Sex, Czar and More Red Tape –Part 2


Is this the face of the Syosset Sex Czar?

Loius XV (Click to enlarge)

One of the reasons that we are told that a Sex Czar is needed in Syosset is the apparent hysteria involving sexual “misconduct.” This can be anything, from a priest being tormented by an exceptionally beautiful woman in the congregation to extra-marital affairs involving adults as well as the actual victimization of minors. By putting out the mere term “misconduct” and not defining it, we have relegated those activities which are merely notional and/or consensual and can result in civil actions (adultery, homosexuality), to the same class as criminal actions which by definition cannot be consensual (paedophilia).

In civil actions, the state is not the injured party, only the man’s wife and his ministry. And since most states do not consider sodomy to be a crime anymore, then consensual homosexual relations in no way injure the state. On the other hand, the molestation of children and/or the seeking of sexual favors from post-pubescent minors is an other matter entirely. The latter is no different from other violent felonies such as burglary, assault, rape, and murder. The penalties are justifiably severe.

This is not to say that consensual sexual indiscretions committed by priests are to be tolerated or merely waved away as unimportant. They are most unfortunate and ecclesial discipline is required if in fact they occurred. Having said that, to harness the machinery of the central administration in order to discipline an errant priest who may or may not have made a clumsy pass at a Sunday School teacher is a magnificent waste of resources for a church that is experiencing severe demographic and financial decline.


Ignoring this very real distinction is an ingenious sleight-of-hand. It is by this subterfuge that our elites are able to convince us that they have a solution for a supposed problem. Unfortunately, this entire scenario is hitched to the falling star of eparchial ethnic jurisdictionalism, a highly centralized paradigm that is incompatible with a truly autocephalous Church, one that is composed of several autonomous, regional dioceses.

As we shall see from the job description itself, the end result of this highly paid new position is part of a plan to aggrandize more power within Syosset, not only within the actual position of Sex Czar itself but to the Chancellor as well. This alone should give pause to a Church which has had problems in the past with the strong-chancellor form of governance.

Under “Supervisory and Job Control,” we read that:

The Coordinator reports to the Chancellor, but has full decision authority to investigate and report on all allegations of sexual misconduct…

In other words, he doesn’t really have to go to the Chancellor. However if he does, then the Chancellor has even more leverage over the priest and indeed, within the inner workings of the diocese itself. In any event, the picture gets more muddled –and Syosset as a whole has the potential for even more power. In point #2 for instance others in Syosset (or anywhere else for that matter) may be apprised of specific investigations:

We read that the Sex Czar:

Advises OCA personnel on a day-to-day basis concerning matters of policy and cases involving sexual misconduct.

This means that anybody in the OCA can be privy to allegations involving certain priests. It’s up to the Sex Czar alone to decide who and what he’s going to tell about what he knows at any given time. If this wasn’t bad enough, it only gets more confusing the more we read. Indeed, one cannot escape the suspicion that the office of Sex Czar was carefully crafted for a particular individual in mind, no doubt somebody residing within the immediate environs of the central administration itself. If so, then we are talking about more power but less accountability and no transparency. More to the point, we are talking about a command structure that is extra-episcopal and which blurs the distinctions between any given diocese and the central administration.

The picture that is painted by the job description is a muddled one to be sure. Having said that, the possibility for extortion cannot be overlooked as well. Nor for that matter are there any guarantees that those in this confusing chain of command –and who may be compromised themselves–will be subjected to the same discipline as priests serving in the periphery.

If nothing else, the strictures of confidence placed on the Sex Czar (or the private investigator) are nowhere spelled out for others whom he may take into his confidence.


Leaving aside the inability to make the necessary distinction between criminality as opposed to sexual sin and the extra-episcopal chain of command, the question still remains: how prevalent are allegations of sexual misconduct (of all types) in the clergy of the OCA in the first place? Is the OCA teeming with sexual predators in its clergy? The waving of the red flag by Syosset would seem to indicate that we do indeed have a problem. After all, the Roman Catholic Church has a problem, so why should we be exempt?

Are there in fact dozens of allegations reported to Syosset on a frequent basis? This question needs to be answered in a sober manner. Unfortunately, given the track record of Syosset in the past –we are talking after all about an administration that continued to employ the previously-fired Chancellor who engaged in subversive activities against the Metropolitan–it is unlikely that a realistic answer is likely to be forthcoming. Let us therefore examine the most recent numbers involving the Catholic Church in America, arguably the “ground zero” of the exploitation of children if news reports are to be believed.

And what is that number? Hundreds? Thousands? Actually, far less than one is led to believe.

According to the annual audit of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, last year there were only seven (!) “credible” allegations of child molestation by Catholic clergy in America. This out of a total population of over 41,420 priests. That’s 0.000169 percent. If we take that same number and multiply it by the number of the number of OCA priests in North America (say 1,000 at the outside), that would mean that there were 0.169 cases last year. In other words, it would take ten years for there to be one actual case of criminal molestation.

It’s also important to remember the overwhelming majority of the priests in the Catholic Church are celibate (the exceptions would be Eastern-Rite and Anglican-Vicariate priests). On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of priests in the OCA are or have been married. This being the case, the opportunity for sexual “misconduct” up to and including actual criminality would necessarily be minimized. To be blunt, it’s very hard for married men to initiate and perpetuate sexual dalliances over the long term. (Wives tend to have an acute radar for these things.) Read the actual report.

This isn’t what we were led to believe however. The media hysteria that erupted in 2002 made it sound like every other Catholic priest was a predator. By the time the story worked itself out, any priest who had ever been transferred from one parish to another for even the most mundane of reasons was living under a dark cloud. The reality is that the majority of the cases involving child molestation (real and alleged) in American Catholicism are from over twenty years ago. The scandal which erupted in 2002 in the Archdiocese of Boston for example, happened because Boston was the epicenter of an insidious game of clerical musical-chairs that was orchestrated by Bernard Cardinal Law, the Archbishop of Boston at the time. Many of those priests to be sure were molesters but (this bears repeating) they had already done their damage some twenty years earlier. To be sure, Boston was a locus of an active homosexual subculture and certain priests were participants in that milieu; what Archbishop Law was trying to do was find a way to minimize this activity (especially if it involved minors) by moving the offending priest from one parish to another. In doing so however, the events of the past exploded in his face and in time an extensive picture of rampant criminality became known.

Be that as it may, it would behoove us to notice the similarity to the one case which the OCA is presently investigating. Like those clerical offenders in the Roman Catholic Church, the case in question involves a priest who allegedly molested two youths some thirty years ago. Moreover, the alleged perpetrator was not then a member of the Orthodox Church, but the Episcopal Church (he converted years later). For what it’s worth, there were no allegations against him since his conversion or elevation to the episcopate. (As to why the Holy Synod chose to elect him bishop in the first place is another matter entirely and beyond the scope of this essay.)


The purpose of this essay is not to excuse sexual misconduct, whether it be consensual or criminal. Zero tolerance is the only option, especially when it comes to children. One child molested is one child too many. The problem is that by confusing criminal misconduct with consensual ones, unnecessary backlogs will ensue, causing some investigations to grind to a halt.

So are we hamstrung? Can we not be proactive? I imagine that there are psychological tests which can identify the propensity for sexual predation and compuslive behaviors. It goes without saying that sexually immature men, flagrant homosexuals, and those with a police record should be denied admission to the seminaries. Having said that though, there is no way that we can ensure that once ordained, a man cannot fall into sin or that he won’t be broken by the forces arrayed against the priesthood.

So where are we? Child molestation can be (and should be) dealt with by the civil authorities. Only they have the resources to do so. Lest we forget, time is of the essence in these allegations as well. Leaving aside criminality, the question remains: does consensual “misconduct” require a pastoral response or a punitive one? Is it better handled by the priest’s bishop or by a distant bureaucrat who alone decides how many other people are going to be involved in the process? It is my contention that by creating a Sex Czar whose office is not beholden to the normal legal procedures, we are incentivizing priests who are struggling with sexual sins to go further underground, to not come forward and seek help.

Perhaps it might be good to ask what causes this misconduct? It is my contention that most all Orthodox jurisdictions have created scenarios or ennable parochial dysfunctions to continue, all of which can break a man. We will explore these further in Part III.


  1. George,

    The OCA Chancellor recently reported to the MC and Synod, that most of his time is taken up by “sexual misconduct” cases, and thus the apparent need for the Sex Czar.

    But it has also been reported that these “many cases” (no actual number has been shared) also include the OCA staff going back to cases that have already been closed and or settled by the Church. Now this may increase the number cases that the Chancellor is “dealing” with but my question is, if a case is closed and or settled, why is the OCA going back and looking at them again? Would that not open the OCA to potential legal ramifications?

    I would hate to think this whole Sex Czar thing is another high-priced OCA witch hunt? We all know too well the last one focused on just one former Chancellor cost the OCA millions of dollars.

    • DC Indexman says

      Amos — It seems that you have a fair amount of historical knowledge about the OCA central office and the DOS as well. Too you seem to have a grasp on up to date activities at Syosset and hands on knowledge of OCA policy and procedures. Wouldn’t you be well qualified to give the Chancery a helping hand with advice and support and help them to improve. Can you see yourself helping them and getting them past some of their problems?

  2. What the church needs is better human formation of its clergy. This needs to be done in seminary. We also need psychological evaluations on all candidates for the seminary and another test done prior to their ordination. I would also suggest a revamping of the entire seminary formation program to include an evaluation, academic, spiritual, psychological, and pastor each year along the entire length of the seminary program.

    Seminaries exist to train future priests not theologians. We need to spend time working on formation and proper pastoral duties rather than the utter nonsense that goes on at some seminaries now.

    Recently the National Herald reported on a case of a 50 year old married seminarian getting himself sexually involved with a teenage girl at Holy Cross in Brookline. Were the local authorities contacted? Was the man’s bishop apprised of the situation? What of the girl, is she receiving any sort of counseling because of this crime?

    I would be interested to know what will become of this or will it be swept under the rug like all the rest.

    • Ivan Vasiliev says

      Some very interesting comments, Father Peter,

      You seem to be a relatively young priest. Did you receive any training/psychological evaluation either at seminary or before ordination? Did they even mention such things during the three years plus of your Orthodox seminary education? If so, have you found the process helpful in your own pastoral formation? It would be good to hear from someone who has actually received and benefited from these things.

      Also, does your own diocese (Romanian OCA?) have a competent person to administer and evaluate tests? I’m wondering if any diocese in the OCA has a regular policy of doing these things. I know that a number of Protestant groups do, the Episcopal Church being one of them. While homosexuality is rampant there, one doesn’t hear much in the way of abuse scandals coming out of that group. Perhaps, in spite of their many failures in the realm of moral theology, they could teach us something about the psychological evaluation of candidates to the priesthood. Just because they are wrong about so many things, doesn’t mean they can’t be right about something!

      It is even more distressing to hear about the seminarian (how awful, 50 years old and involved with a teen age girl…one wonders about the emotional traumas and problems she must have been suffering with to be enticed by a man so much older than she in the first place and what dereliction of duties on the part of the seminary/camp/ whatever that could have allowed “space” for such behavior! It is even more dreadful if this case involved forcible rape. It really is unbearable to learn that our churches are literally crammed with such perverts. I’m beginning to think that proportionally there must be a far greater number among us Orthodox in America than just about any other group! How did this happen? And why isn’t it making the news more?)

      Do you think that seminaries such as St. Vladimir’s and Holy Cross should be disbanded in favor of the St. Tikhon’s/ St. Herman’s model? They have the reputation for being less concerned with “theology” and more concerned with pastoral formation (as does Holy Trinity/Jordanville. Perhaps all higher theological academic training ought to occur in the more stable and traditional Orthodox homelands?

      I’m very glad you shared your thoughts here, Father. From the articles you’ve written elsewhere, I can only imagine what a vibrant community you must be leading in Southbridge, Massachusetts. I’ve heard some great things about the Albanian Orthodox parish there from a friend of mine (in ROCA) who has gone there while visiting family in Connecticut. I will have to ask him to stop by and see you. If I were closer, I would love to visit such a dynamic place. Is the monastery located nearby? It is good to know that there are modern, forward thinking clergy among us who are also deeply traditional and “whole”.

      • Thank you for your words. I have received training is psychology and counseling but it was after seminary. My formation came during my time at the Roman Seminary I attended whilst I was a Romanian Greek Catholic Seminarian. The formation program at Holy Cross, where I was a student, has no such program as far as I know. There is the spiritual father program but I have to ask what kind of training the spiritual fathers have? Just because you have been a priest forever does not mean you are a spiritual father. The gifts come from the Holy Spirit but one needs training as well.

        When I applied to the seminary (Roman catholic) I was sent to the Danielson Institute at Boston University. They specialize in these types of evaluations and I am sure there are others as well. I would suggest it is not anyone connected to the diocese that the person is applying from. Perhaps the seminary could have someone that they use but it needs to be contracted and not part of the seminary.

        As far as them being disbanded, I believe there is a place for both types of seminaries but all of them need to focus more on the pastoral role of the students as that is what they will be doing a majority of the time. I received an excellent theological education at Holy Cross, and my pastoral education at the Roman Seminary so I feel I did well. Most of what I learned I learned by making mistakes and asking others. Unfortunately that is what usually happens.

        I am not trying to be overly critical here just stating what I think needs to happen in the modern church. Just because someone feels that they are called to priesthood does not mean they should be ordained. Their vocation needs to be tested. It’s not just about learning chant and Greek it needs to be about the proper formation of men to be authentic teachers of the faith. This is not easy but nothing in the Church is or should be easy.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Fr, I’ve been toying with a radical idea for about a year now. I’m leaning to the position that priests should have training in pastoral care over and above knowing theological intricacies. I know we need good academies and good academics. Somebody needs to know why Tertullian and Origen are fruitful for study but not saints; the difference between Nestorianism and Monophysitism, etc. But the level of brokenness out there demands that priest-confessors should have way more grounding in pastoral formation.

          I’m talking true spiritual fatherhood here. Parish priests who can take sabbaticals to established monasteries (and who are compensated for doing so).

          • o Hamartolos says

            I’m no anti-clericalist, but I think we definitely place too much power, trust, confidence, etc., in the hands of one man, at the parish level. That has led to many of the problems we are facing in terms of pastoral failure. The days of holy elders, alas, is not here. Lord, hasten the day, but right now, our land is bereft of them, save a handful. Nevertheless, we almost treat our priests as if they were elders. I’ve said this before, but I see the monastery as a healthy model for the role of the priest in the life of the parish.

            In a monastery there are many priests. In smaller monasteries you have fewer; in a larger, more. But, those priest monks are not only priests, they are often bakers, bee keepers, gardeners, iconographers, etc. In short, they have common jobs that contribute to the livelihood of the community. The bulk of the monasteries revenues do not go in sustaining these priests. What comes in is invested in other aspects of the community.

            Monasteries are able to have a rich liturgical life because several priests take turns at liturgizing. In smaller monasteries, the liturgical life suffers when there are few priests, but the other “material” duties must be kept up in order for the monastery to function.

            Applying that to the parish, this is what it could look like. (please no stones, but if you must go ahead).
            In a small community of 20 or fewer families you could have 2 or 3 priests who work full time as “tent makers”. They DO NOT receive an income from the parish, instead they contribute to it by including their tithe from their labors into the pot. They share all of the liturgical/pastoral/teaching ministries of the community. The money that that save by not having to pay a full time salary can be invested in building programs, outreach programs, feeding the poor, providing financial assistance to community members who have fallen on hard times so that they do not have to receive a handout form uncle sam, etc.

            How do you get three priests for a small community? Here’s an idea. After a community has been established, members begin to tithe and in their budget they budget in a priests salary that is really used to pay for one of their own to go to seminary. When that person gets back, another is sent and is paid for in the same way. The first priest works and at first liturgical life is very simple and perhaps limited since he must work outside of the church. After the second priest arrives, if the community wants, a third is sent. The second works full time outside of the church, contributes financially, and more liturgical/pastoral/teaching opportunities are made available. AFter the third priest comes back, he too works full time outside of the church, contributes, and shares in the liturgical/pastoral/teaching ministry of the priests.

            Then, the money that has been used to pay for seminary can now be used to build a church. If a priest’s total package per year amounts to about 45-55K, a community can put that money into a building fund. Imagine 45-55 K per year being saved up! Imagine the churches, the ministries, the outreach, the impact a parish can have!

            Instead, many of our smaller parishes are barely making it month to month, building projects collecting dust, etc.

            I’m sure current priests would not go for this. I understand that there is a great deal of pastoral work outside of liturgizing. But, couldn’t 3 priests distribute the work load so that it all get’s done? Do we have to place all of the responsibility on one set of shoulders? I don’t think so, and if some are willing to give up a little prestige that goes along with being “THE” priests and share it with others, then we could really see some sustained growth in our parishes.

            • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

              No stones thrown from me. I think there is tremendous merit to what you propose. In fact, this plan is very similar to what I had once envisioned for our mission parish. By the providence of God, a small group of faithful and I, planted a mission; an outgrowth of a military ministry on a nearby Army post. As I had full-time employment I was hopeful that as the mission grew it would be able to save up what they would have paid me in salary and benefits and in short order purchase a parcel of land and begin to build. As I am near retirement from the military, I would have been able to continue as priest to the community (a community to which I had already been priest for 12 years as an Army chaplain) upon retirement and still not need to receive an income from the mission; again funds which could be applied to ministry in fulfillment of our Lord’s Gospel commands. Well, it was a thought. Evenso, upon completion of my active duty time, I plan to enter the classroom to teach – probably middle school/ high school math, social studies. I look forward to continuing active in the life of our parish and trust I can help to lighten the load of our full-time priest.

            • Michael Bauman says

              I doubt it is the priests you would have to convince. You seem to be forgetting the bishops in all of this. Some bishops are quite content to leave priests in a parish for a substantial period of time; others, not so much. What if a need came up somewhere else and the bishop transfered one of the priests who the parish had sent to seminary? Would the parish be compensated?

              We are don’t have a congragational polity. I think that your suggestion (or something like it) would only work if we have more bishops (well formed, pastoral bishops) who were actually diocesan bishops in smaller dioceses. That way no priest could be transfered out of the diocese without the consent of his bishop. What would be the role of the diaconate in all of this? What type of seminary are you thining of, an acedemic one or a pastoral one or both?

              Of course, having diocesan bishops is a threat to those who want control over a centralized administration (which is not part of our polity either).

              • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

                I’ve wondered for sometime if bishops as they are needed and described in many blog entries even exist. Sure we can look back in history and identify some truly gifted bishops in the Church, but I think that even these are the exception rather than the rule. This of course does not mean we cease prayerfully pursuing the objective of “well formed, pastoral bishops” but realize that the center of gravity for all things salvific and spiritual is the parish. As long as the bishop is a believer, moral, ethical and able to administrate, then let’s get on with living the life of Christ within the community He has placed us. In days gone by, I can’t honestly say any community to which I was pastor was truly benefited by an episcopal visit when you consider the price tag attached to each episcopal visit – bishop, deacon, subdeacons; almost need to conduct a mini-festival to raise enough money for a visit. I concur with my brother priest Fr. Peter Preble in his comment posted below – “…we need more monasteries, stable monasteries with stable authentic confessors and spiritual fathers.” Clergy and parish life will be best served via a vibrant, living connection with a thriving monastery. As a young priest I had ready recourse to St. Tikhon’s monastery for three years; it was a blessing to me then and sorely missed by me in the years I was too far away geographically to benefit from the blessed life exercised in that place. Was the monastery without its struggles, temptations and sin? No, but I always experienced the grace of God, tangibly, in that place. I was the better for having had recourse to the monastery, and I must say a much more effective priest.

                • I am confused. It was my understanding that a bishop’s main job was taking care of the priests under him. The visits are just desert no?

                  • Monk James says

                    The bishop (according to my spiritual father, who was an archbishop) is esponsible for the salvation of everyone in his eparchy. That’s why he’s called episkopos (‘supervisor, overseer’).

                    Certainly, the overseer (bishop) must be a shepherd (pastor) not only of his people, but also and especially of his designated ‘elders’ (priests) in every parish within his responsibility, who act in his stead on the local level when he must be elsewhere.

                    It’s a good thing for our bishops to visit the local parishes as frequently as possible, especially for their patronal feasts, and for them to get to know their priests and their families intimately, and all their people, too.

                    The bishop shouldn’t be a stranger among the people God gave him to lead and guide toward salvation.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Fr, forgive me, but the situation you describe is because we have too few bishops who are too centralized and too removed from their people with too many aides . It is not as it should be. The parish can never be all that it can be without a solid connection with their bishop.

                  I am blessed to worship in a cathedral parish with an exceptional bishop who is the sacramental authority of our life even when he is not there. As a result we also have fine priests.

                  My bishop was an able pastor for many years before being elected and consecrated (to everyone’s surprise) as a bishop. He looks upon his priests as his parish. He pastors them so that they may pastor us. He has a hierodeacon who travels with him and that is it. Both live a monastic life and are looking to expand the number of brother monks and build a true monastary as an essential part of the life of the cathedral parish and a resource for his entire diocese. All of us under his leadership do whatever we can to support and assist the smaller parishes in our diocese financially and spiritually because we remember what it was like to be on our own.

                  His love for us is palpable and every contact I have with him is a blessing that leaves me longing for more. I know that most under his charge feel the same way.

                  Despite the fact that his diocese is physically quite large with many small parishes he tries to connect with them and visit them on a regular basis without unnecessarily burdening them. How else is he to know what his priests need and how best to serve them. He is an humble, prayful man who takes seriously his task to ‘rightly divide the word of truth’. He is not afraid to be a loving disciplinarian when the need arises.

                  Perhaps it is because he is a genuine monastic that he is also such an effective bishop–in that I can agree with you. That is what I had in mind when I mentioned pastoral bishops who are well formed spiritually.

                  The episcopal visits need not be like the visits of a king to their feudal vassels. They should come to serve, not be served. It saddens me when I see and hear sentiments such as you express. You feel compelled to offer the rabbi’s prayer from Fiddler on the Roof: God bless and keep the bishop…..far away from us. I understand that too.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Michael, your bishop is indeed a blessing your diocese. Every time I have been in his presence (5 or 6 times the past 10 or so years), I have been incredibly blessed.

                  • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

                    You are truly blessed indeed; may God multiply what you describe and experience for my/our repentance and salvation. Thanks.

                  • Monk James says

                    Who is the bishop referenced here?

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      His Grace Bishop Basil of Wichita

                    • Monk James says

                      Michael Bauman says (June 21, 2012 at 8:17 am):

                      ‘His Grace Bishop Basil of Wichita’

                      Ah! THAT explains a lot!
                      God grant him many years!

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Fr, you’re definately on to something here. Personally, I think if more of our bishops were true monks, that is living in a monastery (and we had more monasteries), then it would be a win-win-win for all concerned. We could then have more episcopal visits, from monk-bishops who wish to visit, worship and fellowship in the various churches of their dioceses, and not from distant potentates having to be put up in the Ritz-Carlton.

                  Under such a regime, the hosting of his entourage would be of minimal cost.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Michael, I fervently believe that things will get better when we have more bishops and smaller dioceses. Smaller in both geography as well as demography.

                For example, Texas has 70+ Orthodox churches. That’s enough for five bishops, which would be needed for that size of state. What we have now in Oklahoma for instance, is three overlapping jurisdictions. One which encompasses the Old South (OCA) and two which go from the Rio Grande to the Canadian border (GOA, AOCNA). It is unconscionable to expect a bishop to pastor these massive areas alone. That alone would break a serious man.

              • o Hamartolos says

                Well, I think priests and deacons can form “teams” so that they can rotate liturgical duties. I have the wives and children of the priests and deacons in mind here. One full time priest, whether he is working or not, is not a good situation for the family. They often get left out in the lurch. Having 2 or 3 teams of priests and deacons would allow young priests with family to still worship with them in the nave, giving them an opportunity to still be an example of church etiquette as well as contributing their fair share to wrangling them when necessary.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              O Amartolos. You have hit upon a brillilant idea! The pool of candidates for parish assistants must include spiritually mature men of middle age who are fairly well-set in their finances and desire to merely assist in the liturgical functions (of which more are needed) as well as hospital visits.

              The idea of putting it all on one 26 year old MDiv is a horrible one. We expect them to be glorified cruise directors/fundraisers.

              • Monk James says

                Yes, but this is why God made deacons.

                It’s our collective and historical fault that deacons have largely lost their original ministry of social service, first identified by our Lord Jesus Christ’s apostles when they said that they (the apostles) must devote themselves to teaching rather than to running banks.

                We must recover this ministry of the deacons (and deaconesses) rather than let them (the men, anyway) be no more than glorified acolytes.

                I’m all for liturgic solemnity, but each of the three orders of the priesthood must have both a ritual and a practical expression apart from the services.

                • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                  it’s not my fault, collectively or historically.
                  Where may we find our Lord Jesus Christ’s Holy Apostles saying that they (the Holy Apostles) must devote themselves to teaching rather than running banks? Is there some fine point in the Holy Apostle Paul’s or Peter’s or Luke’s or John’s or Mark’s Greek which makes it impossible for anyone but a grind of the Greek language to see they spoke of banking?
                  Deacons ran interference for the Bishops, doling out the dole to the poor and widows, and distributing food at the Agapes and so on. Our Deacons and Archdeacons are not to be mocked as “glorified acolytes,” because they are much more than that.
                  Serving and helping at the Eucharist and the other services where all the Faithful glorify God is BY ITSELF praiseworthy.
                  What we need to hear from Monk James is how unordained monastics can recover their original ministry, devoting themselves to teaching the untaught through their own lives rather than haranguing the choir.
                  I’m sure it comforts someone to learn that someone is “all for liturgical solemnity”, but against posturing which places the posturer above and outside those who are solemnizing.
                  What a Lutheran attitude toward “the services!”
                  Who needs :”a ritual?” Sounds like a cultural anthropological view of glorifying God in Church….”rituals!”

                  • o Hamartolos says

                    Your Grace, I’m not sure I understood your first paragraph. ARe you saying the scripture does not prohibit priests from being “tentmakers” or that it does prohibit priests from holding down “secular” employment?

                • George Michalopulos says

                  very well said, Monk James

                • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

                  I believe that we must return to the practice of not ordaining men as priests until age 30.It’s in the Canons and for good reason.I was woefully unprepared and spiritually immature when I accepted the priesthood some two months before my 25th birthday,after 3 months as a deacon.Had I served as a deacon for those five years,things would have been better for me,my family,and certainly for those first two parishes I served.
                  As for what to do with married candidates for ordination who have not reached age 30,I say let them remain deacons and serve in some cathedral or large parish that could give them at least partial support.It wouldn’t be a bad idea to encourage them to develop some career while serving this “apprenticeship” period, so as to have something to fall back on,should the need arise.
                  Also,this concept of “tag teams” is flawed because the priest,deacon,yes,even the subdeacon is ordained,is set apart,for service at Gods Altar.God knows none of us who has thus been set apart is worthy of standing before the Holy Altar,but unless the cleric has been suspended from serving or deposed,that is his place.My current deacon suffered from a previous rector,who sometimes was not in the mood to serve with a deacon.He would tell Fr.Deacon,”Go out and stand with your wife,” or somesuch thing,if he felt so inclined.Unless I recieved specific direction from the bishop or unless a serious canonical objection were to arise(in which case the bishop would have to be made aware anyways),I wouldn’t presume to restrict a lawfully ordained deacon from concelebration.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Fr Alexei, I very much appreciate your insights, which appear spot on. The habit of ordaining 25 year olds right out of school as priests I believe was necessitated by the extreme shortage of priests at one time. Like so many other things wrong about the recent past, we need to rethink and if necessary, repudiate, a lot of what was normative in the past.

              • o Hamartolos says

                I think financial stability is a must. A proven history of steady and solid support of the parish is a must. This can only be determined by the parish. The parish must search from among its own and find the most worthy to send off to seminary. The way its done now a days where young men “feel” a calling, go to seminary, then rack up thousands in debt, is very confusing. It reminds me very much of the “preacher boy” phenomenon found among rural evangelicals.

            • Don’t remember where this was posted before. OCANews? I read essentially this same proposal (but from a differing posting name). I am not “throwing stones” if I observe that I have been in parishes where the priest worked full-time in addition to being the parish priest. This is too stressful for the priest, and too stressful for the parishioners. The former tends to sacrifice his own health and wellbeing because he knows he is responsible before God for the flock given him to tend. The latter tend to refrain from seeking spiritual help from the priest because, especially if they hold him in regard and affection, they do not wish to encroach on his greatly diminished family- and/or personal life

              Nor would I care to be in a parish with more than two priests. Things often are bad enough with two, especially when one selfishly seeks authority over the other one and/or foments parish rivalries. A peace-loving parishioner can become pulled to pieces with pointless suffering from such a situation. Thus the thought of three priests simultaneously serving in a small parish (the example offered) triggers severe discomfort. Human nature is what it is. There would be factionalism and cafeteria-style pastoral leadership. (not what I could call parish leadership, to be candid) Again, I speak of parishes composed of laypeople, not of monasteries (where multiple priests can reside).

              My own preference, based on life experience, is the “fission model” (think amoeba) according to which when a parish reaches a predetermined “critical threshold” of size and financial health, a “daughter mission” spins off. One priest per parish in most cases, with full-time dedication to the parish.

              As for “elder worship”, a priest of sound spiritual mind/heart does not tolerate this contemporary form of spiritual illness among his parishioners.

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                No, Antonia. “Elder worship” may exist among Christians even if they are headed by a Priest of sound spiritual mind and heart. A well=known saying is that if one goes out into the forest and finds a tree stump and puts a kamilavka atop it, there will be, two weeks later, a crowd of emotional followers crowding around the stump.
                It is not down-to-earth, it is pessimistic and unbecoming to find it unimaginable that two or three Priests cannot serve together in one parish. They can and do. The first time I heard this sort of talk was from a very young Greek priest. When he heard that there were three priests and a deacon serving in a Metropolia parish, he said, “Oh, that’s terrible, Whenever there’s a second priest he always ends up undermining the Dean.” I was only a Deacon at the time, but I told him, ‘No, Father, I think you’re just full of it. Not all priests are alike except in their being called by the Church to serve.
                Metropolitan parishes (and not just episcopal cathedrals) in Russia, in Kiev, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Riazan, Novgorod, Smolensk, Kharkov, Odessa, Yaroslavl, etc., etc., have had large priestly staffs for centuries. The Russian Church produced clouds of witnesses from a Church which did not believe in “methodism” (the American idea that there is a method to solve anything, including the problem of spreading the Gospel and assisting as God builds up the Church). There’s no “template” for a parish Church which has boundaries or treats them like some kind of ecclesiastical Bon-Sai that needs to be trimmed in order to grow beautifully.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Your Grace, you have touched upon an unfortunate bias that used to be rampant in the GOA and perhaps in other jurisdictions as well but my primary knowledge was GOA. And that was the deep insecurity of priests, especially in regards to having assistants and even deacons. The reason being the fear of rivalries and undermining.

                  The problem with this is that while this guarantees the financial status of the priest (all things being equal), it places inordinate and unfair burdens on that one priest. He has to be no only liturgician, but counsellor, youth director, publicist, editor for the bulletin, etc. No man can be all these things and execute them competently. And watch out when he slips up! There’s hell to pay. I know of GOA priests who have been removed because they pissed off antagonistic members of the parish council because of trivial slip-ups having to do with the festival.

                  Anyway, I trust that this “me-only” mentality in the GOA has abated somewhat, at least I hope so.

                • I did not say that [“elder worship] does not exist in situations where the priest does not invite it. Rather, I intended to convey that a sound priest would not tolerate it. Seems that I have to be overly-explicit and include that the priest would be actively working to eradicate such a mindset.

                  Nor did I say that priests cannot work together in harmony and effectively. I did not imply that they never can.

                  Careful reading of posts and refraining from imputing non-present ideas is essential to message boards.

                  • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                    Antonia, neither did I say that elder worship (with or without incomprehensible parens and unbalanced quotation marks) “does not exist in situations where the priest does not invite it.” What an idea!!! You misquoted me, i did not misquote you.

                    You seem to be saying, after a careful re-reading of your latest message, Antonia, that being a sound priest means being benevolent but controlling? (Just trying to read carefully!)
                    “Eradicate” a mindset? How does a Priest eradicate mindsets?(Your terms, Antonia, not mine.) Is mindset-eradicating like brainwashing?

                    Careful reading is good. Without careful writing to read, though, it’s a waste of time.
                    “What CAN be misunderstood WILL be misunderstood” is a good guideline for proofreading one’s own essays.
                    I don’t believe I’ve done any imputing of “non-present” ideas; however “refraining from wrongful imputations”, such as the wrongful imputation in your first sentence above, is NOT essential to message boards. Only messages are essential to message boards.

              • o Hamartolos says

                The situation is describe is sad and unfortunate and scandalous. There was nothing in Christian in that situation. But, my suggestion calls for the parish to choose from among their own men they know and trust. The unfortunate situation you describe was caused by an outsider coming in and being foisted upon the faithful. Three priests, well known to the faithful, would be less likely to fight among themselves, especially if before becoming priests they had labored together as lay men.

                You are absolutely right, Antonia, about a full time priest also working full time is a recipe for disaster. Again, the solution is more hands. A full time priest who does not work outside of home, cannot also help the matushka wrangle the kids in the middle of service. He cannot take a rowdy child outside for a break, he cannot hold a crying baby so mom can get a break. A completely full time priest with a family has its own sets of problems.

                3 priests and 3 deacons, chosen from among their own communities, can work together in teams to manage all of the liturgical and pastoral needs of the community. They can also do it without taking a dime from the parish. On the contrary, they can each contribute their tithe from their own labors.

                It it an awkward situation to be in where a priest’s salary makes up more than 50% of the churches revenues, especially when parishioners are loosing jobs, are unemployed, or are living pay check to pay check. The laborer is worthy of his hire, but it is still just awkward.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  But, o Harmartolos, such a thing as you suggest is just not ‘professional’ enough.

                  Seriously, I worship in a large, vibrant parish that is financially well off and, unfortuantely only three of our own have been ordained in the life of the parish (over 75 years). All in the last 10 years. Each was sent away to serve somewhere else almost immediately upon ordination. Two of them because their wives were the principal bread winners and they needed to be elsewhere for their jobs. We have two priests and a couple of dedicated sub-deacons. The priests get along quite well normally because if they don’t,if for no other reason, the bishop would yank their chains.

                  A parish cannot just decide to do these things. We are not congregational in our ecclesiology They must be done with the blessing and support of your bishop. The more centralized the jurisdiction is, the less likely such a plan would ever come to fruition. The more actual dioceses we have that are smaller so that the bishops can be closer, the more likely.

                  It is sad that more of us do not experience the blessing of a good an faithful bishop and the importance of them. It is worse that more of them don’t seem to realize their own real importance.

                  Maybe, if we ever overcome the inertia and bad-faith and all become really self-ruled we can have that.

                  • o Hamartolos says

                    I think bishops, some of them, are reasonable. If a parish told the diocese that it was willing to send a family off to seminary and pay for their education on the condition that they come back and serve in their community, then maybe the bishop would honor the intentions and efforts of the community and allow it. If he would not, then the diocese should be willing to pay for the seminarian’s education. A parish can’t be expected to foot the nearly $100K investment and get nothing in return. An individual family can’t be expected to foot the nearly $100K education and get no say at all about where they will be placed. If a diocese completely pays for a family’s education, then they do indeed have the moral authority to ship the family wherever it likes.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Many bishops are reasonable, but the various systems by which a candidate for the priesthood is identified, trained, ordained and placed seem to be based on overall need.

                      Of course, having the diocese or arch-diocese pay for the education is not a panacea.

                      To me it is a real problem that so called higher education is so expensive.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  I like what you’re saying here. I’ve always thought that there was nothing wrong with several priests and deacons serving in the same church. And dividing their times accordingly so that a fuller cycle of services can be offered.

          • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

            George this is not a radical idea. Pastoral formation is not mutually exclusive to a strong theological education, but I too agree that the theological education must serve as the foundation to an intentional pastoral formation, not serve as an end in itself. As Fr. Dahulich, now Bishop Michael, used to say – people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. As a priest for almost 19 years I’ve been blessed to see how the grace of God can take the sometimes feeble efforts of a priest extended to those in spiritual need and cause such spiritual, salvific healing – genuine spiritual transformation; something very unique as compared to “help” applied via other means.

            When God caused me to respond to His call to the ministry so many years ago in my youth I entertained heady notions of teaching theology; you see, I didn’t really like people. Over the years as grace continues to work in my life, I cannot envision being anything other than a priest/pastor to God’s people. I’ve been blessed by the academic (does not necessarily mean devoid of spiritual verve) works of many gifted men and women, but for me I no longer envision “teaching” in an academic environment but rather ask God to further refine me to be a priestly vessel for His healing grace.

          • George,

            I agree! What we need here in the American Church are more monasteries, stable monasteries with stable authentic confessors and spiritual fathers. The church is at its best when the parish and the monastery exists together. We need more monasteries that are supported by the faithful.

            • Ivan Vasiliev says

              Father which monastery did you belong to before you took on the parish priesthood? Was is here or abroad? And how did your abbot feel about you being called to serve in a parish? In Russia it wasn’t encouraged for monks to leave the monastery to serve parishes, but there they have the advantage of having seminaries (and Theological Academies) to prepare a sufficient number of priests for the regular parishes. It is so different here. It must be very difficult to be both a monastic and a pastor to a regular parish. Are you the head of your monastery, or, do you have an abbot? I imagine that having the support of your fellow monks at the monastery is a huge help to you as the pastor of the church. Are the monastery and the Church located far apart?

              There has been quite a ruckus about the “Ephraimites” lately, how are the monks in your community dealing with this? So many “monks” seem to be “at large” (I almost used the term “rogue”) without any real connection to a monastic establishment or sufficient episcopal oversight. I think this creates a lot of the problem we have in this country. On the other hand, the “established” communities (witness the above-mentioned “Ephraimites”) seem to be having difficulties.

              • I was priest and pastor before becoming a monk. The monastery here is just getting started so I am alone and yes it is difficult. I have great support from the monks at St. Tikhon as well as from the parishioners who gather with me most days for prayer. I think this is a model we need to look at more here in the US. Yes it is difficult, but it is worth it as well.

            • I agree, it would be wonderful to have more stable monasteries in the US.
              Some of the difficulties seem to go like this.
              1. It isn’t easy to find cheap land in an area that one can have group living zoning, but still in an area where habitation, is really possible.
              2. Monastic life is not “set up” by “the church”. A blessing is given by a Bishop, and some guidance and then it is the hands of God whether it thrives. It’s not a “life style choice” or a job description. We want more HOLY people is a fine desire….. but that takes great time and just the right person. It not just a plan of action.
              3. Roughly, 95% of those that think they have a “calling” leave the monastery in less than a year.
              It Isn’t an easy life. I am sure they all benefit from the time spent. But Male and Female monastics are not a dime a dozen.
              4. Getting a monk educated as a priest for the monastery is a blurry situation and is handle a lot of different ways.
              5. On this Web site, there seems to be no reference ever to how things are done in Female monasteries that do not have priests. Does it ruin their formation as Holy mothers? No. Spiritual formation and repentance is a process aided by a spiritual father or mother who has hopefully all ready attained such a gift. You can’t buy it at a college.
              Just sayin….

              • You are making a few assumptions here. one is that traditional old world monasticism can work here in America, I am not so sure it can. What wrong with a large house in a city where the monks live, work, and pray. This can be easily done and if there is a church or churches that can support them even better.

                What we are trying to establish here, with the blessing of the bishop, is to establish a monastery centered around a local church. The priests would serve the local parish as the monks would with a full round of monastic services. We also have several social programs here where we feed and care for the poor not only with food but in counseling and other such ministries that can easily be done by monastics.

                You’re right that many leave after a year or so in the monastery, that is what is called discernment. Once does not really know if one s truly called to monastic life until one truly lives it. This is not unusual even in the old country.

                We need the ability to think outside the box here. We need authentic monasteries here in USA but they do not necessarily have to be based on old world models. Our parishes are not that is for sure.

                • Thank you Fr.
                  But I have no experience with “old World monasticism only the American variety. Your suggestions while visionary sort of extend the fantasy of Monks who do not have to provide for themselves.
                  A place in any major city costs as much as a place in the country. So where does the money come from? You seem to have a vision(correct or otherwise) that “the church or a local parish will provide that piece of property and that somehow that’s a given.
                  Then you go on to say, how these various monks in the midst of their own formation will provide counseling and food to the poor.
                  if the monks have no money how are they going to provide these services to the poor?
                  Don’t you believe monks need food and have mortgages.
                  I know in an idealistic world there is no competition. But my experience and observation is that even local parishes get real greedy and protective of “their incomes and don’t want to share.
                  As ugly, as that is, it is why monks earn their living by the “work of their own hands”
                  Often times folks who have a vision of an easy life supported by “the faithful” it’s not what monasticism is all about , old world or new.
                  Every monastery wants to do good work, but their first job is their prayer life and that often means double shifts every day. Unless you have a plan for your mortgage and a big visa account for your groceries you are living a dream that while just too wonderful for words is very difficult to attain. Monasteries, are monasteries not funded social workers. That’s a job description or a life style.
                  Sorry, but I have noticed most of the “rogue monks not attached to a monastery ALWAYS want to set up their own or live in an apartment rather than submit themselves to the rigors of obedience
                  and all the lack of ego stuff that goes with that.
                  Salvation is a process, it is always surprising to me how many of these folks think they are ready to lead if only someone will write a check for their vision ahead of the suffering.
                  God Bless and go forth, just do it, and don’t ask for all the attention or help.
                  God will provide if it is right.

                • This model corresponds to much of contemporary Roman Catholic “monasticism” and is compatible with that religious body’s penchant for social activism. Early Christian monastics “left the world” in order to focus on God. Those “left behind” continued to provide the support (“good works”) for society. For the most part, Orthodox monasticism adheres to its roots. I often have wondered whether the Roman Catholic style of monasticism, with members nearly indistinguishable from people around them, destroyed or, at best, radically diluted its spiritual strength. Mother Maria Skobtsova’s life was an extreme exception, rather than a norm to implement. (In no way does that observation diminish her devotion to God nor undervalue her Christian martyrdom.)

                  • StephenD says

                    My greatgrandmother and grandmother used to tell me stories of Mother Maria sitting in the cafes of Paris in her habit smoking cigarettes and drinking pernod. Of coarse during this time she was also hiding Jews and helping refugees escape.She brought a Jewish girl to my greatgrandmothers apartment and said “be Christ to this child” and they hid her until the underground could get her away.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Stephen, you better not let that guy who did a hatchet job on Fr Gerasim read this about Mother Maria. “Smoking cigarettes and drinking Pernod” in Parisian cafes? Wasn’t she divorced too? Next you’ll be telling me that Jesus hung out with prostitutes and tax-collectors.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Faceit, thank you for raising some important points. I find nothing wrong with inquirers leaving after only a year. Maybe they needed a year to live, work, and pray. Out of four trips I’ve made to a monastery, I think I may have spent a total of 2 weeks at most. It wasn’t near enough and it certainly whetted my appetite for more.

                • Thank you George, i also never said nor meant to imply that there is anything wrong with anyone or the process of discernment that goes with working in a monastery until one knows.
                  Be it a year, or two or more.
                  My point was, that very FEW become long term monks and that means spiritual leaders from the ranks ( and full formation) are hard to come by.
                  I was most annoyed on another thread of the blog, that the person Amos actually asked if Fr. Gerasim who spent 27 years in a monastery was a “man of God” and was he more interested in himself or God.?
                  Please let us have Amos’s credentials to sainthood?
                  I wanted to hit him upside the head like an old nanny! ” Whad ya just say child”

                  • Faceit,

                    You are totally misrepresenting my comments here. I never asked it Fr gerasim was a
                    “man of God” nor did I suggest he was not. If asking about his time at Platina has now become off limits, when did that line of questioning become verboten?If you would actually read and understand my postings on that topic I inferred nothing. The fact that there are people who would like him to bring clarity to that question and period in his life is not a bad thing. Who else can do it but him? As for calling me a child or your desire to hit me upside the head says more about you than me. Why don’t you just chill out and stop acting like someone scorned.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      What, exactly, Amos, would you like to know “about his time at Platina?” What’s the point? Don’t you want to know about his time before he became Orthodox? Before he made his most recent confession? Or what about his time at SVS? Did he have any “renovationist” teachers? How much importance does he ascribe to their renovationist tendencies? Was he aware of any perverse behavior by other students or even faculty during his matriculation there? Do you want him to tell you, Amos, the answer to these question: “Tell ME, Father Gerasim, for MY personal satisfaction what you think of former Abbot Herman. And I want DETAILS before I can trust you?” What did Abbot Herman teach you about the OCA? Do you or do you not agree with that? What do you think of the Holy Order of MAANS? Of Metropolitan Pangratios?”
                      Don’t you think, Amos, that since going with the Monastery under the Omophorion of the Serbian Bishop he has not been asked such questions ad nauseam? Don’t you think there were paranoid students who put to him the same questions you now want to put to him for yourself? Why, Amos, don’t you trust the clergy of the Serbian Church and the faculty and students of SVS (where he graduated as Valedictorian of his class and summa cum laude?
                      Know what, Amos? None of us can be trusted. Fact. I can’t be trusted. Don’t you think enough is known about Father Gerasim, not to trust HIM, but to trust GOD about him?
                      By now, I have to say that if I were Father Gerasim, I’d tell you what Bush’s VP told that Senator.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Fr Peter, even if the monastery in question isn’t all that close to a parish, there should be monasteries withing a couple of hour’s driving distance from most urban parishes. Just a day’s respite at a monastery can be what a parish priest needs for his own spiritual well-being.

          • Before being ordained to the priesthood, men need to spend some time serving at tables as deacons under parish priests.

            And on a related topic about the seminaries, one more master’s thesis about the Protoevangelion of James or the Shepherd of Hermas and I may explode. Father’s comment above, that the seminary is there to train priests, not theologians, is absolutely right. Besides, theologians, in our tradition, are trained the way everyone else is–by prayer, fasting, and repentance. The theologians are the ones who do those things best–not the people arguing some academic bypoint about some obscure bit of nonsense.

    • M. Stankovich says

      There is a new documentary that questions, “Are all men pedophiles?” And while misusing the term (in psychiatry, referring to a specific attraction to pre-pubescent children) when the presentation is specifically about pubescent but underage girls, the point seems to be emphasized every day, for example, in advertizing, where they dress up the pre-pubescent to appear as adolescent, and in pornography, where they dress down late adolescents to appear as pubescent, and even as pre-pubescent as possible. The argument is that males may be responding to “primordial genetic urges” related to the “propagation of species.” What, in fact, really motivated some southern states to sanction marriage at age 16, and several, with parental consent, as young as 14?

      Secondly, I have interviewed enough sex offenders to describe a group who, being otherwise “stable,” “settled,” with no criminal background or history of antisocial behaviour have told me, “It just happened. I didn’t mean for it happen. I was the adult and I should have stopped it, but I didn’t. Now I’m paying the price.” There have been occasions when these accounts are sorrowful, remorseful, tearful, and difficult for me, as the examiner, to endure; frequently accompanied by reports of divorce, loss of career, loss of parental rights, and so on. For my part, I am only able to verify this is the first time they were caught. On a continuum, these are not the remorseless rationalizations, and even “bragging” of psychopaths, and they make a very different impression.

      Thirdly, establishing a dichotomy between “notional/consensual” misconduct and criminal misconduct is a complete lack of an appreciation for the common dynamic: misuse of a position of authority in order to victimize. I would argue that one cannot “consent” to a relationship with the authority in one’s community, and the one to whom one has “poured out their heart” in Confession. For mental health treatment providers, this is considered the ultimate ethical violation of trust and is intolerable. These sorts of “relationships” are always abusive in that, while at face they may appear “consensual,” and the person of the priest suggests “acceptability,” they are fraught with intimidation, and eventually, terror as to the consequences of exposure.

      So what is my point? I believe there is a pervasive fallacy here: “It can happen. People make mistakes. There but for the Grace of God go I.” And once this fallacy is established, no one reports suspicions because, “He will be defrocked. This will destroy his family. His wife will leave him. He will be shamed and humiliated. What will become of him? But what about all the good he has done?” This is a thinking distortion of significant magnitude! It is not normal for adults to respond sexually to adolescents and it is not normal to respond sexually to a parishioner. I recall a staff meeting where the issue of “overtures” by patients came up, and one colleague, who has a wonderful family, simply said, “It doesn’t happen to me because I’m not available.” So, what can you imagine about a priest who is “counseling” troubled women or children/adolescents, alone, in the church office or his home? Stupid, naive, lucky (so far), or “available?”

      I do not believe there is an examination, test, or structured interview – spiritual or psychological – that could have predicted the outrageous behaviour of the man at Holy Cross. But more importantly, you could never convince me that someone was not suspicious that something was amiss. The Church kicks it with the streets: don’t snitch. Who’d have thought? And this leads me to conclude that whomever assumes this position, in my opinion, surely won’t be paid enough to endure the “scrutiny” that surely is to come. You deserve our prayers.

      • Thirdly, establishing a dichotomy between “notional/consensual” misconduct and criminal misconduct is a complete lack of an appreciation for the common dynamic: misuse of a position of authority in order to victimize. I would argue that one cannot “consent” to a relationship with the authority in one’s community, and the one to whom one has “poured out their heart” in Confession. For mental health treatment providers, this is considered the ultimate ethical violation of trust and is intolerable. These sorts of “relationships” are always abusive in that, while at face they may appear “consensual,” and the person of the priest suggests “acceptability,” they are fraught with intimidation, and eventually, terror as to the consequences of exposure.

        This, of course, is the standard clinical argument to lump everything together and to treat every case as a case of “abuse.” In an Orthodox context, of course, this is impossible. In one sense, everyone is a ‘victim’ of sin, in another sense, everyone stands before God to answer for their actions when they consent to participate in such matters. As I stated previously, what is missing in such an approach is the pastoral dimension, and the prayerful consideration of the archpastor, who has (by statute) ultimate authority in such matters. Without the consideration of the pastoral dimension, without the consideration of repentance, without the consideration of restoration, we cease being the Church.

        So what is my point? I believe there is a pervasive fallacy here: “It can happen. People make mistakes. There but for the Grace of God go I.” And once this fallacy is established, no one reports suspicions because, “He will be defrocked. This will destroy his family. His wife will leave him. He will be shamed and humiliated. What will become of him? But what about all the good he has done?” This is a thinking distortion of significant magnitude!

        These are neither fallacies nor distortions, these are facts. All of these matters involve real people with real lives. People (priests included) DO make mistakes, and in certain circumstances, if handled in a cold and calculating manner, would destroy parishes and families.

        Repentance, healing, and restoration, is clearly not the agenda of those who are driving this matter. This is when we cease to be a Church.

        • M. Stankovich says

          C Mately,

          Enough with the “missing pastoral dimension.” Have I somehow given you the impression I am a veterinarian?

          When I say it is fallacy and distortion to believe “It happens, ” and therefore, “It could happen to me,” I am saying you are lowering the threshold to say it is common: it is neither common nor normal for a bishop to make “an awkward, drunken pass” at a woman in a casino; it is neither common nor normal for a 50 year old man to enter into a sexual relationship with an adolescent in a seminary housing unit; and it is neither common nor normal for a priest to be beating, biting, and screaming obscenities at a woman he is “counseling” because it is “spiritual warfare.” The consequences for these “real people, real life” matters have already resulted in a divided parish and destroyed families. And as near as I can tell, however, and by whomever these matters were “handled,” these three men are solely responsible for the consequences. I’ve read comments praising the “courage” of Tolstoy’s monk for chopping off his own hand, rather than succumb to the seduction of the beautiful woman visiting his cell. My thought: why did you have a beautiful woman in your cell?

          I am interested in you describing what you mean by “repentance, healing, and restoration” that is missing from the sexual misconduct plan. It is noble to assert, but how to manifest?

    • M. Stankovich says

      Fr. Peter,

      What is noticeably absent here are any clarifications – and therefore expectations – of what distinguishes a “pastor” from a pastor not a “theologian,” from a “spiritual father,” from a “pastoral counselor,” from – as you have described – priests having “received training is psychology and counseling” who may or may not be qualified and may or may not be licensed as what we would colloquially refer to as a “therapist” or “psychotherapist.” While it was not always the case, I am presuming that all priests, across all jurisdictions, are “confessors.” And I am further presuming that all this “counseling” activity is accomplished without what I would consider to be the factors responsible for the “best” clinicians in my profession: supervision, consistency of practice, and some form of regulation. Has the presumption that an innate sense of incompetence and humility will prevent “pastors” from over-stepping their capability been realistic or extraordinarily naive?

      I have written here before of Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s dichotomy, “the Cross or the couch,” and those pastors who seem to lack the discernment necessary to determine a presenting person is troubled beyond the need for ἐπιτιμία, increased prayer or more frequent confession alone, or “refractory” (cf. Mat. 9:18ff) to the traditional pastoral approaches. The argument could be made that what is being described on another thread is a young man who brought his acute mental illness to a monastery when he actually needed a psychiatrist. Shouldn’t the dean, or the bishop at least be aware that a priest with no qualification has decided to undertake “pastoral counseling” of a young couple with children where the issue is infidelity?

      Finally, it seems to me that any parish priest will always be confronted with chemical dependency, mental health problems, and family conflict among his flock, therefore I am at a loss as to why a priest, coming into a new community, does not immediately begin a process of assembling resources. And by that I mean personally visiting and personally interviewing agencies and resources to determine they are moral and ethical, and their basic treatment philosophies conform with the teachings of the Church. I cannot tell you the relief and assurance family members have expressed to me when someone tells them, “I know what to do. Call these people. I know them. I’ve met them. They can help you.”

      People will always be reaching out to their “pastor” with the expectation that there will be honest answers and help. It would seem prudent and reasonable to assume that an aspect of the “formation” you describe is allowing the possibility that the “Holy Spirit goes where He wishes,” and sometimes this means utilizing all the resources for healing at our disposal.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Mr. Stankovich. on this I agree with you entirely with no reservations. Don’t have a heart attack.

        • Brian McDonald says


          This is one of the few “LOLs” I’ve had reading Monomakhos posts–especially ones coupling the names of M. Stankovitch and Michael Bauman! Of course if his priest were at hand when this happens, I’m sure the good father would call the appropriate medical emergency personnel–which in a way is Mr. (Dr.?) Stanovitch’s point! And it’s a good one, regardless of which letters he might be entitled to post after his name.

        • another one says

          Mr. Stankovich,

          I would add my applause as well. The complexities of counseling are not taught in seminary and the young priest who ventures out beyond his abilities/training stands to do untold damage to those entrusted to his care.

          A collection of resources that are both competent and hold values consistent with our faith is a vital instrument for anyone dealing with the mental and spiritual ills of a community, but it is especially critical for a parish priest.

      • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

        Is it Mr. or Dr. Stankovich? He leads us to believe here that it’s Dr., but he hasn’t confirmed it. I wish he would for his own sake.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Deacon Mitchell, you are a simple stalker with the apparent “mission” to simply sow divisiveness and ill-will whenever possible. For you to follow me from site to site, completing my every post with your scurrilous “obsessions of the moment,” while quite annoying, is disturbing and shameless. Why not take the high road: pray for me and correct me when I am wrong for my own sake.

          • Michael, I wouldn’t have to stalk you if you had just answered the question the first, second, or third time I asked it on AOI. Why won’t you answer it? What’s so hard about the question? Do you or don’t you have an MD?

            • It appears that Michael Stankovich has misrepresented his professional credentials, claiming to be a medical doctor when he is not one. Asked repeatedly to explain his claim, he refuses to do so.

              • Deacon Patrick, I don’t recall when or how Mr. Stankovich claimed to be a doctor.

                Accusing someone of misrepresenting his professional credentials is a very serious charge.

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  He was asked on AOI by someone (not me) if he should be addressed as Mr. or Dr.; Fr. Hans volunteered that Michael was not a doctor but a social worker; Stankovich then said cryptically that he was a second-year resident in pyschiatry before being diagnosed with cancer; I then said that I don’t remember seeing an MD on his resume on line and could he confirm that he does in fact have an MD. That’s all I asked him to do, but he wouldn’t respond to my several queries, until I asked the question on Monomakhos. Even then he didn’t answer the question, just danced around it.

                  Now he has a resume on line saying he has an MD from SUNY Upstate Medical University. I missed that resume when I went looking because I was looking for his resume on, where it used to be. Foolish me. But now I wonder, if he does in fact have an MD, why doesn’t he just say so? Why does he feel he needs to be so dodgy, unable to give straight answers whether it’s about his credentials or about his obvious misstatements?

                  • Deacon Patrick, if he did graduate from medical school, he’s a doctor. However, he’s not licensed to practice medicine, so he may choose to eschew using the honorific to avoid confusion. He *is* a social worker, so avoiding confusion with a licensed psychiatrist may be very important.

                    As for his caginess about the issue, he may have chosen to exclude that information from a resume for which it was not relevant. He didn’t mention his education at SVS on his resume, either. Does that mean he didn’t really go to seminary?

                    • He didn’t hide anything, he said he dropped out of a second-year residency due to having cancer. That means he has an M.D., but did not complete the process of becoming a licensed psychiatrist. He said he didn’t answer the question directly because it’s a painful subject for him and didn’t like being badgered about it. Colon cancer is definitely one of the least-fun cancers to deal with, and apparently once he dropped out of the residency, he was not able to return.

                      Really, I don’t think there’s any need to press this further. I already know more about Michael Stankovich than I really wanted to. (No offense, Michael.)

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      Many of us saw one or more of Stankovich’s resumes on line months ago. None of us saw an MD on them. All of us are now surprised to learn that Michael has earned an MD. That being the case, it was entirely reasonable for me to ask Michael to explain his sudden claim on AOI to having an MD. I myself wasn’t sure if there wasn’t some other kind of residency in psychiatry for non-MDs; I didn’t think there was, but it’s not my field and so I couldn’t be 100% sure. I did know that residents are called “Dr.” before they finish residency, so I didn’t understand how the mention of residency explained anything other than that he is a medical doctor.

                      If Michael had just said, “I have an MD from SUNY Upstate Medical University in 2002, but since I didn’t finish residency I don’t use the title ‘Dr.’,” that would have settled things and done him credit, but Michael instead ignored the question. I thought maybe he just didn’t see it because there was a lot of traffic on the AOI site and my question kept getting pushed off the comments list. So I kept asking it to make sure he had a chance to respond, and I made it quite plain that that’s why I was repeating the question. Seeing that he was active on Monomakhos, I also asked the question there, saying, “Is it Mr. or Dr. Stankovich? He leads us to believe here that it’s Dr., but he hasn’t confirmed it. I wish he would for his own sake.”

                      Michael responded by calling me a “simple stalker” whose “scurrilous obsessions” were “disturbing and shameful,” but still he didn’t answer the question and instead said, “Why not take the high road: pray for me and correct me when I am wrong for my own sake.” Those last words sounded to me like an admission that he had indeed misrepresented his credentials, so I first asked him again for a straight answer, and when he again gave none, I stated my opinion that “It appears” that Michael has misrepresented his credentials. Even then Michael did respond to me on AOI or Monomakhos, but he did respond to Lola. He still didn’t answer my question, but he did mention a resume of his now on line, leaving it up to us to find and check.

                      Then finally the battle was joined. I faulted his cageyness for not giving straight answers to simple questions and his integrity for still not admitting he misused the term “mutually exclusive.” He abused me in all manner of ways but sticks and stones. That’s the sum of it.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      So, I read more than 30 posts regarding me and my credentials. This is more than I saw in greetings exchanged on Pascha and to Met. Jonah on the anniversary of his consecration combined! I did not start this, I did not bring this from another site, I tried to ignore it and am working to ignore it, I could care less that anyone knows my educational history, but the idea that someone, anyone would feel entitled and believe I am somehow obligated to answer anything just because they say is quite surprising. And it will never happen again. Obviously, the normal social cues and controls are missing, I value my integrity, and I am “hotheaded.” No excuses, all apologies. Now, I would appreciate it be done.

                    • Deacon Patrick, sometimes people leave advanced degrees off of their resumes when they are applying for jobs that don’t require it. This is because advanced degrees can actually be a disadvantage in those situations. First, the advanced degree is perceived to be the field that the person really wants to be in, and that they will leave this job as soon as they can find a job in the preferred field. Second, the hiring manager may assume incorrectly that the person may be barred from working in that field for some horrible reason (like a doctor losing his license due to malpractice) and may therefore not be the kind of person they would want to hire. These are perfectly innocent reasons for leaving a degree off of a resume.

                      Michael leaving his MD off of certain resumes is not suspicious or unusual. (Like I said, he doesn’t list his MDiv from SVS, either.) However, I googled his resume and found his MD listed.

                      I agree that Michael’s attitude is not altogether pleasant to deal with at times. However, it’s never helpful to respond in kind to that sort of behavior. Since you know how his unpleasantness is triggered, now you can avoid triggering it.

                    • Helga, I understand why someone would not list an advanced degree on a resume. What I didn’t understand is how not completing residency affected one’s right to the title “Dr.” I assumed that anyone with an MD is a medical doctor, having earned a “doctorate.” So his just mentioning his residency did not for me explain whether he is or is not a “Dr.” I asked for a clarification in as neutral a fashion as I could, and I was ignored and then immediately abused and led by Michael’s own words (“Why not take the high road: pray for me and correct me when I am wrong for my own sake”) to believe that he had done wrong by vaguely claiming what he would not confirm.

          • Lola J. Lee Beno says

            Having met Fr. Dn. Brian Patrick in person, and interacting with him during his time at our parish, I can attest to the fact that he is far from being a stalker. He has a tendency to ask really hard questions, and I think this is a very simple question that he is asking, and a very simple way to answer the question to everybody’s satisfaction.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Ms. Beno,

              As I recall, you made several comments as to the “ease” of locating my resume on the internet and – third time being a charm – the directions to do so were fairly instructive. I am aware of four separate times direct links were provided; one, in fact still remains from October, 2011. I remarked to Fr. Ioannes that I was a 2nd year psychiatry resident when I had a recurrence of colon cancer and had to drop out. It was an extraordinarily painful time – dreams, aspirations, all that jazz. Sometimes, Ms. Beno, “hard questions” are hard because you do have a right to your dignity and privacy. But Deacon Mitchell is not the least bit interested in this. He would love nothing more than to “catch a big fish” in a lie, as if in my insistence on integrity, truthfulness, and transparency I would try to sneak one by Inspector Clouseau. And by “stalking” I refer to his multiple posts on multiple sites – “I wouldn’t have to stalk you if you just answered” – that are increasing agitated and accusing. This morning, he stated I should not be posting at all until I have answered him. Wow.

              And now he has enlisted you, Ms. Beno, in the interest of “everybody’s satisfaction.” So, in that mutual interest, why not lead him again to where we’ve already been three times previously. We’ll all be better people for it.

              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                Michael, your cageyness on whether or not you have a doctorate is certainly curious. Most people when asked if they have earned a doctorate will say yes, in what, and maybe from where. Not you. You responded only with unnecessary details about not finishing a residency because of cancer. Asked to say more, you wouldn’t, and when pressed you talked around the question without giving a straight answer. Even now you haven’t done so.

                Why? Why risk having people think you misrepresented your credentials just to waste my time? Is it that you don’t want people to question the resume now on line claiming you have an MD from SUNY Upstate Medical University? Given your cageyness, and your repeated refusal to admit the truth about your misuse of the words “mutually exclusive,” I wonder whether or not we can trust your resume.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  The day you are qualified and competent, educationally and intellectually, to so boldly challenge and presume to chastize me is the day I will feel some obligation to answer to you. And I am confident that day will never arrive. You are an ordained minister of the church and you are an embarrassment: you are arrogant, self-righteous, disobedient, and embarrassed your own Bishop. And so, you serve in the obscurity you deserve.

                  Now that you’ve, again, had your fun at my expense – as the Fathers would say, “Like a dog returning to his own vomit,” – slither of and wait for the next opportunity to inject “sodomy” into a discussion, or to pounce on a new visitor who rubs you the wrong way.

                  Lord knows it’s been a long time, but with assistance, I could probably competently remove your heart from your chest beacuse, obviously, you’re not using it.

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    Talk about arrogant!

                    But never mind. When are you going to admit that same-sex attraction and same-sex sex are not “mutually exclusive”? Surely somebody with an MD should have the smarts to see that. But of course you have the smarts to see it; you just don’t have the integrity to admit it.

                    • Deacon Brian Patrick and Dr. Stankovich,
                      It is disappointing that both of you have written to each other and to others here with arrogance and unkindness. Deacon Brian, faced with Dr. Stankovich’s frequent refusal to give a straightforward answer to simple questions, you resort to rudeness and badgering. Dr. Stankovich, while we can all agree that you are a well educated man with much experience in the fields of social work and psychology, it is unfortunate that you arrogantly proclaim your credentials while putting down others in such a patronizing manner that many readers are put off. While you have much of value to say, the reader often must get past the snarkiness and put downs. You use more words in order to send readers to search for answers to their questions to you than it would take to simply answer them.

                      Please, gentlemen, for the sake of all of us who read Monomakhos, consider how your attitudes affect the willingness of the readers to take seriously what you write. There is much truth in the statement that “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Try speaking the truth in love.

                    • Anne,

                      Michael Stankovich (alias Dr. Dodge) is a wolf, and when a wolf appears a good shepherd sounds the alarm. That’s what I’m doing.

                  • Knows a thing or two says

                    So what is it Stankovich? What are your credentials?

                    • Heracleides says

                      Mr. Stankovich, if his resume is accurate,
                      is a master level social worker with
                      clinical licensure from the state of
                      California; nowhere do I recall a medical
                      degree listed as one of his accomplishments.

                  • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                    Here our Stankie sounds like Lieutenant Fuzz! It doesn’t matter how pedestrian his credentials: without them, he’d just be something like that witch in The Wizard of Oz: ‘Help me! I’m melting!
                    His clumsy rebuke of the Deacon is SO humiliating. My heart goes out to Stankovich.
                    The Fathers did characterize apostates as returning to their own vomit like dogs, but I’m afraid they’d be aghast at so much hot air coming from M.S’s burst balloon, namely, “they don’t appreciate me!”

                  • Brian McDonald says

                    Wow! Mr. Stankovich, I’m glad that George is enforcing his decision to moderate personal insults and name-calling out of this forum. Otherwise, we’d have to put up with a lot of nasty venting like

                    “you are an embarrassment”
                    ” you are arrogant, self-righteous, disobedient”
                    “you serve in the obscurity you deserve”
                    “Like a dog returning to his own vomit”

                    Thank you Anne for your words to our two contending parties. Adult intervention was needed.

                    • Geo Michalopuls says

                      To all, because of the general improvement, I surreptitiously (and without fanfare) removed comments from moderation. I will have to reassess this toleration.

                    • Happy to be of service, Mr. McDonald. 🙂

                      Meanwhile, Deacon Brian Patrick, I am disappointed in your reply. Perhaps Dr. Stankovich is a “wolf” but you are not simply “sounding the alarm.” Rather, you are badgering him, and most rudely. I often agree with the content of your posts, but you need to examine your attitude. To me it seems unloving and unbecoming a clergyman or a layperson for that matter. I am particularly sorry to see that you quickly replied to my post with a jab at Dr. Stankovich, but without any reference to your own shortcomings. I’m guessing you were planning to reflect and address that topic in another post, so forgive me if I am misjudging you.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. McDonald,

                      You and Anne are absolutely correct in your assessment of my behaviour. I urge Mr. Michalopulos to delete my comments to Deacon Mitchell as contrary to the policy he has set and disrespectful to his graciousness as a host. It is my responsibility to “set a guard about my lips,” and my responsibility alone. I have complained of anonymous casting of “stones,” and this is a step beyond. My apologies.

                      “Respect,” in my estimation, is not derived from credentials, titles, positions, or rank, and it has never been my expectation, request, or desire. Like everyone who reads and posts here, I have specific knowledge in some areas, and complete ignorance in others. I try to limit my comments to what I know, and will continue to do so. I have always invited correction as to merit, and I have no personal investment in being “right.” It’s “cheap” to say, but it’s truly not about me.

                      Again, all apologies.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      Anne, see my response to Helga here. It pretty well explains things.

              • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                For the record, I was never, ever contacted by Fr. Dn. Brian Patrick. I don’t even know his phone number, work, home, cell phone, or otherwise. The only contact I have with him is on Facebook and I very rarely see his status posts float by as I have so many more active friends (especially my knitting buddies) yakking it up on Facebook. So, I guess I’ll just suggest you check what you’re writing a bit more carefully so that you won’t have to face being asked such questions over and over again.

          • Thank you Mr. Stankovich for your apology which I take at face value, trusting that there is no sarcasm intended. Although someone chastised you for not apologizing to Deacon Brian Patrick, in reading your post, I took your words, “my apologies”, to include the deacon as well.

            I apologize if my use of “Dr. Stankovich” was inappropriate. I understood that you have earned a medical degree and felt that it was reasonable to use that honorific. If perchance you would prefer to be addressed as Mr. Stankovich, please forgive me.

            While I understand the frustration Deacon Brian Patrick appears to be experiencing due to your continual evasiveness, it is most regrettable that he does not realize how unseemly, and yes, shameful, the attitude he displays is.

            Since you have apologized, I feel confident that you are already intent upon “seeing Christ” in the deacon, and now I hope he will, having had time to reflect, make every effort to do likewise in regard to you..

            • Brian McDonald says


              If I may say a word on Mr. Stankovich’s behalf. I think you you may be fully confident in taking his apology at face value. I’ve read a number of his posts and know of at least one other occasion when he’s offered a very sincere apology. In fact, the poster he tangled with also apologized. It was really gracious and one of my favorite Monomakhos moments.

              For the most part he sticks to issues and not personalities, and while is tone may be astringent, he generally does what he says he does above: confine himself to subjects on which he is knowledgeable. He has a particular concern that discussion of some of the issues that agitate this forum be scientifically informed. While this results in some clashes, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him depart from any fundamental teachings of the church.

              And that also means that the rumors of his evasiveness are greatly exaggerated. While he may sometimes resist giving direct answers when poked and proded by insistent posters, i think most of his posts pretty clearly set forth his convictions for anyone who wants to read them carefully.

              • Brian,
                Yes, I concluded that Mr. Stankovich was sincere in his apology. I agree with your assessment of his posts, though you neglected to mention the patronizing manner in which he frequently addressed other posters. Now that he has been apprised of this issue, I feel certain he will be careful of his tone in the future, for he does indeed seem to be an intellectually honest individual. willing to admit his shortcomings when they are pointed out in love rather than with vitriol.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Mr. McDonald, would you classify Mr. Stankovich’s belief (wrung from him over months of questioning) that homosexuality is not a sin, a departure from the fundamental teaching of the Church? Or that sexual orientation is ontological in nature?

            • Anne, you judge me very unfairly considering the way this all came about. As explained here, I raised a reasonable question, and Michael behaved toward it very unreasonably, first by not responding, then by not responding straightforwardly, and then by responding with extreme abuse. Yet because he has typed a few words of apology, you give him the benefit of any doubt and add your abuse of me to his.

              Well, if you think me truly shameful, what must you think about his Grace, the good Bishop Tikhon? For that matter, what must you think of our Lord Himself, who did not always spare the feelings of His enemies, or our Fathers among the saints such as St. John Chrysostom or St. Epiphanius of Salamis, also know as the “Controversialist”? The truth is that our modern American ideal of a clergyman is more Episcopalian than Orthodox, and if our Orthodox clergymen don’t speak out with more manliness against the wolves among us, then the wolves will have their way.

              • Deacon Brian Patrick,
                Would you have me reject Mr. Stankovich’s apology? I already regret having expressed even a slight doubt as to his sincerity (which was based on previous instances of sarcasm on his part), since Mr. McDonald has assured me that there was no need to question the apology. How would you like it if your sincere apology were rejected? Oh wait, you have as yet to issue a sincere apology for your continued malice towards Mr. Stankovich.

                I could look back through your posts for specific examples for which to criticize you. I recall that there have been a number of incidences of outright rudeness. But since you wrote them, I’m sure you can as easily recall them as I, so I shall instead simply suggest, once again, that you attempt to see Christ in Mr. Stankovich, and post here accordingly.

                The thoughtful and truthful comments you have at times made lead me to believe that you simply have a blind spot when it comes to Mr. Stankovich. He has gotten under your skin it seems. Well, I apologize for having written to you in such an ineffectual way, in that my words have not yet led you to reassess your attitude.

                I am sorry to have to say this, but, you are now whining– I judge you unfairly, I accept Mr. Stankovich’s apology, I don’t realize he’s a wolf, etc.

                I believe you are capable of effectively expressing your thoughts in much more civil, kind words. Please don’t disabuse me of this belief.

              • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

                Father Deacon,

                It is absurd to praise your own manliness immediately after complaining of being unfairly abused by a lady.

                Of what abuse is the manly deacon a victim? She said no more than “it is most regrettable that he does not realize how unseemly, and yes, shameful, the attitude he displays is.”


                How fascinating that you reference those two saints, since the “controversialist” didn’t spare the feelings of Chrysostom, who as a result suffered real abuse, not merely being disagreed with. Tradition records that St. Epiphanius was able admit he was wrong and change course.

                It is interesting that two easy sources for information on St. Epiphanius, the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia and the Russian Nastolnaya Kniga which undergirds the OCA “Feasts and Saints” section both feel the need to “explain” his acerbic words and deeds.

                1913 CE: “His character is most clearly shown by the Origenist controversies, which demonstrated his disinterested zeal but also his quickness to suspect heresy, a good faith which was easily taken advantage of by the intriguing, and an ardour of conviction which caused him to forget the rules of canon law and to commit real abuses of power.”

                Nastolnaya Kniga: “In his zeal to preserve the purity of the Orthodox Faith, St. Epiphanius could sometimes be rash and tactless. In spite of any impetuous mistakes he may have made, we must admire St. Epiphanius for his dedication in defending Orthodoxy against false teachings.”

                The life of St. Epiphanius clearly presents a cautionary note on being a “controversialist”.

          • Michael,

            Have you submitted your application for the OCA Sex Czar yet? You and Bernie would make a fine team!

      • In the Romanian tradition not every priest is a confessor. Only the pastor the parish is the confessor so in a case where there might be two priests in one parish only the senior would be the confessor.

        By training I meant the ability to notice the symptoms of these things that you describe ie chemical dependency and the like. I know my limitations as a pastoral counselor and I am not afraid to ask for help.

        We are very blessed here to have a great network that has been established and we have book of resources that we can use and it is updated monthly. I have not verified all of the resources but before I would refer someone I would speak with that person first. I think that is what any responsible person would do I hope 😉

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Fr Peter, you bring up a good point. I think that if we followed the canons of the church, the various ranks would set clear boundaries about which priest was qualified to listen to confessions and impart absolution (forgive the Catholic talk but I hope everybody gets my drift).

          Perhaps there is a way to augment the number of priests who serve in parishes as assistants and those who start missions if we said that only those who have gone for an extra year receive a doctorate in pastoral theology can serve as Confessors and senior pastors or can be vicars who travel within a diocese from parish to parish and listen to confessions.

          MDivs could be priests-in-charge of parishes and missions but they would stipulate that once a month, a Confessor will attend Vespers and hear the confessions of the people. In time, and after additional study spaced over a few years, they could receive the doctorate level degree and hear confessions.

          Since we’re on this road, I think that middle-aged laymen who have served for years in parishes as readers, chanters, acolytes, etc., should also be ordained to the priesthood, receiving a licentiate after a year of study. These men and the MDiv’s would be understood to have no authority to hear confessions but their purpose would be to assist with the full cycle of liturgical services in order to lighten the load of the Sr Pastor/Confessor.

          It might behoove the Sr Pastor to be a travelling Confessor as well, as long as he has an assistant priest or priests, then this should not be too burdensome, provided that the travelling is within a specified area.

          What do y’all think?

          • M. Stankovich says

            I think back to when SVS had a collegiate program, and knowing men who entered class the same year as me, and then moved directly into the graduate school of theology, and were married and ordained, all by the age of 24. Most, prior to graduation, had already interviewed, and immediately left for their first parish assignment. Knowing the education received; the maturity level of someone 24 years-old (which Eric Ericson considered developmentally to be a “late adolescent”); the fact that seminary faculty – simply by virtue of the fact that they really do not have a “real world” experience of students, but only in an “insular,” closed environment – were remarkably poor judges of character and predictors of future behaviour; and the fact that priests are routinely placed in highly-charged circumstances (e.g. family conflict, end-of-life disputes, parent-child conflict, etc.); it is no surprise to me that there was an inordinate amount of disaster. I will be honest in stating that I cannot be certain I would have fared much better.

            As far as I know, mentors and support or “educational” groups – even with the “casual” assistance of lay practitioners or teachers and the occasional visit of the bishop – cost the church nothing. In my field, I believe the best clinicians are the ones who are actively supervized and are open to critique, and when necessary, criticism. A priest who would resist interacting with his brothers to both instruct and learn probably needs it the most. I believe there is a wealth of untapped experience and assistance available, but pride is preventing its utilization.

          • Michael Bauman says

            The automatic grant of the blessing to hear confessions can be a problem for some. Although the Dean of our parish hears most of the confessions, there are times when his assistant must step in. The assitants are in training and most of them are quite young. I remember going to one young assistant for confession once and he kept apologizing to me for being young (about half my age). While I could appreciate the humility is was a little unnerving. I went to him later and politely let him know that he did not need to apologize. I was not coming to him as a man but as a priest and whatever his age, he was definately a priest and I, for one, liked that.

            He has since moved on to his own parish and is an able pastor, thanks be to God.

  3. Michael Bauman says

    I have no desire to watch the film in part because I wonder if it is not another attempt to remove yet another social condmenation of certain sexual desires.

    Tempation come in all forms from all directions. The ones that take hold in us are the ones we are available to. The Orthodox method of purification of the heart is designed to make us less and less available to a wider range of temptations.

    I would suggest that the states where the age of consent was low (by modern standards) had a very different social dynamic concerning work and family and, possibly, a shorter life span when the laws were established that made such marriages practical for the continuation of the community.

    Our narrcisistic cultural has artifically extended the age of adolesence and artifically put off the age of maturity.

    IMO this is, in part due to the diminuation of the extended family and community in general. In the extended family/community setting most people had models and support for beginning a family and living a successful adult life at an earlier rather than being expected to find it on their own.

    The reduction of the call to community and family to mere sexual desire-response is indicative of the swallow, passion-filled environment in which we live.

  4. M. Stankovich says

    Mr. Bauman,

    I would suggest that without actual information as to the intent of film – the link I provided does not lead to a viewing of the film – your “wonder” is shortsighted, uninformed, and I am unsympathetic. In case you have not noticed, I have a keen interest in the process by which the threshold for truth is subtly, and not so subtly, compromised – yes, Mr. Bauman, keen – so if you imagined I was leading you to a “peep show,” u waz rong.

    I only used the examples of paedophlia and pornography to emphasize the point that, men go to beaches, men go to mall, men go to school events, men go to movies and watch television and experience sexualized children (by the way, if our “narcissistic cultural artificially extended the age of adolescence and artificially put off the age of maturity,” out of a fear of death, and nothing related to sexuality), but they do not normally respond sexually.

    You have a tendency, Mr. Bauman, to paint with a very broad brush. I am not so confident.

  5. Michael Bauman says

    I don’t think it is a peep show and I did follow the link. I have no desire to go further because regardless of its content or its intent I simply have no need to. The bounds that the Church has always put on sexual behavior and the treatment for any sexual tempation have not changed, nor will it. Sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful. The temptation to and the acutalization of lust is to be handled in confession and penance if necessary.

    The quote on one of the pages that 19 was too young to start a modeling career speaks voulmns about our culture, but nothing that I did not already know. We are provacatively and intentionally sexualizing children at younger and younger ages. The title in and of itself is intentionlly provactive and is not instructive about any state that interests me.

    The one ciminal sex offender with whom I have had contact was a man who sexually molested his own daughters for years. When it was brought to light it was impossible to prosecute him criminally because of the age of his daughters at the time he molested them. He denied, of course, that he did anything wrong blah, blah, blah.

    I simply have no tolerance for any sympahy toward those who act on their lust for underage girls or boys–especially those in authority. We’ve had numerous cases of female teachers commiting statutory rape on their young male students.

    If there was honest intent to examine the issue with some sobriety then the title needs to be change, but of course a sober title with sober marketing would receive no attention in the press.

    IMO, Mr. Stankovich, you have a tendency to operate on the level of the minute that tends to flatten any hierachy of value and in such a way that everything becomes an exception and must be considered without reference to any other. So we don’t agree very often.

    BTW while I can agree that the extension of the age of maturity does not have much direct link to sexuality it is far more than just fear of death, although the sexualization of the young and getting younger could be an expression of that fear I suppose. In any case it is a symptom of the idea that sex is a thing in itself, ontological in nature and (in most cases) to be pursued and actualized if the person is to be ‘happy’ i.e have all their desires fulfilled.

    But, who knows perhaps “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” is too broad a brush for you.

  6. M. Stankovich says

    Mr. Bauman,

    I have said before that I am a practical man and generally make it a practice to reduce issues as much as possible in order that they be manageable. The issue at hand is sexual misconduct in the OCA; specifically preempting and identifying potential perpetrators earlier, and promoting an atmosphere of rapid reporting and disposition. In this area, I have some experience and some expertise. The implications for our culture and society as a whole are better left to people like you.

    I struggle in recalling the words of the Master, “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (Jn. 16:33) And It is said that St. Seraphim continuously sang the Pascha Canon as he walked and as he worked. “Today, all things are filled with light; heaven, the earth, and the places under the earth! For Christ is risen as all-powerful!” It always gives me an invigorated perspective.

    • Michael Bauman says

      My point is that good management is not possible without the context of the larger picture. It is not really practical at all to consider the details apart from the whole. That is antiquarian and gets no where.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      M. Stankovich!!!
      “Preempting….potential perpetrators earlier?”
      Does that mean abusing someone before another perp/abuser can get to him? To claim some expertise in that area would seem to be highly problematic.
      Example: a “preemptive bid” in contract bridge means trying to grab a contract and forestall all other bidders. All the other definitions of preemption indicate “getting their firstest with the mostest”, i.e., to the same goal: it’s competitive.

  7. Thomas Mathes says

    George, you refer to “one case” in the OCA. If its the case in Canada, I don’t think you have your facts right. All the articles I have read refer to an incident in the 80’s after his 1979 ordination to the priesthood in the Orthodox Church, and specifically to his service in an orthodox parish in Winnipeg. Perhaps, you are referring to the case of another OCA bishop with which I am ignorant.

  8. Geo Michalopulos says

    Mr Mathes, my information was from what was leaked on OCANews by somebody on the SMPAC or Syossett to its former purveyor. If I’m wrong about whether he was already Orthodox, I’ll gladly correct the record. However please note that this incident by your reckoning took place “in the 80’s” which was thirty years ago. That too was roughly the same time that the paedophilia/ephebophilia cases were going strong in the RCC.

    • George, I believe that the person of interest in this case was already Orthodox when the alleged molestation happened.

      You may be getting him confused with Stirling Rayburn, now known as Monk Andrew. He was convicted of molesting children while he was an Episcopal priest. He later entered the Orthodox Church (and was and always has been a layman in the Orthodox Church). He was subsequently arrested and convicted for those molestations he had committed while Episcopalian. After serving his time he became a hermit and monk.

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        Of Stirling Rayburn, Helga comments, “After serving his time he became a hermit and monk.”

        And has lived a life of deep repentance ever since..

        • Indeed he has, Fr. Patrick. If the Monk Andrew perseveres in repentance to his earthly repose, perhaps one day we will remember him as a modern Abba Apollos.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Helga, I regret the error. My information –from OCANews–was faulty.

  9. Ivan Vasiliev says

    The parish I attended before moving away to go to college had a priest who worked full time outside the parish. The parish was just large enough to demand a lot of services (to the elderly, sick, etc.) and our priest tried to keep up as full a cycle of liturgical services as possible. He always looked exhausted, but never complained. His health suffered from the stress for trying to do two very different kinds of work. I suspect his family life suffered some as well, though his Matushka was always right there with him and his kids were faithful to the Church even when they left home. He must have done something right, but I always felt bad that our parish couldn’t manage to pay him enough (and provide health insurance, etc.) to make it possible for him to devote himself to what he called his “first love” (“after Matushka”, he would always add).

    It is easy to say that priests should be willing to sacrifice more than the ordinary believer, but I don’t understand why. St. Paul said that the worker should be paid for his work (directly speaking about the ministerial work in the church, even though he was, literally, a “tent maker”). As for having several priests in one parish, perhaps that should be thought out more carefully. Given the very human predisposition to struggle for “authority” (and priests, alas, are often far too human) and the very human predisposition to play one person against another (I’ve heard that the laity have this capacity), I’m not so sure that this particular model of parish structure would work on a wide scale. However, what can we loose, considering the obvious mess we are in?

    I would love to see a mission planted in far northern Maine. There is nothing I know of in the Presque Isle/Caribou area.

    • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

      Do you live in Northern Maine?I might like to live somewhere like that(I grew up in Vermont).After I finished St.Tikhons Seminary in 1976,I was seriously considering the ROCOR parish in Richmond,Maine.I ended up in Houston,TX.I was way too young when I did accept ordination to the priesthood in 1977,but that’s another story.

  10. George,

    I do not understand your essay. In the first section you describe a lack of distinction/definition. Section 2.07 of the OCA’s Sexual Misconduct Policy defines the types of misconduct covered by the policy and, presumably, the national misconduct officer. Your reference to civil law offenses and consensual conduct does not make much sense to me.

    In the second section, you look at the job description and find it lacking. I would think that the job description is just that: a description. Other rules, such as professional codes of conduct need to be applied when analyzing the position. The OCA misconduct policy needs to be applied when analyzing the position. I submit that after such analysis your concerns might be assuaged a little.

    In the third section, you ask, “how many cases are there.” By analogy you suggest only a few. If you are right, it means that all the members of the Holy Synod, Chancery, and Metroplitan Council are misleading the Church. This I find very hard to believe. Our Church is blessed with many intelligent people in leadership positions–who may not always get along–so to cast them as deceivers is hard to swallow. Indeed, Fr Tassos on this very blog confirmed the volume of cases.

    In the fourth section, you state that sexual misconduct should be dealt with by the civil authorities. There is no quibble here. It will be in court when liability dictates it must be. But going back to your opening paragraph, misconduct liability also affects the church who hired the priest under the doctrine of respondent superior. It affects the whole parish community. Therefore, it behooves those liable and responsible to take the necessary precautions to protect the Church in all the availed ways.



    • Geo Michalopulos says

      SAM, thank you for your reasoned critique. Because of time constraints, I will only address your third point for now.

      It is nowhere evident that “all the members of the [church hierarchy/administration you mention] are misleading the church.” I simply can’t stress this enough. Your assertion is categorical. Between the bishops, all employees in Syossett, and the entire MC, there are at least 50 people. Is “everyone” saying that there is a problem with misconduct (however defined)? If true, I haven’t heard it.

      Instead, what I have heard is that part of the reason for this crusade was to go after old cases. In fact, that’s stated right in the job description so I know that I didn’t misread it. This sounds like score-settling to me.

      I have also heard that the bishops are more or less resigned to this, having been brow-beaten by Syossett that there is a necessity. If so, then they are shirking their responsibilities.

      Regardless, all we are hearing is “that there is a problem,” that “it’s huge,” that “if we don’t look into it, then the Church will be bankrupted by civil lawsuits,” etc. What we are NOT hearing is how big a problem is this, and if there are in fact allegations, how credible they are.

      • Fr Basil Biberdorf says

        George, your second paragraph suggests you misunderstand SAM’s point. Namely, these positions DO have the (apparent) support at least of the Metropolitan Council, inasmuch as they are the OCA body entrusted with budgeting and approving funding for these positions with the blessing of the Holy Synod. I agree with SAM that your comments suggest that a large group of people — the Holy Synod, OCA officials, Metropolitan Council — are misleading the broader OCA with regard to the number of misconduct cases. You made your point using some mix of calculations about Roman Catholic abuse cases, but, intuitively, your number seems low and doesn’t really take the massive monetary payouts from the Roman Catholic Church to settle cases into account.

        More importantly, you didn’t respond to SAM’s first point that the OCA policies and procedures for sexual misconduct document defines misconduct pretty well, which places definite limits on the scope of these positions. I agree that the reference to civil and criminal definitions of permissible and impermissible conduct seems disconnected from the purposes here. The OCA is neither a court of law, nor law enforcement, nor an agency with prosecutorial authority. Rather, she has the need to deal with these accusations (against clergy in particular), first and foremost, for the salvation of those involved and, secondarily, to give the OCA reasonable legal standing in the event of a civil lawsuit or criminal proceeding.

        I am not so delusional to think that the secondary reason I give is really secondary among the administrative class in the OCA. I think these positions, along with the OCA policies and procedures document, are lawsuit repellent. Of course, it’s not as though we don’t need it. We stand about one good lawsuit away from an OCA bankruptcy, so the stakes are incredibly high. Thus, all resources are being devoted to the forward shields, if you’ll forgive the sci-fi analogy.

        Am I happy that these positions are required? No. Not at all. Do I think they’re absolutely necessary? It’s hard to know, since, for obvious reasons, neither the Metropolitan Council nor the OCA administration is going to put our legal vulnerabilities out in the open for all to see. (And we should thank them for that.) I know several Metropolitan Council members fairly well, including those with long professional service to the Church, extensive corporate leadership experience, and active experience in the field of mental health. I also know these MC members well enough to know that they would love to have these resources given over to true evangelistic work, whether to young people, to the unbelievers, or to the poor. Thus, I can only conclude that something *does* require such a presence, especially after years of having people doing this work who were manifestly unqualified to do it. (And whose lack of qualifications only increased our legal risk.)

        As for “old cases,” what’s the statute of limitations on sexual misconduct with a child in most criminal jurisdictions? How do we evaluate that these cases were properly handled in the past if no one takes a look?

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Thank you Father Basil (and SAM) for interjecting some perspective to this discussion. I had been away from my computer for a while so I wonder if anyone has addressed liability issues that would be alleviated by such a position. It seems to me that our esteemed host has been trying to fit a round peg in a square hole–that is, interpreting anything that emanates from CA from the view point that the MC, national offices and functions (perhaps even the Holy Synod) are bad. I do not expect you to answer my question, tangled as it is with my critical analysis. Thank you again for your post.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Fr Basil, I intend to address all of SAM’s complaints in Part III.

            Actually, the reason that the deadline for these positions have been “extended” is because nobody with half a brain has seen fit to put themselves in the hot seat, liability-wise. The entire scenario of rampant “misconduct” is nothing but a red herring used to create a “solution” for this “problem” which may not exist.

            Unfortunately, it has not been well thought out. By creating a Sex Czar, then when and if a problem occurs, that person would be liable for damages. Especially if he was investing the very few resources at his disposal investigating a relatively minor (i.e. non-criminal) complaint while a more major one is ignored for whatever reaon.

            One of your concerns re the fact that “the OCA is one lawsuit away from bankruptcy” I would add, have the powers-that-be considered the lawsuits that will happen when priests who have been maligned decide to seek legal recourse? The idea that innocent priests would not sue the Church is probably true for the most part. But if a pattern of of abuse emerges, one in which only traditionalist and/or conservative priests are tarred with the investigative brush of the Sex Czar, then I would say all bets are off.

            We’ve already seen from the leaked portions of the SMPAC report that there is a curious “cherry-picking” involved. Certain flagrant homosexuals were curiously unmentioned.

            Kind of makes you go, “hmmm…..”

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              P.S. Is there a simpler solution? How about having the bishops discipline any priests in their diocese who are accused of misbehavior? After all, that’s what the canons say. And the civil courts would actually not intrude into the inner workings of the dioceses since they are very leery of getting involved. Ever since the recent Tabor decision, they are even more committed to staying out of internal religious affairs.

              • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

                Just a bit of refinement – “… having the bishops discipline any priests in their diocese who are accused of misbehavior.” Yes, this is what the canons say; the canons also talk about ecclesial courts to hear and judge the accusations. Clergy are accused of one thing or another on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes action is taken on the basis of the accusation without any substantiation. This can so easily destroy any ministry potential for a priest, deacon or bishop. The bishop also needs to consider an appropriate response to the individual or group bringing a false accusation against a cleric.

                • Monk James says

                  The canons require an application of the ancient roman principle of lex talionis (‘law of retaliation’) when a member of the clergy is proved innocent after being tried on false charges.

                  This involves the excommunication of laity and laicization of clergy who falsely accuse and/or serve as prosecutors (accusers of record) when their allegations are proved false.

                  I’ve always thought that this is why Abp Job stepped aside from his intended role as prosecutor ifor the invalid ‘spiritual court’ which — on completely trumped-up charges — unjustly tried Fr Robert Kondratick in absentia.

                  Not only did FrRK not get heard in court, he didn’t even see the charges brought against him, and still hasn’t.

                  Much of what our OCA is suffering these days is directly attributable to that sad embarrassment in 2006. Only FrRK’s complete vindication and restoration to honored status as a priest of the OCA will start our church on the way to being healed.

              • Alexander says


                Be careful here about the distinction between civil liability and criminal culpability.

                It is certainly true that the recent SCOTUS decision in Tabor (and many other cases) holds that civil authorities cannot examine or question the internal administration of religious institutions involving matters of faith. However, no Supreme Court — or state court — decision has ever immunized a priest, pastor, or minister from criminal prosecution for a criminal act. In fact, there is a criminal case now pending in Philadelphia against a Roman Catholic cleric who paper shuffled issues involving sexual predator priests. He contends his Archbishop, not he, was responsible for disciplining the priests and addressing these issues, and therefore cannot be guilty of a crime. But the prosecution still says he should have notified the police. If he is found guilty, that case is sure to wind its way at least to an appellate court.

                Civilly, we all know that like Roman dioceses, Orthodox dioceses are subject to civil liability under any number of theories for failing to act against sexual predator priests. In the Victim v. Diocese civil matter, a “Sex Czar” may very well mitigate Diocesan its own, corporate, exposure for acts committed by a rogue priest. Tabor likely precludes a third party from successfully suing a Diocese to appoint or remove a “Czar” — or precludes a “Czar” from contending he was “wrongfully discharged” — but it does not insulate the “Czar,” the “Diocese,” or anyone from potential civil liability.

                Technically, a person acting within the scope of his employment is still civilly liable as a tortfeasor. But under the legal principle respondeat superior, his employer is also civilly liable for his employee’s negligence and other acts. It used to be that the employer would not be liable when a person commits an intentional tort or crime, at least not for the crime. But, the common law has evolved in a way so that the employer nevertheless has liability for “negligent supervison,” “negligent entrustment,” or other similar theories.

                P.S. There’s something funky going on with the preview and editing functions.

                • Alexander,

                  This is exactly right. Which diocese as the money to take the necessary precautions here? None. It has to been collaborative at the national level.


                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    SAM, if this is true, then I would suggest that our bishops, MC, and Syossett get on the stick ASAP. All Orthodox jurisdictions have used the excuse of poverty to not do what we are called to do. If the bishops can’t man up and do their duty, then they need to either (1) be replaced, or (2) get rid of completely.

                    If things are really as bad as the MC/Syossett people tell us then we need to scrap the episcopal form of governance and go to a completely congregational form of governance or appoint only senior married pastors as the “Senior Pastor” of each diocese, a model not unlike the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church.

                    If these are two extreme, then a third option would be to reduce the salaries of the present episcopate to the barest minimum, limit them to no more than two vestments, severely limit travel, and overall pare down the perks that accrue to the present episcopal regime.

                    • Antiochian Friend (Formerly Prospective Nomad) says

                      I try to stay out of other jurisdictions’ controversies, but perhaps one aspect of Antiochian governance could be helpful here. Mr. Bauman recently mentioned, in another context, that His Grace, Bishop Basil, is Vicar of the Western Rite for the entire Antiochian Archdiocese. This is the relatively uncontroversial dimension of that much-debated title, “Assistant to the Metropolitan.” A particular auxiliary bishop is the immediate point of reference for most, if not all, of the Archdiocesan departments, even though each department’s work affects more than one bishop’s diocese.

                      In the present OCA context, this forum’s opponents of the proposed sexual-misconduct investigator have asserted, based on their mistrust of the central administration, that clergy sexual misconduct in the OCA is neither so widespread nor so egregious as to warrant the cost and derogation of episcopal authority that such an office allegedly would entail. As others have pointed out, this argument is a non sequitur. As a matter of logic, it is certainly possible both that the central administration is bent on amassing money and power and that clergy sexual misconduct is a widespread and urgent problem. As others have also pointed out, the central administration is and always will be in possession of more facts about the extent and severity of clergy sexual misconduct than will outside critics. It is therefore a strategic error for opponents to dispute the factualargument, because they will always be at an informational disadvantage. That is a formula for losing.

                      Would it not be far shrewder for critics to make an ecclesiological argument? Tell the central administration, in so many words, “OK. You have facts that we don’t have. If you say that clergy sexual misconduct is so egregious and widespread as to warrant this position and that appointing a qualified investigator in each diocese would be prohibitively expensive and duplicative, then by all means, let’s have a central investigator. But the Orthodox Church is hierarchical. This investigator needs to report to a mutually agreeable bishop, not to to the central administration or to the Metropolitan Council. That designated bishop (who, of course, would not reside in Syosset) would have sole authority and responsibility for reporting the findings of any investigation to the relevant diocesan bishop, who would, in turn, retain canonical authority for disciplining, as necessary, his own clergy.” If the problem is real, the central administration should assent to this arrangement. If, as critics suspect, this proposal is an unwarranted power grab, an ecclesiologally rooted counter-proposal should call the bluff.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      This, Friend, is an argument worthy of St. Thomas More before the wretched Cromwell. But if I read the memo correctly, these two positions have already been conceived, justified, approved, and budgeted. They are simply vacant until such time as the job search yields appropriate candidates. While Mr. Michalopulos’ essays have been “penetrating” and insightful, and the discussion lively and thought-provoking, short of anarchy – and Lord knows there are far greater issues to consider – the reality is such that all this is of very little consequence.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      AF: excellent on all points!

                      The power-grabbers have their excuses ready to trot out though:

                      1. There’s already an apartment at Syossett, why not just go ahead and have the Sex Czar live there?

                      2. There just aren’t enough qualified men to have the Sex Czar be a bishop. Heck, we still don’t have a bishop in the South or Alaska, gosh darnit!

                      At base, we must understand the culture ofthe Old Guard, what it is that enables them to come up with these powergrabs and/or try to cling to the levers of power by whatever means necessary. And it is an unyielding anti-episcopal, anti-monastic ethos. They are unable to trust bishops at all based on an old paradigm of the episcopate and monasteries are nothing but the dumping ground for corrupt and inept men. Hence the reason we have a Met Council and our Chancellors have always been married archpriests.

            • Fr Basil Biberdorf says

              Anyone who takes a Syosset position in the current environment does so either with a sense of devotion to the Church or severe masochistic tendencies, for they know that every move will be subject to criticism from someone working with half the facts, if that.

              You’ve repeatedly asserted that this problem is something fabricated for the purpose of accumulating power in Syosset, but have offered rather minimal proof of that. And, by implication, suggest that the skeleton crew of professionals working as the officers and administrators of the central church administration along with the members of the Metropolitan Council (most of whom are chosen at the diocesan level, according to diocesan schedules and varying local practice) are ignorantly or deliberately misrepresenting the situation. I know a good number of these people personally and for several years (15 years for one MC member), and what you’re suggesting just doesn’t agree with what I know of them.

              Gregg Nescott (lay MC member from my diocese) is no fool, and hardly a stranger to the legal challenges that we face. Thaddeus Wojcik, OCA counsel, is likewise professional. Both men are mentioned in the public minutes from the February 2012 MC meeting as giving advice on how to proceed. Maybe you know better than these attorneys do, and perhaps more than the two dozen or so Metropolitan Council members in the post-rubber-stamp era. I just don’t see an incontestable demonstration of that.

              • Fr Basil,

                I can give you one clear example of the accumulation of power in Syosset, effectively emasculating the role of the bishop in his diocese with regards to sexual misconduct of his own clergy. The proposed Sex Czar would act like a Peter the Great era oberprocurator inserting himself or herself in to the life of the diocese with almost superpowers to open files of clergy and as appears to be the case now revisiting cases from the past that have already be adjudicated and closed.

                There is a glimmer of hope here in that bishops are beginning to realize that such an office is an overreach of central church administration authority. Even if one looks at the job description of the MC by the Statue, they only involve themselves in legal cases once a suit has been filed and even then it is to protect Syosset legally not encroach into the life of the diocese, something they have routinely done in the recent past.

                There is still no hard number of how many cases the OCA is currently involved in, the nature of the sexual misconduct, but I know of one case in which the diocesan bishop, who by Statue is suppose to be the judge in cases involving his clergy has abdicated the responsibility and given it to another diocesan bishop to judge. Also the case against this priest is being presented not by the accuser(s) against this priest but by the OCA Chancellor. Thus, the priest can’t even face his own accusers.

                In general, the way the OCA disposes of cases of clergy misconduct has made it the laughing stock of Orthodoxy worldwide. Rules are routinely ignored in favor of the prosecution so as to make it nearly impossible for a man to have a fair and impartial hearing. To the degree that the central church plays a part in this is another example of power being accumulated in Syosset.

                One wonders why Syosset appears to be so obsessed by this Sex Czar position while at the same time ignoring the dwindling numbers of faithful, an anemic funding of departments, no annual or development programs and ignoring the will of the Seattle Council to do something about the Assessment.

                I appreciate your attempt to come to the defense of those who work in Syosset, but they are making salaries 2, 3 and 4 times that of parish clergy. I have little sympathy for them at those high price tags. You get such a salary you should expect to be under a microscope.

                Mark Stokoe opened up this pandora’s box of using the Internet as a bully pulpit to advance an agenda. There is no going back now and those who wish to work in Syosset have to accept that reality.

                Remember, transparency and accountability cuts both ways.

                • M. Stankovich says


                  The only “obsession” and “hysteria” I see expressed in regard to these two positions is here on the internet. Otherwise, I see two fairly typical “job bulletins” that, from what Fr. Basil has pointed out, have been in process since February. It is now nearly July. This hardly strikes me as the timeline of hysteria.

                  As to your perceived disparity in compensation, I find you to be surprisingly shortsighted. On the one hand, the “price tag” is for someone who is expert in the evaluation and management of misconduct that may or may not include criminal behaviour, and on the other hand, conduct themselves as Orthodox Christians, compassionate and merciful. Add to this, the professional and emotional stamina to enter into potentially explosive, potentially litigious, always painful, and always hurtful circumstances and always be under the scrutiny of nameless critics on the internet and elsewhere – and I do not intend this as an insult. But whenever you have opposing parties to action, someone will be displeased. Imagine, “Nikos made this determination, and he is incompetent.” “Nikos has an agenda and he made his determination accordingly.” “It’s now obvious why Nikos was hired in the first place.” I personally wouldn’t take this job at three times the salary.

                  I can tell you that in the “real world,” these positions would be paying significantly more in salary and benefits, and I do not mean to diminish Fr. Basil’s point regarding dedication to the Church. As I said to Mr. Michalopulos, I do not believe you have enough accurate information to reach many of the conclusions you have reached, and filling the air with “intrigue,” in my mind, is not helpful.

                  • Frankly, I see no need for a Sex Czar and a Sex Czar Sidekick, especially full-time. As for facts, I have them, I know them, and I will discuss them. As for “intrigue” that is your opinion and it is not borne out by the facts. Nice try at deflection, and anyway I was talking to Fr. Basil. As for obsession, it is obvious that you are not in contact with folks in Syosset.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      That you would even threaten to “discuss” information you might possess from contact with “folks in Syosset,” while at the same time disparaging Mark Stokoe for opening Pandora’s Box, is both hypocritical and and very sad. Nice try at integrity.

                    • Michael,

                      Oh please, “me thinks the lady protests too much!” Disparaging remarks vs. Stokoe? What did I say in my comments untrue? Did he not use the Internet to advance his agenda? Did he not wrap himself in the mantles of transparency and accountability? Did he not advance the climate in which every move of leadership can be called into question?

                      How you can seem to add up my comments about the information I know and the fact that I am in contact with the folks in Syosset and then somehow equate the two as if one body of knowledge and the other body of knowledge come from the same source is rather amazing. So nice try at disparaging my integrity.

                      The folks in Syosset are obsessed with this Sex Czar thing. The chancellor speaks of little else as to its importance when he is out on the stump. Read his own words and talk to those who have heard him recently if you don’t believe me.

                      I again repeat, the advancement of the office of Sex Czar is an overreach of authority by the central church. The Metropolitan Council and Syosset have no business injecting themselves into the life of the diocese by usurping the authority of a bishop. The creation of such an office would be a polar shift in the balance of power between Syosset and the dioceses.

                      If a priest abuses a child or commits a crime, CALL THE COPS, then the bishop. If a priest is morally compromised in a non-criminal fashion, the Statue provides for a system of review and adjudication (corrupt as it may be nowadays). No Sex Czar will solve that corruption.

                      What an irony is this, the Kondratick times were accused of being too powerful and to centralized, but now this administration makes those times look like the model of decentralization.

                      A Sex Czar will not help the OCA grow.

                    • M. Stankovich says


                      I believe I misinterpreted that you were saying you had “insider information” from “contact with folks in Syosset,” and my comment about integrity was based on that misinterpretation. I apologize for the error.

                      When I read in the job description: “Assists in organization of teams at the diocesan level. Helps identify local resources and develops expertise on the particular legal requirements of each jurisdiction,” this does not suggest to me a centralization of power, nor a shift of power away from diocese in the least.

                      For what it’s worth, I have personally known the Chancellor more than 30 years, and he is a man of piety, intelligence, wisdom, and sobriety. It saddens me terribly to read suggestions that his motivations are divisive, and time will prove me correct.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Fr Basil, if what you say is true, that both Messrs Nescott and Wojciek gave their input into these two new positions, then I would suggest that both men are wrong. And since one of them (if memory serves) was a recipient of Mr Stokoe’s conspiratorial email which started this whole ball rolling, then we have every right to believe that this is nothing but a powergrab. A regrouping of the Stokovites who were routed last year, as it were..

                Until the question of whether it is right to conspire against a sitting Metropolitan is answered, those of us in the parishes have the right to remain suspicious.

                Please tell me where I’m wrong and I’ll gladly reassess my opposition.

                • The OCA has already turned sexual misconduct investigations into power-grabs. The entire SMPAC memo debacle was an example of that committee exceeding its mandate and overstepping its boundaries, and being used as a political tool to undermine someone else. The SMPAC is not supposed to be involved in specific cases, yet both versions of the memo consisted of nothing but specific cases, cherry picked in order to make one particular person look bad, steadfastly ignoring other pressing cases because they failed to serve the political ends of those who were behind the memorandum.

                  Yet these same people, the VERY SAME PEOPLE, expect us to take them at their word that we need hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of permanent staff, to do what they have been doing!

                  Interesting that an Ober-Prokurator was forced on the Church under an autocrat, yet in a free country there are people who want us to willingly submit ourselves to one!

                  • Helga,

                    Folks like Stankovich will never get it. They are so deeply invested in the personalities now in charge that they can do no wrong. In his own words….

                    When I read in the job description: “Assists in organization of teams at the diocesan level. Helps identify local resources and develops expertise on the particular legal requirements of each jurisdiction,” this does not suggest to me a centralization of power, nor a shift of power away from diocese in the least.

                    For what it’s worth, I have personally known the Chancellor more than 30 years, and he is a man of piety, intelligence, wisdom, and sobriety. It saddens me terribly to read suggestions that his motivations are divisive, and time will prove me correct.

                    This is NOT a full-time job at a whopping salary (by OCA standards) vs. clergy who have to work two jobs, some without benefits, others on food stamps while at the same time dedicating “all (their) life unto Christ our God.” Yes, NY is a high price area, but it is the same city that other OCA clergy live in that are paid a fraction of their salaries. What about by Boston, Chicago, San Francisco standards? Are OCA clergy paid Syosset standards salaries in those high-priced cities? No they are not.

                    It appears we need a Sex Czar more than we need to help those clergy who are living on the economic edge. But hey, Michael has known Jillions for 30 years and he is a nice guy and so the Sex Czar thing is just fine. Baloney.

                    Does any Church need to be vigilant to keep parishioners safe, especially children? You bet! Do we need a Department of Sex Czar which would be the most highly funded OCA department? No. Do clergy need training in these issues? According to Syosset, one would assume our clergy have just been sitting around reading the Lives of the Saints while all this has been going on. They have not. They have been to seminars, the topic has been on the agenda of diocesan and deanery meetings. Every one of their insurance carriers have programs on sexual misconduct issues and how to keep kids safe. The OCA has had through its Youth Department materials on this issue for decades.

                    No, this Sex Czar thing is all about creating another layer of bureaucracy so that Syosset becomes indispensible. Making yourself indispensible is a long-time ploy of Syosset. It is a naked attempt to add another layer of administration with a big price tag so that Ringa, Tosi and Jillions can tell the MC and us, “there is no way we can reduce the Assessment because we have this important new Sex Czar department to fund.” The thing that is amazing is that they really think we are so stupid that we will fall for this again. It is the same rationale used by all organizations that want to save their jobs and big-ticket salaries. We have a part-time Treasurer making $70K a year. PART-TIME folks! And, of course we know we have a Chancellor and Secretary hitting the payment line at over a quarter of a million dollars per year! Now let’s add hundreds of thousands of more dollars for a Clergy Cop while underfunded ministries, like mission, education, youth go begging.

                    We have been paying these big salaries since the 2007 OCA Reorganization Plan and since then the OCA has continued to sink, sink, sink in membership, effectiveness and credibility.

                    As for the justification for the office, I am not sure that there has been a corresponding cry for such a full-time office by the rank and file in the Church. I sure don’t recall this coming out of Seattle, especially when compared to the Assessment issue.

                    Yes, yes. John Jillions is a nice guy. Yes I have known him for years. This is not about Jillions the man, this is about Jillions the Chancellor. I can make the distinction. Fr Jillions invites feedback. Consider this feedback on the direction of the OCA and its misplaced priorities.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Nikos, I can’t click on “like” for some reason, so I’ll just say that I believe you have nailed it.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Niko, all: for what it’s worthy, I’ve been following Fr Jillion’s blog and it’s quite good. Having said that, if he is one of those pushing for this position, then I choose to respectfully disagree with him.

                      On another note, I like the term “Clergy Cop.” Why not a comic book series? The Sex Czar and his trusty sidekick Clergy Cop!

                    • Yes, I too think Fr. Jillions is a nice guy.

                      So is Metropolitan Jonah, and that hasn’t gotten him very much!

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      MS, I really appreciate your point about Alan Bloom. However, it would send me on tirade about the government schools and the overall Jacobinisation of our culture.

                • George,

                  Section 10.4 – 10.6 of the OCA Sexual Misconduct policy state that applicable diocesan bishop will make the final judgement in matters of ecclesial discipline. What power grab are we talking about here?


                  • SAM,

                    If the diocesan bishop has the final say then why spend all that money on an out of diocese Sex Czar and Sex Cop? You make my point! This is just another layer of job creation and bloating the OCA budget on things best done in the diocese. Power grab = more money to Syosset so there is less money in the diocese. Less money in the diocese means they become more dependent on Syosset. This is a Syosset make work project to justify not reducing the OCA Assessment which continues to bleed the dioceses. Comprende?

                    • Nikos,

                      I would imagine that the two misconduct officers would be best positioned to offer advice to the diocesan bishop. If I were a bishop, I would want to take the best advice before making a disciplinary judgment. I would also want to take the best advice on how to educate and protect my clergy.

                      Please take a moment to contact your diocesan authority–bishop or chancellor–to ask if your diocese is in a position take on these education and protection responsibilities. My suspicion is that–if you are in the OCA–your diocesan authority will answer in the negative. Please let me know if I am wrong.

                      Your statement that sexual misconduct is a matter best dealt with on the diocesan level is conclusory. What are your grounds for saying this? Are they economic? Is it a matter of canon law? I would like to see your financial analysis and/or an brief on what is uncanonical with our bishops blessing the creation of these positions.

                      In sum, I do not “comprende”. But I think it is because you offer conclusions, not argument.


                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Touche! Niko.

                      One other point I failed to make earlier: if the dioceses are so penurious, then why should they send 40-90% of their income to Syossett? That makes no sense. If anything, they should send only 10% and keep the rest to hire a diocesan Sex Czar.

                    • Monk James says

                      Geo Michalopulos says (June 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm):

                      ‘One other point I failed to make earlier: if the dioceses are so penurious, then why should they send 40-90% of their income to Syossett? That makes no sense. If anything, they should send only 10% and keep the rest to hire a diocesan Sex Czar.’


                      The OCA eparchy of NY-NJ already adopted just such a financial resolution, but it was reconfigured at the last AAC so as not to take effect except gradually over several years. People here were very disappointed.

                      There is no need for a ‘Sex Czar’ in the OCA, neither on the eparchial nor on the churchwide level, no more than there’s a need for a ‘Noncompliance Czar’ or a ‘Disobedience Czar’.

                      All the clergy know what’s expected of them, and if they fail in that and embarrass themselves and The Church, there are already longstanding canonical standards in place for dealing with them.

                      Appointing someone (or two) to do nothing but pursue allegations of sexual misconduct does nothing but create an (ecclesially, at least) previously unimagined layer of bureaucracy and unjustified expense.

                      And that’s in addition to the almost unbearable suggestion that our OCA has SO MANY clergymen accused of sexual misconduct that the appointment of two full-time people to deal with it is justified.

                      It’s NOT!

                      The overwhelming majority of our clergy are good men and would rather die than betray their high and holy calling.

                      Each bishop in his own eparchy is fully competent to deal with allegations of clerical misbehavior, sexual and otherwise, and ‘spiritual courts’ must (in accordance with the canons) be conducted entirely within the eparchy of the alleged offender.

                      This includes judges, administrators, presiders and bishops — who really must preside within their own eparchies.

                      Bringing in a bishop from another eparchy to serve as presider is an abdication of any local bishop’s authority, and might — canonically — render the ‘spiritual court’ invalid.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Monk James, thank you for bringing out the normative dynamic of eparchial/diocesan governance. I’m not a canonist, but would I be right to assume that within an ecclesiastical court the accused would be allowed counsel? By my lights, it would be abysmal if such were not the case.

                    • Monk James says

                      George Michalopulos says (June 24, 2012 at 12:00 am):

                      ‘Monk James, thank you for bringing out the normative dynamic of eparchial/diocesan governance. I’m not a canonist, but would I be right to assume that within an ecclesiastical court the accused would be allowed counsel? By my lights, it would be abysmal if such were not the case.’


                      Yes, of course anyone on trial in a spiritual court has the right to appear with counsel.

                      When the ‘spiritual court’ first met to try Fr Robert Kondratick, he appeared with a secular attorney and myself as an adviser.

                      In that particular case, the prsecution’s attorney promised us plenty of time to examine the accumulation of charges, but then reneged. On the day the trial was to begin, he further told us that no record would be made of the trial — a condition we found unacceptable not only because of its obvious absurdity, but also because having to record of the proceedings would severely limit both FrRK and the OCA in the event that he chose to appeal the court’s verdict.

                      But the OCA’s attorney had lied about that, too, though, and later let it be known that he did indeed make a record of the proceedings. So when we objected to the idea that no record would be made, he told us to gather our materials and leave. The court proceeded — illegally, immorally, and invalidly — to try FrRK in absentia.

                      Just to add insult to injury, the bishops refused to allow him to be heard on appeal, and have continued to table his renewed request for the last year and a half.

                      So, yes, it’s allowed for the accused to have counsel, but when the court is constructed so corruptly as was FrRK’s, even the best counsel can’t help.

                      BTW: Please don’t think that the four priests who served as judges were part of this conspiracy of corruption. Those men were deceived and duped into cooperating with the flawed process.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Monk James, who was the OCA’s attorney in this affair?

                    • Monk James says

                      Geo Michalopulos says (June 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm):

                      Monk James, who was the OCA’s attorney in this affair?’

                      The OCA’s attorney was James Perry.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      The court was corrupted in that case (more about that below), but I think that considering the position of and qualifications for a Sex Czar should come after a complete new look at the SIC report and the qualifications of each of its members as well as at that kangaroo court..
                      In the matter of the SIC, and all such positions, the first qualification should be irreproachable reputation of choices/incumbents. Equally crucial, every member of such a commission and court and every one filling a position of OCA-wide reach, should, as a minimum, fulfill the requirements of a delegate to any All-American Council. One of those qualifications is, of course, not having married outside the Church. Take a look at every single member of the SIC, with reference to irreproachable moral character. and then with meeting the qualifications of an AAC delegate. It’s my conviction that at least two members of the court did not have irreproachable moral repute and at least one was married outside the Church. Before any committee movement on the Sex Czar matter,that SIC and, especially, its flawed report must be examined by some impartial persons with no axe to grind.
                      Now as for the corrupt (or corrupted) court to which Monk James, I, and others have referred (including at least one of the two persons representing themselves as Jane Rachel here). The corruption of that court is irrelevant: the court was uncanonical and, perhaps, deliberately so constituted. The case and its decisions should be simply thrown out and its rulings overturned. It’s my conviction that the court which “deposed” Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick was not only predisposed to conviction when (improperly) convened, but incapable of responsible and intelligent fulfillment of the requirements of a canonical spiritual court, nor did they consult or even have any consultants who could have provided expert advice as to the canonicity of its procedures.

                      There are a couple persons in the OCA who are qualified in Canon Law, eastern and western. One of them is Archpriest David Brum.
                      Archpriest David Brum was, like Archbishop Nathaniel, a convert from the Roman Catholic Church However Archbishop Nathaniel was a convert from the Uniate, i.e., Romanian Byzantine Rite Church, and he, as a Uniate Priest, was invited to convert by ever-memorable Archbishop Valerian before the latter had to step down. Archbishop Nathaniel’s formation was at the Roman Catholic institution founded to convert Russia, known as Russicum, or Russicon..
                      The Holy Synod, then as now, was mostly converts, none of them with canonical expertise: Archbishop Seraphim was a convert from Anglicanism, Archbishop Job was a convert from ROMAN (Latin rite, not Uniate) Catholicism, who became Orthodox out of disappointment in Vatican II. He had no college degrees except an ex post facto degree awarded him years after he audited courses at St; Tikhon’s, when that seminary finally received accreditation to award degrees. Metropolitan Herman had graduated from a secretarial business school. Archbishop Dmitri had an M.A. in Spanish. Archbishops Nikon and Benjamin both, I believe, have B.A.s from Concordia Lutheran College and at least diplomas from SVS (I think Archbishop Benjamin must have earned an M.Div.). Bishop Nikolai had a couple M.B.A.’s, Archbishop Kirill graduated from the Sophia, Bulgaria, theological seminary. But Archbishop Peter, of blessed memory, was so qualified a canonist (earned Doctorate in Canon Law from the Leningrad Theological Academy), but (because of his qualification?) was usually ignored and/or ridiculed for any canonical opinions he gave any high-mucky-mucks in the OCA.
                      Father Brum is disparaged (one) as a friend and associate of Protopresbyter Rodion S.Kondratick, and (two) as the author (a total lie) of a change to the OCA Statute which acknowledged that the Metropolitan had a right of pastoral interference in the dioceses “iin accordance with the canons” (a phrase that was inserted at the insistence of
                      Archbishop Peter and other hierarchs), meaning “if a canonical basis for it exists.” Archbishop Peter explained that there was not and could not be such a canonical basis, but that went “whoosh’ over the heads of some of the archpriests. “Primates” have primacy amongst the bishops, but they have NOTHING to do in any diocese but their own. Canonically, they may not visit any parish in the OCA outside their own diocese unless specifically invited by the diocesan bishop. This principle is what makes the difference between a Local Church, like the OCA, and the dependent Archdioceses of the EP and Antioch: whose Archbishops can go anywhere and interfere in any “diocese” they choose.
                      I KNOW Father David Brum. He was once the highest ranking Catholic priest in the Diocese of Fresno, California, but converted “heart and soul” to Orthodoxy. He was a trained expert (according to, at least Archbishop Peter(and that should be enough) in both Western AND Eastern Canon Law. I remember hearing from both Archbishop Peter and Father John Meyendorff this expression: “AT LAST we’ve got someone qualified in the canons!” If he had been consulted (as he should have been) and his advice followed the findings of any Spiritual Court formed on the basis of the consult would have been relatively immune to review.
                      But whenever his name came up, Mark Stokoe, Archbishop Job, Archbishop Seraphim, etc., would emit outcries of anguish about Father David’s “RC formation and interpretation of the canons.” None of those individuals was as FREE of Roman Catholic/Western bias as Father David was and is. Even today, though, let anyone even hint at considering Father David for, say, election to be a Bishop, and that person so considering it will receive phone calls, emails, and letters of warning
                      It’s no wonder, in such a climate, that a canonically formed spiritual court was never formed to consider ANYTHING, let alone the deposition of one of the most competent, honorable and devout presbyters EVER to serve in the Metropolia/OCA.
                      How, I wonder, could an administration (including the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Soviet, and Chancery staff) possibly manage to competently set up the position of Sex Czar and fill it?
                      Nothing will improve or prosper in the OCA until those great injustices of the past: the spiritual court and the SIC, are invalidated and the matters they considered are re-considered entirely, on a canonical basis and by persons with the canonical, moral, and intellectual qualifications to do so

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Your Grace, as far as I know, there’s only one person representing herself as “Jane Rachel” on this blog, unless I missed something. I want so much to say my name, but I hesitate because I’m still not sure it would be wiser to say it. I think it’s wiser not to. But I’m Jane Rachel.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      I had the opportunity the other evening to again view the wonderful Man for All Seasons, the story of the persecution and false accusations brought against Sir Thomas More. There is a dramatic scene at More’s trial where, following the false testimony of his accuser – a man to whom More had only shown wise counsel and kindness – More asked to see the medallion around his neck. The Chancellor informed More, “Sir Rich is now the the Attorney General of Wales,” to which More responds, “It is said, ‘What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?’ (Matt. 16:26) And you, Rich, have sold yours for Wales?'”

                      So I ask you, Vladyka Tikhon, in the presence of such blatant and obvious transgression of your rights and the Canonical process afforded by the church, how much would they have to pay you to settle? To relinquish your right to appeal, to complain, to discuss, or even personally defend and restore your good name? Or to resign the opportunity to forever remove the vaguest hint of suspicion from anyone’s mind that you are guilty? Robert Kondratick did so, at the advice of counsel, for $250,000. A woman settled for more than a million dollars for spilling hot coffee on herself.

                      That you and monk James would be so bold as to tie the “prosperity” of the Orthodox Church in America to the albatross Robert Kondratick is, again, quite astonishing. Any predictions for the upcoming convention of the Diocese of the South? Frogs or locust, perhaps?

                    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                      Mr. Stankovich, if you’re going to quote the rejoinder of Thomas More to Richard Rich’s perjury in the 1964 film, “A Man for All Seasons”–one of my favorite historical feature films–please do so with accuracy befitting the eloquence of the playwright Robert Bolt:

                      “Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but for Wales!”

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Fr. Alexander,

                      It was 1966, but from a bended knee I defer to your better recollection. A full-sized reproduction of the his portrait – as resides in the Frick Museum in NYC – hangs in my living room for the past 12 years.

                    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                      Right you are, Mr. Stankovich, about the date of the film starring Paul Scofield in the title role for which he earned a well-deserved Oscar. I suppose my error reflected the perils of postings in the wee hours, or I was conflating the date with Bolt’s original drama published in 1954. In any case, the 1966 version remains vastly superior to the 1988 television remake starring Charleton Heston as More.

                      More utters his memorable rejoinder after his former law clerk, Richard Rich, perjures himself by claiming that More had revealed his otherwise carefully guarded personal opinion about King Henry VIII’s divorce and remarriage as a violation of Roman Catholic canon law and moral teaching. In exchange for agreeing to lie under oath in More’s trial for treason against the Crown, Rich was appointed to the post of Attorney General of Wales, replete with a magnficent ceremonial chain of office much more valuable than the lowly office itself. Hence More’s double sorrow that Rich had betrayed him–and effectively sentenced him to the executioner’s block–for a sinecure tantamount to dog catcher.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Fr Basil, since you bring up Mr Nescott’s name, I would like to ask you if you know what exactly was his part in last year’s conspiracy against our Metropolitan?

            • M. Stankovich says

              Mr. Michalopulos,

              I do not believe that you have enough information to draw some of the conclusions you have drawn. You believe that “accusations and investigations” will be conducted and managed solely by these these two individuals, to the exclusion of, say, a Dean, or the ruling Bishop. A sort of OCA “internal affairs” department, or “calling in the Feds.” It seems to me this was a methodology that fared quite poorly in recent history. I have seen nothing to indicate this will necessarily be the case. I also see nothing that would prevent them from serving in the capacity of a resource or adviser to Deans and Bishops as the need arises. Maybe you will be surprised.

              As for the unfairly “maligned,” history and research would suggest they are few and far between. Likewise, those few and far between who are actually unjustly accused and maligned must, as St. Chrysostom instructs, “bear up.” The clergy will always be falsely accused by someone, somewhere, over something; defend yourself by modeling St. Paul, then trust God for vindication. I would suugest that your introduction of the elements of “intrigue” and suspicion adds nothing to their case.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                MS, you know, “bearing up” is true. But it’s easier said than done. A few dozen instances of priests having to put up with kangaroo courts (especially if they’re innocent) and the number of priests will dwindle significantly. Those that remain will be demoralized for the most part. A great recipe for mediocrity.

                As for your 1st point, a sort of “internal affairs,” I’d see nothing wrong with that in principle. Unfortunately we can’t look at anything without seeing it in its proper context. I’m sorry, I’m gonna say this until I’m blue in the face, but the recent history of Syossett gives us absolutely no reason to trust the integrity of some of the players there.

                Nobody’s going to be able to get around this, but until the conspirators against Jonah come clean, the trust will remain irrevocably broken. I’m very sorry to beat this dead horse but I can’t see it any other way.

                I’m talking a full investigation, ecclesiastical courts if necessary, and a couple of heads rolling.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              George–Regarding your assertion that “any one with a half a brain has seen fit to put themselves in the hot seat, liability-wise,” I do not know how you have managed to get into the brains of non-applicants. However, I strongly feel that you are plainly wrong in thinking that “By creating a Sex Czar, then when and if a problem occurs, that person would be liable for damages. Especially if he was investing the very few resources at his disposal investigating a relatively minor (i.e. non-criminal) complaint while a more major one is ignored for whatever reason.” I do not want to guess how that is probable; would you please tell us in which jurisdiction such a scenario would make the incumbent liable for misplaced priorities. BTW, what happened to your claim that there is not enough work for the Czar? Here you are saying that he will be unable to concentrate on the really important cases because he is so busy investigating others–all due to having “very few resources.”

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                OK, Carl, how about this: I know of a few priests in the GOA who were removed/disciplined/reprimanded/whatever for consensual misconduct but the paedophilia scandal out of Astoria was brushed under the rug. I also know about a few bishops who were arrested for flagrant conduct but they were reasssigned.

                You see, the latter scenario is my real fear: the Sex Czar will go after lowly priests while the more well-connected will get a pass.

  11. Your Grace,

    I accept your rebuke knowing that you offer it in a spirit of correction. I do not nor have I diminished Fr. Gerasim’s time with the Serbs and his time at SVS. He was sent there for a “one-year tune up” and upon the end of his first year he freely concluded that he knew less than he thought he knew and to his credit he stayed for the entire 3-year program and graduated with honors. His reputation at SVS was stellar and he was an asset to the community. He was thought of quite highly by the students while being a student himself, never lording over anyone with his many years of monastic and priestly experience.

    The only thing I was driving at with the Platina question was some clarity because it appears to be the only part of his background that some have reservations about. I want him to move forward, if it be the will of the DOS to nominate and the synod to elect, with full confidence and support from the people he will lead. I was not looking for dirt or sensationalism in asking my question. It was asked with the best intentions, not unlike a supporter will ask the tough question of the candidate so that he can hit it out of the park with his answer and, quite frankly shut up people like Stan (if that is possible).

    I ask your forgiveness if my posts became a distraction to the larger issue at hand. I will accept from you a slap upside the head.

  12. Carl Kraeff says

    Regardless of the recent unpleasantness between Deacon Mitchell and M. Stankovich, I think that George’s policy has produced a new tone on this blog. Consequently, I have found myself agreeing with His Grace, Helga and even Amos (!). I would like to offer a sincere thank you to George and all posters who have followed his guidelines.

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  14. Nikos,

    I would imagine that the two misconduct officers would be best positioned to offer advice to the diocesan bishop. If I were a bishop, I would want to take the best advice before making a disciplinary judgment. I would also want to take the best advice on how to educate and protect my clergy.

    Please take a moment to contact your diocesan authority–bishop or chancellor–to ask if your diocese is in a position take on these education and protection responsibilities. My suspicion is that–if you are in the OCA–your diocesan authority will answer in the negative. Please let me know if I am wrong.

    Your statement that sexual misconduct is a matter best dealt with on the diocesan level is conclusory. What are your grounds for saying this? Are they economic? Is it a matter of canon law? I would like to see your financial analysis and/or an brief on what is uncanonical with our bishops blessing the creation of these positions.

    In sum, I do not “comprende”. But I think it is because you offer conclusions, not argument.


    Let me say that my conclusion that misconduct matters are best handled on the diocesan level is based on the fact that it IS the diocesan bishop where the authority lies. It is also a fact that the Synod is seriously rethinking the creation of this Sex Czar and Sex Cop department. It is a supra-diocesan office which by its very creation is saying that dioceses should not investigate any misconduct but rather let the “professionals” do it. Chances are this office (if anyone actually applies for the open positions, I don’t believe anyone has even applied yet, which should tell you something) can be accomplished by a need to consult basis advisor so that it won’t not suck up more money from the dioceses.

    I am not convinced that there is such a pressing number of active cases that requires a full-time office. I am not convinced that this is the most important matter facing the OCA at the present time. I am not convinced and Syosset has not made the compelling case for such an office yet. Just do the math. There are maybe 500 clergy in the OCA. Even if 1% of those clergy have done something stupid you are talking about 5 cases. That does not make a sound cost to ratio case, at least to me.

    In the past such clergy misconduct was handled with a non-compensated person and under his guidance, the OCA was served quite well.

    As I said before, if a cleric breaks the criminal law, CALL THE COPS, then the bishop. Let the civil authorities deal with the actual case. If the man is proven guilty, the Church deals with him. To me a great deal of time and money will be spent to reach the same conclusion. The case of Archbishop Seraphim in Canada can serve as a model. The OCA tried to mount their own investigation and all it did was get in the way of the civil authorities of the Crown. The OCA stopped its investigation and now awaits the case going to trial and the verdict.

    If a cleric is found to be morally compromised (non-criminal) actions, a diocesan bishop and whoever he wishes to appoint on the diocesan level (if even necessary) can look into a matter. I believe the diocesan bishop is more than competent, its his job. I don’t see where a central office can do better. It should be the case that the diocese must be prepared to handle such matters. If not, they have no business being a diocese and their bishop should retire.

    In my diocese, clergy have been informed and required to get up to speed on matters dealing with proper conduct when counseling, dealing with children, and making sure that their parish facilities and those who have contact with minors are safe and secure. Of course this does not preclude something happening, but from an insurance point of view, you can’t get coverage unless you have gone through a checklist to prove you have taken the necessary precautions. That makes sense.

    I am all for prevention through education and for the bishop to set the highest possible standards for his clergy. This will do more to ensure that we as a Church are doing our best. You may be right that bishops would rather kick the can down the road and let someone else deal with these unpleasant matters, but again, that is part of their job and they should police each other to make sure they are doing their best.

    Again, this is an unnecessary and cost ineffective waste of time, talent and treasurer IMHO. I hope this helps.

    • Nikos,

      I am all for thinking bishops, and doubly so for bishops that re-think things. Your characterisation of the misconduct positions may be accurate, but it would be odds with my reading of the OCA policy. I have no way of knowing what the facts are other than what is in the documents. A case-by-case consultant may be the way to go.

      I don’t have much knowledge in this field, but if salaried officers mitigate liability in one case, such officers would probably be a good investment. The lack of lawsuits in the past may indicate that there is no problem. It may also be a tremendous run of good fortune. Fortune is a fickle lady, and I would not depend on her assistance too much.

      The problem with letting the civil authorities alone deal with the issue is the doctrine of respondeat superior. Liability is created in the employer when the employee engages in sexual misconduct arising out of his employment. Were I plaintiff’s counsel, I would immediately inform my client about bringing an action against the employer in such a situation. Were I employer’s counsel, I would work as hard as I can to show either than the Church is not the employer or that the accused acted ultra vires.

      Your example of the Archbishop is distinguishable here. The Archbishop is in Canada. The OCA’s insurance policy does not extend to Canada. Thus, the Archbishop was not provided with defense counsel through the OCA. He was left to provide himself with a defense. If the Archbishop was provided with defense through the OCA’s insurance, any action the OCA took, as insuring party, would not be “getting in the way”. This case is not a good example of how the OCA should handle its own people, nor is it a good example of what would happen here in the US. What a great selling point for prospective clergy: get accused and fund your own defense!

      What you say about your diocese makes sense. Who is doing the insuring–the insured party? The diocese? The OCA? If it is the OCA, you are back to the national office issue.I don’t think that setting up these offices constitutes an abdication of episcopal duties. Taking advice from people versed in a particular field is mark of intelligence.



  15. Daniel E. Fall says

    What I find the most interesting about all of this is the second Chancellor under Metropolian Jonah is essentially under attack for requesting help in addressing these issues…corrections welcome.

    I also think George is probably bringing an interesting perspective; that is, let’s hope this is not a permanent need.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Daniel, therein lies the rub. “Temporary” bureaucratic positions always become “Un-temporary.” It was ever thus. If there really is a problem, have the bishops handle it. If they can’t (or won’t), then replace them. Ultimately, it’s their job. Creating a Sex Czar is nothing less than kicking the can down the road.

  16. Daniel, if it’s just that Fr. John Jillions needs assistance in fulfilling his job, why don’t they just hire for a Deputy Chancellor or something like that?

  17. M. Stankovich says

    Pray for the victims of this man.

  18. Monk James says

    And let’s intercede for this poor sinner, too.

    ‘There, but for the grace of God, go (we all).’

    • M. Stankovich says

      Certainly pray for this man! But I caution you that some would use this same statement, “There, but for the grace of God, go (we all),” to not report suspicions regarding an Orthodox priest, which might account for the accusation that he is responsible for five victims dating back to 1994. Nearly twenty years and not one person had even a vague concern? I cannot imagine. Let truth and compassion rule, and let no one be falsely accused, but first let no one fear simple wisdom.