As is now known, Archbishop Nikon of Boston, the locum tenens for the Diocese of the South, unilaterally cancelled the special assembly that was to nominate a bishop for the South. This was shockingly done at the last minute. It is not yet clear what precipitated this abrupt move other than some ambiguous words about both candidates being “controversial.”

There is some truth to this as one of the candidates, Bp. Mark Maymon, has been proven to be morally compromised. Unfortunately, he was not considered a serious candidate because of his deficits but his name was left on the slate as a consolation to his partisans in the Miami Deanery.

The other candidate Fr. Gerasim Eliul, was given overwhelming approval from the Deans of the diocese and the majority of the priests. When it became obvious that Mark was not viable, the DOS went into overdrive to present Fr. Gerasim to as wide a selection of people as possible. Even within this short period of time, he was overwhelmingly liked. Things were proceeding apace and it looked like the Diocesan Assembly would have their candidate and the Holy Synod would be able to vote on him up or down.

Unfortunately, our locum tenens Abp. Nikon, cancelled the Special Assembly (as noted) and removed Fr. Gerasim’s name from consideration. The only excuse given was that he was not “fully vetted.” This is a curious statement as Fr Gerasim has already been vetted not once, but twice: first when he entered St Vladimir’s Seminary (where he graduated summa cum laude), and then when he made a pilgrimage to Alaska, where he was being interviewed for the episcopal position there.

It is also possible that Nikon was overreacting to a screed put out by a malicious person on the internet who composed a pathography of Fr. Gerasim. Hopefully this is not what motivated His Eminence but the fact remains this entire affair has descended into farce.

Consider first of all the question of whether he has been “fully vetted.” According to the Statutes of the OCA, no man can be brought forward as a candidate unless he has been fully vetted. If indeed it is true that he was not “fully vetted” then the Holy Synod did not do their job. This would indicate a stunning ineptness on their part.

Let us however take the Holy Synod at their word. The presumption that Fr. Gerasim was vetted was accepted by all simply by the very fact that Abp. Nikon gave him his blessing to tour the South. He had earlier blessed his name when the Deans unanimously nominated Fr. Gerasim several months ago. Indeed, other names were brought forth, all presumably blessed: Frs. David Mahaffey, Peter Preble, Irenei Steenburg, Meletios Webber, and Alexis Trader. Regardless, by waiting at the last minute, all confidence has been broken, possibly irretrievably.

Now it’s certainly possible that the bare words of Abp. Nikon’s letter may be factual, that “new issues” have arisen in the interim that raise questions, and that he was not “fully” vetted in the first place. I could give some credence to the former clause but to do so for the second would cause us to question the intelligence and/or managerial skills of the Synod as a whole.

Be that as it may, the entire process stinks to high heaven. His Eminence should have not have cancelled the nomination. If Fr. Gerasim was unacceptable to the Synod, then they would have had the duty and the right to reject his nomination. We in the South would simply go back to square one and start the process over. That it was done at the last minute does not speak well for the good order of the Church.

Abp. Nikon deserves especial blame for getting us to this point. The policies and procedures for the nominating process are over 13 months old. They were posted on the DOS website in June of 2011. Unfortunately, because there was a last-ditch hope by some that Bp. Mark Maymon would still be the odds-on favorite (despite his disastrous tenure in Dallas), no attempts were made to interview serious contenders, either through Deanery visits (as had Fr. Gerasim) or through teleconferencing.

As our locum tenens, His Eminence dropped the ball and refused to give us the episcopal guidance necessary in this regard. He should have been cognizant of the hidden agendas of the pro-Maymon faction and overruled them. No effort was made to release monies to bring qualified men to Dallas or the rest of the South. In all these regards, he failed and we are left with the appearance that our locum tenens, the Holy Synod, and their advisers don’t know what they’re doing.

Forgotten in all this is the human cost. Fr. Gerasim Eliul, an otherwise fine priest and an excellent scholar who submitted himself to the dictates of the Holy Synod and has been forthcoming about his previous activities with certain schismatic groups, has been cast aside through no fault of his own.

This is unconscionable. Unfortunately, there are repercussions for the future that have not been clearly thought out.

  • First, which serious man would want to put his name in contention under these circumstances? What guarantee would he have that another internet malcontent won’t similarly try to sabotage his nomination?
  • Second, the atmosphere has been poisoned dramatically by these incidents. A perfectly fine priest may have no impediments and be well-liked, however given the divisions that have erupted (thanks to minimal episcopal oversight by the locum tenens), he would be inheriting a great deal of mistrust.

  • Third, what guarantees that we in the South have that the antagonistic faction on the Holy Synod has our best intentions at heart? So far, precious little has been indicated in this regard. By keeping the South in a near-permanent basis of tenancy, there is no interruption of monies going to Syossett.
  • Fourth, the quality of candidates that the South has expressed interest in are in the mold of His Beatitude: true monks who would share his vision for the Church. Now that Bp. Maymon’s candidacy has been derailed, other “qualified” candidates who share his anti-Jonah animus are few and far between.

    One candidate remains who fits this bill and is being bandied about as a “compromise” candidate. That would be Deacon Eric Wheeler, a man whose deficits and antagonisms are known to all; though laughable as a “compromise candidate,” it would fulfill the purposes of a corrupt system, one that is intent on making sure that the South remain under heel and that Jonah have as few allies as possible. (That is should he somehow be nominated and elected over the overwhelming disapproval of the South.)

Regardless, the entire process is now an abject failure. Failure has a pedigree and the buck stops with the bishop. Since we don’t have a bishop but a locum tenens, the blame unfortunately rests on Abp. Nikon’s shoulders. In order to regroup and go back to square one, we need a different locum tenens. One who has the time and enegy to shepherd the people of the South as we proceed to nominate a new bishop.

Lord have mercy.

About GShep


  1. George,

    I think this last minute move over Fr. Gerasim is just the tip of the iceberg. I think he got caught in the cross-winds blowing at hurricane force velocity from Syosset since Thursday. Gerasim was pulled because there is something big up with Met. Jonah.

    If you read the tealeaves left behind by Fr Jillions in his daily musings, you can see the typical shorthand (if you are a seasoned reader.)

    Lesser Synod Meets

    The Lesser Synod had a very full day of meetings yesterday and completed a long agenda. They approved the establishment—as a pilot project, under the direction of Fr Ian Pac-Urar—of an Office of Continuing Education for clergy and lay church workers. As the program gets underway in later 2012/13 special emphasis will be given to legal and ethical issues (especially training around boundaries, prevention and addressing of clergy misconduct), and leadership and management training for clergy. The bishops discussed procedures for identifying, mentoring and training potential candidates for the episcopacy. They had an initial brainstorming session on how the work of the Orthodox Church in America could most effectively be carried out with a division of labor between central church administration, dioceses, deaneries and parishes. As usual, there were difficult cases to be addressed as well (legal matters, clergy misconduct).

    The network of relationships around the Orthodox and ecumenical world was a major focus of attention for much of the morning, with reports from Fr Leonid Kishkovsky, His Beatitude (his trip to the UK), Abp Nikon (his trip to Albania), Abp Benjamin (plans for the 200th anniversary of the Russian settlement of Fort Ross, California). Abp Benjamin also reported on his participation in a delegation of church leaders (sponsored by the National Council of Churches) that went to Washington DC to meet with President Obama and congressional leaders to protest the Pebble Mine development in Alaska (above Lake Iliamna) that poses a major threat to the native population, the fishing industry and the environment.

    The setting aside of Gerasim for the DOS is indicated in the first BOLD section above. In fact, Gerasim is being shipped to California to be under the watchful “training” of +Benjamin.

    The tip of the real iceberg regarding the bishops and Jonah is hidden in the second BOLD section. The cast of characters at the meeting, including Kishkovsky and Jillions, reveals that the DC nuns were a major point of discussion, not so much the nuns but a cleric who was part of their community. Apparently Jonah is on the ropes because he did not follow to the satisfaction of the bishops and Syosset staff, the sexual misconduct rules. Notice how Jillions makes a point of the new sex education efforts by Syosset under Pac-ur-ar.

    The abrupt cancellation of the DOS Special Assembly was the first sign that something big was about to happen. With no Metropolitan and his favored candidate, the apparent nominee from the South, on his way to nomination before the Synod, something bold had to be done and quick to not put the Synod in a bad light. Read carefully +Nikon’s letter. It is clear knowing that Jonah is out, that the Synod would not act on Gerasim. So, cancel the Special Assembly. Afterwards Nikon can say, “well we knew this was going to happen and it was necessary because of the confusion in the aftermath.”

    All of this also reveals that bishops and Syosset staff are colluding behind the Metropolitan’s back, meeting without his knowledge (a canonical no, no) to ambush him last Thursday. And it is confirmed that Jonah had no idea what was coming. He had an idea that something was afoot, (lack of phone calls from members of the Lesser Synod, little contact with Kishkovsky and Jillions) and smoke signals from the DC nuns that a power ally Fr Victor Potavov had suddenly turned on them and forbade his parishioners from having any contact with the nuns. Potavov and Kishkovsky are two sides of the same coin.

    You add all of this up and other information that has not yet been double or triple confirmed and I think the anit-Jonah faction has finally got him and he is about to be ousted.

    I can’t help but think that the intercepted email exposing the cabal of Stokoe, Reeves, Skordinski, Soladow, Nescott showing the plan of getting rid of Jonah before the last AAC, then having a series of temporary administrators to lead the OCA until the next AAC, was and still is the working plan for the OCA.

    The OCA is about to embark on a dangerous path that will further injure it. I hope I am wrong, but I think we are going to know more very soon.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Niko, if what you are saying is true (and I hope it isn’t because I haven’t heard anything like this), then the OCA will implode in short order. Clearly His Beatitude’s antagonists who crave the white hat are not morally fit nor have the command presence to inspire respect. In fact, other than Bishop Basil of Wichita, there isn’t an Orthodox hierarch among the ACOB who has anywhere near Jonah’s gravitas and Q factor.

      It would be another lost generation for American Orthodoxy. (I wonder if HB’s antagonists aren’t working with cabals within the GOA to make this come about.)

    • Carl Kraeff says

      That was fast work, Nikos. Just yesterday you asked me if you should write fiction. This morning I said that you had a flair for it. An hour later, you put out this great fantasy. Ludlum would be proud. Again, congratulations.

      • Your response, Carl, is what the OCA brass is counting on.

      • When Carl Kraeff peremptorily declared Nikos’s message “great fantasy”, he demonstrated not so much analytic ability as haste to say something. Nikos’s message is partly an accurate extract of some chancellor’s recorded notes…..that much cannot be a fantasy, surely! Nikos also, as is his indubitable right, presented an hypothesis, or hypotheses, relative to those notes. If one is, oh, the Dowager Manchu Empress of China, or the not-so-grand Ayatollah Khamene’i, one can make such peremptory declarations and all must keep a reverent silence. But here, on Monomakhos, shouldn’t we show contributors the respect of providing a basis, an analysis of Nikos’s message in order to help us reach an intelligent conclusion? I’m sure Monsieur Kraeff would be among the first to decry and deplore the actions of ANY hierarch who issued such snap judgments without deigning to provide a rationale. Or?

    • Nikos, you are dead wrong about Fr. Victor Potapov, who was justly concerned about the presence at the monastery of a very disreputable priest to whom the nuns had become overly attached. Met. Jonah welcomed this young, troubled priest to DC years ago not really knowing anything about him. In DC, the priest raised eyebrows everywhere he went with his odd and inappropriate behavior, before finally running afoul of the law. The notorious SMPAC report used this priest’s criminal record to attack Met. Jonah, but the nuns were more to blame. They refused to believe anything bad said about him. Fr. Victor was only protecting his flock in canceling a children’s retreat at the monastery while the priest was still there. He has since fled the country.

      • Deacon Patrick,

        I don’t question your take on the matter. But what is also true is that Fr Victor has allied himself with Fr Kishkovsky to use the presence of this priest to hammer the final nail in +Jonah’s coffin. Was +Jonah taken in by the nuns? Probably. Is it enough to take +Jonah out? God will be the judge of that one.

        • Fr. Victor most certainly did not, as you say, “use the presence of this priest to hammer the final nail in +Jonah’s coffin.” If Syosset used Fr. Victor’s concern to revive this worn-out complaint against +Jonah, that is not Fr. Victor’s fault.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Excuse me, but let’s have a little perspective here. No charges were filed against this priest. The nuns are God-fearing women. And if the priest’s alleged actions are being used as a cudgel against His Beatitude by his antagonists, then we’ll just have to open up files on other priests who are presently serving under other bishops.

            • Yes, except the files of Fr. Gregory Becker, Bp. Mark Forsberg and Archdeacon Gregory Burke. It is called selective transparency and accountability. And of course, the DUI of +Benjamin, the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Solak in +Benjamin’s home while in Alaska, while the cases of Frs. Susan and Fetea are punished by +Nathaniel. And now the transsexuals in SF with +Benjamin’s blessing; while the DOS is deprived of its favored candidate and still is footing the bill for its “guest” +Mark Maymon. Maybe when +Jonah is “retired” the clergy and faithful will finally wake up to the fact that the OCA is corrupt.

              I can almost see the press release from Syosset:

              “The Holy Synod, meeting in Special Session on July 7 has accepted the voluntary retirement of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah due to health reasons. We sincerely thank His Beatitude for his service to the Church and ask God’s continued blessings upon him in retirement. The Synod asks the clergy and faithful to keep him in your prayers.

              His Eminence, Archbishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania is appointed Locum Tenens (or fill in whatever name) by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America effective July 9, 2012.”

              Then there will be a letter from +Tikhon (written by Kishkovsky) telling us that all is well and life goes on in OZ and pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

              It all stinks to high heaven and God will not be mocked. Or maybe this is another fiction spun by good ol Nikos. Stay tuned.

          • George Michalopulos says

            For what it’s worth, the priest in question has been long-gone from the US. I seriously doubt that Fr Victor would use this an excuse to keep his children away from those wonderful ladies and their God-protected monastery. Something doesn’t smell right.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says


              The SMPAC spun the priest’s case in the worst possible way to blame +Jonah, but +Jonah himself admitted in his rebuttal to the SMPAC that the priest had a serious alcohol problem and that he was jailed for trying to force himself on a woman and then resisting the police. I believe other allegations have arisen more recently, and I know for a fact that the priest was at the monastery as recently as March.

              Please do not fall for the foolishness that there are just two sides in this mess and that everybody on one side is a saint and everybody on the other side is a devil. Reality is a lot more complicated.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Deacon, I actually know one of the nuns. I asked her flat out about the priest in question. Although he does have some problems (as do we all), he’s not a rapist. And yes, I know that reality is complicated nor do I believe that one side is all good and the other all evil.

                As far as “resisting the police,” are you sure that this is a road that Syossett wants to go down?

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  George, I don’t know what you mean by your last comment. +Jonah says in his rebuttal to the SMPAC that the drunken priest fought with police when they responded to the woman’s call for help. If you believe +Jonah, the man ought not still be a priest.

                  • Dn. Patrick,

                    I think as this all begins to come together, what is a consistent string is the insistance of the DC nuns that Fr. Simeon is a good guy, misunderstood, and a victim. That is total and complete BS. Fr Simeon is a bad egg. For whatever reason the head of the woman’s monastery feels a need to protect him as if he is a child.

                    I believe that once +Jonah knew that Fr. Simeon was beyond help, one might say, he cut his ties with the man. Lest we forget, Jonah allowed the SMPAC report to go forward. This man is now ROCOR’s problem, and to the degree the nuns sold a bill of goods to ROCOR, that is not Jonah’s problem.

                    I agree with you that Fr Victor acted in the best interests of his flock in not letting anyone from his parish go there because of Fr. Simeon. I would have done the same thing. Was Fr. Victor used by Kishkovsky to get +Jonah? The best one might say is that Fr. Victor said what he said and he is letting the chips fall where they may. It is not up to Fr. Victor to protect Jonah nor fight his battles.

                    Now, Jonah is told to resign. Jonah has resigned verbally. I don’t think anything is in writing yet, but it is hard to imagine how he can continue if the entire Synod is against him. I am not sure that Jonah did anything wrong in the Fr Simeon saga except not act with the speed and direction the synod demanded. If someone is looking to oust him, they were able to spin this into a web to catch a man who is loathe to fight.

                    Sadly, in the end, the unreasonable and wrong-headed devotion of the Abbess of the DC nuns to Fr Simeon will signal the end to Jonah and the end to that monastic effort in the USA. Everyone has to make their choices, the Abbess made her choice, Fr. Victor made his choice, Jonah made his choices and those who wanted Jonah out found the keys to the kingdom of their own delusion.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      Nikos, I don’t know how this resignation came about. Could you explain to me just what role you think Fr. Victor had? If he just asked Syosset for information on Fr. Simeon, that hardly makes him responsible for +Jonah’s downfall.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Deacon, I never saw the SMPAC report. Remember, nobody was supposed to see it. Except for Stokoe and his handmaidens.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      I have the SMPAC report and +Jonah’s rebuttal in front of me. (No, I didn’t get them from +Jonah.)

                      But somebody please explain to me: Were the three thumbs-down to my previous post meant to express the opinion that priests should be allowed to get drunk, assault women, fight with police, and remain priests? Have we no standards for Holy Orders?

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Deacon, probably some people are upset that your words can be construed as piling on HB, otherwise, I don’t know. I certainly don’t feel you are but given the heightened tensions, anything less than laudatory may be seen as a betrayal.

                    As for the SMPAC report, I believe you when you say you have it (and Jonah’s rebuttal) but unless I get a copy or you post it somewhere, I’m at a disadvantage so any further commentary or apologia coming from me concerning its contents is moot.

                    Having said that, I’m not sure how HB is to blame because ROCOR accepted the transfer of the priest and the nuns (who again I hasten to add about the nuns have done nothing criminal). If Fr Victor is (as you say) upset at HB, then he should complain to his Holy Synod and ask them why they accepted these people.

                    I simply don’t buy the proposition that Fr Victor is upset with Jonah because ROCOR accepted the people in question. ROCOR’s synod is full of responsible, sober men who know what they are doing. Otherwise, I’d have to believe that Jonah has hypnotic powers which can transfix ROCOR’s synod and bend them to his will.

                    That’s why unless I hear it from Fr Victor himself, I can’t buy this scenario. It just doesn’t pass the smell test.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      George, I [STRONG EMPHASIS] am not saying Fr. Victor is upset with +Jonah. I’m only saying he was right to raise questions about Fr. Simeon and to not simply believe the nuns, who are hardly impartial judges, having been closely associated with Fr. Simeon since he was a teen.

                      Nikos is the one alleging that Fr. Victor somehow conspired with Syosset against +Jonah, and I just don’t see any reason for that suspicion. It doesn’t make sense. So far as I know, +Jonah is well liked in ROCOR, and Fr. Victor has only been his friend. I suspect that others are using Fr. Victor’s concern about Fr. Simeon to lend — no, steal credibility for an attack on +Jonah, but there could be nothing more to that than Stan Dreszhlo’s perverted imagination.

      • Would that Father were one half as discerning relative to ever-memorable “Brother Jose”, and Bishop Basil (Rodzianko). As long as he is consulting with Father Leonid, he might consult him about the latter As for the former, the less said the better!!

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          I didn’t know Brother Jose or Bishop Basil. But I know +Jonah, the nuns, and this priest as well as or better than I know Fr. Victor, and on that basis I’m confident Fr. Victor was justly concerned and acted appropriately.

          So far as I know, +Jonah’s only fault in the case was in being too trusting of others and too slow to act on allegations of misconduct. That’s hardly a matter of dispute. The same could be said of him in many other cases. He’s too patient and forgiving for his or our good.

          • George Michalopulos says

            He may very well be. In that case, he is close to the Lord who is quick to forgive.

          • That’s certainly an interesting flaw for a bishop – too patient and forgiving! It may be a flaw, but it’s better to have too much rather than not enough of good things.

      • knows the truth says

        When another person tried to point out the truth about this troubled priest here on this site, that person was demonized even though she spoke the truth. She was even censored by this site when she tried to post an update on the situation. Now the truth is finally coming out albeit slowly (most likely because the law is involved and this is public record). Hmmmm, I find this very interesting.

        • The law is the correct way to deal with sexual abuse/assault … assuming that’s what the allegations were about.

          • knows the truth says

            Yes, Um, you are correct. The law is the correct way to deal with certain kinds of behaviors.

            And police reports are public record…there is no leak of secret documents. That is just paranoid speculation, not fact. Plus, when somebody gets the attention of police, people around the situation, bystanders and witnesses, end up accidently “in the know”. Including people who are not Orthodox, who have never even heard of Johah but who are sickened by what they see. Again, these witnesses are accidential, not people who have a vendetta against OCA or Johah.

            • So in this case, can you post a link or links to the relevant police reports or court records (since you are in the know and no one else can do this for you), or can you have someone get physical copies, scan them, and post those online. If they are actually relevant to the current scandals in the OCA, George would probably post them here in order to bring clarity to what has happened and what might happen in the future.

              Generally when an administrator is fired because of sexual misconduct committed by someone else (this seems to be what you are implying), it is to improve the public image of the institution. It is purely a PR move. It generally doesn’t reduce institutional exposure to lawsuit in any way. When that is the case, the offenses and their harm to PR are noted specifically by the board or administrator doing the firing. Otherwise, the firings might not seem justified and you do not get the PR benefit. What seems to be happening here is that a case or two in the civil courts (or even perhaps an imaginary case or two along with the noise of some real but less than entirely relevant cases) are being used as “the best excuse anyone could find” to fire someone. That’s how things appear. Given this context, I hope you can understand why people are skeptical of anonymous reports without documentation. It is nothing against you or the other anonymous accusers, it is just not something the general public is prepared to take on faith at this point. Since you claim there is now public documentation, it would be a great service to provide that documentation. Or if you are simply predicting that public documentation will come some day in the future, it would also be helpful to know that and some details about where we can expect to find that information when it emerges.

              I hope that you understand, I am NOT accusing you of lying. It is just that a more rigorous presentation of the facts as the civil authorities understand them would be helpful. Very little else is helpful in this situation given the hatred that a gay rights activist like Mark Stokoe has expressed toward Jonah and the demonstrated willingness of so many in the H of B and MC to follow Stokoe’s agenda. We know without question that there are powerful forces within the OCA that have been trying to smear Jonah. We know these forces are evil. Within this context, strong proof is required to just roll over and give a man like Stokoe what he wants. So I don’t mean to diminish your experience, whatever it may be. I’m just asking that you understand the context too.

              • knows the truth says

                I never implied that there was a link between the misconduct of the now gone priest at the monastery and Jonah being dismissed–where did you get that from my comments? I was commening solely on Fr. Simeon and the truth regarding his behaviors. I am not sure there is any relation between the two and yes, it seems extreme to me if they got rid of Jonah for that reason alone.

                As far as my being offended by you and your possible disbelief, I am not. I, and a group of us, have been steadfast in our concerns, based in truth and fact, about the priest (and head nun) who is now hiding in Greece. And now finally the truth is coming out and we are feeling good at finally being believed. And again, some of us ‘in the know’ are not even Orthodox nor even knew of Jonah. You probably find that hard to believe, but it is true.

                I will think about your request regarding posting my ‘evidence’–mainly because when one of us tried to post an update that Fr. Simeon was removed from the monastery, the comment was blocked by the moderator, which tells me the head of this board is possibly not interested in parts of the truth. So, if that is the case, then how can you ask me/us for specifics now?

                • knows the truth says

                  Also, who is Stoke and why should I be concerned about him regarding my information?

                  • knows the truth says

                    Ok, Mr. Um, I re-read your post and I am now getting the bigger picture; I apologize for being a bit slow. You are thinking that somehow ‘the higher ups’ are using the Simeon situation to go against Jonah–is that correct? I just dont know if there are any links there… somebody on this site stated, Simeon is a “bad egg” but how is that Jonah’s fault? I mean, there are evil priests that engage in wrongdoing and break the law but I am not sure how that can be used as a PR move against Jonah. I could be wrong–I know very little about Jonah, OCA or most of what is being discussed here. But I do know about Simeon’s bad behaviors that violate the code of conduct that regulate clergy in addition to the law.

    • Disgusted With It says

      “They approved the establishment—as a pilot project, under the direction of Fr Ian Pac-Urar—of an Office of Continuing Education for clergy and lay church workers.”

      I’m not familiar with Fr Ian Pac-Urar? Where does he serve and from which seminary did he graduate?

  2. In fact, Gerasim is being shipped to California to be under the watchful “training” of +Benjamin.

    I think the word you are looking for is “grooming.”

    As an Orthodox reader who gave up on caring about this whole garbage barge of a Synod a long time ago, I only want to say that if Nikos is correct, I don’t see how Met. Jonah has any way out. He could call in the “nuclear option” with Moscow, but I am not sure that Moscow would support him now. It is not clear who are Jonah’s supporters, besides many of the readers of this blog. I am not a member of St. Nicholas parish in Washington, but I know through friends who are that there has been a lot of hurt and disillusionment among HB’s supporters there over his failure to stand with them when they have taken hard, Orthodox stances against certain factions in the parish. The message I have heard is that Jonah is a good man, but will cave under the least little bit of pressure, because he hates conflict.

    If this is how it really is, then I can see how Moscow would figure that it has too much to lose by backing Jonah. Whichever way this goes, the OCA as an ecclesial body is going down the tubes. The death will be ruled a suicide, and the gunpowder will be found on the hands of two generations of men who have run our church … right into the grave.

    By the way, I hope OCA congregations who think that they can up and leave for another jurisdiction know that if they do that, they will lose all church property. Our people will be in the same situation as the conservative Episcopalians. Maybe it will be worth it, but there will be a cost.

    • All I can say is, Met. Jonah, for someone who is allegedly weak and hating conflict, has weathered every storm that has come his way so far.

      Also, don’t ever underestimate Moscow.

      • To survive is not the same thing as to prevail. This is not my parish, but my friends who worship there report to me that there has been some real damage to persons who made an effort to stand with Jonah, and who believe he caved. I do not know this firsthand, so it could be mistaken. I hope Monomakhos readers who are part of that parish will set me straight if I have wrong information.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Helga, I do with they’d come in and ride herd. If the liberal bishops win then we’ll be seeing gay marriages in the future. This will also give the GOA an out so they won’t have to confront the deep moral issues of the day.

      • One might say, in full accord and agreement with what Helga wrote, that Metropolitan Jonah, though failing to meet most of his goals, still has managed to hold on to his job by his fingernails. Helga’s clockwise spins support the counter-clockwise spins.

        • Your Grace, I say Met. Jonah has accomplished a lot for a man who has had to hold on to his job by his fingernails. If he had support from the people who were supposed to be supporting him, he could do so much more.

    • Roddy Diaz says


      A lot of that property is heavily indebted. The Episcopalians usually owned the property free and clear so it was a real loss only to those traditiionalists who helped build the churches in the first place. A mass exodus of traditionalists from the OCA would cause its immediate financial collapse.

      • Where would traditionalists go? I’m the kind of Orthodox Christian who doesn’t want to get involved in church political struggles. I liked Jonah when he was elected and was on his side in the conflict with the Synod last year, but I have come to believe that these issues are not black and white, and that the Synod has some legitimate beefs with His Beatitude. I admit that I can’t follow the complicated politics of the OCA, and would rather not get involved. However this move by Archbishop Nikon to cancel the election was so shocking and so transparently political to me that it makes me wonder what the hell (I choose the word carefully) is going on at the top level of the OCA.

        I want to know if its true that Bishop Benjamin chrismated a pair of transgender lovers at Pascha. I keep getting the feeling that Benjamin is running the show now, and if he is, and this is the model of the OCA we have to look forward to, then I will really be distressed, because I have lived through the destruction of one church by homosexuality, and I never imagined I would see it in Orthodoxy. When all the Stokoe information came out about how he was openly gay and living with a man, and had a leadership role nationally in the OCA, that shocked me because the bishops knew this, and were fine with it.

        I would be very happy to be left alone in our parish to pray and receive the sacraments, and let these bishops do whatever they want to do, just leave us alone. But it’s starting to look like that is not going to be possible.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Hard to say. My feeling is that Traditionalists will go to the nearest ROCOR parish. If there’s no ROCOR parish nearby, a mission can be set up. The word on the street is that His Holiness Kirill is using ROCOR to get around the fact that the MP/American parishes are restricted in number. I do know for a fact that ROCOR now has a Western Rite Vicariate that has actually outrgown Antioch’s in number of parishes (or so I was told).

        • Yes, Trusty. You wrote this: “When all the Stokoe information came out about how he was openly gay and living with a man, and had a leadership role nationally in the OCA, that shocked me because the bishops knew this, and were fine with it.”
          Not only were they “fine” with it, one of them, as is well-known, provided the code words for that program: “We are free men.” So…..Bishop Mark Forsberg, Archdeacon Gregory Burke and the REST of them are just part of the famous “FreeMen Program.” It just keeps popping up all over the place. Credit must be given where credit is due!

          • George Michalopulos says

            Your Grace, are you talking about the “Fremen” of Arrakis? These Fremen sound like Ganymede to Syossett’s Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.

            • No, George, the Free Men in the Midwest Diocese of the OCA,most famously, and elsewhere,have no connection with the Fremen of Dune. Rather some of them, like Steve Brown’s spouse, are a lot like Feyd Harkonnen, or, even better, the Honored Matres of the Scattering!

              • George Michalopulos says

                Wasn’t it Feyd Rautha? I can’t remember if he was a Harkonnen.

                • Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, brother of Rabban (the Beast) Harkonnen, nephew of the Baron.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    It’s been thirty years for me Your Grace. Your memory is prodigious indeed. I look forward to making your acquaintance soon.

                    • But George never forget that Bp. Tikhon is that crazy loon from the land of fruits and nuts, not to be trusted in anything he says or writes. 😉

            • Jane Rachel says

              Archbishop Job said, “We are all free men.” Most of the priests of the Midwest OCA signed a letter throwing their support all around that bishop. It made me sick then and it still does.

        • This is just so discouraging. I’d like to know if Bishop Benjamin did this as well. However I would not be flocking to the local ROCOR parishes here. One parish has deliberately gone out of it’s way to discourage Americans from coming and has switched to using mostly church Slavonic. It’s driven away pretty much all converts who used to attend. There were also completely different standards for being allowed to received communion for converts and Russians. The converts having the high standards.

          And the other parish has an absolute control freak for a priest who actively tells his parishioners what parishes they are allowed to even visit etc (Doesn’t include the other ROCOR parish). And while I brushed off the rumors for years I had one interaction that was truly awful and left me knowing that I would never ever ever attend the parish and deal with him ever again. Period. I feel like I’m stuck though over all I’d happily be under the MP or ROCOR otherwise. They just need to not leave crazy priests in the same parishes for decades.

          • Irene, I don’t doubt your experiences, but parishes are all different and some are more hospitable than others. For some, their local ROCOR parish wouldn’t be very different from an OCA church, and I’ve been to some OCA churches that aren’t that different from your description of local ROCOR churches.

            • My family would gladly go to a nice ROCOR parish at this point, Helga. Truly. I know parishes vary a lot whether they are OCA or ROCOR. I’m just saying in my area I know that no one is itching to go to the ROCOR parishes here for a reason. Besides the problems I mentioned there is a lot of bad blood between the OCA and ROCOR here due to a split years ago. I really wish we had more options.

        • It is true, sadly. I understand this from a witness; as well, they continue to be communed. Lord have mercy.

    • If the OCA fails, and if parishes leave for more spiritually stable ground, then I am sure the properties will revert to the diecese. So will the mortgages, the insurance premiums, the utility bills and every other associated expense. Nikon will end up as locum tenens of a lot of empty buildings. And how will the empty husk of the OCA meet those expenses? They are doing their best to kill the Southern goose that lays their golden eggs. Whether the Synod succeeds or fails, they lose.

    • says

      The situation regarding OCA parishes leaving for another jurisdiction could be different than that experienced by conservative Episcopalians. The Episcopalians had money for lawyers, court costs and other expenses of litigation. If a large number of OCA parishes decided to leave for another jurisdiction simultaneously, it may not be possible for the headquarters to litigate the status of parish property. Also, if Moscow were to somehow determine that autocephaly was improvidently granted and act to revoke it, and assert jurisdiction over the “rebel” churches, it is possible that civil courts would decline to interfere in what would be viewed as an internal church dispute, not subject to resolution in courts. Or, as was noted above, the central OCA administration could find itself in temporary possession of many buildings, stripped of sacred vessels, removable icons, metric books and whatever else was not nailed down. And, with no clergy, congregants, or services, would the structure still qualify as a “church”, exempt from property taxes? That is a question some anti-church atheist type would likely ask the local tax assessor. Answering those types of questions also requires money and lawyers. This could be costly, in more than one way.

    • Pravoslavnie says

      It has been my understanding that, unlike the Episcopalians, OCA parishes hold title to their own property. It was a consequence of the Metropolia losing its Synodial cathedral in NYC to the Soviet backed MP in the 1920’s, a case that was decided by the US Supreme Court in favor of the MP. Supposedly the Metropolia told all parishes to take their own title to protect themselves.

      • Most Episcopal parishes also hold clear title to their property. In some states, they have been allowed to keep it as per neutral interpretation of the law. But in many states, the national church (which isn’t even incorporated and therefore can’t strictly speaking even represent itself in court) has succeeded in convincing the courts (some sympathetic to the gay rights agenda and some just easily confused) to give the property to whomever the national church wants it given to. These rulings are “justified” based on a gross misinterpretation of a SCOTUS precedent. In these unjust rulings the various state courts have ruled that the Episcopal Church is a “hierarchical religion” (this definition itself something the simpleton courts take the national church’s word for without doing any finding of fact) and as a result (based on misinterpretation of SCOTUS precedent) give the national church a special right not held by any other entity in society to impose a unilateral trust on the property of others at any time (no written notice required) even when doing so specifically and unambiguously contradicts written property deeds and the will of donors.

        Having said that, some courts have made decisions consistent with common sense and justice. The only state supreme court to get this right so far is that of South Carolina (where justices have noted that any parish or donor wishing the diocese or national church to have their property is free to say so in the appropriate legal documents). Several other cases have yet to reach the level of a state supreme court. And several state supreme courts now have botched these cases so badly one wonders if civilization was ever a really viable notion in the first placel. Unfortunately the SCOTUS recently declined a request to bring clarity and justice to this chaotic mess which really is curtailing rights guaranteed under the constitution. But again, the Episcopal Church has not had the good fortune of being able to tell every court throughout the entire nation how high to jump and when.

  3. A quick note: Fr. Gerasim’s surname is Eliel, not Eliul.

    Archbishop Nikon predicates his argument on the idea that if the South nominated a candidate which the Synod did not approve of, they would somehow be forced to choose a candidate for the South. That is false. There is nothing about the election process that would put a gun to the Synod’s head and somehow “force” them to choose a candidate that the DOS did not know. They did this several months ago when Alaska nominated Fr. Juvenaly Repass and he was rejected by the Synod. This did not force the Synod to choose someone for Alaska, it only bounced the ball back to the diocese to try to nominate another candidate, just like you said, George.

    Archbishop Nikon also bizarrely claims that “none of us have ever met” Fr. Gerasim. Hundreds of people in the DOS have seen them together. If Archbishop Nikon somehow failed to ever have a conversation with his travel companion over the course of their time together, that’s a further example of incompetence and lack of attention on his part.

    All Skovran did was rehash issues Fr. Gerasim had already stipulated to in his autobiography, then try to trick people into thinking they were somehow much worse. The bottom line on all of it is that anyone with the education expected of our bishops know that Skovran’s arguments are total nonsense. Skovran’s attacks are a transparent attempt to bully others in the DOS from supporting Fr. Gerasim. If Archbishop Nikon takes Skovran’s “charges” seriously, this is yet another example of the archbishop’s incompetence.

    A side note: Skovran also claimed that Bishop Mark was “railroaded” by Monomakhos. Let’s be very clear: nobody railroaded Bishop Mark except Bishop Mark. Bishop Mark was welcomed like a hero, but he spent the goodwill he was given like the prodigal’s inheritance, treating the clergy and the faithful like garbage, allowing no questioning of his poor decision-making, forcing the cathedral to use the music he was used to instead of humbling himself, being the new guy, and learning theirs.

    (The email theft actually didn’t come to light until after Pascha, and after Bishop Mark’s abusive behavior had done a lot of damage. The email theft pretty much served to show everyone what Bishop Mark is like when he thinks nobody is watching.)

    I agree that the South needs to get rid of its locum tenens. The key there is Metropolitan Jonah, who has the authority to appoint locum tenentes as he sees fit. Obviously, he has troubles of his own right now, so that may not be possible.

    The thing is, the Diocese of the South holds several mortgages of its parishes. What happens if those parishes default on their payments to the diocese? What happens if the faithful leave the DOS-owned buildings sitting empty?

    • I am glad you pointed out Helga that Nikon has met Gerasim and that there are pictures. I do not follow these things closely, but when I read that letter from Nikon, I thought it was a weird thing for him to claim. How could it be true that no member of the Synod had ever met Gerasim? The man has been at St. Vlad’s for several years, and it was known when he started the seminary that he was going there for theological training to make him better bishop material. I thought Nikon was lying about this, but if you are right that photos of them together exist, then the question is not whether Nikon is lying, but why he would trot out such an obvious lie.

      Poor old Diocese of the South, you are about to be hosed hard…

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        We’re born rebels.

      • Fusty, Archbishop Nikon, a widower, is one of the kindest, or almost the only kind, diocesan bishops in the OCA. Nevertheless, his intellectual prowess do not measure up the same way. There’s a popular figure of speech these days about buckets or pails and hammers and so on, that might be apt. If you’d ask him what he meant by “never meeting him,” he’d probably explain, “oh, I meant ‘figured him out.”
        By now, in the bad old, Pishtey, Hubiak, Kondratick days, the bishops would routinely “check out” men whose names had become prominent as possible candidates for the episcopacy. The Synod would appoint a couple of its member to interview such men at Syosset and then report to the Synod. Thus, one day back in the eighties, the priests, Seraphim Storheim and Stephen Fitzgerald were summoned to Syosset and interviewed a couple hierarchs. Once, Bishop Nikolai and I were appointed to interview a candidate for a Canadian episcopal position, that is, a vicar, whom the ruling bishop reported was the most popular priest ( a psychiatrist) in the diocese whom “the people” all were in favor of. We didn’t find that candidate to be prepared for election to the episcopacy. Later on, the present (vicar) Bishop in the Canadian diocese, Ireney (Rochon), was approved and elected.
        I have nothing to do with the goings-on in today’s Holy Synod, which, in the ever-memorable Archbishop Peter’s favorite way of saying it, are mainly “re-inventing the wheel”. Due partly to there being no institutional memory there at all, and some other factors which might seem vain. In MY day, and before, Father Gerasim would have been interviewed by such a mini-committee of the Synod long ago. It’s not a perfect process, but no process is. I was surprised at my own “vetting” interview when then Archbishop Herman asked me, “Father Stephen, would you like to change anything in our Church?” I said, “Yes. I think more attention has to be given to the Mystery of Penance, which has been neglected and even diminished, compared to, for example, the Eucharist.” (I was grateful to Herman, for I thought, “If that doesn’t disqualify me, I don’t know what would!”
        So, I agree with those who opine that today’s Holy Synod, as compared with previous ones, appears to be inept and even bumbling.

        • Now, let us hear from the chorus of +Tikhon bashers out there. I can almost hear their fingers clicking on their respective keypads……….

          Your Grace, institutional history is a danger in the new OCA. Sooner or later this will all catch up with us.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Not I. It is true that I have “vigorously” discussed issues with His Grace before, but I have found myself agreeing with him in the past couple of months. Take the post that you think will offend some folks. While he does conclude by saying that the current Holy Synod “as compared with previous ones, appears to be inept and even bumbling, ” he has given a good reason for it: the reason is that because of loss of institutional memory, the current bishops are reinventing the wheel.

            • You are catching on Carl. More dots to connect in the days ahead. Stay strong.

            • Although not written in any job description, in our Church the custodian and dispenser of institutional memory was always the Chancellor’s main function. Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick embodied that in spades. There were, and are, many forces in the Church who HATE institutional memory for its having at some point or other frustrated some pet goal of their own. For such, the loss of institutional memory concomitant with the expulsion of the Protopresbyter in favor of new chancellors who have none at all has been like a visit from the tooth fairy. SEE, my friends here, all that they have accomplished and continue to accomplish!

              • Carl Kraeff says

                When I was serving in the US Air Force, the custodian was a senior planner or a historian (both positions used to be civilian jobs). Thus, institutional memory was not held by someone in authority. Perhaps, it was a bad idea for Chancellor and former priest Kondratick to have held that function.

                • Carl,

                  What you know about Kondratick is what you were fed by Stokoe. Your conclusions and speculations about him are really not germane. I am sure you think that the OCA is better off today than it was in 2006. But that number is dwindling by the day.

                • When I was serving on the Air Staff, there were no designated custodians of institutional memory, formal or informal. If one just HAD to designate such a custodian, it would be some First Sergeant, I suppose, in most Air Force and Army units.
                  Let’s not try to confuse official historians with custodians of institutional memory, which are outside the function and job description and classification of historian.
                  In OSAF (Office of the Secretary of the Air Force), my friend Dottie Saathoff was the custodian of that office’s institutional memory. But that was back in the time of the Johnson and Nixon administrations. On the OTHER hand, I don’t remember if the person holding the position of Historian was a presidential appointee or a civil service appointee of, say GS-17-18 rank.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Tahnk you for setting the record straight, Helga.

  4. The OCA is on the path in which its faithful clergy and people may have to make some very difficult decisions in the coming days.

    I wonder if St. John Maximovich would not be treated in a similar way by the current OCA synod. There were those who thought he was mentally deficient in his day, yet he has been revealed to us a saint and a powerful intercessor before the Lord.

    I find it ironic or maybe it is a sign that on the OCA website there is a picture of the Miracle-Working Icon of our Lady of Sitka. The 7th Oikos may be propthetic

    Oikos Seven
    To your icon we Orthodox run when about to embark on a new enterprise or to set out on a journey by sea, land or air, offering you a prayer of thanksgiving and asking for your blessing and your help and our deliverance from tribulation and assault; for we know you to be a strong protectress and defender, and we therefore sing to you:

    May the Most Holy Theotokos be our strong defender against those leading our ship towards the rocks.

    • Yes, let us ask for the protection of the Theotokos. Pray she will shelter our Metropolitan Jonah and all the faithful of the OCA.

      • Here’s an akathist for the protection of the Theotokos. I would like to ask anyone concerned about the OCA’s present situation to please take the time today, or as soon as you can, to pray through it on behalf of Metropolitan Jonah and all the faithful of the OCA.

        If the whole akathist is too much to manage, perhaps just praying one of the ending prayers at the bottom of the page would be appropriate.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Excellent idea Helga!

        • Thank you Helga, I was just thinking that an Akathist would be in order.

          In this crazy down-the-rabbit-hole/through-the-looking-glass course of events am I the only one who finds a thumbs down for the Akathist to the Theotokos just a little creepy?

          • It is a little creepy, but I choose to take it as a personal insult rather than an insult to the Theotokos. 🙂

            • That’s right, Helga. There are a few, maybe four or five, instances who would rather cut off their hands then click on a thumbs-up for anything you or I and some others would write. You and I know who they are. Either one of us could write “God is good,” or “I believe in one God the Father Almighty, etc.,” and we’d get a thumbs-down for sure! They always miss the old days in the sandbox, when things were so simple.

              • Your Grace, that may be the case, but I would much prefer to concentrate on praying for Metropolitan Jonah and the OCA than worrying about who may give me a thumbs-down. Boohoo, someone doesn’t like me? I’d much rather worry about a man, a man who is far and away the best Primate the OCA has ever had, being kicked to the curb for no good reason.

                • Helga, YOU brought up YOUR feeling that your thumbs were (what, “boohoo?”) a personal insult. NOW you take the high ground?
                  Trey wrote: “am I the only one who finds a thumbs down for the Akathist to the Theotokos just a little creepy? ”
                  You, Helga, did not respond to urge praying for Metropolitan Jonah. No, you replied:
                  “I choose to take it as a personal insult rather than an insult to the Theotokos.”
                  I decided to take your part and your position, and now you come out with mockery of YOUR position “Boohoo, someone doesn’t like me?”

                  • Your Grace, I take them as an insult towards me, they are just insults that don’t happen to hurt very much because we have more important things to worry about. Hugs?

                    • Hugs are needed.

                    • Seriously, Your Grace, I did not mean to hurt your feelings. But the difference between a few negative votes and what’s going on in the OCA right now is the difference between a paper cut and a collapsed lung.

          • This brings up a point I’ve been meaning to address with George. I strongly suggest removing the “thumbs down” option. Thumbs “up” is sufficient for the purpose of letting folks quickly express approval and thereby to highlight some of the more noteworthy comments. Even if a terrible post receives a large number of thumbs up votes, it does little harm to anyone. But when an individual’s post accumulates a negative rating (no matter how justly or unjustly), it can really and truly hurt feelings and discourage participation.

            It may seem like a small thing to regular contributors or those who largely agree with the consensus on the most controversial issues, but I can assure you it feels real to anyone who is not a regular contributor or who disagrees with the consensus. It increases the likelihood and severity of mistrust, miscommunication, and broken relationship when an individual who feels like an outsider sticks their neck out to say something and the masses respond with a simplistic, blanket, and anonymous condemnation (which is what a thumbs down is). But lets face it, no one — whether insider or an outsider — likes to be shot down for something they say, so I’m not sure it benefits anyone to be rated negatively. I don’t want to overstate the issue, but ideally criticisms when they are necessary would be specific, constructive, and attributable to a specific party on the blog. This requires words, and so I think there is a strong rationale for removing the thumbs down option.

            For what it is worth, other popular forums (like ESPN for example) allow “thumbs up” votes without offering a negative alternative, and the system serves its purpose well.

            I guess the one potential benefit to the thumbs down option is that it provides feedback to the regulars regarding how hospitable they are. But I believe this potential benefit cannot overcome the risk of harm to others and more importantly to the conversation itself, given that the topics discussed here are so often controversial, emotionally laden, and of genuine spiritual importance. Besides, Machiavellian contributors could manipulate the system by voting negatively to make the blog’s general readership appear petty and mean-spirited and thereby making serious discussion of important issues less likely.

            • Ronda Wintheiser says

              Maybe the thumbs are handy for… lurkers …who don’t want to stick their necks out by actually expressing an opinion or asking a question…and prefer anonymity? You know, the passive aggressive approach.


              • Exactly, it is petty and diminishes the forum.

                But as a concrete example, here is how simple it is to improve the system:

                At this precise moment, my above comment has merited a soul-affirming -7 from 11 votes cast. That means 9 people in this world discerned a personal calling and took the burden upon themselves to condemn my comment without explanation. Two had a strong enough calling to affirm it without explanation. If your comment had less than 3 thumbs up votes I would read it as an ironic commentary and basically supportive of my original comment, but with 3 or more positive votes, one begins to question what anyone is really thinking.

                If you simply remove the negative option, my original comment would have a +2 and I would feel like at least a few people read my comment and tried to understand what I was saying. Then if someone really disagreed, they could post a reply saying why, for example “Negative votes just make me feel more connected to Christ”. Then all those who agree could vote for that comment, perhaps all 9 and we all walk away intellectually enriched. Or say half of the 9 feel closer to Christ because of negative votes and half just like them because they can click a mouse but can’t type and so negative votes give them a way to participate. In this case 4-5 can vote positively for “feel closer to Christ” and once a friend posts the “can’t type” alternative criticism for them, 4-5 can vote positively for that one. The end result is that I feel better about myself and about the mostly Orthodox people on this forum and all of us have a clearer idea of exactly why people want to keep negative votes. In other words, removing the negative votes is both more humane and more informative.

  5. To all: What is this about a crowning of two transsexuals or transgender persons at Holy Trinity Cathedral? When was it? Others are reporting their Chrismation by Archbishop Benjamin. The latter is not necessarily reprehensible, but the former would be scandalous. Whoever posted that information must come up with date and place and “dramatis personae,” or else be revealed as an evil tongue.

    • It appears to be true, Your Grace and a call to Fr John Takahashi will confirm.

    • Your Grace,

      Where did you see information that it was a crowning? I only understood that they had been received……while in a relationship together.

  6. In our Diocese of the South parish, there is discussion now about whether or not we should even send a delegation to the DOS Assembly in Miami. A lot of us are feeling confused and betrayed, and have the feeling that we don’t want any part of this mess. To cancel our delegation’s trip would be a way of voting “no confidence” in Archbishop Nikon and the Synod, and besides that, I’m hearing talk that our delegation doesn’t want to go anymore. We will see how people are feeling tomorrow after Liturgy, but my feeling is that we would rather lose the money we’ve already spent on airline tickets and any deposits we’ve made at the hotel than force our people to go to the Assembly under this kind of cloud. We are on a tight budget in the parish, and after +Nikon’s move, spending anything else on the Miami trip feels like a big waste of money we really don’t have to spend.

    What are the rest of y’all in the DOS thinking?

    • Country Bumpkin says

      Mamie, I, as well as the other members of our parish council, feel that we should not be a part of this farce that will take place in Miami. We too will have to eat the cost of our priest’s airline ticket, but at least we will save the hundreds of dollars that we would have spent on hotels, food, etc. I can’t think of a reason to attend this assembly.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Mamie, CB, I’m hearing the same thing from others throughout the South. I know that I’d gladly eat the cost of my ticket rather than pay for lodging and food on top of that for nothing really at all. It’s really a shame. Luckily, I don’t have to make that choice.

        • An airline ticket can still be worth something, minus the cost of the cancellation fees, but then the purchase of the new ticket with a credit on whatever is still a dollar value on the original ticket. Might take a bit of the sting out of a cancelled trip.

          It is a real shame this came down the way it did. So many were looking forward to finally nominate someone whom the Diocese had confidence in and finally end the +Mark Maymon chapter. I am sure there is still other diocesan business to conduct at the regular Assembly that is necessary and by showing up and voicing one’s displeasure at how the DOS has been jerked around in all of this is important to share. +Nikon should be there and he needs to hear the voices of disappointment, confusion, and possibly outrage. You can bet Nick Skovran won’t be there, he has already done his dirty work and given the synod cover to do what they are doing to +Jonah.

          And we wonder why the OCA is sinking hard by the bow?

        • StephenD says

          It is being said here too and overtures are beng made to ROCOR…The delegation from here may not go ..

      • If the story this morning that Met. Jonah has been forced to resign is true, I just don’t know what we will do, or what we should do. My confidence in the Orthodox Faith does not depend on Met. Jonah, or on any bishop. It is hard, though, to see how we in the DOS can continue with such an abusive and untrustworthy leadership as this Synod.

        It will be something else to hear what people are saying at coffee hour this morning. Truth to tell, I’m not looking forward to church today. It seems like it was just yesterday that the OCA had put all its troubles behind it…

    • Mamie, CB, George, I would suggest that there is a very important reason for DOS clergy and lay delegates to attend the forthcoming assembly: to introduce a motion of no confidence in Archbishop Nikon’s leadership.

      That would empower Metropolitan Jonah – who has the right, though the Synod has assumed this authority on occasion – to remove Archbishop Nikon as locum tenens.

      • Helga, you are assuming that Metropolitan Jonah has not signed a letter of resignation.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Your Grace, if he did that, then there would be nothing left to discuss. Whatever moral authority the OCA had would be over and done with. At this rate, I’d just be happy for HH Kirill to derecognize our autocephaly.

          • Just as happy? I would be actively petitioning for it. Let’s bring Met. Jonah, the Diocese of the South, and everyone else who wants to come along under Moscow, and declare the remainder vagante and break communion with them.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Be still, my heart! Helga, in The Lord of the Rings epic analogy of American Orthodoxy, you are “Eowen Shield-maiden”!

              • Thank you, George. But I’m serious, I think you, me, and the Diocese of the South, should take Met. Jonah and just run, RUN!

                • The “resignation” of +Jonah is not just from the office of Primate of the OCA, but from the active episcopacy. You don’t think that this gang of hoodlums would relieve +Jonah from one job so they can put him in Dallas. That is not going to happen. This so called holy synod has finally got their man. The OCA is a joke.

                  It may be up to the DOS to draw a line in the sand and tell the synod enough is enough. And let them try and besmirch +Jonah’s name in public and in writing saying he is crazy, mentally ill. The dysfunction within the OCA synod is now fully exposed for all the world to see.

                  Now the OCA will be in the hands of a pro-gay bishop, Nathaniel, who will protect his long-time “friend” Bp. Mark Forsberg and his partner, Dn. Burke. And with Bp. Benjamin extending the sacraments of the church to a transsexual male to female (lesbian) couple, it would appear that demoniacs asking “What have you to do with us, Son of God” is what the OCA bishops are also saying to the Lord.

                  By their fruit you will know them.

                  • Heracleides says

                    You’ve nailed it Nikos.

                  • Nikos, you’re still speaking as if the OCA Synod would still be legitimate if they forced Met. Jonah to resign. That would not be the case.

                    • Helga,

                      I think that clergy and laity are catching on. The synod is now scrambling to make sure that every diocesan bishop is in contact with their respective chancellors to explain the synod’s action against +Jonah. Message control is in full swing and +Nikon is hoping that the DOS will go quietly and meekly into the night.

                      Consider this, the OCA will be headless until 2014 when the next scheduled OCA AAC is scheduled. Be prepared also, under these uncertain times, that Syosset will use that cover to say it would be unwise to reduce the assessment, that the status quo must be maintained. In the meantime, there will be a series of backroom deals between the bishops to ensure that all are safe and the most compromised is elected Metropolitan. They will not be caught off guard like they were with Jonah. They don’t want the Church meeting in Council, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to do another Pittsburgh.

                      I have already heard talk of parishes wanting to leave the OCA. Well, that isn’t easy if you own your own property. The OCA can lay claim to it, but if a community is in rented facilities, there is no attachment of the OCA to that rented property. So it is possible under those circumstances that a priest and community could seek canonical protection under another jurisdiction. Let’s pray it never comes to that, but boy this synod is sure giving people more reasons everyday to question if the OCA is legit anymore.

            • Helga, are you “actively petitioning” yet?

        • Back to original topic, whomever is the primate/locum tenens of the Metropolitan See has sole authority to appoint locum tenentes for the dioceses save for the Metropolitan See itself. Whomever that is would be the one to petition for removing Archbishop Nikon from the South.

          Of course, breaking out of the OCA and going to ROCOR would work, too! 🙂

          • Monk James says

            I wonder, though, if ROCOR would be as indulgent to the OCA’s majority who prefer to follow the ‘revised julian calendar’ as they are to their ‘western rite’ aficionados.

            • Most Orthodox I know, especially OCA-DOS, don’t care enough about the calendar issue to make that a deal-breaker, especially under exigent circumstances.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Most people I know in the DOS don’t care about the calendar issue. If we could break from the tyranny of the Ineptocracy, it’s a small price to pay for Orthodoxy.

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  At the end of a six-week Apostles Fast, I’d be willing to put up with quite a lot of mere ineptocracy to avoid having to live by two calendars. It’s the outright immorality one now finds in the OCA that makes two calendars a small price to pay.

              • I would amend the thought to observe that most people in the modernist jurisdictions do not know enough about the facts and historical issues surrounding the Calendar that they even have a basis for caring one way or the other. The Calendar is a complex topic and, yes, one worth caring about. Some years ago I studied enough to form a defensible opinion; however, I never could claim to be expert on the topic, nor to consider my current opinion immutable.

                • Constantine, then not even close to being baptized , let alone becoming a canonized saint, is the person who first demanded uniformity n the Christians’ calendar of holy days throughout the empire: the Church. Until then, the best guidance was that provided by the Great Apostle Paul: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an HOLYDAY, or of the NEW MOON, or of the SABBATH DAYS: which are a SHADOW of things to come: but the body is of Christ.”
                  One may also note that in the questionnaire used in the interrogation of heretics coming into the Church, it didn’t even occur to the officialdom of the Synodal Church of Russia to require submission to a calendar, and no one thought to reproach St. Tikhon with any canonical violation for his having TWICE decreed the introduction of the corrected calendar.

            • George Michalopulos says

              I imagine they would. After all, the cultural difference between the Easter Rite and the Western is massive. The fact that the ROC even considered it in the first place is liturgically a tectonic shift.

              • Old Calendar, New Calendar, Mayan Calendar, just to be able to get away from the OCA madness and schismatic bishops, who cares what calendar.

        • Monk James says

          Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says (July 7, 2012 at 5:13 pm):

          ‘Helga, you are assuming that Metropolitan Jonah has not signed a letter of resignation.’
          Even if MetJ has submitted such a letter, it’s likely that he did so under duress, which is enough to invalidate such a letter.

          • Monk James,

            You can bet that the letter of “resignation” was under duress. I mean, what do you think, that +Jonah just woke up last Thursday, went to the lesser synod meeting and said, “ya know guys, I think I am going to quite. Is that ok with you?”

            The canonical fact that this would be an invalid resignation by duress means nothing to the oca bishops. The plan all along was for +Jonah to go the same way as Bp. Basil Rodzianko. Kishkovsky told the conspirators to look up his file, the emails uncovered prove it, and this bunch of brazen bishops think that they can get away with it.

            Well, maybe they can, but the rest of us don’t need to keep feeding their addiction to power and corruption. Who would want to be a member of the OCA now? We are more than a laughing stock, we are a scandal to the Gospel.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Helga, I understand what you’re saying, but it’s very possible that the rotting husk that is Syossett is beyond repair. This undermining of His Beatitude will cause the OCA to implode sooner or later. Because of that, I can’t in good conscience advise people from the South to go to Miami. Sure, it’s easy for me to say because I wasn’t a delegate but if I was, I would have probably cancelled my ticket on Thursday, when Nikon cancelled the Special Assembly.

        • In that case, George, maybe the assembly of the DOS could move to separate from Syosset and seek a release to ROCOR. Or Antioch.

          Bishop Antoun’s not hard to deal with, just give him some scotch and he’s a happy bishy. 🙂

          • You would leave the supervision of a godly Orthodox bishop for one that blesses the communion of Roman Catholics and Episcopalians in his parishes? Aren’t all y’all raging homophobes :-)? This really is a logic-free blog!

          • pelagiaeast says

            believe me, you do not want to GO THERE. Frying pan into the fire. NO, NO!

      • another one says

        Making the assumption that there is an OCA left to govern after this last Lessor Synod coup meeting, I can think of a couple of very good reasons to attend the Assembly in Miami.

        See numbers 7 and 8 on the agenda below. First, even if a bishop candidate is not nominated, the process to be used to elect him will be decided. Additionally, diocesan council members and METROPOLITAN COUNCIL members will be elected or multiple year terms. And that boring little item re: tax status? Well your parish 501c3 status and title to your real estate may be of more interest suddenly…..

        So, in staying home, you do save some money, but abdicate your power to the folks most likely to attend – that is, those living closest to Miami. If you’d prefer that those folks most likely to support the likes of Bp Mark elect all your representatives for the next couple of years, then stay home.

        Oh, and if you are laity? After the treatment of Fr. Justin (and other actions that seem capricious to some,) just how vocal can you expect your clergy to be? If you don’t go, what needs saying might not get said.

        If all the chatter regarding His Beatitude being forced out is true, then it may be all over but the shouting anyway. Even then, you might want some say as to who turns out the lights.

        Just sayin’

        1st Plenary Session (Wednesday, July 18, 2012, 12:30 pm)
        1. Opening Prayer
        2. Welcome and Call to Order
        3. Opening Remarks, Abp Nikon, Locum Tenens
        4. Minutes of 2011 DOS Assembly (distributed via email/web)
        5. 2011 Reports (distributed via email/web)
        a. Chancellor
        b. Deaneries (Appalachian, Carolinas, Atlanta, Central Florida, South Florida, South Central)
        c. Monasteries (Nativity of the Lord, St Michael’s, and Ss Mary and Martha)
        d. Metropolitan Council
        e. 2011 Financial and 2012 Updates
        6. 2013 DOS Budget (distributed via email/web)
        2nd Plenary Session (Wednesday, July 18, 2012, 6:30 pm)
        7. Elections
        a. DOS Metropolitan Council (MC): Terms Up July 2012
        b. DOS Diocesan Council (DC)

        c. DOS Audit Committee
        8. Other Business
        a. Proposed Procedure for Episcopal Nomination
        b. Sexual Misconduct Guidelines
        c. Tax Status
        9. Upcoming Meetings and Assemblies
        a. DC Meeting and Clergy Conference
        St George the Great Martyr Orthodox Church, Pharr, TX
        b. 2013 Diocesan Assembly
        11. Closing Prayer

        • Abercius says

          Having thought about it a bit more, I have to agree. If you were planning on going to the DOS Assembly, go. Especially the laity.You have a freedom to speak that the clergy lack. Let Archbishop Nikon know your dismay. Let him sit facing you all and make him answer your questions. The bishops are out of touch, and the bureaucrats in Syosset even more so, the treacherous ones, who had no loyalty to the metropolitan and actively worked against him. Let Archbishop Nikon know the consequences of his actions for participating in this coup. These bishops pulling off the coup are the same ones who were afraid of the gathered assembly in Pittsburgh and threw the new bishop Jonah to the wolves because none of them had the courage or the words to offer the unhappy people. They have now lost the covering he provided them then. Let them hear your displeasure.

        • Joel Grigsby says

          Which Fr. Justin are you talking about, and what happened to him?

  7. I just learned from an unimpeachable source that no trangender people were ever crowned at Holy Trinity Cathedral, and that two transgender (women) were received into the Church through Holy Chrismation on Lazarus Saturday at Holy Trinity Cathedral, and that Archbishop Benjamin was in Los Angeles on that and the following day.

    • Monk James says

      The psychological (I think demonic) problems endured by these people should not prevent their coming to Christ, if they can, and God bless them for that.

      • So the Church condones fornication now? Amazing how different each jurisdiction is regarding standards for chrismation. The Greeks wouldn’t even let me convert unless my non-converting Catholic husband would agree to re-marry me in the Orthodox Church.

        • Heracleides says

          You’re approaching this in entirely the wrong manner. The correct question is ‘What doesn’t the OCA condone?’

        • Monk James says

          Kelly says (July 7, 2012 at 6:59 pm):

          ‘….The Greeks wouldn’t even let me convert unless my non-converting Catholic husband would agree to re-marry me in the Orthodox Church.’

          If that’s the case, then ‘The Greeks’ were imposing standards expressly not demanded by St Paul in the first christian century as recorded in his New Testament letters. Obviously, ‘The Greeks’ were wrong, and stand in need of correction.

      • Fr. James, I don’t think anyone would object to receiving them into the Church, only to the underlying assumption that their sexual self-mutilation is being condoned, or a homosexual relationship approved of.

        • Exactly. Any reception should include repentance where they choose to live as much as they can as God actually created them. So there would be no “transgendered” person being received. Being received while openly living a life that is a repudiation of God’s choice of their gender is a scandal. Otherwise it does imply support of what is simply a modern perversion. But I guess current modern Godless psychology is supposed to have a greater grasp on the heart and soul of mankind than the Church Fathers ever did.

        • Monk James says

          Helga says (July 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm):

          ‘Fr. James, I don’t think anyone would object to receiving them into the Church, only to the underlying assumption that their sexual self-mutilation is being condoned, or a homosexual relationship approved of.’
          That’s why I wrote as I did.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Dear Monk James–I wonder if Helga and Irene would demand their transgender operations are reversed before these persons are admitted. On the related issue of homosexuality, It amazes me that so many folks are understanding of the foibles of the hetero but have visceral reaction to even same-sex attraction. It may be that this reaction is rooted in a deep instinct that is wired into us so that we are predisposed toward heterosexuality and thus contribute to the survival of the human race.

            • Disgusted With It says


              Repentance means that the person must correct their sins if it is within their power to do so. (Which in this case it would be.)

  8. Michael Bauman says

    God bless you all and may the Holy Spirit guide you in your decisons.

  9. Diogenes says

    From xxxxxxxx

    “I heard that the bishops all signed a petition urging + Jonah to resign…”

    • Yeah, that makes sense. They botch an election in one diocese and to continue their ineptitude they force out the one good man in their presence. It’s only a matter of time before gay nuptials.

      • Ronda Wintheiser says

        I’m sorry to interrupt with an ignorant question.

        I don’t understand why Metropolitan JONAH will be asked to resign.


        • “This is the first and greatest commandment: That you love homogenital sex with all your heart, mind, strength, and especially with whatever genitalia you might happen to bring to the table.

          And there is a second like it: That you publically affirm and promote your neighbor’s homogenital sex every chance you get.

          All of the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

          • Ronda Wintheiser says

            Thank you, Um.

            Um mmmmm……. 🙂 I think I get it. 😉

          • Monk James says

            Um says (July 8, 2012 at 5:36 pm):

            ‘“This is the first and greatest commandment: That you love homogenital sex with all your heart, mind, strength, and especially with whatever genitalia you might happen to bring to the table.

            And there is a second like it: That you publically affirm and promote your neighbor’s homogenital sex every chance you get.

            All of the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.”’

            This parody of our our Lord Jesus Christ’s words is substantially infra dig for us Christians, and deserves to be deleted.

            People are exercised enough by the raw data we’ve been fed, however real or not. It’s completely unhelpful to descend to this level.

            • Ronda Wintheiser says

              Actually, even though I sort of understood the veiled implication in Um’s answer… I still don’t get it.

              Why does he have to/did he have to resign???

              Are they holding a gun to his head?

              What does the cancellation of the election in the DOS have to do with Metropolitan JONAH being “ousted”? He was duly elected. How can a pack of wolves tell him he has to go away? Again… ARE THEY HOLDING A GUN TO HIS HEAD?

              And I am hearing skepticism from my priest and some of my friends that this is maybe just gossip and not real at all that + JONAH has been forced to resign.

              HELP. I realize you all understand everything that is going on — how? I have no idea — I am just a nobody who happened to stumble on this information on this blog… But there are lots of us out here — nobodys, I mean — going about our business, unaware of all this intrigue and mystery and treachery.

              What is going on???

              • Ronda,

                +Jonah was NOT the agreed upon choice of the synod going into the AAC in Pittsburgh. The choice was +Job. Stokoe had done his best to set things up to make his path to the white hat and done deal. Bishop Seraphim was the only other serious contender, but he withdrew after he was threatened by a clergyman in the Midwest of exposing his problems, which are not being pursued by the Crown. No one expected “The Speech” from +Jonah. Yet that speech sparked something in the Church. It presented to the Church a clear path from the past to the future. A break with the status quo, a man untouched by the usual “grooming” process by the synod.

                When the votes were finally tallied, +Job withdrew. The synod was in no position that day to AGAIN overturn the popular vote of the Church. Yet, that very night Fr. Hopko told anyone who would listen that he did not believe that the Holy Spirit was at work in the nomination and election of +Jonah. The drumbeat against +Jonah began that night.

                The synod found out quickly that +Jonah would speak his mind. He expressed his belief that the OCA was the local Church in the USA and said as much in his (in)famous in Dallas. THAT speech convinced Kishkovsky that +Jonah was a loose cannon and had to be either controlled or sent packing.

                All the while Fr. Hopko did what he could to second guess almost every action +Jonah made, knowing that he could plant the seed of doubt in the minds of the bishops, members of the Metropolitan Council and clergy and laity. He considered +Jonah a threat to the OCA of his understanding and vision – and, Stokoe and OCAN kept beating the drum questioning +Jonah at every turn.

                Inside the synod +Benjamin exploded on several occasions that +Jonah was impossible. +Jonah tried his best to patch things up with +Benjamin. They both agreed to be mediated in their differences by Fr. Meletios Webber. That attempt did nothing to change +Benjamin’s mind even though +Jonah thought he had resolved his differences with his brother. Ah, +Jonah, ever hopeful, ever willing to see the best in the other.

                Lest we forget, Santa Fe was the first attempt to paint +Jonah as “damaged goods” by the synod, led by +Benjamin, +Melchedek and +Mark Maymon. They wanted him to go to a drug and alcohol rehab center even though +Jonah displayed no addictive behavior. This was confirmed by a doctor +Jonah went to. That was not good enough for the synod. Failing in that attempt, the synod went after Fr. Fester, a member of “Team Jonah” so-called and coined by Stokoe. With Fester out of the way, +Jonah lost someone willing to fight for +Jonah. +Jonah was saved for the moment because Moscow let it be known that if the synod took +Jonah out for anything but a canonical infraction, Moscow would not recognize such an action and thus those bishops would be in schism.

                Next was the run up to the AAC in Seattle where the synod would make their second assault on +Jonah, this time saying on the eve of the Council that if did not go to St. Luke’s they would dispose of him after the AAC. +Jonah gave in, said the words written for him, taking responsibility for everything wrong in the OCA. He did his St. Luke time, came out with a clean bill of health, but now “tainted” by his time there. +Jonah did a very credible job at the AAC, but still, the Church in Council was restless. They elected two people to the Met. Council both open supporters of +Jonah, Fr. Hatfield from SVS and Maureen Jury from the DOS. Syosset was able to push a vote on the Assessment to the last day and a close friend of Stokoe, Jillions and Wheeler, Fr. John Shimchek, a decent man, presented the compromise amendment to move the Assessment question along keeping the $105 amount safe.

                Since the AAC, +Jonah was further isolated with travel restrictions, on a short leash in what he could say and do, the synod continued to close in on +Jonah making the case of the nuns and in particular this Fr. Simeon as the basis for their last run at him. Under threats of having his salary stopped, a full blown investigation of +Jonah in his handling, or lack thereof of Fr. Simeon and the nuns, the final ultimatum was made at the Lesser synod meeting on July 5. Retire or be suspended and deposed. Concluding that he could not lead a synod that was against him, he gave up, gave them a verbal resignation, yet in his mind, still thinking that he was just resigning as Metropolitan but not as a diocesan bishop. He made a final attempt at trying to go back to the DOS, but by now, the synod smelled blood and cut off that avenue of “escape” for +Jonah. He had run out of options which brings us to today, Sunday, July 8. A +Jonah appeal to Moscow had been effectively cut off by Kishkovsky who lobbied Moscow hard to understand that +Jonah was mentally impaired. When +Jonah tried to make contact with Pat. Kirill, he was told that a trip to Moscow at this time would not be possible. He was finished.

                Chancellor Jillions presented +Jonah with the final decree of resignation/retirement for him to sign. today. I don’t know if he signed it or not. But I suspect that he did, under duress, but the document will state that +Jonah resigned/retired of his own free will and that it was “voluntary.” That will give the synod all the cover it needs and insure that no other Church will interfere.

                Now, we just wait for the official announcement by the synod.

                Where will +Jonah go? What will he do? How will be support his aged mother and father who he moved to DC to better care for them? Shall we hope that the synod has not clean cut him off and that they will at least treat him with a measure of dignity as a retired Primate of the Church. with some compensation or stipend? The recent treatment of OCA Primates by the synod does not give me much confidence that they will do the right thing. We can only hope and pray they do. But if they don’t we will know for sure that the priorities of the OCA have totally gone out the window leaving us with a terminally diseased hierarchy and central church administration loyal to itself.

                That is the way I see it. May God have mercy on us all.

                And here is the confirmation of things.

                • Lydia Paraskevas says

                  As more and more time lapses from our beloved Vladika Dmitri’s death it is apparent how much he shielded us from the evil workings and politics of the church.

                  The devil is alive and well.

                  May God have mercy on us all, especially for Metropolitan Jonah!

                  • I thought that very same thing this morning. Vladika was a kind, humble, holy man and a true shepherd. And now I know what I have heard so many priests in the DOS say that his temporary position as locum tenens of the metropolitan see hastened his end.

                • Thank you, Nikos, for pointing out the foundational basis of “all this”—the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters. One could even call him “Wheeler on steroids.”

                • Nikos, your summary is helpful, but inaccurate on one major point: Father Hopko did not “that very night…tell anyone who would listen that he did not believe that the Holy Spirit was at work in the nomination and election of +Jonah.” You use this falsehood as proof that “The drumbeat against +Jonah began that night.”

                  I spoke with Father Hopko the night Metropolitan JONAH spoke, and the next day. Father Hopko was nothing less than thrilled with the election, and hopeful for the future. It is well known that Father Hopko later opposed Metropolitan JONAH as “gravely troubled,” but his opposition did not start right away.

                  It is important that the truth of what you say not be discounted because your eagerness to discredit Father Hopko is so great that you make things up. The other things you wrote, to the best of my knowledge, are true.

                  In fact, when interviewed at the AAC after Metropolitan JONAH’s enthronement, Father Hopko went on record with his enthusiastic support of the new Metropolitan. You can listen to his sincerely joyful interview here:


                  Interestingly, Father Hopko speculates on the reception Metropolitan JONAH would get from the other bishops, and does so in a tragically prophetic way. Herein is something closer to the actual truth. When asked how he (Fr Hopko) thought the other hierarchs of the OCA Holy Synod would receive +JONAH, Fr Hopko said:

                  “I hope that he will be received well. However –I’m an old man now– my guess is that some will be afraid of him. He’s a ‘new entity’: he’s a young fellow, convert, raised in America, no Russian –you know, he doesn’t have any of that baggage. The other thing is, as St Basil the Great said, ‘The main temptation of hierarchs is envy.’ You get jealous of the other person (bishop): “Oh, he’s got it,” you know. But if we can conquer those things, I think he will do well. I really do believe that he will reach out. He will be a humble person. He himself said that we don’t need trips to the Old Country, we just need to talk to the bishop across the street, in the next town, in the next state, you know, and build up that unity… He’s been stressing –and boy would I ever agree with this!– the bureaucratic superstructure will somehow work itself out. There’s so many factors beyond our control. But if you build up the grassroots, the students, OCF, the monasteries where youth can go and see people really praying and fasting and loving each other, if you change the culture of the atmosphere, then there will grow up new leaders who won’t have the hangups and the baggage that other people have. So I think that if we work on building up the foundations, the rest will take care of itself.”

                  At the risk of sounding patronizing, let’s all make sure we keep to facts we know to be true.

                  • DayofReckoning says

                    So Fr Fester’s (Nikos) posting that “Yet, that very night Fr. Hopko told anyone who would listen that he did not believe that the Holy Spirit was at work in the nomination and election of +Jonah. The drumbeat against +Jonah began that night.” is proven to be 100% a lie. The AFR broadcast refutes this wild fabrication directly.

                    One more hint into why Nikos (Fr Fester) hates Fr Hopko has more to do with Fr Hopko telling others publicly not to trust Fr Fester when the mess on ocanews was going on. This is payback from Fr Fester (Nikos) for that situation. Explains his lies now and wanting to slam Fr Hopko with made up “facts” that never happened. Nikos is shrewd tho. He takes some truth and mixes in a whole bunch of BS to justify himself and the problems he brought to himself. He hopes the other facts hide the wild lie he mixed in.

                    Thanks Forcedanon for the facts. We need more of that.

                    Wonder how many other lies and wild exaggerations did Fr Fester (Nikos) spread and continually pushes here?

        • Because they hate him.

      • Monk James says

        Geo Michalopulos says (July 7, 2012 at 10:46 pm):

        ‘Yeah, that makes sense. They botch an election in one diocese and to continue their ineptitude they force out the one good man in their presence. It’s only a matter of time before gay nuptials.’

        It’s not possible to extrapolate from our present troubles to conclude that our OCA or any of the orthodox churches would ever do such a thing.

        To suggest so is alarmist and disproportionate.

    • Diogenes,

      Please provide more than ‘from xxxx’ – hearsay really isn’t that helpful, and disinformation only helps the wicked in high places.

      I assure you, soviet-style nonsense abounds in the Syosset-track leadership.

  10. Harry Coin says

    I read Nick Skorvan’s letter George characterizes as a ‘screed’. The thing is, it makes many assertions of easily checked facts not in the official biography. That’s what gave it weight. The official biography publicized in the context of promoting this person to be a bishop omitted these many things. The difference between them certainly made folk wonder what else of substance was omitted and why?

    An amazing week. Body guards surrounding Greek officials at the clergy-laity this week. A alleged teleconference apropos we know not what, of substance enough to ask a church leader to leave. Allegations leaders from another church touring the OCA’s national offices and inspecting files.

    Nobody could make this stuff up!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Harry, Skorvan’s letter was obscene. Its assertions were tied to conclusions by threads of variables. Any hack writer could take any ten incidents or personages from anybody’s life and make him a pawn of the Illuminati. If they’re over 60, they could be tied to the Grassy Knoll.

      • Harry Coin says

        Why then don’t you take on the asserted facts instead of this shoot the messenger stuff?

        This posting lists all these years in schism, allegations of following and being part of sexually dubious vagantes groups, etc. and so forth. Nobody, not anywhere, has taken on the substance of even one of Nick S.’s actual points. Plenty of ‘we like our guy so Nick wrote a screed’, but, you know, why were these things, obvious to any who were around to see, not mentioned in the official bio as regretted errors (if so they were) and so forth?

        You’ve got to appreciate the irony, a whitewashed biography being championed on this news blog while the author of some credible points filled with dates and specifics gets attacked.

        Kindly don’t make this about me, I don’t know either man and haven’t really got a horse in this race. I’m just noticing Nick’s posting is filled with easily checked specifics. Are the allegations true or are they false, to quote a famous OCA bishop who died in tragedy alone.

        • Alfred Kentigern Siewers says

          Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

          The core problem was the combination of the author’s description of the whole discussion (comparing it to a cruel “game” analogous to secular politics and warning away people with Christian sensibilities from critical analysis of it as such) with a legalistic web entwining facts with circumstantial gossip, speculation, and disclaimers to the effect that he wasn’t alleging guilt by association or relying on gossip–all while accusing the episcopal candidate in question of associating with “shady characters,” including speculative gossip in effect, without any fuller personal context.

          In this the whole approach echoed the impersonal and adversarial approach of the American legal profession, of which the poster is a member, a profession that overall has earned such low public regard. On a large social scale, and in other ways (as an aside), we can ask what leaning heavily on the legal profession’s model of human relations has done for us: Many folks on death row freed after years by DNA testing, incredibly tangled and costly litigation for businesses and individuals alike, a legal rather than personal approach to morals and ethics replacing religion in the American character, an expensive government prison industry with a higher proportion of the population imprisoned that by some counts any other country in the world (and sky-high recidivism and high violent crime rates), early convictions that follow people around like Inspector Javert for the rest of their lives on their public record, not allowing them to develop a real career ever).

          Giving an American legalistic model a decisive weight in the Church would seem to reflect a project to try to turn the manifestation of the Body of Christ in our small overlapping American jurisdiction (in the already non-canonical situation of North American Orthodoxy) decisively from a living organism and tradition into a corporate organization, to paraphrase the blessed martyr Fr. Pavel Florensky.

          A professional secular legal perspective has nothing to do with the transformative power of Christ or any kind of real personal assessment of a human being by the Church. St. Paul could not have made it through this kind of cyber-mob screening: “Heard voices! Had some kind of seizure! Was a known accomplice to murder! Hung out with radical religious terrorists!” “Check, check, check, check: No, he can’t pass our corporate organization’s psychological testing or management profiling, too risky, potential legal liability too high, and not a good fit. We’ll confine him to labor in the tent-making factory until that’s out-sourced to Mongolia next year.”

          Examples from the matter at hand:

          –A second-hand report of a bishop’s death decades ago, attributed to syphillis, with no further context. as if this is significant to the candidate’s profile, with no evidence of that.
          –Report that an early priest-associate of the episcopal candidate was at Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline. So that priest-associate “could very well have been engulfed in this scandal [there] in one way or another.” He could very well… or could very well have not: And what is the relevance to the candidacy of that observation? No evidence.
          –Whole-cloth speculation about whether the episcopal candidate likes to hear about exorcisms, no evidence.
          –Criticism of a past priest-associate of the candidate for reportedly maintaining Catholic icons (with the implication I guess, but no evidence, of the candidate having a liking for this too?)–incidentally while not noting how New Skete Monastery has done the same for years on an institutional level in the OCA with the support of its establishment.
          –Gossipy fact about Fr. Seraphim Rose’s early life without any fuller context on his life and contributions to American Orthodoxy, the presentation indicating that this was done without careful examination of the very few published books about his life, but rather by a quick online check. Checking all those few published books would seem to be a basic research stop for an effort that was not a quick shotgun hit, given that a central issue raised in the discussion is the loyalty of the candidate to Fr. Seraphim’s legacy in sticking with the Platina monastery. (And the particular point involved an issue with which, again, there is no evidence that the candidate could have had any contact, or supported, and so from the point of view of many would not be an issue in his candidacy.)

        • George Michalopulos says

          Harry, I was going to expand on Skorvan’s screed and take it apart for you but I see that Alf Siewers beat me to the punch. I’m not a lawyer and have never pretended to be one, but I could tell that Skorvan’s letter was so full of holes that you could drive a semi through it.

          If Nikon used this letter to cancel the elections then it was a dunderheaded move, one which would have never been allowed to play it outself out in the business world. Or the political world for that matter. Remember the Anita Hill fiasco? Remember how her tightly crafted scenario was blown out of the water with just a few questions to a few other witnesses?

          Fr Gerasim deserved better than this. So did the DOS.

        • Harry,

          Crawl back in your hole. Save your comments for that cesspool called the Orthodox Forum. Alf said it all so say good bye Harry!

          • Alfred Kentigern Siewers says

            Just to be clear–and he and others don’t need or probably want my defense for sure–I think Mr. Coin is a good guy who cares about the Church, as many know. I’m sure that’s true of Mr. Skovran, M. Stankovich, and others with different views and approaches. We’re all in communion together as brothers and sisters in Christ–even given vehement disagreement about approaches and ideas in these discussions, which in my unworthy view are significant because of the open question of the future viability (financially, demographically and spiritually) of the OCA as one of many jurisdictions in America. The OCA in the American situation of multiple jurisdictions doesn’t necessarily equate as an institutional organization with the universal Church. It can fail. I hope and pray that it doesn’t, Lord have mercy! And please pray for me a sinner.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Mr. Siewers,

              I am not exactly sure why you include me in this list of “vehement disagreement” as I do not disagree with your sentiment in the least. And this is despite the fact that I have been conditioned – I believe at times to my own detriment – to be “suspicious” of intent and “agenda.” Likewise, I have previously noted that the “usual” social restraints and “filters” of face-to-face human interactions are notably missing on the internet; most importantly consequence for despicable comments and assertions. It is disheartening and sad to witness the erosion of the threshold for truth that occurs on the internet; and secondly, the erosion of the simple lack of discretion – otherwise known as wisdom, discernment, or simple respect – that would suggest that, despite knowing something is factually correct – appreciating that we are all sinners and in need of God’s mercy – that it should be revealed, or worse, believing we have a “right” to know. Every example you provide I have read previously, and they are all equally despicable.

              another one has suggested that this is a matter for the Holy Synod, and I would add, “and not for the internet.” Ultimately, candidates must be selected and put forward, not by “popularity” or, as you say, “cyber-mob screening,” but by the wisdom of the hierarchs and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If we would argue the “motivations” and “agenda” of the Scriptural and Traditional authority of the bishops gathered together, what is left?

              • Alfred Kentigern Siewers says

                Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever! Dear M. Stankovich, you appear again to say in Zen-like fashion that we should not discuss while you discuss. Yet as you now know as a too-modest DOS episcopal candidate, alas we are in a North American situation where we are all in a non-canonical territory of overlapping Synods, most or all of which seem to linger in perpetuity rather than integrate in self-sacrificial love. And now it is argued here in this online blog in which you participate that in the midst of that, that we also are in an unorthodox system of protopresbyterianocracy, in which your friends could be a part if it exists. Yet why are you silent on that issue, with which your connections could have relevance in helping us here to resolve one way or another, instead of continuing to urge silence on all matters related to the Synod that does not govern you, while you continue the discussion that you say we should not have? Whether or not the claim to the evolution of any un-Orthodox OCA protopresbyterian corporate system is true, should we extend your argument to keep a veil across the workings of any corporate-style management of the OCA as infallible, in our non-canonical American multi-synodal situation, particularly if it would be following secular management models of organization rather than nurturing an organism of living Orthodox tradition? If silence is virtue here, then why not model it? And you still don’t tell us (perhaps reserving this for the release of your bio as part of the DOS selection process, or for your appearance as a guest writer for the eagerly awaited next installment of the Chancellor’s Diary on the OCA webpage?) why you involve yourself so in discussions of the OCA, when you apparently are not a member or under her Synod, opening yourself to the appearance of conflict of interest without addressing those relevant interests here?

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Mr. Siewers,

                  “Unorthodox system of protopresbyterianocracy” is a statement for the ages, fodder for a decent tattoo, and a concept to which I am silent because I haven’t the faintest notion as to what it means.

                  Secondly, as I would only be guessing as to what you mean by “Zen-like,” I believe I was objecting to the discussion of what the Fathers refer to as “murderous gossip.” And to further clarify, I was also objecting to the need of some to share, and the need of others to hear, murderous gossip rationalized as “true” (your examples of a bishop with syphilis and the sexual orientation of a monk). Since when has anyone felt encouraged or dissuaded by anything I’ve said? Nevertheless, if you judge me as attempting to limit, carry on.

                  On April 12, 1970, Archbishop Valerian (Trifa) promised me an autocephalous Orthodox Church in America when he read the Tomos of Autocephaly from the amvon of my home parish as I stood as an altar-server. He said it was for my generation, Mr. Siewars, and he looked me directly in the eyes when he said so. He promised me. You have no standing to question my interest, and you are “due” no more address than I have provided.

                  And finally, Mr. Siewers, having already expressed my distaste for smarm and sarcasm, let me close out the list with the addition of cowardice and innuendo. And so we return to this lame, pitiful, tell-me-you’re-sober business of “friends,” “connections,” “hidden agenda,” and “conflict of interest.” Seriously, Mr. Siewers? If you are so bold as to insinuate I compromise my integrity, “Gird up now your loins like a man,” (Job 38:3) and accuse me. You won’t, because you can’t, because it’s not true, and you know it. I don’t know if you have friends, but while the Scripture is clear that there is no greater love “than a man lay down his life for his friends,” (Jn. 15:13), no one would interpret this to mean “defend them when they are wrong.” And certainly not me.

                  • Alfred Kentigern Siewers says

                    M. Stankovich, forgive me. I also had forgotten that you were also at Independence Hall with Ben Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Now you receive the award for best Shakespearean-style acting in an Orthodox blog for most wordage in not admitting that you’re not a member of the OCA while telling OCA members to be quiet. But I should leave you some quiet time to help think of ideas for that new episode of Chancellor’s Diary.

          • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

            Harry Coin is a man who cares deeply about his Church. He is also an independent thinker. He deserves your respect Amos.

            • Well, Fr. Hans, judging by Harry’s post which immediately follows, I will at least agree with you that he is independent.

          • Harry Coin says

            ‘Amos’, are these items alleged below true, or are they false? This is the bit that got my attention:

            1968. HOOM founded by Earl Blighton. Discussion of the cultish beliefs of HOOM
            are for another time.
            1969. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood founded by Gleb Podmoshensky (later
            Fr.Herman) and Eugene Rose (later Fr.Seraphim).
            1970-May. Fr.Pangratios Vrionis pleads guilty to counts of sodomy and one
            count of corrupting the morals of a minor.
            1970. Pangratios deposed by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
            1974. Blighton dies.
            1978. Vincent Rossi assumes control of HOOM.
            1978. Jonestown massacre in Guyana . Over 900 cult members dead in mass
            1979. Gordon Eliel enters the University of California, Santa Cruz.
            1980. March 25. Eliel received into Orthodoxy at the St.Nicholas Russian
            Orthodox (Moscow Patriarchate) in San Francisco.
            1981. July 28. Gordon Eliel arrives at St.Herman monastery, Platina, CA
            (ROCOR). He came to visit and stayed . He did not return to UCSC.
            1982-Prior to. ROCOR makes charges of moral improprieties against Fr. Herman.
            1982. Fr. Seraphim Rose dies.
            1983- Spring. Fr.Herman, Eliel, and others from the Platina monastery attempt to
            take over Monk’s Lagoon in Alaska. They are rebuffed by OCA Archbishop Gregory
            and Fr.Joseph Kreta.
            1983- Late. Vincent Rossi, of HOOM, meets with Fr.Herman (Podmoshensky).
            1986- Early. Fr.Herman (Podmoshensky) accepted under the omophorion of Bishop
            Benedict, aka Samuel A.Greene, into the Archdiocese of Vasilopopulis under
            Metropolitan Pangratios Vrionis. No Orthodox church recognized Pangratios as a
            bishop and his diocese of Vasilopoulis as being canonical.
            1988. July 12. ROCOR deposes Fr.Herman.
            1988. HOOM “converts” to Orthodoxy under deposed and non-canonical Metropolitan
            1992. Novice Eliel is tonsured a monk by deposed priest Herman. Valid or
            1993. Winter. Monk Jonah goes to Russia under the auspices of the Valaam
            Society, which is a part of the Christ the Saviour Brotherhood, to work on
            Russky Palomnik.
            1994. Dec.19. Monk Gerasim Eliel is ordained a deacon by Metropolitan John in
            St.Petersburg, Russia.
            1994. Dec. 23. Monk Deacon Gerasim is ordained to the priesthood by Metropolitan
            John in St. Petersburg, Russia.
            1999. Fr.Benedict Greene is indicted for child abuse. Benedict left the
            Archdiocese of Vasilopoulis and was received into ROCOR in 1991 as a priest.
            1999. Metropolitan Pangratios’ criminal record is made public via the Internet.
            2000. Holy week. Podmoshensky forced to step down as Abbot of the Platina
            2000. Nov.27-28. Platina accepted into the Serbian Orthodox church.
            2000. Nov. 28. Fr. Gerasim (Eliel) elevated to Abbot of the Platina monastery.
            2009. Fr.Gerasim moves to the OCA presumably at the request of his old friend
            Metropolitan Jonah .

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Well Harry, Jonestown did happen, I remember that. I’m not sure what Fr Gerasim had to do with that. And I don’t follow why going to Valaam is a terrible thing. Is there something I don’t know that you could tell us about? Also, getting ordained in St Petersburg –is that a bad thing?

              • Harry Coin says

                George, Let’s not go pluck items out of context there. The dates and events tell a story, if they are true. I don’t know if they are, or not. Do you know if he has a college degree, the above suggests he dropped out somewhere during his sophomore year. The above if true would lead one to think he dropped out and the folk at the monastery deemed it wisdom that this fellow a couple years out from high school hang around them. A seminary degree? Any experience working a job if he is going to be given to leading people in parishes? Is your support for this person you saying none are available with greater leadership potential?

                Again, please don’t make this about me as I don’t know whether the allegations are true or not, but they have the ring of being so easily checked and not in the official bio. Well it’s weirdness that’s all.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Harry, are you reading what you’re writing? “The dates and events tell a story, if they are true. I don’t know that they are, or not.”

                  Try this one on for size: I was in the DFW airport about 20 years ago and bored completely out of my skull, so I picked up the only thing I could read, it was the classifieds, whereupon I saw this:

                  “If anybody else besides me saw Elvis Presley at the Burger King in Waxahatchie in May of 1981, please call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx.”

                  Before anybody goes off and thinks me a conspiratorialist, please remember that Elvis had good reason to fake his death. Don’t forget, he was (a) in the Army, (b) an honorary DEA agent, (c) had a secret meeting with Pres Nixon in 1971 and (d) a right-winger. He also told the President that drugs were a blight on society.

                  • George, your story checks out. According to Wikipedia there was in fact a DFW airport 20 years ago!

                    The following details corroborate your story (or at least fail to contradict it in any way):

                    “The first landing of a supersonic BAC/Sud Aviation (now BAE Systems and Aerospatiale) Concorde in the United States occurred at DFW Airport in 1973 to commemorate the airport’s completion. Concorde later served DFW from 1979–1980 in a cooperative agreement between Braniff Airways, British Airways, and Air France. Braniff ended the service due to low load factors. Braniff was the largest airline to open DFW in 1974 with a full semicircular terminal designated 2W ( now Terminal B) devoted to its operations. Other airlines, like American Airlines, only had half a terminal or less. DFW Airport opened for commercial service on January 13, 1974. The original name was Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport. The name change to Dallas/Fort Worth International did not occur until 1985.”

                    Also, and this is where it gets really cool!, if I look cross-eyed, I see DWF not DFW. Do you realize what this means?!!!

                    Lord, you now have set your servant free to go in peace as you have promised!

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Not only was there a DFW, but there was a Masonic lodge in Dallas and many Orthodox men of Greek, Serbian, and Lebanese descent were members. Some of them served on parish councils.

                      Hmmm…it’s all beginning to add up. I’ve duct-taped an “X” on my window and am shining my desk lamp behind it. I expect a visit from “Mr X” within 48 hours. I’ll let you know more then.

            • Why did Harry Coin omit:
              SVOTS graduating class of May, 2012:
              The Rev. Gerasim [Eliel] (Valedictorian, magna cum laude) (Commendation for contribution to community life) (Commendation for thesis)
              And referral to his biography at

              • George Michalopulos says

                Also, “Born in the USA, of legitimate birth,” “went to high school,” “probably played hookey once or twice,” “was a member of debate squad,” and other questionable activities.

                • “probably”?!!! George that is pure speculation, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

                  What is clear, however, is that he came of age at a time when several high schoolers did play hookey. How come he failed to publish an autobiography that discusses the theological ramifications of this fact, and how come no one is talking about that?

                • sub-deacon gregory varney says

                  In all this levirty does anybody find it strange. that mark stokoe is silenced(wonder who did that). then they throw a crum. making the traditionalists happy. then they get rid of jonah. kishkovsky is good. hes the only one to last in the oca offices for 40 years. he is good. stay tuned for more.

                  • I never once doubted that Stokoe went along with going silent as part of an overall strategy — he left the website up after all, and presumably continues to commune. His website became more of a problem than a benefit to the cause. It was that simple. The fact that his new bishop asked him to stop posting should not in and of itself win the bishop any brownie points … except perhaps as an administrator with a little common sense.

                    I’m a little surprised they acted so quickly against Jonah, but maybe it became obvious they had to act before the next DOS bishop was elected. The insightfulness of Jonah’s recent address to the Anglican Church in North America may have lit a fire under a few as well. Who knows what else. Maybe they really just don’t have much self-control, spent what they had and had to move forward … but I’m pretty sure this was all planned out several months in advance at least.

                    Until the OCA directly and officially addresses the threat of the gay rights movement to the church (in much the way the Roman Catholics are now doing), there will be no order and no peace. As I’ve said before, the gay rights movement simply wants your church more than you do. I do not see the will-power, even from the much ballyhooed DOS, to address the threat directly and effectively.

              • Harry Coin says

                I ‘omitted it’ because it wasn’t in the list I saw copied and pasted to begin with. I’m thinking that list was composed from what fell on the editing room floor when the official biography was sent out, so naturally it wouldn’t have things included there. I’m not and never did suggest it was a complete biography, only true seeming and at least I found it significant.

                So, he didn’t get a college degree then? Straight from high school to an M.Div? Yes? No? Are these facts true or not? I’m thinking from all the heat at me and not at the list that they are true.

                So, you know, note to future bio writers: Own Your Stuff beforehand because it’ll look like a coverup later if you don’t.

                • Harry, I don’t understand what you think is the big bombshell here. Yes, Fr. Gerasim spent a while in a schismatic sect, that’s not exactly news. No, he didn’t finish his bachelor’s degree. Yes, he did complete an M.Div despite lacking a bachelor’s degree.

                  It may interest you, Skovran, Rebecca Matovic, and the rest of the mighty O-F brain trust, to know that master’s degree programs, especially professional programs like the M.Div, at their own discretion, do sometimes accept students who do not hold bachelor’s degrees. Often, this is done when a candidate has many years’ experience in place of a bachelor’s. In Fr. Gerasim’s case, he had many years as a priest and had been within the canonical Church for almost a decade at that point.

                  Public information shows Fr. Gerasim began as a one-year special program student, but completed the M.Div program with the seminary’s permission and on his own initiative. His stellar academic and personal performance shows that the seminary’s faith in Fr. Gerasim’s abilities was not in vain.

                  It’s unfortunate that none of you could be troubled to, say, write to the seminary and get confirmation of this yourselves. I didn’t even have to do that much, but then, I was looking for the truth, not a reason to slander Fr. Gerasim behind his back.

                  • Harry Coin says

                    Too funny. ‘behind his back’! Furtive. Sly. Boo!

                    • Having fun with that Harry?
                      Maybe you would have even much more fun with something more in line with you intellectual level, like pin ball machines.

                • Harry Coin says:
                  July 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm

                  I’m thinking that list was composed from what fell on the editing room floor when the official biography was sent out

                  Intelligent people know how and why to challenge their own thinking before publishing their thoughts.
                  You obviously are not capable of that.

            • John of Valaam says

              Harry, you left this key event out of your timeline:

              2012 – Fr.Joseph Kreta’s mysterious death in the desert near Mesa, Arizona

              “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.” –from a 1994 homily by Fr. Jules (Winnfield)

              • Harry Coin says

                First, it isn’t ‘my timeline’, I was impressed by this timeline of ‘relevant events omitted from the official biography’ posted and alleged by N. Skorvan (sp?) which I posted here since there was so much heaping whacking going on without actually bothering to actually review the content of the statement in question. That the facts alleged there were disliked was enough for it to be ‘hated upon’, without care some might be true, some might be of importance. That’s not being a ‘reasoning sheep’ that’s just being ‘a braying sheep’.

                I regret I don’t know anything about the manner of death, nor the life of Fr. Kreta. If there was misdoing involved any with knowledge of it should go to the police immediately, right now, pick up the phone and call your local police, give a statement.

                • John of Valaam says

                  Harry, I was just joking about a “mysterious death” of Fr. Joseph Kreta–but he did pass away in Arizona this year, apparently somewhat suddenly (but not totally unexpected) due to age and declining health. He had a good sense of humor, from what I have heard, so I would like to think he would chuckle at my “joking.” Now, with hindsight, I can say that I would definitely NOT post my original entry if I had the chance chance to do it over again.

                  As for this website, I came across it last night when trying to find more information about the “resignation” of Metropolitan Jonah. The comments are very interesting to read and think about. But I do wonder how much we all could have been praying about this (sudden) development instead of spending so much time on fine-tooth-comb analysis. Also I confess that I certainly am interested to find out the actual details should they ever be publicized. We Orthodox should know about the goings-on at the top of the episcopal chain.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    And I am the only one to give you a “thumbs up,” John of Valaam, and an “Amen” from Fr. Marsellus (Wallace). Sometimes a little levity is lost on the overly concrete who would, undoubtedly “misorder” a quarter-pounder in Paris. It’s that whole “metric” thing… And so it goes.

          • Harry,

            I apologize for my crawl/hole comment. But I will still refer to the Orthodox Forum as a cesspool. As for your cut and paste of the Fr Gerasim/+Jonah/HOOM/Pangratios, etc. timeline, sounds like a perfect tool to be used by those who wish to rid the OCA of Gerasim and +Jonah. Works for me if I were so inclined (not saying you are).

            • Harry Coin says

              Where does the energy come from to talk about everything and anything but the content? What matters if I’m in a hole or in a cloud? Are the facts correct, or are they not? That’s what matters.

              Also, I accept ‘your’ apology whoever you are. I’m never offended by those I don’t know– should any ever meet me in person they’d have to bear the fact they know their anonymous personas, while I don’t. And, when offended by those I do know I tend to get over it in due course. Don’t worry about it, life is too short already.

              • Thank you for your gracious reply. Whoever I am. 😉

              • Harry, why are you asking ‘are the facts correct?” By calling your list ‘facts’ you have arbitrarily determined for us that they are correct. There is no such thing as an “incorrect fact.” Not in the real world. All facts are facts. All facts are true. There!
                Here’s another one for your puzzlement: Anyone who tells the truth is infallible when doing so.

                You’re WAY outmatched here.

                • Harry Coin says

                  Ah, yes. Well, it is good we have you around to tell us these things. Are the ‘alleged facts’ correct or are they not facts? Dance and sing!

      • The bottom line with Fr. Gerasim is that he and his monks did the right thing, even though it meant much pain and embarrassment for them to admit that they had lived a lie for so many years. Once the nature of the accusations against their “abbot” and “bishop” became clear, and that these were the *real* reasons they had been led into schism, Fr. Gerasim and his monks did what they had to do to make things right.

        Ah, I see the problem the Synod had with Fr. Gerasim now. They can’t have that kind of conscience and soul-searching on the OCA’s Synod!

    • Harry, that’s just one more Scum-Ron scandal. Don’t pay it no mind.

  11. Daniel E. Fall says

    I dunno much about the inner workings of the Synod.. I find the nomination of Gerasim unusual; mostly because I thought he was already nominated a couple of other times so maybe not the best man for any job. Perhaps I am wrong to say this, I dunno..

    As much as I disagree with Metropolitan Jonah on his wierd political posturing visavie Washington DC, USA; I don’t think he is terrible and I don’t believe anyone is out to oust him all that much. I think when he asked Garklavs to report and didn’t like the report; that was a serious problem. It was handled by firing Garklavs, right? A taste of yuk in the mouth perhaps, but not much more. Shooting the messenger happens all the time in the big world. Again, nothing that I think deserves him removal. Won’t be the first Chancellor fired in a few years.

    Just my 2 cents…idiot that I may be about bishops and such..

    • George Michalopulos says

      Daniel, Garklavs wasn’t fired because HB didn’t like the report. He was fired because he was caught in a conspiracy against his boss. Big difference.

      • Diogenes says

        No, Garklavs was ousted by + Jonah because he revealed the truth of + Jonah’s agenda to undermine the OCA.

        • George Michalopulos says

          And what “mission” was that that Jonah was going to undermine? To be an Eastern-Rite Episcopagan church? Of course Diogenes, Syossett just undermined itself, probably completely and forever. Irony, it’s delicious, isn’t it?

        • Harry Coin says

          So many of you folks posting here at heart appear really afraid of vastish theological and worship changes planned by the folk behind the synod. Changes that more or less would transform the OCA in to, what? “Walking the talk is entirely optional” “do what you want services” over in half-hour, Episcopalians in Russian echo-drag? Didn’t the new fellow in Chicago sort of set many back on their heels by dialing up the rigor a bit? How real is this fear?

    • Oh, Daniel, you gave it away in your first sentence,

      I dunno much about the inner workings of the Synod

      and because of that your comments are so typical of thinking that the not so holy synod of the OCA is a benign group of men.

      This group hounded +Jonah from day one and now they have him where they always wanted him, OUT.

      Their hand was tipped long ago in the intercepted email. The way of Bishop Basil Rozianko was to be the way of +Jonah. It all worked out just like Kishkovsky played it.

      I hope you have a wonderful parish feastday Kishkovsky, knowing that you destroyed a man’s life.

      And yes, Beck, it is time to admit that the OCA is over. The rest is a mere formality.

      Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

  12. It’s time to just admit that the OCA is over; the rest is formality. Events, which have been getting ugly for years, have reached the point of absurdity.

    It’s been a four-decade parade of highs and lows – and much of the latter has been awful. Father Schmemann, may his memory be eternal, meant well but I don’t know how the OCA was ever going to work without him around.

    The root problem is that the OCA was built on a fraud. For all its “Russian” pretentions – indulged by many, not least Met +Jonah – the OCA at its core was a bunch of hunkies (don’t jump on me, I’m part hunky myself). The core of the church was mostly Rusyns and Ukies who, frankly, got screwed by Rome out of the Unia in the USA. St. Alexis and all that, played out in the 1890s and again in the 1920s – all due to Roman stupidity and arrogance. They played at being Russian after that, something encouraged by the small but influential numbers of White emigres who showed up on these shores – but down to 1970 it really was the “Greek Catholic Orthodox” gang.

    And, let’s be blunt, the one-generation-out-of-the-coal-pits hunkies from PA are great people but not so great at leadership. So we wind up with a bunch of bishops who, deep down, feel unworthy of being at the Big Table with “real” Orthodox bishops from Russia, Greece, wherever. The OCA basically needs a session on the couch with a good shrink, I won’t even mention the sexual shenanigans …

    The DOS debacle may be the proverbial nail in the coffin, and perhaps it should be; but if not this outrage, there will be something else, soon.

    The remnants will fall to the Russians, in some way, probably something shady in usual Moscow style. Which is what the Russians have long wanted – why do you think they’ve secretly backed +Jonah for so long? (Anyone ever thought to ask what the dear Met. was up to in the Motherland those many years ago?).

    In the end the deep-seated hunky wish to be “Russian” will be met. Whether that is a good thing for Orthodoxy, especially Orthodoxy in the USA, is another matter entirely.

    PS Since this posy may rile some people up, I’m OCA, from the cradle, and I’m equally critical of cradles and converts. The former because of the whole fake-Russian shtick and their often powerful self-delusions; the latter because they often make up their own Orthodoxy which has nothing to do with the OCA as it actually is, plus they know precious little of the *real* history of the OCA, which I’ve hinted at here.

    • Beck, let’s not forget The Dumping Ground either. One reason we’re in this mess is that Carp immigrants (like Greeks esp –personal knowledge) kept the episcopal-track clergy “celibate” because every large family feared they had one potential loser/sexually immature son. What are you going to do with a guy whose too sensitive to work in a coal mine or too inept to bus tables at the family diner? Sending him to seminary so he could be an “archimandrite” would at least keep him off the streets begging.

      IMHO, the I have a different opinion as to the “lie” that you say the OCA was built on: the idea of a Metropolitan Council being equal (in reality, superior) to the episcopate is one major reason we’re in this mess. I’ve castigated Syossett in the past for being tone-deaf and they certainly deserve a huge share of the blame as well, but all churches need some level of central administration. It’s just that they allied themselves with the MC apparat and have pushed the boundaries of authority.

      I feel that the MC/Syossett apparat is far more destructive than the demographic origin story you paint. Although true to an extent, all national origin myths have holes in them so I don’t blame the CRs for stretching the truth a little bit about their Russian-ness.

      • George: Too true indeed. The stories I could share about some of the OCA bishops … honor and decorum prevent that, but you’ve got the essence already.

        • Harry Coin says

          Beck and Niko (whoever you are): Do NOT, even ONCE, EVER think that the grass is greener outside the OCA with the big hat folk. IT IS NOT. Do NOT let low self assessment allow you OCA types to think for ONE SECOND that the other folk at the table have it all going on where it counts from a church perspective. More money, more staff, more ability to have limos and walk large. But the problems ,, they are as bad or worse. Just managed. You have the ability to put an end not to financial shenanigans, but to cultures of shenanigans. Not to misdoing, but cultures of misdoing. Not to folk in black making serious personal errors from time to time, but to enabling misdoing to continue to generate loss. You are unique in this and have a better chance than you know.

  13. Carl Kraeff says

    I wonder if this posting of mine will also get moderated?

    In any case, I hope and pray that y’all do not get carried away and pursue this shark-feeding madness that is afflicting some of you. Schisms are serious business and can be serious sins.

    • Alfred Kentigern Siewers says

      Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

      Dear Mr. Kraeff,

      You raise a good note of caution. However, a more detailed question might be whether the people you know are planning schism, or the exercise of sobornost, as loyal laity and clergy with love for our Lord’s Church?

      There’s an important difference, especially in a land with multiple jurisidictions, where the above two “s” terms may be especially prone to be used interchangeably by impassioned folks of differing views, unfortunately!

      Feedback from this weekend indicates that if these accounts are true, and depending on how the details unfold, some people would plan to walk from the OCA with their feet and/or their wallets, and certainly their families’ energies, including perhaps the core of some congregations. But at least it could have an impact on the organization’s finances.

      First, if the reports are not true, shame on us, and we must ask forgiveness for even speculating–although, whatever the outcome, official communications with the faithful seem none too swift given the speed of today’s cyber-church (as shaped by the pioneering semi-official OCANews in past :)).

      But if true, what a failure by management this would seem at first report–a failure to keep everyone together in our small jurisdictional family, at a time when the OCA is challenged by demographics and efforts to move toward a more sustainable tithing system of financial support. One can only pray and hope that a misapplied corporate management mentality has not triumphed over the patristic sense of logos as meaning both reason and harmony.

      But if that is the case, rather than schism (which doesn’t necessarily equate with changing jurisdictions in the US situation, btw), one can imagine other options could find favor, as means of protest by those OCA members who in good conscience feel they can’t support another round of jurisdictional hijinks (as in the scandal just a few years ago) but stay put. Perhaps (just speculating) the equivalent of a “sobornost tithe,” in which they temporarily would direct much of their tithing goals toward the pan-Orthodox community in North America, increasing their giving toward pan-Orthodox mission, charity and monastic efforts in America, reducing the income stream headed to the CA, until the OCA sorts itself out. There would certainly be the network built up for that kind of exercise by concerned but loyal and non-schismatic laity, developed from events of the past year. But who knows what would occur?

      Meanwhile, again, instead of speculating further, let us hope this is all not true, and continue to support our Metropolitan and the Holy Synod with our prayers, and do so still in any case in whatever the aftermath.

      At the same time, we know from the history of our Orthodox tradition that respect due to our church officials by us as Orthodox Christians does not translate into blind acceptance of infallibility, particularly the infallibility of any strain of non-canonical “protopresbyterianism” :-), if it in fact exists as alleged, in one jurisdiction among many in our non-canonical North American situation.

      Neither does the respect due from us to our church leaders require a cessation of our loyalty to our Lord’s Church.

      Truly, though, I agree we must wait and see what unfolds, Kyrie eleison!

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I do not want anyone to misunderstand: I truly believe that each one of us has a responsibility to uphold the Body of Christ and to resist false shepherds. That said, I do not like devotion to and reliance on one priest, monk or bishop. Notwithstanding the example of St Mark of Ephesus, I think that in most instances the bishops as a collective, whether in a Synod or not, have been right. Here I read folks saying that they will schism if it turns out that the Holy Synod asked Metropolitan Jonah to retire. Of course it is their right to vote with their feet and wallets but I felt it necessary to caution them lest they reach a point of no return. Please do not misunderstand me here either: it may turn out the all of the OCA bishops were wrong to have asked Metropolitan Jonah to retire, at least as reported by Nikos, who seems to have inside knowledge. For now, I am willing the Holy Synod the benefit of the doubt. I do not think that it is too much to ask of others to also do that. This apparent attitude of +Jonah or nothing or nobody else just rubs me the wrong way as it feels cultic.

        • Alfred Kentigern Siewers says

          Of course, Mr. Kraeff, and please don’t misunderstand me, as we are in agreement, it’s not about any individual (or individuals) holding office, but about canonical Christian relationships between persons in the living organism of the Church (in my view, different from secular organizational models, however). Unfortunately there are indeed more occasions of Synods having been in error in Orthodox history than that involving St. Mark of Ephesus. But even so, that history usually hasn’t included cases where a Synod is one of several overlapping Orthodox Synods claiming the same territory, a non-canonical situation. That may not compound the potential for Synodal fallibility :), hopefully not. But in any case, here in the States, one person’s autocephaly can be misinterpreted as another’s schism, which can work back and forth, alas, in many directions. And I’m not sure that we should put trust in an even-less-canonical protopresbyterianism in any form, if it exists (let’s hope it doesn’t). But most of all, let us hope and pray for sobornost in any case, as we await further news.

  14. Heracleides says

    My updated take on the events still unfolding – “Unholy” – which may be viewed here:

  15. Also Anonymous says

    Is there any real confirmation of all this? Or is this just a crazy rumor spreading around the internet? People are saying things like “he has resigned verbally…” but no one is citing a source. For those of you that have “heard” all this, where did you hear it from?

    A deacon I know had this to say: “I served with Archbishop Tikhon this morning and he commemorated Metropolitan Jonah.”

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      Well, the Metropolitan was commemorated in our Liturgy this morning. And when I spoke with our priest about this, he had no idea it is going on.

    • At one point in our Liturgy this morning the Metropolitan was included by our priest when he specifically mentioned those who are ill. Not just those who need prayer in general.

      • He will still be commemorated until the announcement is made by the synod. It is normal for him to be prayed for until then.

        • Nikos, what surprised me this morning was that I had not heard that the Metropolitan was ill and our priest made no other reference to it, but clearly he was including him with those who were ill.

          • Alfred Kentigern Siewers says

            Hopefully not the ecclesiastical equivalent of Soviet hospitalization for those who don’t fit in with the regime :), but meant as a mercy I’m sure; and I’m sure His Beatitude would appreciate all the prayers he can get.

            • Alfred,

              That is exactly the nature of +Jonah’s “illness.”

              Let’s hope that +Jonah at least got as good or better a severance package than Garklavs cashed in on.

        • Ronda Wintheiser says

          Look what I found on Wikipedia:

          Jonah (Paffhausen), Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, is the primate[1] of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). He was elected on November 12, 2008, and installed to his see on December 28, 2008, in Washington, D.C.. Metropolitan Jonah is also the first convert to the Orthodox faith to be elected as the OCA’s primate. On July 6th, 2012, he resigned his see.

    • Alexandr says
  16. 1 2 Then Azariah stood and offered this prayer; in the midst of the fire he opened his mouth and said:
    3 “Blessed art thou, O Lord, God of our fathers, and worthy of praise; and thy name is glorified for ever.
    4 For thou art just in all that thou hast done to us, and all thy works are true and thy ways right, and all thy judgments are truth.
    5 Thou hast executed true judgments in all that thou hast brought upon us …, for in truth and justice thou hast brought all this upon us because of our sins.
    6 For we have sinfully and lawlessly departed from thee, and have sinned in all things and have not obeyed thy commandments;
    7 we have not observed them or done them, as thou hast commanded us that it might go well with us.
    8 So all that thou hast brought upon us, and all that thou hast done to us, thou hast done in true judgment.
    14 For we, O Lord, have become fewer than any nation, and are brought low this day in all the world because of our sins.
    19 Do not put us to shame, but deal with us in thy forbearance and in thy abundant mercy.
    20 Deliver us in accordance with thy marvelous works, and give glory to thy name, O Lord! Let all who do harm to thy servants be put to shame;
    21 let them be disgraced and deprived of all power and dominion, and let their strength be broken.
    22 Let them know that thou art the Lord, the only God, glorious over the whole world.”

  17. I’m eating pickled okra. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

  18. According to the Tradition as we received it, a meeting of the Synod takes place like this:
    1. At the center of the meeting place, that is, in front of all the attending members, the Holy Gospel, as representing Christ Himself is place on a table or analogion (same as at an AAC or Diocesan Assembly), because Christ Himself is actually presiding, and also the Holy Cross.
    2. When the hierarchs are assembled at the meeting place, in the presence of the Holy Gospel and Cross, a designated hierarch or other clergyman conducts a prayer service. Any ensuing sessions of the Synod meeting are begun with the common singing of either “O heavenly KIng” or “The Grace of the Holy Spirit.” The business of the meeting then proceeds: the First Hierarch declares the meeting open. The meetings are conducted in accordance with custom. The First Hierarch addresses the hierarchs. Minutes of previous meeting are read, and corrrected if necessary. Reports are given according to an agenda.
    3. Every session is concluded with the hymn to the Theotokos: It is truly meet….
    4. When all the agenda and new business have been concluded, the meeting concludes with the same hymn to the Theotokos and the blessing of the First Hierarch. Usually the hierarchs venerate the Gospel and Cross as well.

    I don’t see HOW such a normal meeting of any Holy Synod could be conducted by telephone, even on “smart phones.” Where are the hierarchs during such a fake meeting? In their cars, sitting in the bathroom, at the Safeway? At the gas station? Car wash? At the cemetery? Who opens the meeting and how does he do it? Where are the Gospel and Cross? (I ask that because I think it is proper for me, an Orthodox person, to do so.) What do they sing into their phones? Or do they actually meet without even invoking the Grace of the Holy Spirit? What is this? Where are we? What have we done?
    I remarked on how odd it is that a vaunted monastic Metropolitan could write a formal letter to other Orthodox Christians without mentioning, let alone invoking, the name of Jesus Christ, God, or His Holy Mother and the content would be a plea for FINANCIAL support for himself and HIS FAMILY?
    Well, if it a meeting of a Holy Synod can be convoked on cell phones, I suppose such a letter would merit only a yawn and a “so what?”
    It’s about management now, not holiness. Or?
    Why have an “election” in the Diocese of the South if the Holy Synod has already determined it will GIVE the diocese to Metropolitan Jonah?
    Some people protested any candidature of Archpriest David Brum because of alleged “Roman Catholic Formation.” Now, the Locum Tenens of the First Hierarch’s (or “Primate’s”) cathedra, is an Hierarch who was, as a fully formed Roman Catholic priest of the Romanian Greek Catholic or “Byzantine” Rite, graduate of the Russicon (founded for the purposes of fulfilling the task given the Church by Our Lady of Fatima– to convert Russia) in Rome, invited by Archbishop Valerian (Trifa) to become Orthodox and BISHOP, and who accepted….
    What may we call this: Wheeler’s Revenge?

    • No wonder they got rid of you. You would have insisted on proper and normal canonical protocols. Such a stickler for all things to be done in good order. Thanks for a reminder of how far and how fast we have sunk to our present condition.

      • It’s really, really clear – Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) should be elected Metropolitan and then he can set The OCA in order.

        To have the church run decently and in order, following the Holy Canons, what more could be asked for?

        How can people not see that he is by far and away the very best candidate?!

        Eis Polla Eti Despota!

        • M. Stankovich says


          Don’t jump the gun. If you allow Mr. Siewers a moment’s clarity, he’ll nominate me. Eis Polla Eti Me.

        • Steve Fisher says

          Bob’s definitely correct, elect Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) as the next Metropolitan and he will make everything right.

      • “They” did nothing to Vladyka Tikhon. He resigned under his own steam, due to his own issues.

  19. Anybody know what six monks left Archbishop Benjamin’s monastery?
    I received the following email this morning, relative to the St. John of Shanghai Monastery, Manton, CA:

    “Forgive me if this is the second message you got. The last did not go to everyone in my contacts list.
    I have moved to Platina along with 5 other brothers from Manton, due to the spiritually compromised state of the Monastery of St. John.
    PLEASE DO NOT USE, as the abbot there, Fr. Meletios Webber, for whatever reason, feels the need to read all my personal mail arriving there. Some of it, he forwards to me
    Please pray for us.
    God has been very gracious to us. We are finding healing and prayer and God has provided for every need.

    In Christ…”

    • Oh my goodness. Is this related to the information people were posting here the other day about +Benjamin chrismating a transgender couple, and Meletios Webber backing him?

      Will the whole OCA fall apart over homosexuality? If its happening to every other church, why shouldn’t it happen to us? 🙁

    • Yes Your Grace. The 6 who left were the ones healthy enough to deal with travel and life at Platina, which as you know is quite primitive in nature. I am sure if you e-mail Fr. Martin he will give you whatever details you need.
      It is their story to tell. But I know they left the weekend before the 4th and that the Serbian Church has received them.
      Please pray for them.

      • Thanks, Mamie and Faceit, for the information.
        I’m amazed that the U.S. postal service is not looking into this interference with the U.S. mail!!
        There’s no federal statute allowing the commission of crimes in the pursuit of religion.

        • Your Grace, since he is referring to EMAIL, the US Postal service wouldn’t really care.

          • Alec, please, explain then, how the Abbot can hold on to EMAIL and decide whether or not to keep it or let the addressee have it.

            • How many computers are there? The email could be received on a single computer, aggregated in one email program. In my Navy days, we CPOs would receive all the email for the crew on one computer, give them a quick review for any “show stoppers” (divorce/death/tragedy) before printing them and distributing them to the crewmembers. It is very possible that this sort of situation exists at Manton.

              • OK, Alec, my age is showing again! Having said that, I’d like to say that i’d be very, very, very surprised to learn that that monastery was traditionally monastic according to Orthodox Tradition and custom! I have no doubts whatsoever that the monastery of St. Herman is much more faithful to what has been passed on in Orthodox monastery life than the monastery in Manton. It was always on the verge of going totally “loosey-goosey” when I was the Bishop. I was able to prevent that with great effort and through the help of then Father Nicholas (Soraich), who knew exactly how an Orthodox monastery’s life must be conducted. Then , when Father Nicholas was taken from us to be Metropolitan Theodosius’s vicar and then to replace an Alaskan bishop who had undergone a great fall, eventually I got a vicar, Bishop Benjamin, who was totally in tune with the “loosey-goosey” system and saw to it that the monks moved closer to those city lights in a more comfortably “klein-buergerliche” comfortable place for cell-phones, lap-tops and being in touch with “where it’s at” as well as a tremendous self-advertisement program through travels, lectures and publications. When the Abbot became a Bishop, a psychiatrist replaced him. No one would accuse him of being a successor to Paissy Velichkovsky or any other monastic elder. it had become easy for the “loosey-goosey” school—-if anyone got critical, then the bogeyman/shibboleth card of “Elder Ephaim” could be slammed onto the table.
                Since then, it’s become a kind of Guantanamo: a place to send problem people to for interrogation and treatment. Wasn’t Father Jillions sent out to interrogate Father Zaccheus there as well? The former, incredibly not-together former comptroller of the OCA, Fr. Stavros Strikis is also stashed out there, is he not? He’s safe because he knows too much that would rehabilitate the reputation of Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick. Other such cases are stored there too: it’s like what they used to call back in my day ‘an asylum.” People either go there voluntarily or they may be committed there. So, I suppose that in my day, even the administration of such an asylum could open patients’ mail with impunity!

                • I truly hope the Serbian Orthodox Church in which I am a catechuman is in better shape than the OCA.

                  • Alexander says

                    My prayers for you during your journey! Its a tough but joyous road, an eternal and great reward, regardless of the “jurisdiction” in which you toil in theosis!

                    Like most ethnic jurisdictions in the USA and Canada, the SOC has its fair share of issues and many of their hierarchs are adept and adroit at playing some really nasty games. But, as a more mature local church, the SOC has had centuries to practice the art of diplomatic deception and deflection vis a vis its sheep.

                    For the last 25 years or so, and especially after the disintegration of the FRY and the healing of the schism in the USA and Canada, the SOC’s hierarchs largely think themselves geopoliticians, ethnarchs concerned about transient international borders, “getting their property back,” and building a cavernous cathedral in the middle of Belgrade. They monitor every comma and semicolon in some statement or resoluition or press release issued by all UN acronymed sub-sub-sub committees or military force du jour, and lapse into bastardizing cultish “svetosavlje” as some unique and superior form of Orthodoxy.

                    They’ve gotten really good at raiding coffers to build palatial episcopal residences (e.g. Basil of Tuzla) and famously park chauffered limos outside the patriarchate while attending Assembly meetings. Along the way, they made an absolute mess in Macedonia and another in Montenegro. The “diaspora” is viewed as an ATM, its dioceses are to be subservient to Belgrade, and its nostalgic parishes — literally — “colonies.”

                    In short, since the incapacitation and subsequent repose of Patriarch Paul, they’ve lost their compass.

                    It is sadly ironic in my view that its two American-born bishops are not in America (Although one is in Australia; the other in Slavonia.) They recently glorified an American born hierarch, St. Barnabas, but little is said about his American roots and work. These days, you would hardly know from the Serbian narrative that St. Nicholai (Velimirovich) was exiled in the USA — as much by the communists as by the then existing hierarchy — and that he was a huge proponent of teaching the faith in English to Americans of Serbian descent (really, people of any descent.)

                    There’s a Lavender Mafia in the SOC, but without the overt social agenda dedicated to “normalizing” the abhorrent behaviour. They’re committed to keeping themselves under wraps and quiet. There’s also a fair share of notorious womanizing heirarchs — those allegations are rampant. But, as one prominent SOC layman in the USA once put it, “at least they’re normal.”

    • Rod Dreher says

      Interesting. Remember, Met. Jonah was abbot at Manton before he was made bishop. I got the e-mail too, but I don’t know Father Gardner, and don’t know how I got on his list. All I can think of is the possibility Mamie suggests, and/or this being fallout over Bp Benjamin’s role as Met. Jonah’s chief Synodal antagonist over these past couple of years.

      According to the Manton website, the community there consists of “about 20 monks and novices.” Six departures reduces the community by “about” one-third. That’s not nothing.

      • I have been acquainted with Fr Martin over the years.

        He and the brothers were likely scandalized by the chrismation of the transgendered couple by Bp Benjamin; but the continuing communing of them without requiring repentance/separation by Abbot Meletios (and others, elsewhere); by the Synod’s move against Metr Jonah (and what it signifies).

        I know many will land on their feet, when the dust settles; what I am concerned about are those whose faith is weak. May they not be lost!

        • Are these two genetically the same sex or the opposite sex? Are they a “couple?” Legally married?

        • Mark from the DOS says

          Where is prior mention of this chrismation? That is simply scandalous!

          • I don’t know where prior mention of the chrismation is (online or otherwise). The situation of the monastery is not good. I cannot share more specifics, since I do not know them firsthand; and, if called upon to back them up, I would need to refer one to the witnesses (who are now at Platina). Suffice to say that they didn’t feel that they had the support of their Abbot or their Bishop, hence their departure for Platina.

            I’m just glad that I haven’t had to make such a difficult decision.

      • Got the email also. Like Rod, I have no idea how I got on that list or how serious the situation may be at the monastery.

        More Orthodox need to start speaking out and explain (calmly, objectively, and maturely) what is going on. Silence or politically correct statements are pathetically inadequate in times like these. The Church is being destabilized and the faithful scandalized by too many (including priests and bishops) acting without clear and specific explanations of what is happening and why they chose to undertake certain courses of action.

        Where are the leaders of the Church doing the work to teach and preach, reassure, and lead the flock?

  20. Fr. Martin says

    The situation at Manton was a LOT more than transgendered issues. It should be known that Fr. Meletios himself brought to Manton a Russian transgendered person by the name of Br. Nikolai. “He” was born with the name Larissa as a woman. Larissa was clothed a novice monk, and before being shipped back to Amsterdam was made a rasophore in spite of the fact that the senior council was 100% opposed to the idea.

    Fr. Meletios also taught any brothers who were willing to listen that practicing homosexuality is not a sin. He taught that masturbation is not a sin. He taught that looking at pornography was not wrong. He practiced extensive hypnotherapy on several monks of the most demonic kind.

    Find the therapist Anastasia Del Vecchio online and you will understand this “therapy.”

    Up until the moment when it was discovered by some of the Manton monks, Fr. Mel’s photo was on her web site with a quote, fully endorsing her new-agey hypnotherapy which brings out “altered ego states” (aka demons) from a person while in a trance.

    One should not bring an accusation against a priest without 2 or 3 witness. There are three of us who are now in Platina who can verify every word I have just written. In fact, as soon as we had the freedom in Platina to talk to each other, there seemed to be no end to the horrifying revelations of what Fr. Mel has said and done. May the Lord have mercy on him and on us all who have suffered. Pray especially for the 9 left behind. My heart grieves for a dream that has died.

    I never ever ever thought that I would ever leave the place of my repentance. But I asked for his release after dialog had deteriorated into lies and denials. Contrary to what he has told the brothers, .he gave me his release. There were two witnesses: another monk and a person from outside the community.

    One of the monks who is angry and left behind mentioned that there’s just “A few good men” left behind. What he didn’t realize was the irony of his reference to this classic movie. The most poignant line in the whole film is:

    “You want the truth?? You can’t handle the truth!!”

    Pray for us. Pray for the Church. She is under attack and the sheep suffer.

    • This makes me so sad. I’ve visited there several times. The enemy brings sorrow wherever he goes. Our hearts are with you and the monks of both Platina and Manton, Fr Martin.

    • Fr. Martin, my jaw is on the floor almost literally. I am so sorry for what you and your brother monks have been through. I’ll be praying for all of you, and I’m thankful that you found safe harbor.

      • I sorrow for the monks of Manton, but it looks like Fr. Meletios’ refusal to be considered for bishop of the DOS was a huge blessing. Can you imagine? His bishop needs to strip him of his position at once.

        • His bishop chrismated the transgendered couple without requiring repentance/separation.

          Good luck with that.

        • JamesP, I was just thinking the same thing. If the allegations are true, I can’t imagine the horror that would have caused in the DOS.

          Sadly, I know this will just compound Metropolitan Jonah’s heartache.

    • Harry Coin says

      Fr. Martin, I couldn’t really get through your posting owing to the screen suddenly getting blurry. So sad.

    • CQ, you may not know that Fr Martin Gardner, who is most certainly real and not deserving of quotes, and is well known to many of us, only showed up at St Herman’s the weekend before the Fourth of July. He was still at Manton when you visited Platina a month ago.

    • This is huge. Orthodox Christians unfamiliar with the monastery may not realize that Father Martin has been the mainstay there for many years. If he says these things are happening, then I believe him. What is happening to that monastery is a terrible tragedy, and we need to look beyond it for roots of the rottenness in the OCA. +Benjamin has been leading the charge against ++Jonah. I know that the power struggle in the OCA is complicated, and that it doesn’t have only one cause, but I strongly believe that it is not an empty conspiracy theory that the acceptance and normalization of homosexuality is at the core of this struggle in the OCA. Most of the Synod and Syosset types may not be officially “pro-gay,” but they will accept it because they are desperate to be seen as modern Americans. ++Jonah was taking us the “wrong” way, so he had to be taken out.

      The normal, faithful Orthodox are losing, and we are losing our Church.

      • Harry Coin says

        You’ve got a point there, yes indeed. But wasn’t +Jonah there too? What are we watching here, a disagreement among, well you know there is just no good outcome to that sentence.

        Widower bishops, or very senior long-time stable empty nester married priests. This pink stuff is taking away all the oxygen in the room.

        P.S. Remember if you OCA-niks are reeling and feeling a bit low right now, the GOA had a former young monk die at a monastery gate a few weeks back. And that’s just sort of the start of the story. You’ve seen the links about how it is in Russia, and the AOA had a spark there for a while until the dhimmitude attitude raised up again. It is NOT better elsewhere and you folk, we folk have to make it work right here with what we have looking to NOBODY other than us and God and advice but not control from elsewhere to make a go of it.

        • Harry, +Met Jonah, started that monastery and it was HIS firm unwarvering example of Traditional Orthodox Christianity that has led the brothers there until the arrival of Fr. Meletios Webber. He probably, is weeping every night for this travesty of Christianity.
          Unfortunately, their Bishop and their Abbot are on the same page.! So much for the OCA. Their agenda for Modern, Christianity is real enough and they REALLY don’t see anything wrong with it.
          The “Church” is not the OCA. We can save “The Church” by following the word of God. Not the word ofa bunch of Heretical Synod members, their secretaries, and treasurers, and their PR. team.

          • Harry Coin says

            I am just so weary of this pink stuff in high places making this all look like a very sorry joke. What should be a problem experienced by a few in every community and worthy of our support has become amplified in high places and is threatening the whole. That’s a fact, that’s how it is. And it isn’t just the OCA, don’t think the grass is greener elsewhere. No.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              Present societal conditions certainly do pose a historically unique challenge to our tradition of monasticism.

              • “Present societal condition…etc”
                Just a musing Fr. Dn. I don’t really see that as being the bottom line. Do you not think that +Met Jonah lacked “administrative skill” while Abbott of the monastery. He was the very same person.
                And yes, he had those limitations then too. The difference was that as monastics, and wishing to please God, the brothers LEARNED how to work with him.
                Yes, sometimes it drove them crazy and they learned patience. Sometimes they laughed so hard at his disorganization, that they learned to LOVE him in spite of it. His desk was a mess, and sometimes his brain too, That was their job and I can tell you no one wanted to be five minutes away from his warm embrace and his prayer.
                Oddly enough, most of the things he did, turn out positive when completed, in Gods time. And of course they learned how to love from his example. That continues today.
                Yes, it would have been helpful as Met. for him to have a good strong assistance. And I believe, Fr. Fester might have done a great job were it not for his own apparent agenda and ego getting in the way.

                That probably wouldn’t have happened if his own formation was more solid in nature. I knew him not at all.
                But the OCA Synod certainly, should as “spiritually mature” men should have been able to figure out how to work with him without resorting to “unstable, crazy” .
                In my book these are pathetic children, and clearly not ready for leadership or moral examples in a Boy Scout troop.

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  Faceit, I don’t disagree, but the question is why didn’t they try to bear him patiently? Why did his limitations alarm them so and continue to alarm long after they had cut him off at the knees? That’s where the hostility toward his vision and moral stance comes into play.

                  The same thing happened at St. Nicholas on the smaller scale. The parish council patiently endured his capriciousness on many issues, but they only gave up on him and rebelled against him when he would not satisfy either side on the issue of homosexuality. He would neither stop his priests from communing the openly gay nor punish me for forcing the issue.

                  The national church seems to have acted very much the same way for very much the same reasons.

                  • I personally believe the lavender thugs had him tied to a chair with ropes by that time and most likely already threatened with episcopal extinction. In the end, it doesn’t seem to have mattered.

                  • The parish council patiently endured his capriciousness on many issues, but they only gave up on him and rebelled against him when he would not satisfy either side on the issue of homosexuality.

                    Perhaps that’s because God doesn’t take “either side” in the current culture war. Perhaps God wants us all to be more like Metropolitan Jonah.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Tell that to God because He does.

                    • I think you misunderstood my point, Peter.

                      God cares about us, and about our becoming more who He created us to be.

                      But do you think God picks sides in any war, telling those on one side that they may violate the mandate to be merciful because the other side deserves it?

                      Do you think God is only merciful to those to whom you are merciful?

                      Jonah has always been clear about the moral teaching of the Church, and per the Deacon he frustrated everyone because he opted for mercy instead of justice to weaklings on all sides.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      I get your point, but this “War” has bee going on for Centuries, and God does want the Church to have a prophetic voice, not out of hatred, but love. One can and must take a stand on what is right and true, but can do it in the spirit of Love and Compassion.

                      I do not Metropolitan Jonah’s situation in regards to St. Nicholas, but what I do know is that a call to holiness, which I agree with you is our main pursuit, does not mean we accept sin and immorality without saying a word about what is right and what is wrong.

                      Being decisive does not mean taking a side in the current cultural war, it means standing up for the Holy Gospel. I am against Abortion, which Progressives hate, but I am also against the Death Penalty, which conservatives hate. Have I chosen a side in the cultural war, or have I chosen to live my life in accordance to the teachings of Christ and his Holy Church? That’s the only side any of us as Orthodox Christians can take.

                      As for the Metropolitan I do not know enough about his inner dealings with St. Nicholas to have or make an informed statement so I will not. However, as to the prophetic voice of the Church, and Christians standing up for the faith both privately and publicly in our society is an obligation. We must always speak the truth in love, but speak the truth we must.


                    • Peter,

                      Speaking the truth in love is what the Metropolitan has steadfastly done.

                      The Deacon reports that the problem for his old parish was that the Metropolitan did not do as the Deacon did and refuse to commune homosexuals, and similarly the Metropolitan did not do what some wanted and punish the Deacon for his action.

                      That is, the Metropolitan opted to be merciful to all. Seems right to me.

                      Demanding otherwise, no matter what “side” one is on, seems antithetical for those who pray “Lord be merciful to me, a sinner.”

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says


                      I do not know the situation at St. Nicholas but being merciful is great as long as its a two-way street. Being merciful to a repentant sinner is one thing being merciful to those that are unrepentent and who destroy our Orthopraxis and moral traditions is quite another and is strictlt forbidden.

                      Good order and sound teaching must work hand in hand with mercy and compassion. To allow sinful situation to grow is not right and plain wrong.

                      Again, I speak in generalities as I do not know the Metropolitan’s situation at St. Nicholas.


                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  Faceit, I don’t disagree, but the question is why didn’t they try to bear him patiently? Why did his limitations alarm them so and continue to alarm long after they had cut him off at the knees? That’s where the hostility toward his vision and moral stance comes into play.

                  The same thing happened at St. Nicholas on a smaller scale. The parish council patiently endured his capriciousness on many issues, but they only gave up on him and rebelled against him when he would not satisfy either side on the issue of homosexuality. He would neither stop his priests from communing the openly gay nor punish me for forcing the issue.

                  The national church seems to have acted very much the same way for very much the same reasons.

      • Damian, You cannot include Bishop Michael as being tolerant of any such heretical views. He is fully supportive of the Orthodox Moral Tradition.


        June 24, 2011 Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

        Beloved Fathers and Mothers, Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:

        Christ is in our midst! – He is and ever shall be!

        On this very day, we have witnessed the successful efforts of public officials in the State of New York to legally re-define the meaning of marriage to include unions between two persons of the same gender. It is important for us, as Christians of the Orthodox Church, preserving the Tradition of teaching the truth handed down by the Lord Himself, “the faith which was once for all delivered to the Saints” (Jude 3), to re-affirm the meaning of marriage given to us in His Sacred Scripture.

        No matter what the prevailing pressure of the culture or the legislation of the state may proclaim, the timeless teaching of the Church echoes the rule of marriage revealed to us by the Lord, written in the Scripture, and re-affirmed by the wisdom and examples of the Saints. Gay marriage or any other unblessed sexual activity is not the love that the Lord extols. Because “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), no matter what the government or society may say, like St. Peter and the Apostles, “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). We need not be afraid to stand in opposition to prevailing trends, as the early Christians stood bravely and boldy, upholding heterosexual monogamous marriage in the non-Christian empire of their time.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Oh my God! Lord have mercy! I just got wind of these revelations yesterday on my email but I didn’t want to go with them as I was too shocked to believe them and also because I had no confirmation. I am still looking in this.

        The irony is that I’m two for two: First I wanted Mark Maymon to be bishop of Dallas and then I wanted Fr Meletios Webber. I still pray that this info about Fr Mel is wrong.

        • Wanderer says

          George –

          I’m concerned as well. Mostly because this is the second time I’ve heard allegations of Father Meletios utilizing this type of hypnosis. About two years ago in a group setting I was informed by a parishioner that he would never go back to this monastery because of the hypnosis and the line of questioning he experienced by Father Meletios.

          I didn’t believe him then, but after reading the above a bit more “sober” about what is going on.

          • The quotation that Fr. Martin refers to in his post (Fr. Meletios’ endorsement of the hypnotist) is still visible on the Internet Wayback machine (, for those who know how to use it.

        • Reading between the lines of the missive from Abp. Benjamin and his pointed reference to the struggles of monasteries and monastics, it sure looks like confirmation that the news is true. It’s just too big to hide, now. So, what happens next?

          • James,
            I imagine it is about time for him to take refuge in blaming Fr. Martin, the monks, blaming a fallen world,
            blaming our broken state, blaming the evil one trying to ruin the church. Blaming those who would speak out, Telling you it is historically and culturally normal. THEN just mentioning it’s none of your business and to go away. DENIAL
            That’s it for me, I need a break

    • Lord have mercy! A great darkness is upon us. How can the bishops not know about this?

      • Chris,

        You and I are on the same side on this one. This is dark and demonic if true, and I have no doubt that Fr. Martin is telling the truth. He has no reason to make this up or lie. At the same time, I think they will do their best to hang this one on +Jonah. But Manton is under +Benjamin. Period.

        • Fr. Martin says

          And AB Benjamin never seemed to tire of reminding everyone of that fact.

          He wouldn’t even allow the poor Metropolitan to visit us for nearly 2 years. It took the death of his dear friend (a friend of both of them, who died with a broken heart–Maia Magdalene Aprahamian) before Met. Jonah was allowed to even visit us. He came to bury his dear friend and then celebrated Pentecost with us.

      • Rod Dreher says

        Chris, in assuming that they don’t know about it, and would do something about it if they did, you are a more charitable man than I.

        One thing I learned from watching the Catholic scandal for all those years is that the faithful kept telling themselves that if only the bishops knew, or if only the Pope knew, then these things wouldn’t be happening. Eventually you figure it out: they know. For whatever reason — and I think the reasons can vary from man to man — they choose not to act. The worst ones, well, you can imagine why they didn’t act. The best ones didn’t act out of fear of upsetting the good order of the Church and scandalizing the faithful — a tragic and even contemptible strategy because it allowed rot to spread and entrench itself, and, when the truth was brought to light (and it’s still coming to light), it destroyed in the minds of many what little authority the bishops had. [When I say “destroyed authority,” I’m not talking about people believing that their orders are invalid, but rather the belief that the bishops are godly men who can be trusted to do the right thing.]

        I know comparatively little about how the OCA operates, but I am certain that what I observed among the Catholic hierarchy is by no means only a Catholic thing, but is rather a human thing. It’s how humans operate. It shocks us, and it should shock us, when it happens in the Church, given what the Church should be.

        These days, I am thinking a lot about what a faithful Orthodox theologian friend of mine in Moscow told me a couple of years ago. He said that the rot and corruption in the Moscow Patriarchate is profound. What could a good man do in the face of it? he said. Nothing much. Keep going to liturgy, help out in the local church as you are able, say your prayers, and never lose sight of Christ, and never, ever mistake the pretensions of patriarchs and hierarchs for the way of the Lord. What is the alternative? I think Harry Coin is right, and deeply right: there is no safe harbor. To borrow from Solzhenitsyn, the line between good and evil does not run between churches or between jurisdictions. It runs right down the middle of every church — and every heart.

        It’s important to keep a balance between not letting yourself be played by these people, who will use all kinds of theological principles to get you to shut up and look away, and not letting your anger drive you from the Church. I made that mistake before. Not going to let it happen again.

        • ProPravoslavie says

          “He said that the rot and corruption in the Moscow Patriarchate is profound.”

          Quite true, Rod. After 74 years of Communism and 21 years of secular capitalism it’s not a surprise. (Of course, in certain matters, what one might see as corruption, another might see as a sign of renewal, especially regarding the cooperation between Church and State in Russia. Alas, too many Russians themselves tend to oscillate between extreme condemnation of their own country, and extreme messianism.)

          The difference is that alongside the rot and corruption, there is also so much that is good and beautiful that is going on. I am not only talking about the numerous churches being built; I am also talking about the numerous works of charity (which few in the West even bother to acknowledge), the growing fight against abortion and the breakdown of the Russian family, the restoration of strict monasticism and the tireless public worship of so many hierarchs such as Metropolitans Longin of Saratov, Kirill of Yekaterinburg, Sergei of Voronezh, Georgy of Nizhny Novgorod and Arzamas, not to speak of the Patriarch himself.

          Spiritual warfare will always exist in the Church.

          • Lola J. Lee Beno says

            Add to the list the fight for justice for the UK women who were fired for wearing their crosses at work. And in addition they’re working to defeat the EU regulation on wearing religious symbols, because these regulations would directly affect traditionally Orthodox countries. I posted a link to the article somewhere on this blog.

          • Diogenes says

            “Spiritual warfare will always exist in the Church.”

            Understood; the Russians can keep their corruption and warfare over there. We certainly don’t need it here.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Diogenes, your tired song about the “corruption” of the ROC is weating thin. Would that we were 1/10th as “corrupt.” Tell me how many of their bishops they’ve consigned to loony bins.

          • Hey, in the list of “accomplishments” of the Russian Patriarchate, don’t leave out trying to make homosexuality itself a crime and pushing the government to persecute a small minority of their fellow citizens!

            Check out the news from Moscow and St. Petersburg, you can watch police bludgeon unarmed gay men and lesbians… good times…

            • Alexandr says

              Sodomy IS a crime against God. God bless Russia for standing up for morality. Take your depravity elsewhere.

              Gen 19:24-25 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

        • CluelessCatholic says

          Well, at least we RCs have cleaned up our act. In case you hadn’t noticed. So much for that “they know” stuff. This isn’t 1995 any more. Or even 2002. In the transparency department, the contemporary Catholic Church makes the OCA look like a covert meeting of a secret society.

          In our diocese, within the past year or so, a chancery employee happened upon an Internet post in which a young man claimed that he had once (about 20 years ago) been sexually abused by one of our diocesan priests. The chancery employee immediately reported this to the bishop. The bishop immediately took it to the police. The police arrested the priest, who later confessed.

          I happen to know the priest in question very well. I have pretty good gaydar, but I never EVER would have remotely imagined that this priest had same-sex attraction. I mean NEVER. Everyone I know felt the same way. In fact, until Father confessed, few of us believed the charges. We thought this was another case of an opportunist reaching into the Church’s deep pockets. (Yes, a lawsuit had ensued.) No, we weren’t naive. But, if you’d known this priest, you would have shared our disbelief. He was a crusty, cranky old curmudgeon and about as free of gay mannerisms as anyone I’ve ever known.

          But that’s beside the point. The point is that our diocesan officials proactively brought the matter to the attention of the police **as soon as they learned about it.** THAT is transparency. Yes, we were effectively forced to clean up our act. But the fact is–we cleaned up our act. VERY few new cases of RC clergy sex abuse now come up. (Most of those that do come up involve allegations going back 20, 30 years…as in the case of the priest I mentioned above, who is retired, in his late 80s, and dying of cancer.)

          Give us a break, Rod. We have come a long, long way. The OCA still has a long way to go. It seems to me you should give credit where it’s due. Instead of continuing to criticize the RCC, *benchmark* us…imitate what we have done and are doing. Because it’s working.

          So many people in other communions seem to be in denial about the extent of their own clerical sex-abuse problems. This foolish denial effectively ensures that they will continue having those problems — complete with coverups, lack of transparency, etc.

          I guess it’s easier to say, “I thank Thee, Lord, that I am not like these Catholics over here.” Easier. But not very wise.

      • Jane Rachel says

        Chris, Bishop Benjamin headed the SIC. Now look what he has done. For years, your voice was strongly in favor of those you now decry as bringing on “great darkness” and against those who spoke out against those you favored. You insisted that they were the darkness. Constantly, you are lauded for your views, but all I see is … well, I believe you and so many others in the OCA who can do no wrong or love having their heads buried in sand allowed it to go on right under your noses because you refused to see or hear or listen to the truth. You were too busy being mad and making judgments. Now, Daniel Fall will do well in the OCA. He doesn’t mind if gays are allowed communion, if transsexuals are chrismated by Bishop Benjamin. He doesn’t mind that Mark Stokoe was married to another man. He doesn’t want gay marriage at St. Mary’s in Minneapolis, though! No, it will never happen! What the heck is up with that kind of thinking? Muddled. That’s what it is.

      • Disgusted With It says

        Of course they know. If you’ve ever seen +Benjamin and Fr Mel chumming around together like two hens you would see just how creepy it is. Ever since +Jonah left the monastery it’s been downhill. Why else do you think he’s been banned from visiting there? It’s probably best that he doesn’t go. It would break his heart to see such perversion and destruction.

        The problem is that the few bishops who might (I emphasize “might”) object to what’s going on there, are too timid or intimidated to speak up into the affairs of another bishop’s diocese. It’s no secret that there are bullies on this synod. Such behavior is meant as a defense against people questioning their dubious activities. And these bullies, with their own serious problems, are the ones running the show.

        Chris, this won’t get better until people start to wake up and expose these toxic archbishops and get rid of them for good. (If you read Bp Tikhon’s comments on this site, I think you’ll get a good idea of who the problem archbishops are.)

      • Short memory Chris? No offence, but if you recall you can be “super fired” for messing in another Bishop’s territory.

    • “God will hear, and He will humble them, He that is before the ages. For to them there is no requital, because they have not feared God; He hath stretched forth His hand in retribution. They have defiled His covenant; they were scattered by the wrath of His countenance, and their hearts have convened. Their words were smoother than oil, and yet they are darts. Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He will nourish thee; He will never permit the righteous to be shaken. But Thou, O God, shalt bring those men down into the pit of destruction. Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but as for me, O Lord, I will hope in Thee.”

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      The future of the Orthodox Church if this rot is not stopped in the GOA, OCA, AOCNA, etc., will look like this:

      It would seem that the Spirit of this Age has infiltrated the Orthodox Church, and is at war with the Holy Spirit. This is the Orthodox Church NOT the Episcopal/Anglican Heresy. This needs to stop, and if Fr. Mark in the GOA thinks this is not our style to stand up to sin in our society, well think again Father, think again. Why are we even a Church is we cannot exercise our prophetic voice on behalf of Jesus Christ and his Holy Gospel?

      This is not a sad day but a call to arms. All Orthodox Jursidictions in America better pay attention to what happened and better do it as soon as possible.


      • This is not a sad day but a call to arms. All Orthodox Jursidictions in America better pay attention to what happened and better do it as soon as possible.


    • I just thought I would share the following comments from a novice who also just left St. John’s:

      Away and Safe

      I apologize for those of you that I have confused from contradicting various claims that I have made personally on the phone or in writing and now with what I have recently posted in my last post. Things will become clear as time and events progress.

      Don’t worry about me for now, though. I left this morning and now I am safe from them. However, prayers for that monastery are needed now more than ever. They’ve lost their focus and need some drastic change among other things. I shan’t say more than that since it isn’t really my place to say anymore than that publicly. Just stay away from the Monastery of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco until they make the proper changes that they need!

      Thank you all for reading. I’ll continue my life someplace else at a different monastery, but blogging on a regular basis has officially ended for me.

      • The entry above from the novice of St. John’s was from 3 days ago, on July 9th. The following entry was from 4 days ago, on July 8th:

        Day 30

        A rumor was circulating the monastery this morning about Metropolitan Jonah of the OCA resigning. The Internet has just confirmed this (EDIT: Link added 09 July 2012). Metropolitan Jonah, formerly Archimandrite Jonah was the abbot of St. John Monastery until about 4 or 5 years ago when he was nominated to lead the entire Orthodox Church in America. There is hope by some that he will return to the monastery and set things back in order rather than let things continue as they have been.

        From this point on, I won’t be posting anymore on this blog concerning the events occurring here at the monastery. I only hope and pray things settle correctly rather than quickly here. Although there is still some question as to whether things will be changing here at all like they should be… I should also emphasize how unordinary and atypical this trip has been has been for me. It’s completely lax here in so many ways. However, the experience (and many of you know what I am referring to) has certainly been a blessing because I know now what I didn’t know before. I’ve experienced many things that I would not have otherwise experienced and for that, I am grateful. I’ve made good friends that will most surely last a lifetime and I have a better understanding of what I am looking for in a monastery that I can call home.

        I also would like to make a public apology for those that I have offended in past posts that have since been removed. We were only getting one side of the story here. Now I understand and everything has been confirmed in round about ways by multiple individuals whether they realized it or not. This includes Fr. Meletios. This monastery is spiritually toxic!!!

        I leave tomorrow, but it isn’t soon enough. Godspeed and God bless you all.

    • Fr. Martin,
      It is heartbreaking to see those whom we have looked to as guides and leaders betray – or at least compromise – their faith in the service of some other agenda. Whatever the rationalization (and there always is one), scandal is always most damaging to the innocent, to those who entrusted themselves to such leadership. For this reason, Christ warns us that the judgment for such hirelings will be horrific – so much so that a millstone tied around the neck and thrown into the sea would seem preferable. Whether it is the actions discussed at length here regarding the OCA, the issues at your former monastery, or the injustice that seems to have been recently inflicted on Fr. John Peck, this has been a very dark and heartbreaking time. (We could add many more names of worthy and dedicated priests who have suffered gross injustice in recent years, but the heart can only bear so much.)

      After dealing with shock and grief from your initial disclosure, I was surprised to discover the next day that I was curiously encouraged by your behavior, by the commitment to the faith that you and your brothers exhibited. It means a lot to me that, in the face of compromise, you insisted on following the narrow path. It is heartening that Orthodox monks would resist such “accommodation,” that they would hold fast to the battle. Unfortunately, I can think of plenty of other traditions in which this wouldn’t happen. In many, accommodation would be welcomed, or – at best – dismissed as unimportant.

      I am also grateful that – difficult as it must have been- you were willing to shed sunlight where it was most needed. This is so often overlooked, but it is desperately needed if we are to protect others; we have an obligation to them – especially to the innocent.

      Finally, I am grateful for your example. It shows me that by simply holding fast to the diligent practice of one’s faith we might be a source of God’s light – no matter how dark things seem. God remains unchanged and to be His light in the world, we need to keep the oil in our own lamps full.

      I hope that your new monastery enjoys a wave of donations as a result of your and their fidelity to the faith. They will have mine.

      On a similar note, I can only second the thoughts expressed elsewhere on this blog that we need to establish a fund for the maintenance and support of His Beatitude. Pronto.

    • Father Martin, I am shocked and dismayed at this news. This is truly a hard pill to swallow. We will pray ardently for you and all involved. I echo the sentiments above that laud your bringing to light these events. Lord have mercy.

    • Seraphim98 says

      I’m not in a position to know personally about these accusations, which if true are indeed terrible. However, I was recently contacted by a monk at another monastery whom I’ve known for a long time who is under the impression from his abbot that these accusations are not true. Where the abbot got his information I do not know, but I do trust his personal integrity, which at a minimum suggests to me that his information is from a source he trusts. So given my remove I find myself both unwilling to believe ill of Fr. Melitios, especially considering his reputation and that of St. John’s but still I am equally unwilling to say those making the accusations are liars because though it strikes me as highly unlikely, it is not an impossible consideration in these strange times. So I’ll settle for this…there are other monastics outside both Platina and Manson who dispute the veracity of these accusations, and let others better connected than myself ferret, as God wills what the truth of the might might be.

  21. All in the Family says

    Fr. Martin,

    If you are able to answer, I am not looking for gossip or speculation, but since you are a first hand witness to these shocking revelations, what other clergy or bishops knew about this? Was this activity brought to their attention? Was it ignored or worse, being covered up by others outside the community?

    I am sick to my stomach and feeling very shaken. I am praying for all the monks.

    • Fr. Martin says

      I spoke with AB Benjamin on the phone before I confronted Fr. Mel with it all. I was getting nowhere real fast with the Archbishop. Naturally.

      We have made a full report to our new bishop after the exodus. May God strengthen him.

      Fr. Mel is already “negotiating” for “reconciliation.” You can’t really negotiate with darkness.

      For once we can breathe easy, and do the work of monks: we can work on repentance.

      For the record, AB Benjamin was told all about Larissa, after the fact. No particular actions were taken.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Well, I guess gay nuptials are in future after all. The irony is that Syosset/Synod is going to use a bogus investigation against Jonah supposedly dropping the ball to justify the normalization of this great evil. The irony is rich.

        BTW, I wonder if Bp Benjamin still believes the words that he wrote in the preface to Jonah’s book. Was he lying then or is he lying now?

        Oh, and Fr Hopko, call your office!

        • All in the Family says

          This situation is beyond shocking. Another trust in the OCA broken. Another spiritual leader found lacking. It does call into question exactly what the OCA stands for and what our leaders stand upon?

          If a diocesan bishop ignores the pleas for help of his monastics, I don’t know how that same man can be trusted to stand in judgement of his brother bishop, in this case the Metropolitan.

          I need to pray that I am not led into more temptation by these series of disappointments. Man disappoints but God never does.

          O Holy Father John, Wonderworker of San Francisco, pray to God for us.

          • All in the Family, what does the “OCA” stand for, you ask. How about this:

            Orthodox Charades, Anyone?

            Seriously, though, the OCA is far from alone in this kind of rot. The truth is that we Orthodox have to be functionally congregationalists to survive and to keep the faith. If I looked at the overall health of the jurisdictions and made a decision based on that, I’d despair.

            • Sadly, I agree. Just like Episcopalians. Sigh.

            • All in the Family says


              I can’t speak for other Orthodox jurisdictions since they have ties to their Mother Churches and if those ties compromises them. But the OCA loudly proclaims to be The Local Church in America with no ties and therefore no accountability to a foreign apparatus. While the others may have an excuse, the OCA does not.

            • Orthodox Charades, Anyone?

              Love it!

              If I looked at the overall health of the jurisdictions and made a decision based on that, I’d despair.

              True, and this is part of the reason why I believe something much larger is afoot. The tectonic plates of Orthodoxy in the US are shifting…

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        Thank you for fulfilling the unpleasant task of bringing these terrible things to light, Father Martin

        • Rod Dreher says

          I second Father Pat’s commendation. There are too many people in the OCA and in every church who would counsel keeping these things quiet “for the good of the Church” (read: for the good of the bishop, or the clergy, or certain factions who stand to lose if the truth were known).

          In fact, what Fr. Martin has done here has done far more good for the Church. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

          • Harry Coin says

            Rod, that’s exactly right. So long as victims names are protcted if possible.

            • Harry, i agree with you entirely, if this were a police report. But Fr. Martin and his brothers have taken this on for what it is. Many monk died as a result of the iconoclastic rebellion. These guys are willing to do the same so that others may be saved from despair and heresy.
              Perhaps you would contemplate the result of what is on their plate in this regard.
              Because of the Serbian Orthodox church and the compassion of Fr. Hilerion they have a place of home for prayer.
              They do this for their pain, but also for yours.

              • Harry Coin says

                So, allow that I’m not able to figure this probably basic question’s answer out on my own and overfunction for me a bit:

                There is very little chance the habits and choices alleged by Fr. M. Weber happened for the first time when he came to be in charge of that institution over there. Whose responsibility was to know this person and so give him authority over the lives of these other men? Because, you know, whoever it was, that person or evaluation group either is at best not too good a judge of character and not so good at their jobs– or, well, every other possibility is really a whole lot more troubling. The buck stops at whoever it was that gave this person authority (assuming the allegations are true).

                • Gee Harry I think I love you! Overfunctional!, and with me so slow….
                  Honest, I think, it was the combo pressure of knowing an Abbott cannot leave a monastery without a spiritual father replacing him. AND ties they must have had before,( he was a priest in the DOW at one time before exiting to Europe. There were some serious Questions there – undefined.(Look into it). AND Some rumors. / WERE they overlooked? And the need to acquire a blessing of ones bishop. ?

                • Harry Coin says,

                  “Because, you know, whoever it was, that person or evaluation group either is at best not too good a judge of character and not so good at their jobs– or, well, every other possibility is really a whole lot more troubling. The buck stops at whoever it was that gave this person authority (assuming the allegations are true).”

                  It may interest you to know that Metropolitan Jonah was not the only “judge of character” involved, the whole brotherhood voted on it, and Archbishop Benjamin also had to approve. Also, it seems that if the allegations are true, it took several years for things to come to a head. Metropolitan Jonah has been gone from the monastery for four years, yet the six monks only departed the monastery about eight days ago. From reading Fr. Martin’s account, it seems that the problems did not become visible for some time. It’s entirely possible that the person in question was able to conceal his issues well enough, or they had abated for a time, that they weren’t found during the vetting process.

                  Good people make mistakes. Smart people make mistakes. Wise people make mistakes. Saints make mistakes. It happens, and it indicates an unhealthy arrogance for you to sit in judgment of people who have been horribly betrayed and violated. That includes the brotherhood at St. John’s in particular, but also Metropolitan Jonah, who I’m sure is having a hard enough time as it is. There is no reason for you to pour your salt and lemon juice into the wounds.

                  • Harry Coin says

                    Let me guess: you or someone you are close to struggles with alcohol and is presently in charge to some degree over the lives of others? Zapping me won’t fix it. If the allegations are true, there is a big lesson here for those with the humility to learn it.

      • To Father Martin, our prayers are with you, we will try to visit Platina as soon as possible. Looks like Manton is a thing of the past for us. Hard on me, John, dealing with this situation, after all I was the one who primarily moved then Father Jonah from Merced to Point Reyes and have been involved financially, prayerfully and in participation with the monastery since then. Very difficult for both Barbara and I after all of these years, but much more difficult for you and the monks who have to individually deal with sin in the camp. I am sure glad, now, that Vincent decided to move on rather than become a monk; maybe in the future. Right now, he is in the army and on his way to Fort Hood, Texas. Please pray for us sinners.

    • logismoi says

      Lord have mercy! Has anyone confirmed this – aside from the email/words here of Monk Martin? A recent “former” novice of Arizona left disgruntled, and later returned committing suicide on the grounds of the Monastery. The “PRESS” then said “a (resident) monk committed suicide”… leaving the public to imagine many things. Ambiguity reigns in our imaginative hearts. I think of the ‘A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain’ where the Elder spoke with Met Hierotheos about the devices of the devil…especially regarding the inner warfare (amongst) novices and their elder. (Second edition, Chp 4, esp. pages 95-96) Hmm. Has Fr. Meletios had a chance to defend himself?

      • logismoi says

        PS – To judge another is to bring on the temptation of an even worse sin, one of the worst among sins, which is gossip.

      • From what I understand, six monks left Manton and three, including Father Martin, are at Platina. If there was no sin in the camp in Manton, then you can rest assured that the Serbian Bishop and the abbot of Platina would not have accepted them into the monastery. Personally knowing Father Martin for many years and being friends as well as brothers in Christ, I can vouch for him and his truthfulness. It would be rather foolish to make charges that can easily be refuted if they are false.

        • logismoi says

          Aristotle strikes again! I wasn’t assuming that Monk Martin was not being truthful, etc. It would be considerate to remember that if this were you being charged with these accusations, you’d hope to be able to defend yourself, would you not? Now Fr. Meletios has been “painted” with an image that may lead many to harbour images/thoughts/feelings, etc., that are currently unfounded according to Orthodox canonical protocol – meaning we need to see an investigation. Harm comes from scandalizing people even IF these things happened. SO, once again, the monks left for reasons mentioned by Monk Martin, however, we need to safeguard the flock from being scandalized further.

  22. Fr. Joseph Bittle says

    Fr. Martin, I am greatly saddened to learn of the recent difficulties. Shocked actually. We used to be FB friends, but I just checked and it says your account has been deactivated. If you would like to include me in future e-mailings, please feel free to add “joseph seraphim (as one word) at sbcglobal (.) net” to your contacts list, or if you re-start a FB account, do look me up. You and your brothers shall be in my prayers.

  23. I have to say that I felt the same way as Chris Banescu upon reading Father Martin’s lament.

    I give thanks to God for allowing me to retire when I wanted to; however, there wasa price to pay: unfinished projects and other projects I had exerted no small amount of prayer and vigor to preventing. One of the latter was the move of the St. John Monastery from the grounds of the St. Eugene Hermitage to Manton.
    I had hardly retired when the St. Eugene Hermitage property was sold off, and the Church I consecrated there, built through the donations and LABORS of so many faithful people of the Bay area, and dedicated to St. Sergius of Radonezh (the first one I ever consecrated) was demolished. Of course, the treasury of the diocese has prospered from that destruction and sale, and therefore, the purchase and move of the monastery did not cost our bookkeepers and worry, PLUS restricted funds from the sale of the Russian Women’s Home of Mercy were made available for the initial purchase and down payments and, subsequently for financing other projects unrelated to the original purposes of the Russian Women’s Home of Mercy.
    I feel that projects built on such problematic foundations may not enjoy any signs of God’s favor.
    The excuse for the move and the sale of the land donated to our Church in memory of a fallen American soldier named Eugene, and for the demolition of the church and monastery dormitory, was an infestation of Black Mold, which the brotherhood of St. John, under its abbot, felt “helpless” to combat (unlike the sisters of the Our Lady of Kazan Skete in Santa Rosa, who were able to get their equally virulent and pervasive infestation of Black Mold eradicated! Holy Father and Hierarch John of Shanghai and San Francisco, pray to God for us!

    • ServantMichael says

      Your Grace,

      Please forgive my boldness, but in defense of the decision to move from Pt. Reyes to Manton:

      I was a bi-weekly visitor to Pt. Reyes in its last few years, and I can attest to the reality of the black mold problem; I even assisted at times in attempts to remove some of it. Not only were the buildings covered with it on nearly every interior surface, but the ever-present heavy humidity from the coastal redwood forest left the entire facility in a constant state of decay, making it impossible to remove any mold permanently, and the forest floor itself was full of it. You can’t clean a forest floor.

      For me, as an asthmatic, towards the end of a two or three-day visit, no amount of medication would suffice to keep me breathing. I never stayed for more than four days for precisely that reason. The mold was not a ruse; it was very real.

      That being said, I’d also like to say I have always admired your candor and willingness to stand up for the truth in difficult times. Thank you.

      • One may Google “black mold” and learn there are businesses whose specialty is beating black mold, especially in the areas where it is most persistent and virulent, like Point Reyes Seashore area and the former St. Eugene’s Retreat Center and St. John Monastery. At the very same time of which you write, recall for us, that is, we learned that the Our Lady of Kazan Skete, in Santa Rosa, a little north of Pt. Reyes, had also fallen victim to black mold. However, Mother Susanna and the monastics there were able to acquire the DONATED labor of a professional exterminator of the dread Black Mold. At about my last Diocesan Council meeting, I asked that Jonah be informed and told to get estimates for a professional, business or volunteer, to eradicate that Black Mold. It’s not invincible, and you’d have learned that by asking a specialist and not Father Jonah. The monastery did NOT appeal for help to eradicate the Black Mold, but only advertised that the monks were utterly powerles to defeat it.
        So, someone who REALLY liked (and still does, apparently) to do real estate deals quickly found a comfortable site, less removed from those city lights and air/rail/bus terminals, How many pilgrimages and work parties from parishes in the Bay Area had devoted countless man hours of volunteer work (and professional assistance from contractors such as Constantine Chekene over decades to maintain and built up that establishment left to the Diocese in memory of a fallen US Army Veteran as a MEMORIAL to him. What a joy it had been for not only me, but all the clergy and faithful who participated in it, to consecrate the beautiful little Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh there. it was a splendid beautiful white temple amidst the tall trees and overlooking the valley nearby. The Church was demolished. The land was sold. Look at what they traded it for. Yes, Father Jonah and the monks with him were powerless before Black Mold.

  24. Patrick Lee says

    FWIW, Abbot Meletios’ quote in support of that new age hypnotist, while removed from her current site, is available from the internet wayback machine at Extremely sad that an abbot would approve of such things.

    • logismoi says

      DANGER: Anastasia Del Vecchio is an NLP Practitioner/Hypnotherapist. These folk use “Conversational Hypnosis” developed by Milton Erickson. Cf. Hypnosis Techniques in Speeches ~>

      • Jim of Olym says

        You might not be aware that NLP (Neuro-Logistic Programming) is a highly manipulative form of hypnotherapy.
        Milton Erickson was an MD and a highly skilled, ethical and compassionate person. The current crop of ‘therapists’ are not in his league at all. And I don’t believe that hypnosis is an acceptable part of the Mystery of Confession or the practice of revealing one’s thoughts (spiritual direction) as practiced in monasticism.

        • logismoi says

          (St Basil the Great, Address to Young Men on Greek Literature: “…that we should not accept everything without discrimination, but only what is useful”) one could extract “some” things from the world (NLP) in order to “apply” them to our podvig. This, though, can be very dangerous. The process of being aware of one’s thoughts is one thing; being “manipulated” with conversational hypnosis quite another! Especially IF one may like to “use” their diplomas (titles), etc., to qualify their abuse. … BTW: It is called NLP (Neuro-Linguistic-Programming).

      • StGeorgeJustice says

        Huh, that explains well why Fr. Meletios’ talk put me to sleep when I saw him give a presentation last year. It was a total snooze-fest. I definitely fell into a state of hypnos.

        Otherwise it was a generally pointless talk, and I regretted spending money to see it.

  25. Denis Rukobludov says

    Back in the U.S.S.R…!

  26. I am shaking my head in disbelief.

    I had just ordered Reflections on a Spiritual Journey, and a day later I heard of Met. Jonah’s resignation. That same day I had ordered Steps of Transformation by Archimandrite Meletios Webber. SO weird. Is God saying something, like “trust ye not in princes, in the sons of men”?

    The comments on this page represent some of the contemporary leaders of Orthodoxy in America, retired Bishop Tikhon, Fr. Patrick Reardon, Rod Dreher, and we’re discussing two of the other very prominent Orthodox Christians, Fr. Meletios and Metropolitan Jonah.

    Monk Martin, my ROCOR choir uses some of your music– we love it. Here’s my question to you. You wrote:

    Fr. Meletios also taught any brothers who were willing to listen that practicing homosexuality is not a sin. He taught that masturbation is not a sin. He taught that looking at pornography was not wrong. He practiced extensive hypnotherapy on several monks of the most demonic kind.

    How could he have taught such things so openly and not immediately been ousted? Couldn’t you simply have told your bishop that your Abbot accepted heretical belief that sodomy was not sinful, or that pornography (photographed and videotaped prostitution) was not sinful? Why labor under, confess to, and obey someone who was so open about these obviously wicked and blatantly anti-traditional beliefs, for four years?

    May God help you and us, and lead us all on the paths of righteousness for his Name’s sake.

    • Isaac,

      I’ll let Fr Martin explain in as much detail as he prefers, but as has been said before: not all of this came out all at once, blatantly. Some things were said to one monk here, one novice there. Some were not said to others at all. Remember, a secretive person won’t be broadcasting his taboo beliefs to all without discretion.

      They likely wouldn’t go running to each other to compare notes either. If one is weak in the Faith, or trusting, one might even believe the Abbot who, in your mind, probably knows better. And, would a weak monk/novice, who struggled with pornography, run to another monk and tell of his shameful deeds? Not usually.

      Even Fr Martin didn’t know all that had transpired until after leaving Manton. When what he did know rose to the level you are talking about, he did notify Abp Benjamin, who, according to him (and posted here on did not respond appropriately/disciplinarily.

      So, in sum, it was not taught openly, but surreptitiously. That’s the insidious thing.

    • jacksson says

      Perhaps the bishop believes practicing homosexuality is not a sin. He might believe that masturbation is not a sin. He might believe that looking at pornography is not wrong.

  27. Obadiah Robinson says

    I found it disturbing to read allegations against Bishop Benjamin about Chrismating a transgendered couple and giving them communion, I was even more dismayed to read about the horrible things supposedly going on in Manton, and the supposed teaching of Fr. Meletios about homosexuality and other related things.
    What is bothering me is the fact that everybody is accepting these allegations on the word of ONE disaffected person who claims to have been a monk living in Manton.
    Other than his word, what EVIDENCE does anybody have about these rumors? Especially after a poster wrote this about the accuser :
    ” Michael says:
    July 11, 2012 at 12:18 am
    CQ, you may not know that Fr Martin Gardner, who is most certainly real and not deserving of quotes, and is well known to many of us, only showed up at St Herman’s the weekend before the Fourth of July. He was still at Manton when you visited Platina a month ago.”
    From what I can see, there is absolutely no proof that these things have been or are taking place.

    • What evidence do you have that Europe or Asia exist?

      Fr Martin’s email address … and his posts … are on this website in the comments. Contact him.

      Better yet: go up to Platina (is it really there?) and ask him yourself.

      And, if you still don’t believe him (because you weren’t there, and besides “what evidence do you have?”), then neither will you if someone should rise from the dead.

      ~The non-existent Michael, defending his unimpeachable friend, Fr Martin, with way too much sarcasm

    • Jane Rachel says

      Obadiah Robinson, as to your concerns about the monastery and what Fr. Martin wrote, I don’t know. As to your needing proof that these thing happened, I don’t know. I DO know that Bishop Nikolai himself wrote a letter to Archbishop Benjamin wherein he said things to Bishop Benjamin about Bishop Benjamin’s behavior that is astounding and very bad. Based on what we know about him, Archbishop Benjamin should be brought to account for his actions. Now he’s allowed transsexuals to be chrismated. Why should we be surprised?? Bishop Nikolai was not lying when he wrote that letter to Bishop Benjamin. He WAS discredited, mistreated and thrown like Jeremiah into the cistern, and that was also very wrong. Bishop Benjamin should be brought to account. But it doesn’t stop there. What about restoring Fr. Robert Kondratick to the priesthood? Eh? So whatever you refuse to believe about these issues that concern you, there are past concerns, too, and they have never been addressed. The goo started rotting the foundations of the OCA administration and Holy Synod long ago, and none of that goo has been cleared out. You are looking at goo that is about twelve feet about the old goo, now reeking with things God does not like one bit. That old goo is real, and we have more than one reliable witness to confirm it.

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

    • Jane Rachel says

      I was FAR MORE astonished when I heard the stories about what Archbishop Benjamin has done. And where is he? Sitting on the Holy Synod, making judgments. Get me out of here!

      • Harry Coin says

        I’ve got to say, there are some pretty serious allegations laid at Bp. Benjamin’s door. I don’t see how the synod can let them just be passed over in silence. Maybe today isn’t the day, or the month or the quarter, or even the year, but soon something to resolve this needs to transpire.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Harry, then why don’t you ask the Synod to do so? And while you’re at it, ask them why they shut it down in the first place?

          • Harry Coin says

            Too funny George. I feel like that aged butler in the movie ‘Arthur’ where the young bumptious goof with more money than sense announces his latest initiative for the afternoon, the butler dryly replies ‘I’ll alert Congress.’. Me ‘tell the synod’. Sure. Get right on it!

            • Mike Myers says

              “I’ll alert the media” is what his manservant quoth. A little quibble, though.

    • ServantMichael says

      It befuddles me how His Grace Bishop Matthias et al. can reason that a jurisdiction full of over-educated yuppie converts (a demographic in which I proudly include myself) who, only on account of their critical thinking skills, have perforce managed to transcend all the cultural, linguistic, and historical hurdles requisite to entering the Orthodox Church, is going to look at that letter and see anything but half-baked subterfuge. Stephenie Meyer writes better fiction.

      • To be fair, ServantMichael, we don’t know for sure who wrote it. Bishop Michael also put his signature on it when he sent it to his diocese, and the entire Holy Synod takes responsibility for it. So, they should all be held responsible for it.

  29. For a long time I considered myself to be an agnostic and a man without any faith whatsoever. Due to some serious events that have happened in my life I have recently began attending an Orthodox Church (OCA) and reading the sacred scriptures on my own. I was told that the Orthodox faith is the ancient and true faith that follows the teachings and commandments of Jesus Christ. I came across this blog accidently and have read all of the posts in their entirety. I am blown away and shocked. The pure and unmitigated hate, self righteousness. judgmentalism, slander, and hypocrisy is contrary to everything I have read about Christ in the gospels. Take a moment yourselves to re-read all of these posts and tell me you don’t reach the same conclusion. Who would ever want to join your church? I sure don’t. Do you all get together and sing the words to “and they shall know we are Christians by our love after you write this slanderous garbage? I do not find the Lord here..therefore I will shake the dust from my shoes and move on to another Church hoping to find him. Good luck…you’re all gonna need it.

    • Rocky says:
      July 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm

      I came across this blog accidently and have read all of the posts in their entirety. I am blown away and shocked. The pure and unmitigated hate, self righteousness. judgmentalism, slander, and hypocrisy is contrary to everything I have read about Christ in the gospels.

      To me, this Blog is basically a “family squabble” of Orthodox Christians who, in spite of some major differences in understanding, vision, and opinions, still love and pray each other.
      So, I say to you, “good luck” (even though there is no such thing as “good luck” in true Christianity) in your search for a perfect Church with perfect Christians here on Earth, who have no need for repentance.
      I will also add that your condemnation of “pure and unmitigated hate, self righteousness. judgmentalism, slander, and hypocrisy is contrary to everything I have read about Christ in the gospels” might also be read by someone in your post.

    • Brian McDonald says


      As I was considering how to reply to this, it hit me that your name (or pseudonym) is the same as the boxer created and played by Sylvester Stallone. Rocky was a fighter but he was also a good guy. I think the same can be said of most the people who post here. They’re fighters but good guys, including some that regularly tick me off.

      Fighters fight because they care about something. Yes, some people share gossip (I wish George would moderate and/or delete all such posts.) Yes people vent too much. Yes, people forget to keep their focus on issues instead of personalities. Yes, they’re “judgmental” (though careful here; sometimes “judgmental” is just a code word to characterize those whose strong convictions about important ethical issues of the day differ from those of the cultural “elites”).

      But as G. K. Chesterton said in a famous poem, all this may well be the noisome byproduct of the fact that “men have found a thing to love.” People here love their Lord and their faith and have honest concerns (rightly or wrongly) that certain events in their beloved church pose a threat to its well-being. Thus they get emotional as people will do when they care about something.

      Furthermore, if you see only vitriol, then you really haven’t been reading all of the posts. An unusual number of people make articulate, thoughtful, reflective comments that are sometimes hard-hitting but not hateful (don’t confuse the two as so many do). It also isn’t unusual for people to apologize to each other or ask for forgiveness upon later reflection or when called to account.

      On the other hand, I hope everybody reading Rocky’s post will be stricken by the impression left on him and really work to stick to the issues rather than “going off” on someone else or their views. Venting may bring temporary relief—but if that’s more important than care for how the tone of our posts may affect enquirers like Rocky, then maybe it’s time to stop posting.

    • Monk James says

      It’s long been said that the opposite of love isn’t hatred. It’s indifference.

      While not trying to be facile or dismissive, and fully acknowledging the frustration registered here by ‘Rocky’, I thank Heaven that we orthodox Christians are trying to hold each other accountable to the Gospel and to the Tradition which we’ve all accepted, and that we’re expressing only our disappointment in the leadership of The Church (fallible, sinful, limited people like the rest of us) at the same time as we all hold the same divinely revealed faith in spite of our sins.

      ‘We carry this treasure in vessels of clay’ says St Paul. The slightest misstep might cause us to stumble and drop that clay pot. But let’s remember, please, that — while the pot is broken — the treasure remains whole.

      The treasure of our faith is preserved intact among orthodox Christians in spite of our sometimes fractious quarrels about other things.

      The same cannot be said of heterodox Christians, who regularly redefine morality and practice while appearing on the surface to be in solid agreement. Among the heterodox, the majority rules: they VOTE on what’s a sin or not!

      May the Lord be merciful to them and to us all.

      • Heracleides says

        “Among the heterodox, the majority rules: they VOTE on what’s a sin or not!”

        While many Orthodox “bishops” turn a blind eye (at best).

    • Alec Haapala says

      Rocky, in my search for the Church, I, too, came across this blog. Had I not had other exposure to Orthodoxy I might have come to the same conclusion as you. Having been a Christian for 28 years, I can guarantee that you will never find a “church” that does not have this type of internal squabbling. The difference between the Orthodox and the “others” is that the Orthodox have the truth. They may not always act or talk like it, but they have it.

      “When and if you do find that perfect church, don’t go, you’ll just ruin it by your sinful presence” we used to say. There are plenty of Orthodox websites that deal with the actual beliefs and practices of the historic faith. Go there and learn. Actually go and attend a Saturday night Vespers service and a Sunday Divine Liturgy before you dismiss the Orthodox faith.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      This blog and the controversies of the OCA do not represent the best of Orthodoxy. I am not OCA and do not understand or know exactly what is going on in the OCA. Do not judge Orthodoxy by this blog or the problems of the OCA. This blog only represents a rather small segment of the OCA, which itself is only a relatively small part of American and world Orthodoxy. I have had close contact with three OCA parishes. They all seem spiritually healthy communities led by dedicated clergy. Do not judge Orthodoxy or the OCA by what you read here. Go and visit the local OCA parish. If they seem troubled try a parish under some other jurisdiction. You will find a welcome in most Antiochian parishes and an increasingly large number of Greek parishes.

      Archpriest John W. Morris

  30. Michael Bauman says

    Paul Evdokimov in “Orthoodoxy: The Cosmos Transfigured”. The quote appears right after Evdokimov’s own comment that: “In the Incarnation, God is no longer God alone, He is God-Man. But this operates in two senses: man, too, is no longer man alone, but a being either theandric or demonic. Gregory of Nyssa succinctly states, “Humanity is composed of people with the faces of angels and people wearing the mask of the beast.”

    So we struggle as the line demarcating the two runs through each of us. So we fight–a bit like Jacob wrestling with the angel and a family made dysfunctional by sin yelling over the fences for all to hear.

    The sin is obvious, the grace may not be so obvious but it is still there.

  31. I have read all of your responses. I also shared my troubled heart with my priest. It looks like some of you have missed my point entirely. I never said I was looking for the perfect church or perfection itself which is only found in the Holy Trinity. I was just looking for a church where people don’t hack each other up quite so much, that’s all. Where they at least attempt to hear each other and try to tolerate each others faults. My priest is a wise man who informed me that during the Divine Liturgy when all are worshiping God that is our church at its best. He read all of your posts too and looked at me and said now you have seen our church at its worst. He asked me to stay off all Orthodox blogs while I am still a Catechumen until after my Chrismation if I decide to move forward. He showed me a prayer by St. Ephraim the Syrian that is normally only prayed during the Great Lent. He urged me to pray it daily.. He asked me to post it so you can all pray it with me. So we can really pray the Jesus prayer and really mean it, especially the part that says ” have mercy on ME a sinner”. I will close by sharing this beautiful prayer with you all. I bet you’ve heard of it before. Just like I urge you all to pray for all of those who have disappointed you in the OCA, I ask that you all pray for me that the Lord would lead me to the true faith.. Wherever that is.. Not the perfect place. But a church that at least try’s to bear with each others faults. So I will close with St. Ephraim and ask each of you to take a second to pray it with me. Peace to you all. Rocky

    “Lord and Master of my life! Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.  But give rather the spirit of  chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother; For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen”

    • Rocky,

      That was a lovely reply. You sound like the kind of person I’d like to know.

      God bless you in your journey. I will think of you and remember you every time we pray for the Catechumens.

    • Well, that should be sent first of all to the Holy Synod, asking them to take their recent Statement back!

  32. I believe Orthodox Christians in the OCA’s Diocese of the South would be interested to know that Archbishop
    Benjamin is assigning Father Gerasim to Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral, Los Angeles. Father Gerasim served with Father Nicolas Boldireff at the late Liturgy yesterday and made, of course, a very positive impression on all. After the Liturgy and the usual buffet lunch, Father Gerasim met with the Parish Council to over the technicalities of moving and serving here. SOMEONE has indicated to Father Nicolas that this is a temporary assignment since Father Gerasim will probably end up Bishop in Alaska after the Fall meeting of the Holy Synod.
    I know, I know, the Statute, etc. Just sayin’, folks. I suppose this is why Archbishop Nikon Liolin told you you couldn’t have an election yet. A Bishop in Alaska is deemed more urgent. But, you know, you can’t just tell everyone that….otherwise, what inside information could the Synod lay claim to? I’m not sure who (Archbishop Nikon?) transferred Father Gerasim to the DOW or if he was always here while touring the South.

    • Isn’t there some way of getting rid of +Bishop Benjamin(canonically of course.) and giving Fr. Gerasim the whole shooting match?
      It is interesting that he was living in N.Y. for three years and suddenly without a hello, is transferred to LA?
      What’s up with that? Well, at least he will fit right into ROC when the game is all over. I thought the Alaskan clergy were not on board with him a short time ago. WoW how things change when you are not looking.

    • Seraphim98 says

      Master Bless. We had heard he was being given a parish in the west somewhere, but did not know the specifics. The potential for consecration as a bishop for Alaska is news, though, and from my perspective at least in the DoS not entirely welcome news. Granted Alaska needs a bishop too. They’ve suffered and they deserved a good man to be their bishop, and if general impressions are any guide then Fr. Gerasim would make a fine bishop for them.

      The trouble is who does that leave as candidates for the DoS? Fr. Gerasim was brought to the DoS to visit around in anticipation of his consideration to be our bishop. Most of us I think really liked him and would gladly has greeted his elevation with axios. The only other person out there at the moment I think any of us would trust is Metropolitan Jonah…but he is presently under a synodal cloud. Even without the head butting at Syosset, if the reports of his administrative manner are accurate then that could be problematic…still I suspect with the less hostile and more supportive environment Metropolitan Jonah would find in the South would go a very long way in ameliorating those deficiencies until he gains the administrative experience necessary to govern well…or at least significantly better. I think we are patient enough in the DoS to bear with him But given that things are they way they are with the Synod and the MC in their treatment of him and the power they have over him financially coupled with their insistence he enter some sort of mental institution for six month for some undisclosed (perhaps rightfully, perhaps not) evaluation and treatment, it does not seem likely he will be made available as a candidate.

      It makes me wonder though if he could be elected by acclimation of the diocese regardless of what Syosset wants…assuming of course he is able and willing to fulfill that office.

      So if Fr. Gerasim goes to Alaska and Met. Jonah is not available as an “official” synodal candidate…the only free floating bishop I know available is bishop Mark…it was iffy for him in the DoS initially, and after the troubles at St. Seraphim’s Cathedral, I’ve not encountered any priest of the DoS who would welcome the prospect of him being our bishop, and so far as I know most of the laity feel the same way. Most don’t have any personal animas against him…just the question’s past events have raised…and no deep urge to say axios. Truth be told even if every single thing the synod asserts against Met Jonah is true…I would still rather have Met. Jonah than Bishop Mark.

      So unless there is some other person out there with the faithfulness of heart, theological training, pastoral experience, wisdom,and richness of vision to pick up Archbishop Dimitri’s mantle and safeguard his legacy and carry it forward the DoS is in a very precarious position.

      The only “ray” of hope I see at present is from Russia. If the Russian Church really did snub the OCA for the way it treated Met. Jonah, and if the powers that be in the OCA are alarmed at this…as a sop, and peace offering they may consider returning Met. Jonah to the DoS. It’s a long shot and may be wishful thinking…indeed it may not even be wise until we have better information about Met. Jonah’s difficulties with the synod they felt so strongly about they found it necessary to remove him from office. Still it’s a possibility to ponder.

      What I find both intriguing and disturbing in all this…even more that Met. Jonah’s forced resignation, is the apparently level of distrust, ambiguousness of feeling in the OCA laity towards the Holy Synod. From this quarter or that one may hear a handful of the bishops defended as to their personal integrity (which makes their decision with respect to Met. Jonah so troubling), but the synod as a whole is not trusted. We ask are the good bishops (whoever they might be) being duped by other’ more political bishops/power brokers. If not (a some of us kind of hope they are), either these few are not as good as they seem, they are being pressed/compromised, or though public explanations might be weak, the decisions of the Synod was what needed to be done…even if it should have been done in some less hostile and humiliating way.

      If Fr. Gerasim goes to Alaska, then may God protect and prosper him in all good things…and may He have mercy of the DoS and give us in His season a true and godly bishop.

      • Fr. Gerasim is a wonderful candidate for the episcopacy, but the advantage he holds for Alaska that he doesn’t hold in the South is his knowledge of native Alaskan languages and culture. The problem is that I’m not sure how much diocesan support he has in Alaska, since they got the impression (from Stokoe, at least) that Fr. Gerasim was being shoved down their throats back in 2009. If I were Fr. Gerasim, though, I’d be too scared to go for the episcopacy. I hope in any case he’s smart enough to keep his head down until certain key figures die or retire.

        From what I hear, Met. Jonah has absolutely no chance of being elected for the South, at least in the OCA. The only thing Fr. Jillions said would make them reconsider allowing him to stand as a candidate is the very same thing Met. Jonah resigned in order not to do: the stint in the mental hospital. Relations between him and the rest of the OCA Synod are so far down the toilet, they’re in the sewer.

        Also, I fear the whole thing with the nuns might make ROCOR sour on Met. Jonah and make them not want to take him, either. I hope they will find Met. Jonah didn’t know anything and will forgive him for what happened without his knowledge, and hopefully give him a place to go.

        We definitely need to just pray for Met. Jonah, along with Fr. Gerasim, and the Dioceses of Alaska and the South.

        • Helga, every word you have spoken is the truth, with one exception. Fr. Gerasim speaks Spanish and has done many translations and would have been an enormous help in the whole of the South. Such sadness.
          I hope he passes on all this as well, but we don’t know the great good things he might be able to accomplish anywhere. A man such as he filled with such love would be welcome anywhere.
          I am a fan, I guess you noticed.

          • I can’t help having the suspicion, given all the recent booboos and highjinks, that “somebody” feared that Gerasim would receive between two thirds and three quarters of the popular South vote (if not more) and the Synod would have to (according to the Statute) provide a CANONICAL explanation for not electing him if they did not do so. What they want, that is, their idea of the optimum crisis-preventer for themselves, is one candidate, Mark, no matter how few votes he gets, so they can do what they want.
            As for Alaska, whoever becomes bishop there must be acceptable to the Panchen Lama of Archpriests, Archpriest Oleksa!

            • Seraphim98 says

              Master Bless. I hope that is not the case…I don’t want to imagine what would happen in the DoS…it would not be pretty or pleasant…I would hope Bishop Mark would have a sufficiently wise pastoral heart to know by accepting election to be Bishop of the DoS where there would be an almost universal response of anaxios he would generate so much ill will if the matter were force he could never rule effectively. If it happens anyway I would not be a bit surprised to see more than a few DoS parishes asking to be taken in by ROCOR.

            • Roboacolyte says

              Is it possible that Ab Benjamin has been running interference in Alaska about electing a new BIshop there?After all he’s been double dipping the whole time.

  33. It’s so IRONIC that Bishop Matthias put his name to the Crisis Committee’s STINKBOMB of a “Statement”, when it now seems pretty obvious that that Statement was just the sort of thing that got Mark Stokoe in trouble on his website!!!! Why the Statement OUTDID Stokoe in some ways, no? Anonymous input….Malicious and unproved claims of malfeasance… Now, who’s going to rebuke the Synod for doing what Stokoe got rebuked for 9by Bishop Matthias?

    • Stokoe’s fingerprints are all over that statement. He was certainly involved in the actions and conversation that led to its composition (given his statement in the Chicago Tribune before the letter was released), and in that sense at least could be considered an author. But my guess is that he actually edited or wrote/rewrote at least one draft of that letter for a member of the crisis committee or synod. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wrote a first draft and commented on a later draft or two (given his much touted spiritual gift of composing texts to oust metropolitans and his well documented hysterical hatred of Jonah).

      The irony is deep. But then consider that Matthias and Michael were selected (Stokoe was certainly involved in the discussion of this strategy) to pre-release drafts of the document to their own dioceses to make it clear that these two bishops (the only ones not already publicly compromised, and the ones with the most political capital among the faithful) supported the statement, and to give the false impression that Matthias (the first to release the letter to his diocese) was the real author. Irony? Not only was Matthias doing the same kind of thing that he officially criticized Stokoe for doing … He is now acting as the frontman to give credibility to Stokoe’s strategy. In a very real sense, Matthias is Stokoe’s puppet (the most polite metaphor) in this whole charade.

      Beyond the irony, this is the biggest practical problem I see for the OCA: Every single member of the synod is now compromised in this matter. Just pragmatically, you cannot follow the canons by deposing those who have conspired against their brother and then ordain any new bishops. I’m not sure anyone can solve this conundrum even with the cooperation of everyone. They could reinstate Jonah (before resigning), since he is a valid OCA bishop still, then maybe transfer a couple others from another autocephalous church, or maybe bring one or two out of retirement just long enough to elect some replacement bishops maybe? How many bishops must you have to make the election and ordination of a new bishop valid, is it three? It is a bit of an academic exercise I’ll admit, since I do not believe any current bishop will repent and work toward fixing the problem they have created. But it is worth considering what it would take, because this is what you have to work toward if you care about the OCA. And if it is clear these objectives are impossible to ever achieve even with repentance, then maybe you have to leave the OCA to participate in the life of the Church, no?

      • M.Vasiliou says

        Let’s see.

        You have Met. Jonah, Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco (retired), and Bishop Nicolai of Alaska (retired). They would constitute the necessary trio to consecrate a new bishop.

        • Sadly, I have to agree that most of the OCA’s remaining diocesan bishops are tainted and will remain so unless there is some very swift, very thorough repentance. They need to resign.

          However, I’d say with 95% certainty that Archbishop Alejo of Mexico had nothing to do with this, so unless he was somehow involved, we can keep him.

          Also, there are the auxiliary bishops Irenee and Irineu.

          • Remember ever-memorable Metropolitan Philaret of ROCOR? It is often reported (and therefore can’t be proved) that he, the youngest or newest of the members of ROCOR’s Synod at the time was, finally, elected when those wanting Anthony of Geneva and John of San Francisco just would not give an inch. Philaret was the way out of an impasse. He turned out to be rather brash, and they were stuck with him for a long time. He got a personal FOLLOWING. Yet even he was not immune to the power of this or that faction or the machinations of Protodeacons, one of whom regularly caused tears. Some of the members of the OCA synod might be sensibly worried: “What if we put on a Council and no one comes/”
            Archbishop Nathaniel presided over the un-minuted proceedings that destroyed the Priestly service of Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick, the most brilliant OCA/Metropolia Chancellor ever; Archbishop Benjamin, the next-ranking, I guess, holds most of the strings of governance already; Bishop Tikhon is,I believe, determined NOT to risk losing his present standing which is the height of joy for him; the ending of Archbishop Seraphim’s trial(s) are nowhere in view; Archbishop Nikon can still hold it together in society, but exhibits no sign of being at all qualified; Bishop Ireneu is a humble and qualified hierarch almost totally unknown in accordance with the policies of Archbishop Nathaniel, Bishop Irenee may be the most fit, but he is ROCOR Jordanville formed and might be the object of some pretty awful dirty tricks if seen as popular. Talk about Father Leonid and Father Victor getting their heads together NOW….oh boy! No one would take Archbishop Alejo away from Mexico, and no one should contemplate that. Both Bishop Matthias and Bishop Michael, though “nash”to a certain extent, are sometimes viewed as not having completely shed the Uniate style and habits of the Carpatho-Russian Diocese. Note that the Carpatho-Russians, who all KNOW very well both of them, seem not to have been interested in either of them to replace Metropolitan Nicholas—-on the contrary! Why, they even chose a GREEK, rather than either Carpo graduate of Johnstown!!!! Some may feel they were originally vetted for the OCA by Crisis Management types! If you ask at Syosset, you may get the newly popular refrain: “We’re CHECKING on that!” Same in the case of Bishop Alexander.

            • Your Grace, the bishops I listed are the men who would be left standing after a purge of the Synod. They are not so much potential Metropolitans because we already have one.

              Every bishop involved in forcing this “resignation” should resign, but not just from office. They should be lay monks, and confined to monasteries for the rest of their lives.

              • Helga says:
                August 2, 2012 at 9:26 am

                They should be lay monks, and confined to monasteries for the rest of their lives.

                Maybe it would be best for their souls if they where returned to the laity.???
                (I was a layman for the first 65 years of my life, so I know the spiritual beauty and humility that can bring about.)

                • I don’t think returning them to the laity is possible. It is my understanding that being tonsured to the lesser schema and taking the vows that go with it is a point of no return. Even though they can be deposed and removed from the episcopacy , I don’t think there is anyway to “un-monk” them. In the eyes of the Church they will always be monastics, no matter their clerical status. At least, that’s my understanding.

                  • Spade-looking symbol thingy, that is true. That’s why I said they should be lay monks, i.e. monastics, but no longer bishops.

                  • Monk James says

                    ♠ (The Correspondent Formerly Known as Anonymous) says (August 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm):

                    ‘I don’t think returning them to the laity is possible. It is my understanding that being tonsured to the lesser schema and taking the vows that go with it is a point of no return. Even though they can be deposed and removed from the episcopacy , I don’t think there is anyway to “un-monk” them. In the eyes of the Church they will always be monastics, no matter their clerical status. At least, that’s my understanding.’


                    Ideally, this is true, and that was my understanding when I was first tonsured in 1978.

                    HOWEVER: I’ve become aware of several monks, including a couple of bishops, who asked to be laicized and were relieved of their ordinations and monastic vows and later got married.

                    It’s not my place to judge these men or the synods which gave these roman-catholic-style ‘dispensations’, but I can say for sure that I think this is very wrong.

                    No one legitimately takes the tonsure suddenly or by surprise or by force; such conditions would nullify the rite. On the contrary, it’s normal for us monastic men and women to be given years under direct spiritual guidance to discern our best way to live in Christ, and eventually to come to a firm decision to make a life-long commitment — or not.

                    Contrasting this long period of testing with some people’s relatively much shorter engagements, we might not wonder that it’s considerably easier to get divorced than it is — or ought to be — to have monastic vows annulled.

                    After a certain amount of this testing and questioning, my spiritual father wanted to make sure that I understood the irrevocable nature of the commitment I would make as a monk, and he compared it to marriage.

                    It’s always a tragedy when a marriage fails and there’s usually more than enough blame to go around when that happens. Yet, if it could be detrmined that one spouse was ‘guilty’ and the other ‘innocent’ of, say, adultery, then my spiritual father would give the innocent party a blessing to remarry, but not the guilty party. At the same time, he wouldn’t expressly forbid the guilty party to remarry, since he fully expected that it would happen anyway, and he didn’t want to put that individual in spiritusl jeopardy of being disobedient in addition to his/her other sins.

                    Now, in the case of a monk or nun whose relationship with Christ fails, could Christ ever be thought to be the ‘guilty’ party? As such, being the only guilty parties in sight, failed/fallen monastics would not be given a blessing to leave their damaged relationship with Christ and start again with someone else, but to remain in their mystical marriage and renew their commitment to Christ and redouble their efforts at repentance.

                    For the men, at least, this might involve the loss of their priestly status, but both nuns and monks would likely be relieved of any offices and distinctions they formerly held, and possibly be relocated to another monastery. This is usually a good thing for everyone concerned, but each situation is unique.

                    Back to our original point, though, I’d like to insist that monasteries are not prisons, at least not in modern times, at least here in America. People are not — can not — be held in monasteries against their will.

                    Still, if a bishop or other monastic clergyman fails and falls and disgraces his high and holy office so that there is no alternative but to depose him and return him to the status of an unordained monk, he should be given the blessed OPTION of living in a community which will help him repent and work out his salvation. (Under some conditions, this might also be an option for non-monastic clergy in similar circumstances, especially if their wives won’t take them back.)

                    This should be an option rather than a requirement, since not every man in such a position is (at least right then and there) able to live with such a commitment, and it’s better — as my spiritual father wisely said — not to put people under obedience when you know they can’t/won’t comply.

                    If they chose not to live as unordained monks, they would ipso facto be returned to lay status, but out of communion and probably outside of The Church altogther — a most unenviable position. It’s not that we would have excommunicated them, but that they did this to themselves. Still, there’s always the option of repentance as long as we live.

                    All that said, like most monks, I’ve been an unordained monk for thirty-five years. For me it’s not a punishment but an effort to repent and be saved. And life in general isn’t that bad if we seek the will of God in all the joys and sorrows which come our way. In my little life, at least, things did not, emphatically did not, eventuate as I expected, but the joy now and the joy to come make it all worthwhile.

                    • Tangent to James’s message, I note that the disgraced and deposed former Metropolitan of Kiev, Filaret Denysenko, adopted the style of a Patriarch of Ukraine and went to Istanbul with “a ton of cash” to talk with the Ecumenical Patriarch and enlist his support for an autocephalous Ukrainian Church and his own patriarchal rank. He was introduced to the Patriarch and addressed as “Mister Denysenko.” throughout his visit, despite his klobuk, riassa, beads, panagia and pectoral cross. No doubt he was disappointed, but it didn’t phase him or his aspirations, he returned to Kiev (or Kiiyyiiw) and his wife of several decades and daughter, etc., as a valiant Ukrainian and churchman.

                    • “If they chose not to live as unordained monks, they would ipso facto be returned to lay status, but out of communion and probably outside of The Church altogether”

                      That is what I thought would happen if a monk goes into gross disobedience of the Church. I didn’t know it was possible to be released from Orthodox monastic vows. It does sound very Roman Catholic, as you pointed out. And thank God that our monastics do take vows only after long periods of discernment and that our monasteries are not prisons. If this were not the case we would be no better than the Church of Scientology who routinely imprison people in their compounds.

        • I don’t know all of what went on with +Nikolai in Alaska (and I know virtually nothing of him personally; I’ve never met him), but he came out of it trying to sue the OCA for millions, so he may not be a viable option to turn to.

          • ” says” says (Bishop Nikolai) “…came out of it trying to sue the OCA for millions so he may not be a viable option to turn to.” Please, to keep the record straight and to avoid all liabilities, provide a reference, such as a court date, log entry or whatever, or any document proving that His Grace, Right Reverend Nikolai (Soraich) sued the OCA for millions. I know you wouldn’t bruit such a charge without a basis for it.

      • Um! You asked, “How many bishops must you have to make the election and ordination of a new bishop valid, is it three?” That’s the popular answer, but, in practice it only takes ONE. Ask “Archbishop Lazar Puhalo”/Ron Haler/Buehler, upon what his own Apostolic Successsion depends and he’ll give you a chart showing the participation of only ONE hierarch, Archbishop Anastassy (Gribanovsky) formerly of Kishinev, in a consecration joined by two fake hierarchs, was enough to validate the Apostolic Sucession of the hierarchy of the milan synod, which lifted him up. So, you get one real Hierarch and then go out and find someone that needs a job somewhere, dress him up in episcopal vesture, and, voila! you’ve done it!

        • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

          Your Grace’
          Master,Bless! Is there any real proof that Archbishop Anastassy participated in such a consecration?There were some ROCOR bishops who acted as co-consecrators for Greek Old Calendarist hierarchs,but WITHOUT the blessing of their Synod.

          • I don’t have Haler/Puhalo/Buehler’s materials in front of me, but somehow, as I recall, it is the new Calendarist Romanian Bishop Nicolai whose consecration provides the ‘ancestral” connection to all those Akakian et al misadventures. Wasn’t ever-memorable Anastassy one of those consecrators?
            I guess i’m going to have to bite the bullet, but I’m sure that P/H/B (from now on) does claim either that or that one of the other ROCOR Bishops in the Greek O.C. consecrations is canonical through his own consecration by the same Anastassy. Was it Leonty? or Romanian Nicolai? Keep tuned, if you’re young and have the time…

            • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

              Your Grace,
              It was in fact my late bishop Vladyka Seraphim(Ivanov) who with the assistance of the Romanian bishop Theophilus(Ionesco) consecretated the first Akakios in Chicago or maybe here in Detroit in the earl 1960’s when Metropolitan Anastassy was first hierarch of ROCOR.The ROCOR Synod had not blessed this and the fact that Bishop Theophilus,though then associated with ROCOR,followed the new calendar,disturbed the Greek Old Calendarists.Later,Archbishop Leonty of Chile,did participate in some enthronments of Old Calendar bishops in Greece.I believe at one time,Metropolitan Leonty(Turkevich) was arrested in Greece,when the authorities assumed him to be the other Vladyka Leonty.