Memo from Syosset: The Beatings Will Continue until Morale Improves!

The Kool-Aid that the Stokovites consumed last week in Chicago was described by OCANews.org in its “press release” in the most glowing, self-congratulatory terms. Not only was a fired employee (Garklavs) given a standing ovation but the only bright light in the OCA’s (Hopko) old guard gave a speech exhorting the faithful to not give up on “the dream of the OCA.”

Think of it, a man who was fired by the Synod for insubordination, together with its leading theologian (who all but proclaimed the death of the OCA just five years ago), were both feted at the most recent meeting of the Metropolitan Council. In a more sane world, this would be unthinkable. But we’re not talking about a sane world, we’re talking about the dying OCA, which, in its contempt for our Metropolitan, showcased for all the world to see its dysfunction in all its sordid glory.

I joined the OCA about eight years ago because as far as evangelism it was the only game in town. If you wanted to start a mission in the GOA, we were told you needed fifty stewards and $200,000 in the bank. I’m sorry, but that’s not a mission, that’s almost a cathedral. In this economy, that’s a total non-starter. Somewhat similar numbers were required for the Antiochian jurisdiction. In the Diocese of the South for the OCA on the other hand, the joke was that Archbishop +Dmitri would start a mission with “two old ladies and a hat.” This was different and the proof was in the pudding. After all, when the Diocese of the South was created in 1978, there were only six parishes and less than six missions in it. Today, the number of parishes and missions is about 70. There are three monastic communities. If memory serves, the South is the only diocese that’s growing in the OCA. In American Orthodoxy in general, this growth is only rivaled by the Diocese of Wichita in the Antiochian jurisdiction.

More importantly, we in the Diocese of the South were blissfully ignorant of the scandals, corruption, and overall ineptness endemic to the central chancery. Would I do it again? Yes. One of the good things about an autocephalous church is that the dioceses are very autonomous. If you got a good bishop who thinks and acts like a bishop, the sky’s the limit. It’s really that simple. Our liturgies are rigorous and celebrated in the beautiful cadences of Elizabethan English. The chant is traditional and sung in a full-throated fashion. I’d say that the average layman in the Diocese of the South who is interested in living for evangelism wakes up every morning wondering what he can do next to further growth. It’s like the feeling one has when one is young and in love for the first time. When the history of the OCA is written, I fervently believe that the ministry of Archbishop +Dmitri and his immediate successor (+Jonah) will stand out as a glittering jewel in a sea of dross.

Which is why I guess that those who are raised in the Toxic Culture must try to destroy it, root and branch. As corrupt and inept as the primacies of Theodosius and Herman were, they were incapable of foiling the plans of +Dmitri. Perhaps there was some guilt involved. As I mentioned in another post, +Dmitri was overwhelmingly elected to be the first Metropolitan of All-America and Canada of the newly-autocephalous OCA back in 1970. But Deep Institutional Mediocrity being what it is, this was a bridge to far. Instead, the “autocephalous” OCA reverted to the retrograde stereotype of ethnic American Orthodoxy. Sure, we were going to be evangelical and non-ethnic in the ideal, but when the rubber hit the road, the Mediocrities flinched and elected one of their own. In any event, +Dmitri licked his wounds, went along and preached the Gospel and did what real bishops are called to do, which is build up the Body of Christ.

The sad thing is that the bishop hand-picked by the then-Locum Tenens of the South (+Jonah) had every expectation to follow in the life-affirming tradition of +Dmitri. +Jonah was no slouch himself for that matter. (Despite a hectic schedule, we in the South saw him as a worthy successor to +Dmitri and miss him terribly.) In any event, like +Dmitri, the new bishop-presumptive was a convert who came to the Faith in the South. What’s more, he had shown his mettle in standing up to the irregularities that were endemic to tribalist Orthodoxy when he was Bishop of Toledo. He had been humiliated and punished for doing so. We took such courage as a badge of honor. I even wrote a laudatory letter to him at the beginning of Lent asking him what I could do as a parishioner to speed the process of his nomination. Little did I know that he had fallen into bad company and had forgotten the lessons of his resolute and admirable past and instead become a Company Man.

I’m not a pollyanna. I know that in this world we all make mistakes and sometimes, in pursuit of a good thing, we have to make compromises. I long suspected that he had used the offices of OCAN to plead his maltreatment by +Philip. In the long run, such exigencies are often necessary, especially when the procedures to redress grievances are arbitrary. I also know that when you are out of danger, it’s usually wise to become more circumspect in your dealings and leave the past behind. But for some reason, this otherwise admirable man didn’t let go. Having found safe harbor in the OCA, he soon found out that the only real “American” Orthodox Church had its own questionable corporate culture so he probably though it would be best to play along. One of the questionable ways of doing things is by using the offices of Mark Stokoe who is both an administrator and an “investigative journalist.” Are you on the Holy Synod and have a problem with somebody? Tell OCAN. Get it out early and often enough and you may get your way, especially if the guy you’re going sideways with is somebody that Mark Stokoe doesn’t like.

So, where are we now?

The new Locum Tenens of the South (+Nikon) is by all accounts an admirable man. Archbishop +Dmitri told us when he was ordained five years ago, that if all of the new bishops of the OCA were of his caliber, we’d have nothing to fear. A friend of mine who I respect tremendously told me that +Nikon was the type of man General Omar Bradley was, “a GI’s General.” If nothing else, +Nikon had the presence of mind to realize that things weren’t going as planned. On his own initiative he decided to make a pastoral trip to the Cathedral in Dallas, the epicenter of +Dmitri’s program. He listened to very real grievances. I’d like to think that he listened in good faith. He certainly didn’t accept some of +Mark’s recommendations. I want to believe that henceforth, he will act likewise. I also am realistic enough to believe that even if he’s a real man of integrity, the Synod may not listen to him.

Our quarrell in the South is not with +Nikon. After all, he’s just one man in the Synod. What they will do is anybody’s guess. I suspect that the Mediocrities will circle the wagons around the present Administrator. They’ve got too much invested in their present calamitous course of action. The Kool-Aid that their uber-procurator has brewed is too seductive. Moreover, I fervently believe that they think everything is hunky-dory, that the OCA will weather this and come out on top. Like Ruling Classes everywhere, they believe what they believe and know what they know, facts be damned.

And what will happen when the Diocese of the South collapses and the money dries up? They don’t know; they and probably don’t care. What’s important for them is that they win at all costs. This is clericalism at its worst. Beatings will continue until morale improves.

Lord have mercy.

About GShep

Comments

  1. Carl Kraeff says

    What a strange posting; upbeat and downbeat at the same time. I prefer to think that our locum tenens, of whom Archbishop Dimitry has such high regard, will do the right thing and that the DOS will enter a second “Dimitry” era by next year.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Carl, I’d like to think so too, but the present disastrous course that the Synod is taking all but assures the opposite. Oh, I’m sure we can come up with three nominations of men as evangelical as +Dmitri and as visionary as +Jonah, but I have a sinking feeling in my gut that they’ll by-pass them in favor of a yes-man who concurs with their over-centralized/anti-primatial/anti-monastic program.

      Let’s not forget what the DoS under Dmitri/Jonah represents to the Ruling Class vision of the OCA: an independent, traditional, missionary diocese that has no truck with the retrograde ethnic/liberalist view of Syosset.

      I woud love to be proven wrong.

  2. Harry Coin says

    George wrote: “One of the good things about an autocephalous church is that the dioceses are very autonomous”

    Unless the tenets set forth in ‘The Brum Doctrine’ obtain. Then, not so much. Be careful what you wish for.

    In a synod of sufficient size, the whole would not put up with evident decay and misdoing in one diocese. But put them each in individual fear of defacto arbitrary power in ‘the first’ with no real check or balance from the synod and– well, it’s over.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Harry, your new infatuation with the “Brum Doctrine” is and always has been moot in autocephalous churches. In fact, it’s a red herring. The key to church growth is resolute, moral bishops. End of story. Men like this applaud other bishops who do the right thing and this means more than just creating missions. This means engaging the culture and speaking with a prophetic voice.

      This brings me up to the main reason I think that the OCA will fail unless it changes its present disastrous course of action. Their vision of conciliarity is nothing but over-bureaucratization. The talking points are found in OCAN, wherein we are told that +Jonah “acted unilaterally” when he signed The Manhattan Declaration, or wrote the Congress warning them about the disastrous consequences of overturning DADT. Or when he supposedly didn’t “consult” Kishkovsky when he gave his barn-burner of a speech in Dallas in 2009. Etc.

      Any bishop who feels that he must go through a committee of other people –some of whom are laymen of questionable character–before he speaks in the prophetic voice of the church is no bishop. At best, he’s a paper-shuffling, time-server who is scared of his own shadow.

      The true ideal of the bishop (outside of Christ who stood up to the worldly authorities in His day) is St Basil the Great, who was confronted by the Christian emperor Valens who barked at him: “No bishop has ever spoken to me like you.” Basil repliec: “that’s because you’ve never met a real bishop.”

      • Harry Coin says

        The thing about conclusions announced at the beginning of posts is you need reasons afterward to support them before marching forward on the basis they’re true.

        There has been a certain hobby among various power groups to ‘have something’ on high leaders in order to satisfy personal or institutional agendas.

        For that to be fun, you need to have that leader have authority to do your bidding. The ‘Brum Doctrine’ gets that done.

        No red herring, it’s what you’ve been favoring all along here, power in the high with all lines of authority flowing vertically with impotent sobornost. The Orthodox church is synodal, not vatican/heirarchical. If you want that, go be a Byzantine Vatican Catholic / Uniat or similar.

        That the church is autocephalous, as you mention, is even a further heightened reason for synodal activity, with the first among them not having the ‘among them’ part be left out.

        The leader of a church has to be of one heart with his synod and that doesn’t mean ‘they copy his heart’ in the Orthodox church.

    • Or, Harry, the whole of the Synod is aligned against the one (Jonah) as a corrupt self-serving pack using stolen emails and a blood lust hatred for Fester who took the bullet for Jonah. They took the word of a thief, (Mark Maymon) and not having need for “any more witnesses” they, the Synod, without regard for the Cathedral in DC, forced Jonah to remove him. This is how the OCA Synod operates. In this case having a strong Metropolitan could have avoided the spiritual harm being done in Dallas and DC.

      Harry, btw, have you ever met Fr Fester? Or do you simply know him from the pages of OCAN? I bet not since you have planted your flag deeply in the land of Mrs Stokoe-Brown where all is brightness and light and transparency. You and Hopko can keep holding the banner of the Church of Stokoe-Brown “high, high, high” like the Mickey Mouse Club. Wait, sorry, I didn’t mean to dis the Mickey Mouse Club. Sorry Annette and Cubby!

      • Harry Coin says

        John, when you have an vaticanistic leader who doesn’t need a synod, and that leader heads off a cliff, there is no changing his mind. When a synod is the final authority, there is the possibility of amending and rethinking decisions.

        I’ve seen the shoe on the other foot in other situations, bad as you feel about matters where you live, the alternative leads to worse places more quickly. And, in this current climate where you have to wonder who has ‘the career ending dirt on whom’– you really want ONE person to be able to have the authority to give up autocephaly or to make any other course impossible? And rest assured there are quite a few folk who want the OCA met to have exactly that authority for their own reasons– and it isn’t for keeping the dream of an autocephalous american church that has a chance to grow alive. They need it gone the same way a room full of people with dirty faces wants the one who uses soap sent away from among them — so they don’t look bad by comparison.

        The heart of the reason is this: Put one man in charge, and the limit the institution can grow will be the limit of his vision if it’s good. If his vision leads to dwindlement the institution will contract to those who can stand the man. Put a group with regional interests in charge who care about regional things, they won’t allow chaos in one region on in a national office bring their local work low. Even if they get it wrong there is no one ego involved, they can think again.

        Some fraction of those in one parish in Texas have had problems with +Mark. The rest of all the south has not fallen into dust in a month. Let’s try to keep perspective here. Has anyone published an objective chronology of what happened in the Dallas locale? I can’t believe the folk in the Dallas parish care much about the whole cyber-fiasco stuff or who is in charge of what in DC. The fact that so many are anonymous here makes me think the folk upset are in the minority and want to appear as if they are lots of people by using different names.

        Plainly, leaders of a parade need to look over their shoulders from time to time to see whether or not the band is still there.

        • Antonia Colias says

          Dear Mr. Coin,

          You can’t dismiss me as “anonymous” because I have placed both first and surname on this post.

          Come to Dallas and meet us members of the parish under discussion. Then, and only then, can you state with any veracity what is believed (and by whom), and what is considered important (and by whom). Some of my personal viewpoints do not correspond at all with much of what is bandied about on the Internet. No need to post the information, either, as I reserve worthwhile discussion of important topics for people in real life, not for people in Cyber-Space.

          • Nicholas Bailey says

            Thank you, Antonia, for making a point many are missing. There is confusion that the online discussion here and on OCANews are the sum of the reality. The reality is found among people on the ground like yourself worshipping and living your faith. People, not screen names, are who you find in the churches trying to work out their salvation.
            Having said that, I must recognize George for providing the only opportunity for honest discussion. Challenging or supportive, he posts them. Notice how many comments OCANews has posted since the Chicago meeting. Can it be only six people responded in the past ten days? Thank you, George, for allowing an open discussion here.
            And I must thank you, Antonia, for your part over twenty years ago in my entry into the Orthodox Faith. In the dark days I remember people like yourself and John are the reality of the Church.

        • A Texan By Choice says

          Harry,

          You are so off base. Except for one shill of Maymon’s the entire Cathedral community (150 people in attendance) from every spectrum of the community all denounced Maymon. There was no one segment of the Dallas Cathedral. It was all spectrums.

          The DOS is a very tight-knit diocese. The South has never taken kindly to Carpetbaggers. You don’t know the clergy and faithful in the DOS, nor do you understand the pivotal importance of St Seraphim Cathedral to the DOS. St Seraphim’s is Archbishop Dmitri and his legacy and his opinion of Maymon is direct and to the point, “it is like he (Maymon) has no soul.” Quote/Unquote.

          Don’t placate us with your lawyer talk. You drank the Stokoe kool-aid long ago . Maymon fed Stokoe all the information when Maymon was at war with his previous bishop (Philip.) Now, Maymon steals emails and sends them to Stokoe to discredit Fester and to threaten Jonah. This, so-called bishop is only loyal to himself.

          I suppose that is why Maymon has engaged a lawyer to protect him from an inevitable lawsuit. He has already confessed to being the thief of Fester’s emails, that is documented. His lame brain excuse that they were DOS emails on a company computer is a lie since the DOS Chancey has no network server to store emails. No “.org” email extension. He stumbled upon Fester’s private Gmail account and never contacted Fester that he had. He lied to the folks at St Seraphim when he said he asked Jonah about this. He never did. He looked at Fester’s emails for months trolling for tidbits and then passed them onto Stokoe to, in a most timely manner, spin his web to intimidate the Synod and stoke up the MC just prior to their Chicago meetings. But I am sure, that was all just one big coincidence!

          No, Maymon’s greed to be the “highest paid bishop in the OCA” blinded him to basic Christian morality.

          There is no way Maymon can be nominated by the DOS. And when folks know who he really is, I doubt he can get nominated for dog catcher.

          • Harry Coin says

            All 150 save one did that? Wow. You know, if 149 people got together to denounce a bishop there would be a news article about it somewhere. Is there such a ‘not anonymous’ account of that meeting? What was the date? Where was it held? Was it a voice vote? Written ballots? Why not sign your name to it and explain it all properly?

            • JDWatton says

              Here’s an news account with photo: http://byztex.blogspot.com/2011/05/town-hall-meeting-held-in-dallas.html

              Credit by name on the writeup and photo!

              • Harry Coin says

                Thanks! I see it does not speak to results or votes such as the poster here describes. The author of that article reports he wasn’t there. Anyone who was there willing to put their names to the report here of 149 – 1 denunciation? Or, any actual written vote results or first hand eye-witness reports?

                P.S. Eye witness reports only matter if you’re willing to write your name on the posting.

                • JDWatton says

                  You make a lot of demands and assumptions. None of what I read above would have made me jump to the conclusion that A Texan claimed there was a vote. I would have concluded that of the approximately 150 in attendance only one parishioner was willing to speak up in defense of Bp. Mark. Shall we call for a vote on this blog? All in favor of claiming that A Texan claimed that there was a vote (with ballets no less!): 149 against and 1 for Bp Mark please mark your ballets now!

                • Lydia Paraskevas says

                  To those of you who want to know details about what is going on at St. Seraphim Cathedral (SSOC) – the Cathedral of the DOS – the “mother” church of many churches in the DOS – you will have to be patient. Until you have all of the information, some of your assumptions, speculations, and judgements of us who are at the Cathedral is foolish for you and hurtful to us. This Cathdral has been in existence since 1954. Many people of the Cathedral community and her daughter churches in the DOS have spent the better part of our lives at the Cathedral and in the DOS. For me personally, I have been coming to SSOC since I was a kid in the 1970s and became a member when I moved to Dallas in 1982. Several of my family members have been married at SSOC and had their children baptized there. I met my husband there (member since 1980); we were married there; we baptized our children there. We raised our children there. We know what the role and example of a true Christian bishop is and what we have seen first hand and experienced first hand with +Mark is not compatible with that understanding.

                  The internet is currently not the place nor the time to be spewing out details for the world to muse on. We have prayerfully and fully tried to work things out with +Mark but to no avail. We have now spent several days with +Nikhon in Dallas – communicating to him as a parish (as individuals offering personal “testimony” and first-hand experiences to him as well as in group form such as the parish council and the entire parish in the town hall meeting). Bp Nikhon diligently and patiently listened to us and took notes as well as written testimonies from the parish council and parishioners. +Nikhon is continuing to gather information and his assessment by visiting with other clergy and parishes in the DOS this week. He will then present the information that he has gathered and his assessment to the HS in 2 weeks when they meet in Chicago. We will have to wait and see what the HS will decide needs to be done.

                  We do not know what is going to happen – what the HS will decide needs to be done. Once their decision is made and communicated to us, then I am sure that more information will be made more public. Until then, this is not the time or place to give that information out. Please pray for us. We are all hurting terribly. May God grant that we may all have the strength, desire, and knowledge to do His will.

                  Respectfully submitted,

                  Lydia Paraskevas
                  Member of St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathdral since 1982

                • Antonia Colias says

                  What kind of votes are you seeking? This was neither an election nor a convening of a legislative body at which bills were submitted for debate. It was a “town hall-style” meeting at which individuals took turns addressing Bishop Nikon and the clergy and laypeople attending the meeting. It is absurd to peer through the computer screen seeking “resolutions”, “votes”, or any other political element.

                  I’ll say it again. Unless one attends the Cathedral and has first-hand experience of its withering over the past five years, one has no credibility in discussing it.

            • A Texan By Choice says

              the meeting was Saturday at St Seraphim from 2-4:30. Minutes were taken to be submitted to the Holy Synod. I imagine stories will be forthcoming. Be patient.

              • Jesse Cone says

                Bishop Nikon has asked that the minutes not be released at this point. I think that is appropriate as it was a meeting among SSOC members, and I do not think everyone wants their name and opinion dissected by axe-grinders on the internet.

                The above recapitulations of the events are accurate. I would add as well that the discussion at the Town Hall quickly moved from whether or not +Mark should be removed (there was consensus there) to how should we forgive and move on as a parish in our work as the Body of Christ.

        • Harry, can you give a succinct and accurate definition of “vaticanist leader”?

          Can you give a similarly succinct and accurate description of the God-prescribed alternative.

          I’m not being snarky, I really want to understand your thinking. It appears many Orthodox share it, but the details of what is shared are murky to me.

          Just to give you a sense of my perplexity:

          It seems many Orthodox still hate (or at least dislike) the Pope of Rome or have an inferiority complex because his church is bigger. I would agree that when it comes to defining doctrine and critical structures and procedures related to church governance, I’m more comfortable with a council doing these things than a single man (I’m an American after all, and we don’t trust power). My problem as a seeker is that shared hatred or dislike (even if it is understandable) does not make for good policy or governance. In this case, you can’t just define your governance model as “not Rome’s”.

          I think there is genuine disagreement among Orthodox about what conciliarity means. For example, an Ecumenical Council is a very different animal from a national church synod, but some Orthodox seem unaware of the very real differences. Is a metropolitan to you just the president of the synod, the one who uses a gavel to follow Robert’s Rules of Order? Is he this plus symbolic figure head, like the current Queen of England (who is officially the figure head of her state and is still officially the “Supreme Governor of the Church of England”)? Or do you think an Orthodox church should have a true leader, if so what is their function, what are their prerogatives, and how does one appropriately keep power in check without handicapping the church itself? I’m ignorant of these things, but I’m bothered by the casual rhetorical use of pejoratives like “vaticanist leader”. Why not just go with Charlie Sheen’s “trained Vatican assassin,” it sounds cooler 🙂 I’m sure you’ll have a good explanation, so I look forward to it.

          Thanks in advance.

          • Harry Coin says

            It’s not so hard to understand, it’s the difference between the chief justice of the supreme court and a general among subordinates in the military.

            • Harry,

              That’s a really weak response, and I’m very disappointed.

              Here is a link to the responsibilities of the Chief Justice. I can’t see a single one of them being relevant to a metropolitan or patriarch in any church.

              As for your general in the military analogy, that doesn’t seem to fit anything Jonah has done either. So why precisely do you keep calling him a vaticanist leader?

              Since Rome is your reference point, let’s look at the pope’s power in the RCC. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states (paragraph 882): “the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.” And later (paragraph 937): “The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, supreme, full, immediate and universal power in the care of souls.”

              Ignoring for the moment the distinction between the universal church and an autocephalous local or national church (I think the distinction is critical but not the only issue to consider), how can anyone claim that Jonah has attempted to exercise within his own local church (the OCA) the kind of power that the pope has in the Catholic Church. The pope has the power to come into the Catholic parish down the street from me and remove the parish priest, replace him with a priest of his choosing, do the same with the local bishop, and he has similar powers over religious orders throughout the world, etc. He can define on his own initiative new dogmas that are binding on all Catholics. He is a despot, both de facto and de jure.

              No one has ever suggested that Jonah has the power to remove other bishops or to appoint a bishop of his choosing. Nor has he attempted to meddle in the internal affairs of another diocese, hiring or firing priests, dealing with reported improprieties, nor anything of the like. No one has suggested that Jonah can choose his successor or even the methods for the selection of his successor. No one has suggested that Jonah can decree new church law or define new dogmas. Nor has anyone suggested that he has tried anything of the sort. Nothing, nothing, nothing like the authority of the pope has been implied, attempted, assumed, or presumed. Beyond that, as “Chief Pastor” (if this term fits your preferred analogy) has Jonah ever said anything in public that is inconsistent with established church teaching? No, didn’t think so — the Holy Synod even agreed with this assessment in a press release a few weeks ago on the oca.org website.

              So exactly what meaning is left for us to assign to your “vaticanist General” analogy? There is nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. It is a vapid linguistic construction. Please do the world a favor and stop using it.

              So moving on to the real issue. What the heck is your problem with this man? No one has even suggested that he has broken any church laws or been unfaithful to anyone in heaven, on earth, or anywhere else for that matter. No one has questioned his love for God, the people in his church, the people outside his church, his respect for the laws of his own church, his respect for the laws of his country. Need I go on and on and on noting how remarkably beyond reproach this man actually is. It is ridiculous that he has to be this perfect to stand up to your ridicule and condemnation.

              Is your problem that he has suggested that the church might lose its autocephaly or that it might give it up for reason x, y, or z? Ignoring for the moment the fact that giving up power would have to be the least despotic thing a leader could do, and ignoring for the moment that you don’t care enough about this autocephaly to even join the OCA, I don’t think even Jonah believes he can single-handedly give up the OCAs autocephaly. Do you take him for an idiot? Is your problem that he isn’t smart enough? I’m sorry, but how can I tell you kindly to stop being … well you tell me what you are being, so I don’t have to say it in public.

              He is merely taking initiative on intellectual and social matters of importance to the church. Yes, he is raising issues and framing debates. So what? Leaders of all kinds of organizations do this all the time, day in and day out. But in no way does this constrain the church to a single path, commit it to a particular direction, or require it to do anything at all. Many of these issues would have to be dealt with by other bodies, including the AAC which includes lay representation, not just the bishops, to my understanding — does this also violate your model of church governance since it is not the Holy Synod of Bishops making church law?

              I am frustrated with you because I know you are capable of so much butter. For the moment, I am convinced that your hollow cries of “vaticanist leader” are meant to distract yourself and others from the fact that you have no clue what the proper model for church governance really is. I’m willing to be proven wrong, but I don’t see the intellectual rigor regarding these important issues to suggest any other explanation so far.

              • Harry Coin says

                ‘Um’, tell you what– use your name and I’ll pay more attention to your theological ideas.

                • Heracleides says

                  ‘Harry’, tell you what – use a pseudonym and I’ll pay more attention to ANY of your ideas.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  Harry, please answer the question – “What is your problem with Metropolitan Jonah?” I would really like to know.

                  Thanks

                  Peter

                  • Nick Katich says

                    I don’t know about Harry, but I don’t like super bishops. Neither did our blog host (based on a paper trail of essays he left) until he fell in love with Jonah- can-do-no-wrong and that Jonah should therefore be super bishop. Our blog host even coined a new term for Episcopatus Unus Est . He called it “over centralized/anti-primatial”. It’s amazing how quickly one’s principles become ephemeral in the shadow of a charismatic leader. Adolph, Bonaparte, Uncle Joe, Vladimir and others (Barak?) come to mind. I guess principles are a fickle things. I don’t give a hoot about Jonah, Herman, John Paul, Bennie, Bart or anyone else more than the principle of Episcopatus Unus Est . I suspect Harry would agree. I know Ignatius, Polycarp, Ireneaus, Cyprian, Hippolytus, Basil, Nyssa, Nanziansus, John, Maximos, the other John, Mark, and the patriarch’s responding to the pre-Vatican I letter would all agree. I put them up as authority against “y’all” (as they say in the South).

                    • I don’t like super bishops.

                      To me this gave me a mental image of Metropolitan Jonah vesting in a phone booth and then flying off to church. “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Vladyka Jonah!” 🙂

                      Seriously, though, what gives you the impression Met. Jonah has overstepped his bounds? What canons or parts of the Statute has he bent or broken?

                      For the first time in thirty years, we have a Metropolitan who isn’t asleep at the wheel. It’s naturally going to feel a little weird for the OCA to actually have some direction and drive for a change. And I think the years of scandalous and moribund leadership has left so many people broken and bruised, that when our shepherd uses his crook, we can’t tell whether he’s guiding us or clubbing us.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Nick, you’re so off-base in your assessment that I don’t even know where to begin. So, in no particular order lemme start here:

                      1. I’ve never believed that +Jonah is a “super-bishop” nor do I believe in the concept of super-bishops. I’m glad to see that you don’t either! I suppose you will be writing a letter soon asking the central chancery to move from the diocese of the Bishop of New York/New Jersey. I will be glad to post it on this website free of charge.

                      2. Just because I respect him as a bishop and love him as a Christian doesn’t mean I’m some Moonie or believe in the cult of charismatic leadership or that I’ve changed my principles. In the past, my criticisms of the present EP had nothing to do with his office or the fact that his see was by statute the primatial see in Orthodoxy. For the good order of the Church we need a first among equals. As far as I’m concerned, that office can rotate every ten years. Primacy and supremacy are two different things.

                      3. That I recognize in +Jonah the potential to be a great archpastor is not cultic. I say the same things about Ss Innocent, Tikhon, Velimirovic, etc. I say the same thing about MLK (incredibly flawed man that he was). History pretty much bears out this assessment btw, so unless you got a problem with historians plying their trade and making judgments of great men, then you need to answer Peter’s question, which is: why exactly do you disdain +Jonah so much.

                      If you want to continue evading question, let me ask you this instead: what makes you think that the other bishops have it within them to stop the continued decay of the OCA?

                      And please confine your asnwer to based on what we actually know about these men and how they’ve grown their respective dioceses. Their writings would be good. Perhaps you can point me to a bibliography containing the theological writings of some of +Jonah’s most vociferous critics on the HS?

                    • Nick, You’d rather Jonah follow your druthers than current church law? These are such strange conversations. But why not just change church law to fit your vision of the church? Seems possible, so what’s stopping you?

                • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                  I’m with Peter . . . what’s your beef with Met. Jonah???

                  • Nick Katich says

                    Helga:

                    “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s super bishop” is exactly the image I intended to evoke. Ask George, the host of this blog, why he and I have agreed over the years that there is no such thing in Orthodox ecclesiology and ask George why he has suddenly changed his mind. I am consistent. He is not.

                    Get it right for a change. It has nothing to do with Jonah. It has to do with Episcopatus Unus Est which is the difference between us and Roma.

                    However, having said that, when Jonah gives a speech to the Canadian Diocesan Assembly and suggests that the OCA should re-think its autocephaly in order for HIM (His Imperial Majesty) to get a seat on the Executive Committe of the Episcopal Assembly, and when the rest of his synod says “no way”, and then he goes to the Midwest Diocesan Assembly and says “it is under discussion” (meaning with Moscow) and his synod again says “no way”, and then he goes to Russia to lobby on behalf of himself against his synod that HIS (His Imperial Majesty’s) agenda is the “only” agenda and that the synod has no right to have an agenda of its own (again meaning keeping or giving up autocephaly), it has everything to do with Jonah who is off in left field on a stupid idea that somehow autocephaly is less important than HIM (His Imperial Majesty) having a seat on the Executive Committe of an Episcopal Assembly that is soon to be defuct and is going no where (as George has continuously said).

                    That, my sister, IS the problem . You can see it, appreciate it and be against it; or you can see it, not appreciate it and ignore it. That is your choice. I for one would give him the choice if I were on the synod: “Origenize” yourself and persist; or stand down. I think the synod chose a middle and less mutilative ground.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Well, that’s more like it. It may not be THE reason for all of this broo-ha-ha, but its most likely a good part of it. You know Nick I will also give you this advice – Do not make Autocephelacy the same albatros the “Old Calendar” is to the Genuine Orthodox Christians organizations.

                      Our devotion should only be to one thing – The Gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I have seen all this before, I have been on my Parish Council were egos get in the way of true ministry and outreach, I have seen people become conformed to the world where they are of no use to the Gospel, I have seen people you are so fundamentalist they are of no use to the Gospel.

                      Where there is this much vitriol, intrigue, and genuine back parlore dealing to oust a Bishop, via the leaked e-mails, coming from. This IS NOT Christian behavior. To defend power, autocephelacy, a culture of Homosexuality, whatever, it does not excuse the Very Bad Behavior we have all seen.

                      I used to see priests and bishops as the chosen princes of the Church. Now, after confirmed scandals, financial corruption, and sexual molestation by Priests and Bishops I know much better. They like us are fallen human beings that are in desperate need of a Savior.

                      It comes down to this: Love God with your whole being and Love your neighbor like yourself. Did Skordinski, Stoke, Benjamine, Bishop Mark, etc., love God with their whole being and their neighbor Jonah like themselves? Did they do right? I do not know I’m not God so we shall see if what Stoke, Skordinski, Bishop Mark, etc., did was blessed by God. We shall see.

                      Peter

                    • Nick,

                      That’s just inane. Has the Holy Synod actually stated its position on this matter? If not, why don’t they just take a vote on the matter. Jonah would be bound by their decision, and the problem would be solved. Easy as pie, no?

                      They certainly don’t need to come up with false pretenses for removing a metropolitan.

                      They certainly don’t need to form a subcommittee to enforce a decision they have not made.

                      Your presumed problem would be easily dealt with using existing structures. Would it not?

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Brilliant analysis, Peter. The idea that people as hard-bitten and as antagonistic as the present Stokovite crew seems to be can be of any use to spreading the Gospel is the most damning indictment.

                      If I may dilate on my own experiences a little. As I mentioned in this essay, the major reason I joined the OCA was because it was (ideally) the only Orthodox jurisdiction committed to evanglelism. Some of course will jump in and say “what about the Antiochians? after all, Peter Gilquist…” True, but one thing I noticed about ethnic eparchies is that at base, they couldn’t make a cogent case for their own autocephaly. Being Greek descended myself, I sensed a fear that someday the ethnic jurisdicction in question would have to circle the wagons around the ethnic base.

                      I saw this in the GOA during the tumultuous period post-+Iakovos. I even saw it in the OCL (believe it or not) which despite its best intentions, was ultimately nothing more than a group of disgruntled GOA people (like me) who wanted to reform the GOA and then append the other jurisdictions onto it. I know this is harsh, but in reading the treasure-trove of OCL publications it was always centered around the various controversies that wracked the GOA at any given time. Case in point: when +Philip rejiggered the entire AOCNA just to get rid of +Mark, nobody in the OCL raised a ruckus. When +Bartholomew did the same thing to get rid of +Iakovos, you thought that the sky was gonna fall.

                      Anyway, getting back to my point: if the GOA would revert to its ethnic core, I suspected that the AOCNA would do the same. Well, about five years later, at Palm Desert, it did.

                      Ironically, the OCA may be in the process of doing the same thing at present. Retreating to its ethnic core. This core, by dint or crook is concentrated on the East Coast and contains the pathologies that are endemic to Blue State America at present, which is a hidebound devotion to statism and aversion to traditional morality.

                      Your assessment that the autocephaly has become an “albotross” is unfortunately correct at this point. Autocephaly for its own sake and not the Gospel’s is ultimately doomed to fail. Any church which is not loyal to the Gospel will deservedly fail.

                      So, do I think that the OCA will fail? No, not as long as +Jonah remains primate. Is it going to be pretty? Barring divine intervention, not at all. This will take years to sort out. Many lives will be lost, friendships shaken. Jesus said, “think I came to bring peace? No, I came to bring a sword.”

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      George I agree with what you said as the Church has one mission and one misson only: “To spread the Gospel of Christ!” The GOA, AOCNA, ROCOR and now the OCA place the Gospel second or third to ethicity, politics, etc., how can we evangelize our country and, more importantly, the world?

                      Last night I received my copy of the Orthodox observer and saw the official response from the GOA in regrads to the Lynn Parish up in Massachusetts, which I do not know the full story so I cannot make an informed decision, but if, and I emphasize IF, the Lynn parish is in a blue-coller area and the Parish is truly struggling financially, then I do not understand the GOA’s pressure and lack of understanding in forcing them to pay a committment they cannot truly afford. Now, I understand that they were doing a $3.5 Million renovation project that demonstrates to the GOA that they can pay, but if this project was done well budgeted and figured in the old payment obligation, and not the new one that the GOA insisted on, then I can see how Lynn got caught in a trick-bag and sought relief. The GOA gave none!

                      Then I see on t.v. the current state of our culture with Lady Gaga, Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child debacle, the new Google Chrome ad that supports and accepts Homosexuality by being againt bullying, which I am against as well without accepting the Gay lifestyle, and finally making Christians look bad with this whole May 21st Doomsday stunt.

                      So how do we evangelize our Country and World when we are stuck in these old political and ethnic struggles? Orthodoxy is and can be the single most important galvanizing affect in America and elsewhere, but we are squandering it.

                      It was asked previously on these posts “What can we do to change things?” Preach the Gospel of Christ! Follow the Lord’s commands to Pray and Fast. Go to the Divine Liturgy individually if you have no family or if you do, go as a family, even if your kids do not want to go. Take them anyway, just like my parents did.

                      Do not give up on your local parish. Stay there and fight for it no matter what, but do it with love and compassion. (being to enough General Assembly Meetings I can tell you alot more get done with Love and Compassion than screaming and ego contests). That’s what I see the people at SSOC doing – staying and fighting for their Parish. Recognize and understand that Bishops and Priests are mostly going to be bland or bad, and that once in a while a good one comes along so cherish him and then do the Lord’s work as much as possible through him, and even the bland/bad ones as much as possible.

                      The cult of personality is just that a cult. Leave Bp. Mark, Jonah, the HS, Benjamin, Nikon, and the rest to God, and follow the words of the Prophet Joshua “..as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15.

                      This does not mean not to speak up when abuses occur, but to understand that in the end no matter what happend you and your family must keep the faith, even if our so-called leaders, if proven, do not.

                      So change the country and the world by first changing yourself. The rest is in you living your faith as best you can everyday openly and without apology, as well, and most importantly, allowing God to shine forth in you to others. This is what we can do right here, right now.

                      The OCA is an Orthodox Church, let me say it again – The OCA is an ORTHODOX CHURCH! Does not matter if you are Greek, Russian, etc., the OCA is an Orthodox Church. Even though its not part of my Archdiocese it is still MY Church and all Orthodox must recognize and understand that. So fight the good fight and let see what God does.

                      Yours In Christ.

                      Peter

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Nick,
                      So your objection comes down to a emotional reaction to the possibility that something Met. Jonah said, or maybe possibly have contemplated doing about autocephally?

                      What if the autocephally is bogus or irrelevant?

                      What if it needs to be given up even with no guarantee that anything different or large would come of it?

                      The more this whole mess drags on and the more otherwise intelligent people mess all over themselves in public, the more I’m coming to the conclusion that there is little substance to the vaunted autocephally of the OCA anyway.

                      In any case, no one that I have seen has yet answered the question: What has Met. Jonah done in violation of the canons or the scriptures that justifies and necessitates such extreme reation?

                      Where is the proof?

                      The rest of the verbal vomitting simply doesn’t matter.

                    • Nick Katich says

                      Michael:

                      You miss my point completely, which is quite unusual based on prior interactions on Father Hans’ website. I didn’t join the OCA because of autocephaly. I joined the OCA because (i) it is truer than some of the other jurisdictions (including my Serbian), in most cases, to what I consider proper liturgical theology, (ii) it is all English and even though I love, know, and fully understand Slavonic, my wife, a convert, does not, (iii) it is the closest parish to my home, and (iv) it, together with my Serbian Church, is truer than all (at least on paper) to proper ecclesiology, although it went severly afoul under Herman’s tenure.

                      My point is essentially this: The OCA has something called autocephaly. It is considered precious to most (although not that important in the overall scheme of things to me). I joined the OCA just about the time the scandal under Herman started to become known publicly. It lasted too long for two reasons. Over time, the OCA had evolved into an Imperial Primate and simultaneously evolved into an Impotant Synod. The two certainly go hand in hand.

                      When Jonah was elected Metropolitan and there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel with the restoration of the principle of Episcopatus Unus Est (in great part based on Jonah’s early public pronouncements), I was encouraged. Then he wrote that inane piece about “obedience” to him (which another poster quoted at length) and I was puzzled. Then he embarked upon an effort to “sell” autocephaly to restore his personaly bruised ego of not getting on the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Assembly against the repeated wishes of most, if not all, of the Synod..

                      Helga, Um or somebody (I’m too lazy to look it up) posted to me a question as to why did the Synod not merely make a decision against his attempting to sell autocephaly and it would be the end of the story because he would have to obey. Right on: he would have to obey. The fact is, however, the Synod did, both in an official meeting of the Synod and privately. However, by then his head was full of Brumism and he persisted even after the Synod said it was not on the table to sell autocephaly.

                      That, Michael, is disobedience to the Synod. It is a violation of Apostolic Canon 34. It has nothing to do with autocephaly per se. It has everything to do with obedience to the Synod. Finally, when “balance in the force” (to use a Star Wars euphemism) is attempted to be restored, the Imperial Primacy starts again to rear its ugly head.

                      You have to understand where I am coming from. I am not a “renovationist”. I think that the renovationists are the ones that drifted our ecclesiolgy from the ancient way from John the Faster through Moghila through Melitios the apron bearer through some of the present time.

                      Episcopatus Unus Est does not allow for super bishops. Patriarchs, Metropolitans, Archbishops, All-Holinesses, Holinesses Beatitudes, Eminences, are nothing more than His Graces when it comes to primacy, supremacy or obediencies. Decisions affecting the whole of a local church are governed by a Synod. Because of his actions regarding the autocephaly issue, Jonah was being disobedient to the Synod.

                      My beef is not with Jonah. It is with the foreign ecclesiology of the Brumites, the Pio Nonos and the like that keeps creeping back into our ecclesiology like a molar pregnancy.

                      A long winded way to answer your question which was: “What has Met. Jonah done in violation of the canons or the scriptures that justifies and necessitates such extreme reation?” The short winded answer is: there is no “extreme reaction”; all “primates” owe obedience to their synod; not the other way around.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Peter, excellent response.

                      Nick, even though I agree with your concept of ecclesiology completely, I believe you are creating a straw man. Towit: the OCA did not have a papalist problem in Herman or Theodosius. It had a moral problem. To try and tie those two albatrosses around the neck of +Jonah and dress them up in imperio-ecclesial clothing is to completely miss the point.

                      More importantly, I see that you don’t understand that the Stokovite program creates a quasi-papal Chancellor who is the real ruler of the OCA. In this case the Chancellor happens to be one who defied not only the Primate, but the Holy Synod. (I’ll leave aside the uncomfortable fact that one of the bishops defied the Holy Synod as well in reinstating this insubordinate priest.)

                      But I’ll tell you what: if you petition the Serbian Orthodox Church to get rid of their patriarch, I’ll cease and desist from my attempts to create an patriarchate here in America. I’ll be glad if all you can get out of it is to stop calling the Serbian patriarch His Beatitude.

                    • Helga, Um or somebody (I’m too lazy to look it up) posted to me a question as to why did the Synod not merely make a decision against his attempting to sell autocephaly and it would be the end of the story because he would have to obey. Right on: he would have to obey. The fact is, however, the Synod did, both in an official meeting of the Synod and privately. However, by then his head was full of Brumism and he persisted even after the Synod said it was not on the table to sell autocephaly.

                      (1) I’m skeptical that the Synod did make the decision you claim.

                      Can you point us to the published minutes or reveal your source of information? There is no reason a decision about this sort of thing needs to be private, so I don’t see why the Holy Synod or you should deal in the shadows. So let us have it. It is important.

                      (2) Your characterization of what Jonah was trying to do (“sell” the church he heads in order to get some temporary committee work, thereby somehow magically stroking his ego) makes no sense and is almost certainly a misrepresentation or misunderstanding or both.

                      This is the kind of thing folks on here need to be talking about and thinking about, so they can take appropriate action if necessary. There is no shame or disgrace in talking openly about these things. It is the kind of thing people in functional organizations would do because they care.

                • Harry,

                  Let me first apologize for the strident tone in my comment above. I allowed several personal frustrations, some having nothing to do with this blog or the current issues, to color my communication with you. That’s not helpful. Sorry.

                  After further thought, I am genuinely disappointed with Orthodoxy for not putting forward a more carefully worked out model of church governance over the past 2,000 years. It was encouraging to read the Hilarion essay that Brendan linked below and find that a leading Orthodox hierarch and intellectual is able to articulate this unmet need so honestly and clearly. I’m impressed that he doesn’t make any excuses, doesn’t attempt to deny the negative consequences, but calls on the Church and its theologians to tackle this important matter. That kind of honesty, humility, and care from a leader of his stature bodes well. I hope the Orthodox world does embrace and ultimately succeed in this task. In any event, it wasn’t fair for me to expect you to single-handedly slay this dragon in one fell swoop. Nor was it fair to focus my frustration about this matter into a single message addressed to you personally.

                  When it comes to your criticisms of Jonah, I also realize you are probably not taking the current OCA crisis all that seriously. Perhaps you are wiser than others on this point, but why expend any effort at all to tear down things or people without good cause? If criticisms can be made concrete, then they can be addressed, and your efforts can result in real progress.

                  I’m not sure how theological my comments have been, but to the extent they are theological I see no reason why you cannot interact with them. I’m not asking you to rely on me to establish critical empirical facts for you, so you don’t need to assess my trustworthiness.

                  If George or someone George believes is reputable can vouch for your character, I’d be happy to exchange personal contact information and buy you dinner some day (next time I’m in your area or you are in mine). Trust me, you would gain nothing from knowing just my name, social security number, or ATM pin number. Why would you trust my report of my name more than anything else I post on here anyway? Frankly, I think it would be a thigh slapper if your real name turned out to be something other than Harry Coin 🙂 But it would not bother me a bit if that were true. No one posting here knows me personally, so you really can’t do a background check on me. I’d be delighted to get to know any of the folks posting on this website, but I will not post my name for the legitimate reason I have already explained: I’m concerned about real personal harm being done to me or my family some day by vengeful activists. It is just not a risk I’m willing to accept right now. Sorry. Maybe some day. But dinner would be more fun than just name-swapping anyway, don’t you think? So let’s do it!

          • Um —

            You’re closer to the truth on this issue than you think.

            A good reference point on this is Metropolitan Hilarion’s (Moscow) discussion of primacy, catholicity and conciliarity here: http://preachersinstitute.com/2011/02/07/the-orthodox-understanding-of-primacy-and-catholicity/

            Although most of that is directed at the issue of primacy above the level of the Patriarchates/autocephalous churches, he does touch on the issue of the relationship between bishops and primates within each autocephalous church, if only briefly.

            A fuller discussion of Met. Jonah’s point of view, with more emphasis on the latter aspects is here:http://www.oca.org/jonah-2009-0218.html

            As you can see, between Hilarion, Jonah and Harry there isn’t really the same understanding. Primacy is a vexing issue in Orthodoxy, really.

            • Harry Coin says

              Primacy is only vexing to Roman Catholics who can’t seem to get the Orthodox interested in the entire topic. There is no need to address an issue that presupposes that which isn’t really anything more than necessary to be polite to the thinkers who are part of the Vatican’s way of approaching ‘church’.

              Rome has on their books that the pope is the ‘universal ordinary’ who can when he desires ‘speak of himself for the church’. That’s what ‘primacy’ gets to, whenever the leader decides it’s necessary to remember that unpopular bit’s still in the books. All sorts of lesser ‘ameliorations’ and ‘softenings’ and so forth, but none block ‘the leader’ from remembering that bit still there, when the time comes.

              There is no possibility that the chief justice of the supreme court would ever even think of his role in terms that include the presuppositions of the latin notions behind ‘primacy’.

              • Not interested? You are the one initiating condemnation of Jonah over it. Don’t tell me you are not interested in it.

                Defend your public accusations.

                And if you have not by the time you are done: Please give me a viable model of church governance. I’m desperate to hear it.

                • lexcaritas says

                  Um, I so much appreciate what you have written challenging our brother Harry’s rather unfair accusation that ++Jonah is some kind of vaticanist general. The accusation appears to be rhetoric that is empty of any real substance. Even your characterization of papal authority, as it has been exercised for the past 100 years or so at least, is not entirely fair. Notwithstanding the passages you quote from the Catechism of the RCC, the Code of Canon Law vests far more authority in the local bishops ordinary than would appear from the section quoted (para. 882). And the fact is that il papa hardly if ever interferes in the affairs of a diocese. How can this be? It may be a question of prudence or it may be a more nuanced understanding of the principles underlying what they call “the Petrine office.” First, since Lumen Gentium and JPII there has been a growing willingness to admit that il papa is to be servus servorum dei and function in love as the “least among you.” Also note that para. 880 recognizes “a single apostolic college” (synod) of which il papa is but the head. 881 recognizes (How could it do otherwise?) that the Petrine office of binding and loosing is shared by all the apostles and their successors. It refers to this as the pastoral office which is “continued by the bishops under the ‘primacy’ of il papa.”. Now, 882 (which you quote out of context), includes certain predicates to the pope’s “full, supreme, and universal power” over the whole Church. First, it is for one reason: as universal pastor and from one source: Christ. Thus, is may be rightly exercised in only one way: as Christ Himself would do it. Furthermore, 882 lays down this purpose: that he (the Holy Father) would be the “visible . . . . foundation of the unity of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” My purpose in bringing these matters to your and everyone’s consideration is not to plead “the Catholic cause,” but to beg us all not to make the gaps wider than they are or to petrify our own position but to deal more gently and respectfully with each other–including the “heterodox” and avoid, insofar as possible, the temptation to take refuge in caricature and sloganeering (of which you are by no means guilty, may I add ) so that we can empty ourselves and find the unity in love and truth that is our own Lord’s prayer: that we be one, even as He and the Father are One with the Holy Spirit, to whom be all honor and glory now and ever and unto ages of ages.

                  lexcaritas

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    lex, thank you for this wonderful expositition on the Petrine ministry of the Pope. In reading the passages fo the Catechism which you quote, I can’t help but be embarrassed at the third-rate intellects that soe of our bishops and their lay hangers-on seem to have.

            • Brendan, Thanks. I will look at those resources. Harry’s model seems to be: Whatever Met. Jonah does is wrong. Do Hilarion and Jonah have something less ad hoc and less dysfunctional to offer?

              I do think this is a very serious issue for your church, and to be honest with you it is one of the two biggest barriers I have to converting.

              • It is by its nature “ad hoc”, in the way Chris describes. At some points, this can lead to disorder in the church of varying degrees. Orthodox have a higher tolerance for this kind of disorder than Catholics do, simply because it is not that uncommon in Orthodoxy to have disorder from time to time.

                The vexing issue is the nature of primacy. Orthodox are generally quite frightened by the term, in my experience. The fear is that any kind of primatial power or authority is, of necessity, Roman Catholic in nature and this is not desired by the Orthodox Church, for obvious reasons. Harry’s responses here are fairly typical of this kind of fearful approach to the topic of primacy, asserting that any kind of primacy that moves much beyond the role of a coordinating chairman is essentially Roman Catholic. As a result of these kinds of fears, there has generally been a lack of creativity in Orthodox thinking on the issue of what primacy means inside the Orthodox Church itself, leaving aside the issue of what the Pope’s role is/was. Orthodox will generally agree more on what primacy in Orthodoxy is not — i.e., whatever the Catholics are doing isn’t what primacy means to Orthodoxy — but beyond that there’s a lot of vagueness and a lack of consensus when it comes to the actual content of the word, both on the level of the autocephalous church, and as between autocephalous churches.

                I think Hilarion’s piece on this presents an honest picture, particularly of the larger issue. Jonah’s piece represents his own view of how this could/should work on the level of the autocephalous church. But it must be noted that many Orthodox would disagree with both of them about this issue. It’s simply not an issue that is very well developed within Orthodoxy, in terms of anything definitive.

                Anyone who is considering converting to Orthodoxy has to be able to live with the kind of disorder generated by this issue, because it isn’t going to go away anytime soon. It has,in some ways, become part of how we live as a church now — kind of a rambunctious, disorderly family at times. This isn’t ideal, but it is what it is. And most Orthodox — not only Harry — would prefer that kind of dysfunction to the Catholic model. I agree with that as well. However, I also think that’s a false choice, and one that is reflected by an almost deliberate lack of willingness to deal seriously, on the theological and practical level, with the notion of primacy in the church — in the Orthodox Church itself, leaving aside the issue of relations with Rome.

                • It makes me sad.

                  This lack of care for the Body seems like yet another strain of gnosticism. Several even on here have suggested that any time spent on the physical, material body of the Church is sinful and that such sinners should repent and retreat to the purer world of the spirit. So this seems to be a common perspective in at least American Orthodoxy.

                  I believe love for other people demands that you respect your common institutions, so no real dichotomy between love for one’s brother or sister and taking church governance seriously.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Um, good organizational cohesion and a properly defined order of the Church has never been high on our priority lists.

                If I can give a brief exposition of what I have come to: the Church is fundamentally the people of God gathered around their bishop to worship God and live a scaramental life. The bishop is supposed to be a pastor/archpastor of a local community (thus the one bishop, one city). He had direct pastoral/doctrinal control over the local community (which includes a lot more than most Americans are at all comfortable with, thus it is kicked upstairs as far away as possbile). With the advent of legalization and the utterly failed concept of synergy between Church and State, the Church adopted the Roman diocese as its basic unit of government (a mistake in my opinion). So now there were diocesan bishops, etc, etc. Layers appeared and propogated. Such layering crys out in us (in our disordered state) for a primate and more centralization. The west went more for the Roman legal approach to all things than did the east orignally. IMAO, wrong approach. Confederation works better. The real, apostolic authority of each bishop is maintained, recognized and obeyed where he is the pastor/archpastor. The bishops within a geographic territory can and should get toether on a regular basis to make sure that they are on the same page and if any need help from the others. This system could and should work its way upward. It need not be formalized into a system of hierarchy, in fact it is exactly such systems which distort the real function of Apostolic authority. The canons should be enough if everyone were focused on Christ rather than on the created thing. They are not sufficienty when we look to the law as a way of ordering life rther than a way of helping to understand the ordering of the Holy Spirit.

                Once bishops are removed from active pastorship of a community, they cease to become bishops to a certain extent as one very important leg of accountablity has been cut off (they have no flock to whom they are personally and intimately responsible and who are subject to him. They exercies ‘power’ and ‘control’ or try to and vie for the upper seat.

                The Church will never be neat or oganized or spic and span. She will always be a mess in need of cleaning up. Peter is quite right. The faith is lived locally with your friends, family and local enemies and other wise thorns in your side. It is lived in the tension between being in this world but, by the grace of God, attempting to be not of it.

                Here is a link to Fr. Stephan Freeman’s recent thoughts: the problem of man that the Church is (not just the OCA) is reflecting.

                BTW, Fr. Stephen’s blog is a great one for helping to pentrate and take on the mysteries of the faith.

                A small excerpt: “I personally long for a united, single Orthodox Church on American soil – but such a miraculous leap forward in the practice of ecclesiology will not serve as a solution for America or for the Orthodox who live here. It will correct our failures to properly observe canon law, but it will still only yield the Church – the arena of our struggle and the Golgotha for the Cross we have each promised to take up.”

          • Chris Plourde says

            I think there is genuine disagreement among Orthodox about what conciliarity means. For example, an Ecumenical Council is a very different animal from a national church synod, but some Orthodox seem unaware of the very real differences. Is a metropolitan to you just the president of the synod, the one who uses a gavel to follow Robert’s Rules of Order? Is he this plus symbolic figure head, like the current Queen of England (who is officially the figure head of her state and is still officially the “Supreme Governor of the Church of England”)? Or do you think an Orthodox church should have a true leader, if so what is their function, what are their prerogatives, and how does one appropriately keep power in check without handicapping the church itself? I’m ignorant of these things….

            My 2c, unsolicited and worth both ;pennies:

            There are disagreements about what is and what is not Conciliar, and there are disagreements about what is and what is not Synodal. This is because the essence of these things is not to be found in the black-and-white of legal structures.

            Think of it this way: No two married couples come to harmony in the same way. (Some may think others are way off base, others may think they know how every couple should sort out their differences, but the reality of married life is that each couple is unique.) Neither do any two Councils or Synods arrive at mutual love and understanding in the Holy Spirit the same way.

            Ever read Colossians 3? It’s a beautiful passage, really a prayer, and one that speaks directly to your question and to why Roberts Rules of Order is beside the point, though a “vaticanist” might prefer that we make adherence to them the point.

            • Chris, I appreciated your 2c worth.

              I can see marriage (a council of two) as a fitting metaphor for relationships within the church. At the same time, two seems a good maximum number for this type of relationship within the family. I’m not sure the metaphor can be expanded to provide a full-fledged model for church governance, but it is helpful in thinking about how individuals ought to relate to one another.

              As a seeker, I don’t have a problem with a horizonally oriented organizational structure, democratic shared discernment, and the like. My primary concern is that if people don’t honor established social structures and procedures during a time of discernment or disagreement, then you invariably end up with one party taking advantage of another. Where structures and procedures are not clear ahead of time, it becomes all the more likely they will not be honored. An organization without clearly defined roles and responsibilities is ripe for abuse.

              • Chris Plourde says

                My primary concern is that if people don’t honor established social structures and procedures during a time of discernment or disagreement, then you invariably end up with one party taking advantage of another.

                My experience is that often “established social structures and procedures” are often simply codifications of “one party taking advantage of another.” This is why it’s important not to become too literalistic/legalistic about these things.

                Examples abound.

                I’d also point out that what’s happening in the OCA is an eminently predictable and normal result of the financial scandal. The first step is to replace the scandal-tainted personnel, the second is to adjust the system itself. And in that it’s not unusual for the new leaders to resist change suggested by others, and for those advocating change to overreach. This is entirely within the realm of normal in secular corporate structures.

                To put this a different way, were Herman still Metropolitan it’s doubtful that the Synod’s actions would have caused such commentary as we’ve seen.

    • A Remnant says

      Harry Coin says:
      May 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      In a synod of sufficient size,

      Might be one of the problems here, the number of Bishops should have some correlation the the numbers of parishioners, parishes, and missions, and priests (Population). With the split of New York and New Jersey from Washington DC, the Synod added a Bishop. Has the OCA population and financial growth warranted the change?

      The show of respect from the “balance from the synod” is underwhelming. Their effort of conciliairity in corralling a bishop into a Diocese that would only be the fourth largest deanery in the South is just grand. In each of the previous incarnations, the Metropolitan had the Diocese of Washington plus another geography. There has to be a financial strain for such a small diocese to support the load shared before with another diocese. The simple logic which will probably escape the “balance from the synod” is to merge the Diocese of Washington and the Diocese of the South. Diocese of Washington is currently surrounded on three sides by DOS.

      The merger makes sense on several levels; it would ameliorate the financial strain on one Diocese, provide three cathedral parishes, one for the bishop and two as training grounds for prospective bishops, provide support and guidance for the continued growth of DOS, and the DOS would have a much loved and respected Bishop.

      But that all makes too much sense, so don’t look for this kind of a simple solution in the next few months.

      • Harry Coin says

        ‘Remnant’– there is a certain assumption we all take as more concrete than the Creed here in the USA that I can find no actual support for anywhere in the Gospel. It is evident in your writing above.

        It is nowhere assumed or required that ‘the bishop’ be this isolated entity needing support by adding to the burdens of clergy in parishes. We’ve just assumed over the recent years that so many of them would explode a real parish to dust in a week if they had to manage it as pastors.

        How about this old new idea? The bishop is in charge of a parish? Whatta concept. We could, you know, call it a ‘cathedral’ if it helps people feel better about it. We could have seminary graduates work there a couple years each to help out. The people there at that parish would pay the bishop’s upkeep, because he’s their pastor. And the seminary graduate would take care of matters while the bishop was visiting nearby. The other parishes could kick in a little bit for travel expenses.

        Then, you don’t have to have the bishop be this isolated fellow who takes a little from a great deal and basically isn’t connected in a pastoral way to anybody whose careers he doesn’t own.

        Might even start to get a real concept of where the tire meets the street.

        Harry

        P.S. You know, ‘remnant’, why not just use your name here, your ideas don’t need the hiding.

        • A Remnant says

          Harry Coin says:
          May 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm

          We’ve just assumed over the recent years that so many of them would explode a real parish to dust in a week if they had to manage it as pastors.

          By golly Harry, I think you have finally got it! That is exactly what is happening at St Seraphim’s in Dallas. A bishop (acting administrator) has turned a vibrant community to dust in just 4 months.

          Since I am anonymoose, you probably won’t believe this, but that is OK.

        • Lydia Paraskevas says

          To those of you who want details about what is going on at St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral (SSOC) you will have to be patient. SSOC has been in existence since 1954. Many parishioners of SSOC as well as parishioners at her daughter churches in the DOS have spent their lives at SSOC and in the DOS. Personally, I have been coming to SSOC since I was a kid in the 1970s and became a member when I moved to Dallas in 1982. Several of my family members were married there and their children were baptized there. I met and married my husband there (he has been a member since 1980). We baptized and raised our children there. We know what the role and example of a true Christian bishop is and our first hand experiences with +Mark are not compatible with that understanding. We at SSOC have prayerfully and fully tried to work things out with +Mark to no avail. We spent several days last week meeting with +Nikhon (as individuals and in group form such as the parish council and the town hall meeting) – giving him testimony (verbally and in writing) of our first-hand experiences with +Mark. +Nikhon diligently and patiently took notes and listened to us. He continues his information gathering this week at other churches in the DOS. He will present the information gathered and his assessment to the HS in about 2 weeks in Chicago. We will have to wait and see what the HS decides needs to be done.

          Until then, your speculations and judgements of us and our situation is foolish for you and hurtful to us. The internet is currently neither the time or place to disperse the details of what is going on at SSOC and the DOS. After the HS has made it’s decision and that is communicated to us then I am sure that further information and details will be made available to the Orthodox community at large. Until then, please pray for us all. We are hurting terribly. May God grant that we may all have the strength, desire, and knowledge to do His will.

          Lydia Paraskevas
          Member of SSOC

          • Harry Coin says

            Thank you. A first hand account such as yours helps put so much anonymous information into perspective.

  3. Pox on All Houses says

    Growth as an object in and unto itself is not necessarily the sign of a healthy institution.

    Any Christian of any denomination can go around shouting “love God, you heathens”, but at the end of the day, you need a healthy institution that is comforting the sick, performing baptisms, conducting funerals, comforting the bereaved, conducting weddings AND seeing to it that those who are writing the checks aren’t wasting their money as you keep the HVAC running, the electric lights on and the mortgage paid. You can have all the outward manifestations of deep, soulful spirituality and dogmatic mission zeal, but there are decidedly temporal issues that are common to each and every institution of faith that must be addressed on a constant, ongoing basis, and for those things to happen, you have to have a high level of group cohesion and consensus on how those things get accomplished. Reckless, ill-planned, directionless growth impacts that cohesion, and threatens the institution as a whole. Frankly speaking, you absolutely need some of the sorts of folks around who aren’t necessarily dogmatically “in sync” with the guys who bow more deeply, prostrate themselves more fervently or supplicate more penitentially than everybody else – because that helps moderate the perspective.

    Just my two cents, and honestly given.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Pox, much of what you right is correct. When I say “growth” I mean not just numbers but the inner growth of the individual. It’s not an either/or situation. But let’s be honest, in a free society in which there is no state support for the Church, no guaranteed income, etc., you are only going to have growth if you give the people who are spiritually starved the life-giving food of the Gospel.

  4. Pox . When the Church exists only to match, hatch and dispatch as the saying goes, it withers, because after a while there is no one around who knows why it exists. Why would anyone give money to keep the lights on for these events unless there was something more that the Church had to offer.

    • Pox on All Houses says

      Most people are drawn to churches for the “match, hatch and dispatch” events you so casually deride. They’re generally able to moderate their emotions, fix their relational and emotional problems on their own, to weather great difficulties on their own and to avoid or shed injurious habits without the assistance of faith or the drumbeat of “you’re a-headed to hay-ull” preaching. Without the “match, hatch, dispatch” services, it isn’t as if a religious institution has a lot to offer to those folks (and lets face it – those are the big events in people’s lives.

      Further, there is a significant intersection between the “we know how to help ourselves” demographic AND the demographic of folks that receive no particular joy from being aggressive proselytizers or being aggressively proselytized.

      Humility and quiet service go a long way toward making a religious body something of interest to the stable-minded among us.

      • That’s a stunning statement, really. I mean, really? Regular Eucharist/Confession and so on is not needed, I can do fine by myself unless I have a life-status changing event (birth, death, marriage) I don’t really need what’s on offer, got it all figured out for myself, thank you very much?

        That’s an Orthodox perspective? Isn’t it more like delusion?

        • Pox on All Houses says

          Some of us are mentally stronger than others, and are of a far more sanguine nature on life’s challenges – we use the intellect and discipline we were imbued with through birth and conditioning to work through our stuff, no big deal. We go to confession as needed, and eucharist to the extent we’re comfortable. It just is, and pretending that we’ve got to run to confession, prayer or the altar with each and every issue that arises is a little sad.

          We have minds for a reason – those of us who are strong enough to rely upon them should be allowed to do so without hearing dogmatic scolds hiss at us about the extent of our faith.

          • George Mutzel says

            Dear Pox,

            You are aware that this is not an Orthodox understanding of the role of the Church in life? Our status as weak beggars in desperate need of help and healing is not in dispute within Orthodox teaching… we PRAY for our minds and “reason” to become “weak” in submission, that Christ might inflame our hearts with love for Him and bring our minds into proper subordination. Discipline is not nearly sufficient to cope with our sickness. It is the uncreated light of Christ (which is beyond reason) or nothing… the liturgy of the Church is our life breath, the eucharist cup our only true drink… the Church, as the body of Christ, the vine by which we live as branches, is life, or else why bother with it at all?

            • Chris Plourde says

              …pretending that we’ve got to run to confession, prayer or the altar with each and every issue that arises is a little sad.

              Exactly right, Pox.

              Orthodox Christians are far more than a little pathetic, right? I mean really, daily prayer rules, regular confession, partaking in the Divine Mysteries, we’re just so weak.

              Because we know of ourselves we can do nothing.

              Orthodox Christians don’t rely upon our “mental strength” or our “sanguine nature” but rather upon Christ. And that means “running” to Christ when we err, to confession. That means turning to prayer, as we are directed to “pray always.” And it means going to liturgy and other services, and repenting always.

              There is no scripture, Father or Saint that recommends reliance upon our own minds or nature to be saved. Not. One.

            • Pox on All Houses says

              Whatever.

              Willful weak-mindedness annoys me, and leads to poor decision-making skills in family life, business life and parish life. The willfully weak-minded are the sorts of pathetic, helpless souls you see as driving forces in parishes when the Bishop Marks of the world are in charge – incapable of directing their own affairs, much less those of the parish. They become pliant tools in the hand of an autocrat, and “yes” men on the parish council. Yeah, they bow and scrape deeper than everybody else, mewl pathetically of the “lack of devotion” by the cradles, and are usually marked by disastrous career and family lives because they’re incapable of trusting their own decisions (which leads them to many bad ones). They’re of the fervent desire that they’re not the ones responsible for the snarled mess of their lives, that somehow this is God’s purpose, or that God is testing them, or that God will somehow bring them out of it if they pray harder.

              Y’know what? God gave you a brain – use it. There’s an old joke about the guy who passed up the ambulance ride because he thought that God would save him, and was bitter about it in the afterlife, when God said “didn’t I send you an ambulance?” I think that applies here.

              Anyway, coming from an environment where Mark held sway for a few years, I saw the direction he was taking us, and was not pleased. He was grooming a core demographic of easy manipulable pathetic sheep, trying to impose some form of top-down monastic discipline and control upon the laity. He failed, as Metro Phil saw a valuable role for the laity beyond serving as a money spigot and set of bodies to support a secular political agenda – Metro Phil respects the laity as a partner in parish life.

              EDIT TO ADD: As this particular subthread sprung from the “match, hatch, dispatch” derision, I’ll just point out one itsy bitsy teensy weensy thing – that this notion of deliberate weakness doesn’t lead to the sort of person who could do any kind of genuinely effective job of evangelization or proselytization – it would only lead to somebody who would bleat out whichever closed tautologies handed out by the hierarchy. It would be like the bum shouter on the corner – speaking something which is only understood by him, a one sided conversation, occurring without mutual engagement.

              • Chris Plourde says

                Pox,

                You think the Apostle Paul wasn’t an effective Evangelist, or that he was weak-minded and weak-willed?

                It is, after all, what you’re writing. Poor Paul, such a wimp!!!

                • Pox on All Houses says

                  I never met Paul. I’ve seen what people wrote about Paul after the fact and know that every time anybody says “show some backbone and act like you know what you’re doing” in the context of religious life that one of the pathetic life failures who is oh-so-much-more-holy than we worldly types inevitably (and passive-aggressively) invokes some mental construct of Paul to justify their weakness.

              • “Anyway, coming from an environment where Mark held sway for a few years, I saw the direction he was taking us, and was not pleased. He was grooming a core demographic of easy manipulable pathetic sheep, trying to impose some form of top-down monastic discipline and control upon the laity. He failed, as Metro Phil saw a valuable role for the laity beyond serving as a money spigot and set of bodies to support a secular political agenda – Metro Phil respects the laity as a partner in parish life.”

                Gee, that sounds just like someone else I know. Must be a typical mindset among priests and bishops. I guess you learn from the top down.

              • The willfully weak-minded are the sorts of pathetic, helpless souls you see as driving forces in parishes when the Bishop Marks of the world are in charge – incapable of directing their own affairs, much less those of the parish. They become pliant tools in the hand of an autocrat, and “yes” men on the parish council. Yeah, they bow and scrape deeper than everybody else, mewl pathetically of the “lack of devotion” by the cradles, and are usually marked by disastrous career and family lives because they’re incapable of trusting their own decisions (which leads them to many bad ones). They’re of the fervent desire that they’re not the ones responsible for the snarled mess of their lives, that somehow this is God’s purpose, or that God is testing them, or that God will somehow bring them out of it if they pray harder.

                It’s good that through your keen powers of observation and objective analysis you can clearly see the inferiority of these persons to yourself. That’s always a very positive place to be, spiritually, I think. Kudos to you. I would recommend the Fathers, but, re-reading what you wrote, it doesn’t seem necessary. You don’t really need them or what they have to say, clearly. A true theologian, I think.

                • Pox on All Houses says

                  What can I say? I’m just one of those mean people who actually has his act together and disdains what he perceives as mental sloth.

                  Makes it real easy to sorta glide and drift through life if you’re not actually responsible to work through or be responsible for the consequences of decisions, right?

                  Try it sometimes – it is actually pretty easy. When given a task, you think it through, keeping the necessary interactions with other people polite while dealing with them fairly and honestly while working efficiently. When given a responsibility, you avoid feathering your own nest. When given a duty, you perform it diligently. When interacting with your family, you do so without being demanding or critical or whining. When taking in information, you do so quietly, and you avoid letting preconceived notions interfere with the absorption and process. When conveying information, you do so with clarity, avoiding the urge to spin. When interacting with others about your faith, avoid being the loudest person in the room. When making outward displays of faith, try non-proselytizing charity first.

                  If you can come close to hitting the mark on all these things, life will run pretty smoothly for you, and you will be a far more effective witness.

                  • This is either a pithy summary of the Philokalia, or the spiritual enunciation of an advanced Asperger’s-syndrome genius. Could have been uttered by Sheldon on “Big Bang Theory.”

                    wuddzit

                  • Heracleides says

                    Let’s not forget: ‘When bloviating on the internet, you do so with as much sarcasm and smug superiority as is humanly possible.’

                    • But that’s appropriate if we are clearly superior to our pathetic, weak and lame co-parishioners, isn’t it? At least the superior are clear-minded.

                • I don’t pretend to know everything about the situation in the OCA but I think the phrase “the Bishop Marks of the world…” paints with a very broad brush. I served under Bishop Mark in the Antiochian Archdiocese and my experience of him was one of a caring man trying to do his best for the parishes under his care. He never pushed us for money and always visited even the smallest parishes.

                  The life of an Orthodox bishop is rough. Long trips away from home. A phone that doesn’t stop ringing. The rough and tumble of church politics. The reality that people that don’t even know you personally will have a defined opinion of who you are. It’s an office that no man desires for good reason.

                  I don’t know all of what happens behind closed doors. I’m not privy to the high councils of the church. Yet I try not to forget the humanity of the Bishops who lead us, the person beneath the vestments. Our assumptions are often made on limited data, opinions made by those who see through a glass darkly. Words come out quickly and can never be taken back. We paint pictures with only the colors we have.

                  It’s easy to make statements. It’s easy to accuse. It’s harder to pray, but that’s needed as well. Whatever we think a Bishop is. Whatever we think about what they do. The mitre doesn’t absolve us from the responsibility and care that would apply to any other Christian, anyone else traveling along the bumpy road of holiness.

                  For what its worth. Fr John

                  • All very good points, Father, but it would have been more appropriate to respond to the post that had that language in it, rather than mine (which quoted the language). All is fair on the internet, however.

  5. Dallas Texas says

    George, I hope your post is an exercise in reverse psychology. The DOS is a jewel. Yes, it has some rough edges, but it’s a jewel nonethtless. Let us be hopeful. The salvation of many depends on the DOS nominating a good man for its bishop.

    If Bp Mark stays, then the cathedral congregation will depart and the diocese will languish. One by one, the parishes of the DOS will be micromanaged and ridden roughshod, and the parishoners and clergy will be vexed. To his credit, Bp Mark did uncover and fight financial and liturgical corruption in the AOCA, but he also left trail of wreckage up there, too. It only took a couple of months here before the cathedral experienced exactly the same kind of wreckage in real-time, technicolor, 3-D. Let’s hope and pray that +Nikon will deliver the full picture to his brother bishops who in turn will do the right thing, thus allowing Metropolitan Jonah the authority to recall his own auxilliary next week. (That last phrase is incredible, isn’t it?) If ever there were anything to pray for in the life of the DOS, this is it, or the DOS will surely go over a cliff. But I’m preaching to the choir, here.

    • “If Bp Mark stays, then the cathedral congregation will depart and the diocese will languish.”

      It seems to me, that if this worst case scenario comes about, then most of the parishes in the diocese won’t hang around for the languishing, but will follow suit with the cathedral.

      • Pox on All Houses says

        That’s what was happening in the AOCA in multiple parishes under Maymon’s “leadership”, which was why Metro Phil pulled the trigger.

  6. A Texan By Choice says

    Can someone tell me why the DOS is still paying for this +Mark to be traveling all around the diocese? The man is totally discredited. He should sit in Dallas until he is removed (living in Jonah’s condo.) Is the DOS paying for him to go to the Episcopal Assembly in Chicago next week? Fester sits in DC without an income, without an assignment while this guy trots around the USA? Another example of clericalism at its worst! This OCA is really screwed up. What an embarrassment.

  7. Chris Plourde says

    My view: The way out is not to continue moving in a circle, but to move forwards. DOS needs to get itself a Bishop.

    And it seems to me that the problem with rolling DC in with DOS is simple, then the DOS’ Bishop will always be the Metropolitan. Would y’all have preferred Herman to Dimitri? I think not.

    • I am under the impression that the proposal to merge DOS with Washington would be purely temporary. I think the dioceses would be divided again once a suitable bishop for the DOS alone is identified.

      If I were in decision-making authority in the DOS, I would first ask everyone to seriously consider electing Fr. Gerasim Eliel, and only if that doesn’t pan out to petition for DOS and Washington to be merged.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Helga, excellent idea! At this point, I think the OCA needs to regroup, rethink, and redeploy. The merger of DC/Dallas would be an excellent step provided that two auxiliary bishops were selected to take over Dallas and Miami. Then in about 2-5 years, the three cathedrals could then split into three official dioceses. Personally, I believe that had growth in the DoS continued apace, then out of the original DC/Dallas consortium, four dioceses could have emerged: one for Texas and states west of the Mississsippi, one for the Applachian states, one for Florida and the Gulf states, and one for DC and the Atlantic Southern states (Carolinas and Del/Mar/Va).

        • The merger of DC/Dallas would be an excellent step provided that two auxiliary bishops were selected to take over Dallas and Miami

          That sounds like a good idea. Perhaps Fr. Gerasim can serve as one of those auxiliaries.

          Here’s hoping the DOS will see the back of Bishop Mark soon: that’s the most important thing right now.

  8. Katherine says

    Fr. Hopko likes to quote St. Anthony on how crazy people will think the sane person is crazy because he isn’t like them. Does anyone else see the irony in this? +Metropolitan JONAH isn’t the crazy one–it is those against him who are the crazy and unhealthy ones. The Sunday of the Good Samaritan is coming up this coming Sunday. In many ways, I believe that HB (and the OCA as a whole) is the wounded person laying in the street. Are we going to just walk by and do nothing or are we going to help both HB and the OCA. God has shined His light to show the elephant (or Goliath) standing in the room. What are we going to do with what God has brought to light? Just praying about it is not enough. It takes prayer and action together. I wonder how many of those who walked by the wounded man in the parable would have said they were praying about what they should do first. After all, in our own lives, once God has revealed dirt to us, we have to choose to do something about it, and He expects us to do more than just pray about it. I think a lot of times, we know what we need to do, but we hope that if we pray long enough, God will take care of it for us and we won’t have to do what we need to do. However, it doesn’t usually work that way. Goliath didn’t go away until David went out and fought him. Our Goliath is standing here right now. What are we going to do about it?

  9. A. Rymlianin says

    Just finished re-reading †Fr. John Romanides’ essay ” The Life in Christ” on John Sanidopoulos’ blog “Mystagogy”. I highly recommed it . It is very germane to the current situation in the OCA.

  10. Member of OCA/DOS here. What I’m wondering, now, is this: while it was great in the DOS for a long time, we knew it was hitched to a rotten group. Why are we so surprised that bad consequences have finally reached us? It’s like “the nothing” in the Neverending Story. I think there was a certain amount of deniability as long as Dimitri was bishop, but now it’s just plain old denial. It was a corrupt system, it’s been a corrupt system, but we just hoped it’d never actually affect us. We’ve been perfectly willing to let the rest of the OCA flounder/suffer as long as we had it good. At a certain point, I only have myself to blame if I commune with corrupt leadership. They never were trustworthy. That’s just codependency.

    Thanks for the writings, George. Keep it up. I do miss Dimitri, too.

    • From what I can tell, you are right. So I’m curious what you and others plan to do about it.

  11. Nick Katich says

    Question to all:

    Apart from Stokoe, there has been considerable discussion on this blog, perhaps second only to Stokoe, about Bishop Mark. There has been much written here about how he has destroyed the Cathedral parish or even the Diocese of the South. George set forth, with regard to the Synod, a bill of particulars. As you all know, I don’t necessarily agree with all or most of it. But at least I know where he is coming from in terms of his complaints against the Synod.

    In reading the various posts on this blog, I have never seen a bill of particulars against Bishop Mark. I really don’t know what he has done (apart from the allegations about the e-mail hacking issue). I’ve searched the internet and cannot find anything specific about what he has allegedly done (again apart from the e-mail issue).

    Obviously, whatever else Bishop Mark did occurred before the Fester/Dreher emails became public because there is vague discussion about problems with him at the Cathedral and the Diocese. I though that perhaps I would read something in the aftermath of the “town hall meeting” recently with Bishop Nikon. However, again there have been no specifics in the aftermath of that meeting.

    Can anyone here enlighten and set forth a bill of particulars of sort of what Bishop Mark has done (again apart from the email issue) that has upset many in the Cathedral parish and/or the Diocese of the South as has been alleged. This inquiring mind, for one, would like to know.

    P.S. I’m from a foreign country — the Diocese of the Midwest in Yankee Nation, so I am not informed as to the problems in the Confederacy.

    • Brian Jackson says

      It all seems a bit vague to me as well.

      • Displaced Lemming says

        Dear Mr. Katich and Mr. Jackson,

        Bishop Mark arbitrarily suspended a priest prior to Pascha. None, to my knowledge, except maybe members of the parish council were informed. We parishioners only learned of this when our confessor began denying us confession and was no longer observed serving in the altar. When approached, Bishop Mark assured us that the suspension was for the good of the priest’s soul and was enacted based solely on Bishop Mark’s personal knowledge of and experience with the priest. Bishop Mark has known the priest for four months. We have known the priest for fifteen years.

        Much misery ensued, and after seeing our continued attempts to explain to Bishop Mark how badly he had harmed our souls repeatedly fail, many parishioners, myself included, felt forced to attend the Paschal services at other parishes. Myself, I poured out my heart to Bishop Mark in an email, explaining in great detail how his abrupt deed had, regardless of whether it was merited, harmed very many. No answer was forthcoming. In fact, not only did our attempts fail, but the parish email list began to be inundated with poignant quotations from Church Fathers that roundly condemned as sinful all those who dared disturb the Church with dissent. Then the email list became censored.

        All this and more, combined with his utilization of Fr. Joseph Fester’s emails, showed us that Bishop Mark is a hierarch who subscribes to the imperial model of bishop. Bishop Mark is apparently a man who sees the function of bishop as that of an autocrat whose rulings cannot be challenged under pain of being branded a gossip-mongering schismatic. Yes, Orthodox bishops are indeed autocrats, for the Church is royal, not democratic. But never, never is any clerical deed above questioning. Sacrificing opinion for mute, slavish obedience is not in the best interest of the Church.

        Personally, I am grieving for Bishop Mark. His methods will always prevent him from ever keeping a diocese.

        Sincerely,

        Displaced Lemming

        P.S.

        Christ is still risen!

        • Pox on All Houses says

          Something interesting from OCATruth – it was reported (and I’m taking this with a heavy grain of salt) that Maymon sought legal advice before releasing the emails.

          A few thoughts on that:

          1. If Maymon gets sued or worse on this, he needs to sue that attorney if he in fact got that advice – that’s some of the worst legal advice I’ve ever heard of IF there’s not a contractual right of access given by Fester to the hierarchy, since the private gmail accounts are hosted elsewhere, and any access is password protected to the individual.

          2. Maymon undoubtedly got that advice for free. Obviously, it was worth what he paid for it.

          3. As a lawyer, I always give organizational advice to my business clients, in addition to the law stuff – it cuts down on problems in advance, and I’ve seen a lot of things happen over the decades. One of my cardinal chunks of wisdom delivered is this: if some planned act is so questionable that you feel obligated to seek a lawyer’s advice before doing something that is going to put you “one up” in an internal political dispute, said dispute related solely to the organization that you are part of, think twice. I say this because whatever you’re planning on doing is going to turn into a big, flaming, exploding bucket of dung that will smother and immolate you. Now, if that’s the rule that applies to the secular world, imagine the rule that should apply to the principal, hierarchial leaders of an institution of faith and morality.

          • Cathryn Tatusko says

            Pox–

            That same line from the OCAT article really hit me, as well. If indeed he sought legal advice before releasing the emails to MS, wouldn’t it be interesting to know from whom he sought/received that advice? I must say that as I read that article I couldn’t help thinking that the more likely chain of events was that +Mark sought some legal advice after releasing the emails, once it became clear that a firestorm had developed over the legality of the release, and the posting on the Internet of the released emails. Time, I hope, will tell.

            In Christ,
            Cathy Tatusko

            • A Texan By Choice says

              Cathy,

              In seeking legal advice, it is all about what the client tells the lawyer so that the attorney can advise. In this case, +Mark has changed his story so many times regarding the thief of Fester’s emails that I am sure his lawyer is now just trying to protect his client from the most negative legal consequences.

              Someone will be putting together all +Mark’s story lines to show the gross inconsistencies. This will lead to exposing not only him but the OCA Synod and Stokoe as being accomplices in using those emails. +Mark, in other words, sold both Stokoe and the Synod on his right to the emails, based on his premise that they were his property, but they were not. They belong to Fester and +Mark, only an auxiliary bishop to the Metropolitan, acted well beyond his scope of authority. I wonder how long before the Synod leaves +Mark twisting in the wind?

              In this case, the DOS can gain some measure of solace in that they took the bullet for another OCA diocese that might have nominated this guy and then be stuck with him. At least the DOS vetted him in real-time and +Mark failed in real-time.

          • Mark from the DOS says

            Pox –

            I am glad another lawyer who can actually read the law has finally posted here. The number of posts ignoring the plain language of applicable statutes and case law boggle my mind.

        • Bishop Mark has known the priest for four months. We have known the priest for fifteen years.

          True, but he knows him in a different capacity and in a different context: Bishop Mark is his boss.

          It’s entirely conceivable that Bishop Mark used solid reasoning and was fully justified in his actions. If you but knew all the facts, you might discover that your priest was suspended justly, and that Bishop Mark was actually fair in his discipline. (What if your priest, for example, were addicted to pain pills?) We don’t know all the facts, so we don’t know.

          An executive who is personally very popular with his employees, for example, might be demoted by the head office for any number of reasons: failure to generate enough business, insubordination, drug abuse, incompetence, 3-hour lunches, sexual harrassment, etc. This happens all the time.

          There are factors and duties that go into the profession of being a priest that are more than just his interaction with his parishioners. I have no doubt that there is more to this than meets the eye. Typically, a disciplinary measure that might embarrass someone is a last resort; a couple of remedial talks usually precede it.

          A leader often has to do things that are difficult, unpopular, and painful–and appear incomprehensible to anyone looking at it from the outside. It’s in the nature of leadership to make hard decisions and to endure isolation and misunderstanding.

          • This is true, yet we know that when Bishop Nikon came to St Seraphim’s and assessed the situation Fr John was fully reinstated for at least the tenure of + Nikon’s 90 day locum tenency.

            • Pox on All Houses says

              Maymon has had several internet sockpuppets out flacking for him. That’s what happened at the end of his AOCA tenure, that applies here now.

              Just thought you should know.

          • Dallas Texas says

            In the town hall meeting, Bishop Nikon stated that the suspension was not justified. More will come out about this matter when it’s appropriate, but not just yet.

            Even if the suspension were justified, the secrecy of everything was bizarre. It felt like “Double Secret Probation” a la Animal House.

          • True, but he knows him in a different capacity and in a different context: Bishop Mark is his boss.

            It’s entirely conceivable that Bishop Mark used solid reasoning and was fully justified in his actions. If you but knew all the facts, you might discover that your priest was suspended justly, and that Bishop Mark was actually fair in his discipline. (What if your priest, for example, were addicted to pain pills?) We don’t know all the facts, so we don’t know.

            You are right in principle. Just because Fr. John is universally beloved in his parish does not mean any suspension is automatically unjustified.

            However, someone posted that Fr. John was suspended for simply being late to a meeting with Bishop Mark, without even waiting for an explanation for Fr. John’s tardiness. If true, I think that would validate a lot of concerns about Bishop Mark’s administration.

            • …someone posted that Fr. John was suspended for simply being late to a meeting with Bishop Mark, without even waiting for an explanation for Fr. John’s tardiness.

              If that is accurate, it would suggest that Bishop Mark has a fairly short fuse or is just not inherently a very nice guy: tardiness is a trifling offence unless you do it every day. When’s the last time you were suspended from work for being late? Only after your boss spoke to you about it after multiple occurrences.

              In fact, it is such a trifling offence that I wonder if it was not symbolic of something else? It may have looked like mere tardiness, but it may have symbolized something else, indeed.

        • devastated member SSOC says

          Point of clarification. NO ONE knew about the priest suspension until he appeared in the cleros over Holy Week. The council was not advised, nor included in any decision. In fact, when inquiries were made, the council was told, “It’s none of your business.”

          • Jesse Cone says

            Clergy discipline is not part of a Parish Council’s responsibilities. It is important for issues of church discipline to be held in a manner that can restore a priest from his error. (Compare the handling of Fr. John’s infraction to Fr. Fester’s?) That being said, disciplining a priest has inevitable consequences for the parish, and there were severe consequences for SSOC’s Holy Week — I don’t mean to diminish that.

            • Harry Coin says

              Making changes to clergy rank is not part of a parish council’s responsibilities. However, being in touch with the priests’ behavior in season and out of season for the betterment and protection of the parish is certainly among the council’s responsibilities. The council members are called ‘stewards’ not ‘shrubs’ or ‘hirelings’.

        • Chris Plourde,

          Do you consider Displaced Lemming’s testimony uncharitable? Does it qualify as character assassination?

          I’m sure you understand why I am asking.

  12. Helen Levenetz says

    George,

    You have posted your latest words entitled “Memo From Syosset” along with the OCA’s logo prominently displayed at the beginning of the post. Did you receive written permission from the OCA to utilize their logo on your blog?

    • JDWatton says

      I heard that George consulted Bp. Mark Maymon’s lawyer about using the logo – after the fact. He gave the A-OK. |;-)

    • It probably qualifies as some kind of fair use, since George was writing about the OCA, but was clearly not impersonating the OCA or pretending his comments are endorsed by them.

      • In fairness, I would like to clarify that I am not nor have I ever been a lawyer, or in any way qualified to give legal advice. The above post is a laywoman’s opinion only. 🙂

    • Mark from the DOS says

      So this is the best attack of the Stokoe brigade now?

  13. O Hamartolos says

    It is as it should be. It is not the goal of the cathedral community to publicly humiliate the bishop. They aired their grievances in a public venue, before their ruling hierarch in a way befitting a community bearing the appellation of Christian. They did not cower behind some computer screen, taking cheep pot-shots, but publicly spoke their mind, though some with less inhibitions than others, to be sure. While the brother who spoke in defense of bishop Mark did so sincerely, he spoke from his limited contact with him and did not, and indeed, could not, grasp the depth and breadth of the situation. Nevertheless, he spoke truth. Under different circumstances bishop Mark could indeed have been, and perhaps could still be, a person you could sit with at a coffee shop, sipping lattes, and speaking endlessly on theological and philosophical matters. Perhaps, but alas.

    If you seek details, brother, you might in vain wait for it to be posted here. If it is of the utmost importance that you know, I suggest you make a trip to St. Seraphim’s and politely ask.

    For now, we must wait and see what the Synod will do with the intelligence gathered by his grace, Bishop Nikon. Though we felt that he listened to us, his constant refusal to do anything (in his diocese, mind you) immediately, without the help (uncanonical interference) of his brother bishops, was, and is, for many a great stumbling block.

    Again, Jesse’s double standard rears its ugly little head: Fr. Joseph was relieved of his duty no less than one week after Mark Stokoe released the stolen emails, presumably by direct order of +Metropolitan Jonah, but more likely under duress from the Synod. There we are talking about emails, ideas, plans, yet nothing concrete. But, in the case of Bishop Mark we have cold hard facts (btw, many of these have been discussed in earlier discussions, if you care and have the time to dig through the hundreds of posts). At first these were only known by the parishioners and clergy of the cathedral. Then Metropolitan Jonah became apprised of the situation, but his hands were by that time handcuffed by the Synod. Now, bishop Nikon knows, yet, he tells us he can not act until he speaks with the synod at the Episcopal Assembly, and then only as a sidebar discussion, and even then, we were told, he ,+Mark, could still be here until the new bishop is installed, which could be another 6 months to a year. Brothers and sisters, this is a double standard. This is politics. This is posturing. This is hypocrisy.

    George is right. The present course the Synod is on will only lead to the bureaucratization of the minutest details of church life. Nothing will ever get done. In this day of high-speed mobile internet, of skype, even on your ever-loving phone, how can any one say the Synod must physically meet, thus prolonging the pain of so many? If the synod continues in this fashion, the OCA will starve to death while vital decisions run through committee after committee, and for what? What will all these committees prove to the heterodox: That we are transparent? that we are progressive? That we are squeaky clean? That we are “relevant”? All the the new OCA curia will accomplish will be the slow death of the OCA.

    • The politics, posturing and hypocrisy of Washington DC have nothing on us – on EVERY level.

      • Cheryl, could you please clarify who is “us” and who is “Washington DC”? I’m one of the slow ones …

        • EAP – I realize when I said “Washington DC” some may have thought I was indicating Met. Jonah. I wasn’t. I mean specifically secular politicans in Washington DC vs the church hierarchy, bishops, priests and many lay people. Unfortunately – as much as I’ve tried to deny it.

  14. Kevin Allen says

    George,

    Not to get “competitive” here, but I think you will find that the growth of the DOS is rivalled by the growth (perhaps not measured by new missions, but certainly by growth of baptisms and chrismations) by the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West in the AOCANA. One parish in particular averges 15 newly illumined each year for over ten years (and has grown from 25 to over 200+); there are others who average in the 10’s each and every year. Parish expansions (IE Costa Mesa) and new buildings (Riverside, CA) are not uncommon in order to accomodate growth. Yes there are criteria (needed in my opinion) for new missions (IE funds and clerical criteria), so that priests don’t starve one they are assigned, but we have been blessed with robust growth for the past 15 years. Not to say your reasons for becoming OCA were not valid; but this is just to set the record straight – there is growth elsewhere.

    • Dallas Texas says

      Glory to God!

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Kevin, I truly appreciate the input. I’m actually in the process of gathering stats to see where the growth is happening and in what jurisdictions. Broadly I can say at this point that it’s a Sun-belt phenonomenon with the Anglophone-friendly jurisdictions gaining the most adherents.

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

      Kevin, it seems that almost all growth are Americans (you can see I served in the GOA for a long time). Orthodoxy really is a missionary church in America. I am always heartened by the stories of constant chrismations because it shows that some priests are doing their job really well. Parishes don’t grow without priests who themselves are seeking Christ (good priests are in tough parishes as well, so a poor parish does not mean the priest is poor). If the priest is not seeking Christ however, it’s guaranteed that the parish won’t grow.

      So some of your priest out on your side of the country must really be serving their parishes well. Alongside that you must also have some highly motivated and capable lay people. Things just don’t happen otherwise.

    • There’s more to diocesan growth than the number of chrismations. I’ve seen plenty of people enter the Church, and then leave, anywhere from a few months to several years later. There must be adequate (and accurate) catechism and pastoral care to go with the outreach.

      Awhile back, there was a surprisingly insightful comment on OCAN that detailed a bunch of reasons why people turn away from Orthodoxy, and while I don’t agree with some of them, I think several explain why people leave either before or after being received, and are things we can work on collectively.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Helga, I read that “comment” post which you referenced and I couldn’t dispute it in the main. However, when all was said and done, it was just another excuse to club +Jonah over the head because he dared to speak with a prophetic voice. I for one have never hesitated to take us to task for our failure to conform to our standards (that includes me btw), but that doesn’t mean that the Church can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Yes, by all means, take us to taskk for our failure to develop our interior lives, but let’s not use pietism as a cudgel to silence us when we are called to speak on the national stage.

        Would that commentator (who I assume was MS) have taken +Iakovos to task for marching with MLK? The GOA at that time was even more hidebound, insular, and xenophobic then than it is now. Was +Iakovos wrong? I don’t think so.

        • Helga, I read that “comment” post which you referenced and I couldn’t dispute it in the main. However, when all was said and done, it was just another excuse to club +Jonah over the head because he dared to speak with a prophetic voice.

          That’s true. But Metropolitan Jonah is not a one-trick pony: he hasn’t just been about speaking out about abortion and homosexuality, he’s been trying to work on those other issues, too. The rest of us can work on them on a local level, and I think it’ll go a long way towards stopping the attenuation of piety in Orthodox America.

          A lot of the ignoramus comments on OCANews make good points if you lay aside the scapegoating of +Jonah, like the guy who demanded that +Jonah take off his “immaculate white veil” and go serve the poor. Well, just lately, +Jonah has sheltered the homeless and ministered to the dying, in taking in the DC nuns and tonsuring Mother Joana, so he might just have that covered already. But there is a good point in there, in that we shouldn’t get so caught up playing king of the mountain that we forget about the world outside our churches. I just wish he could have worded it more as a cautious advisement of fellow Orthodox (while acknowledging that all of us fall short) instead of as a caustic and judgmental attack on the Metropolitan.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Agreed. You and I and dozens of other commentators (and I imagine thousands of other people) have come to +Jonah’s defense because none of us ever believed he was a “one-trick pony.” If anything, he’s a dynamo. The OCATs had it right 2 months ago: you can teach administration (his supposed weakness) but you can’t teach vision. +Jonah’s got it, in spades.

            • Jane Rachel says

              Yeah, well, Moses wasn’t all that good as administrator but he packed a mean punch with that staff.

  15. I’m a disheartened member of the DOS. We could really use a Bishop right now. I don’t know anything about Mark, but I’m not encouraged by what I’ve read and heard. I think the DOS and the OCA have got some major, major problems…may the Lord have mercy and may He sustain me in this spiritual desert.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Sursam cordam! Cheryl. Let us pray for all involved, Bp Mark as well.

  16. Pox on All Houses says

    Coupla other things:

    1. OCAN appears to be nearly dark at this point. Stokoe hasn’t put up new material in days, now that he’s inadvertently scalped his boy Maymon. I guess that’s his way of saying “oopsie”.

    2. Maymon’s performance in the AOCA was abysmal. My observations of the man lead me to opine that he’s arrogant, heedless of the the time and efforts of the laymen of the parishes under his control, unappreciative, demanding and narcissistic. He seems to love the pomp and the hand-kissing, and his history indicates that he may be the sort of manager who simply does not work well with the subordinates tasked to work with him. He appeared to flail at his interpersonal relationships, and Metro Phil nailed him to the wall for harming parishes which had multiple generations of families in regular, faithful attendance. Sadly, you all wound up with the idiot.

    • OCAN appears to be nearly dark at this point. Stokoe hasn’t put up new material in days, now that he’s inadvertently scalped his boy Maymon. I guess that’s his way of saying “oopsie”.

      Read closer: at the end of “The Forces Behind Jonah”, the last OCAN article that used purloined emails, there’s a note that says, “Next: +Jonah In His Own Words”. Presumably, this means Stokoe is or was planning to release emails from the Fester account that were written by Metropolitan Jonah. As +Jonah losing his temper or saying something ill-advised in an email would be the jewel in Stokoe’s crown, it’s surprising that Stokoe has waited so long to publish. It’s been almost three weeks since “Forces” was published. Where are you, little Ohioan Ober-Procurator?

      I also thought it was interesting back in March, in “Jonah Pushes Back”, Stokoe said his next article would be about “+Jonah in San Diego, +Melchizedek in Syosset.” The next article did cover Bp. Melchizedek in Syosset, but, apart from briefly mentioning that Metropolitan Jonah was going to California, Stokoe never fulfilled his plan to actually say anything about his time in San Diego. As we know, +Jonah just went there to spend some time with his family, which is apparently not a hanging offense, not even in Stokoe Land. That makes me wonder what Mark thought Metropolitan Jonah was up to in San Diego.

      • Pox on All Houses says

        Stokoe is a world-class internet dung stirrer. Most of what is accomplished with that sort of thing actually springs from the innuendo springing from what is left unsaid. He left it open for a reason, but now, with everything crashing in about his ears due to his own fault, he doesn’t know what to do next. Much of the blame for this genuine division can be assigned as follows:

        1. Stokoe, for being Stokoe.
        2. Dreher, for thinking that he could play polemic games within a religious culture that he still doesn’t understand well enough to speak authoritatively on, and for luring Fester into internet dung stirring.
        3. A little (forgiveable) blame goes to Fr Fester, who didn’t understand the rules or postential consequences of allowing Dreher to suck him into anonymous internet battles.
        4. Ah, where to start with Maymon? Being himself? Failing to recognize that he was in a precarious starting position due to the circumstances in which he entered? Failing to simply try and work with subordinate clergy and laity as a team with a common goal and good intentions? Failing to recognize for his own sake that he was genuinely out of his depth before elevation?

        The most innocent in this whole imbroglio is Met Jonah. While I don’t agree with his open political involvement, probably would find his management and administrative skills to be lacking and probably would not agree with his intended direction for the OCA were he my Metropolitan, everything I’ve seen leads me to believe that he wasn’t part of the internet nonsense, nor were his decisions self-aggrandizing. He appears to be the guy without ill intent, but may merely be in need merely of some seasoning and admin assistance and advice delivered constructively and in a timely fashion.

        • Heracleides says

          Speaking of dung-stirring, my latest satirical image (“Stokoe Poster”) is up for viewing at: http://s1235.photobucket.com/home/Heracleides

          Again, I’d caution those who are PC and/or easily offended NOT to view the image.

          • Heh. I watched this episode of South Park last night, and couldn’t help picturing Stokoe winning the titular award this year.

            • Jane Rachel says

              Heh is right. Reminds me of my favorite “Simpson’s” quote: Lisa says, “I am the Lizard Queen!”

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Helga, that was hilarious, wasn’t it? BTW, our parish has a men’s group called Mars Hill. On our website (invitation only, sorry) we’ve got the entire “Scientology” episode of South Park. It’s probably the only place on the Internet (or anywhere else for that matter) that you can find it. Those Scientologists –they play rough.

          • A Remnant says

            Dang, that is funny but Diet Coke through the nose hurts!

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Heracleides, wicked satire! Perhaps that’ll be the graphic for the church scandal called –what else?–“Irongate.”

          • Patrick Henry Reardon says

            Forget about PC, Heracleides.

            Elementary charity would prompt you to take that thing down and repent of putting it up in the first place.

            • Heracleides says

              Don’t hold your breath Fr. Patrick – there are plenty more to come. (Amazing how you’ve now found your voice as opposed to when scandal was rocking your own jurisdiction the past few years.)

            • Jane Rachel says

              Elementary charity would prompt you to take that thing down and repent of putting it up in the first place.

              Oh for goodness’ sake. Open your eyes.

              You are in good company, Heracleides my friend and fellow artist. Though I’ve never met you, I think you are honest and like you heaps.

              http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2008/10/02/stars-of-political-cartooning-honore-daumier/

              • To be honest – and I say this as a die-hard member of Team +Jonah – Heracleides’s point is kind of overwhelmed. Stokoe’s physical characteristics and age are irrelevant, and his homosexuality doesn’t need to be beaten to death. I did find the wanted poster aspect to be very pointed and funny, though.

                • Heracleides says

                  Yes – agreed – it is a bit over the top in areas if I do say so myself. The entire poster is derived from an online “viral” anti-Scientology poster that I used as a template and filled in the description area more as a lark than anything else – as you say, who cares what Mark looks like (although you wouldn’t believe what I had to go through to track down the actual photograph of Stokoe – for an OCA power-player, the man is downright camera-shy… why, it’s almost as if he prefers operating from the shadows!).

                  On a more serious note, the poster is a work in progress and I have already tweaked it twice today. I must admit that I am inclined to keep hammering away at the homosexuality business – in my estimation it is a (if not THE) driving force behind Stokoe & Benjamin’s entire campaign to oust Jonah and needs to be kept in the spotlight – past, present, & future – as this battle for the heart and soul of the OCA is far from over.

                  I appreciate the feedback from everyone (including Fr. Patrick). I am attempting to see what kind of a nerve it strikes and if it & similar posters (Bp. Mark, Bp. Benjamin, etc.) might be something I would want to travel to Seattle and hand out during the AAC. I have to weigh the impact (pro and con) they might (or might not) have in doing so and decide if I want to most likely toss my last lingering thoughts of entering an OCA seminary right out the window as a consequence (probably not a significant sacrifice as Jordanville increasingly looks like the better option).

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Heracleides, I say: “hammer away!” We need a little humor to liven up the debate here and it was MS who opened up this can of worms to begin with. As for the bishops who he has in his back pocket, they could have put a stop to this months ago.

                    This bring me to a point I’ve been meaning to make. Why don’t they put a stop to this nonsense? Because that would entail shutting down OCAN, which these same bishops keep it at arm’s length, pretending to ignore it on the one hand but using it when they need to on the other.

                    Sordid if you ask me.

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    Interesting, Heracleides. How ironic that the first and only “Call to Repentance” by a priest in this whole charade was handed to you!

                    “All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their own peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their own peril.”

                    – Oscar Wilde, preface to “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      I’m sorry!! Forgive me… 🙁 It’s not me commenting on Father Patrick, but on the longing for there to be a call and a response to real accountability and repentance.

                  • as you say, who cares what Mark looks like (although you wouldn’t believe what I had to go through to track down the actual photograph of Stokoe – for an OCA power-player, the man is downright camera-shy… why, it’s almost as if he prefers operating from the shadows!).

                    I know what you mean! I was curious as to what he looked like, and had a terrible time trying to find one that wasn’t that 25-year-old SYNDESMOS photo on the OCA website. Only about a week ago, I ran across this album, which has a few photos of him towards the end. Honestly, I don’t like being photographed very much either, but it was just weird to be reading so much from this guy and not knowing what he looked like, which is why I started looking for pictures. I was surprised by how normal-looking he is. Just remember, Metropolitan Jonah is not far off from Stokoe’s age or weight himself.

                    As an aside, does anybody else find it interesting how the altar area is styled at that parish? It’s Fr. Ted “I don’t conceive of homosexuality as a sin” Bobosh’s parish. It reminds me of those Uniate or ex-Uniate churches in Pennsylvania, only this doorless non-iconostasis appears to be a conscious choice on their part.

                    Yes, it is important to acknowledge the likely motive for this being related to Stokoe’s homosexuality, but it’s important to not make those acknowledgements appear to be in a mean or vindictive spirit. “Mrs. Stokoe-Brown” kind of reads that way, because he’s still a man, and he and his, ahem, “husband”, didn’t take one another’s surnames.

                    The bottom line is that we’ve got to make it clear that we’re not against Mark Stokoe for being gay or even for the fact that he lives with a man in a spousal relationship. We’re against Mark Stokoe because he does that while presenting himself as if he were in good standing with the Church, because he uses a blog to govern the release of information and manipulate other administration members into doing his bidding, and because he holds a position in the church administration in spite of his moral ineligibility and the flagrant conflict of interest created by that blog. Making a note of his homosexuality goes to motive and the ineligibility, so it definitely needs to be mentioned, but it’s important to give the other things an even higher priority because they are more important.

                    BTW, Google’s top suggestions after you type in his name are things like “Mark Stokoe homosexual” and “Mark Stokoe Steve Brown”, which I find hilarious.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Helga, if I hadn’t posted so many times today already, I’d post again and say you have yet again nailed it. Thanks! And thanks for the link as well.

                    • It was heartening to read Helga’s comments. I’m basically going to second them, but I want to go a step further.

                      The Benny for Lesser Synod campaign poster is priceless. The American Gothic cartoon is also well done. From a distance, the ‘wanted poster’ is funny and on the money; but up close some specific jabs are uncharitable, irrelevant, inaccurate, and generally not helpful.

                      Both in this ‘wanted poster’ and in other comments made here on this blog, I am personally offended by suggestions that Stokoe is a female or has an indeterminate sex. Although I’m not in your church and offer my comments merely for what they are worth, I would beg you to stop with the “Mrs.” stuff.

                      This type of school-yard put-down is probably not appropriate ever, but it is really out of bounds when directed at someone who has a disordered sexual orientation. Some men struggle with sexual identify issues precisely because of school yard bullying and taunts like this. God made him a man. No one questions that. In addition to being uncharitable, it is tacky and makes you look ignorant. So it is bad politics too.

                      More generally, I find it out of bounds to mock disabilities. So I’m also put off whenever someone mocks another person’s weight, height, and hair density. If these issues were directly relevant to the political or social commentary, then it might be different; but I can’t imagine a scenario right now.

                      How about for physical characteristics, you just put “N/A” for ‘not applicable’, since they really aren’t — or “Irrelevant” if you prefer. That in itself would be satire.

                      Some of these details you could make applicable. For example, you could put “shady” for complexion, turning this detail into satire rather than an irrelevant put-down.

                      This is risky, but if you insist on being edgy, you might be able to come up with something appropriate under the sex entry, such as MYOB! or Nunya!, referring to sexual activity not biological sex. For aliases it would be more appropriate to say “Mr. Stephen C. Brown,” since this is both accurate and relevant — though it is not funny and should only be used if you believe it is somehow beneficial within the context of the church’s unfortunate situation. To me it seems a bit in poor taste, but it might be necessary to highlight the crisis in the church and why this particular individual should be removed from lay leadership positions.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  How are we going to recognize him if we don’t know what he looks like?

            • Jane Rachel says

              One more thing. If Heracleides was making light of this, or if he were really laughing about it, it would be different. He’s not making a joke about it, this is satire: “the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.”

              If anything, I’d say his intention reveals more charity towards Mark and the others than you are showing towards him by judging him unloving. Heracleides is calling Stokoe and the others to repentance, to see the truth about themselves through the power of the image. Words are sometimes not strong enough to punch through to the raw truth, but art often succeeds where words fail. “South Park” is often just spot on. So is “The Simpson’s.” If those are not to your liking, the Orthodox icon of the Publican and the Pharisee shows the Pharisee as a gray-haired, pasty-faced, pot-bellied guy with green, jealous eyes, oh-so-righteous words coming out of his mouth, a self-important stature, and the publican on his knees praying for him.

        • Harry Coin says

          Fr. Fester ‘not understanding the rules’? Please now. You don’t work in Syosset all those years and run parishes without understanding the rules.

          • One Coin in a Fountain says

            Your Honor, don’t you have anything better to do? Stick to your own GOA matters, I am sure they can use your expertise there more than here.

            You talk as if you know Fr Joseph. But in truth you only know about through the “fixed news” of Mrs Stokoe-Brown.

            It is very clear that Fr Fester got screwed by a Carpetbagging Bishop Mark, a synod of bishops that couldn’t wait to show Jonah their new power by making Fr. Joseph an example. They also scored the daily double by settling old scores (+BB) with Fester and again sticking it to Jonah while Mrs. Stokoe-Brown was all to eager to once again make the news just in time to save the OCA!.

            • Harry Coin says

              Anyone who has read Fr. Fester’s emails cannot possibly think him the naive newbie who doesn’t know the rules. If there are those who do, they are not acting because of reasons being discussed, but only for the same reason people support the local college football team: it isn’t about the players or the facts, it’s just ‘their team’. That makes it somehow ‘ok’ to ignore unwelcome facts, amplify helpful ones, nod as if helpful false ones are true without having to actually say so, cheer when ‘your side’ says anything, boo when ‘the other side’ does. And, don’t write your name on your postings since you know you don’t want people to know it’s you.

              This sort of schoolyard thing isn’t about the truth. For adults, it is reprehensible and immature conduct when important matters are at stake.

        • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

          Dear Pox,

          Christ is Risen!

          This is in response to Pox’s post of May 18 where Pox says
          “2. Dreher, for thinking that he could play polemic games within a religious culture that he still doesn’t understand well enough to speak authoritatively on, and for luring Fester into internet dung stirring.
          3. A little (forgiveable) blame goes to Fr Fester, who didn’t understand the rules or postential consequences of allowing Dreher to suck him into anonymous internet battles.”

          I noticed this post and thought it odd, but was distracted from responding more quickly by Heracleides’ as he admits “dung stirring” and his response to Fr Patrick Reardon, which were all astounding.

          Lo!
          I speak in defense of Rod Dreher!

          I find your apportioning of blame bizarre. Rod is clearly still something of a newbie, as you yourself describe, who doesn’t actually know most of the people involved. Rod clearly and openly relied on Fr. Fester for his perspective. Fr. Fester knew what Rod was doing and encouraged it. More over, Rod did not know all of the agenda he was tangling with. Just who is luring who? Who is supposed to be the more informed, the more spiritually responsible party?

          I have known Bp. Tikhon Mollard and Bp. Michael Dahulich (and Met. Herman, and Abp. Dmitri, too) since before Rod as received into the church … of Rome. I have known Bp. Tikhon Fitzgerald, Met. Jonah, and Bp. Benjamin for about 14 years now. There is not one of these named hierarchs whom I do not care about. More over, I have a sense of who they are as people and what motivates them. This has prevented me from buying the OCATruth narrative from the get go.

          OCATruth has constantly asserted that Met. Jonah is not responsible for their (OCATruth’s) actions. Fair enough. I expect Met Jonah is the sort who prays more and blogs less, (and yes, I am sure I should follow that example). OCA Truth, also seems to want to exculpate Fr. Fester from their activities, which at this point seems rather far fetched. But it does seem that the actually writing and posting of OCA Truth was not Fr Fester’s main activity.

          It is hard to take seriously these OCATruth protestations of innocence which are coupled with a steady stream of assuming that the other bishops must be held responsible for every pixel that pours out of OCANews.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Having served as a priest in Bishop Mark’s diocese for several years, I would not recognize him from this mean-spirited description.

      The people in our parish wept when we lost him

      • Sorry Father. Your outrage is misdirected. The man stole private emails. He never made any attempt to inform Fester he was looking at his emails. He could have made one phone call or email to alert him. He did nothing. He broke not only the commandment, Thou shall not steal, but he also broke the law. He was destroying St Seraphim Cathedral and he was denounced for his leadership.

        One thing we can agree on, +Mark makes people cry.

        • With all due respect, Amos, Fr. Patrick doesn’t appear to express outrage here, only a different perception and perspective. I do find it hard to imagine what he must think of the bishop’s seeming serious miscalculation and obvious ethical lapse with the stolen emails, but then we don’t ask George to assign evil motives or malice to Fr. Joseph Fester either, whose better qualities he knows personally. For much the same reason, we ought to at least respect Fr. Patrick’s first-hand experience of Bp. Mark. Experience isn’t right or wrong–it just is.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Good words to ponder, Karen. Personally, I am most saddened by the self-immolation of +Mark. I watched his career as a bishop in Toledo with much interest and thought he was taking on the systemic corruption of those four Arab parishes in a pastoral fashion. I think we all had high hopes for him and viewed +Philip’s loss as our gain. I was really excited to hear that he was going to be our bishop-presumptive in the South. People at SSOC were excited as well. But then when the whole anti-+Jonah lynch mob started forming after Santa Fe, the entire picture changed, dramatically and for the worse.

            I pray that he finds another position in the OCA, perhaps some time of reflection in a monastery and then a diocesan position. One way he could make restitution (after asking forgiveness of +Jonah and Fr Joe) would be to write an expose on the workings of OCAN and its poisonous influence on the hierarchy of the OCA. Or if this goes to court, to become a witness against it.

            • Judging from the comments here and elsewhere as well as some of my own experiences, I suspect your perceptions and expectations regarding Bp. Mark are shared by many in the OCA (and AOC) for many of the same reasons. But from one who has repeatedly failed Byzantine Politics 101, beginning in my own former AOC parish as a newbie, I am not willing to speculate about what is really going on or make predictions of how things may be righted. Thankfully, my faith assures me all things are possible with our Lord, and I will pray for all that the way to reconciliation and restitution may, indeed, be opened. One thing I am convinced of is that neither Bp. Mark nor Fr. Joseph are all good or all bad, and both, no matter what their errors, are redeemable. The same goes for the members of St. Seraphim Cathedral, the members of the OCA Synod and Metropolitan Council and all other players in this unfolding drama.

        • Harry Coin says

          Enough time has passed that if there was any truth to those going on about theft, there would be charges by now. Time to reconsider the whole ‘illegal’ riff repeated again and again– since it doesn’t appear to actually be true.

          • Aside from the legality of the matter, there’s the rather large issue of the ethical soundness of sending these emails to Mark Stokoe, as well as the chasm of distrust that created with most in the DOS. Its not just about the rule of law..

          • Mark from the DOS says

            Harry –

            Respectfully, you are just wrong about that. This isn’t a double murder in broad daylight. It isn’t going to have a squad of FBI agents pounding the pavement 24/7 until resolution. Computer crime involves forensic work. Here, the google server logs would need to be obtained (maybe requiring a subpoena) to show the IP address of the computer that accessed the account and sent the e-mails. Then the owner of the IP address would need to obtained. Again, this often requires a subpoena. I’d also hazard a guess that the prosecutor would present this for indictment before any arrests are made. I would expect 6 – 9 months would pass before any indictments could be expected. And that is even if the prosecutor chooses to pursue the charges. Crimes occur regularly that are not prosecuted on prosecutorial discretion. The extremely brief passage of time thus far tells us absolutely nothing about whether a crime occurred.

            I know you really really really want to believe that nothing wrong or illegal occurred in your hero’s pursuit of the story. But every purported fact I hear, and every case I read, makes me think it is entirely possible. I’d take the flip side of your position: nobody has posited a plausible, legal explanation as to how Mark Stokoe came to be in possession of the e-mails. Thus, I think people wishing to assert there was no illegality ought to back off it.

          • Legal matters are still in the works . . .

      • I find it possible that Father Pat is shocked by Bishop Mark’s behavior in Dallas. It doesn’t square with the man Father Pat knew, or thought he knew. But Father Pat, you need to face the fact that by his own admission, Bishop Mark gained access to the e-mails of Father Fester. His story keeps changing, but in one version, he read them for a couple of months before he decided to send them on to the Synod. I don’t think he has admitted (yet) to sending them to Stokoe, but we know from evidence of the screen grab from Fr. Fester’s computer that whoever had access to Fester’s gmail account forwarded at least four of those mails to Stokoe.

        You might think, Father Pat, that Fester and the OCATruth gang deserved this treatment. But what about all the people (including friends of mine) who had nothing to do with the controversy in the OCA, who wrote to Father Fester to share their problems and seek his advice? One of these people is now terrified about what Bishop Mark might have seen and forwarded to Stokoe. I believe it is very unlikely that Stokoe would use anything she said (she doesn’t figure in the controversies), and maybe Mark didn’t even look at her e-mails to Fester. That’s what I tell her to calm her down. The problem is that nobody who wrote to Fester can know for sure whether or not Mark read their private correspondence, and whether or not he forwarded it to Stokoe. I don’t know what is in their e-mails, but I have shared intimate things with priests before through e-mail (never again!), and I shudder to think what my friends who wrote to Fester must be going through.

        How can that ever be anything but disgusting, and a serious spiritual abuse, Father Pat? The people I know who have been sucked into this by Mark’s action feel traumatized by it. They didn’t ask for this, and they don’t deserve it.

        You should talk to your old parishioners who are now in St. Seraphim’s parish and see what things look like from their perspective. My two cents…

      • Pox on All Houses says

        Fr. Patrick, that would make your parish a part of a very tiny club of parishes – you could probably count them on less than one hand. What was it that you found so endearing about the buffoon? His tendency to want to run his mouth endlessly in pointless, tedious, rambling and exhausting codas that would last for 45 minutes to an hour after Nativity or Paschal liturgies at 3 in the morning? His haughty and demanding posture before the laity? His mewling “my health won’t allow me to move” response to Metro Phil’s request for him to go to Eagle River in order to cool his jets? His crushing of any notion of “community” regarding making the parish a genuinely enjoyable place to be in areas beyond worship?

        • What was it that you found so endearing about the buffoon?

          Do you think you could give this kind of name-calling a rest?

          His tendency to want to run his mouth endlessly in pointless, tedious, rambling and exhausting codas that would last for 45 minutes to an hour after Nativity or Paschal liturgies at 3 in the morning?

          Lots of preachers have a time or two where they think they are having a Chrysostom moment, and the parish is collectively wishing they were at the Oscars and could have the orchestra play him off. It’s annoying, but there’s no need to guillotine him over it.

          His mewling “my health won’t allow me to move” response to Metro Phil’s request for him to go to Eagle River in order to cool his jets?

          Bishop Mark suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Having him move to Alaska, where there is limited sunlight for the winter, is like putting a herpetophobe to work in the reptile house of the Bronx Zoo.

          It’s readily apparent that Bishop Mark has done some heinous things lately, but please try not to turn this into some kind of vendetta, because it will only make him appear to be a victim.

          • Chris Plourde says

            Lots of preachers have a time or two where they think they are having a Chrysostom moment…

            ROFL!

            If they’d only also remember that the Paschal Homily is only about two-and-a-half minutes long! 😉

      • I have to agree with Fr. Patrick and a few (very much in the minority) posters here.

        I can’t speak at all to the issue of accessing Fr. Fester’s email which, if true, was certainly a serious lapse in judgment.

        But I can say that some of the comments here are highly uncharacteristic of the bishop we knew. Someone has commented on how he seems to relish the trappings of the episcopacy (hand kissing, etc.). My experience was just the opposite. If anything, I was left with the impression that he would have much preferred to enter a room without everyone breaking into “Many years…” The expression on his face seemed to say, “I appreciate your expression of love, but can’t we just bless the food, sit down, and talk to one another as human beings?”

        If I may say so without offense (and I honestly do not intend any), many of the comments here suggest a personality-driven mindset. While it is perfectly appropriate for anyone to express love/respect/support for their priest (Fester, etc.), bishop (Dmitri), or metropolitan (Jonah) , there are many who must remain faithful to Christ under the governance of leaders for whom no such sentiments are felt. Personalities matter, which is to say that bishops who uphold the faith and teaching of Christ do matter greatly. But defining who I will accept or obey based upon personalities I happen to like or with whom I feel comfortable is to adopt a mindset similar to that of those for whom disdain is so often expressed on this blog. Please do not misunderstand me. This is not at all intended to imply a moral equivalence between those who accept the teaching of the Church and those who do not. It is only to say that a leader’s personal style matters a great deal less to our faith than what some have expressed here.

        Having said this, I feel for those who had to endure their Pascha celebration in a fashion with which they were unfamiliar. It is rarely a good idea to mess with peoples’ piety. Unfamiliar expressions of piety, however Orthodox, can make people feel as though they are worshipping an alien God.

        • Pox on All Houses says

          If anything, I was left with the impression that he would have much preferred to enter a room without everyone breaking into “Many years…” The expression on his face seemed to say, “I appreciate your expression of love, but can’t we just bless the food, sit down, and talk to one another as human beings?”

          That would be his “I’m irritated today” expression. He wore that one around a lot, it seemed to be his default countenance.

          • Pox,

            Your assessment might be believable to me were it not for the subsequent personal conversation and graciousness that was clearly in evidence. People can – and do – change for the better or for the worse. I was simply relating my own experience, and I know well that my experience was shared by many.

            • For what it is worth: It sounds like Bishop Mark may have more than just seasonal affective disorder. Sounds like a a more general struggle with depression and anxiety, and bipolar disorder is a very real possibility. Point being, there may be a very concrete (perhaps treatable) reason for inconsistent behavior.

              But more importantly, it sounds like the situation is being dealt with. I personally don’t see why you guys keep talking about it … unless you are all trying to support Stokoe’s effort to divert attention from the fact that he and several others are still holding national church office after attempting to remove the metropolitan via false pretenses. Seems like the whole world is off the trail, lost in the forest, happily chasing the elusive smell of smoked herring.

              • Antonia Colias says

                Armchair psychology/psychiatry does not impress those of us who have real-life experience with individuals who struggle with genuine behavioural and/or mental health conditions. Even a good-quality psychiatrist with good-quality credentials refrains from “labeling” someone who is not his or her own patient.

                • My intent was not to impress you, but to point out that there could be many good reasons for empathy. But the main point is: Aren’t there more important things to be talking about here?

        • Jane Rachel says

          I wrote something about hand kissing. Not sure if anyone else did in reference to Bishop Mark. I wasn’t talking about him. I was talking about other bishops, but there is no reason to name them right now. Those who have been reading and finding out, know who they are, and a lot of people are just naming them outright, and that’s GOOD. Except, I can bring up that retired Bishop Mark and his deacon. That’s right out in the open and it’s been going on for years and years! And I would call him one of my bishops since he’s in the OCA. So, for sure, one of my bishops should not be a bishop, nor should he be living with that deacon, nor should that deacon be a deacon!!! These comments go to nothing but silence after we’ve said it again and again. Will it continue? If it does, the OCA is not real, not blessed as a Church by the Father, not a part of the Church by reason of its own insanity. Not to mention the other bishops we’ve been reading about and hearing about for years. It’s an awful hypocrisy that is bottom of the pit bad.

          It’s this creepy feeling I got after I realized some bishops I kissed the hand of, bowed to, and loved, are sweetness and light outwardly – accepting kisses and adulation with large crossings of selves and smiles and bowing and impressive ways – but not inwardly. This happened to me, and it was devastating to realize. Last week I could hardly get over the awful hurt in finding out about Bishop Benjamin. I don’t want that to be true! Please, Lord, make it not true. See how much it hurts?

          Because of what I now have become convinced and believe to be true about them, I speak out. If it’s not true, someone please tell us. People who are not lying have given testimony with their words. Oh Lord, forgive me and save us! That’s why when I read comments to the effect that some of us are being unkind or unloving or gossipy. No. Believe me, this is NOT that. NOT. You don’t have to post here, or read the comments. But if you do, remember that there are those of us who have been troubled by what we’ve not only read, but also suspected based on first-hand experience, for many years. Finally, we have a place to speak out.

          • Doesn't Matter says

            Finally, we have a place to speak out.

            To what end?

            Will it continue?

            From this point now that you know? Or from the point that others – who ought to have done something because they had the responsibility and authority to do so – knew and have known all along but continue to look the other way?

            If it does, the OCA is not real, not blessed as a Church by the Father, not a part of the Church by reason of its own insanity.

            I don’t know about that, but I know this is not the sort of place I would want to raise my children unless I had no other choice. Thankfully, since this is America, there is always another choice.

    • Perhaps, Pox, if you would be so bold as to give us your real name when making comments we could examine the source and make our decisions accordingly. I served under Bishop Mark at St. Elias in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. I’ve had extended discussions with him. Have you? Until we know we know who you are we only know that you, like a million others have an opinion, the level of background or support for that view may be significant or nothing. If you have the courage, and this applies to anyone, to lambast any other Christian, including a Bishop, you should have the courage to give your real name and explain the basis for your charges.

      Isn’t that what you would want for yourself if you were the object of internet speculation?

      • Pox on All Houses says

        Regretfully, Fr John, I’m bound for reasons all my own to keep my head down, and given your prior participation on OCAN and as a past advocate for Maymon, you may find that disengagement from this topic will serve you better as well.

        ETA: Oh, hey Fr John – I just noticed something. You might want to try and clear out your auto fill in of your address the next time you try and post a blog comment anonymously.

        http://ad-orientem.blogspot.com/2009/07/antiochian-convention.html

        Anonymous said…

        An old order is fading away but it’s death throes are painful.

        Fr John Chagnon
        St. Elias Orthodox Church
        LaCrosse, WI
        7/23/2009 2:22 PM

        Interesting commentary on the 2009 convention. As I recall, there was much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth among the Maymon/OCAN crew.

        • I posted as “anonymous” because at that time I did not have the right accounts the website required to use to publish under my own name. You will notice, however, that I did use my own name in the post so your charges are misrepresentations.

          What you would call my advocacy for Bishop Mark is about my real life experience with the man, his care for me and my parish, and the value I placed on his counsel. This is not hagiography just my opinion. I, like Fr. Reardon, do not recognize the person who has often been described by you and others on the blog as Bishop Mark. If I were to guess, at its only a guess since you apparently refuse to identify yourself, I and every other person reading this has no idea what your source of information on Bishop Mark is because you have provided no context and no evidence for your claims.

          Yet whether that is true or not I’m disappointed by the entirety of many responses on this page. We do not need more hostile voices full of heat and lacking light in these discussions. Our Bishops, all of them, are humans and subject to struggles and temptations we cannot possibly imagine. If you have actually read my posts on OCAN you have seen that I have called time and again for hesitance in judgement and speed in prayer. My particular comment at Ad Orientem was rooted in my own understanding of these events in both the AOCA and the OCA as troubling as they are are actually guided by the hand of God to bring us to a better place. Sometimes we do this in joy and sometimes pain and struggle but both can be the signs of an old order passing away the bith of something new. That has been my hope in all of these things, that there is a joy in the morning that comes after the weeping of the night.

          Please also note that my care for Bishop Mark and, in fact, all the other Bishops is pastoral in nature. If you ask the people who know me and my parishioners you would know that in the AOCA troubles I did not take sides, call our Metropolitan any of the horrible names that came up on OCAN, and have been in prayer for all of them for some time now. I care for the human being beneath the vestments and that’s why I am engaged with these issues even if it is to the peril of my career. I pray for Bishop Mark whom I consider a friend. I pray for Metropolitans Philip and Job because of the terrible weight on their shoulders. I pray for the Priests I know because I share their life and this is one thing I can do to help. My engagement is to encourage people to do likewise.

          I’m not perfect, but I love this Faith right down to my bones. I hate to see these troubled times and if I have done anything, and I’m sure that I have, to make them more so then I apologize and ask forgiveness. Still, although the temptation is there, for me as well, to be harsh and to use the safety of anonymity to be less considerate then we need to be we and I need to find ways to channel our disappointment, our stress, our frustration, and the challenges of these times in better ways.

          I want to, I must, treat the Bishops above me the same way I would like to be cared for if I stumble and fall. I want to give them the same grace, the same forgiveness, the same possibility for repentance and positive change that I would want for myself, the sinner. I want each and every Bishop of the Orthodox to have many years in good health and strong faith. Do I get angry, frustrated or prone to despair sometimes, yes, and at times I’ve expressed it as well but I’m trying to do better, God giving me the strength.

          • Kevin Allen says

            I must weigh in here too. I do not know Bishop Mark and cannot comment on the harsh criticism levelled at him on this site since he began serving at the DOS. However, my singular encounter with him was notable. At the last AOCANA national convention, I was pressed into the service of passing out leaflets advocating an independent financial audit outside the ballroom in which the conference was being held. One of the AOCANA’s security people (not the hotel’s) didn’t like us passing the leafets out and essentially accosted me by pulling the leaflets out of my hands, pushing me away as he barked, “Orthodoxy is not a democracy”. I had a split-second decision to make as to whether the encounter would turn into fisticuffs. Thank God I backed off and away, but as I did, I noticed Bishop Mark – who had been observing the encounter from afar – come up and confront my accoster. They had a heated exchange in which I heard Bishop Mark support the rights of those exercsing their first amendment rights! This was at a time when Bishop Mark’s episcopal stock in the AOCANA was at an all-time low. Frankly I doubt any other bishop would have stood up to this man. That’s my two cents.

          • Antonia Colias says

            Bless, Father !

            Dear Fr. John C.,

            Your positive experience with Bishop Mark was what you say it was. I do not question that you experienced what you did. I ask only that you, Fr. Patrick R., and any one else who will report happy experiences of Bishop Mark accord me, and other members of DOS — especially individuals with current, active experience of St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral in Dallas (of whom I am one) — equal respect of our negative experiences. Our reality is truth, not collective hallucination. I am not going to post what I know on the Internet, because I find such actions repugnant. Reluctance to publish negative information about people may not, validly, be construed as my having nothing truthful to report. I could sling mud with the best — err, worst — of them, should I so choose.

            • That’s a very fair request. All of you at the Cathedral will be in my prayers.

            • I have the unique perspective of having been at Fr Pat Reardon’s parish in Chicago under Bishop Mark, as well as now at St Seraphim’s in Dallas. I can attest to the fact that we at All Saints had a great experience with +Mark. Granted, we were a small parish of mainly converts and were not demographically representative of the Antiochian Archdiocese as a whole, but he was seen at the time as a breath of fresh air to the Synod of the AOCANA.

              I also attest to the very real and valid issues that we have at St Seraphim’s in Dallas. Trust has disintegrated, unfortunately, throughout the Diocese. It was unwise for Metropolitan Jonah to pull +Mark directly from a traumatic situation in the AOCANA and place him as Administrator in the DOS – a vital componet to the OCA as a whole. He needs rest. He needs to regroup and refocus. That is the ends that we should all be striving for. To quote one of the Readers at SSOC, it is for the salvation of +Mark and ours as well..

              • Jane Rachel says

                Clay, this is what seems most likely and thanks for posting your experiences with Bishop Mark. It makes sense. What you are saying is true, I’ll bet. When there’s been too much trauma over a short period of time, humans get overwhelmed, and we go into survival mode. Anger is always right under the surface. “Don’t threaten me…. grrrr…” Fighting back is a gut reaction to feeling one’s survival is threatened. Being threatened and threatening back are ancient and tribal among humans. However, the means we use to fight back, and the choices we make, reveals much about our character. (By writing on this blog, I’m fighting back. That’s why there’s so much emotion in many of my posts.)

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Especially when we are hurt by religious leaders who should know better. Do they have any excuse? Nope.

      • Pox on All Houses says

        Fr John – I’m thinking a lot more on that blog I linked an hour or so ago (you know, where you accidentally left your name and address on a post meant to be anonymous). This word appeared in the blogpost itself:

        ANAXIOS!

        Given the overall tone of the blog and the subject it was addressing, as somebody who has a policy of posting under his own name, who do you think that term applied to? And did your principled self rise up to defend the person or people it was directed at?

        • Pox, some blog sites require me to select a choice of identities to comment, and if I do not have an account with Google, Blogger, or some such set up, I have to post as “Anonymous” and then sign my name if I don’t actually intend to be anonymous. I just checked, and this is, indeed, the case at the Ad Orientem blog site. I would be surprised, therefore, if Fr. John did not fully intend to connect his name with his post.

          • Pox on All Houses says

            Possible, although I’ve seen people accidentally out themselves through stylesheet setups before.

            What interests me more is who he thinks the term “anaxios” was directed at, and whether he followed the commentary below his, in light of the fact that he had a history (at that point) of being an enthusiastic commenter at OCAN, had swallowed his tongue – repeatedly – on threads in which he actually participated.

            Finally, I’d really like to know why he was such an avid supporter of St Maymon of the Gibbering Western Tongues in light of Maymon’s leak onto OCAN of the Antypas letter, written in response to another Maymon leak to OCAN?

            http://www.ocanews.org/news/AntypasLetter.3.4.10.09.html

            Did anybody think that this little episode would disappear?

            • Prospective Nomad says

              Just for the record: The link that Pox provided says that the letter was “released by Fr. Antypas … to the Association of Orthodox Christian Attorneys for inclusion [in] their recently-published Timeline.” +MARK did, while Bishop of Toledo, leak, cause to be leaked, or fail to condemn the leaking of, information that should have been held in confidence. This letter doesn’t appear to have been one of those occasions.

              • Pox on All Houses says

                I stand corrected, you’re right.

                That’s what I get for trying to multitask.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  According to what I’m reading, Bishop Mark is a long way from St. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy on bishops. Is that true? EDIT: I don’t know. But after reading Helga’s recent post about avoiding invective, maybe we should give it a rest. It’s sad, though…

                  “1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop,[a] he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,[b] but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Tim. 3:1-7).

                  • Prospective Nomad says

                    Jane Rachel,

                    +MARK has faults, but greed, violence, and drunkenness (among the most prominent vices applicable to a celibate man in the passage quoted above) are not among them. I agree with Fr. John: I’ve never met an Antiochian bishop less interested in extracting money from people. It was one of his enemies who threatened him with violence in 2009, not the other way around. After what happened in 2003, you can be certain that +PHILIP made sure that +MARK was “not given to wine.” You might be on firmer ground with verse 6, but I believe that’s attributable to his lack of a monastic formation. For his own good and that of the flock, he should go to a monastery for several years (and not as the abbot). He would be a better shepherd after that experience.

                    • Thanks for putting things in perspective for us, Prospective Nomad. Wise words, I believe.

                      If we are feeling bad about an exchange or encounter with someone and the next time we see them they do not have a smile on their face and a ready kind word, it is all too easy to project, because of our own resentments and fears, some disagreeable frame of mind on them and then take it personally or as a confirmation of the earlier negative exchange–and then on it goes in a vicious cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies carrying us all down to hell. Clergy and laity are equally vulnerable here. (Actually, clergy are likely more vulnerable because the enemy targets them because of their position of influence–if they go off the rails, he gets more bang for his buck, you might say!) Of course, the demons are all in this as well making sure the darts, real or imagined, strike their targets. Fear/anxiety and even fatigue can easily be interpreted as anger, coldness or arrogance (in an authority figure), or resentment, rebellion, and insubordination (in the other direction). If we could but release our fears to the Lord and instead only speak or act out of faith in Him and a determination to obey His will, no matter what the circumstance the enemy would have virtually nothing left to work with. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, . . . ” Meanwhile, because we are not perfected in love, there remain the other options: forgiveness and restitution.

            • I was well aware of Ad Orientem’s sentiments towards Metropolitan Philip and if you are careful to notice you would realize that I didn’t join the “Anaxios” crowd. The mere act of posting on a site doesn’t, as you should know, mean that I am in agreement with the sentiments of the publisher. I simply posited my opinion as I do here.

              • Pox on All Houses says

                I was well aware of Ad Orientem’s sentiments towards Metropolitan Philip and if you are careful to notice you would realize that I didn’t join the “Anaxios” crowd.

                Congratulations. You managed to passively participate in a conversation which had the purpose of trashing your hierarch, thereby giving the whole string of comments a little more credibility than they would have otherwise commanded. Otherwise, why post there? Your comment was not one designed to help (you’d have done better to ignore that site altogether), and I find it really laughable that those who squeal the loudest about the respect due to St Mark of Oral Roberts are among the first to either trash or to sit quietly by while others trash Metro Phil. Your fault is in the latter, and by participating by name, you inadvertently lent credibility to the exercise, particularly given your high volume of posts on OCAN.

                • Your statement is in error and your attempt to link me to those trashing Metropolitan Philip is also in error. If you could read the archives of OCAN you would have known that I have never supported the trashing of any Bishop of the Orthodox Church and in fact have called several people out on that forum for calling Metropolitan Philip names. If you are an attorney you should know better than to confuse innuendo with evidence and proclaim guilt by your opinion of association.

                  If I write on OCAN it does not mean that I endorse Mr. Stokoe’s positions on anything. I am simply making use of a forum of discussion. If I write on Ad Orientem, a site by the way which also provides news and commentary completely unrelated to these issues, I am also not saying that what anyone says on that site is also my opinion. The same applies to this site although from what I know I find Metropolitan Jonah to be a breath of fresh air.

                  If there is any “credibility” in my participating in any of these sites, including this one, is to quietly ask people, as a Priest, to behave in these matters like Christians, pray for those involved, and seek forgiveness and reconciliation whenever possible. We need to do better when discussing these matters and frankly if I were a person interested in Orthodoxy and stumbled on most of these sites I would be headed in the opposite direction in the first few posts based on the vitriol, rumors, and just plain meanness shown not only to our Hierarchs but to each other as well.

                  It is not outside of my responsibility as Priest to try to be a voice for basic decency and Christian conduct on the www. Would that there were more Priests who would do the same. It’s also not unorthodox of me to ask that people using the www approach these matters as Orthodox Christians and not particpants in an ecclesiastical Jerry Springer Show. I challenge myself, as well, to make sure I don’t do the same and ask forgiveness if I have. I make an attempt to sign everything so I am forced to consider both my words and my attitude before I post. Have I failed sometimes? Probably. Yet my signature is my way of trying to hold myself accountable and if that, rather than remaining anonymous, gives me some kind of credibility well I guess its just what it is.

                  Sometime you should call me on the phone. I’m in the directory. You might find me remarkably different from the image you’ve created on paper and I might learn a few things from you.

                  Until then, pax to you pox.

                  • Father, amen to all that! I wanted to say it to your earlier post at #167 as well. Thank you.

  17. St. Seraphim Cathedral has a bad bishop. Booo hooo! You know how many of us out there are under a horrible bishop who lives a rich suburban lifestyle while not being accountable for anything? I would say close to 80% of us are under such a person. Welcome to the party parishoners at St. Seraphim’s.

    • Bishop Mark is not the Bishop of the DOS. He is an auxiliary to the Metropolitan and an Administrator of the Diocese of the South. That is why the chain of command was followed to request a new Administrator and to air grievances regarding the current situation.

      Settling for poor leadership at the Bishopric level is not acceptable. Laity in any Diocese should voice their concerns when they see them, according to the statutes..

  18. A. Rymlianin says

    Things have gone pretty far south when an auxiliary to the Metropolitan cannot be recalled by the Metropolitan. Вот, в чём дело!

    • Yeah, if it’s true that in the present climate Metropolitan Jonah is unable to recall his own auxiliary on his own initiative, that’s a really problematic undermining of his rightful authority.

      However, I’m willing to bet that Bishop Mark is still in Dallas simply because Met. Jonah wanted to wait and make sure he knew the truth before acting. If Met. Jonah had yanked Bp. Mark out of Dallas on the word of a handful of cathedral members, and it turned out that Bp. Mark had been acting legitimately and pastorally against rebellious parishioners and clergy, it would have given Stokoe and company a lot of rotten eggs to throw in Met. Jonah’s face.

      Also, Met. Jonah couldn’t go fact-finding himself, because they just settled that Bp. Nikon is the locum tenens, and His Beatitude making a show of exercising his primatial prerogative of pastoral intervention would be political suicide in the present climate. It’s a good sign that Bp. Nikon decided to go on the fact-finding mission himself. Of the “Appalled Four”, Bp. Nikon seems to be the least vindictive towards Met. Jonah, and I’m hopeful that he will help bring this to an amicable solution.

  19. Nick Katich says

    George: “over-centralized/anti-primatial” is an oxymoron if there ever was an example of that term.

  20. You can learn a lot about peoples’ souls in what they write.

    I’m outta here.

    • Jane Rachel says

      Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
      – One can always be kind to people about whom one cares nothing.

    • Your soul is “outta here”?

      Sorry but a lot of people are making vague comments about inappropriate comments and I find those vague comments impossible to follow.

  21. Ivan Vasiliev says

    Isn’t all this sort of dated, now? The Politburo has effectively neutered the Metropolitan. The Metropolitan Soviet is the actual governing authority in the Church, led by someone who knows all the dirt on the Politburo members (or enough to keep the great majority of them in line). The show is over folks.
    Unless Moscow acts, the OCA is “safely” in the hands of the above mentioned apparatchiks.
    Time to consider other things.

    • Heracleides says

      I sort of have to agree… although I can’t help but think that the curtain will only ring down on the last act of this farce after the fat man sings (sotto voice no doubt) when ‘reporting’ on the results of the next AAC.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Heracleides, Ivan, I am of the opinion that dramas like this take months if not years to play themselves out with no one sure of the contours of the eventual outcome.

        One scenario: +Jonah becomes truly neutered and merely a spokesman for the Stokovites and their twisted version of conciliarity, or the other: +Jonah amasses moral capital when it becomes aware that his nemeses lose theirs in the eyes of the people. In the first scenario, the Stokovites win and the OCA dies, in the secon, +Jonah wins and the OCA gets a new lease on life.

        There is a third scenario however: events will continue to spin out of control for the OCA and power will accrue to +Jonah because the Stokovites are not up to the task of defending and leading the Church. I suspect that this will be the case because the arch-conciliarist position in where there is no patriarch has never worked in Orthodoxy. It certainly won’t work when the self-styled oligarchs are called to stand before the bar and answer criminal complaints or civil actions brought against the OCA. I suspect then that the Stokovites will discover a new-found interest in primacy and point to +Jonah as “the head of the Church.”

        Some will interject here and state what about the 200-year Synodal system that the Russian Orthodox Church labored under from the time of Peter the Great until Nicholas II? The similarities are superficial. For one thing, the Russian Empire was wholly Orthodox as were its ruling classes; second the state financially supported the Church lock, stock and barrell; and third, there were no other competing jurisdictions in Russia during this time. At present, the OCA is a feeble competitor in the Orthodox jurisdictional sweepstakes. That its Stokovite bishops can’t see that reinforces to my mind their third-rate status.

        • Prospective Nomad says

          Mr. Michalopulos,

          An honest outsider’s question: Isn’t there (at least) one additional scenario? Couldn’t one interpret +JONAH’s actions since Chicago as those of a captain getting his crew into lifeboats (the nuns to Greece and Fr. Joseph, prospectively, into ROCOR (?))–presumably in anticipation of following them? Hasn’t it become more likely that he will seek refuge under +KIRILL’s omophorion at the appropriate time?

          • George Michalopulos says

            Not really. I’ll tell you why. The ROC has a vested interest in keeping the OCA alive and traditionalist. If it becomes Stokovite/congregationalist/oligarchic then it will wither and die. Should the Stokovite paradigm win, then upon its death, Constantinople will say that its original grant of autocephaly was null and without moral basis and it will not be able to do so again. A big “I told you so” moment for the Phanar if you catch my drift.

            So how will it do this? I imagine that at the upcoming EA, the Russian eparchial bishops will pull the two most appalled of the bishops aside and read them the riot act. If they don’t get the picture that these castrating resolutions are illegitimate, then Papa Bear will increase the pressure as the situation warrants.

            Remember, the Russians play the long game. Time is on their side. They don’t have to kow-tow to stupid liberal, East Coast ideas of political correctness, after all, they’ve already suffered more horribly and for a longer time than any other church. What can anybody do to them at that point? Not invite them to the annual Irongate Christmas party? Anybody who wants to remain standing will make his plans accordingly.

          • Where are the active OCA voices of opposition to travesty and slander?

            – Every perish member of St. Nicholas should submit Fr. Joseph Fester’s name into that committee looking for a new Dean!!!

            – Every OCA member should send messages to the entire Synod: “What did those nuns do, why were they told to leave???”

            + Jonah: metropolitan@oca.org
            + Nathaniel: Office: 517-522-4800
            + Nikon: Office: 508-764-3222
            + Tikhon: Office: 570-937-9331
            + Benjamin: Cell: 702- 277-1857
            + Alejo: obispoalejo@yahoo.com.mx
            + Melchisedek: 724-776-5555
            + Michael: info@nynjoca.org
            + Matthias: chancery@midwestdiocese.org
            + Irénée: Home: 514-382-1804

    • The Politburo has effectively neutered the Metropolitan.

      I’ve come close to commenting on this a number of times, but always held myself back before because, as a woman, I have a general distaste for associating power and authority with male genitalia. But, I just want to say that if anybody’s been castrated, it’s those little pipsqueaks who are afraid of a blog.

      When we’re talking about Metropolitan Jonah, we’re talking about a man who’s known for bearding lions in their dens, and who successfully fought off the attempt in Santa Fe to Bekishize him. If anything, I would say his fortitude is readily apparent, and he’s clearly not someone to be trifled with.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Helga, I certainly appreciate your insights. Personally I believe that women have a more acute sense of who has actual power than we men do.

  22. Pox on All Houses says

    Just wanted to point out that yet another day goes by with nothing but crickets from OCAN.

    Does Maymon stay and gimp through the motions of some meaningless sinecure (as he’s mortally wounded in the eyes of the laity and thus grossly unqualified for any genuine leadership position), or does he resign and move on?

    Does Stokoe open up a newer, funner website under an unstained pseudonym so he can toss some mud balls for a while before he’s discovered?

    Or do all the principals hope and pray that if they quit talking about it that the laity will somehow magically forget that any of it actually happened?

    • Heracleides says

      Actually, I imagine the silence is more along the lines of Bp. Mark’s attorney telling him to keep his gaping mouth shut.

  23. lexcaritas says

    I suspect that could be part of it, Helga. I would be the typical legal advice a potential defendant would receive in a system which does, unlike the Gospel, does not enivision or seek reconciliation and the full restoration of broken relationships.

    To this end, consider what George has said at No. 120: <> Now, it may be that Fr. Joseph might do well to seek and offer forgiveness from Mark, as well. But the concept of restitution is essential (and so often forgotten). Without a free and sincere offer and attempt to make it, authentic, genuine and full forgiveness and the complete restoration of broken communion is hindered and may be rendered impossible. This is the truth that lies behind the commandment Christ gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai, that an offender should be quick to “give” eye for eye and tooth for tooth and which our Lord further explained a millennium and a half later from the Mt. of the Beatitudes as turning the other cheek and giving up one’s cloak, going the extra mile and leaving one’s gift at the altar until one is reconciled with the brother who has “anything” against him. When one has, willingly or carelessly, injured or insulted a brother (or any other person who bears Christ’s image), it is not enough for one to say he’s and to ask for forgiveness, for if his sorrow and contrition are real he will want to make restitution and will not rest until he has. Such is the commandment of Christ and a condition of effective absolution. In private matters all of this should take place privately. In a case like this, where the offenses have become publicly known through publication and public admission, the restitution and mutual reconciliation had best be public also so that the participants may receive a mutual blessing and the Church may also be edified. There is a way to cooperate with God in making beautiful and life-giving what has been otherwise rendered ugly and death-dealing by sin, fear, anger and disordered passions. Let us pray that Christ will be glorified by a wave of repentance, forgiveness and love of miraculous proportions. With Him all things are possible and unto Him is due all glory and honor now and ever and unto ages of ages.

    lexcaritas

  24. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    Just wanted to say, George, I really appreciate all you’ve done for this site, to make it easier to read the comments and searching for past posts.

  25. Janet Kirby says

    Be sure to read Dr. Siewer’s well-written, unbiased, dispassionate view on these complex issues on ocatruth.

  26. Michael Bauman says

    Nick, Re #37

    At least you state a concrete objection to Met. Jonah’s actions. That is a first step, but you give no evidence except more bias and unsubstantiated innuendo.

    BTW, as a non-OCA observer it seems to me that the laity has far too much decision making authority. There’s too much democracy, a flattening of legitimate hierarchy and a denigration of geunuine Apostolic authority.

    It still seems to me that the major reason for Stokoe’s unhappiness with Met. Jonah has nothing to do with the morals/homosexuality issue. My deduction is that the hornet’s nest was stirred up, not by the homosexual agenda (although it is involved) but by the devolution of power away from the MC that is where Stokoe originally got in a snit about Met. Jonah). That proposal also called for a significant decentralization of decision making–devolving most $$ and authority to the diocesan level away from the national level. It would require bishops to be more pastoral in the dioceases and more responsive to local/regional concerns. The Holy Synod would then be much more like a Holy Synod rather than the Board of Dirctors of a national corporation with all the attentant percs. It would also mean less direct control of the activities of the Church by the Metropolitan. With all of the fuss, feathers and dysfuntion stirred up by Stokoe and his allies, the Met’s proposal has been buried.

    That there is likely an unholy alliance of greed, lust of power and lust of flesh is a distinct possibility. Not to say that Met. Jonah has acted in appropriate ways, clearly, he has his own issues, but he is the Metropolitan and within normal ecclesiology, the Holy Synod has more onus to adapt to him rather than the other way round.

    And Yes Nick, the manner in which Met. Jonah has been attacked is a gross over-reaction: indefensible in a Christian organization, let alone one with pretensions to be the core of the the united Orthodox Church in the US. If the opponents of Met. Jonah continue their activity, someone else will be on the hit list next.

    The over reaction helped created an equal an opposite over reaction. The opposition needs to become more sober and more active as Brendan suggested.

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