Has Stokoe Been Muzzled?

It’s been nearly two weeks since Mark Stokoe posted anything new on his blog OCANews.org. If Stokoe continues his tradition of not posting during Holy Week make that three. It’s an unusually long silence for the self-styled “reformer” of the OCA.

By now we know that Stokoe isn’t really a reformer but a former Syosset insider fired by then Fr. Kondratick for reasons still unknown. Stokoe had by all accounts an amicable relationship with +Theodosios but no real loyalty to his successor +Herman. When +Herman took leadership, Stokoe started his blog OCANews.org to report on the corruption about which he had first-hand knowledge.

Some of his work is credible and even helped the OCA expose wrongdoing that otherwise would have been swept under the rug. Once +Herman was forced into retirement however, Stokoe took on new projects the most recent being the attempt to sideline +Jonah. They say a leopard can’t change his spots. It looks like Stokoe can’t change the insider skulduggery that marked his years under +Theodosios and now as a member of the Metropolitan Council.

If Stokoe has been muzzled, then who muzzled him? Was it the other members of the Metropolitan Council not named on the emails that exposed a plan to force a no-confidence vote about +Jonah’s leadership? If I were on the Metropolitan Council and found out that a handful of self-selected members were using a public blog and private communications to drive policy, I would demand that they cease and desist and require their immediate resignation.

Perhaps it was the bishops. Stokoe made it appear that the bishops were unanimous in their decision to force +Jonah into an involuntary leave of absence. That’s not true. Insiders tell us that all the bishops were concerned about +Jonah’s schedule, health, and work load and requested he take time off to regroup, a request that +Jonah complied with. This is a far cry that the request implied a vote of no-confidence and that +Jonah was “defiant” and a “rogue” in refusing it as Stokoe reported on his blog.

The bishops have wisely refrained from speaking in public about Stokoe’s assertions (although the letter to the Editor of the Washington Post as well as the resolutions from the Diocese of the West indicates it took them a while to get their bearings; neither should have been published). Responding directly to Stokoe would grant his blog an imprimatur that subsequent events reveal it does not deserve.

Perhaps Stokoe muzzled himself, although that seems unlikely. Still, he has some huge credibility hurdles to jump, and the broad based trust he once enjoyed is unlikely to ever return.

Stokoe should apologize to +Jonah, resign the Metropolitan Council (along with the other people named on the emails*), and shut down his blog. That would go a long way to restore the respect he has lost.

(*The members should resign if they remain silent on why those emails exist in the first place. The entire MC, as well as concerned laity, need a full accounting of intentions and actions before the signatories are reseated.)


  1. Harry Coin says

    You know, there have been plenty of pauses of this length and more. Sometimes George, even for Sigmund Freud, a cigar is just a cigar.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Or perhaps there’s just not anything else to hang around +Jonah’s neck. Possible, no?

      • Harry Coin says

        The topics that web site has reported cover a wide range, I’m inclined to think the fellow just has other things to do.

  2. I have also noticed Mr. Stokoe’s silence. I don’t think anybody silenced him, because he does not seem like the type to obey anybody’s orders to sit quiet and shut up. My theory is that he was rattled by the constant attacks of OCA Truth, and the leaks from Bishop Tikhon (ret.). They made it hard for him to keep up the front that he was merely a reporter who wanted transparency. I doubt most of us knew about his homosexuality and his live-in partner, which calls a lot of his motivations for attacking JONAH into question.

    I also think that he and his friends who hate the Metropolitan felt shaken up by the leaks from inside their camp. They didn’t know who was spilling the beans, and it upset them. That’s my guess.

    I would bet money that they’ve been sitting quiet on purpose, and that they will come out blasting after Pascha. This thing isn’t close to being over. Don’t let up, George!

  3. Kevin Allen says



    The scandalous public power struggle and obvious lack of unity in the OCA is a shame and a tragedy for the pan-Orthodox Church. Fighting partisan battles through Stokoe’s blog and frankly even the counter-offensive on this and the OCA Truth blog, is doing serious damage to the credibility of the “Orthodox Church” in the U.S.

    Thank God for the silence from Stokoe and OCA News.

    I wish we would all take time off from this soap opera and let the OCA work out its leadership problems within its own conciliar processes instead of in the blogosphere.

    This train wreck needs to be cleared from the tracks.

  4. George,

    What credibility? He has none.

  5. I spend about two seconds checking his site. It’s hard to read, not easy on the eyes, and too blinky!

    • lexcaritas says

      I used to read it religiously. No more. Without confidence in the veracity of what Mr. Stokhoe writes and noting the obstinate hostility of quite a number of the comments posted there (or by adamant supporters of his in other discussion groups), bordering on arrogance and showing little love for their brothers in Christ, I have lost interest and look elsewhere for Orthodox news and comment.

      This life is too short for it, and I haven’t seen how time spent with OCAnews contributes to metanoia, katharsis, photisis and theosis–either in myself or those who participate there. Therefore, it is better to avoid the temptation to spend time there and to fast from it.


      • George Michalopulos says

        As for myself Lex, I’ve decided to ask for forgiveness from all concerned. I pray for Mark and those few who have maligned HB every night as well. I’m sure that they think they’re doing right (Mark has in the past) but there comes a time in which all of us can start to believe our own press clippings. If we put aside our own agendas and come together in a spirit of forgiveness, then the Church will be better for it.

  6. Mark from the DOS says

    George –

    I also have been pleasantly surprised, but also suspicious about the silence. While Stokoe has been quiet for lengthy periods before, rarely has it been in the midst of one of his campaigns. When you look at some of the non-events he chose to post about early on, the sudden quiet is suspicious.

    I too believe he will be back with both guns blazing, but I think one of the following has happened:

    1. He has been told/asked to be quiet so the planning of the moves against Metropolitan Jonah can be done behind the scenes; or (and my money is on this one)

    2. There are more e-mails/documentation of behind the scenes maneuvering that are out there and he fears that going forward will lead to more leaks and more erosion of his “credibility”. Not knowing who he can trust or what may come out next, he will wait until just before the HS meets to let loose a last volley and hope for action before a response can come.

  7. Your point is well taken, I would also like to call you attention to the train wreck of essay at ocawonder.com. Since slyosett is probably filtering the comments maybe you can post a link to the essays here so people can more freely comment.

  8. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    George writes:

    Stokoe should apologize to +Jonah, resign the Metropolitan Council . . . . and shut down his blog.”

    These things cannot happen too soon.

  9. A. Rymlianin says

    I recently had a run-in with a Stokoe-Dredgelow-ite on the internet. Without knowing my antecedents, this pathetic individual accused me of being a HOOMie-CSBite. This is the level of their discourse. I told him that I came from ROCOR to the OCA .I am a former member of the Carpatho-Russian Unia who came home to Orthodoxy. If this is any indication of the level of their discourse, then I think we have already won. Not to say that we should let down our guard.

    By the way, one of the OCAWonder articles is written by Lazar Puhalo ( Ronald Haden from Texas in civilian life) who is a divorcee , abandoned his six year old son and bamboozled ROCOR into ordaining him a deacon, then went to the free Serbs to be ordained a priest, then to the Milan Synod to be made a bishop, then to the Ukrainian autocephalists to be made an archbishop. And we should believe this person because?

    • I’m wondering how Ronald Haden/Lazar Puhalo ended up as a retired Archbishop (of where) in the OCA?

    • lexcaritas says

      Exactly what I ran into, brother, on another group: a couple of devoted Mark Stokhoe fans and rabidly anti-Jonah who claim to be genuine home-grown Orthodox, find every convert suspect and whose intemperate statements say they despise ++Jonah for having been friendly with folks who were formerly HOMS and/or CSB–and bringing them to the Truth. For shame. Furthermore, the same posters kept insisting on Jonah’s “disobedience” even in the face of my word by word study of the official minutes. Nothing could persuade. About that time, I gave up and decided it wasn’t worth following OCAnews anymore or carrying on further discussion with folks who desire to remain wilfully blind and prejudiced on the other group. I thought we were supposed to be working towards humility and repentance, purification, illumination and theosis, but that is not what I got from any of these folks, God bless ’em.


  10. A. Rymlianin says

    For those who want to know more about Ronald Haden aka archbishop Lazar Puhalo, I recommend the Eufrosynios Café on the internet (2006). What we used to call a Texas bul$hitista as in “down Zaragoza way”. The dude has been knee-deep in Canadian politics, claiming that the World Trade Organization and NATO have been attempting to incorporate Canada into the USA. So much for non-involvement in secular politics.

  11. Jesse Cone says

    While I disagree with Archbishop Lazar’s opinions I would like to disagree with them on their own merit, not because of him personally or his track record. If we are going to talk about him personally, instead of going ad hominem, let’s note that he has recently been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment. And let’s pray for him.

  12. A. Rymlianin says

    Excuse me , but what is “ad hominem ” about holding the man to his own standard? I will remember to pray for Ronald Haden in my daily prayers.

    • Jesse Cone says

      There’s a difference between evaluating the merit of one’s argument and holding an individual accountable to behave in accordance with their words. The former can be done on an internet forum, whereas it is very seldom possible to do so with the latter. 🙂

      If the question is, should Orthodox Christians be involved politically? then discussion of a man’s character and/ or inconsistencies ends up being just a red herring with personal collateral damage.

      Here’s my question: what can the laity do on the internet that is beneficial? I think OCAT, George, and (ret) Bp. Tikhon have been beneficial by muting Stokoe’s clamor, but what now? Really what needs to happen is those are at the AAC need to be prepared to be involved and have the courage to do so. I was recently told by someone who was in Pitt last time around that for all the noise on OCANews at the time of the election there was no real showing. I hope that this doesn’t happen next time with a different contingency; but no amount of internet hollering is going to convince me (or the Synod I would think) till what is happening on the blogs matches what is happening in the trenches.

      That’s the consistency I care about.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Jesse, in retrospect, the resume of the Archbishop in question raises more questions and in some ways buttresses my thesis (The Dumping Ground). I don’t mean to place HE in this category because he’s obvously a more brilliant man than Theodosius and Herman, but given what you have pointed out about his biography, how is it that he came into the OCA in the first place?

        • Jesse Cone says

          It is not that I find Achbp. Lazar’s resume to be irrelevant whatsoever: but I don’t find it necessary to start bad-mouthing yet another hiearch (during Holy Week no less!) when, as OCAT points out, his essay is not really a tour de force.

          There’s enough clergy with mud on their vestments at this time, and enough disgust among the laity that I’m not sure bringing this retired bishop into the mix is a good idea.

          I am interested in your Dumping Ground thesis, but it seems that there is another major problem — disjointedness and in-fighting within the OCA. Achbp. Lazar has a history of this. Inasmuch as there is a cabal against our Godly primate, it seems to have been spawned by this unhealthy culture plus a sense of entitlement among long time powerplayers. His Beatitude was right when he suggested we suffer from severe short-sightedness and OCA triumphalism.

  13. A. Rymlianin says

    When someone puts himself into the public limelight, peddling his credentials as an Orthodox archbishop, he definitely puts that information into the public domain. Though I do not respect the man’s credentials or his history, I will pray for him, as is my obligation.

    • George Michalopulos says

      A., leaving aside Puhalo’s credentials, I have been concerned about a lot of his stridency regarding some of his pronouncements. I will say that he is extremely intelligent and well-read, and love to read his essays. No question about it, he’s a brilliant man and I think he brings a lot to the intellectual table. But his dogmatism always seems to come down on the Secular/Left of any argument, especially in regards to his statements on Darwinism, which he accepts uncritically.

      Thank you for fleshing out his resume for us.

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