Lately, I’ve been inundated with requests to take down two Stokovites from my site. I really would not rather have to do this because I believe in free speech as a general principal. I have a selfish motive as well, and that’s because they’re jackasses. Keeping them around kept me grounded. Their views are so wrong and hateful that it makes it easy for me to keep my perspective. Just when I think that +Jonah may be wrong about something serious, here they come with their rants shaking me out of my complacency.

But my growing list of correspondents have forced my hand. Some of them have told me it’s either them or us. In that case, I’ll go with “us,” the good people who see something righteous about Christianity and are willing to fight for the truth. Nobody should have to be forced to watch some bozo wallow in the mire. He can do that on his own site. So, A Pox on All Your Houses and Anonymous Since It’s All the Rage, to the blog-abyss you go!

So am I the Grand Censor now? No. To all the reasonable critics out there who have honest differences of opinions with me, as long as you keep them on a reasonably civil level and at least throw in a cogent argument or two, you will always be welcome on Monomakhos.


  1. Nick Katich says

    “Every burned book enlightens the world”. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    “Every booted blog commentator enlightens the universe” – Nick Katich

    “But my growing list of correspondents have forced my hand. Some of them have told me it’s either them or us. In that case, I’ll go with “us,”” – Monomakhos (one who fights alone???????).

    No! “Proskynesis” before all who agree, George, is all I see.

    Boot me too buddy so I can better see the forrest for the tree.

    • A Remnant says


      Would being booted off of a website discussing OCA church issues, really enhance your Internet curriculum vitae. If you are so offended, just don’t come back.

      Personally I have enjoyed your postings, and appreciate the level of civility and intelligence displayed, I just don’t agree with all of it. I can not say the same for the two removed posters. Of course my recommendation and $4.00 will get a cup of coffee at Starbucks!

      • Seraphimista says

        Nick —

        Don’t you see that there’s a difference between respectful dissent, which you engage in, and bomb-throwing trolling like ASIATR’s and Pox’s?

        I don’t agree with a thing you say, but I don’t mind one bit sharing George’s comments threads with you. Those other guys were about nothing but stirring up trouble. If there were people who supported my side on here doing the same thing, I’d hope George would throw them off too. If you tolerate the obnoxious drunk at the party, all your guests will leave. If George is acting the censor here, it’s for the sake of all of us, including you and me, who want to talk about these issues and argue about them in an atmosphere of basic respect. We can’t hear each other if there are troublemakers throwing themselves in the middle of the conversation shouting and calling names.

        Good for George!

        • Nick Katich says

          I guess I did not pay much attention to some of their posts. Sometimes when there are replies to earlier posts, it is easy to miss a lot of them. I usually try to scan and reply to stuff that might catch my attention but it is difficult when you start getting into the 200+ numbers to catch everything.

          I agree that the discussion needs to be respectful. Although we may disagree at times about things, we all need to approach things from the same perspective = what is best in the long term for our Holy Church.

          • Exactly BTW, I ‘d love if you’d start your own blog. If so, I’ll freely comment in an intelligent way w/ a little humor thrown in, but those two bozos were beyond the pale.

    • see Nick, this is what I mean.: intelligent poetry even.

  2. Ms. Anonymous says

    While I share your views of Stokoe, et al, I think it would be preferable, rather than banning their comments, to put a “read more” link right after their names, so that folks can easily skip the comments if they choose, but you won’t have censored/banned them. Just a suggestion…

  3. Michael Bauman says

    Fr. Stephen Freeman has taken the position that nothing much of substance happens once the comments begin to reach 100 (acually usually far short of that). You might consider, George, limiting the number of comments to a more manageable number.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Michael, you’re right and it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I talked about this problem with a friend of mine who feels the same way you do. For the time being, I think I’m not going to close off discussion at some “magic number” but instead going to keep providing new content which is topical. This will I hope generate new discussion. We’ll see. In the meantime, thank you for your insights.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        That’s the way to go about it – keep proving new topics to generate discussion. At the same time, take care not to get burned out.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        And believe me, there are plenty to discuss, like . . . what is it that MP is doing right in providing accessible service to the deaf and hard-of-hearing that we cannot seem to duplicate here in the US, with all the great resources that we have available to us? I have several theories . . .

        And I’d be the first to sign up for return to MP if there was some assurances that MP would give use the resources to do so.

        • Lola J. Lee Beno says

          And, this is what I’m talking about:

          All in Russian, but it’s obvious in the video as to what is going on. This is a parish in Ekaterinburg, and I’ve been in correspondence with the hieromonk there. There are similar parishes in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere in Russia.

          Somebody please point me to a similar location here in US, because I sure cannot find it, even here in the DC metro where a large percentage of deaf people are. I know of deaf people from Orthodox family who’ve left the church because of lack of accessibility.

  4. Ivan Vasiliev says


    I’m very clearly in your camp on most issues, but I think you have made the wrong choice in bumping ASIATR…. not only did he/she provide some great comic relief, but inspired us to look at things from a slightly different perspective (alright, a hugely different perspective). Its your blog, but I wish you would reconsider. Those who are most bothered could simply ignore and move on.

  5. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    I would hate to be deprived of the wisdom of Nick Katich.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Fr Patrick, there’s no worry about that, Nick’s a good man and wouldn’t be caught dead in the intellectual (as it were) company of those two braying jackasses. Though we see differently about +Jonah’s ministry, his arguments allow me to refine mine.

      Ivan, personally, I didn’t give a rat’s ass about those two bozos, but several of my more thoughtful commentators really took umbrage with what they said and I didn’t want to lose their insights.

      All, Monomakhos is growing in popularity. It’s become the “go-to” site for issues affecting the Orthodox Church here in North America if you;re interested in polemics. (A more broad-based site is the American Orthodox Institute, run by Fr Hans Jacobse.) Like I said, mine’s polemical in nature with some satire thrown in. I’m concerned with the culture, conservative politics (in the classically liberal sense), and of course Orthodox Christianity. One of the dangers of operating a post like this is that some idiots who have nothing to say without being hurtful can cause real damage, which I don’t want to risk.

      Look at this way, if you click on “American” you might see every now and then some pretty girls or ribald humor. It’s just a way to let off some collective steam. But that’s not what Monomakhos is about. Allowing those two guys unlimited access would be no different than me posting a different picture of some starlet every other day. That’s not what I’m about.

      Enjoy the commentary, join the fight, and by all means, make a difference!

      • Ivan Vasiliev says


        I clearly enjoy this blog. My own thick hide and twisted sense of humor took some delight in the snarky interchanges between “those-whose-names-shall-no longer-be mentioned” and the rest of the crew.

        That said, we in the OCA are very clearly in what the venerable “W” once referred to as “deep doo-doo”.
        OCAT seems to have gone under for all intents and purposes, so a number of us will be looking to this site to be a place for ongoing conversations about “whither to”

  6. Nick Katich says


    I took some time over the weekend to go through the comments of the two in question. I think you made the right decision. Blogs do need moderation and sometimes even censorship, primarily where civility ends and/or absurdity begins.

    The thing I most want to respond to is your comment “Though we [you and me] see differently about +Jonah’s ministry, his [mine] arguments allow me to refine mine [yours]. We do not necessarily disagree, for the most part, regarding His Beatitude’s ministry. I signed the Manhattan Declaration. I think every Orthodox (lay or cleric) should. I fully share your views on social issues, including homosexuality, abortion, etc.

    The only real area of disagreement I have actually had with His Beatitude stems from the remarks that he made at the Canadian Diocesan Assembly last summer and at the Midwest Diocesan Assembly last fall and more so the remarks that he made at the latter wherein he said that it was imperative that he get on the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Assembly. And, if the only way to do so was to give up autocephaly and go back under Moscow, then that was “on the table”. He further implied that there were on-going discussions with Moscow in that regard. For one, I do not think that Chambesy is going anywhere. It is dead in the water. Even if it were not, I just don’t see the importance of the Executive Committee since the ultimate proposals will come from the entire Episcopal Assembly and, unfortunately, the ultimate plan will have to be approved by the Great Council which, for reasons known to you and as articulated years ago by St. Justin of Celije, I hope never occurs.

    The only potential area of disagreement which I might have with His Beatitude is how he acts in the role of Primate vis-a-vis the Synod. As you know, I suffer not only from nostalgia for the 1st to 4th Century Church, but I also firmly believe that the ecclesiology that was prevalent during that time is not only properly Orthodox but it is also best for the Church throughout the future ages. There will always exist a tension between a primate and a synod as evidenced by a lot of history which is why I firmly believe that Apostolic Canon 34 is our best guide post.

    Under that Canon, you and I have always agreed that a bishop is the head of his diocese and no one, including the primate can interfere in the administration of that diocese, unless there are canonical indiscretions, schismatic or heretical tendencies, gross neglect or other such reasons; or reasons that affect the greater Church. It is for that reason, as you know, that Canon 34 allows the bishop essential freedom in running his own diocese but, things that affect the greater Church need the consent of the primate. However, ultimately they really need the consent of the synod since the primate, under Canon 34 can do nothing without the consensus of the synod.

    In addition, since the 4th Century, primarily because of the machinations of Rome and Constantinople, primates have had, what in my view, has been an increasingly distorted view of primacy. It is constantly being morphed into a relation of power rather than honor. Rome is the ultimate reflection of the power grab. However, Constantinople and Moscow are really not that far behind in their lust to be the “pope” of the diaspora in the former case or the “pope” of the historic Rus people in the latter case.

    As you know and, as we have agreed in the past, I strongly hold to the Cyprianic view that each bishop everywhere sits (to use Cyprian’s phrase) on the Throne of Peter (I would phrase it differently but the essence of meaning would be the same). In addition, I strongly believe in Cyprian’s description that the “Episcopacy is One”. I believe that the Church lived under those guiding principles until the 4th Century, after which the tension began.

    I cringe when I hear the word “primate’. I cringe when I hear the phrase “obedience is owed to the primate”. I feel good when I hear the word “first hierarch”. I feel good when I hear the phrase “first among equals.

    Not all may agree with me with respect to whether the ecclesiology of the 1st-4th Century is the best in the past, now or going forward. That is fine. However, I firmly believe that it is. That is the subject of a legitimate discussion which, I am sure, would probably go one from now till eternity.

    Given what I have said, I strongly believe that a great deal of the scandal and culture in the OCA that led to the so-called Time of Trouble under Herman was the result of a distorted and monarchial view of the ecclesiology which I have outlined above. That distortion and culture paralyzed the Synod and allowed Herman to appoint this person, indiscriminately fire that person, tell Job he has to do this or that, tell the Metropolitan Council to go to you know where and probably tell the Synod the same and, all the while, except for Job, the Synod was mute and paralyzed.

    Other than what Stokoe said (in which he claims that His Beatitude’s ecclesiology was becoming more and more monarchial), I have no real first hand knowlede. If Stokoe were accurate in that regard, then I would have a real problem with any Metropolitan holding that view or heading in that direction. If it were not true, then I would be of the opinion that it has become personal against the Metropolitan and I would throw Stokoe to the dogs.

    Because I did not know and because I still do not know, I have taken no position in the past or now on that issue regarding His Beatitude. Therefore, I cannot say that you and I agree or disagree with regard to His Beatitude’s ministry.

    Having said all of that, and I know what I am about to say will irk a lot of posters to this blog but, bear in mind, with me it is not about “for Jonah” or “against Jonah” but rather because of my fundamental belief in what is the “best ecclesiology”, I find (putting aside the motives that various bishops may have had in agreeing to it and I have no doubt that in some cases the motives were driven by an anti Jonah bias) that the resolutions reflected in the Synod minutes serve to restore a better balance with regard to the whole issue of “primacy”. I am only saddened by the fact that they were not adopted and enforced during the Herman era which, if they had been, would have shortened the Time of Trouble.

    I only hope and pray that we can put this second Time of Trouble aside; that the First Hierarch and Synod will work together and that the OCA can move forward. I hope and pray that the rhetoric will subside on both sides. I hope and pray that each diocese at the AAC and the AAC will choose more wisely the member of the Metropolitan Council. I hope and pray that the vineyard He planted by His right hand and known as the OCA will grow up and spiritually mature. I hope and pray that we all not forget that His grace is a cooperative two-way street and that our cooperation is an essential element in its operation.

    Finally, I pray that monarchialism and congregationalism both die a rapid death and that Orthodox cooperationalism re-awaken in our time. This is especially true in our continued and recently misguided (Ravenna, Cyprus and Vienna) discussions with Rome (Ravenna and Cyprus in particular attempting to turn our ecclesiology and history on its head).

    P.S. At least by recent accounts, His Beatitude is standing down from the fray. I hope that continues. Now, I would respectfully suggest that it is time for the Synod to reciprocate and join the other fray = sign the Manhattan Declaration!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Nick, I agree with everything you said. But the HS did not treat +Jonah as an “equal.” More like a punching bag. Shame on them.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Nick, permit me to emend my last reply. I agree 98% with what you said. To be fair, I was uncomfortable with what +Jonah said about “reimagining” autocephaly. But nowhere does this act of diplomacy justify the villification that the Stokovites have heaped upon him. Nothing does.

        Regardless, it’s rather ironic, in that the OCA will probably lose its autocephaly when the last parish closes its doors, because now nobody is going to want to open a mission (much less join a church) that is this vicious and operates with these new Stokovite Rules of Engagement.

        • Nick Katich says


          There is still the AAC coming up this Fall. It will be a chance to reconstitute the membership of the Metropolitan Council. Maybe we will both be there in attendance. Maybe we can joint sponsor a resolution regarding the Manhattan Declaration. However, at this point, personally I would guess that the vast majority does not read blogs and is probably only vaguely, if at all, aware of everything. I think the OCA will be around for a while. Our collective apathy is a great as everyone elses. Sometimes the apathy drives me nuts. But at other times I think that maybe the Holy Spirit uses it to keep us together over millenia.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            I hope you’re right. I’m not sure the MC is such a good idea if you ask me. For me, all the bidness takes place in the diocese. I see no reason for a national council. That strikes me too much of the old ethnic/eparchial way of doing things. Just me.

            • Nick Katich says

              I don’t disagree, except that the bishops we have had historically little experience when it comes to financial matters. Maybe a carefully selected but smaller Metropolitan Council. The Serbian Church has a Patriarchal Council but smaller and much more selectively selected.

              By the way, as you already know, the Serbian Church closely follows the ecclesiology that I described above. Administratively, the Patriarch is truly a figure head. The effective governing body day-to-day is the Holy Synod of Bishops which is the functional equivalent of the OCA’s Lesser Synod. The Holy Assembly of Bishops, the functional equivalent of the OCA’s Holy Synod, only meets twice per year but is the ultimate highest authority.

              • A Remnant says


                Not being familiar with the Serbian Church, what are the functions of the Patriarchal Council versus the OCA Chancery staff and/or the Metropolitan Council?

              • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                How are things run in Moscow Patriarchate? The Patriarch just doesn’t seem to be a figurehead over there.

                • Nick Katich says

                  There is a Patriarchial Council which is separate from the Diocesan Concil of the Belgrade Diocese. The latter functions much like our Diocesan Council here. The former, the Patriarchal Council, deals strictly in financial matters on the Patriarchial level such as stavropigial institutions and stavropigial seminaries, the Patriarchial publications, etc. It is an advisory body and, I believe meets once or twice per year.

                  The real day to day authority is vested in the Holy Synod which is equivalent, as I said, to the OCA’s Lesser Synod. The Synod meets constantly as needed. It usually meets monthly but, sometimes even weekly or daily depending on need. It appoints locum tenens, administrators, bestows clerical and lay honors, serves as court of first instance regarding bishops and second instance regarding clergy discipline, formulates policy between sessions of the Holy Assembly (which is all the bishops who have diocese), etc. I have never seen the Patriarch take action (outside the realm of his own diocese) alone and on his own initiative — only through the Synod.

                  Being a smaller territory, it is certainly a lot easier for the Synod to convene frequently and/or constantly. However, with modern telecommunication technology, distance should no longer be any kind of impediment. There is no reason that the OCA’s Lesser Synod cannot be in daily contact if necessary.

                  Hope this answers your question.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Thanks for clearing that up. How do you feel about the MC becoming integrated into the Lesser Synod? Clearly this isn’t what is happening in the SOC.

                    • Nick Katich says

                      George: In my opinion, the Metropolitan Council and the Lesser Synod should remain separate. They serve two different functions. However, the Statute needs to be cleared up. The Statute now provides that the Metropolitan Council’s functions are as follows:

                      a. Implements the decisions of the All-American Council and of the Holy Synod in the areas of its competence;

                      b. Assists the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod in Implementing decisions within the areas of its competence;

                      c. Establishes the budget for the operations of the Church and examines all financial reports of the Church;

                      d. Supervises the collection of the assessments and fees established by the All-American Council and determines the allocation of such funds;

                      e. Organizes plans for obtaining voluntary contributions for the satisfaction of the needs of the Church;

                      f. Provides for the maintenance of the central administrative bodies of the Church and for the allocation of the general Church funds;

                      g. Decides on the purchase, sale, or mortgaging of property of the Church, except in cases covered in Article X, Section 8;

                      h. Maintains an inventory of all properties of the Church;

                      i. Provides for the establishment and maintenance of institutions of charity and education, as well as for publications for the propagation of the Orthodox Faith;

                      j. Determines the forms and books necessary for the keeping of records and statistical data by the dioceses, requiring all statistics necessary for reports;

                      k. Appoints officers and committees on matters within its competence;

                      l. Initiates, prosecutes, and defends all legal matters affecting the interest of the Church;

                      m. May receive reports from any department in areas within the competence of the Metropolitan Council.

                      Personally, I do not like the phrase “areas of its competence”. I don’t know what that means and it opens the door to disputes as to meaning and a vehicle for overreaching. Otherwise, it should be made clearer that it functions as an entity that is involved in the financial affairs of the central church administration. Apropos to your post below, it should act as a board of stewards. I think that was the original intent but, in my opinion, the Statute is badly drafted because it is too ambiguous.

                • Nick Katich says

                  Lola: #24 was meant as a reply to Remnant. In answer to your question, the Statute of the Moscow Patriarchate is rather complicated and in many ways there appears to be a lot of overlap in competency between the Local Council, Bishop’s Council, Synod, etc. However, for the most part in practice, the Patriarchal model there is quite monarchial. It is without doubt the most centralized — not quite “papal” but much closer than any other. Given the vastness and diversity of the territory, they would suggest that it was necessary in their case. But then again, they emerged from a fuedal culture much later than the rest of Europe and some would suggest (me included) that not until the Soviet Union collapsed did they truly emerge from such.

                  • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                    Right, especially wrt the diversity of the territory. This is something that US has in common. I think we do need to have smaller dioceses, especially out west. It should be sized such that each parish is able to have a visit from the bishop at least once a year.

                  • A Remnant says

                    Thank you for your clarification, it helps!

                    The reason for the question begins to border on your and George’s discussion of the structure of the MC!

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Because of the incompetency of certain bishops in financial affairs, the canons stipulated that every diocese should have an Oikonomos (Economus or Steward), a treasurer in other words.

                I can see how one Steward can become a board of Stewards should there be a need. Again, that’s different from what the MC is trying to do (as we are being led to believe).