoul – not only of the Synod but of Holy Orthodoxy’s own moral and ethical principles. It is something that I find hard to believe in an arbitrary sense, but I also know that clergy do things wrong and the laws of repentance and reconciliation do apply and there is also a pastoral issue that the legalities of these things all too often miss in their reports. However, the analysis seems fairly sound, and I am THEN heartbroken over the Synod – some of whom I know personally and love very much as well. I contacted one of the bishops, thanking them for the release of the letter, because I am usually very frustrated with the OCA’s way of telling you nothing on their website. I was relieved to see something concrete, and though it was sad, I trust the bishop who I contacted. I still do, as a matter of fact, yet at the same time, I am grieved over MJ and all that is happening to him.

    I am not deeply in the clergy, and this sort of thing makes me want to stay out of it at all costs. I am also not in the OCA, though frankly this letter was at least presenting something clear enough to make me want to finally throw in and join. At least, more. But what is still unexplained here is why the Synod would say what they have said. Before their letter went out, and after, I have looked on the internet for SOME indication of Metropolitan Jonah’s reaction or statements or SOMETHING about all this, and I have seen nothing. And the Synod is writing like MJ is out speaking against all that happened. So, what is up with that?

    MJ is in my mind and in knowing him personally, truly a man of God. And, that is not saying that the members of the Synod are all not. Like I said, I know some of them personally and I am blessed in so doing. So the real mechanics about all this are still somewhat mysterious. What is clear is that the Enemy is attacking the OCA very hard. And, considering Who we are followers of, that makes good sense. Since we follow Christ in fulness and truth, that makes the Enemy even more angry. What is tragic is that the spiritual focus of Met. Jonah was unmatched by anyone I have seen in the USA for a long time – among the ranks of bishops. Again, not to say that the others are NOT spiritual, but rather, that Jonah’s approach was nothing but spiritual – at least at the beginning. I think that is why he got elected – as someone ‘untainted’ by the history of being a bishop. It is sad that once this happened, his doing what he believed best ran so afoul of the others.

    When MJ was elected Metropolitan, there was a newspaper article talking about the “obama effect” as it applied to Jonah. Someone who was new, not coloured and worn by the ‘system’ and very popular. While Obama has turned out to be the antithesis of many people’s hopes – especially, I should think, in the Church, Who he has mercilessly attacked through his policies – Jonah was the opposite. A good man, indeed a very good man, who as he himself noted in his own letter, was in a position he was not temperamentally cut out to do, and he never wanted that position anyway.

    In his resignation, though it looks like it was a bad thing, he may have saved his own soul. Hopefully over time, this will be revealed. That is my prayer for him. Perhaps he will be like St Tikhon of Zadonsk…

    My prayer is also that the OCA is able to bring it together.

    If there are so many that desire to see Met. Jonah exonerated, I have one suggestion. It is apparently the case that the Synod or one of its members – or the MC members – acted to cut MJ off from being able to appeal to Patriarch Kyrill. If there is indeed something deeply not right about all this, I’d suggest that everyone really mount appeals to Moscow to help us. The Laity is, after all, the people who validate the councils and all the ordinations – in concert with the Holy Spirit, WE are the ones who say “Axios!” or “Anaxios!” as needed. This has helped people before – St Seraphim of Sarov springs to mind – the laypeople was where his exoneration came from, not the Holy Synod, as I recall. Appeal, but be mindful that there are great servants of God in the Synod, and if they need help, they need help. May the truth and the right prevail.

  36. Oh, Nooooooo! I just opened a letter from my 85-year old sister in Bloomfield Hills Michigan. She enclosed a newspaper clipping from the Detroit News which is topped by the picture at the top of this thread, Metropolitan Jonah being vested. How embarrassing! I’m the only Orthodox in the family and we’ve got a ton of cousins and other ramifications all of whom mostly are Lutherans, while a few are Presbyterian and Catholics. My conversion, back in 1960 was a BIG DEAL for all those folks. I can’t count the times I’ve been asked, politely or not for an explanation. A central point of my explanation was that I was searching for Christ and the search ended with the PEACE I found in Orthodoxy. (No point arguing with people who carry Luther’s Small Catechism in the purses and back pockets!.) They all loved how my life developed so interestingly after I went off active duty in the USAF to become deacon then priest, then bishop.
    Now this! One may, of course, defend any “faith community”when one or two clerics go goofy or criminal. But when a whole Local Church goes off the track with its Holy Synod….it’s very hard to make categorical assertions about how the Orthodox “have got it right!”
    This letter, coming on top of many posts here where some are saying that the clergy and the people of the Diocese of the South have gone all Pollyanna and are not stirred up or disappointed or gloomy., even though they’ve read that Stinkbomb of a Statement by a Holy Synod…… And my sister concludes her note with, ‘Please tell us what’s going on in your Orthodox Church in America!”
    I should pray like a Zoroastrian, “O God, give me rest in the Abode of Songs!”

    • lexcaritas says

      Indeed. Others of us feel and face this as well.


      • DC Indexman says

        Bishop Tikhon wrote:

        I’m the only Orthodox in the family ad we’ve got a ton of cousins and other ramifications all of whom mostly are Lutherans, while a few are Presbyterian and Catholics. My conversion, back in 1960 was a BIG DEAL for all those folks. I can’t count the times I’ve been asked, politely or not for an explanation. A central point of my explanation was that I was searching for Christ and the search ended with the PEACE I found in Orthodoxy.

        Bishop Tikhon, I can say me too. And, to add to this, I was born and raised in Bloomfield, Michigan and both my parents were raised there as well. I grew up in “Kirk-in-the-Hills” one of the significant Presbyterian churches in the area. So I know the area and thus understand the culture of your family.

        And I, like you left this area and Michigan upon finishing undergraduate school. It took me a while longer to find the Orthodox, but I did. My family and relatives have never understood. To this day they question why. Since 2006 I have been struggling with the OCA. This latest issue has challenged me deeply as to why I stay in Orthodoxy.

        Now my old Kirk seems more peaceful in some ways. It becomes tougher to tell other christians we do have the correct and historic way. We are the ones who have the closer connections with the Holy Spirit because we celebrate it in our Liturgy at least once a week. Yet we Orthodox attack, udermine and bemean each other every time we can create a conflict.


        • Michael Bauman says

          We are the ones who have the closer connections with the Holy Spirit because we celebrate it in our Liturgy at least once a week. Yet we Orthodox attack, udermine and bemean each other every time we can create a conflict.

          Yup, go figure, been that way pretty much from the beginning. Unfortunately, the warfare that should be going on internally often is turned against our brethren.

          The evil one would not seek to distrub what was no challenge to him.

          Peace is NOT absence of conflict. Peace is aherence to Jesus Christ despite the storms and conflict raging ’round us. Think Peter walking on the waves in the midst of the storm. When his attention and focus was on Jesus and nothing else he was doing just fine. When he was distracted by the storm, he began to sink. Jesus saved Peter anyway once Peter called out to Him.

          The storm will always be raging. It takes a deeply faithful person to say, “Bid me come to you on the waves”; still more faith is required to understand the Jesus can and will protect us once we are out there.

          As my bishop (not OCA) told me when this whole thing started: “Hold your peace, don’t be silent, but hold on to your peace.” I’ve taken that as an obedience and striven, not always sucessfully, to do as I was instructed.

          Jesus peace is, after all, the peace that passes understanding.