Interview with Gail Sheppard: Part I

Note: Michael Stankovich was good enough to clean up the audio for those who had trouble hearing Gail’s voice. Click on this link:

Lately, there has been a flurry of interest regarding Syria, the Antiochian Archdiocese and the confluence of interests between them.

One of our posters, Mrs. Gail Sheppard has had some interesting things to say about this situation (as well as many others!). She and I have not always agreed but it’s always been lively and enjoyable. And I’ve always learned a thing or two. (And one of the things I’m learning is that we need to unite and establish a truly American Orthodox Church.)

As most of you know, Gail has been a long-time contributor to this blog from almost the outset. We’ve all come to know and love her as a dear sister in Christ. She’s not shy and won’t hesitate to call a spade a spade.

Most of you know something about her story and today, and like many of you (I imagine) I’d like to know more. So in the spirit of doing just that, I asked her for an interview.

So why an interview? To be blunt, when a person stands up for what he or she believes, there’s always a price to be paid. And Gail has paid a price for taking on the powers-that-be. (I know what that’s like.) She’s paid her dues and she deserves a fair hearing if you ask me.

She agreed. What follows is a multi-part interview with Gail in which I ask her questions as well as allow her to tell her own story.* I hope you all enjoy this series of interviews. So without further ado, I take great pleasure in introducing you to the lovely and gracious Gail Sheppard!

*BTW, if any of you Dear Readers has a story to tell, drop me a line and let’s discuss.



  1. Constantinos says

    I know this won’t be published so I feel free to express my feelings. I don’t now why you would interview a raving lunatic making scurrilous accusations and murderous gossip against a man who is unable to defend himself. George, she’s a liar; she’s ta ta.
    Her post about the Kennedy assassination is proof that she lies. I know for an incontrovertible fact that her story never occurred. How do I know this? Because I have studied the Kennedy assassination for over forty years. The reason she lied is be cause she is an attention whore. She craves attention, she can’t live without it. By publishing this kind of tabloid trash(her interview), you are going to make yourself a laughing stock. You naively called her a martyr. That’s exactly what this tart wants people to think. I like to think you are better than that. I can’t stomach the woman. In my opinion , she is evil!

    • Gail Sheppard says

      So I am “evil,” a “tart,” a “raving lunitic,” an “attention whore,” who engages in “murderous gossip” and who lied about what happened to her at the age of 10 and you know this because you have studied the Kennedy assassination for 40 years?!

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      George– this is a moderated site?

  2. Greatly Saddened says

    Gail … my heart goes out to you. I found the interview amazing and quite shocking. Especially, as you stated, you really did not havee to dig too far to find the information you uncovered.

    I commend you for doing what you believe is the just and right thing. May I say, even against all odds!

    I hope and pray the good Lord above continues to
    bless and protect you and your family. I also thank you for wanting and caring to expose the truth. I feel blessed and honored to know you.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Thank you, my friend.

    • Christopher Saadeh says

      I do not wish to engage G. Sheppard. I have read her posts and deduced that she is a Neocon and a demagogue who wants to adopt the wrong minded evil narrative of the government, which is grossly biased against Syria.
      Firstly, who are we to second guess Metropolitan Philip?! Sheppard needs to know that the communication between the Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchate and the Archdiocese in Ohio never stopped.
      Second, most of the pioneers and supporters of the American church, whether clergy or parish are Syrian. They still are.
      I am the descendant of an Eastern Orthodox family that goes back to Syria of the first century. Syria has always been the protector of all Christians, and is the land of Orthodoxy. Ask any Orthodox Christian from that country to find out how President Assad and his leadership protected them from the Islamic terrorist proxies of the US, before you mouth off against the best Muslim Leader Syria has ever had since the Islamic occupation of 652 A.D.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Gail is many things, one thing she is not is a neocon. If she was I wouldn’t like her!

        Btw, I am not unsympathetic to the Assad regime. Gail and I have had our disagreements re the Syrian situation. I basically see Assad as the least worst option.

        Having said that, Gail’s story is one of a recent convert being caught in the crosshairs of an American/Old World cultural interchange. Which in her case resulted in brutalization.

        • Christopher Saadeh says

          Good Morning Michael,
          I do not disagree with your assessment, neither do I have any personal issue with Gail. I think the problem lies first in the fact that she criticized the deeds of a dead church leader, thus desecrating his memory.
          Second, her view of the political role the church has played is skewed. “Americanizing” Orthodoxy is not possible and is illogical. We are the original church and we have never changed anywhere we exist, that is why we are called Orthodox. She seem to want to mold the church to fit her social, intellectual and political American stereotype, ignoring the fact it is she who needs to be in accord with the church not vice versa.
          As for her views on the middle east, I don’t particularly care because she is free to think whatever in politics, but it is infuriating when I read lies and disinformation written on your good blog.

        • I’m a meritocrat says

          I take it this can’t be viewed/heard on the iPhone
          I’m having trouble

  3. Stephen Montgomery says

    I was at Palm Desert and it was a mind-boggling experience. I have often wished that the truth about Met Phillip would come out but there is a tight lid on it. All it would take would be an open and honest audit. That of course will never happen
    I remember too how Gail suffered back then and I tried to support her but she may not remember. I have always wondered if Sara Hodges is still Orthodox because she was savaged at Palm Desert.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Of course, I remember, Stephen, and I am most grateful.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Stephen, as you know, I never posted the letters I sent to Metropolitan Philip but I gave them to you and a few others I trusted just in case something happened to me. Do you still have them? If so, can you send them to George? I don’t have them anymore.

    • Jane Rachel says

      What happened exactly? Who pushed those who were pushed? I read the minutes and I do think there is more to it than what I’ve heard and read so far.

  4. George,
    What Gail says in this or in future interviews is too important to be missed. Whether my problem has to do with aging desk-top speakers, faulty hearing-aids, or inadequate miking and transmission on your part, the end result is that I am able to discern but a fraction of what I hear. As you’ve often said, Gail’s thoughtful insights and reasoned discourse are welcome additions to your blog; and, whenever possible in my opinion, deserve to be read. Your thoughts?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Indeed. Is anybody else having any problems with the sound quality?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I don’t know if this will be helpful but I’m going to post an email I wrote at the time which will give you an idea of what I was uncovering. Note: Many of these links don’t work anymore. You have to go to the “Way Back Machine.” Even then, they may not work. The Internet has been very well scrubbed.

      * * *
      Compilation of emails on 04/07/08:

      Because of Metropolitan Philip’s anti-West rhetoric on our Archdiocese’s website, I did some cross-checking on the Internet between Metropolitan Philip and some of the charities he supports. Apparently, he’s donated the Archdiocese’s money to organizations that are on the U.S. Treasury Department’s website for terrorist fronts through other charities. CAIR is one of them. It was linked to The Holy Land Foundation, which the government shut down. There is evidence that Metropolitan Philip participates and contributes to joint causes with CAIR and is connected to most, if not all, of these groups as an honorary chair, guest speaker, etc. CAIR is linked with Hamas and Hezbollah:

      On a trip with the United Taybeh American Association, he gave money to The Islamic Rawda School for the Sons of the Martyrs and the Ramallah Islamic Club. Look at pages 4-6. I don’t like the fact that he makes trips to the Middle East to disperse *cash* donations to avoid the “red tape.” On this particular trip, he gave money to organizations like the Islamic Rawda School for the Sons of the Martyrs and the Ramallah Islamic Club. He also supports people like Archimandrite Attallah Hanna who says things like: “The suicide bombers who carry out their activities in the name of religion are national [Islamic] heroes and we’re proud of them.”

      In addition, several high-dollar donors to the University of Balamand (in the $500,000 to $1,000,000 range), as well as many of the people who “warmly” receive +PHILIP when he visits the Middle East are also suspicious. People like Said Khoury, who is the Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Welfare Association (, which was linked to the al-Aqsa Fund, a Hamas front that raised funds for Hezbollah ( Jamal Daniel is another example. He was purportedly involved in the founding of the Baath Party and sustained links with it in both Syria and Iraq even after being expelled from Syria in about 1966 after Hafez al-Assad came to power. Other people on the list have either been assassinated or had family members who were assassinated. In addition, some of +PHILIP’s friends from St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Troy Michigan are linked to suspicious activity as well.

      If I bring this to the attention of Homeland Security, they could potentially freeze all his/our assets and launch an official investigation, but I don’t think I can live with the alternative, i.e. not saying anything, especially in light of this new directive. I do not want our Archdiocese’s money to be hands of a Metropolitan with ties to terrorist groups or in the hands of a Synod that resides in Syria.

      This is why I said you may not want to hear what I know and why I feel so conflicted. I had no idea I would find all this out. I was doing some research for Kevin and one thing led to another. Maybe we should talk about this.

      • Jane Rachel says

        Since Metropolitan Philip has fallen asleep in the Lord and cannot speak for himself, here is a link to his letter to the faithful, written in 2012:

        Excerpt: “For more than one year, Syria, the land of saints and martyrs, has been victimized by external and internal evil forces. Syria refused to be a tool in the hands of great powers. The purpose of this letter is not to analyze the political situation in Syria; others have done that. We intend from this letter to direct your attention to the extent of the tragedy in Syria: thousands of people have lost their lives, many children have become orphans, thousands of women have been widowed, and thousands of homes have been destroyed. All of us have our spiritual roots in Syria, and many do come from Syria, and they are our brothers and sisters.”

        As the leader of the Antiochian Archdiocese in the United States, Metropolitan Philip had a close relationship with leaders in Lebanon, Syria, and all over the Middle East.

        We should not judge what we do not understand.

        The purpose for the delegation to Syria that Father Patrick Reardon was involved in was “to investigate the internal political situation in that country, particularly with respect to its Christian minority.”
        Especially telling is this statement from Father Patrick’s report: “Kilo acknowledged that there is much more than meets the eye with respect to the demonstrators, and he avowed that they do not all have the same agenda. He also believed the peaceful demonstrators’ agenda was being hi-jacked by extremists who, even among themselves, pursued other agenda, or none at all! Kilo called for an end to the violence on both sides and a faster pace toward needed reforms in the country, especially those dealing with corruption in the government.”

        Chillingly, retired General Wesley Clark, interviewed on Democracy Now, described a memo he received in the Pentagon “ that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.’
        Here is a link to CAIR’s Facebook page:
        “CAIR is not is “the Wahhabi lobby,” a “front-group for Hamas,” a “fund-raising arm for Hezbollah,” “…part of a wider conspiracy overseen by the Muslim Brotherhood…” or any of the other false and misleading associations our detractors seek to smear us with. That we stand accused of being both a “fundraising arm of Hezbollah” and the “Wahhabi lobby” is a significant point in demonstrating that our detractors are hurling slander not fact. Hezbollah and the Salafi (Wahhabi) movement represent diametrically opposed ideologies.”

        The Islamic Rawda School for the Sons of the Martyrs can be found in Al-Rawda ,in NW Syria. The area is inhabited mostly by Christians, and the people can feel safe and free there because they are under Assad’s protection. Money given to the school would serve to help the young boys to feel hope for their futures. The school is in no way connected to terrorism. For a real education, visit the Syrian Arab Army Facebook page:

        The Ramallah Islamic Club is a soccer team!

        The “quotes” you say are by Archbishop Atallah Hanna are no where to be found in any original form, anywhere. What appears to be the original interview from 2003 (in Arabic) is linked to in this recent article (I did google translate and found nothing resembling what you quote above), where he addresses and denies the allegations made against him.

        The archbishop’s comments on Syria:
        “April 7, 2017 – We emphasize our solidarity with Syria, its President, government, people and army. I believe that at this time all Arabs must express solidarity with Syria… We wish that Syria defeat its enemies because its victory is a victory for all of us…August 15, 2017 – We are proud of our visit to Syria… Some portray my meeting with President [Bashar] Assad as a crime, but I’m proud of this crime, and I’m also proud of my meeting with this Arab national person [President Assad] who defended Syria… I’m proud of my meeting with President Assad… President Assad is a distinct Arab national person and history will record the name of this great leader who worked to foil the conspiracy against the State of Syria with the Arab Syrian Army and all the sons of the Syrian people… President Assad is not a murderer or a butcher as some say and circulate, but he is a distinct Arab national leader… Those terrorists and their funders who portray Assad as a murderer and a butcher are in fact the real murderers and butchers…”

        Said Khoury is hardly “questionable.”

        “Founder of the Welfare Association, Khoury played a pivotal role in founding the Welfare Association, which supports and funds projects inside of Palestine and in the Diaspora refugee camps. The Welfare Association was the first charitable society of its kind in the Arab world, concerned with the Palestinians’ scientific, cultural, heritage, economic and administrative affairs. Abdel Muhsin Qattan and Abdel Majid Shuman were also co-founders of the Association. According to CCC Vice President Samer Khoury, some of the most notable projects which CCC contributed to establishing worldwide include the Wafra oil refinery in Kuwait, the Zayed seaport in Abu Dhabi, the Zayed Sports City, the Beirut International Airport, the development project for gas fields in Kazakhstan, the Sohar refinery project in Oman and the Capital Towers project in Dubai among others.”

        There is no evidence whatsoever –and it is impossible to imagine – that Metropolitan Philip nor his friend Mr. Khoury, nor the University of Balamand, had anything to do with Hamas or Hezbollah.

        Jamal Daniel:

        About the United Taybeh American Association (UTAA):

        Gail writes, “Other people on the list have either been assassinated or had family members who were assassinated. In addition, some of +PHILIP’s friends from St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Troy Michigan are linked to suspicious activity as well.”
        The above statement by Gail is ungoogleable. More info is needed in order to get to the bottom of these serious allegations against Metropolitan Philip Salida and his friends. Regarding the allegations against Metropolitan Philip’s friends at Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Troy, Michigan, Gail needs to prove her allegations.

        Gail writes: “I don’t like the fact that he makes trips to the Middle East to disperse *cash* donations to avoid the “red tape.” I’m sure he had a good reason. Would you rather he use a credit card? Checks?

        • George Michalopulos says

          Jane, you are right to put that clip of General Clark in. The Pentagon is part of the MIC and they’ve been wanting to destabilize the middle East for quite awhile now.

          To believe that CAIR’s statements however is naive. As for the other organizations, like Gail, I question their bona fides.

          Bottom line: we need to protect the Christian populations as best we can but we need to create an authentic American church that is not beholden to the various pathologies of the Old World.

          And I say this as a Greek-American as well. No good will come out of foreign entanglements.

          • Jane Rachel says

            George, The clear statement on CAIR is “That we stand accused of being both a “fundraising arm of Hezbollah” and the “Wahhabi lobby” is a significant point in demonstrating that our detractors are hurling slander not fact. Hezbollah and the Salafi (Wahhabi) movement represent diametrically opposed ideologies.”
            I have many Facebook friends, whom I greatly respect, who are fans of CAIR. Neither you, nor I , nor anyone else gets to decide what is true and what is not true. What other organizations, like Gail, do you “question”? One is a school for boys, another is a soccer club. Look it up, I gave you links. Look them all up before you pass judgement. This is serious, and these are very serious allegations, totally unproven.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Jane, I said our government believes CAIR is a terrorist organization and I don’t want our Archdiocese to be supporting any organization on the FBI’s watch list.

              Frankly, why would anybody care who your FB “friends” support?!

          • Jane Rachel says

            Metropolitan Philip:
            “After the Zionists’ gangs defeated all Arab armies during the first war between the Arabs and Israel, the great Syrian poet Omar Abu Risha, with much indignation, delivered a poem in Aleppo that said:

            My nation, do you have among other nations a pulpit for the sword or pen?
            I look at you with much sadness ashamed from your past which has vanished.
            My nation, how many idols you glorified which did not have the purity of an idol?

            This past which has vanished, and over which Omar Abu Risha shed tears, is the dawn of Islam when the Prophet Muhammad destroyed the idols of al-Kaʿbah. As our Lord Jesus Christ drove out the traders from the Temple saying to them, “My House is a house of prayer, but you have made out of it a den for thieves”. Are the Salafists and fundamentalists who slay children as if they are sheep and who stab men in the chest to take out the hearts of their enemies and eat them are Muslims? Oh my God, NO! They’re blasphemers, and if you don’t believe me, go to the Holy Quran and learn forgiveness and love. The Quran states, “Man is the brother of man whether he likes it or not.”

            Article by Andrew Korybko on the salafists mentioned in Metropolitan Philip’s speech:

            “The west accepted Salafist “refugees” for decades, now it’s paying the price

            “This article deals with those individuals who were without a doubt Salafists by virtue of them “fleeing” from secular and socialist Arab states in order to apply for “political/religious refugee” status in Western countries, the governments of which have no excuse in pretending that they didn’t know the level of these migrants’ religious zeal. ..Many Westerners don’t have an objective understanding of what Islam is because their perception of the religion is distorted by the Salafist newcomers who came to their country across the past couple of decades.”

          • Many monks, clergy, and Orthodox laity in Syria, and some abroad have bought into the Assad mystic allure. They sell out, and/or are psyched out by their own fear, and protection, regardless of the blood on Assad’s hands, much of that blood belonging to innocent children.

            This story which I have told before, told to me by a person I trust, who spends a lot of time at Saint Anthony’s in Arizona.

            Assad while visiting a monastery in Syria, asked if he could tour the church alone, without the monk’s escort. The monks agreed, made sure the church was cleared, let Assad in, and shut the doors, as they stood outside.

            After 10 minutes or so, Assad came out, visibly upset, and reprimanding the monks for allowing a woman inside the church alone with him. Assad tells them a woman kept peeking at him, and as he walk toward her she would hide out sight, over and over. The monks perplexed assured Assad the church was empty, and there was no woman in the church.

            The monks believe Assad was visited by The Theotokos, because he is their protector. Or…

            The monks look the other way to the crimes of Assad, so long as their monastery is secured. Do they not believe it better that they were martyred instead of the children of Syria, in the name of Assad. Imagine someday if Assad is brought down, and killed. Martyr and/or Saint Bashar al-Assad?

            Gail, not that I don’t always pray for you, but we should all include special prayers for your protection. God’s Speed.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Indeed. She deserves our prayers.

            • Antiochene Son says

              Dino says: Many monks, clergy, and Orthodox laity in Syria, and some abroad have bought into the Assad mystic allure.

              That is a bit rich. The Lord sets in place governments in this world, and we pray for them, that we may live our lives in peace. The Christians had been living in peace (as much as can be hoped for in that troubled region) under Assad.

              Many tears are shed over the civilians killed by Assad (allegedly or otherwise), but very few over the civilians killed by the Bush-Obama wars. Syria’s own civil war is due in large part to US-NATO meddling. We go to war over the slightest transgression, and we end up doing things ten times worse.

              I would dare say there is not a single war in the 20th or 21st century that the US should have been involved with, and certainly none in the Middle East. We only make things worse. If Assad enables the Christians to live in peace, that is a good thing.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                So, Antiochene Son, if you were giving Assad a report card, what grade would you give him for protecting our brothers & sisters so they may live in peace?

                Because if they WERE living in peace, I’d support him, too.

                • Antiochene Son says

                  I’d give him an A because he isn’t ISIS. The CIA would like nothing more than Syria to fall into chaos like Libya. Assad didn’t start the civil war. That was done by western and Israeli backed agitation groups and terrorists.

                  Assad has Christians in his government. The elected head of the parliament is a woman. Bashar is not the butcher his father was; he was a dentist in London until he was needed in Syria. He is not doing anything in his civil war that the much-worshipped Abraham Lincoln did not do in his.

                  We ought to pragmatically support secular leaders in the Middle East, because it’s the best we can hope for. In a low IQ region you are not going to get a liberal democracy.

                  • Justsayin' says

                    AS said: “I’d give him an A because he isn’t ISIS. The CIA would like nothing more than Syria to fall into chaos like Libya.”

                    That is a non sequitur. That is like saying “I give Joseph Stalin an A because he is not Hitler”. You need to take a class in basic logic and critical thinking. At least the goofs who give Putin a pass do so because they see him in church every now and again on the internet.

                    • Antiochene Son says

                      Wrong, and bad analogy.

                    • Justsayin' says

                      That is an unacceptable reply. I teach logic and critical thinking in an institution of higher education. I have read your stuff, and I am begging you, please take a logic and critical thinking course. It will make everyone’s lives better, especially those of us who wind up reading your stuff.
                      And I expect you to admit that your statement is sophomoric. It is a completely indefensible statement of causality. I expect you to study the issue, review your comments, evaluate them properly, admit it, and then explain to everyone why this is the case. The Antiochenes don’t need sons who don’t do this basic Christian principle of self-evaluation and repentance.

                    • Antiochene Son says

                      “I teach logic and critical thinking in an institution of higher education.”

                      I found the problem.

                      Your reply is dripping with SJW-esque sanctimony, so I’m not going to address it further. A president who leaves Christians alone is better than terrorists who blow up churches and deface statues of the Mother of God.

                    • Justsayin' says

                      SJW? Now you are just slinging spaghetti against the wall. I am about as far away from being an SJW as you can get. I am sorry that I pinned you down with such stern language, though. Still, the lesser of two evils should never get an “A”.

              • Brother Antiochene Son,
                Majority Muslim countries, and their Muslim leaders that “allow” their Christian citizens to live in “peace” is such a great virtue? Should not all leaders, allow all their citizens to live in peace, regardless of their religion?

                Why are Muslims graded on such a low civility scale?

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Dino, it’s a cultural/ethnogenetic thing. Islam is not the problem. Western civilization (Graeco-Roman/Christian) is the natural apogee of mankind. I know that sounds all so supremacist but what other conclusion can we come to?

                • Antiochene Son says

                  Why are Muslims graded on such a low civility scale?

                  Because the mean IQ in the Middle East is below a level that would support the existence of liberal democracy. In such places, we depend on the good graces of rulers who use an iron fist to maintain order, because the alternative is worse.

                  • Quite a statement, Antiochene!

                    You say the IQ in the Middle East is too low(who’s fault is that, and why?), to have what the world considers a civil society, without an iron fisted ruler, maintaining order. Is that why they believe Theotokos visits Assad?

                    Yet, can the worse alternative you fear, be much worse than what most Syrians suffer now, in Syria? Regardless, you give him “A” grade to this “good graced” ruler of Syria? Interesting grading scale you have!

                    Would a “B” grade be the “peaceful” removal of Christians.

                    Is a “C” grade for Assad and his Syria, a dusty and sandy, parking lot for his devout minions, and royal court?

                    A “D” grade, No Assad, but a parking lot for bordering Muslims?

                    And of course an “F” grade would be a parking lot for little and big satan, Israel and America, who of course is to blame for all Assad”s failures.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Dino, AS is correct in this respect: mean IQ levels are a major determinant factor in cultural stability. And civilizational attainment.

                      They fluctuate over centuries due to several factors and there are resultant ebbs and flows in cultural accomplishments

          • Greatly Saddened says

            GM … I couldn’t agree with you more. We need an American church which isn’t beholden to the various pathologies of the Old World. As the saying goes … from your lips to God’s ears!

            • George Osborne says

              …..because we Americans have enough spiritual pathologies of our own without having to borrow any from overseas! God help us

            • GS, and if someone says to you that such an American church not beholden to old world interests already exists in the OCA, what is your response?

              Just wondering, since so many speak of us needing an American church without ever mentioning the existence of the OCA.

              • Greatly Saddened says

                And … please look above at George’s post from today at 8:39 am. Those were George’s words, not mine. Perhaps, you misunderstood.

              • Michael Bauman says

                And…then why does the OCA.allow these foreign jurisdictions? Because the reality is the OCA is just as dependent just in a different.

                It raises the question if any of us is Orthodox.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  For the record, I’ve long maintained that the three ethnic jurisdictions within the OCA should be absorbed by the territorial dioceses.

          • Antiochene Son says

            Sadly, George, at this point I would trust CAIR more than our CIA.

            • George Michalopulos says

              For the record AS, I don’t trust the CIA.

              Gail’s (and the fact that we don’t know who to trust) story leads me to this inexorable conclusion: the Orthodox Church is the Church of Christ. And it is constituted locally, with the priests and people surrounding their bishop. The “Catholic Church” spoken of by the Fathers is the local parish. It is not “universal” or “general” but it is “catholic” in the right sense, that in that parish, among the brethren you know, is what is necessary for your salvation.

        • Jane Rachel says

          People need to realize that the great majority of terrorists in Syria are secular Wahhabis – mercenaries – carted in from Saudi Arabia and other places. They are not Muslims. This excellent article by Andrew Korybko explains.

          The Enemy Within: Secular Wahhabis In Service Of Empire
          “The chaotic socio-political processes that the US provoked in Europe have given rise to a dangerous group of ideologues that the author describes as Secular Wahhabis. Just like their Islamic jihadist ideological brethren, they have a burning hate for Western civilization and want to totally destroy it, even though most Secular Wahhabis were born, raised, and spent their whole lives within it and don’t have any practical experience living outside of this civilizational sphere. While it may initially come off as mind-boggling that a Westerner, or anybody for that matter, would want to facilitate their own civilizational suicide, it’s not at all strange when one realizes that these people operate under the guidance of an ultra-extreme leftist ideology that has essentially become a fundamentalist secular religion for them.”

          • George Michalopulos says

            Jane, are you familiar with the Arabic concept of taqqiyah? (In Judaism it’s called hasbara.)

            Basically, it’s a type of rhetorical subterfuge which allows the in-group to share the truth when dealing with an out-group. It’s a group survival mechanism.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Correction: “shade the truth…” In other words to withhold certain facts and even lie if necessary when dealing with an out group.

        • Gail Sheppard says


          Metropolitan Philip spoke for himself many times before he died.

          CAIR is Hamas.

          The location of The Islamic Rawda School for the Sons of the Martyrs was never in question. The problem was that cash was being dispersed to “avoid the red tape.” Much of our money was (probably still is) being distributed in a way where there is no audit trail. This is the reason why so many wanted an external audit that, as far as I know, never happened. “The most common terrorism link for American Islamist charities involves, unsurprisingly, the Palestinian territories. Where do charitable donations for the Palestinian territories end up? In the Gaza Strip, Hamas, which is designated a foreign terrorist organization, oversees every facet of society, especially the social services in which Western charities work. From the distribution of medicine to the running of schools, orphanages, and kids’ summer camps, Hamas rules the roost.”

          I provided the link to Archbishop Atallah Hanna’s quote that you insist is “nowhere to be found in any original form, anywhere.” I’ll provide it again. “The suicide bombers who carry out their activities in the name of religion are national [Islamic] heroes and we’re proud of them.” This article was written in 2003 so maybe that’s why the source of the source is gone.

          You’re talking about Samer Khoury. I am talking about Said Khoury and he was a donor to the University. If one is made an Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees of a group that is linked to the al-Aqsa Fund, then you are automatically of concern, as the al-Aqsa Fund was a Hamas front that raised funds for Hezbollah. The links they’re there.

          You can read about some of the activity at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Troy Michigan here:

          The people who were assassinated or had family who were assassinated were donors of the University of Balamand. Here’s one of them:

          • George Michalopulos says

            To all: For what it’s worth, Mark Stokoe broke the news about the four, predominantly Syrian parishes in Michigan, specifically, that Bp Mark Maymon wanted them audited.

            I supported Bp Mark then, as well as Mark Stokoe’s reportage (regardless of my own later personal issues with both men).

            Having said that, the blowback against Bp mark was severe and out of all proportion and almost violent –to say nothing of rank insubordination. I believe that’s what led to the demotion of the bishops and the excision of Bp Mark.

            Clearly one of two things was going on: either they were operating slush funds or they were funneling money to questionable overseas groups.

            Things seem to have quieted down significantly under Met Joseph. Or so it would seem.

            In any event, what happened to Gail. (As well as others) was horrific.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Actually, Metropolitan Philip’s decision to demote our bishops was made several months earlier. Unfortunately, “severe, out of proportion responses” was the name of the game in our Archdiocese.

              Bishop Mark was repeatedly threatened. The FBI had to be called in. This is quite an interesting read.


              • anonymus per Scorilo says

                Do not forget the Toledo guys had been in a different diocese, and only got under Met. Philip very reluctantly. And even after they did, some Toledo parishes did not invite Met. Philip to visit them for many many years. So the balance was quite precarious, and when Bp. Mark’s actions (like removing the most senior Toledo priest from a mostly honorary position) threatened to open the old Toledo wounds Met. Philip intervened and took the decision-making power back to himself.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  I had forgotten this, Anonymous per Scorilo. Metropolitan Philip also had his challenges with old world politics.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  We should have a tendency to believe a person is innocent until proven guilty.

                  There are other possible scenarios as to why Metropolitan Philip acted the way he did. I don’t doubt that Gail Sheppard has been vandalized, but I am sure we should all expect evidence that backs up her claims that the vandalism was done by one particular Antiochian priest, whom she names. Are you SURE it was that priest who did it?

                  In addition, I have these thoughts. Scroll on by if they offend anyone.

                  1) We know Bishop Mark Maymon hacked into computers illegally. Who knows what he was, or is, up to? Who knows who stood behind him, either knowingly or unknowingly?
                  2) George mentions that Metropolitan Philip “threatened” to remove AOC students from SVS and move them to Holy Cross. I have read plenty of comments stating that there were a lot of gay students at SVS at the time. We know Fr. Hopko stood behind Mark Stokoe, who is married to Steve Brown. We know he criticized Father Joseph Fester, who is a great priest and whose emails were hacked by Bishop Mark Maymon. We know that Bishop B…, Bishop S…, and Bishop J… were gay, and worse. We know it for a fact. If Metropolitan Philip knew it this type of thing was going on at SVS, who should judge him if he said he wanted to get the Antiochian students out of SVS?

                  3) I read the minutes of the meeting where Sarah Hodges and others like Father Oliver Preble stood up and demanded not only audits, but that Bishop Demetri not be paid or reinstated as a bishop. How incensed they were! Has anyone thought about how Bishop Demetri could have become so drunk that he was impossible to deal with? He said it may have had something to do with the medications he was taking for his Parkinsons disease. He repented. He has a lifetime history of service to the Church. Metropolitan Philip reminded the crowd of the story of Saint Mary Magdalene. In other words, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” What if someone slipped Bishop Demetri a mickey? What if there were other factors at work, and people who wanted to take him down, and to discredit Metropolitan Philip, in order to keep money from going to Syria and Palestine where it was needed? It happens all the time in this world. It happened in the OCA and it’s happening in the GOA. As for audits, how expensive would they have been?

                  4) Mark Stokoe spins everything he writes. What about the testimony of Mrs. Linda Gabriel? I found no evidence whatsoever to implicate anyone in what she wrote. We simply don’t know everything. How does anyone KNOW the “documents were forgeries”?

                  As Orthodox Christians living in the United States, we are ALL connected to the “old world,” and why do we bemoan this fact? We need to support them; after all, we have money and we can help.

                  There have been comments here to the effect that “Sarah Hodges” was savaged. But who “savaged” her?

                  Talk about “low IQ”! The lowest IQ in the world has to be right here in America, given how clueless we can be. Anyone who has ever been friends with Palestinians and Syrians can see how brilliant and beautiful they are.

                  Finally, I highly recommend these links to the story of Muhammed El-Kurd. He woke me up to the fact of the plight of the Palestinians several years ago.

                  (Part 1. Please watch the entire documentary)

                  And finally, how Muhammed El-Kurd has grown up into a brilliant young poet:


                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Correction: “shade the truth…” In other words to withhold certain facts and even lie if necessary when dealing with an out group.

                    Jane, neither Gail, nor I, claimed that the vandalism was the result of the priest in question.
                    In fact, we are both in agreement that he was not an instigator.

                    Having said that, many old guard Philip-acolytes had it in for some of the converts.

                    Also, this should not be forgotten: much of what Gail recounts regarding the shenanigans before, during and after Palm Desert was already in the public record (admittedly OCAN).

                    • Gail Shheppard says

                      Well, I’m not sure he wasn’t the instigator, George. I think it’s unlikely that he was in the dark about any of this but that’s just my opinion. I have no enemies in Tucson; however, I was WARNED about (then Father now Economos) Antony Gabriel by the Antiochian West Coast Deanery and all this started when I showed my face in the parish where he was serving at the time. I concur it’s unlikely he personally did the dirty deeds. On that, we agree.

          • Jane Rachel says


            Archbishop Attalah Hanna says this:

            “Atallah Hanna denied the allegations against him. According to Hanna, he supports the Palestinian non-violent struggle and opposes the suicide attacks and the killing of civilians. He added that these attacks harm the Palestinian cause.”

            You provide a link with a supposed “quote” from Archbishop Attalah Hanna, but there is no evidence that he said it; in fact, I have read countless “quotes” like this, where people are misquoted on right-wing and Zionist websites, and their words are twisted, and these false quotes have been disproven and debunked. This game has been going on for a long time.

            What he said in the interview taken in 2002, is this:
            “An excerpt from Atallah Hanna’s interview with Jordan’s Addustour daily (published on December 25, 2002, originally in Arabic):

            Question: What is your position regarding the Palestinian struggle and specifically the suicide operations?

            Atallah Hanna: The peoples that suffered from the occupation and colonialism were not liberated without struggle and they were not liberated without resistance. When we return and read the history of the people that were colonized and suffered from the occupation we see that all peoples fought and that the Palestinian liberation fight is a legitimate fight for a noble and legitimate cause.

            An excerpt from Atallah Hanna’s interview with Lebanon’s Annahar daily (reposted by on March 15, 2002, originally in Arabic):

            Atallah Hanna: We have good relations with them [all Palestinian groups]. Our people is united in his intifada [uprising/ fight] and its struggle against the despicable Israeli occupation, and we are also connected with all the mujahedeen and the fighters.”


            You can insist he “said” “it” but it would not hold up in a court of law. He has never backed down from his strong stance against “Israel” and in support of his people, the Palestinians. If he did not say it, and he says he didn’t, you have no right to insist that he did, based on an article that supposedly quotes him, with no link and no evidence. Your source, WND or “World Net Daily” is described thus:
            “WorldNetDaily (WND) is an American news and opinion website and online news aggregator which has been described as “fringe” and far right[2][3][4][5] as well as politically conservative.[6] The website is known for promoting falsehoods and conspiracy theories.”

          • Jane Rachel says

            Your statement, “CAIR Is Hamas” is taken from an article from the “Center for Security Policy,” run by the same guy who runs WMD.
            “The Center for Security Policy (CSP) is a far-right,[3][4] Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The organization’s founder and current president is Frank Gaffney Jr. The organization’s mission statement is “To identify challenges and opportunities likely to affect American security”,[5] where main activities are focused on exposing and researching what it believes to be jihadist threats to the United States. The CSP has been criticized for propagating conspiracy theories and anti-Muslim views and described as a hate group, a label the organization disputes.”

            “For the record, CAIR unequivocally condemns terror attacks targeting people of all faiths and in all areas of the world.”

            They can speak for themselves, and they do:

            You haven’t seen terrorism until you have seen what “Israel” has done to the Palestinians. You haven’t seen terrorism until you have seen what the Wahhabis and Salafists and Al-nusra and Al-qaeda and ISIS (created by and paid for by the west, courtesy of your tax dollars) have done to Syria.

          • Jane Rachel says

            I don’t want to go around and around with you, but seriously, you should go live in Gaza and find out what it’s like to live under brutal “Israeli” occupation. I have many Facebook friends who live in Gaza and Palestine, and I have been “with” them on Facebook, checking their updates minute by minute as “Israel” bombs them and sends F16s over their heads, as they live in fear for their lives, shaking with PTSD. Metropolitan Philip did not contribute any money that supported terrorists in any way, ever.

            Norman Finkelstein:
            “AARON MATÉ: It’s The Real News, I’m Aaron Mate, continuing our conversation with Normal Finkelstein, author of the new book ‘Gaza, an Inquest into its Martyrdom.’ Norman, in this part, let’s get to what I think will be one of the most controversial elements of your book, which is the way you write about Hamas, the faction that controls Gaza. You say several things. You say A.) That the power and impact of their rocket fire on Israel has been overblown. You say also that while it’s commonly taken for granted that Israel has the right to launch attacks on Gaza in response to the Hamas rocket attacks, you actually say that Israel has no right to do so and that it’s in fact Hamas as the leader of the occupied population in Gaza that has the right to use rockets in self-defense. You also say that Israel’s Iron Dome system, this missile defense system that it’s used to defend itself against rockets coming from Gaza is actually ineffective and its impact has been overblown.Let’s start first with your contention about Hamas and their rockets. You don’t use the term missiles, you actually use the term sometimes firecrackers and fireworks.”

          • Jane Rachel says

            Hamas exists within Gaza. Money going to Palestinians through “Al-Asqa Fund” is going to help Palestinians who need it because of what “Israel” is doing to them. They live in extremely hard conditions.

            “’ Our brothers and sisters in Palestine are in deep despair under the current economic condition which have reached horrific proportions. While our shareholders in the Al Aqsa Fund have provided essential aid at critical times it will take additional resources to provide support and facilitate the efforts that are underway to help Palestine out of its current crisis. We confirm our shareholders commitment to the People of Palestine with this new aid package including our resolve to seek new funding sources from other members of the OIC countries, civil society and the private sector to ensure we can meet the growing financial needs of the Palestinian people through the Al Aqsa Fund,’ said Mr. Medelsi.”

            As for Hezbollah, I would get railroaded out of here if I told you what I think about Hezbollah. Oh, what the heck. Hezbollah is fighting U.S. backed terrorists in Syria. Hezbollah is helping the Syrian Arab Army to defeat DAESH, ISIS, Al-nusra, al-qaeda, and all the captagon-drugged mercenaries and terrorists finded by the United States, “Israel” and their western allies, who are seeking to destroy religious freedom and sovereign, multi-polar governments in the Middle East.

            From analyst Andrew Korybko:
            “Hezbollah swiftly defeated Daesh in an effective anti-terrorist campaign coordinated with the Syrian Arab Army along the mountainous Syrian-Lebanese border. Observers were taken aback by how quickly victory was attained, as the terrorist group has hitherto put up fierce resistance elsewhere in the country. This testifies to the growing strength of Hezbollah as one of the world’s most effective anti-terrorist on-the-ground forces, as well as relative weakening of Daesh as it approaches its dying days.”

            “The people who were assassinated or had family who were assassinated were donors of the University of Balamand. Here’s one of them:

            What? Why are you implying that Metropolitan Philip or the University of Balamand committed these assassinations?

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Of course I’m not implying that Metropolitan Philip or the University of Balamand committed any assassinations!!! My point was that some high dollar donors to the university are connected to some very bad people who ultimately killed them. This sort of intrigue in OUR neck of the woods is generally associated with mob bosses and it’s not the kind of thing we want to be associated with.

              • Jane Rachel says

                Unreal. “Intrigue”? People DIED. Mob bosses? Where is your evidence? If you don’t know anything about it, but can only surmise, why use it against these souls, who are human beings, and who live in a part of the world that we privileged Americans will NEVER understand. You, Gail, will NEVER know what they think, or how they weep, or what they pray, or how they suffer, or how much they love. Why drag their names into this? Do you KNOW that what you are saying is true? You are presenting “truths” in a public forum, with no evidence.

          • Jane Rachel says

            Gail, you wrote: “The problem was that cash was being dispersed to “avoid the red tape.” Much of our money was (probably still is) being distributed in a way where there is no audit trail. This is the reason why so many wanted an external audit that, as far as I know, never happened.”

            What did you want him to do? Use a credit card? Checks? The situation is terrible in Syria and Palestine, and the Orthodox Syrian and Palestinian Christians and Muslim men, women and children are in constant danger, needing immediate food, clothing and shelter, safety and hope. Therefore, it is not difficult to realize that an audit would not have been the right thing to do at the time.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Audits are ALWAYS a good idea in a 501C3 when the people who are supporting them have grave concerns about how their money is being spent. If we believed the money was going to food, clothing, and shelter, why would we have a problem with it? A better question is, why would Metropolitan Philip have had a problem with an audit if it would have exonerated him of any wrongdoing?

              • Joseph Lipper says

                “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”

                Matthew 6:3-4

              • Jane Rachel says

                If we believed the money was going to food, clothing, and shelter, why would we have a problem with it?

                Because you and others like you were convinced he was a tyrant who refused to disclose where the money was going in order to get it to “terrorists.” As for other lay people who demanded the audit, they, understandably wanted an audit because that’s what’s done in the United States. But the Antiochian Archdiocese is DIRECTLY CONNECTED to SYRIA. It was about THAT, and they could not reveal that to anyone. Joseph Lipper is right.

  5. Greatly Saddened says

    GM … today’s audio seems much better than yesterday’s. Have you made any adjustments, or is it just me?

    • George Michalopulos says

      I made adjustments

    • Re met philip, etc etc etc. Why people get up and walk away because at some stage they say so many bad Apples must mean the entire fruit is rotten
      But on other hand I smile and think, A western shaven face and 19c dog suit and collar and a BLACK HEART,, in that as a discipline of Christ, we should not even be here. And it does not take a beard to be reactionary or full of hate but I would remind those shaven organ playing clerics, it takes one normal beard to be an Orthodox priest. ( unless persecution and other matters happening) . Let alone a bishop. Even in Wall street life style.

  6. Antiochene Son says

    I hope this doesn’t make me a bad person, but I was neither shocked nor scandalized by this. America does kill babies. Between Bush and Obama, and sadly Trump as well, our country has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in pointless, unprovoked Middle Eastern wars since 2001.

    We have no one to blame but ourselves for the state of things in Syria. We prop up Israel and we destabilize the region continuously.

    • Antiochene Son says

      After listening to part 2, I partially retract my sentiment. While I sympathize to a degree with what Met. Philip was trying to do in the Middle East, the tactics of intimidation toward Gail are wholly unacceptable for any hierarch.

      • Christopher Saadeh says

        Gail Sheppard sounds like a hardline Neocon, an agent provocateur and a Zionist. Sewing discord and bad mouthing the late Meropolitan Philip is not a good deed. Allowing her this podium to spew her venom is a shameful act, because she is treading on the sacred soul of our ex-church leader.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Mr. Saadeh,

          “Sewing discord & badmouthing” is another man’s (or woman’s), “Speaking the truth in love, [so that] we will in all things grow up into Christ Himself, who is the head.” (Eph. 4:15) There are simply too many people who were trampled on by “the sacred soul of [your] ex-church leader,” for you to claim “agent provocateurs.” If you don’t watch yourself, you – and other blindmen – risk sharing the same fate as Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston, holding a bag of weeping angels, crying out to heaven for justice.

        • Mr. Saadeh,

          Your post highlights the classic example of American Orthodox Christians caught in the middle of American vs. old world cultural confusions.

          The old Orthodox world uses shame as a key tool to get their people to stay in line. Your post uses shame repeatedly, and you may not even be aware of it (stating that she is “Sewing [‘sowing’ is the appropriate word here, but whatever, not a big deal] discord and bad mouthing the late Meropolitan Philip is not a good deed” and that she is “treading on the sacred should of our ex-church leader”).

          You write these statements as if they are self-evident truths, and if people are not aware of these self-evident truths, then by God there must be something wrong with them. That is the essence of shame — not that I did something wrong, but that there is something inherently wrong with me.

          Healthy Americans don’t respond to shame. In fact, they know it is toxic and view it as a marker of those who have no ability to craft an argument. Or as a marker of those who have no argument and whose only resort is to shame and to ad hominem attacks.

          I know this phenomenon all too well, since I come from a Greek family. Greeks are the Kings and Queens of trying to shame their families, relatives, and clans into obedience. Take a look at the GOA and see how well shaming families and clans into obedience has worked; more than 95% of Greek-Americans have nothing to do with the Church. Outside of the Old World village framework, shaming is totally ineffective.

          Now if you can explain why Met. Philip is above reproach and why he has a sacred soul, that is the kind of thing that Americans respond to. I am curious — why is Met. Philip above reproach? Why does he have a sacred soul?

          Shaming folks into submission and using ad hominem attacks are counterproductive in this country (unless you are a high level Republican or Democrat in national politics, then you would also use these toxic attacks all the time).

          Sadly, many of the old-world Church leaders don’t even realize this fact about the American psyche — that we abhor and shun toxic shame — hence the American vs. Old World Orthodox psychodrama continues.

          • Thank you for your explanation of the practice of shaming. It sure was an aha moment for me an American in a Greek Church. Don’t ask questions, I have learned.

            • It’s important to be aware that toxic shaming is decidedly non-Christian — no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Toxic shaming devalues the person and sends the message to them that they have no worth or no value.

              Christ told us that every human person has value — from the smallest baby to the elderly person with dementia.

              It’s very true that many cultures have cultural habits that are bad and dysfunctional. We should not be afraid of pointing out these dysfunctional cultural habits that need to be spoken about, addressed, and changed.

              (And do not confuse toxic shame with healthy shame. Healthy shame often follows guilt — as in I did something that I should not have. When Christ turned over the tables in the Temple, that was healthy shame the merchants there should have felt. He was not saying that the people who turned His Temple into a den of thieves were themselves worthless, but rather that their behavior was wrong.)

              The toxic shame that is often endemic in Greek and Arab culture, and even in some eastern European culture, is non-Christian. Don’t be afraid to say that.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Mr. Saadeh, were I to listen to you and people like you I would not be in the Church but perhaps that is what you want?

  7. Stephend says

    It might help if you transcribe it in written form . This information is too important to miss .

  8. Gail Sheppard says

    I think of all the things I uncovered, THIS shocked me the most. It has to do with activity picked up at the Balamand University with respect to a department called, “Islamic Studies and Research Center.”

    Pundits believe, run by an “Islamic Studies and Research Center”, is the most credible of dozens of Islamist sites, which have claimed to post al-Qaeda news since the organization and its Taliban hosts went underground when the US military campaign was unleashed on Afghanistan in October.

    • Al-Qaeda is using websites affiliated with the “Center for Islamic Studies and Research” to move messages around in cyberspace. These messages include news of battle casualties, messages from OBL and friends and to supposedly move instructions to operatives.

    • Its sites hop around but seem to be funded from Malaysia.

    • The Center for Islamic Studies and Research seems to have Iranian connections noted in a meeting at the University of Balamand (Lebanon),

    • The Center for Islamic Studies and Research is referenced in a lengthy academic resume with the Supreme Council of Research, the Center for Islamic Studies and Research, Qom, Iran and to a faculty member named Sadegh Ayinehvand or Sadegh Ayinehvand at Tarbiat Modarres University in Tehran, Iran.

    • Jane Rachel says

      Links to The University of Balamand in Tripoli, Lebanon, where Metropolitan Philip is shown in photographs.
      “On Wednesday, September 29, 1999, His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America visited the Balamand Monastery and University. His Eminence Metropolitan Elias of Beirut accompanied him.
      Metropolitan PHILIP spent a whole day in Balamand, a place very dear to him. Along with the Thrice Blessed Metropolitan Antony Bashir, His Eminence played a key role in gathering funds that led to the establishment of St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology. The Archdiocese of North America continues its yearly support to the Theological School and also supports the building plans of the University of Balamand.”

      Link to the University of Balamand in Lebanon:

      Statement from the Univeristy of Balamand website under “Center for Christian-Muslim Studies”:
      “Unfortunately, religious fanaticism has entered the political arena and has staked a prominent claim in regional and international affairs. At a time when the image of religion is marred by extremists and by irreverent exploitation of faith , it is essential that the University of Balamand , with its well positioned Center for Christian-Muslim Studies step up its work to promote dialogue and understanding between Christianity and Islam, and to endorse learning that will incorporate pluralism and cooperation. The Center needs to strengthen and develop its capacity to meet the task of playing such a critical role, and will be able to do so subject to the availability of resources.”

      • Jane Rachel says

        It’s possible that the University of Balamand changed the name of the department to “Center for Christian-Muslim Studies.” Al-qaeda is the enemy of Syria. There’s no way Metropolitan Philip would be associated in any way with al-qaeda.

        • Gail Sheppard says


          Al-Qaeda latched onto the Palestinians to improve its image.

          Metropolitan Philip was fond of saying the following, always to raucous applause, BTW: “. . . they call them terrorists. I call them “Freedom Fighters!”

          Didn’t matter what group they were talking about. If they fought on behalf of the Palestinians, the punchline was always the same.

          You’ve made a number of statements about how you can’t “imagine” how something I’ve said could be true, knowing Metropolitan Philip. Let me ask you something, Jane: DID you know Metropolitan Philip? If the answer is “no,” you’re not in a position to comment either way. Just FYI, even Metropolitan Philip couldn’t cast aspersions on what I was saying, which is why he had to resort to brute force.

          I take people who question my integrity very seriously. I have not lied about any of this so I am asking you nicely, please quit suggesting to others that I have.

          This is not a story about Metropolitan Philip. This is a story about me, about my Archdiocese, and what it’s like being under foreign rule. Suffice it to say: Their ways are not our ways.

          • Christopher Saadeh says

            Not all the Palestinians. Your ignorance is revealing your identity as a Zionist agent provocateur. Al-Qaeda is another label for the armed Muslim Brothers. Hamas is part and parcel of the Muslim Brotherhood, so is Qatar, Turkey, Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia and Al-Nusra in Syria. They are supported by America and Israel, including the powerful Zionist Christians that know nothing but the rapture about Christianity and Christ our Lord.
            So no…not the Palestinians but the HAMAS faction, which are hardline Islamists created by Israel to be used as justification against secular Palestinians including Christians, particularly the large Orthodox congregation in Gaza. They constitute less than 20% of all Palestinian voters, but are about 44% of the voters in Gaza.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Mr Saadeh: Gail will probably be angry with me but for coming to her defense but I must defend the integrity of my blog. I have said many times that I do not wish to be party to any defamation.

              For the record: Mrs Sheppard is not now, nor has she ever been a Zionist agent or even an inveterate or reflexive supporter of Israel. Please retract this statement (as it could be actionable) or you will be banned from further commentary until you do so.

              Thank you for understanding.

              • Michael Bauman says

                George, Mr. Saadeh has already shown he has neither conscience nor integrity. He should be banned already.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Hahahaha! Now that’s FUNNY!

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    Michael, if you can’t figure out why I said “that’s FUNNY!” please let me know. I’m interested in how one person can say that another person “has no conscience nor integrity.” Christopher Saadeh has more integrity and conscience than just about anyone I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

              • Christopher Saadeh says

                When Ms. Sheppard regurgitates CNN and FOX, the NYT and the fairy tales of the State Department, she is mimicking AIPAC and the Zionist lobby which plagues our political strata.
                This is what I believe from reading her diatribes. She may not be a bona fide member of AIPAC or some Zionist Christian group, but parroting the government/media lies puts her in the agent provocateur category. Orthodoxy is indivisible and the Orthodox parishes of Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Palestine and Jordan condemn her actions and those who defend her. The Orthodox congregation in the Levant cannot under any circumstances side with the US administration’s position on any issue relevant to the middle east. Something that Ms. Sheppard seem to advocate. The US has never been an honest peace broker and has not stood by Orthodoxy neither in the middle east nor in the Balkans.
                I spoke my mind.

              • Christopher Saadeh says

                She was the one linking “the Palestinians” with Met. Philip and the Balamand Michael. Even if she was a Zionist agent, I wouldn’t consider that defamation. I would if I called her a dog or a whore, but not if she is an agent provocateur. These people are a dime a dozen, as they all are inculcated in the same way, by the same means. And there lies her problem.
                But my point remains, criticizing Met. Philip after his passing is a bit too much. If she or others had issues with him, they should have approached him via the proper channels before his untimely death.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  Actually, Christopher, this started when I wrote an unpublished letter to Metropolitan Philip a decade ago when he was very much alive. He could have just thrown it in the trash and no more would have been said about it. HE decided to escalate the matter, bringing it into the public arena through threats, intimidation, and vandalism. This was very much his decision not mine. You need to do your homework.

            • Jane Rachel says

              There is no way Metropolitan Philip would ever be involved in any way, shape of form with a terrorist organization.

            • Jane Rachel says

              I don’t have to know Metropolitan Philip personally. Other bishops in good standing knew him personally, and their word is good enough for me.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                You said there is NO WAY Metropolitan Philip would “be involved in any way, shape or form with a terrorist organization” and you know this because “other bishops in good standing knew him personally and their word is good enough” for you?

                Please name these bishops who have assured you that Metropolitan Philip would never “be involved in any way, shape or form with a terrorist organization?”

                Our jurisdiction IS a terrorist organization with respect to what they do and how they do it.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Gail, I posted a reply to your “evidence” that Metropolitan Philip was sending money to terrorists, but George hasn’t posted it yet. Any sane reader can see that your “proofs” came straight from far right web sites.

                  Second, here are statements from Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald). Take ’em or leave ’em.

                  “I request that you establish some ground rules that establish that we are, indeed, seeking the truth, rather than any resolution of anything. Coming to a resolution does not glorify God: worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth DOES.
                  I think Metropolitan Philip of blessed memory might agree with that.
                  Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:
                  March 20, 2014 at 11:31 pm
                  If we will only speak the truth when we are safe….but maybe the anonymous or pseudonymous are not all that sure themselves that what they want to say is true.. In such a case, we must recognize that the writer is himself or herself not all that sure about the validity of his or her assertions here.
                  “De mortuis nihil nisi bonum” is always wise, so let’s NOT engage in debate about the ever-memorable Metropolitan Philip, please!! Thanks again, George, for your request to us. By the way, I agree with Father Anthony Scott who posted on Facebook that it is hard to think of Englewood without His Eminence as it was once difficult for Chaucer to think of Constantinople without a Christian Emperor. I feel SO old. But it seems to me just yesterday when Philip Saliba was to be found at the Arab Student Center at Wayne State University in the 1950s!
                  Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:
                  March 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm
                  Memory eternal to the most concretely charitable of all Orthodox hierarchs of our time!!”

                  “Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:
                  January 20, 2014 at 11:54 pm

                  Sam Ting. Metropolitan Philip did not pull the rug out from under anyone: he merely distributed the decision of the Patriarchate of Antioch REQUIRING the Antiochians around the world to withdraw from these episcopal assemblies. It’s says NOTHING about pan-Orthodox relations in America.”

                  • M. Stankovich says


                    Indeed, let us quote Vladyka Tikhon:

                    If we will only speak the truth when we are safe….but maybe the anonymous or pseudonymous are not all that sure themselves that what they want to say is true.. In such a case, we must recognize that the writer is himself or herself not all that sure about the validity of his or her assertions here.


                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Always on top of things, aren’t you, Michael. Bishop Tikhon is aware of who I am. I post with the name Jane Rachel for good reason.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Jane, I’m sure you have good reason to post anonymously as you do. And yet Gail is brave enough to post on this forum using her real name.

                    • M. Stankovich says


                      The Fathers have an expression à propos for moments such as these: “Like a dog returning to its own vomit.” In my estimation, you serve no purpose here but to antagonize and purposely ridicule. Others are held in abeyance – riddle me this, riddle me that, answer this, answer that – before they may post again. You, on the other hand, are allowed to openly mock – “That’s funny. HAHAHA” – as if there is a value to your obsession & deception. At least you gave me a reason to smile today in providing the quote above, because as the Psalmist says, “You dug a pit as a trap for others, and fell into the trap yourself.” (Ps. 7:15)

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Jane, a fuller picture of the late metropolitan is deserved. I for one said that he was the most consequenctial primate in North America during the turn of this century. His accomplishments cannot be taken away from him. But the bullying (at the very least) cannot be whitewashed. Not just Gail, but others at Palm desert who suffered his wrath and of course SVS which was a yearly hostage to the scholarships he could withhold on a whim.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    On March 20, 2014, when Bishop Tikhon said: “I request that you establish some ground rules. . .” He was talking about something P.P. said and how worshiping God was more important than coming to a resolution. – Bishop Tikhon may have said, “I think Metropolitan Philip of blessed memory might agree with that” because Metropolitan Philip had just passed and I’m sure at that point Metropolitan Philip DID realize it was more important to worship God than to come to a resolution!

                    * * *
                    On March 23, 2014, when Bishop Tikhon said, “If we will only speak the truth when we are safe….but maybe the anonymous or pseudonymous are not all that sure themselves that what they want to say is true. In such a case, we must recognize that the writer is himself or herself not all that sure about the validity of his or her assertions here,” he was speaking to an anonymous poster, like you, Jane. Posting anonymously is kind of a pet peeve of his and he has often mentioned it. His Grace uses his own name, although I suspect it’s got him in trouble from time to time. This may be why he often writes in riddles. Since “he knows you,” I’m guessing you also know that about him.

                    When His Grace said, “De mortuis nihil nisi bonum is always wise, so let’s NOT engage in debate about the ever-memorable Metropolitan Philip, please!!” Thanks again, George, for your request to us,” I’m not sure it was meant to be an endorsement. I suspect it was an introduction into the second thing he wanted to say: “By the way, I agree with Father Anthony Scott who posted on Facebook that it is hard to think of Englewood without His Eminence as it was once difficult for Chaucer to think of Constantinople without a Christian Emperor.” Chaucer wrote something called the “Lawyer’s Tale,” about a woman named Custance. Her character was loosely based on Constantine I’s daughter, Constantina, but where Custance suffered for her Christian heritage and married a strong Christian emperor, real-life Constantina did not. She kept her Roman ways and married a guy who was killed by his brother. The brother became emperor and immediately renounced his Christianity. What a loss for Constantinople. Like Chaucer, some people want to believe fantasy SO MUCH that it becomes their truth.

                    Do you know much about Metropolitan Philip’s brother-in-Christ, Metropolitan Antony, Jane? He was Metropolitan Philip’s predecessor. In an interview in 1971, Proto¬presbyter Alexander Schmemann, the Dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, firmly stated: “In the kind of spiritual iconostasis of the American Church, he (Metropolitan Antony) certainly would be the founding father of the American Orthodox Church … really he was one of the fathers. He had no illusion about the possibility of the Church here being governed from abroad, no illusion what-so-ever. He knew it was impossible; he gave up diplomacy long ago. He maintained those relations on a charitable level but not on the level of any dependencies. I think that when history is finally written, and we see him in his true perspective, against that of the bishops of his own particular era, we will see his true greatness. He was more than others, great in his vision and, therefore, a real father of American Orthodoxy. He inspired many people with that vision … He was honest and had a great sense of humility, very peculiar, original, in many ways a unique man; but I think, that deeply speaking, his real term of reference was very Christian; he was not at all a man of selfishness, self-centeredness. Even though he profited by the Church, he also belonged to it without reservations. He had no other life, and I think that is the essence of episcopacy; he had no other life but the Church. One cannot deny the fact that he was greedy with his money, but he gathered it and invested it and used it when it was necessary for the benefit of the Archdiocese. In terms of leadership, Antony was a charismatic leader, an appealing, forceful personality. He made an impression not only upon members of our Archdiocese, but those outside. He was very blunt and direct. He had very little use for theology as such. He was principally an administrator. He had a direct way of thinking … liked to go to the heart of the matter, avoid the gradual approach … he was not quite Oriental in that way … he was much more like an American business man in many respects. He was much too blunt and direct for the Middle Eastern ways, simplified everything and worked without a secretary most of the time”. .

                    This is something you’ll find interesting: A few years before his death, Metropolitan Antony became seriously concerned about the future leadership for the archdiocese. “Antony used to mention Archimandrite Gregory Abboud and Father Philip Saliba at the breakfast table. As you already know, he was grooming Philip for the future, but he never thought that he would die soon”, stated his sister. Supporting this statement, Mr. Monsour Laham, remembered well the days of Metropolitan Antony’s concern for a successor, as he said, “That is why Father Philip took a leave of absence to further his education at St. Vladimir’s Seminary.”

                    * * *
                    When Bishop Tikhon said, “But it seems to me just yesterday when Philip Saliba was to be found at the Arab Student Center at Wayne State University in the 1950s!” perhaps he was pointing out the fact that Metropolitan Philip was as comfortable with his Arab cohorts in his earlier life, as he was later in life. A leopard rarely changes spots. But you’ll have to ask Bishop Tikhon what he meant.
                    * * *
                    On March 20, 2014, when Bishop Tikhon said, “Memory eternal to the most concretely charitable of all Orthodox hierarchs of our time!!” it was not an exaggeration. He was spot on. You need to ask yourself to whom was Metropolitan Philip charitable?

                    * * *
                    You and I have a completely different take on Bishop Tikhon.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Gail, last December you wrote:
                  “Gail Sheppard says:
                  December 13, 2017 at 4:42 pm Martyr’s Guilt, Since you asked. . .
                  I see very little difference between Putin and Assad with one exception: I don’t think Putin would kill 500,000 plus of his own population to stay in power, nor do I think his country would allow it. A few thousand here and a few thousand there, maybe, but not 15% to 20% (in Syria’s case) within the span of 6/7 years. .. I tend to be very black and white about these things and Assad is no angel.”

                  (I just can’t believe what you write, Gail. Honestly. “Putin is not particularly bright”? The EP wore a panagia with the 3 Fatima girls on it? You saw demon scratches appear on your legs? Really? I looked up your story about the Kennedy assassination. Really? Two CIA agents took you into a room when you were 10, without your parents?)

                  I have news for you. The “New Yorker” article you posted as “evidence” that President Assad has murdered 500,000 of his own people is a sham. It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not, your case against President Assad and Metropolitan Philip is being taken down a piece at a time by FACTS.

                  Excerpt from the article:
                  “Although you wouldn’t know it from a travesty like “The Assad Files,” the facts about Syria have long been clear. In August 2012, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency issued a report stating that Al Qaeda, the Salafists, and the Muslim Brotherhood were “the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” that their goal was to establish a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria, and that this is “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition” – which is to say Turkey, the Arab Gulf states, and the Western powers – “want in order to isolate the Syrian regime.” …This is a scandal that people should be shouting about from the rooftops. Standing reality on its head, however, The New Yorker wants us to believe that the only person to blame for this debacle is Assad. If he hadn’t disregarded Barack Obama’s order to step down in August 2011, then America and its allies would not have been obliged to fund jihadists bent on installing a Sunni dictatorship in Damascus.

                  Through his obstinacy, Assad forced the U.S. to back a religious war of extermination against Alawites, Christians and other minorities, which is why Washington now has no choice but to arrest him, give him a fair trial and then find him guilty as charged.”

                  In addition, racism is rampant on this site. Christoper Saadeh said, “Second, most of the pioneers and supporters of the American church, whether clergy or parish are Syrian. They still are.
                  I am the descendant of an Eastern Orthodox family that goes back to Syria of the first century. Syria has always been the protector of all Christians, and is the land of Orthodoxy. Ask any Orthodox Christian from that country to find out how President Assad and his leadership protected them from the Islamic terrorist proxies of the US, before you mouth off against the best Muslim Leader Syria has ever had since the Islamic occupation of 652 A.D.”

                  Stories mean nothing. Gail, we are all looking forward to the EVIDENCE!!!

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Jane, and what is vandalism but a form of terrorism?

  9. Okay, I’m like halfway into this, and it’s hard to listen to without getting angry. My baptismal saint is St. Nektrios – you know, a real, actual holy bishop – and my anger turns to sadness. I can’t imagine being a heirarch and then being judged against that measuring stick. Like, what are they thinking?

  10. Stephend says

    I deleted those e-mails after reading them. It was just too scary. I think you spooked me by saying how you kept seeing men watching you.
    I am glad the truth is coming out . It’s easy for people to pinpoint the GOA but Met Phillip did some awful things .
    Follow the money .

  11. I used to be Catholic – my inner Crusader us like, ” madam, why trustest thou the Saracen???”

    • Gail Sheppard says

      David, someone’s gotta stop this. I lived through a decade of it and I’m done. If I go out in a blaze of glory so be it.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Hopefully, you will have a “peaceful end to your life, unashamed and spotless, being a blessing to those around you”.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        “a blaze of glory”? Where is the glory in this?

  12. Politics & $$$, Politics & $$$… Seems I was not gifted to make commentary on these topics. I can only think in terms of “spiritual darkness”, “fallen human passions”, “grasping for political power”, etc. Isn’t it simply the spirit of this world attempting to intrude into the inner of life of the Holy Orthodox Church? At least the Patriarch of Antioch recently made a wise decision to not attend the last “Ecumenical Council” in Cyprus. Antioch has fallen as far as the EP. Maybe there is hope…

    • Antiochene Son says

      Antioch has fallen as far as the EP.

      Not true.

      • George Michalopulos says

        AS, I agree with you. The Antiochian patriarchate situation is tenuous, but to his credit he has not become a proponent of globalist propaganda.

        Thus in my estimation, he is a very admirable man.

  13. Please pardon me – and I do not say this sarcastically or to mock – but is there anyone here who did not see Rachel’s escalating oppositional obsession to prove to anyone who will listen that Gail is wrong coming? Especially “Since Metropolitan Philip has fallen asleep in the Lord and cannot speak for himself.” Ladies and gentlemen we are again off to the races…

    The difference here, as I see it, is that when she insists that, “it is impossible to imagine” these accusations – in effect, they are being misunderstood or misinterpreted, and always with the underlying inference of maliciousness or just plain stupidity – after twenty years of walking among the malevolent, I believe that once the line is crossed, I can imagine anything; and Rachel, read that again: once the line is crossed, I can imagine anything, and anything is imaginable. Anything. This, then, becomes a matter of statistical probability; not a simple “coin flip,” but influenced by many factors that contribute toward “likelihood.” The simple point is this, you can fill this blog with page after page of “data” to explain whatever you wish to counter what Gail presents, but you simply cannot overcome the direct, personal many experience with this man – myself included – that insist it is more than reasonable to conclude Gail’s findings are accurate, and that you have done nothing more than substitute “Met. Philip” for Scott Nevins, or the EP, or Assad, or another abandoned puppy, and intend to do a half-assed google-fueled rescue attempt. And you have already begun to demonstarte that you are shameless and unsympathetic. I am well of Mr. Michalopulos’ defense of the First Amendment, but I continue to argue that I cannot agree with its protection of missions rooted in obsessive pathology posing as “searches for the truth. The are fundamentally opposed to one another.

    I also wishes to say that I had expected this “interview” – this introduction – of Gail Shepard to be just what was advertized, an “introduction.” Gail offered a bit about the process of conversion into the Orthodox Faith through the Monastery at the heart of such intense “debate” in another thread, and I looked forward to hearing more about this process and struggle. Instead, I believe what is presented is the Catharsis of Gail Shepard or the PTSD Diary of Gail Shepard, neither of which I personally believe belong in this form, and neither of which I intend to spend time listening to. Why? Mr. Michalopulos introduces this interview as identifying himself as an “amateur historian,” yet it seems to me that the role of the historian is to produce sufficient data so that the consumer – never mind the obsessed – on their own, reaches a reasonable conclusion as to the voracity of the data offered. In this case, I read more offers of sympathy and support for Gail Shepard, and I say this with the complete assurance that I question nothing that she has said is inaccurate. In the end, I question the efficacy of this decision – what consequences can or might be the result – other than the usual “He was a hero” v “He was a villan” face off of anonymous creeps who emerge from the far corners to “set everyone straight.” I hope I am wrong.

  14. Christopher Saadeh says

    I do not wish to engage G. Sheppard. I have read her posts and deduced that she is a Neocon and a demagogue who wants to adopt the wrong minded evil narrative of the government, which is grossly biased against Syria.
    Firstly, who are we to second guess Metropolitan Philip?! Sheppard needs to know that the communication between the Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchate and the Archdiocese in Ohio never stopped.
    Second, most of the pioneers and supporters of the American church, whether clergy or parish are Syrian. They still are.
    I am the descendant of an Eastern Orthodox family that goes back to Syria of the first century. Syria has always been the protector of all Christians, and is the land of Orthodoxy. Ask any Orthodox Christian from that country to find out how President Assad and his leadership protected them from the Islamic terrorist proxies of the US, before you mouth off against the best Muslim Leader Syria has ever had since the Islamic occupation of 652 A.D.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Christopher, and there is the rub. We new world cretans just want to be Orthodox because we love God and love the Church and Jesus Christ wants us here. It appears to me that you don’t care one white for either God or the Church. I am tired of the Old world machinations, deceit and double dealing–Greek, Arabic or Russian. It is time for you to shut up and step back.

      Met Philip was a tyrant and a con man who was also a bishop. He did some very good things but that does not change who he was. Like all good con men he could be and was enormously ingratiating when it suited his purpose or he didn’t care.

      • Christopher Saadeh says

        I wouldn’t stoop so low to talk about a dead servant of God. Your opinion of Met. Philip is worth diddly-squat. His eminence is not here to bless you. You and Sheppard are cowards and need to be ashamed of yourselves for vilifying a dead church leader. Very inappropriate.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        Michael Bauman,

        So many Christians in America want to live in a bubble. They want to be politically active by marching in their pro-life demonstrations, but then they also want to ignore the baby killing that Metropolitan Philip refers to. If Christians want to have any credibility about being pro-life, then it would be consistent to take a stand against our government’s overt support of terrorism abroad.

        Our U.S. Department of State publishes a “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list. Right now they list North Korea, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. If there was any objectivity to this list, our country would be at the very top.

        The CIA did a study a few years ago to analyze how effective the U.S. sponsorship of terrorism abroad was. This study concluded that it was actually not very effective at all:

        • Christopher Saadeh says

          Thanks Mr. Lipper. I and millions around the world, specifically but not limited to the Orthodox in Serbia, Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Lebanon cannot agree more.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Mr. Lipper, being “politically active” is a symptom of the larger problem in my opinion. It is not our job as Christians and as the Church to “be political” at all. It is to proclaim the truth and suffer the consequences, i.e., to embrace the Cross. But, you are right we want our cake and eat it too. The fact is that all political parties are parties of expediency, profit and power. Nothing more.

          I was repeatedly told by many in my original parish not to listen to what Met. Philip said, he would die soon (it only took about 20 years so I came to believe his Palm Desert statement that he would die when he wanted to). But, it was a parish that had been in Toledo and was still sentimental about that.

          An priest friend of mine near the beginning of my life in the Church said to me in an unguarded moment that that we Orthodox were perilously close to engaging in bishop worship. Saadeh’s prouncement about Met. Philip and his unwarranted viscous attack on Gail indicates my friend was right. We sacrifice many people and our own souls on the false altar of such worship. It is about as far from the true faith as one can get.

          There is no magic or eternity in the five original patriarchal cities or the specific patriarchal offices. They were and still are too tied to centers of political power. I have long had a suspicion that is becoming more than that: Constantine’s vision “In this sign conquer” may not have come from God. If we were following the same logic as when they were established, the Patriarchal Sees would be in Washington, D.C., London, Bejing, Moscow and NY City. My apologies to Reader Herman of blessed memory, yes NY City.

          There is some logic to the EP moving to either Washington or NY City if he had done it about 100 years ago at the fall of the Turkish Empire and the fall of the Czar. Way too late now.

          I do know that the Christian communities of the Middle East are being destroyed largely with the support of the United States and the hatred of Islam’s leaders. The last President who did anything against Islam was Thomas Jefferson. Even he, Epicurean Deist that he was, did not see Islam as a religion of peace. From the people in my parish who know from personal and familial experience–I have been repeatedly told–do not trust Muslims , they will betray you if you do. The same goes for our government or any secular government including Russia.

          They only reason any government ever protects or embraces Christian communities is so they can get closer to either control, corrupt or kill us directly. With some governments such acts are conscious and deliberate, with others it is just the nature of secular power. Like the scorpion who stung the frog. It is the nature of any organization in which power is the prime motivator which, sadly, has become too much of the case in many Orthodox hierarchies. There is not one Patriarchal hierarchy that has not been subjected to such attacks for centuries, either the Turkish Yoke or the Communist purges.

          The institution of the Orthodox Church has failed IMO. However, in that we should rejoice because that means that if we want to live, we have to embrace the Cross and the true faith.

          So, Saadeh, if you want to discipline me for my lack of reverence toward Met. Philip (who I will always honor as a Bishop of the Church tough he was a tyrant and a con man), I am easy to find any Sunday at St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral (Antiochian) in Wichita, Ks. For that matter you are welcome to call my bishop, His Grace Bishop Basil and make your case to him directly. If you are not willing to do either, kindly remain silent. I will do my best to pray for your soul for God is merciful even to sinners such as I.

  15. Gail Sheppard says

    When George says, “when you stand up for what you believe there is a price to be paid,” he is talking about within the context of where we find ourselves today, i.e. in a jurisdiction tied to a Patriarchate where old world ways are imposed on the life of the local Church.

    Our safety and well-being are secondary (expendable even). We are forced to support their charities, their universities, and their interests.

    We are to question nothing. There are to be no checks and balances. We are under dictatorships with real-life “company men,” to keep us in check. Even our Metropolitans are constrained and in many cases, left vulnerable to people with clout or money who seek to remake the Church in their own image.

    We need to break away from foreign rule. My story is just one of many.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Gail, if it takes the sting out of things, they aren’t any better in the GOA. At least under Met Joseph, things seem to be getting better for the Antiochians.

      To all: try not to think that Gail is anti-Antiochian. After all, she earlier promulgated the idea that the GOA should merge with Antioch. To my knowledge she has not deviated from that position.

  16. Christopher Saadeh says

    Hot off the press. This is to refute your disinformation Ms. Sheppard. You are nothing but a meticulous documentor of fallacies and government propaganda. A malicious mouthpiece of Corporate mainstream media. You are most most evil.
    Maybe this will enlighten you. You are not an Orthodox Christian. You are an impostor.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      You all are fond of labeling people as evil, aren’t you? You’re as loose with your words as you are with your sympathies and your actions. The problem is we just can’t relate so your world needs to separate from our world.

  17. M. Stankovich says

    I had written this morning, and either it was not received or you are withholding it, something I would not understand nor appreciate. I’ll recreate some of my thoughts as best as possible and perhaps for reconsideration.

    I cannot believe there is anyone who could not have predicted that Rachel would take the polar opposite position and immediately begin a google-driven, obsessive march to prove Gail is not only wrong, but the most ignorant person in the room. Why? “Since Metropolitan Philip has fallen asleep in the Lord and cannot speak for himself.” In my mind, Met. Philip Saliba has now become the cause célèbre, replacing Scott Nevins, the EP, Met. Gerasimos, and Assad, pretty much as will any sad faced puppy that happens to cross Rachel’s obsessed path. Ladies & gentlemen, we are off to the races. Again. Back to the sarcasm, back to the insinuation that we are all dumbasses incapable of common reason: “We should not judge what we do not understand.” Speak for yourself. As has been demonstrated again and again, it is you who boast of what you do not understand and what you are so bold as to assert as the truth. And unfortunately, it is far to frequently at my hand.

    The issue, as I see it, comes down to your statement, “It is impossible to imagine” Met. Philip capable of the behaviour in which Gail suggests he engaged. I will say this to you, after 25-years of walking with murders, thieves, abusers of every type, people who engaged in torturing other human beings simply for pleasure: you cannot hide the character – neither from men or God – of a man who has crossed the line and would act in such a fashion. There is no pathology so complete that would “divide” holiness and righteousness from malevolence. What you cannot google-research away is the personal experience of individuals – myself included – who witnessed the malevolence of Met. Philip. You cannot imagine it, Rachel? Pardon me, but who cares?

    Your fundamental lack of compassion, your inability to empathize, and your “strike the iron while it’s hot” motivation to prove – not by listening to her personal experience or the direct experience of others – but attempting to sarcastically intimidate and re-traumatize her by implying her fear is – I’m not sure what – a product of her own imagination, is so transparently offensive, so uncharacteristic of the response of a Christian even if she proves to be wrong. I tell my students from the first day, “If I ever observe or hear that you have mocked or embarrassed one of our patients, you are gone from this program.” This is a first principle, and certainly a first principle of our faith. You should be ashamed of yourself, but you will not be.

    Finally, I was sitting and chatting with Fr. John Meyendorff at the brunch following the Sunday liturgy at SVS, and a student working on his Master’s thesis came up and said to Fr. John, “Why were these priests & bishops always attending the parish “choir rehearsals” [he used the russian word, which I do not recall]. Fr. John looked at me, then back at the student and said, “My dear, they weren’t attending actual [choir rehearsal]. They used the word to deceive the Soviets as to their purpose for meeting.”The Ramallah Islamic Club is a soccer team!” Good google fact catch.

    • M. Stankovich says

      Having re-read what I have written above, I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not oppose anyone who takes an opposing opinion and who reasonably questions the voracity of anything they read here – and for heaven’s sake I hold myself accountable to the same standard. What I was objecting to, and will always object to, is the tactics of intimidation and personal attack simply to be “right.”

      I have personally met one person with whom I have interacted on this site in seven years of participating, and it transformed our relationship. It is so easy to detach from the “humanity” of words on a computer monitor, and I personally, over the course of the seven years, have been one of the worst of the offenders. Nevertheless, while I do not condone angry displays for which I always regret and am always embarrassed, there is a fundamental difference, categorically, from shaming, demeaning, embarrassing, or re-traumatizing. For that there is no justification in my mind.

  18. Michael Bauman says

    Gail, my question is why revisit this now? The vicious comments of Saadeh reminded me that for a significant number of people we Americans are not and never can be Orthodox and that does not bother them. Women especially are vermin.

    My late wife was attacked by such dispucable people and she never got over it and frankly neither have I. Were it not for the fact that I know Jesus Himself invited me into this Church I would have no part in it. Are we just like the Calvinists who demean and abuse women? Misha seems to think so. Do we reject people because of the color of their skin (not too dark, not too light) that seems to be the case. It is vile and disgusting. It almost turns communion wine into vinegar.

    The OCA is no better. A friend of mine recently went to the RCC in Kansas City because of the nonesense in the parishes there: GOA, OCA and Antiochian. We seem to be united in our bigotry and rigidity.

    The OCA parish there could not abide her conservative politics.

    It is not just old country vs new. It is the old man in all of us. We are called to be neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female. We all want sinners like ourselves so we do not have to be challenged

    God help us, but I am not sure chewing the cud helps.

    • M. Stankovich says

      Let me first say that I have not listened to these interviews. I started to listen, and in my opinion, they are too intimate for my personal comfort, and I stopped. I was fully expecting an “Introduction to Gail Shepard,” and from the few comments she made about her conversion at the the St. Anthony’s Monastery – having come under such fire on this site – I truly was looking forward to hearing this story. Instead, what is here is the Catharsis of Gail Shepard. Michael Bauman took the words out of my mouth: look at any clinical manual for students, and the first question at the top of the list? Why now?Mr. Michalopulos opened these interviews by saying, “I am an amateur historian…” In my opinion, it is the job of the historian to, in a neutral manner, present the facts to the readers in a convincing manner, and allow them to decide for themselves. I have no doubt that what Gail reports is factually true to this point, based on the little I have read – I have had my own “character” experiences – but it is first and foremost a diary of emotional trauma. I believe that the appearance of people like Mr. Saadeh was predictable and, I suspect a portend. I question both the appropriateness and the efficacy – the ratio of benefit-to-harm – of doing. Gail, you know you are most precious to me, and you have my number.

    • Brothers Michael Bauman & Stankovich,

      But I want you to know brethren, that the things which happen to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that is has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

      Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter, out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached;and in this I rejoice,yes, and will rejoice.(Philippians 1:12-18)

      While not imprisoned, many wanted Gail silenced, using their authority within Orthodoxy to do so. Gail has her reasons, we should respect her for voicing them.

      • M. Stankovich says

        My comment was addressed to Gail. My motivation was love and respect. If I have offended her, I trust she will contact me and we will discuss it. I had my reasons, Dino, and I do not feel compelled to explain myself.

        There is a concept I live by, Dino, and it called “new eyes.” It is founded in the realization that there are aspects of myself that I literally cannot see, in fact, I am so blind to the reality, that if it were not for the feedback of others – friends, family, my confessor, and so on – I would be lost. I will leave it at that. I am careful, cautious, selective, and prudent when I write for a reason.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I understand your motivation, Michael. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

        • Michael Stankovich,
          I did not need explanation, I can imagine and understand your concern. No one can rightly say you are not a sincere and genuine man, with the Love of Christ. Nor Michael Bauman.

    • Gail Sheppard says


      We’re not just revisiting this. It has continued. For me, it’s worse now than it was before. I’ve spoken with 3 priests in our Archdiocese and they feel powerless to do anything about it. I need to finish the story because it’s the only way I know how to address it.

  19. As compromised as Met. Phillip may have been in some perhaps very significant ways, he has gone on to meet hi Maker. He can’t be sued. He can’t be laisized. He can’t be disbarred. He can’t be shamed. He can’t be sent into the desert to die alone. He can no longer be harmed personally in any way beyond the memories of others re: the damage he might have done to himself in his own lifetime.(God knows.) I could share an account of my personal meeting with him when he visited Tulsa OK parish (St. Anthony) sometime in the early ’80s . Suffice to say, he simply seemed like a politician rather than some spiritual leader. But that was my own take on it.

    A story from the life of the Desert Fathers may be the most objective thing which could now be said, from my own view:

    ***A brother came to see Abba Macarius the Egyptian and said to him, ‘Abba, give me a word, that I might be saved.’ So the old man said to him, Go to the cemetery and abuse the dead.’

    The brother went there, abused them and threw stones at them; then he returned and told the old man about it. The latter said to him, ‘Didn’t they say anything to you?’

    He replied, ‘No.’

    The old man said, ‘Go back tomorrow and praise them.’ So the brother went away and praised them, calling them apostles, saints, and righteous men. He returned to the old man and said to him, ‘I have complimented them.’

    And the old man said to him, ‘Did they not answer you.’ The brother shook his head no. Then Abba Macarius said to him, ‘You know how you insulted them and they did not reply, and how you praised them and they did not speak; so you too if you wish to be saved must do the same and become a dead man. Like the dead, take no account of either the scorn of men or their praises, and you can be saved.’ ***

    • Antiochene Son says

      Thank you for that edifying passage, Elias.

      Whether or not we liked or supported Met. Philip’s activities, we ought to remember him in our prayers. Hierarchs, by virtue of their apostolic office, are faced with demons that most of us will never see. It is our duty as his fellow Orthodox Christians, if not his former spiritual flock, to plead with the Master to overlook his flaws and errors.

      I hope we can all at least agree on that, and do so.

  20. Hello friends:

    The first answer to the question “why now” is that whatever wrongs were done to her in the past and the resultant feelings are being held onto and still trouble her. One of the first questions I ask people at confession is “are you holding on to any wrongs by others?”

    The second answer is because George and Gail scratch each other’s backs with the belief that they are called to a common agenda, to rid the field of God’s grain of as many tares as they can by wading out among growing plants ….and tearing the tares out on the internet.

    I did not believe that approach was right back when the big push was made for “accountability” a decade or so, and publicly and roundly criticized its chief purveyor at the time, Mark Stokoe, for prescribing accountability for everyone but himself. A few weeks ago, coincidentally as I was finishing a trip to Mount Athos, George announced that he felt called to defend Athonite monasticism … by the usual methods here. Was any good done? Heat was generated! Light?

    Many of my fellow oldsters will recall a pop psych book from 40+ years ago entitled Games People Play by Eric Berne. The gist of it was that we play games with ourselves and others because we don’t know how to live authentically. My recollection is that the book explains how these games deliver bogus payoffs that, like high fructose corn syrup-sweetened food products, deliver a very pleasant sugar rush followed by the inevitable and depressing sugar low. And leads to craving the high again.

    One of the games Berne identified was named “Ain’t It Awful?” If I recall correctly it consisted of repeatedly commiserating with friends and relatives about the shortcomings of others, and it yielded the twin sugar highs of superiority to those deemed “awful” and distraction from facing and dealing with one’s own more or less awful shortcomings. I sometimes feel that is a large part of what internet discussions are really about.


    Fr. George

    • George Michalopulos says

      Fr George, the reason I am interviewing Gail now is because I believe things are presently spiraling out of control. Specifically in the GOA but in the Antiochian jurisdiction not all that long ago. Gail’s story (and Sarah’s and Steve’s during the dust-up at Palm Desert) is indicative of Old World pathologies which still infect the Church here in America. And they will continue to do as long as we keep allowing it.

      I realize that this is painful but I do ask that you listen to the full set of interviews (one more plus an epilogue) and reserve judgment until then. Spoiler alert: we can’t keep on sweeping our dirt under the rug and as long as we are controlled by ancient patriarchates then we will continue to suffer the same treatment for the foreseeable future.

      How many more stories like this do we need before we do something about it?

      • Wayne Matthew Syvinski says

        Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. (Luke 12:1b-3, KJV)

        I would argue that the leaven of the Pharisees is today found with so many bishops we could open a bakery with a nationwide distribution of 666 retail outlets (and you would have to wash down the product with Kool-Aid). It is time for some shouting from the housetops.

        I tire of Orthodox fatalism which often says “Since we are not to judge, let us do nothing.” I would rather have a straight-up fight than all this mealymouthed cowardice. At least when you are fighting you care about something.

        As far as Fr. George’s assertion that “we play games with ourselves and others because we don’t know how to live authentically,” I agree – and authenticity is rooted in truth. We have far too many Orthodox Christians – including and especially clergy – that parrot Pilate’s dismissive question: “What is truth?”

        I own a copy of The Royal Navy Officer’s Pocket-Book: 1944. The quote from it that has stuck with me is: The ratings (i.e. junior enlisted) have few rights, but one right they have definitely got is the right to good officers.

        Orthodoxy is understandably reluctant to discuss rights, but I firmly believe one right the laity definitely have is the right to good clergy; in this case, “good” is defined as operating on at least at the level of basic competence, honesty, and decency.

  21. Matthew Panchisin says

    Dear Father George,

    We hear you, there was a time (it seems not so long ago ) when Greeks would hear what Gail is mentioning and suggest that she just “curse the day” and “say forget about it” just like one could hear on Mount Athos. These days I guess “move on” can’t be suggested as it carries baggage.

    In Christ,

    Matthew Panchisin

  22. Matthew Panchisin says

    Dear George,

    Pardon hear, can we go with seventy times seven?

    In Christ,

    Matthew Panchisin

  23. Michael Bauman says

    George, sorry you lost me on this one. No more Jerry Springer.

  24. Gail Sheppard says

    Father, the past is nothing compared to the present.

  25. Gail Sheppard says

    OK, I hear you. It doesn’t matter what’s happening to me. Sorry for the Jerry Springer show. Don’t take this out on George, though. He was just trying to protect me. – God bless you all. I’ve enjoyed being part of this group.

    • V. Rev. Andrei Alexiev says

      It does matter what happens to you. I get the impression you are still being harassed. I don’t fault George for coming to your defense.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Gail, all stalwart Orthodox men are called to protect our womenfolk. If we do not, then we will have to answer for it on the dread Judgment Day.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Gail, I only care about you and my soul is troubled for you. I have no adequate way to articulate that. Forgive me.

      I do know that holding on to God and relying on His Providence is the only real answer. Especially when I feel a bit like Job as you must.

      Lord God of mercy, grant peace and strength to our sister Gail and victory over all her4 enemies, foreign and domestic. Stay the whispers of deceit and temptation from the evil one and send down Your grace to preserve her in the midst of battle. We implore you and give thanks to You as we acknowledge you as the Holy Trinty: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God Incarnate and eternal. Amen.

    • No, Gail — everyone’s life matters. Every lived experience matters.

      You matter, and your thoughts and experiences and points of view matter. If influential people in the AOA disagree with you, then by all means let them engage in a healthy discussion about it.

      Sadly, much of the time (like at the Palm Desert conference), they don’t want healthy discussion. They want to shut up dissent and differing points of view. That’s non-Christian behavior if I ever saw it.

      Effective leaders set the example, get their points across by their behavior and sometimes using words, and inspire people to want to follow them (think St John Maximovitch or Archbishop Dmitri of blessed memory).

      Weak leaders have to use force, shaming, and hired goons to “keep people in line.” Who wants to follow that kind of leader?

  26. Matthew Panchisin says

    Dear Gail and George,

    I apologize for saying anything, being ignorant of the situation and commenting is totally wrong on my part.

    Gail, it’s good to see that you have good friends here that know you well and obviously care about you.

    In Christ,

    Matthew Panchisin

  27. Joseph Lipper says

    It sounds like Metropolitan Philip was fairly upfront about the “charities” he favored. If some of those “charities” were blacklisted by the U.S. government, then it makes sense that very small cash payments under $10K would be used to avoid an audit trail and incriminating evidence. If he routinely said things like ” . . they call them terrorists. I call them Freedom Fighters!”, then I would say he was pretty upfront about it. Additionally, if he received applause for this comment, then he also had many supporters.

    It sounds like Metropolitan’s Philip’s purported financial support of these “charities” may have been illegal IF it was done in the U.S., but if he did it during his travels to Syria, then it wouldn’t be illegal there. At the same time, I’m sure the U.S. government has a huge classified file on him, and it would be naive to think that our government didn’t.

    Metropolitan Philip was probably quite right about the U.S. support of terrorist baby killers. It’s an open secret that our U.S. government directly supports and trains terrorist baby-killers to destabilize countries all over the world:

    So the U.S. government is by no means innocent, and it is probably even the worst offender. However, it’s still a conflict of interest to be an American resident and to be also supporting blacklisted “charities” on the other side of the fence.

    For those who are troubled by what Metropolitan Philip purportedly did, I still don’t understand, why not just change jurisdictions?

    Personally I find it thrilling that the Antiochene Archdiocese is directly supporting persecuted Christians in the Middle East. What a blessing it is for American Christians to offer their direct support.

  28. Michael Bauman says

    Mr. Lipper, even if I wanted to the closest Orthodox parish of another non-Greek jurisdiction is about three hours away in Oklahoma- a small ROCOR mission parish. You must live in an urban area somewhere not out here in the space. Of course I could fragment the screen even further by trying to set up a mission parish of my own, but what would that solve. The Church is the Church.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Michael Bauman, yes that’s certainly a valid point that many people can’t just change jurisdictions. Changing jurisdictions is not something I really advocate anyway. Being right with God is the main thing, and being in the right jurisdiction is secondary.

      There seems to be an irony though that people will decry “old world” patriarchates and their “old world” ways, and yet these very same people will want to endorse “ancient faith” and “traditional Christianity”. Ancient faith traditional Christianity doesn’t exist in a bubble. Rather, it’s flame is often carried in the most pragmatic ways by people like Metropolitan Philip.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        I personally in talks with others about my faith, never use such terms as “ancient faith” or “ancient church”. And I avoid “traditional Christianity”. All of these terms pidgeonhole you in the eyes of your audience as a superannuated malcontent.

        I like the phrase “timeless Christianity” instead of “traditional”. And while I don’t say “ancient”, I do point out the faith has been true for 2,000 years!

        And I avoid the word “Christian”. After all, any and all can and do call themselves Christians, and arguing about it is pointless. I say that I am adherent of the tenets of the historic, organized religion known as Christianity. Then you can have a discussion with some meaning.

  29. M. Stankovich says

    I have been reluctant to say this because of the way I came about this information. There is no “intrigue” behind it, but you will have to trust that it is first hand and I stand by the integrity, and accept responsibility.

    The fact is, Met. Philip held St. Vladimir’s Seminary “hostage” for many years with the simple threat that he would transfer all of his full-tuition and housing expense paying students to Holy Cross. Understand that pretty much everyone else at the time struggled by with work-study, student loans (I had to literally appeal to my US congressman’s office for assistance in getting a student loan for SVS), and scholarships (the OCA “sholarship” for its students was $150 per semester at the time). This move would have meant financial disaster for SVS, if not ultimately necessitating its closure. And he knew it. He very effectively paid for protection against criticism from the most renowned and influential Orthodox theologians & spokespersons of our time. Certain faculty raged at this situation (yet kowtowed to him in person), yet others, in the spirit of the “soviet reality,” of the time accepted whatever was necessary for survival. The faculty argued, for example, about reports that at the Antiochian Convention in Montréal, hundreds of Roman Catholics freely came to Communion, without a word before or during, from Philip, despite the obvious fact it was happening. In response, Philip was defiant, it could not be controlled for, blah, blah, blah. Word had gotten back to him that students at SVS – and presumably higher – were outraged. His message: I will transfer my students. Shortly after came Orthodox Education Day at SVS, where hundreds of people descend on SVS for a liturgy, ethnic food, educational booths, etc. The celebrant that year? You guessed it, Met. Philip. I was taking photographs of the day, and I happened to be in the Chapel as they were preparing to move the portable altar to the tent for the liturgy. Several of the most esteemed members of the faculty (and the most vocally outraged at the faculty meeting), fully vested, were standing by when, through the side entrance, fully suited with his panagia in his breast pocket, enters Met. Philip. Deep bows, “Your Eminence, welcome.” His blessing, and they direct the subdeacons to show him where to vest. Anti-climactic, no? But was it hypocritical?

    Allow me to juxtapose a scene that occurred only several months later, on a cold, rainy Saturday of the Dead during Great Lent, as an altar of priests and the SVS congregation behind them, became a weeping mess. Fr. Vitaly Borovoy, Dean of the Patriarchal Cathedral in Moscow, was secreted away from his hotel in NYC, and the Soviet delegation with whom he traveled, before 6:00 am by Eric Wheeler in a seminary van. Now he stood at the altar, hands uplifted, eyes closed and tears streaming down his face: ”O God of Spirits and of flesh, Who has trampled down death and overthrown the devil, and given life unto the world, give rest to the souls of your servants…” and from memory, beginning with our protector, Patriarch Tikhon, he called out the names of the New Martys or Russia. Exactly three times I served in the altar at SVS (choir members rarely, if ever, had the opportunity), and this was one. Seriously, who cared what Met. Philip did in Montréal? As Fr. Schmemann would say (and which became a tipoff to his sarcasm), “We are not his judge, God is his judge.”

    My point here is that the sort of man that Met. Philip Saliba was – in reality – was not a secret. And you will pardon me for putting it this way, but how many of you have said, “We already knew the kind of man Trump is, and it didn’t matter to us. We voted for him regardless.” Like Mr Saadeh, who responded so brutally to Gail, people knew about Met. Philip, people saw him attack, people saw him belittle, people saw him humiliate, people saw him hold the finest institution of Orthodox Theology in this country, in its heyday, hostage against criticizing him, yet, but like Trump, they supported him; Met. Philip even as a “visionary” and “sacred soul.” Are you offended by my analogy? Then you are dishonest. When St. Paul says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” (Eph. 6:12) he makes no distinction as to who these “rulers of the darkness of this world,” or where the “high places” might be.

    I have insisted from the beginning that I question the appropriateness of this process: 1) In my estimation, its historical value is negligible in that Mr. Lipper’s point is well taken: post 9/11, no American of Arab descent, church leader or not, will repeatedly travel into the Middle East without the attention of US intelligence. The information already presented speaks to the matter of “character,” and this, in my opinion, is simply the unacknowledged “secret.” 2) Gail said “I need to finish this because I don’t know any other way.” My message to you, Gail, is that I know another way. Healthier, and in the end, more productive, satisfying, and ultimately to bring closure & relief. You know where I am.

    • So the ends justify the means? How non-Christian!

      ROCOR was honoring the memory of the new martyrs way before Fr Vitaly was ever whisked away by Eric Wheeler. The OCA could have honored the new martyrs’ memory along with the rest of the Russian Church outside of Russia had they not gone into schism from ROCOR, and from the rest of the Orthodox world, following WW2.

      And the OCA’s good buddy “Metropolitan” Nikodim was communing Roman Catholics long before the Antiochians did it in Montreal under the approving eye of Met. Philip. Yet the KGB official “Metropolitan” Nikodim was the OCA’s ticket to autocephaly in the late 1960s — indeed, he enabled them to go straight from schism to autocephaly. No Orthodox Church had ever accomplished that feat before! Though the schismatic Ukrainians seem to be trying to replicate the OCA’s schism-to-autocephaly boondoggle nowadays.

      Dr Stankovich, you seem to be implying that for much of the 1960s through the 1980s, “the ends justify the means” was the motto in Syosset?

      • M. Stankovich says


        It is one thing to speak of the the history you may have read in a book, and the history one witnesses in person. I described a liturgy served by Priest Vitaly Borovoy on a Saturday. To the best of my recollection, two days later, on Monday morning (though it may have been Sunday, though I doubt it), with the entire soviet delegation and their “handlers” present, Fr. Alexander stepped from the altar to the amvon. The small chapel was so packed that, singing 2nd tenor, I was within arms reach him. He stood silently for a moment, then he announced that “Metropolitan” Nikodim had died of a massive heart attack, literally, in the arms of John Paul I, whom he was greeting at his enthronement as the Pope of Rome. There was an audible gasp. And then he said, “We are not his judge. God is his judge.” And he turned and returned to the altar. Do you see any irony there, AGS?

        Do you somehow imagine that a man, standing before the altar and reciting an astonishingly long list of the names of the Russian Martyrs from memory, was doing so for the first time? Your statement is as foolish as it is a wild guess, and completely out of context. It hardly justifies your conclusion that follows.

        Finally, AGS, you will not find me making “implications”; if I have a point to make, trust that I will make it outright and accept responsibility for my claim. That is to say, I detest the technique of “framing accusations in the form of a question” as you did above. I find it particularly cowardly leaving yourself a way of irresponsibility: “I didn’t accuse you, I merely asked you.” If I intended to imply “the ends justify the means,” you may trust that I would have said so. I hardly need your assistance in expressing myself.

        • Dr Stankovich, I hardly think that you need help expressing yourself. I am merely putting two and two together. Also, I am not making any ad hominem accusations — I have nothing against you, merely the history that is often rewritten in order to paint pictures more pretty and pleasant than they actually were.

          Metropolitan Nikodim was a shady character if there ever was one. Many people do not think it was mere “coincidence” that he died in Rome with the Pope nearby (during the very brief tenure of Pope John Paul I). Met. Nikodim openly (and apparently shamelessly) communed Roman Catholics while a high-ranking hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. I have no idea why he did this, but it is fair to say that such action is scandalous and non-Orthodox.

          Shortly after WW2 ended, the Russian Metropolia felt “forced” to go into schism from its hierarchical structure in ROCOR, and they wrote that the Moscow Patriarchate was too compromised by communism to go jurisdictionally under. Yet two decades later in the late 1960s — still under an oppressive communist yoke — the MP was apparently rehabilitated and liberated enough to grant a schismatic body “autocephaly”? It all seems too fantastical.

          Metropolitan Nikodim had a lot to gain by offering the Russian Metropolia autocephaly. Not only did the communists think that an autocephalous OCA would delegitimize ROCOR — which was a continued thorn in the side of the communists (the communists couldn’t stand ROCOR’s unrelenting publicity of the religious oppression that was occurring inside the USSR) — but any outspokenness against the religious oppression inside the USSR by the Metropolia ceased following its granting of autocephaly.

          And the Metropolia had a lot to gain too. She was in a terrible financial predicament and was losing parishes regularly to the MP in court cases — literally faced with the decision to either “do something” or become extinct. But nowhere in history has a church body ever gone from a schismatic body comprising a tiny, tiny, <0.5% of a country's population, to an "autocephalous" church in said country. Even "Metropolitan" Filaret's schismatic body in Ukraine at least comprises a much more significant percent of the population than the Russian Metropolia did.

          And who was Met. Nikodim's right hand man in crafting the "autocephaly" deal back in the 1960s? None other than the current schismatic "Metropolitan" Filaret. Shady characters all around.

          I am not negating that many in the Russian Metropolia did some wonderful things when trying to make lemonade from lemons. They had some charismatic leaders and they probably did make Orthodoxy more palatable to some American converts, who otherwise would have been turned off by the heavy ethnic bent that our church has always had in this country.

          But yes, of course, “We are not the judge of others; God is their judge.” However, even though God will ultimately judge a bank robber and not me, that does not make me want to trust said bank robber with my banking.

          My ultimate feeling — that it is OK to deal with shady characters (knowing full well of their shadiness) — because "God will judge them, not me" is a cop out. Yes, God can use shady people to accomplish an end. And maybe that is what the Metropolia was thinking at the time. I don't know. But we deal with the shady characters because they can help us achieve a desired end. If we had no such desired end in sight, then we would not bother dealing with them. Hence, my conclusion that much behavior — whether with Metropolitan Nikodim or Metropolitan Philip — had an "ends justify the means" approach, which I still do not believe is a truly Christian approach to life.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Dr S, as always, I am fascinated (and most appreciative) of your historical vignettes as well as spiritual insights. I find this particular posting of yours to be quite salutary for the most part. Where you lose me is when you make your comparison to Trump and Philip.

      Allow me to point out why I think it’s an inapt analogy. (And yes, I most definitely a Trumpist.)

      1. The people who voted for Trump were also allowed to vote for his predecessors, all of whom had moral failings.

      2. While we may desire moral rectitude in our civil magistrates, it’s not a prerequisite for their position. Moral rectitude –or at least the attempt at it–is a prerequisite for the elders of the Church (as Paul states in 1 Tim 3:10-13 & Titus 1:5-9.)

      3. And this is crucial: the people at present do not have the opportunity to elect any of the bishops of the Church. We kinda-/semi-/sorta-/maybe do in the OCA but even here the people have been blindsided on more than one occasion.

      Having said that, yes, Trump is a thrice-married adulterer (among other things). But as a principled Burkean Conservative/Libertarian, what other realistic choice did I have? Under no circumstances could we have expected 1/10th of the conservative/libertarian accomplishments (to say nothing of explosive economic growth) than have transpired within the last 500 days.

      • M. Stankovich says

        I say again, immorality is immorality, and what is unethical is always unethical regardless of the perpetrator, be it Trump, Obama. Bush, Clinton, Lincoln, Madison, Jefferson, or Washington. “There is no man who lives and does not sin,” we acknowledge in the Service of Burial. The action of one will never justify nor excuse the action of another. It is the rationalization that because we knew ahead of time that this one or that one was immoral or unethical – and here you might back up to the accusation that it is me arguing that the “ends justify the means” – it is “excusable” or “morally manageable” or “ethically tolerable” because of “explosive economic growth” or whatever you wish. Or worse yet, somehow imagine that our God would, in fact, “sanction” immorality as a means to – what? – an “eventual return to holiness” directed by an openly immoral “civil magistrate?” This would suggest our God would expend the magistrate’s utility, but in the end “cast him to the outer darkness” for flaunting his immorality and declaring for all to hear, “I have done nothing for which I need to ask forgiveness.” You ask me what choice you have as “as a principled Burkean Conservative/Libertarian?” How the hell would I know? I don’t have a clue as to what that even means. But will you ask me what your choice is as a “principled Orthodox Christian who seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” and believes all else will follow? (Matt. 6:33)? Then we might have a discussion.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I would take your argument more seriously if liberals had been just as exercised about the morals of Trump’s predecessors. Especially Clinton who was a known rapist.

    • Michael Stankovich,
      Comparing elected professional politicians, their misdeeds, and the politics they play, with that of unelected, and near impossible to remove(by laity) bishops, their misdeeds, and the politics they play, are apples and oranges.

      I suspect your conscience is playing games with you, as your chivalry is getting the best of you. Deep down inside, you must know you analogy does not fly, but if it might change the subject matter direction, then the ends justify the means. Right, my dear brother? Can’t help but love you.

      • M. Stankovich says

        The only thing that troubles my conscience, Dino, is that this has become a toxic environment of manipulation. To date, I am the only subject matter expert by virtue of training, experience, and integrity. I am being censored, not because anything I am attempting to say is offensive, derogatory, or contrary to what is contained in the demonstrated body of evidence. It just doesn’t happen to fit the promoted “narrative.” This whole “project” has been sold as “shedding light,” and finally providing the opportunity for “transparency.” It will continue to be a product of manipulation and a toxic atmosphere until the ability to unilaterally remove comments changes. I have been here for seven years believing it was championed by someone who was “a fanatic for the First Amendment.” Now I have stripped of the right to even explain myself – as a demonstrated expert. I will not comment here again until this situation changes. If Mr. Michalopulos and Gail Sheppard know better than me, are more competent than me, and are more experienced than my 25-years of heartbreaking dedication to assisting victims of sustained trauma transform themselves into survivors, you don’t need me.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Being censored with respect to what, Michael? About how you see me as a “victim of sustained trauma?” You “explained yourself” twice. Are you really so upset about not being able to continue talking about me that you’re going to quit the blog?

          I’m guessing George is not thrilled with the idea of someone diagnosing one of his long-time contributors in absentia. It’s certainly uncomfortable for me. I DO find you discussing me in this way offensive and you are not a subject matter expert on me, as I am not now and never was your patient.

          If you find the environment toxic, just shut down your screen. George is entitled to run his blog any way that he sees fit. It is, after all, his blog. However, I’m going to insist you stop talking about me. I’m not up for discussion. If you want to comment on my story, please do.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Stop deleting my comments – for the 2nd day in a row – and let others judge for themselves. But apparently, since I will not be intimidated by you – and why is it , exactly, you are speaking to me as if you have been deputized by Mr. Michalopulos? – you have no recourse but to delete my comments. How do you not see this as manipulative of the narrative? You are dishonest when you say I have explained myself. Admit you are purposely manipulating, and I will leave you to your own devices. Otherwise, you simply have no other recourse than to censor me or ban me, because you cannot outwit me.

            • Has Michael Bauman been silenced as well. If not by the moderators, perhaps his bishop?

            • George Michalopulos says

              Mike, I’m the proprietor of this blog and I’ll damn well publish any comments I want to.

              I have reiterated over and over the type of comments I won’t publish. The one you are complaining about crossed a line. Worse, your personal email to me went way across that line as well.

              Gail’s interview deserves nothing more than any critique made in good faith. She describes a narrative, facts are stated, dates are told. Dispute them if you so desire. Her demeanor is that of a professional, upper middle-class woman of considerable intelligence and poise. There is no evidence of hysteria.

              In my opinion the comment you are referencing started going into psychobabble. And your email to me displayed much anger. Both are most objectionable.

              • M. Stankovich says

                First, the history of my participation on this site is filled with statements reflecting my respect of the fact that this is your house, my gratitude for your providing this site, and there are numerous times I have defended you as well. Importantly, my comment was not directed to you.

                I have no way to respond to your assessment of my comments – I did not “copy” them before posting – but I have absolutely no problem with you publishing my email to you verbatim. If anyone believes it “crosses a line,” whatever that means, or if anyone detects “much anger,” I will publicly apologize to you before this entire forum, and ask your forgiveness. I will even make a donation to a charity you designate. The content – the body – of the email is generic, so there is no issue of confidentiality. I purposely sent it to you privately out of respect, rather than the “open forum,” and I signed it, “With love in Christ.” I leave it with that.

                I will not go back and forth with you you, Mr. Michalopulos. I can’t match the one-sided option of deleting what I don’t want published. Even the oppressive judge in And Justice for All couldn’t stop Al Paccino from, in the end, jumping up and, on the record and in front of the jury saying, “There’s something really wrong going on here.” You are the master of puppets. I’m on a string.

              • I assume Mike S. objects to being censored because he views himself as the absolute authority on every issue. His papal authority postings are absolute truth in his mind.

                George, you have every right to censor as it is your blog.

                • M. Stankovich says


                  I am not “Mike” to you or anyone else. I was named by my father after the the Captain and Champion of the Bodiless Powers of Heaven, Michael the Archangel. He did this because Michael the Archangel was considered to the Patron and Protector of my family for generations.

                  There is one reason, and one reason only you should assume such an attitude regarding anything I have stated to regarding matters related to the Holy Scripture, the writings of the Patristic Fathers, the contents and the spirit of the Holy Canons, and the Holy Tradition of the the Church, and that is when I am wrong. From the time I began at this site, I have invited correction as to matters of substance regrading our Faith. I personally invite you to take advantage of that invitation. Otherwise, your whining is intolerable to me, because it speaks to fact that you continue to resist being taught, rather than be listened to, even when you are wrong.

                  • Stephend says

                    I actually was wondering if you are open to being taught . I am always wary of people who always remind one of their experience and expertise .

                    • M. Stankovich says


                      As I recall, you are a doctoral level psychologist, no? The simple response to your “weariness” is this: if I have proposed something that is incorrect, I invite you to correct me. it’s just that simple. I simply have no investvest in being “right” over speaking the truth. The. Internet has made everyone experts and we are being asked – in fact demanded – to put Google scholars on the same level with trained professionals. And worse, we are held ethically & legally responsible, while Google scholars just walk away. If I am assertive, it is because I refuse to allow my education, trading, supervision, and experience be put on the same level as a Google search.

                      Learning, being taught, has been a consistent joy of my life. But I made the serious mistake a little over a year ago, presuming a loud, overbearing, unschooled city bus driver who voluntarily comes to my program to lead self-help meetings – to put it bluntly – was a moron. Then, I was walking down the hall and heard him say, “Today I’m going to tell you about spirituality.” I thought, “O man, I can’t miss this. This will be good.” This moron of an uneducated bus driver taught me a lesson in humility and simple childlike gratitude that floored me, and shamed and embarrassed me as I fully deserved. As everyone filed by to thank him, I couldn’t speak. I just hugged him, and he hugged me back without a word. Since that day, I have made a conscious committee mentioned to myself to be open to learn something from someone everyday. I read journals, blah, blah everyday & I am well read, I don’t mean that. I mean being open and receptive to anyone. I never have to seek it out, it happens.

                      But I end this by saying I make absolutely no apology to you or anyone for the talents God has given to me. I spend so much time trying to remember where I put my keys or my wallet, and I am seriously dyslexic (as if the missing words and so on in my writing wasn’t a tipoff), yet I immediately recall a writing of a specific Father in a specific letter, or a specific side-effect from a specific med in children under 12, or a study that speaks to a specific condition for a specific minority patient. You’re a psychologist, for heaven’s sake, you explain it to me.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Stephend, you don’t know.

                  • You will always be Mike to me. I have and continue to be taught by many humble, loving servants of Christ and would not put you in that category. Ponitification is not of God.

                    • M. Stankovich says


                      Let’s cut to the chase here chase here, shall we ? Man to man.

                      You returned here and apparently saw an “advantage” to pile on over the issue of my complaint of censure; in effect prodding Mr. Michalopulos, “Yeah, you show him. He needs to be taken down a notch. He pontificates.” What is missing from your sudden empowerment – that ugly spray of testerone into an already highly charged environment – is the reason you took a little vacancies in the first place, and that can be found here. I still await your response.

                      I am surrounded by punk-assed punks who make their mission to rattle me from the moment I arrive to the moment I depart. Their skills are honed by years behind bars like animals. Your charade of bravado – were it not conducted in the realm beneath the Cross of our Savior – wouldn’t otherwise attract my attention. I will always be “Mike” to you? Whatever you wish. A man who snipped the fingers off another human being with garden clippers for pleasure referred to me as much worse. But I would hope you will think twice before you again engage in the tactics I asked you to justify. Pontificating? Whatever…

        • Michael Stankovich,
          If George is silencing you, I’m out of here as well. I imagine he believes he has his reasons, but at the very least he could explain them. I am not completely sold on this “project”, but trust George and Gail’s judgement.

          Equally, and in some ways more so in a spiritual manner, I trust your judgement Michael. Of course professionally as well. Regardless if I agree or disagree. After hearing both sides we can contribute, observe, or simply change the channel, until the subject matter changes, or permanently. To be fair, no one s should be silenced, but most especially, you or Gail. Unless George is hiding something you told him, we will never know, whether it is right or wrong to continue, or for the rest of us, risk being scandalized, in a very deep way.

          I am new to much of this madness that is part of Orthodoxy, before coming aboard Monommakhos. I have have never heard such stories and never knew where our stewardship went, and how it affected the past, present, and future of our church, and the world at large. I personally do not want to support secular govs, or Islam, or Islamic terrorists/freedom fighters. I want to support Evangelical Orthodoxy.

          This subject matter will no doubt change how I direct my time, talent, and treasure. Perhaps another reason Monasteries are flourishing, and most parishes are not.

          • Mikey S, you appear to have some paranoia. Are you assuming I took a hiatus from the blog until I saw an opportunity to pounce on you? I post when I think I have something significant to add to a conversation, unlike you who believes that he should pontificate on every subject since you are the absolute authority on every subject.

            Sorry you have to deal with so many “punks.” Maybe God is trying to speak to you through them.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Dr S, it’s not always about psychotherapy. I myself would take issue if somebody diagnosed me over long distances (and in a public forum). Such actions could have negative employment consequences, to say nothing about holding up a person to possible ridicule.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Allow me several points here, Mr. Michalopulos, but first tell me and this forum honestly, who deleted my comment from last night, you are Gail? She said to me she has your permission to freely delete any comment she wishes. So I ask you, which of you deleted it?

            Secondly, I wrote you personally about the fact that I believe you are grossly unqualified to make the comments you did to George Osborne; “out of your league” I described it. I never mentioned a “diagnosis” I had made, but rather presented you with an evidence-based, textbook model, and not once, but twice asked you “How would YOU know” if the dynamics I described were operative. I never once mentioned anyone by name in my example. In fact, I emphasized that the universality of the phenomenon extended across my training and experience with military personnel, refugees, and peace officers/first responders; the “who” was insignificant. It was a personal communication intended to aid you, not fuel some ridiculous debate about the negative and harmful life consequences of psychotherapy. And I am truly sad to say you were misinformed in your “collaboration” as to my providing “diagnosis” and so on, but could not bring yourself to show me the respect to ask me directly.

            Back to the point, my comment began by saying I absolutely never, under any circumstances “diagnose from a distance,” offer advice, play “therapist,” and to be blunt, certainly not for free. Free diagnosis, free therapy, & free advice is true to the adage, “you get what you pay for.” At best, I offer possibilities‘ in other words, “I’m not asking you to agree with me but, simply take some time to consider the possibility that… That’s all I’m asking.” If Gail is suggesting I did anything beyond present textbook models of classic phenomena and suggested she consider possibilities>, she is simply being dishonest. I stand by my integrity and my experience. I have colleagues who conduct therapy by phone and FaceTime/Skype, but I will not join them.

            Finally, Gail, directly to your point about talking “about you.” I don’t care what anyone says, but I, perhaps more than anyone, have respected that this is Mr. Michalopulos’ house; history shows the extent of my gratitude and the times I have defended him. You will not instruct me as to these matters, and save your sanctimonious tone for someone else. Secondly, if you somehow imagine that this “in my face” bluster will be intimidating, you kid yourself. I will walk away from here with no regrets rather than allow you to determine which of my comments is personally offensive. Pardon me, but your “story” will not give sight to the blind, raise the dead, or save the Antiochian Archdiocese. And don’t worry, I haven’t listened or read it to this point – only the fallout – and won’t be beginning now.

          • George
            There is the APA Goldwater Rule which I believe is still in force. There may be an issue of professional ethics here.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Mr. Michalopulos,

            First, the very idea that I sit here attempting to “properly” phrase my response so that it is not censored is repulsive to me. Seven years in this forum and this is a precedent.

            I too would take issue if somebody diagnosed me over long distances (and in a public forum). If fact, who wouldn’t? If this is an oblique accusation you are making of me, than don’t play cowardly lion with me. You were not a party to my discussion with Gail, and your insinuation violates a cardinal rule I have for even my undergraduate students: never make a judgement call with one side of the story. Never.

            One thing I have not been allowed to explain is that I wanted to speak to Gail as a friend, that she would hear I was worried about her, that I was personally concerned about her, and to hear that she was safe. I am deeply hurt on a personal level, as a man and as an Orthodox Christian, to see my intention, my motivation, and my concern transformed into some psychobabble “diagnostic transaction,” and to be told (in a public forum), “You don’t know me and I wasn’t your patient.” This is absolutely heartbreaking to me. I did not deserve the comments I received from either of you in an open forum, and then not allowed to respond.

            One of the reasons I am a good clinician is that I am acutely aware of what I say. I never, ever speak in terms of “diagnosis,” offer to be a “therapist, or presume to conduct “therapy” at a distance. The accusation is ridiculous. In fact, in our conversation, Gail made a statement insinuating I was making a diagnosis, and I immediately interrupted her to say, “No, no, no. I am not assigning you to some “diagnostic box” (and as I said it, I noticed I was looking at the “square” of the small guitar amp on the floor next to me). Did I use that word [meaning “diagnosis”]?” And Gail said, “No.” All I offer is possibilities: “You do not need to agree with me. All I’m asking you to do is consider the possibility that…” whatever it might be. I said the same thing to the Lyft driver on the way to airport struggling with the decision to return to school. Is it psychotherapy?

            I sent you a personal email, Mr. Michalopulos – which I have no problem if you were to publish here – that actually was about your lengthy response to George Osborne, not Gail. I made the point that you are unqualified to make the statement to him that you did. I then presented you with a classic, textbook scenario, and asked you, “If someone” were to present themselves to you with this classic dynamic in operation, “How would YOU know?” and I asked that question twice. If you would like to refer to that as “diagnosis,” you would be sorely mistaken.

            You will pardon me, Mr. Michalopulos, but you created this problem. By placing someone, anyone, above criticism and questioning – who can dictate, “You may speak about my “story,” but you may not speak about me” (WAT?) – you are manipulating the narrative. Had I known you were offering “amnesty,” I would have declared, “You may ask me about me, but you may not ask me about my relationship to Frs. Arida, Vinogradov, Chancellor Jillions, or Protodeacon Wheeler, as “Nick” and others accused me of being a pedophile here and repeatedly on my UCSD Medical School email; as people accused me of undermining the sanctity of the Orthodox Church; and kicked my ass from one side of the site to the other. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that a situation that the 1st Amendment was intended to correct?

            • If you were to offer me possibilities, I might accept them as such and give them consideration. But I have a tendency toward detachment. Someone who is not so detached, might take them as insinuations. Possibilities can be dangerous things.

              I don’t get the impression that anyone is acting with evil intent. I do suspect that pain is clouding judgements on multiple sides.

  30. It has been my experience that Arab Christians are fairly consistent enablers of Arab Muslims. It’s the dhimmi mentality, a cultural survival mechanism. Arab solidarity trumps religion. It is ingrained and impossible to reason with. This is much like the dhimmi mentality of the Greeks regarding whoever appears to be in charge politically. Thus the strong impetus to adopt progressive political policies inside the Greek Church because the Greeks perceive (wrongly) that the Western progressives have the wind at their backs.

    It is ironic because the Arab Christians have suffered the most under Islam. You would think that they would be mortal enemies. It’s called Stockholm Syndrome, a pathological affinity for your captor.

    It is very, very ugly to those outside the tribe. That is why it is a very bad idea to get involved in the politics of an organization controlled by tribal custom if you are an outsider. You make yourself an unwanted target.

    Better to let the dead bury their dead. Cast not thy pearls before swine.

    • Indeed! The reason Skoptozy Russians circumcize their women is because they picked it up snuggling with Miaphysites and Copts. Nesselrode sent Uspensky to deHellenize the Antiochians (and almost Jerusalem) eventually causing Michel Aflaq to found the Assad-Saddam Ba’ath party. Nazi Balkan butcher Alois Bruner (responsible for the death of half a million Greeks) died as a houseguest of the Assads. Uspensky and Kapustin went to buy up Jerusalem properties now under ROCOR to prevent Moses Montefiore (the Jewish Tositsas) doing so on behalf of the British.
      1843 as a founding date: this date corresponds to the secret mission held between December 1843 and August 1844 by

      the Archimandrite Porphyry Uspenski in Jerusalem, followed by a second mission between 1847 and 1854. However, the

      Russian ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem was officially recognized only in 1858, after the Crimean War. In 1865,

      the arrival of Antonin Kapustin at the head of this Mission opened a long period of activity and sustainable

      investments, until the death of Kapustin in 1894

      Hopwood, Derek
      The Russian Presence in Syria and Palestine, 1843-1914 Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969.

      Journal of Royal Central Asian Society Volume 53, 1966 – Issue 2
      Russian cultural penetration of Syria — Palestine in the nineteenth century A. L. Tibawi Pages 166-182

      Russian Missions to the Orthodox East: Antonin Kapustin and His World Lucien Fray

      Journal British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 42, 2015 – Issue 4
      Orthodox and Communist: A History of a Christian Community in Mandate Palestine and Israel
      Merav Mack Pages 384-400

      Russian Interest in the Levant 1843-1848: Porfirii Uspenskii and Establishment of the
      First Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem
      Theofanis George Stavrou
      Middle East Journal, Vol. 17, No. 1/2 (Winter – Spring, 1963), pp. 91-103

  31. George Osborne says

    Okay, I’m not a deep thinker…freely admitted…but I am perplexed about this discussion. It appears that Gail needed a cathartic release from some trauma she had been shouldering for quite some time. It also appears that the cathartic release specifically focused on the alledged doings of the late Metropolitan Philip as an example of why Orthodox churches in American need our own ethnic or polyethnic jurisdiction. (I posit such a Church would be just as ethnic as other churches, just American ethnic.) Frankly, I don’t see the point or need of this conversation or the heated rhetoric. What is past is past. Learn from it but don’t parade it around. Sure, we may need an American church but looking at the health of the churches that would coalesce into a unified church and its leadership, I tend to shudder…and not in anticipation. George, you provided Gail with a platform. Fine. Point made. Let’s move on. And, while I often find Dr. S’s comments pedantic and ofttimes tedious, I think he makes a good point. Gail, you know where to call him. Maybe you should.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mr Osborne, while I very much respect your opinions overall, I believe –scratch that: know–that your characterization of Gail is completely wrong.

      First of all, this is not “cathartic” for her. As I will explain in due time, I asked for this series of interviews primarily because the unfortunate events which she describes in Parts I and II have only intensified in the recent past. That is to say long after Metropolitan Philip’s repose. We are talking about actual vandalism. She has filed police reports and the police have taken them seriously. (In fact, they have used them to follow up on unrelated incidents.) By coming to me (or more accurately me soliciting this information from her), I am hoping that any further violence and/or harassment will stop. Gail is a dear sister-in-Christ to me and if I could be in her presence to protect her, I would. Unfortunately, we are separated by hundreds of miles and only by making her case public can I hope to afford her some protection. Not ideal mind you, but we have to play the hand we are dealt with.

      Second, if we have any hope for making things better for the future we have to admit the mistakes of the past. It does no good to sweep things under the rug. We all know too many dysfunctional families in which the one, most dysfunctional person gets to set the tone for the entire family. It never ends well. What happened to Gail then –and what has continued off and on for the past several years–is most definitely dysfunctional. And criminal. There are no qualifications or justifications for such pathology. It’s one thing for an Orthodox bishop in America to have to “play the Old World game” because otherwise there could be unfortunate consequences for an indigenous Christian population but quite another for Orthodox Christians to play these games on American soil where there is no fear of reprisals against one certain demographic.

      Third, Gail has the right to be angry. And yet, in talking to her I can vouchsafe that she’s manifestly irenic. And remarkably calm, cool and collected. She’s a woman of deep faith and piety.

      She has not left the Church but if anything, her faith has only gotten stronger. As you can tell from her writing in other venues, she’s got a very analytical mind. She writes in a most dispassionate manner. I think on this we can all agree. Therefore I must take umbrage at your recommendation that she see a therapist.

      I trust that you now have a fuller picture of Gail and her stability. I cannot stress this enough: she is one of the most clear-thinking, level-headed people I know. I would ask you kindly to revisit your earlier comments and reconsider them.

  32. Gail Sheppard says

    George O.,

    George, if you don’t want to listen, don’t. But don’t suggest I need a therapist! This is insulting.

  33. M. Stankovich says

    Let me make this absolutely clear and emphatic: I will not be pulled into the middle of this ridiculous exchange, either in reality or by implication. I never offered myself as anyone’s “therapist,” nor do I offer advice as to matters that can be construed as “therapeutic,” either by internet or by phone. And to blunt, especially for free.

    Now George Osborne is to be shamed?

    Let me say this as well: I do not pull information regarding the impact of any known phenomenon – for example, sustained intimidation and post traumatic stress on human beings – out of my ass. I think and act according to an establish evidence base of research data and personal training from US military experts in the treatment of PTSD; those who have treated refugees from torture, sustained intimidation, and PTSD; and those who have treated law enforcement and first-responders exposed to traumatic events and disaster who experience PTSD. In other words, I will not be insulted. I have earned my respect by doing my best in assisting victims transform themselves into survivors. If anyone doesn’t want to listen to me, don’t. And if you know better than me – and judging by the rhetoric, some apparently do – than by all means correct me. I invite you. But do not insult my intelligence, my training. my experience, or my motivation. “New eyes.” Trusting that others see what I cannot see in myself. Yet, sometimes, when you watch someone racing toward the wall, it is all you can do to force yourself to look away.

  34. Joseph Lipper says

    What struck me about Gail’s interview was that she referred to herself as not having any standing in the Church and therefore felt safe confronting Metropolitan Philip. Certainly she’s not ordained clergy, but I believe all Orthodox Christians share in the priesthood of Christ, and all Orthodox Christians have a very important standing in the Church. I believe Gail certainly has a very important standing in the Church.

    From what I heard in the interview, she was very concerned about, what appeared to her as, possible illegal activity conducted by Metropolitan Philip that could damage the Church. Her intention was to confront Metropolitan Philip in person about this. The Gospel says, “if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone”.

    This Gospel admonition of Christ is sometimes very difficult to pull off. Writing a letter, I don’t think, is quite the same thing. Making a phone call doesn’t really work either. Granted, it’s often almost impossible to have a private one on one audience with a bishop, unless you’re clergy or seeking ordination.

    What struck me about the content of her letter to Metropolitan Philip, as I heard in this interview, is that she doesn’t just point out what she sees as illegal activity. From what I heard in Gail’s interview, she goes on to conclude that Metropolitan Philip should resign. That’s where this seems to cross a line from pointing out illegal activity “in private” to making a judgement call, informing the bishop that he should resign. That seems to be jumping the gun.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      RE: “That’s where this seems to cross a line from pointing out illegal activity “in private” to making a judgement call, informing the bishop that he should resign. That seems to be jumping the gun.”


      Would it have been better for me to turn him in without warning him? In retrospect, it would have been infinitely better for me. You’d have to read the letter which was never published and I no longer have, but him stepping down was a way to avoid embarrassment and possible jail time. I didn’t want to turn him in. If I had wanted to turn him in, I would have just done it without telling him anything.

      It’s always a “judgment call,” but I didn’t do it lightly. I had been speaking to clergy (not mine out of fear for them). The hope was that our attorneys could appeal to him so I did nothing, per their request. I found out the night before the bishops were summoned to sign off on their demotion that the attorneys had been unsuccessful. You realize, after decades of service, both our chancellors quit, right? I had too much information with a lot of foreign names to sift through. There wasn’t time. The bishops were due in Englewood the following morning to sign off on their status. It occurred to me that though it would be difficult for someone on the outside to sift through all of it, Metropolitan Philip would know exactly what I was talking about. That’s when I decided to write the letter. It had to be worded strongly or he would have thrown it in the trash. I wanted to buy our bishops some time. If he hadn’t retaliated, I would have kept the letter to myself. But he threatened me. There were people breaking into my home, into my car, sitting outside my house and calling my children in the dead of night. He left me no choice.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        Gail, unless one is the Patriarch of Antioch, it just doesn’t seem like a good idea to tell someone like Metropolitan Philip that he should resign. By telling him he should resign, that instantly makes you the adversary. Were you trying to be the adversary? Maybe not, but you still were.

        It sounds like you threw Metropolitan Philip under the bus, and then apparently he threw you under the bus by telling some of his supporters what you were trying to do. We all know he had many supporters, right?

        It sounds like Metropolitan Philip’s supporters took their rage out on you, and it’s entirely plausible that he was completely unaware, and he probably didn’t even want to know, of what actions his supporters took against you.

        Regardless, what happened to you is deplorable and awful, and it shouldn’t happen to anybody.

        • Jane Rachel says

          Joseph, you wrote: “It sounds like Metropolitan Philip’s supporters took their rage out on you”…

          What am I missing here? I would like to read the “threats” that Gail received, and see the actual evidence of the vandalism, and then I would like to see the evidence that the damage was done by “Metropolitan Philip’s supporters.”

          It’s a very exclusive neighborhood. How did “Metropolitan Philip’s supporters” manage to do all that damage, and shoot bullets into her bedroom window, and add dead animals to her septic, and take down large trees with cables, and ruin an old (apparently) irrigation system, and change the flow of water, and cut the water off at the main line, and cut electrical lines, and cut internet cables, and run around with a gun in her back yard, and park for days in her driveway or on the street? How does Gail know for certain that it was “Metropolitan Philip’s supporters” who did the damage?

          • George Michalopulos says

            Jane, I have seen the evidence. I’m talking about photos of cut cables, felled trees, dessicated landscape due to irrigation damage, water bills showing water wastage, invoices for repair of an entire side of a fence down, and a police report.

            I realize however that none of this is probitive in your eyes. You seem to not want to believe that certain people within a church, parish, whatever can exact revenge and/or engage in petty acts of terrorism if they feel threatened. While it is true that there can be no evidence forthcoming (as of now) as to who instigated and/or who perpetrated these acts, the fact remains that none of these things happened to Gail or her property until she moved back to Tucson and was specifically warned by her priest that certain rogue elements were still angry her. Her priest got this information from a recent meeting of the West Coast deanery, all of whom were concerned about her physical safety.

            While there is no way of proving who perpetrated these acts of violence against Gail, there is a circumstantial case to be made that these acts were instigated because she moved back to Tucson and was alone and unprotected. Of course, the fact also remains that the priest she was warned about was also living in Tucson.

            This is actually a pattern with you as I have noticed with many of your criticism of other people’s (and mine) comments regarding this, that or the other. You do not seem to be interested in good faith dialogue. While I can and will continue to debate with anybody who has an opposing point of view, I will do so only if it is clear to me that the discussant is likewise open to entertaining alternative points of view. You don’t seem to be interested in doing so however as has become obvious to me lo these many months regarding other issues.

            This contentiousness finally became very apparent to me regarding this particular controversy. Please, for the sake of all who participate on this blog, consider this as gentle criticism as I only will entertain opinions from those who want to engage in good faith debate.

            • Jane Rachel says

              George, I believe you when you say you have evidence of vandalism. I would apologize for being “contentious” along with all the other things that have been said about me, but my brain thinks in a certain way, and I can’t get to a conclusion until things make sense. If the vandalism was done by “rogue” elements, then at least we have some closure, and we can all hope and pray the rogues stop doing what they’ve been doing.

              Since people seem so troubled about what I write, I would be happy to sign off posting on your blog.

              Gail, I hope and pray you find peace and that you are no longer bothered or hurt by anyone who wishes you harm.

              • Constantinos says

                Jane Rachel,
                Your voice is a much needed one otherwise it’s just an Amen chorus. I find your posts very refreshing. You are a very intelligent woman with keen insights.
                Because of George’s great integrity, I believe him. The problem I have is with some of his conclusions. Gail’s story reminds me of one of those cheesy Lifetime movies like The Bad Neighbor or My Boyfriend The Stalker. She has offered zero proof of who the culprits are, just hypotheses.
                My questions are why none of her neighbors have seen any of this? Does she have good relations with her neighbors? What about kids pulling pranks? Would an ex boyfriend or ex husband have it in for her? If she offered ironclad, lock tight proof beyond a reasonable doubt, then I would believe it is who she says is responsible. She hasn’t offered any proof. Until such a time, I remain deeply skeptical.
                Please stay on this forum because I immensely enjoy your posts. As I stated previously stated, you are a welcome breath of fresh air. By the way, I couldn’t agree with you more about the Palestinians ; they have been brutalized by the illegal Zionist regime for seventy years. To our everlasting shame, we support and enable the illegal occupiers of Palestine. Again, please stay!

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Costa, I must correct you in this regard: Gail’s neighbors were most concerned about the vandalism to her property. They tried as best they could to keep her informed about the various goings-on. Mind you, they were not used to this type of incursions into their neighborhood. This was (I believe) Country Club Estates. The people who live there do so because they are “old money” types who are not ostentatious and who prize their privacy (and safety). We’re talking as close to a crime-free area as can be imagined. Hence what happened to Gail’s parents’ house was most alarming to them.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I wrote a letter, Joseph. If Metropolitan Philip had a problem with it, he could have dealt with it in any number of ways that did not include threatening me or vandalizing my home. He threw himself under the bus.

          He verified my address through a deacon after calling my priest. Why would he care where I lived, if not to send henchmen to my home? THEY didn’t know where I lived so who told them if not Metropolitan Philip? And if you can get beyond these questions, why were several other people targeted as well? I wasn’t the only one with private detectives outside my door.

          Say what you will about Metropolitan Philip but he was not clueless about these events or about anything else.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            Gail, from what you describe, it sounds like you wrote a threatening letter to Metropolitan Philip, targeting him for possible illegal activity and advising his resignation.

            Did it occur to you to write a non-threatening letter instead?

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I wrote Metropolitan Philip two letters, back to back. The second letter was to make sure HE knew I wasn’t threatening him. I gave both letters to the FBI. If my letters had been threats, the FBI would have taken action against me, because threatening people is illegal.

              The legal definition of a “threat” is this: A declaring of one’s intention to cause harm or loss to another’s person or property or to limit one’s freedom to act in a lawful voluntary manner (a threat to kidnap).” I didn’t WANT to cause Metropolitan Philip harm and I said so. I didn’t want to turn him in and said so. Now, if our legal system decided he was guilty of a crime, THEY could cause him harm or loss, but that was not within MY providence. I did not limit his freedom to act in a lawful manner.

              So no, Joseph, I did not threaten him. You might PERCEIVE what I said as a threat but your perception does not make it so.

              If I say to you, “I’m going to call the police unless you quit pointing that gun at me,” am I threatening you? No. I’m telling you I will have to report your illegal activity (assault with a deadly weapon) to the proper authority (the police). Similarly, as a citizen of this country and a member of the Archdioceses (501C3) if I say, “Unless you right this ship I will have no choice but to report the following to the FBI and IRS” is that a threat? No. I’m putting you on notice that I want you to stop engaging in illegal activity and if you don’t, I will have no choice but to refer you to the proper authorities so THEY can handle it.

              At no time was it my intention to threaten anyone and at no time did I say or imply that I would cause harm or loss to Metropolitan Philip’s person or his property or limit his freedom to act in a lawful matter.

              The answer to your second question is this: Yes, it occurred to me not to write Metropolitan Philip a threatening letter. That’s why I didn’t.

              Why doesn’t it bother you that HE threaten ME by saying, “You better tell her to back off or she’ll be sorry,” and then CAUSED harm to my property, and limited my freedom to come and go in a lawful manner by putting private detectives in front of my driveway? He didn’t just do it to me, either. He did it to others. He threatened to pull the students out of St. Vlads at the 11th hour if Mark Stokoe wasn’t taken off the Internet by Metropolitan Jonah. AND HE DID IT. He threatened to fire a priest for wearing a cassock. AND HE DID IT. There are too many examples to list. Where is your strong sense of justice in these matters? You are holding me to a MUCH higher standard than you hold a HIERARCH who is our SPIRITUAL FATHER! You have been harping on this point with me FOR YEARS and I bet never once did you pull on Metropolitan Philip’s robe and say, “Your Eminence, what you’re doing really isn’t right. You’re threatening people. Don’t you think you shouldn’t be doing that?!!”

              • George Michalopulos says

                Very well said, Gail.

                To all: you must remember that Gail had concerns because we were living then much closer to the events of 9/11 than we are today. Our servicemen were in harm’s way in two different theaters of operation as well. And terrorist activities had taken place in other countries besides ours. The very idea that an Orthodox jurisdiction could be shunting monies back and forth between here and the Middle East was/is a shocking one.

  35. Constantinos says

    Brother George,
    As you know, I deeply respect, genuinely admire, and appreciate you, I have to agree with Dr. Stankovich. The narrative is being manipulated and controlled. Two points to keep in mind- extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and ” don’t strike at the king unless you kill him.” Mrs. Sheppard foolishly struck at Metropolitan Philip.
    She has a big credibility problem with me because of her post about the Kennedy Assassination. George, you are an intelligent man. Did that story pass the sniff taste with you because if if did, I have some swampland I would like to sell you. For the record, in the entire history of Cosa Nostra, no woman has ever been inducted into the Mafia. She got that crap from an episode from the Sopranos when Tony traveled to Italy. Is a woman going to kill a ten year old girl because she happened to eavesdrop on a phone call- and then the police and the CIA show up at her door and divulge to her “things that would embarrass the President of the US if she divulged these privileged conversations. Who would ever listen to a ten year old girl? Would the CIA have a private conversation with alone with a ten year old girl? I’ll tell you when this would happen- when pigs can fly. She fabricated the entire story up out of whole cloth. Knowing she lied so recently, I take everything she says with a grain of salt- and you should too! Sorry, George, but Dr. Stankovich is on the side of truth while Mrs. Sheppard has an agenda. Thank you for your kind, compassionate. listening ear.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Costa, you are confusing the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis with the Kennedy assassination.

      Since you’re such an expert on the assassination, you are no doubt aware of the extensive use of Mafia assets by the CIA for covert ops. What Gail was describing was an incident in which she and her girlfriend were caught eavesdropping on a phone call.

      In case you don’t know, the Jupiter missiles were quietly dismantled and smuggled out of Turkey six months after the crisis had abated. Mafia assets were used to smuggle the parts to Arizona (which had a missile launch site).

      Gail also showed me newspaper reports of the Bonano family who were ensconced in Tucson at that time. Having said that, Gail made no mention about the Kennedy assassination (that I can remember).

      Now I understand that given the trauma of JFK’s assassination, many of us conflate that event with other events in his administration.

  36. Gail Sheppard says

    So George and I decided to finish this with Part III. He’ll probably write more about it. Michael S. alluded to the fact that in this series, I have some authority with regard to what comments get published. I intend to ask George to publish EVERYTHING after Part III because you need to see it. The comments, themselves, tell the story of who these people are behind the curtain. Imagine their hate and vitriol being unleashed in real-life because that’s what we’re dealing with. This is THEIR way of communicating.

    • Constantinos says

      Of course, Gail doesn’t spew hatred and vitriol on this forum. In my opinion, she’s a drama queen. As Orthodox Christians, we are under no obligation whatsoever to defend or protect her simply because she is a woman. What are you, her knight in shining armor? That’s very chauvinistic to suggest because she is a woman that makes her above reproach. There are many edifying women in Orthodoxy, and then there is Gail in a class all by herself.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        So, Constantinos, you don’t believe in protecting women?

        I don’t recall George saying I was “above reproach.” If he did, I’m flattered. I suspect what he meant was he believes I am being truthful. I AM being truthful, Constantinos. You don’t know me AT ALL and yet you attack me, personally, and with such a vengeance. This says more about you than about me. You cannot tolerate a truth unless it is YOUR truth. If someone says anything you disagree with, you go for the jugular when a more reasonable person would just say, “Naw, I don’t buy it.” The question is, how far are you willing to take all that rage, Constantinos? I am well aware that there are some in our Archdiocese who express their extreme discomfort with me in actions and not just words. The problem is THIS time the path will lead directly back to you and yours.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Gail, if I may.

          Costa this reply is for you: Gail is being truthful. While she doesn’t know who vandalized her property, she has a substantial evidentiary trail showing that her property was most certainly vandalized.

          I wouldn’t have gone forward with these interviews had I myself was not convinced of their authenticity.

          I have seen the photos, the invoices, and the police report. They are in my procession.

          • Constantinos says

            Dear George,
            I believe you are a very and reasonable man; someone you can talk to as a friend. You also the great virtue of loyalty, something in very short supply in this day and age.You are a man of deep integrity. I guess you could say I am a fan.
            It is my opinion that Gail has difficulty getting along with people. I will take your word that real vandalize occurred because I respect you. Is it not possible that the vandalism was perpetrated by one of her neighbors? I would be more inclined to believe that before i would believe her conspiracy theories.
            Also, about Cosa Nostra, it is true that the Mafia in the assassination of Fidel Castro because the Mafia was interested in Cuba’s casinos. Don’t forget Bobby Kennedy was cracking down on the Mafia before 1963. In way, shape or form was Cosa Nostra involved with the Jupiter Missiles in Turkey.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Costa, anything is possible but what you posit is most improbable. The WASP elites who life in places like Country Club Estates are not given to such hooliganism. Besides, she went out of the way to buy cameras.

              As for La Cosa Nostra, yes, you are correct: Atty Gen Bobby Kennedy did make the life of some of them miserable. At the same time the CIA used some of them (such as Sam Giancana) as assets to assassinate Castro. There probably was a blow-back which resulted in JFK’s assassination.

              As for the Bonanos being the probable conduits for the dismantled Jupiter missiles, I see no essential contradiction. The Mafia is not a monolithic organization which marches in lock-step on every issue. The fed govt has long used a divide-and-conquer strategy with the various crime syndicates.

              • Constantinos says

                I want to thank you for publishi9ng my posts, and for offering me your comments. You truly are a very patient, kind and good man. You are a man who epitomizes class and integrity. That’s rare in this day and age.

        • Constantinos says

          There you go making threats again. I don’t believe in special treatment for anyone, nor do I believe in treating women like fragile China dolls. To me, you have no credibility. I think you should have been excommunicated.
          On a personal level, I couldn’t care less about you one way or another. Let’s put it this way: I wouldn’t want you in my personal life at all. I would run as far in the opposite direction as fast as my legs could carry me.
          Gail, I have no rage for you, just disgust. I’m not expressing rage, I’m expressing disgust, and saying that I don’t believe you, but that’s your problem. you act like you above criticism; you are not. In my opinion, you are a very unremarkable person, and I don’t want anything to do with you whatsoever.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            And what am I threatening, Constantino? Nothing. Your characterization of what I say is as flawed as your personal opinion of me. Feel free to “run in the opposite direction” any time here, Constantino. I would welcome it.

  37. Gail Sheppard says

    Thank you, George, for publishing all comments that have come your way about these interviews, to date. I appreciate the fact that you honored my request to withhold some of them until now so people would be able to focus on the story and not on me. I also understand there one or two comments you can’t publish, not because I don’t want them to be, but because they violate the rules of the blog. Again, thank you, George.

  38. Joseph Lipper says

    Gail, I really have to wonder if Metropolitan Philip was cooperating undercover with the CIA and had protection from our government. That might explain a few things such as his purported involvement with blacklisted charities and his apparent untouchability. Things are not always as they appear.

    Regardless, he was a much-loved champion of the persecuted Syrian people, and he still is considered as such. The fact that he wouldn’t let people stand in his way made him a hero to many.

    Gail,what happened to you is deplorable, it’s awful, and if it hasn’t stopped already, then it needs to stop. I sincerely hope this idea of posting your interviews works for your own safety. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to continue attacking the memory of Metropolitan Philip.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Joseph, he may very well have been cooperating with the CIA. I don’t doubt it one bit.

      I feel no need to “attack” Metropolitan Philip but I can’t omit him either. He is part of the story and is STILL part of the story to the degree that the Metropolitan Philip wannabes, who are not half as bright or nearly as capable, want to emulate him. He’s gone and they’re here and it’s definitely not a step up.

      When I moved to back to Tucson, I was told I could get $450K for that house because of it’s “curb appeal.” I got $350K two years later. I should be LIVING in that house, Joseph. That’s where I grew up. That’s where I have friends. Now, I live in a studio, away from everything I know. My entire life is packed away in storage somewhere. I live out of a suitcase.

      What they have done is just plain wrong. Men in the Church should not be allowed to run women out of their homes just because they show their face in Church.