More Good News? Metropolitan Jonah on Orthodox Unity

This last Sunday — the Sunday of Orthodoxy — His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah celebrated Vespers of the Triumph of Orthodoxy at Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Linthicum, MD. Thanks to the good offices of Ancient Faith Radio, we are now able to hear to his sermon.

As you may know, I have been highly critical of the Assembly of Bishops, both on procedural issues as well a evangelistic ones. To be blunt, many (myself included) have felt that the AB was not set up in good faith and that where it really matters, it has dropped the ball more often than not. His Beatitude however paints a different picture of the processes behind the scenes, one far more optimistic than I have been able to discern.

A few of the take-aways from his fine homily:

1. Patriarch Bartholomew really wants to convene a Great and Holy Council sometime next year,

2. This Council will deal with substantive issues and formally end the chaotic situation here in America,

3. The resulting American Orthodox Church will have non-overlapping dioceses, and

4. These dioceses will be gathered into regional archdioceses.

His Beatitude is privy to these plans because he serves on the committee which is specifically tasked with settling all canonical irregularities so he’s definitely “in the know.” More importantly, it’s not a Pollyannish, pie-in-the-sky speech. He makes mention of the difficulties and challenges that the bishops will face. OCA bishops will have to learn Greek rites, Arab bishops will have to learn Slavonic chant, the seminaries will have to teach different liturgics in addition to what they already teach, and so on. All in all, it’s a realistic assessment of the future.

No mention was made whether the Council will allow the OCA’s present autocephaly to expire or conversely, augment itself to encompass the other jurisdictions. Two years ago, I couldn’t envision an American Church which was autocephalous but the last year has been chastening. Had the MC/Syosset axis prevailed and removed Jonah from the Metropolitan throne, the OCA would have withered away in due course. Under such a scenario, the autocephaly would have been a moot point. Fortunately, the situation is markedly more stable presently because His Beatitude was able to ride out the storm. As such, the Holy Synod will have no choice but to rally around the Metropolitan in order to maintain their autocephaly.

Time will tell.

Please take the time to watch the video or listen to the podcast. It’s worth it. (The meaty part starts around 8:00.)





  1. It was the vespers of the Triumph of Orthodoxy — not Divine Liturgy.

    Also, I believe that this panorthodox service drew zero GOA clergy this year.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Tmatt, thanks for the correction. I should have caught that myself.

    • Ashley Nevins says

      I have found some EO relevancy that actually wants to reach outside of itself and into the local community with mission that can potentially work. It is a start and has potential to develop into exponential church growth.

      St. Raphel Orthodox Church, Detroit, Mich. is a church that is trying to operate bottom up and open system. I hope it takes a spiritual salvation approach to its outreach. If it shares Orthodoxy (religion) and not Christ (spiritual) the outcome of the outreach will be failure over time. It will not exponentially grow if the Gospel message is not simple and easy to understand and embrace.

      If there is not a multiplicity of different ministry outreach to those coming into the church those people will not be supported as well as they could have been and many will LEAVE or suffer in silence rendering them not healed effective for the Gospel. Support ministries are all important to the modernity church that wants solid follow up of new comers and those already involved and who are in need of specialized ministry helps.

      A MODERNITY hospital in the city that you live in is only single dimension in operations and treatments? It doesn’t have several areas of medical expertise in specialized departments on the LOCAL LEVEL? The MODERNITY hospital church is not about closed and isolated archaic 12th century single dimension thinking as its ministry outreach to a modern society. There is a huge difference between the centuries old tradition hospital that no longer works and the modernity change hospital that does work. Period.

      It is Gospel thinking’s like this parish is practicing that have potential to reverse the dying decline of the EO in America. If you wait for your bishops to make anything really happen you are going to stay stagnant pond water with many bodies floating face down. No one swims in or drinks that kind of water if they are in their right spiritual mind. Most of us can smell the reek of death and it turns us OFF and makes us want to run in the opposite direction. The Gospels and NT tell us to run away from such and call it for what it really is.

      Nothing really relevant happens in a local church that cannot reach out to the local community in which it exists. (Anyone can observe this taking place)

      Doing the street level work of the Gospel is dirty, difficult and demanding work. It requires the spiritually mature who understand their salvation and can practice their salvation because it is real to them. If the salvation of a church is not real to that church the outcome of that church can be seen in the real world. A church is only as alive in outreach as its salvation is alive to that said church.

      The dysfunctional church needs the ministry outreach of the functional church to change the dysfunctional church to functionality. Orthodox, please conduct a Google search on The Dysfunctional Church and see what comes up. Open the closed system and see what the open system reveals to you about local church ministry outreach in open system America.

      You can be intellectually correct about God, but if you are not practically and experiencially practicing God your knowledge of God is WORTHLESS. Your salvation is based upon something very CHEAP and SHALLOW. Carnality is cheap grace that has no spiritual backbone. Spiritual maturity realizes that grace is spiritually expensive and deep when you really understand its calling on the Christian life.

      The church of Christ meets people where they are with multiplicity of ministry that meets needs of people in the community. The one size fits all model is not the modernity relevancy church any longer. That paradigm shifted a long time ago in America. Any church that cannot reach into the society with Gospel relevancy needs to die and go away. I see this happen regularly and it is GOOD. The irrelevant can only reproduce the irrelevant and God in the Gospels is ALL ABOUT producing relevant Christians and church.

      The nature and person of Christ in the Gospels is not one size fits all. God is not single dimension outreach. Since Christ is God He is multiplicity of ministry outreach all in one. If you follow His model and system your church will see success through Gospel relevancy to our modernity generation. If your church does not do this its outcome in modernity will be OBVIOUS.

      I have been told by the Orthodox that my salvation is not salvation by some and suspect salvation by the rest. There is only one salvation as the closed, isolated and subjective church/state theology in corrupt failure defines it.

      Gee, I always thought that the best way to experience the Gospel is to SHARE the Gospel in the community and with those who are in real need of hearing it. It goes beyond hearing the Gospel by it being preached. That’s the easy part. The really sacrificial part is the actual getting into the dirty fabric of peoples lives with the Gospel and through ministry that reaches them where they are. That is a spiritually mature church that experiences the Gospel as Christ in the Gospels intended it to be experienced. That is GODS TRUE CHURCH and anything else at best is nothing more than CARNAL church by its LOSER with the Gospel experience.

      Orthodox, I know EXACTLY what it is that I am missing by the state of your church.You practice what you have in salvation in the local community by the salvation that you have in your local church. No Orthodox excuse, reason or rationalization for irrelevancy on the local community level works when that excuse, reason or rationalization is compared to Christ in the Gospels or other LOCAL community churches that do have Christ relevancy in their communities.

      Its really simple when you make the comparison to Christ in the Gospels and then compare the outcome of the EOC in America to Christ. You then compare the innovative and paradigm shifting relevancy of alive churches to the dead and dying churches to see the difference. Once these comparisons are made you discover what the relevant church is doing to stay relevant and what the irrelevant church is doing to stay irrelevant. You then throw out what does not work and you embrace what does work. You run the risk of changing to much, but that is good problem to have when compared to no change at all. God works with the OPEN and He cannot work with the CLOSED. You can take that change risk and not compromise the Gospel. I promise and all of my promises to the Orthodox come true. All of them.

      It is good to see a parish operate the opposite to the corrupt and failed state of the Orthodox church. The exponential duplication of this kind of ministry into other parishes is important to the relevancy of your church in the local community where its SEED is PLANTED to grow. You can grow to the size of a milk weed or a red wood tree. That is your local parish choice.

      Discussing a possible role model and example parish in conjunction with what is stopping local parish relevancy could lead to greater local parish relevancy, you think? If there was an Orthodox website SOLELY dedicated to church growth strategy that really works would that help? If there was an Orthodox website solely dedicated to understanding and stopping corrupt church failure that would help, right? Knowing the side by side outlined differences between a functional church and a dysfunctional church would be beneficial to church growth, correct?

      Are these reasonable questions to ask those in a church struggling to move forward and who are trying to find Gospel relevancy in America? Are these reasonable topics of discussion that could possibly lead to solutions to the corrupt, failed, irrelevant and demising state of the EOC in America? Would such a discussion be for you or against you?

      Ashley Nevins

  2. Tmatt,

    What point are you trying to make about the apparent “zero GOA clergy this year?”

    • Simple observation.

      OCA metropolitan there. No GOA clergy at a service that a few have attended in past.

  3. Sorry, I cannot believe any of what I see and hear in this video. Is there some super double secret plan for Orthodox unity to happen so quickly? Of course there is not. And there is not way the adminstration of America’s major jurisdictions are going to set aside their gravy trains for what the Metropolitan is describing. The countless Orthodox adminstrators out there who profit from disunity are not going to lay down their big salaries for unity when disunity is highly profitable. And lets be honest the EA is not working feverishly behind the scenes in secret. They can hardly meet once a year. You think Metropolitan Jonah would use these words in a GOA Church? No he would not. All that is happening in this video is Metropolitan Jonah is grandstanding for Mama Fred and the granola Orthodox crowd in Maryland.

    The Metropoitan only makes himself look out of touch when talking in such a manner.

    • Monk James says

      Yes, there’s always money, and Judas taught us all we need to know about that.

      How can we aspire to ideals if no one expresses them?

      As an example of what happens if we don’t aspire to higher, better, more orthodox ecclesiology, I offer the malignant, stagnant, putrescent situation of orthodox ‘jurisdictions’ fighting over old stones (authentic or not) in the Holy Land, where a strict and legalistic adherence to a long-standing but unrealistic status quo agreement stifles faith and love.

      Orthodox? Of course.

      Christian? Hardly.

      We must do better here in America, and that is Metropolitan Jonah’s vision while the rest of the bishops are blinded by ignoble concerns.

    • Oh and by the way, if the Greek Foreign office is threatened so much by a bunch of evangelical converts to Orhodoxy that it calls the EP and insists these evangelicals not being received into the Church what do you think the Greek Foreign office is going to do when it hears about the idea of an American Church. Omogenia pays and Orthodoxy obeys.

  4. Let no one here delude themselves! + Bart rejected the canonical autocephaly of the OCA; + Bart hated SCOBA and wanted to destroy it; after Ligonier in 1994, + Bart retired the “unity pushing” + Iakavos and emasculated all the GOA bishops; + Bart FORCED to restructure SCOBA as an “Episcopal Assembly” under his authority. If you read the Episcopal Assembly formulation and their submission to the “GREAT COUNCIL of 2013,” you’ll find that ANY recommendation they make for unity in N. America, are OVERRIDDEN by what + Bart decides. IT’S ALL SKATA! The churches of N. America cannont decide for themselves their own unity and destiny. + Bart has decided that everything will only be decided by HIM with HIM as the head of any autocephaly in N. America. This is not autocephaly; this is not self-determination; this is + Bart setting himself up as ruler of N. America and all Orthodox. I’m sure Moscow made some type of deal to allow him to force his way. Probably full control over the Ukraine.

  5. “+ Bart has decided that everything will only be decided by HIM with HIM as the head of any autocephaly in N. America. This is not autocephaly; this is not self-determination; this is + Bart setting himself up as ruler of N. America and all Orthodox. I’m sure Moscow made some type of deal to allow him to force his way. Probably full control over the Ukraine.”

    Well Diogenes, I for one would more than ok with that. Unity is way more important than autocephaly. I think Metropolitan Jonah would agree, and that’s what makes him so refreshing. Let us be ruled by Constantinople (or Antioch, or whatever), just let us be one jurisdiction. And think about it!…If Moscow and the EP did cut such a deal as you suggest, that would be such a tremendous step forward (for Orthodox unity in both America and the Ukraine) as to almost be too good to be true. I pray your words may prove prophetic!

  6. Carl Kraeff says

    Here in the trenches, I do not sense a groundswell for unity. I am afraid, +Jonah did not make a compelling argument to fire up laity to call on their hierarchs to support unity. I agree with the Metropolitan that if unity happens, it will be difficult for the bishops to adjust. But, there was too much emphasis on bishops learning all other languages and learning how to serve in different traditions. And, there was no acknowledgment of the attachment of many Orthodox for their mother country and culture. What bothered me the most was +Jonah talking about these these as a member of he Committee that is set up to deal with it. He is also the OCA Metropolitan, and it seems to me that such an assessment as offered by him should have been first put out as a synodal statement.

    • And there it is. Met Jonah should be a good boy and keep his mouth shut until given permission to speak. Because, you know, he’s only the First Hierarch of the church. Who does he think he is? Let him know that you’ll send him to bed without his dinner, and if that doesn’t work, back to St Luke’s with him!

      What a load of BS. It’s no wonder the OCA is on the fast track to obscurity.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        University presidents, mayors, governors, senators, corporation chairman and CEOs, even the President of the United States coordinate their speeches. Come to think of it even the Monarchs of the United Kingdom vet their speeches with the Prime Minister. I suppose that all of these folks do not appreciate the exhilarating freedom of flying solo, like fighter jock, or the surge of power and self-importance that comes from being accountable to no one, like a despot. .

      • Maybe they did coordinate it and you just don’t know about? Maybe you lost the email from one of your moles on the Synod? Just because there wasn’t a Synodal communication doesn’t mean that the man can’t speak. But it sounds to me like you think he needs a hall pass every time he goes to the bathroom.

        And you know all those listed above coordinate EVERYTHING that comes out of their mouth how, exactly? I work for an enormous corporation and our President regularly gives speeches and sends communications outside of the times of the meetings of their boards of directors. A board, in this case, the Synod, does not exist so that they can micromanage every movement of the President and CEO. They hire such a person because he is capable of articulating the vision and leading the corporation forward without the constant hand-holding and board approval you seem to think that a Metropolitan needs. The fact is, he doesn’t, and your vision of the church is simply repugnant. It’s the very reason why the OCA is in the ditch and going off a cliff all at the same time. If you are so self-centered to think that’s not true, ask other observes outside of the OCA. They will be kind enough to tell you the truth about what’s really happening, as they see it. It’s virtually a universal opinion, except among the in-crowd of the current power brokers in Syosset. What irony, that the Potemkin Village is back with such clarity.

        So yes, Virginia, everything and everyone in the OCA is, indeed, the way it should be. Because it seems that the steep decline being experienced by the OCA will eventually lead to a coma. It may all be God’s plan to prune off dead branches from His vine. God allows tragedies for His greater purposes.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I am astounded that you think that the Metropolitan of the OCA can be likened to a President of CEO of a corporation. Your issue is not with me but those Holy Fathers of the Holy Orthodox Church (of which I am a member; are you?) who wrote Canon 34 and those of the All American Council that drafted the OCA Statute and all of those who ratified it in subsequent councils. But, then you obviously know better, you nameless Sageof the Internet.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Added: Just looked up the web site of the EA for the Committee on canonical Regional Planning. I was surprised by the compopsition of the committee:

            Abp. Nicolae (Romanian) – Chairman
            Abp. Justinian (MP)
            Met. Iakovos (GOA)
            Met. Nicholas (GOA)
            Met. Jonah (OCA)

            Why do you think that this committee does not have one bishop from the Antiochians? Why is the chairman the Romanian Exarch? I would have thought that the chairman would have been somebody from Antioch, as a neutral third party between the Slavicc Churches and the Greek Churches and that there would have been one bishop from each of the affected jurisdictions. I guess I must have lost that email too. But, Your Sageness, please fill us in for you are all knowing and correct in all matters OCA and Orthodoxy..

          • I believe YOU were the one who brought up the issue of someone having to clear their speech with a board before they give it – which is a completely stupid and ridiculous idea. Honestly, it’s pointless to discuss anything with you. Your view of ecclesiology is both hopeless AND leaderless.

            If the First Hierarch of the OCA is not the President of the Holy Synod, then it’s no wonder that the OCA is doomed. He is not just the mouthpiece of the Synod, he sets the tone, gives the vision. But of course, we know that in Carl Craeff’s Orthodox Church, the First Hierarch is a hireling, nothing but a puppet of the Metropolitan Council. And now that this is accomplished, everything and everyone is as it should be. Amen.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              Why do you insist on misinterpreting what I am saying? If you recall, I said the following:

              “What bothered me the most was +Jonah talking about these these as a member of he Committee that is set up to deal with it. He is also the OCA Metropolitan, and it seems to me that such an assessment as offered by him should have been first put out as a synodal statement.”

              The key words here are “such a statement.” If I had meant to say that he cannot say anything without clearing it with the Holy Synod, I would have said so. Obviously, his presentation was very important, not only to the OCA but also to all the Orthodox faithful in America. Thus, I felt (and still do) that it would have been best if it were put out as a Synodal statement first. Actually, most of his presentation does not rise to that level of importance, but I felt that when he started talking about how the new system will work, and especially when he urged his pan-Orthodox audience to contact their own hierarchs, he stepped into that level importance where Canon 34 insists he must get the agreement of his fellow bishops. (And, if he did that, more power to him, but would it have killed him to say that the Holy Synod agrees with him?) Now, I may be wrong that he crossed over the threshold in this particular instance, but you are not arguing against me based on Canon 34 but based on some misguided, unstated, and twisted idea of Orthodox ecclesiology.

              • What more do you want the Synod to say that hasn’t already been said? They issued a statement here, and their participation and votes are a de facto record of their support or lack of support on each and every matter. If the goal of the assembly, as stated by its charter, is to created a united Orthodox Church in North America, is Met Jonah all of a sudden not permitted to speak out it? He’s not permitted to support it?

                In fact, his sermon/talk was exactly what a hierarch is supposed to do: To lead and encourage his people to do something – to give the vision, and say, “this is good, support this.” If he tells them to contact their bishops, pray for the work of the council, etc, he’s doing that has our father in Christ, not as some meaningless cog in the grinding wheel of the OCA machinery.

          • Carl, the Metropolitan is considered the CEO of the OCA.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              If you are referring to the OCA Statute or the Holy canons, the term Chief Executive Officer is nowhere to be found. However, one could infer that meaning from various provisions in the OCA Statute, and even Canon 34 itself. I was thinking, in particular, one such provision:

              Article IV. Section 2.9. (The Metropolitan) Has the right of pastoral initiative and guidance, and when necessary the right of pastoral intervention, in all matters concerning the life of the Church within the framework of the holy canons;”

              Reasonable folks can disagree over the meaning of “within the framework of the holy canons.” I happen to stress Canon 34, which is the foundational canon for relations between a primate and his fellow bishops. I am not going to cite once again this canon, for when I do, I get silly comments like “so you want the Holy Synod to give him a hall pass for anything..”.To me, the ONLY point where there can be different interpretations is on what constitutes the primate’s important issue that requires the agreement of his ruling diocesans. Unless, you, Spasi and others come to terms with that last sentence of the Canon 34, we are going to be talking past each other.

  7. I have to agree with Carl. The sermon was more grandstanding than real substance. I am more hopeful that we are closer to solving the most vexing issues that can lead to a solution to our ecclesial anomaly but such off the cuff sermons don’t help when dealing such a complex situation. At this point the less said in public the better.

    Besides, the OCA now has the Serbian Orthodox Church upset with them after they sent a letter of protest because of the stunt that Bishop Nikon pulled by hosting the (Muslim) Albainian president of Kosovo at the OCA Albainian Cathedral in South Boston. Talk about grandstanding with those photo ops of her at the grave of the ever-memorial Bp. Fan Noli.

    Another dumb move that does,little to enhance the standing of the OCA here or overseas.

    • Yeah, that was a brilliant PR move on the OCA’s part. Bp Nikon could have had the meeting with this Muslim woman (Atifete Jahjaga) but kept it to himself.

    • Jane Rachel says

      Wow. Why in the world would he do that? What was he thinking?

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Is this the same sort of faux pas that was/is being committed with bishops of the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch and Alexandria when they receive (or received by) government officials (overwhelmingly Muslim)? When the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus showered compliments on Fidel Castro? What I am dri8ving at here is the (very) dark glasses that some folks are wearing when it comes to the OCA (except for that one person–Metropolitan Jonah). I think that +Jonah would be the first one to tell them to lighten up.

      • What a joke, that you would consider the actions of the the ancient Patriarchs as well as the Patriarch of Moscow, to be analogous to a bishop in the OCA who has probably less than 1,500 people in his diocese? The men you speak of are enormously respected in their countries, and they carry considerable political clout. Yes, they do meet with leaders from all over the world, as well as representatives of other churches and religions. They also do this with considerable political savvy, and what they report and moreso, don’t report, of of great significance. The fact is, the Patriarch of Moscow would never have met with the president of (so-called) Kosova, let alone report on it using the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate.

        Bp Nikon could have easily used his own dioceses website to report such a thing, since outside of the Albanian community, this action would have been seen as deeply offensive to our Serbian brothers and sisters.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Orthodox ecclesiology 101: a bishop is a bishop is a bishop. Live with it. My point is that Bishop Ni9kon, who is our locum tenens, may well have made a mistake. All I am doing is to pint out that others may have made similar mistakes. Or, are you contending that bishops above the rank of simple bishop become invested with some cloak of infallibility?

          • No, I’m giving you some common sense observations and commonly accepted understandings, which apparently you either astoundingly lack, or you simply refuse to acknowledge because you’re so doggedly stuck on making sure that no one has any ‘power’ beyond anyone else. If you think, for one second, that the the bishop of the Albanian Archdiocese (with 13 very small parishes) has equal political cloud, let alone, episcopal influence in the Orthodox world, to the Patriarch of Moscow (9 time zones), then you’ve completely gone off the deep end.

            No one said that bishops are not equal in authority as it relates to their own dioceses.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              I was not talking about episcopal influence. I was talking about cutting Bishop Nikon some slack because others, including even Patriarchs, have made errors in judgment. By the way, at the first EA meeting, do you recall that the other Albanian bishop (with only one or two parishes) outranked not only the OCA Albanian bishop but also all of the rest, to include Metropolitan Jonah, who should have been seated at the head of the table. Now, please tell me which two illustrious and all powerful Patriarchs were responsible for this travesty? And, please tell me if the Serbian Church sent a letter of protest over this breach?

              • The bishops were seated in the order of the dyptics. That mean’s the OCA is last. If the arrangement of the room was set up to send a message to the OCA, then so be it.

                And please don’t get me started on Met Jonah not being on the executive committee. That was a loud and clear testament to one thing: The complete and utter incompetence of the current OCA administration. That horrible boogie man, the former Protopresbyter Rodion Kondratick, would never have let that happen. Met Jonah would have been seated at the head with the executive committee, and the OCA bishops would have been seated in such a way that would have had them closer to the front, even if they were keeping the order of the dyptics. As it was, the OCA bishops appeared to be seated in the hotel across the street.

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  I, along with most folks, know that they were seated in the order of the dyptics. I know, along with everybody with half a brain also means that the OCA is last. Once again, you are sliding around the main issue, which I presented to you very clearly: “Now, please tell me which two illustrious and all powerful Patriarchs were responsible for this travesty?”

                  Since you are more interested in pushing the Kondratick/Fester agenda, I will give you the answer: The Patriarch of Constantinople who wanted to push his heretical interpretation of Canon 28, and the Patriarch of Moscow who let it happen. Unlike others, I have not and will not speculate why Moscow allowed this to happen. BTW, what happened to your and Helga’s idea of the Metropolitan as the CEO, and you and many others’ disdain of Syosset? I mean, what am I to make of such a statement as “…Kondratick, would never have let that happen”?

                  • This issue is not about the two all powerful Patriarchs (Constantinople and Moscow), this is about the OCA’s lack of stature and standing with ANY Patriarchate at this point in time. I should correct my earlier statement. The fact is, the OCA actually was not seated as 15th in the order of Autocephalous churches in the dyptichs, because the dyptichs used were that of Constantinople, in which the OCA has no standing. The OCA was seated as an ambiguous entity that neither Constantinople nor Moscow wanted to claim and identify with. I assume (but do not know) that the OCA refused or would refuse to be seated with Moscow for the purposes of the Assembly.

                    The painful current reality of the OCA, where Constantinople is increasingly pushing toward non-recognition of the OCA in any way (eg the GOA in New England) and the distancing of Moscow from prior support of the OCA (at best, currently lukewarm to downright cool) is the bitter fruit of the mess instigated by the people whose footstool you now worship at (if you’re not actually one of them yourself). My statement about Kondratick stands on its own and needs no commentary. I will guarantee you that there are hundreds of people reading those word and shaking their heads in agreement. The former Protopresbyter Rodion Kondratick was on the speed dial of every major church around the world, including Constantinople. Now we’re lucky if we can send a bishop to have a meeting, and who, at this point, will most likely be meeting with the Undersecretary of Oil Lamps at the Moscow Patriarchate. The current gang at Syosset is amateurish, at best, but really, mostly just embarrassing to those who still want to find a way out of the hole your heroes have put the OCA into. A perfect example can be found by reading the ridiculous reports of the Chancellor and Secretary here.

    • This is not the first time. At least now, the visitor was with a legitimate government figure. The first time a couple years back, was when Kossovo was in utter turmoil, guns were still being fired and churches set afire, and it was a whole bunch of Albanian kosovars that came to Boston and got the V.I.P chauvinist welcome from the same instance.

  8. All: as I’ve stated dozens of times, I am not nearly as sanguine about the prospects of unity here in America as others are. In the interests of fairness and objectivity however, I posted this sermon by His Beatitude with little or no editorial comment and with the understanding that it speaks for itself.

    As pessimistic as I am (and many of you appear to be), I can’t let my own biases color the narrative of American Orthodoxy. And anyway, I hope His Beatitude is right and that I am wrong; that we are further along the path to real unity than I have previously believed.

    In addition, it has come to me by way of my contacts within the GOA that the GOA is very serious about the ACOB coming up with the correct plans for rigid diocesan boundaries. Some of my lower-level contacts within the GOA are far more skeptical. Like many laymen in the other jurisdictions, they know that many dozens of churches will never cut their ethnic ties.

    Having said all that, was HB being naive? No, he’s not a naive man. If anything, he’s far more chastened and circumspect. However out of all us, he sits on the requisite committee, we don’t. Clearly he knows things that we do not or cannot. Sometimes you have to trust the source. It’s certainly very possible that even though the EP has played fast and loose in the past, pressure is being put on them from Russia, who let us not forget, holds 98% of the cards.

    Anyway, I hope he’s right. Let us pray that he has the right bead on the situation.

    • Pravoslavnie says

      Orthodox unity in this country faces a tough road in the short term, but eventually the facts on the ground will dictate that it will happen, and happen it will. People naturally want instant gratification and usually tend to look ahead only 5-10 years. If, however, we look ahead say 60-80 years I think that administrative unity will be achieved in our children’s or grandchildren’s lifetimes. As my mother was fond of saying, “time heals all wounds”. The drivers of pan-Orthodox unity in this country will be the eventual and predictable decline of immigration from the old ethnic homelands and assimilation of the grandchildren and great grandchildren into the American mainstream. This assimilation coupled with an increase in the numbers and influence of converts will make unity a fait-accompli, and it is only a matter of waiting for the inevitable. All previous waves of immigrants brought their churches with them, and the Greeks and Slavs were no different. The previous waves of immigration have either already assimilated, or are at the end of the process. The German Lutherans assimilated and so did the Scottish Presbyterians. It has been a long time since the Roman Catholic Church has been identified as a purely Italian or Irish (or Polish) institution. The Poles and the Irish fully assimilated a couple of generations ago, and even the Italians are now reaching the end of their immigrant experience as their 3rd, 4th, and even 5th generations have no living memory of the old country. The Greeks, Serbs, and Russians will be no different, and we already are witnessing it as we see their children speaking English and marrying out of their ethnic groups. As the multitude of ethnic-centered Orthodox jurisdictions become the churches of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the influence of these fully American cradle-Orthodox and the converts will push for unity, and people will vote with their feet and with their wallets.

      If anyone wants to see a living example of the future American Orthodox Church, I suggest they look no further than the “DC Nuns”. I believe this group of pan-Orthodox sisters was treated terribly by the OCA Synod precisely because they represent the future of American Orthodoxy, and Metropolitan Jonah knew this when he invited them here. The OCA Synod knew this too, and perceived it as a threat. To visit the sisters is to witness the future as pilgrims and visitors arrive every week without regard to jurisdiction. As people from OCA, ROCOR, GOAA, AOAA, Serbians, and elsewhere work together and attend services side-by-side anyone with eyes can see the future of Orthodox unity in America, and the future looks very bright.

      • Thanks for sharing that very astute assessment regarding the DC Nuns. A lot to think about in that paragraph! How ironic if they were to become the icon of both what’s both wrong and right with the church in North America. Another embarrassing move by the current OCA administration that proved to be the wrong action. It could well be that, much like God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, God hardened the heart of many bishops on the OCA Holy Synod so that the DC Nuns could be spared coming into the OCA at all, and now thrive in ROCOR as a pan-Orthodox witness. God bless Met Hilarion for having the pastoral vision to give them refuge and a strong spiritual home.

        • Pravoslavnie says

          Spasi, thriving is certain an accurate word for their current situation, and I’m reminded that nothng in Orthodoxy happens through coincidence. For this alone, God bless Metropolitan Hilarion. The real point I was trying to make is that Orthodox unity in America will happen despite the bishops..

  9. Several years ago, there was a teenage boy, a devout Christian, who became interested in the Orthodox Church, having learned about it through books. He visited several different Orthodox churches, but all of them treated him like an outsider. The teenager kept trying parishes, though, and one day he called yet another church in the area, an OCA parish, in order to ask them what time their services would be held.

    The man who answered the phone for that OCA parish said,

    “You no speak Russian? We no want you!”

    …and hung up.

    Eventually, this young man did find another Orthodox parish, one which welcomed him. Thirty years after his chrismation, he was elected Metropolitan of the OCA.


    I don’t think Metropolitan Jonah said that the process of building a united Church would be easy. He knows deeply and personally how pervasive ethnic separatism has been in our Church. It may surprise some people, but converts still get turned away from some of our parishes, just like that man at the OCA parish who turned our future Metropolitan away. By God’s mercy, there was that MP church there in California that didn’t reject him, and now there are many more churches that also welcome American converts. But that unwelcoming attitude is still very pervasive, and we all know it.

    Metropolitan Jonah has identified where the real problem lies, which is not administrative entanglements but personal attitudes. The only way to overcome the influence of those who profit from disunity is for everyone else to step outside rigid, ethnically-oriented approaches to Orthodoxy. His homily was meant to exhort his audience to do that, and I thank God it was recorded and has been shared.

    Yes, that will take a while, and I never heard Met. Jonah pretend otherwise. The only part he said was easy was the purely administrative side of things, which, according to him, would take mere days or hours to resolve if we all loved one another as we should. And yes, we all know a lot of people who are going to be tough nuts to crack, from laypeople to bishops. But we absolutely have to accomplish this, otherwise, we are failing our Lord and our calling as Christians.

    • Helga, there are two sides to the purely anecdotal coin. I remember the lifetime of our Long Beach St. Seraphim mission/church. The DEPENDABLE income that held up that mission/church was mostly that of missionary minded older folks, some of them Russian old ladies. The parish was all English liturgically from the start. God help the Priest who used a word of Slavonic or Greek. It experienced its greatest growth when it was served by an immigrant, Serbian bachelor priest. Growth began to slow down when a new couple, both guys, began taking an interest in the place. One of the first things they managed was to make the Priest get rid of his beloved German Shepherd, which lived in the little parish apartment on the grounds. When the Priest finally complained to the bishop, the Bishop, after agreeing the couple should go, asked the priest, “And what about YOU? Are you one of them too?” The priest, perhaps overly sensitive, quit. Yes. quit. A few other priests followed him: converts. The coup de grace was administered by one of those convert Priests who, after Liturgy, at the coffee hour in the parish hall, told a couple of Russian ladies talking in Russian at the coffee hour: “This is an AMERICAN` parish: if you don’t want to talk in English, go outside!” They went “outside” and stayed outside for good. Oh, yes, that parish, I almost forgot to say had an ENGINE when it started: it was Father Joseph Fester’s father. I believe both the Priests I mentioned have fallen asleep: ever-memorable Vasile Vidakovich and EVER-memorable father Cherry.

      • Your Grace,

        That is shocking. I do not doubt the veracity of your words or of the many other similar stories that I have heard, but I just find them unbelievable (emotionally, not intellectually). Ditto for Helga’s recounting Met. Jonah’s early experience with the Church. It’s outrageous. I find it hard to believe that Christians would be so insensitive — in the real sense, not in the degenerate, Oprahesque sense. And for priests to be like that?

        A shame . . .

      • Your Grace, that story makes me sad, too, but it’s essentially the same problem that I mentioned: ethnic separatism. It doesn’t really matter who or where it comes from, immigrants fresh off the boat or WASP-y converts.

        Joseph A., the real heartbreaking aspect of Met. Jonah’s story was that he did eventually figure out when the OCA church had services, but the priest there tried to foist some pro-Nazi literature on him, and it scared the poor kid away from the Orthodox Church for a while.

        Also, nice going on the remark about real insensitivity versus “degenerate, Oprahesque insensitivity”. LOL!

  10. You must ask yourselves, “Why would bishops go along with what + Bart proposes?” It’s all about $$$. All the bishops would be guaranteed X with retirement and most having bigger dioceses. Like the RC’s, all major decisions coming from + Bart and his council so local bishops can just be bishops and tend to their flocks. What will happen is that favoritism will grow and Hellenism will be imposed. It won’t work!

    • Memo Diogenes, I doubt the EP has 1/10 the money you think it does. The EP is largely a welfare client of Greece and 79th Street. Remember our ancient patriarchs are government subsidized entities. No doubt with all the turmoil in Greece things will get worse financially for the EP. Meanwhile, the wealth of the omogenia in America will be reduced by the soak the rich policies of the Obama adminstration. This means less and less money will be available to give to the Church.

      My gut tells me that 80% of the membership of the current episcopal assembly will NOT give up their current lifestyles and workload for the sake of American Orthodox Unity. After why work and build an American Church when bishops get a lifetime salary, healthcare and housing and can enjoy a suburban lifestyle all paid for by the hard work of the people in the pews.

      If Metropolitan Jonah wants to talk American Unity he should stop speculating about future events and focus his efforts on reforming the episcopacy in America from a aristocratic model of leadership into a servant model of leadership. This means shedding light on the excesses of our bishops and issuing a clarion call for reform.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Diogenes, Andrew is correct. There are three invariables here:

        1. 57 bishops.

        2. ~36 dioceses (14 OCA, 9 GOA, 8 AOCNA, etc. Y’all do the math and give me an exact no.)

        3. Several of these dioceses are superfluous (8 Chicago dioceses, 8 NYC dioceses, 2 Detroit dioceses, 2 Pittsburgh dioceses, 3 SF dioceses) so that really brings us down to (what?) 24 actual dioceses, several being served by more than 2 bishops?

        These 57 bishops aren’t going anyway. They all have dioceses at present (except for maybe five or so auxiliaries). They ain’t gonna give up being a diocesan ordinary. So how do you square the circle of less than forty dioceses and 57 actual bishops?

        Answer: create new dioceses.

        Even if under consolidation we still had 5-7 auxiliary bishops, that still leaves ~50 ordinaries Hence at least 20 new dioceses.

        Where are we gonna put them? Ever heard of cities like St Louis, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Seattle, Hostibm San Diego? All cities with multiple Orthodox parishes.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          I meant “Houston.” But while we’re at it: Portland, Phoenix, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Orlando, etc.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Just a few thoughts.

          There may other other organizational principles than bishop/city. The biggest practical factor will likely be an adequate number of parishes to be able to support a diocese. However, there are other factors as well: concentration of parishes within a certain radius to make travel practical; growth potential; presence of large numbers of new immigrants etc… For example, Texas is geographically large enough to have at least two dioceses (Aside from Huston and San Antonio, I believe one should also look at Austin and Dallas). On the other hand, North and South Carolina together makes a tidy geographical area, which could be expanded to include Georgia and Tennessee. I also feel that some dioceses may be “mission” dioceses, that is Archbishop Dimitri’s approach to proceed on faith, rather than timidly. In that sense, the latest figuress on parish sizes show great variances between the three largest (from largest to smallest): GOA, AOCA and OCA. Perhaps the Antiochian middle ground can be a starting point but I would want the DOS missionary model maintained in the dioceses in the West of Mississippi and the South..

          • Archbishop Dimitri of Blessed Memory was extremely prescient and far thinking…we would do well to heed his teachings….the Diocese of the South is thriving as other Dioceses bleed members annually..that is one fact I garnered from the MC minutes..

        • Lola J. Lee Beno says

          And make it so that a bishop can visit all the parishes in a diocese in, say, 2 weeks, or some other reasonable time limit. That’s how small a diocese should be.

        • Fun Fact in relation to creating new dioceses:

          Believe it or not, my county was one of the black ones on the Orthodox population map,

          Canton, OH (yeah I know you’ve probably never heard of it except for the Football Hall of Fame) has, count it, 6 Orthodox Churches in the local area, all of which gather together for Divine Liturgy every Sunday of Orthodoxy going on over 6 years now. We have Pre-Sanctified Liturgies on Wednesdays during Lent rotating at all the local parishes and even occasionally outside of Lent. We have a very vibrant Clergy Association that meets every Sunday or two to discuss the lives of their parishes and also to just hang out and get to know one another. The local University (a Protestant one at that) keeps supplying a steady stream of converts (of which I am one). One woman remarked to Bishop Mathias that he should come to Canton and make our little parish his cathedral because we had so many Orthodox here. Just thought you’d all appreciate a good antidote for once since we seem to hear only about monks beating each other with brooms or priests that say “You no speak Russian? We no want you!”

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Provided it took in the extended area, Canton could easily form the nucleus of an Orthodox diocese.

            How much does it cost to run a diocesan chancery (bishop’s salary included)? In the GOA, each diocese is given $400,000 from NYC. That’s a little on the high side if you ask me but follow me here: how much does each parish in Canton give to its local chancery/Syosset/79th/St, Englewood, right now? Let’s assume $20K/yr.

            What’s $20,000/yr x #6 churches? $120,000.

    • Ashley Nevins says


      Reform means reformation and reformation is structure and system change.

      You cannot change Gods only alone right and one true structure and system or it will no longer be Gods only alone right and one true structure and system.

      Money is an issue, but tradition in structure and system is the larger issue.

      When I read how the church in Greece operates it reminds me of Martin facing off with the RCC and by reform paradigm shift changing the structure and system. The parallels of church corruption and incompetency between RCC circa 1521 and GOC circa today are undeniable and astounding. Yes, even the selling of salvation.

      I agree, moving from a top down power and control structure and system to a bottom up humility and service structure and system would paradigm shift the EO right into the relevancy paradigm of the modernity world.

      Ashley Nevins

      • To Ashley: in the interest of our Lenten journey and for equanimity’s sake, I want you to agree to these conditions:
        1. You must state which denomination (i.e. “true Church of Christ”) you attend, and
        2. You must restrict all posts to five hundred words or less. (Splitting long posts into a stream of 500 word short ones wont fly.)

  11. Ashley Nevins says

    Someone might consider pointing out what the character of the leaders of such unity needs to be for such leaders to cast a vision that is effective with its strategy, priorities, plan and goals.

    There are 5 leadership character traits that must be present:

    1. Integrity in morality/ethics
    2. Leadership skill competency
    3. Spiritual maturity
    4. Transparent and accountable
    5. Intelligence

    Having a good starting point that is based upon a firm foundation of leadership competency and spiritual maturity can determine a lot in the outcome of a church. For instance, if your strategy to accomplish unity is based upon a leadership that is corrupt and incompetent it will not matter how good the strategy is.

    The foundation of a church structure and system ultimately determines its relevancy and outcome in the modern world.

    Will this pan unity structure and system result in a dynamic, relevant, alive and growing EOC in America or will it only cause its further decline in America?

    Your moral, ethical and competent EOC leadership will think for you to determine the answer to that question for all of you. Their past and current record of ethics and morality will determine it all for you.

    The leadership learns its morality, ethics and competency through the structure and system of leadership development inside the larger church structure and system that is supposed to move the church forward. If neither the leadership structure and system and the church structure and system can move the church forward you got serious problems that will take at least a generation to correct. Only if the church is really committed to a leadership development program that really produces qualified, competent and ethical/moral leaders will the church move forward.

    The reason why most all of you sound pessimistic about unity is because your church does not have an optimistic vision for itself that is an open system vision. Unity is based upon totalism and not freedom.

    A closed system = pessimism. (Totalism that is circular without solution)

    A open system = optimism. (Freedom that is a straight line to solution)

    It only makes sense that what is closed believes it is the only solution. It only makes sense that what is open is open to solution outside of itself. One structure and system closes out solution and the other is open to solution. That is the difference between an exclusive church and an inclusive church. The EO can believe that they are inclusive, but their structure and system tells us it is exclusive. Reality and belief don’t match up and so the outcome is failure.

    You can be very optimistic that a closed system vision for church will work in the open system modernity world and then find out the hard way how it does not work by going in circles without solution in a left behind paradigm. Unity of structures and systems that do not work is going to produce a pan unified structure and system that does work and when the new unity structure is based upon the structure and system that does not work. That is the left behind paradigm solution and it will not work.

    How your church thinks by the paradigm it exists in determines its outcome in the modernity paradigm shifted world. No ability to paradigm shift to change means no ability to be relevant to our modernity generation.

    Ashley Nevins

    • Again:
      To Ashley: in the interest of our Lenten journey and for equanimity’s sake, I want you to agree to these conditions:
      1. You must state which denomination (i.e. “true Church of Christ”) you attend, and
      2. You must restrict all posts to five hundred words or less. (Splitting long posts into a stream of 500 word short ones wont fly.)

  12. The Met said the EP had a “great desire” (20:42) to convene a Great and Holy Council, but there was no “sometime next year” time frame mentioned – unless I missed something. Nevertheless, it makes sense that the more the hierarchs talk it up the more likely it is to happen sooner than later.

    • Ashley Nevins says

      How long does it take for sooner rather than later to take place? Is that a measurable goal inside of a strategy and plan of action?

      Jonah is partly right. The solution is love. Unity in love of Christ makes for unity in church. Unity in Christ is unity in love for Christ. However, to make him completely right you have to have a structure and system that can deliver that love and that will require a modernity relevant structure and system of humility and service that the EO do not have. The greater problem is not attitudinal in the sense of ethnic or money issues. That is merely a symptom pointing to the cause of a much larger issue. The larger issue is attitude of superiority of the structure and system and that attitude is based in its superior CLAIM based in tradition that cannot change.

      The character of the love your entire church structure and system has is your superior claim by its real world outcome. We are Gods only alone right and one true love of Christ church. If that structure and system cannot deliver on what it PROMISES to be then is there need for reform of that structure and system by bishops who would only loose power and control if they were not in charge of that reform? The structure and system based upon the power and control of the bishops is going to be transformed reformed by such men?

      Love can change to relevancy in the generation it is found in and it does not have to compromise Christ to accomplish that in either the change to relevancy or in the love Christ has for our modernity generation. Love is superior to tradition ( Believe it or not I read that in the Gospels). The love based church has a huge relevancy advantage over the tradition based church. None of you really realize how much has to radically change by the structure and system of your church to deliver the love of Christ to our modernity generation. Love is not your motivation. Tradition OVER love is your motivation. Love of tradition over love of those outside of Christ is a serious problem that the Sanhedrin had.

      Here is a radical to an Orthodox thought about transforming change that leads to relevancy. What would happen to your church if it stopped claiming to be Gods only alone right and one true church? What would happen if its basis was changed from tradition to love? Everything would change and most of that change would be for the better. Humility that leads to service would transform your church from the bottom up and from the inside out. The dead would go to their grave and get out of the way of Gods people in Gods church of relevancy. The tradition legalist’s of dead religious works and rigidity in religious spiritually abusive performance and shame can all remain the same and the rest of you would then move forward leaving them behind in their dying paradigm. That would make for an exciting church.

      If any of you believe you can change your church without a serious structure and system change that is far more paradigm shifting than anything any of your bishops purposes your thinking is failure thinking. I believe most of you at best believe only minor reforms are necessary without any real structural or systemic reform. Many of you believe that if you replaced the bishops with bishops you want it all would change. That is not going to happen without a radical structure and system change that can change the bishops to what is necessary to move the church forward.

      This people honors ME with their lips, but their hearts are far from ME. Isiah said we can talk love, but our hearts that are a church outcome prove our lips. Personally, I watch hips and not lips. I believe Isiah did too, you think?

      So, the tradition based vision for the church is the love basis vision for the church? Not unless love is the basis and the outcome of the church in the real world proves its basis is tradition over love. A tradition and power and control basis church is going to become a love and humility and service basis church by your bishops in conference? Love demands transparency and accountability and the bishops do not require that of each other when in conference. The hierarchies of the EOC are corrupt to their cores. Ignore confronting the corruption of hierarchies in a corruption busting conference and go right to solution by the corrupt? In the end, and even with idealistic, inexperienced and naive Jonah, all is based upon power and control politics’s centered in tradition that self protects them.

      Is tradition the spiritual solution or is love the spiritual solution?

      They will know you are Orthodox by your love of Christ or by your love of tradition?

      The outcome of your church in the real world answers the questions.

      Ashley Nevins

      • and again:
        To Ashley: in the interest of our Lenten journey and for equanimity’s sake, I want you to agree to these conditions:
        1. You must state which denomination (i.e. “true Church of Christ”) you attend, and
        2. You must restrict all posts to five hundred words or less. (Splitting long posts into a stream of 500 word short ones wont fly.)

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Having only scanned the minutes, I encountered good people doing good work, From the Metropolitan down to the newest members. Two things jumped out at me ( I am bolding the relevant parts):

      Page 8.
      F. Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee (SMPAC)
      Based on the previous day’s discussions, the following motion concerning SMPAC and related issues was presented.
      F.2. MOTION GARRETSON/MAHAFFEY – That the Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations review in a systematic and timely manner previously “closed” clergy sexual misconduct files to determine any necessary action. To fund the appropriate staff and resources to ensure the professional, prompt, and timely execution of the Policies and Procedures regarding sexual misconduct (existing PSP). The Metropolitan Council requests that the Holy Synod issue their complete response to the SMPAC memorandum of February 2011 with all deliberate speed.

      It is further resolved: That the Metropolitan Council increase the existing budget line item for the Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations not to exceed $125,000. CARRIED with 1 vote against (Maureen Jury).

      Page 9.

      R.1. MOTION SOLODOW/JURY – To establish a work group to prepare an initial draft report on what is the work of the Church and where, centrally or locally, it can be most efficiently and effectively done and that the work group be composed of the Lesser Synod, the Officers and three members of the Metropolitan Council. CARRIED.

      The process of naming Metropolitan Council members to the work group was discussed. Dr. Solodow stated that he did not wish to be a member but could act as facilitator, if requested. Nominations to the work group were made from the floor.

      R.2. MOTION SOLODOW/GALLICK – To approve the nomination of Fr. John Shimchick, Maureen Jury and Janet Van Duyn as the members of the work group from the Metropolitan Council. CARRIED.

      • Not so big fish in a very tiny pond. Mostly busy work, well intended but of no real consequence to me in my parish. Can’t wait for the Jillions blog and his words of wisdom. If the MC disappeared tOmorrow, I don’t think many would notice.

      • Carl, what are you so hung up about Maureen Jury for?

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Maureen is important in that she is +Jonah supporter, as I was informed by many folks here on this blog. I can vividly recall the joy that prevailed amongst the usual suspects. That said, I also think that she has great qualifications and showed her mettle by casting the lone “no” vote. I truly admire that in any person, but especially in those from DOS. I think that the other members recognized her ability to contribute to the work of the MC by electing her to the critically important workgroup on redefining the role of central administration.

        • That’s easy. Carl doesn’t like it that Maureen Jury isn’t lockstep with the rest of the MC zombies. Remember this ditty from the AAC?

          This AAC is proving to be different in other ways as well. After +Jonah gave his speech, in which he accepted responsibility for certain administrative failures, one delegate (Maureen Jury of Dallas) rose up and asked which of the other bishops were going to take responsibility as well.
          From “Battle in Seattle? Part 2“.

          And thank you to Carl for posting these choice points from the minutes, because they clearly express how the MC has so overstepped its bounds, that it’s not even laughable anymore. It’s just sad.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            March 12, 2012 at 8:33 pm: Carl says he likes Maureen Jury casting a not vote and thus not being “lockstep with the rest of the MC zombies.”

            March 12, 2012 at 8:51 pm: Spasi says”Carl doesn’t like it that Maureen Jury isn’t lockstep with the rest of the MC zombies.”

            It seems that the Sage of the Internet has acquired additional powers.

    • Blah, blah, blah – Did you see anything of interest?

    • Carl Kraeff says

      I would think that members of this blog would be quite happy to note that the OCA is taking clergy sexual misconduct allegations seriously, as shown in the minutes. Aside from some who are fans of monarchical hierarchical rule, i would think that most would be also happy with the close cooperation between the bishops, clergy and laity as reflected in the Minutes. Finally, although it was quite saccharine, I loved the esteem shown by the Metropolitan towards Father Jillions and the rest of the Syosset crew. And, more importantly, that esteem is being returned. Thanks be to God that “things are working as they should.”

      • We can believe the esteem shown by Met. Jonah, but will have to wait to see if that “returned” by Fr. Jillions and the rest of the Syosset crew is for real.

    • There’s some very interesting reading in the Other Reports which, among the other departmental reports, details the presentations of the diocesan chancellors and treasurers regarding proportional giving. The fun starts on Page 6 of the report, Section G.

      Proportional giving is not going to be the panacea (read “gravy train”) the CA thinks it is.

  13. Does anyone know how an Ecumenical Council works? I mean seriously is there some thousand year old book somewhere that details how a Great Council should run? How do bishops vote? How do issues get decided? What happens to those who wind up on the losing end of Council decisions? These obvious questions show us why there will be no Council anytime soon because there will never be agreement as to the ground rules for convening one.

    Criticize the Roman Papacy all you want but at least the folks in the Vatican can convene a Council and run one while the Orthodox who claim to be the Conciliar Church but seem to not know where to start or what do do with regards to the Great Council.

    Honestly, how can we claim to be a Conciliar Church when we cannot even convene a Council. Its foolish to think there is not a crisis in Orthodox governance today. Are we who we say we are?

    • Ecumenical Councils were called by an EMPEROR. He determined there were issues dividing the Truth and an entire Church Council was needed to derive the Truth. There were usually 2 camps with their leader and followers. Speeches and presentations were made regarding each point of view and sometimes heated. All these proceedings could last for weeks or months. At the end, a vote of all the BISHOPS was taken with a closing proclamation of what Truth(s) were arrived at. This then became the Orthodox position!

      • Mike Myers says

        Each and every EC called by an Emperor, who also happened to have been the direct sources of many of the great heresies, and the sponsors/patrons at least of nearly every one of them. A few exceptions only proved the rule. So be careful what you wish for.

      • Diogenes has it right.
        For there to be an ecumenical council, there must be a defined ecumene. The only person with the authority to command all the bishops (or anyone at all in the ecumene) to come together for a council OF the ecumene, was the Orthodox Emperor. No heretical emperor ever convened an Ecumenical Council, although a pagan Emperor (Julian the Apostate) rescued the Church of Constantinople from Arianism by appointing the first Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople since the First Council, at which the then unbaptized emperor presided (and he did get baptized by an Arian before he died, quite a while after the Council and its definitions, but never allowed St. Athanasius to return from exile for opposing Arius). The Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Foreign Office will never allow any all-encompassing Council of the Orthodox Church to meet unless a way is devised to insure that the Greek position is the “Majority” position. Perhaps, if it’s decided that the Slavic Churches’ Hierarchs will get one-half vote for every full vote by a Grecian Bishop (or Slavic Bishop under the EP’s omophorion), then the “all-encompassing” Council might be attempted. But in today’s world, everyone has a good reason to march out in indignation… Good luck!

        • Mike Myers says

          No heretical emperor ever convened an Ecumenical Council, although a pagan Emperor (Julian the Apostate) rescued the Church of Constantinople from Arianism by appointing the first Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople since the First Council, at which the then unbaptized emperor presided (and he did get baptized by an Arian before he died, quite a while after the Council and its definitions, but never allowed St. Athanasius to return from exile for opposing Arius).

          That Constantine was not heretical is highly debatable. Quite a few of his deeds suggest otherwise: especially the one you noted — choosing an Arian bishop to baptize him on his deathbed . That is very telling to me.

          Theodosius II, who called the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus, wasn’t an heretical emperor, if by that you mean he didn’t support a heresy. He supported two: Nestorianism (and Nestorius, whom he appointed Patriarch of the see of Constantinople in 428); and then the fledgling Monophysitism, when Nestorianism had proved a losing horse after its condemnation at Ephesus. Not content merely to support Monophysitism, he went so far as convening the so-called robber council of Ephesus in an insidious attempt to cement it and its ecclesiastical supporters in power.

          That Theodosius II would succesively champion two speciously contradictory heresies is interesting. Now, why would he have done that . . .? I’m curious about your definition of heretical emperor.

          • Well, Mike, I’m not sure how one could define an unbaptized person who confesses no heresy whatsoever to be an heretic, but I’ll be glad to learn how!. Supporting heresy is, indeed, reprehensible, but doing so does not define the heretic. We wouldn’t call George W. Bush a heretic for supporting the king of Saudi Arabia, an admitted Muslim and the king of Jordan and the king of Morocco, although St. John (Mansur) of Damascus clearly considered Islam to be a heresy.
            As for your bewilderment relative to Emperor Theodosius II championing two contradictory heresies, I might consider that he took neither of them seriously, but sought any allies he could get. I never imagined an Emperor not to be political! What an idea!
            I feel that St. Constantine may have been completely indifferent to doctrinal differences, but not indifferent to the necessity of keeping his empire together. Perhaps as he lay dying he said, “Hurry, send me a bishop to baptize me, I’m dying. Don’t dither around about which party he belongs to, Baptism’s the thing, the way I understand it!” I mean, this is the man who had the chi-rho on his banners and God the Sun on his coins and presided at the old Roman sacrifices as Pontifex Maximus!

            • Mike Myers says

              Supporting heresy is, indeed, reprehensible, but doing so does not define the heretic.

              Bless, Vladika.

              Thanks again for your reply, Your Grace. I want to answer you at length, but I’d like to ask again how you’d define the term “heretical emperor.” Until we have something resembling a proper definition, a certain impasse impedes an interesting (if potentially hazardous) discussion.

              What words and deeds would it take? Would an emperor have to convert to Islam? Or — God forbid — would he have to declare himself to be God, openly and blasphemously? Has an Othodox Patriarch or Holy Synod ever formally excommunicated and anathemized any emperor on the grounds of heresy in New Rome or the Russian Empire? I realize that plenty of them were widely regarded in their own time and afterward as heretics, but I’m drawing a blank on any formal excommunications/anathemas. Or is such a grave judgment canonically outside the job description of Patriarchs and Holy Synods?

              I had hoped I might have been credited with knowing that Constantine I was unbaptized when he convened and presided over the First Ecumenical Council — and so could not have been heretical at that time, by definition. But I was pointing to another issue, and I’ll have more to say about my questions with respect to that later. Not that my opinions are worth a thing, of course, and they’re a work in progress in any case. My agenda is to understand more thoroughly the Holy Orthodox phronema and the Faith of the one, holy and apostolic Church and to conform my mind to the Mind of Christ, by the Holy Spirit. I hope others might benefit, too. To be clear.

              Kissing your right hand, and praying to be in Christ,

  14. Carl Kraeff says

    Read the Treasurer’s Report. I do like Melanie Ringa’s work; very thorough and transparent. Now, we can say with some justification that the OCA leads all other jurisdictions in the way that financial matters are handled. Obviously we have a long way to go in switching over to The Christian way handling money (tithing) across the board. Burt, at least we are on that road, while the other jurisdictions are still mired in “traditional” ways of doing business. And, I must give former priest Kondratick his due in this wonderful development; guilty or not, he, along with Mark Stokoe, was the impetus for accountability and transparency.

    • The irony is that those other jurisdictions, while supposedly being ‘mired’ in their ‘traditional’ way of “doing business,” have incredible assets, programs, materials, outcomes, etc as a fruit of their parish countributions and financial savvy (as well as leveraging some financial heavy hitters) – a tangible fulfilled vision, while for all the highly lauded accountability and transparency, the OCA has virtually nothing to show for it but hand wringing, a declining support base, cries for more money, a plethora of policies, procedures, a hunger for more and more investigations, and now, very impressive spreadsheets.

      Happy days are here again!

      • Carl Kraeff says

        We will get there!

        Let me contrast two local parishes with which I am familiar. One is a large GOA parish, which was the only Orthodox church in town for decades. This parish just sunk $8 million for a fabulous new temple and is mainly known for its Greek Festivals (beautifully done BTW). The other one is an OCA parish that is much newer and smaller. The OCA parish encourages tithing, while the GOA parish has a dues system. The OCA parish also has a festival; it lasts only one day and all proceeds go to local charities, unlike the case in the GOA parish that depends on the proceeds from the two festivals held every year (over the course of three days Yet, in the past 10 years, the OCA parish has produced about 13 clergy, while the GOA church has produced none. Now, you tell me which of these two parishes is richer.

        • Carl finally wrote something valuable here.

        • That’s a wonderful way to honor Met. Jonah’s vision for a united church: Greek bashing!

          • Well Helga, at first I didn’t take it as “Greek bashing,” but I guess it can be understood that way. Sorry about that.

            • Protodeacon, maybe it just hit me in a raw spot.

              Sometimes a beautiful building can be a wonderful missionary tool in itself. They attract visitors and tourists who otherwise might not have wandered into an Orthodox church. Archbishop Dmitri of blessed memory knew this. Many DOS parishes save up and build a beautiful church as soon as they can.

              Also, a dues system can be very difficult to transition from, as many OCA dioceses know.

              As for charitable work, I don’t know any GOA parishes that don’t have a Philoptochos society. I have seen GOA parishes put together generous ministries to the poor and hungry.

              I would like to know how well Carl can translate this theory to other parishes, hopefully ones he’s been around longer than a few months’ span from 35 years ago.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                OK; I give up. I will quit publicly saying that the OCA has a great future. Obviously we are doomed to extinction.

                ” O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency…”

                • I do not believe that we are in any way “doomed to failure.” It’s just that the challenges we face are formidable to say the least. However, we can be confident that Our Lord is with us in our work to overcome them successfully.

                • There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man.
                  It is a dimension as vast as space and timeless as infinity.
                  It is the middle ground between light and shadow,
                  between science and superstition,
                  and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.
                  This is the dimension of imagination.
                  It is an area which we call . . . the OCA.

              • Yes, lt’s not overlook the good that the “ethnic” Orthodox parishes do and the examples of such that they show for us.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Is that what you call telling the truth? No wonder y’all are so fact and logic challenged.

        • Tell you which parish is richer? Richer in what, exactly?
          The Greek parish raised more money, so it is richer financially than the OCA parish.
          The OCA parish had more members who wanted to be priests, so it has more priests in its accounts than the GOA parish.
          How many charities does the Greek Church support and to what dollar extent? Yes, I mean how many individuals are fed, clothed, or otherwise cared for through the donations of GOA parishioners, and HOW many individuals are fed, clothed, or otherwise cared for through the donations of the OCA parishioners?

          I don’t agree that having more men who want to become priests necessarily makes any parish richer in anything. There are many rationales for pursuing a priestly career. Perhaps the OCA parish (and the OCA in general) PUSHED “vocations?”
          I remember George Allman of St. Seraphim Church in Dallas in the old days. He sometimes discussed becoming, one day, a monk. He expressed “becoming a monk’ as ‘going off to St. Tikhon’s and letting my hair grow.” He disavowed ANY idea of ordination. He did finally go off to St. Tikhon’s and let his hair grow. After a few years, though, I was shocked to learn that George (now monk Gamaliel) had become an hieromonk, and I asked him about it when I saw him. “Oh, Stephen,” he said, “I never wanted to become anything more than a Deacon AT MOST, but when I looked around here and saw who was getting ordained, well, I just said, ‘who do i think i’m kidding; I might as well become a priest too, if they can do it!”
          Now, is that “rich” or what?

      • That’s a lovely story, Carl, thanks for sharing. Do you think that this is the norm for every major city in the US? In your example, how many members does the Greek church have, vs the OCA parish? I’m curious.

        Statistically, the Antiochians passed up the OCA in memebership size, several years ago. Do you think this is significant? Or is just another one of those compare and contrast stories (largely secular Arabs vs the holy and pious OCAers)?

        And in the same vein, why do you think the GOA and Antiochians are able to build such large and beautiful churches? Are they simply monuments to baklava and kibbee? Or do their poeple truly love God and want to show their gratitude to Him and for the love of their church?

        Why is it, in your opinion, that the Antiochians are able to build, essentially from scratch, such a wonderful place like Antiochian Village, which has truly become the pride and joy of the Antiochian Archdiocese, and yet serves all Orthodox Christians, but the OCA is now thinking of selling Syosset just to stay afloat (or actually, more specifically, to pay Fr Garklavs his $100,000 termination package, while keeping him on as a ‘consultant’ against the wishes of the Metropolitan)?

        So honestly, I think everyone’s figured out that the game the OCA played for so long (“thank God we’re not like those Godless Greeks and Dirty Arabs”) has come to an end. Syosset is truly in panic mode, because these guys know that the funding spigot is about to lessen its flow significantly, both by the action of the AAC, and the reality of the majority of dioceses (actually, all dioceses execpt the South, and maybe the West?) being either stagnant or in decline.

        • From Robert Burns’ poem To a Mouse, 1786.

          But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren’t alone]
          In proving foresight may be vain:
          The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
          Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
          An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
          For promised joy.

        • Is Fr. Garklav turning out to be some sort of financial “albatross around Syosset’s neck”?

        • RE Statistically, the Antiochians passed up the OCA in membership size, several years ago.

          I don’t think this is correct. Per the 2010 US Orthodox Christian Census (Chart on page 4):

          The OCA has 84,900 adherents and 33,800 regular attendees.
          The AOCA has 74,600 adherents and 27,300 regular attendees.

          • I think we can look at these numbers in several different ways. I certainly don’t dispute the study, which has been widely embraced. However, we should note several things. 1) The Antiochians have at least 10 churches which number well over 1,000 people. The OCA have none even close to that. While the OCA numbers 700 “parishes and institutions” the number of open and running parishes is probably closer to 350. The numbers that are coming out of the OCA for assessment purposes currently run at about 22,000, I believe. One could realistically add about 150% to that to include everyone on the rolls (adherants). That would still be well below the 84,900 number. In any event, the 33,800 number for regular attendees is probably a bit overstated at this point. 2) The numbers were published in 2010 but probably reflect numbers from 2008. Therefore, assuming a 6-10% per year decline over the last three years for the OCA, and a 3-5% growth in the Antiochians over the same three years, we’re likely below them in size at this point.

            • Interesting. Upon what do you base your assumptions of 6-10% OCA decline and 3-5% AOCA growth?

        • Spasi says:
          March 13, 2012 at 11:46 am
          “[W]hy do you think the GOA and Antiochians are able to build such large and beautiful churches?”
          I think their entrepreneurial characteristics, abilities, and spirit, which seems to me to be natural for them, has a lot to do with that. Add to that the importance of ethnic identify as far as Greeks are concerned.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          “thank God we’re not like those Godless Greeks and Dirty Arabs”

          I have never heard this nor have I ever said it myself. I think it is more reflective of the speaker than of anybody in the OCA. In any case, I see that my comparison of two local parishes has not persuaded the OCA self-haters that there is hope for the OCA. Let me try again with the tale of Austin, Texas where there is only one (recent) OCA mission. All of the numerous other Orthodox churches in the area sprang from the mother church, St Elias Orthodox Church, which is a crown jewel of the Antiochian Archdiocese in Central Texas. How does this example relate to the OCA? It does not; I threw it in to show you that there is at least one OCA member–me, who never thought that way about the Syrian and Lebanese Arab Orthodox who founded St. Elias and are still very much part of the parish.

          Let me now tell you the story of two OCA parishes in Denver. The first one is St Herman of Alaska of Littleton, Colorado. This wonderful OCA parish was founded by a ten parishioners of Holy Transfiguration (OCA) who wanted to have services in English. When the parish council refused, they asked the newly assigned priest Father Andrew Harrison to help them with a new mission parish. The Parish Council refused to let him serve both communities and he had to choose. With Bishop John’s blessing, he went with the St Herman’s mission for no pay for two years. He went to work as a welder, a trade that he had acquired in military service. The mission bought some property that was secured with the properties/equity of four families. St Herman’s quickly grew and by the fifth year it had been upgraded to a church,acquired another more suitable property, and had started to support Father Harrison financially. Most of the parishioners when I attended this parish were converts. (Note to those from the Diocese of the West: I know that the story told by Holy Transfiguration is different). Now, which one is the model for future of Orthodoxy and OCA in America? In either case, with wonderful folks like St Herman’s and wonderful priests like Father Andrew, average weekly attendance of 40%, vibrant parishes 9at least in the DOS), the OCA’s future is indeed bright. Those who fail to see it are willfully blind to our future.

          • Carl, when did you attend St. Herman’s in Littleton CO?
            I was a parishioner there practically from its very beginning until moving south in 2005, and know about everything that you mention in detail.
            But I don’t ever remember meeting you there.

            • PS: I was also well acquainted with Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Denver during that same period, and don’t ever recall meeting you there either.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              In 1977, I was attending Air Force Intelligence School at Lowry AFB and I attended St Herman’s for a few months (sang in the Choir) with wife and three kids, the youngest one (Boris) was autistic and severely retarded. In fact, we had a healing service for him and it worked in a special way: he had not liked communion before but after the healing service, he could not wait to get to the Holy Chalice. Other special memories included the consecration of the Church on Prentice Avenue, fellow choir member telling me that they missed us when the Liturgy first started (I thought that was a particularly nice way to remind us to be ion time), the majesty of the mountains, the snow thunderstorm around Halloween that year…. In any case, we were reassigned to Bergstrom AFB (Austin, Texas) after graduation and drove off Denver with the winter’s first bad storm on our heels.

              • Carl, that means that we sang together in the choir back in 1977. Small world, isn’t it. I’m trying to pull up a mental image of your family from back then but so far have been unsuccessful with that. I do remember those Denver snow storms quite well having had to drive to and from work in them for 40 years.

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  Base section?

                  • No sure, because about that time I was switched to tenor because of need. Was Sharon Ello choir directress when you were there?

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      I am afraid my memory took a huge hit ten years ago (heart issues that led to a transplant). I remember only those things that I told you already. Sorry.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Carl, et. al. Its the crazy Greeks and the worldly Arabs.

        • Spasi:

          “…to pay Fr Garklavs his $100,000 termination package, while keeping him on as a ‘consultant’ against the wishes of the Metropolitan)?”

          Spreading more rumors…again?

          • On the contrary, Dio. He was fired, he continued to work at full pay in a “new” position, and then he gets three month’s full pay when they found him a new parish, Holy Trinity in Parma. He made out like a bandit, as the saying goes. But he also squeezed a dacha and other “gifts” from the Russian Church in exchange for the TIkvin Icon. SOP.

            And lest we forget, they paid Fr Jarmus $70K when they made a mistake in hiring him without doing their due diligence on his immigration status. But that is chump change compared to the $700K they wasted on pursuing the Kondratick case, which they lost, and the $300K in hiring Proskure Rose.

            And now they want to hire a full time sex abuse person? All of this without paying any attention to the clock ticking down to 2013 when the OCA Assessment MUST be cut. Again, SOP. Load up on all the great things we are doing and how we need more money.

            If they want to open up old files, why not open up the 1987/88 file when Chancellor Daniel Hubiak wiped $740K in internal debt from borrowing against other accounts, OFF THE BOOKS. Kondratick never did that. But, hey, that chapter will never be reopened as long as Greg Nescott is on the MC to make sure that history of his father-in-law is never revisited. Yep SOP

            Just a reminder to the MC, the Church said cut the assessment and your job is to enact the decisions of the AAC. We are watching and we are not looking for a $5 cut. We are looking for a cut to $50. Your job is to make it happen. So stop all your busy work and do the one thing we told you to do.

            • So stop all your busy work and do the one thing we told you to do.

              Or what….? I curious.

          • Rumors? Let’s look at the math.

            Fr Garklavs was fired by the Metropolitan, and that was confirmed by the Holy Synod.

            The MC turns around and gives him a four month pay severence package ($36,00-$40,000) Then they have the audacity to hire him as a consultant at his current pay. That lasts for about six or seven months. That’s another $50,000-$70,000.

            Get your calculators out, boys and girls. That’s anywhere from $86,000-$110,000.

            Not bad for being fired.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              To all of those folks who keep repeating “Father Garklavs was fired,” may I remind you that it is a form of insanity to use a falsity as a mantra. The plain facts are:

              – Metropolitan Jonah tried to fire Father Garklavs

              – Father Garklavs told him that only the Holy Synod can fire him.

              – Both +Jonahh and Fr. Garklavs appeared before the supreme authority of the OCA–the Holy Synod, and made their cases.

              – The Supreme Authority did not back up its “CEO,” that is, it did not say “We uphold your right to fire your Chancellor.”

              – The Supreme Authority instead accepted Fr Garklav’s resignation.

              All of these things are in the official minutes. No amount of spin can change these facts. Ple4ase quit lying about them.

              Regarding Father Garklav’s employment after the decision of the Holy Synod, it was within the competency of the Interim Chancellor to have hired him as a consultant, an act that was subsequently affirmed by the Supreme Authority (also available in official minutes). Indeed, the minutes of the AAC contains (a) effusive praise of Father garklavs by +JOanh and (b) a standing ovation by the delegates.

              But, I suppose the Sages of the Internet are after all “sages” who are not bound by rules of common sense and decency.

              • You win, Carl. You and everyone on Team Stokoe.

                Everything and everyone is as it should be.
                Everything and everyone is as it should be.
                Everything and everyone is as it should be.
                Everything and everyone is as it should be.
                Everything and everyone is as it should be.
                Everything and everyone is as it should be.
                Everything and everyone is as it should be.
                Everything and everyone is as it should be.
                Everything and everyone is as it should be.

              • The current OCA reminds me of the famous saying attributed to the desert Father, St Anthony the Great:

                “A time is coming when people will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.'”

              • And honestly, SHAME on the Holy Synod for not honoring the wishes of Met Jonah. That the Chancellor even challenged his termination by Met Jonah shows you how skewed things are these days. Respect for the Metropolitan and following his orders, in that particular job, and for everyone who works in the Chancery, should be Job One. But apparently Job One is not to carry out the orders of the First Hierarch, it’s to humiliate him and to put him in his ‘statutory’ place.

                Oh, I forgot. Everything and everyone is as it should be.

                “A time is coming when people will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.’”

                • Spasi, be careful when making statements about following the “wishes” of Metropolitan Jonah and claim we are trying to make Met. Jonah into an authoritarian despot who must be followed at all costs.

                  What has to be made clear is that it’s not about following Met. Jonah’s wishes for the sake of following his wishes, it’s that Met. Jonah was illicitly deprived of his authority and prerogatives as Metropolitan.

                  Met. Jonah had the authority to fire Fr. Garklavs the way he did under the regulations that govern the hiring and firing of chancery employees, the Statute and the Human Resources guidelines as they existed in February 2011. Met. Jonah made his case for that very effectively to the Holy Synod in the February 2011 speech leaked on OCAN. For all the belittling commentary inserted into the speech, Stokoe was not able to dispute that with facts, only ignoring Met. Jonah’s justification, which countered the entire substance of Stokoe’s earlier account of the events in February, in the “+Jonah Placed on Leave” piece.

                  This is all apart from Met. Jonah’s reasoning for firing Fr. Garklavs. That’s a separate issue. For now, it will suffice to say that the OCA’s policies at the time gave Met. Jonah the authority to fire the chancellor at will, and that the Metropolitan was wronged in having his authority in this matter undermined.

                  For the record, the State of New York is an “employment-at-will” state and therefore allows firing without a stated cause.

                  Also, without getting into the Kondratick debate, it is worth mentioning that Metropolitan Herman was able to fire then-Chancellor Kondratick without any protest from Stokoe et al., on the basis of the very same Statute and human resources policies that Met. Jonah would be working with four years later.

                  • Should be “because of those who might claim” in the first paragraph. *facepalm*

                  • My apologies if I used the wrong words. Certainly you put it more eloquently than I, that “Met. Jonah was illicitly deprived of his authority and prerogatives as Metropolitan.” This is all I meant to say.

                    I do understand that the LAST thing Met Jonah is interested in is power or control. If I may be so bold, it’s somewhat of an Achilles heel for him, at least in dealing with this current gang. Had he been interested in standing up to these bullies, outcomes would have been quite different. But I guess the saying is true, “you get the priest/bishop/metropolitan you need.” His humility and meekness is teaching us patient endurance. I could never do it. I would barely be able to look at any of these clerical wolves in the eye, let alone the power brokers on the MC, driving the OCA into the ground.

                    Nevertheless, you said it all much better than I, and your words are certainly what I meant to express. Thank you for the correction.

                    • Spasi, I must apologize as well, because I didn’t realize until I posted it that it looked like I was accusing you of making the Metropolitan look like an authoritarian despot. I didn’t mean it that way, I just wanted to prevent anyone from misinterpreting what you said and using it to pick yet another argument about what we really want.

                      I share your admiration for Met. Jonah’s endurance and meekness. Unfortunately, it seems as though many who oppose him can’t tell the difference between weakness and Christ-like humility. I think you’re right about humility being a tactical disadvantage, but it probably helps protect him from internalizing the poisonous environment.

                      I try to keep myself reading that part of St. Nikolai Velimirovic’s Prayers By the Lake, “Bless My Enemies, O Lord,” where he describes turning outside persecution into an instrument of salvation. My prayer for Met. Jonah is that he will use this awful experience as an opportunity for ascesis: relying on no human protection, but hiding himself with Christ in God.

                    • If I were ever given the opportunity to give His Beatitude any personal reflections on the various and current afflictions in the OCA and how he might handle them, I might offer that while humility is the one thing needful, we also have to be mindful of the words of our Lord, ““Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Mt 10:16).

                      There’s something to be said about being one step ahead of those who seek to destroy you. His youthful (in terms of episcopal consecration) idealism combined with his desire for humility and compassion has unfortunately cause him to be needlessly naive to the machinations of his detractors. As we’ve seen demonstrated on this board, even as late as yesterday, his enemies have already shown their hand to him, and he should prepare accordingly. They will not tolerate a First Hierarch who sees the prize of true autocephaly for all the Orthodox in the US moving through the path of some yet to be determined intermediate state. For them it’s all or nothing, and like crazed drug addicts, they will not allow anyone to stand in their way.

                      It is true, as it was pointed out, they will eventually be on the outside looking in, even if they do hang on to the name “OCA.” However, Met Jonah could possibly be a casualty in all of this, unless Russia sticks to its guns and insists that the recognition of Met Jonah as the First Hierarch is the essential condition to Moscow’s continued support. This would ensure that those loyal to His Beatitude would be the rightful continuation of the OCA, while those who choose to separate themselves from him would be an OCA in schism, whether they acknowledge it or not. Moscow walks a fine line now as it is vis a vis the OCA, on the one hand trying to at least pay lip service to the actions of the Russian church in 1970, on the other hand acknowleding the embarassing reality of the current sad situation of rapid decay in the OCA.

                    • My advice to the Metropolitan would be the following 1)Voluntarily cut your salary so that it is the average amount an OCA Pastor makes. 2)Get out there and be the hardest working bishop in America. Serve at the soup kitchens, hospices, pregnancy centers etc. 3)Write and publish small essaysand reflections constantly on the difficult questions we face. Dont Shun the big questions 4)Shepherd America’s soldiers, get a bulletproof white klobuk and measure yourself for a flak jacket and then go visit and minister to America’s soldiers in the dangerous places they serve. Risk your safety to find these sheep. American Miltiary bases are American territory and they are your territory as Metropolitan.

                      And finally, shun the OCA bureaucracy the way John Paull II shunned the Vatican bureaucracy. Don’t worry about out maneuvering the Phanar etc etc. Instead take the authentic message of the American Church directly to the people and show people you are willing to fight and more importantly suffer for it.

                      Remember Archbishop Demetrios may chair the episcopal assembly but the position of moral and spiritual leader of the American Church is still up for grabs. Grab hold of it, suffer for it and do not let it go.

                    • Andrew, based on the posts of others that I’ve read here, Metropolitan Jonah’s salary is lower than that of all the other OCA priests I know, after voluntarily cutting his own salary. If that’s the case, the other officers of the OCA make 2 or 3 times his salary now.

                      As for serving, he travels constantly to give sermons and lectures on matters of the faith. I once saw him speak four separate times in one weekend, after logging 5,000 miles on airplanes during the prior week. As for providing care to others, he canceled a trip to Prague, twice, in order to stay with Archbishop Dmitri (at the Archbishop’s request), even though the cancellations forced him to overspend his travel budget. During Lent, he courageously fulfilled a dying woman’s wish to be tonsured a nun, even though it incurred the (unjustifiable) wrath of his enemies. He regularly extends his hospitality for people who need a place to stay, from allowing visitors to stay in his home in Dallas to taking in the nuns from Greece while they searched for a permanent place to live.

                      There are many other examples of his generosity and kindness that haven’t made the papers, so to speak. These are just a few examples that caught a particular amount of attention.

                      He still finds the time to write messages to exhort the faithful during special times like Christmas, New Year’s, and the beginning of Lent. I found his New Year’s message particularly affecting and beautiful. He also wrote two courageous letters to defend Orthodoxy after our teaching on sexuality was challenged by a handful of miscreants.

                      So, if you are waiting for Met. Jonah to fulfill your qualifications, it appears to me that he already does.

                    • Spasi, I respect your desire to warn him about the kind of people he’s dealing with, but I believe he has their number. You can bet his mistakes have been rubbed in his face often enough, and it takes great courage for him to keep bearing this cross. I would think it would help simply to show him that his sacrifice and suffering have made a positive difference somewhere.

                      Diogenes and the Syosset functionaries may be the last to figure this out, but they’re whistling Dixie with respect to the OCA’s autocephaly. A realistic approach to the situation is our best hope at resolving this with some kind of dignity, not only for us but for the Moscow Patriarchate. The OCA needs to acknowledge the qualifications in the Tomos itself as well as the flaws in its application, and come to terms with both Moscow and Constantinople. We probably won’t come up with a solution that will make everyone happy, but at least we can make everyone equally unhappy.

                      As for Met. Jonah’s fate, it’s hard to say. I’ve said many times that I think he would be foolish to trade the white hat for any lesser position in the OCA. Barring massive repentance and reconciliation, they will kick him in the teeth no matter where he goes or what he does. That leaves the possibility of a schism like you mentioned with the Jonah-OCA being recognized as legitimate by Moscow, and the rump OCA being cut off. Another possibility is Met. Jonah getting released to ROCOR/MP, with the remainder of the OCA more or less remaining in the status quo.

                      Whatever happens, I just hope Met. Jonah doesn’t consent to be shipped off to a monastery or to stand for election as bishop of the South. The actual chances of him being elected by the Synod to Dallas are slim to nil; they may as well promise him the Brooklyn Bridge. And while I’m sure he wouldn’t mind being in a monastery again, he can do so much more than that, and it would be a terrible waste to confine him to a monastery.

              • Carl, that “takes the cake.” Do you really believe that the official minutes reveal “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” Do you really believe that Garklav resigned voluntarily? and that those who don’t believe that are “insane”? Well then, all I can think of in responce is “ignorance can be fixed, but stupidity is forever.”

                • I believe that Carl really does not himself believe in what he writes, and posts comments here merely for “the sport of it” and the attention it gets him.

                  • How else does one explain his appearently contrived “unreasonable reasoning” and “illogical logic”?

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    Actually, you are partly correct. I would not have posted if it had not been for the ridiculous assertions by Jacob or Spasi. So, I will confess that, while the substance of my post is what I believe, the manner of my posting was to respond in kind. Regarding the distance between official minutes (thank God that you at least acknowledge that they back me up) and the truth, if I am faced with the official minutes on the one hand and the babbling of anonymous Internet posters on the other, I would be a fool not to go with the official minutes, even if they may not, and often do not, reveal the whole truth. This is not to say that in this instance the official minutes are wrong.

                    Let me tell you that it was inevitable that Fr Garklavs could not continue as Chancellor as long as +Jonah remained Metropolitan because those two incumbents are supposed to get along and these two were not getting along. The Holy Synod voted to keep +Jonah for reasons that are known to themselves. I myself felt that it was the proper decision because the fallout would have been immensely larger had they voted any other way. So, it does not matter why this decision was made. It does matter, however, that the decision reaffirmed the OCA Statute and conciliarity. It does matter that cooler heads prevailed and did not back monarchical, quasi-Papist governance. It does matter that Fr Garklavs was allowed to resign and then rehired as a consultant as that was the honorable and Cristian thing to do.

              • Monk James says

                Nobody denied that Met. Herman had the authority to fire Fr Robert Kondratick from his position as chancellor. It was wrong of him to dismiss FrRK, but — as badly as he used his authority then and at other times — he did indeed have that authority.

                Fr Alexander Garklavs was mistaken when he asserted that Met. Jonah had no authority to fire him, and the bishops who failed to support MetJ in this were not only mistaken, but somehow complicit in the very conspiracy for which MetJ had taken that action.

                This was jerry-rigged into a contorted solution by eventually allowing FrAG to ‘resign’, but this contrivance was embarrassing to everyone involved. Or at least it should be embarrassing. There are people, even some bishops, who have so few scruples that they are incapable of blushing.

                These ignoble characteristics of the leadership of our OCA are disheartening and discouraging for the laity and clergy in the parishes. Our people are spiritually exhausted by all this foolishness and abuse of authority, and no amount of window dressing will comfort them no matter how much busy work the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council appear to do.

                I’ll say it once again: Unless and until our OCA repents and corrects its mistreatment of Fr Robert Kondratick and reinstates him as a priest of the OCA, our church will not heal.

                (That’s a free translation of St Anthony’s prediction of our situation.)

    • Carl Kraeff says:
      March 13, 2012 at 9:57 am
      “I must give former priest Kondratick his due in this wonderful development; guilty or not, he, along with Mark Stokoe, was the impetus for accountability and transparency.”

      Carl: Please explain, in detail, with appropriate process flowcharts and logic diagrams, your reasoning and logic to support that conclusion of yours for the rest of us here who are, no doubt, much more “intellectually and awareness challenged” than yourself.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I certainly do not think that you and others are “intellectually and awareness challenged” (who said that anyway?). That said, let me reiterate.

        If it had not been for the financial and other shenanigans of the +Theodesius/+Herman/Kondratick regimes (perceived or real), you would not have had the rise of Mark Stokoe and the Orthodox Christians for Accountability, which successfully pushed for increased accountability and transparency. Since folks credit Mr Kondratick for running the Church during the time that Metropolitans Theodesius and Herman were power, I chose to follow suit and credit him, along with Mark Stokoe, for the entrance of the OCA into the next phase of its historical road and fulfillment of her mission. I hope this clarifies my remark for you.

    • Melanie is very good at what she does! She is extremely ethical and follows all proper accounting standards. The OCA is lucky to have her. As far as the other jurisdictions go, there is a lot of foolery still going on with their books. The GOA is not fully transparent. The Antiochians are not fully transparent. The same with all the others. It took the OCA crisis to bring openness, financial transparency and documentation of all accounting issues.

      • I am glad that makes you feel good about the future of the OCA. Sadly since all of this so-called openness, financial transparency and documentation of all accounting issues, the OCA has less money, fewer members and a status in world Orthodoxy that is on the verge of total non-recognition. But, you are right, Melanie does a good job and all is well in the OCA. Keep repeating it. It seems to make you feel better!:)

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Diogenes–Just remember:

        Illegitimi non carborundum

        • Carl,

          I may be many things but a bastard I am not. But please, keep writing here because it is fun to refute your effort point. The bottom line of the Garklavs saga was to once again put on full display for the world to see who dysfunctional the OCA has become. But as Spasi says,

          Everything and everyone is as it should be.
          Everything and everyone is as it should be.
          Everything and everyone is as it should be.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Diogenes, I’m sure Mrs Ringa is a fine woman in many ways, but the fact that she went to Seattle and presented a false budget to the delegates cannot be overlooked. I’m not saying she was the instigator of this subtrefuge but she certainly was the water-carrier for some awfully bad actors. She’d be held in even higher esteem had she refused to do so in the first place, or resigning.

    • Jane Rachel says

      It has been written, “And, I must give former priest Kondratick his due in this wonderful development; guilty or not, he, …”

      Come on and admit it. You know he’s not guilty. Now, go back in time and remember what was done to this “maybe-not-guilty” man (who has been vindicated in a court of law) and who did it to him. If putting those two thoughts together does nothing to you, then I have to shake my head in disbelief. Perhaps it is impossible for you to see what you are saying. Yes, that has to be it.

      • Jane Rachel, we should at least acknowledge progress here. Five years ago, the former Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick was the scourge of the earth, one only fit for, as one of the frequent correspondents on the Orthodox-forum put it, to be locked in the trunk of a car and drowned in a river. So for Cark to say “guilty or not” is truly progress for the slow crowd.

        • I can’t wait to read how Carl wiggles off the hook for admitting that Protopresbyter Rodion Kondratick is maybe not guilty.

          Of course we all know that the entire lynchpin of the “new” OCA hangs on the presumed guilt of Kondratick. This shows how spiritually thin is the OCA. They will hold on to a lie to “keep the dream alive” as the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters (to coin an excellent phrase of Bp. Tikhon) than face the truth. They will rewrite history to cover their tracks and put people in place (Wilson, Solodow, Nescott, Garretson) to perpetuate the myth. They would rather recreate the OCA into its present abomination founded on the tenets of ocanews than admit they overreacted and started an investigation looking for a scapegoat.

          Lest we forget, the hiring of PR was to “build a firewall around the Metropolitan” the famous smoking gun words of the now discredited Paul Kucynda. From that false premise, we now have the “new” OCA. How fast and far we have fallen.

          Lord, have mercy on us.

          But please, Carl, Diogenes, try and justify such a sorry situation. Tell us that it was all worth it because we are so much stronger than before. So much more righteous, so much more transparent (minus all those Executive Sessions in the MC). Enlighten us poor peasants.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I said it then and I will say it again. Let Kondratick come forward and publicly challenge the SIC report and everything else that followed point by point. He and his supporters are entitled to their interpretations of the facts but they are not entitled to their own facts.

        • Monk James says

          Carl Kraeff says:
          March 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm
          ‘I said it then and I will say it again. Let Kondratick come forward and publicly challenge the SIC report and everything else that followed point by point. He and his supporters are entitled to their interpretations of the facts but they are not entitled to their own facts.’


          L’affaire Kondratick is probably not going to be concluded as Carl Kraeff wishes. We’re way past that point.

          The facts are long since in, examined and acted on by the Superior Court of the State of New York, and the facts support Fr Robert Kondratick’s innocence. Let’s remember that some witnesses admitted lying to the SIC when threatened with penalties in civil law.

          And with all that in mind, let’s not overlook the obvious: Were FrRK guilty of half the crimes alleged by that deeply flawed SIC report and the mockery of a ‘spiritual court’ which followed, he’d be in prison now. But he’s not, and that overwhelmingly important reality means that the OCA is remiss in restoring him to the priesthood which is his life.

          We also must remember that Fr Robert Kondratick requested to be heard on appeal, but the bishops refused, merely confirming his unjust deposition on the basis of his request. The reasons for this are multi-layered and complex, but all those reasons are ignoble and unworthy of Christians and honest people altogether, not to mention bishops — a couple or three of whom ought to be deprived of office and of the priesthood altogether for their shameful behavior in this and other areas.

          More recently, several principals in the matter (including Met. Herman) have reconsidered their original positions and recommended that FrRK’s situation be re-examined.

          In a sort of ‘war of attrition’, the bishops continue to table the matter rather than deal with it. It was long thought in ecclesial circles that some problems and other sticky things would improve or just go away entirely if the bishops temporized long enough. But that’s a very wrong-headed theory, and although experience has demonstrated over and over again that this kind of management style inevitably leads to disaster, it seems that our OCA’s Holy Synod hasn’t yet gotten the memo. Or maybe they just tabled it.

          • The mere mention by +Jonah that the deposition of Protopresbyter Rodion was wrong was met with universal condemnation by the usual suspects, Stokoe, Wheeler, Nathaniel, Benjamin, Nikon, Garretson (of taking a baseball bat to Kondratick’s head fame) Nescott, Hopko. Even the idea sent these folks into a panic.

            In the meantime, God has visited these folks in various ways all the while Fr. Bob continues to do the work of the Lord in Venice. A growing parish, full of vitality, outgrowing its present facilities. much to the consternation of the usual suspects who try in vain to be even half the person that Fr. Bob is.

            I too agree with the Monk James, until the Kondratick deposition is lifted, the OCA will not be blessed. But the bishops will just table his request to revisit their decision again and again and again.

            I applaud +Jonah for wanting to do the right thing but realize that he is not courageous enough to stand up to the usual suspects.

            File this under an opportunity to heal, missed.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Actually, I did change my initial stance because of you. I had initially considered the matter closed but after your repeated assertions that the SIC Report was flawed and, more importantly your over all posting style and reasoning, I decided that the fair thing would be to invite RK to come into the public arena and address the allegations in detail. I do not think that we will have healing, as you indicate you want, if he is cleared by the Holy Synod without a public accounting. Y’all will have vindication and healing but not the Church as a whole.

            • Monk James says

              Carl Kraeff says:
              March 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm
              ‘Actually, I did change my initial stance because of you. I had initially considered the matter closed but after your repeated assertions that the SIC Report was flawed and, more importantly your over all posting style and reasoning, I decided that the fair thing would be to invite RK to come into the public arena and address the allegations in detail. I do not think that we will have healing, as you indicate you want, if he is cleared by the Holy Synod without a public accounting. Y’all will have vindication and healing but not the Church as a whole.’
              Actually, the public accounting has already occurred, as attested by the opinion of the Superior Court of the State of New York.

              At this point, it remains only for the OCA to act on the court’s recommendations that they not only pay (partial) financial recompense to Fr Robert Kondratick — which the OCA has done, but only to the amount recommended by the court, and therefore insufficiently, but that the OCA act responsibly in light of the court’s recommendations, and admit that the OCA (our incompetent lawyers, actually) prosecuted/persecuted FrRK wrongfully, and reinstate him with full honors to his priesthood.

              • Jane Rachel says

                Where are the voices to begin to make right what was wrong? So many “righteous and outraged” voices spoke out so loudly before, but now that it’s being shown to them they were wrong, and not only wrong, but caused a lot of damage, where are they now? Nothing but crickets. If I had done it, if I had contributed to it, I would have apologized long ago. It’s the way I was raised. When you do wrong, and you realize it, you try to make it right for its own sake, to alleviate the pain you caused another, to find peace within yourself. Lent will come and go, and the crickets will go on cricking. Here is a safe place to speak out, and still, not one person has come forward, even anonymously, except Carl, to admit he may have been wrong.

                • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                  Jane Rachel, those voices were too busy at the time with such “noble” tasks as defending the righteous Fr. Michael Roshak from being unfairly persecuted by his diocese and syosset. Remember all that defense on ocanewsorg? It’s amazing, is it not, that they somehow forgot him completely at the time he ran off the rails? Melanie Sakoda, too, completely MISSED out on listing Father Michael’s case, which was is more her kind of meat than the “allegations of” with which she blackened so many others.! I mean, wasn’t there a nude gay sea cruise with a minor in tow?

                  • Hieromonk Ambrose says

                    Serious allegation, Your Grace and you place the OCA Synod of Bishops in a difficult legal situation.

                    As someone else has commented:

                    From a church standpoint I don’t see how it is possible to ignore such an allegation, whatever views one holds as to other various attributes, when coming from someone holding the high title.

                    I can certainly imagine reading court papers in a couple of years quotes from the plaintiff’s attorney in trial: ‘but here we see you knew, you knew because one of your own bishops posted it for all to see, that a minor was involved in a sexually precarious situation. And, what did you do? Nothing because you didn’t like who was telling you about it? So much for this sexual misconduct committee. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client needs a great deal of money, please find for him.’.

                    I think church officials should hold the bishop to account and either post a retraction or a confirmation. People can’t be left to wonder about things like this. What if the clergyman is completely innocent of this? Every time someone ‘google’s his name this will appear.

                  • Well, again, conjecture at best. Roshak went on a “normal” cruise with an adult friend. Spa treatments were offered on the cruise. People like yourself have blown this out of proportion. What else is new?

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      His wife?

                    • Hieromonk Ambrose says

                      It’s unlikely that Bishop Tikhon was speaking out of ignorance or conjecture or malice. And, as mentioned, he has placed this allegation on the Internet where it will now start to show up when people do a search for “Michael Roshak”.This will be seriously damaging for the man and his family.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                I had meant to ask you earlier. Do you have a link to the case file? Thanks, Carl

              • Jane Rachel says

                Monk James, do you have the link to the case file? (Thanks for asking, Carl, I’ve been meaning to ask him as well.)

                • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                  Jane Rachel. The decline of the OCA began at the same time with the reception of a deposed deacon and hierophant of the Kiiyyiiww Patriarchate as a retired bishop. The decline was steep and the OCA hit absolute rock bottom when it covered eyes and ears in order to depose Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick. It has stayed down there accumulating rather than shedding so much bile that it spattered and plagued Metropolitan Jonah and Archpriest Joseph Fester, after crushing the most administratively capable and trained hierarch ever, Bishop Nikolai, with the tactics of alley cats and guttersnipes. And those who could have helped simply looked the other way, only to check from time to time that their own sinecures were safe.

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    By the way, Your Grace, how is His Grace Bishop TIKHON doing?

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      ERG! TYPO! How is His Grace Bishop NIKOLAI doing? I figure His Grace Bishop Tikhon is doing well since he posts here quite often.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      When do we capitalize the name of a bishop in ALL CAPS?

                      (Respectfully, Jane Rachel)

                    • Monk James says

                      Jane Rachel says:
                      March 20, 2012 at 9:17 pm
                      `When do we capitalize the name of a bishop in ALL CAPS?
                      (Respectfully, Jane Rachel)’


                      We do this during the reign of Empress Maria Teresa, who’s been dead for a couple of centuries.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I gotta tell you all, I think the idea of capitalizing every letter in a bishop’s name is pretentious. I was reading “Becoming Orthodox” and the Introduction was written by then-Bishop Maximos. He signed his name this way:

                      Maximos Agiorghousis, ThD
                      Bishop of Pittsbugh.

                      Doesn’t that make more sense and look more –frankly–Christian?

                    • I agree that it’s pretentious It doesn’t appear to be a part of Orthodox tradition to capitalize every reference to the bishop’s name, anyway.

                      I’ve seen bishops’ names capitalized in official documents when they are signing a letter, or when it’s an inscription on a certificate or award, but those are the only places.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      Jane Rachel, I see that you first spelled my name with all caps and then that of Bishop Nikolai. There’s nothing obligatory OR bad about it. But it’s like kissing a hierarch’s or priest’s hand when he has conveyed the Lord’s blessing with it. You risk stirring up all kinds of emotions and ideologies and sensitivities in the world partly formed by Roundheads, Puritans, Covenanters, Levellers and so forth. Once I observed a Greek priest ostentatiously pulling his hand away from a laywoman who was about to kiss it. I couldn’t control myself and said, “For heaven’s sake, don’t take it PERSONALLY!” Because a lot of priests do: they think they must demonstrate Franciscan humility when somebody shows respect for their Priesthood, which is Christ’s Priesthood, not theirs, but it is not for them to reject a sign of veneration of Christ and His Priesthood through the kissing of a priest’s hand. I think those who get their knickers all in a twist about all caps for hierarchs’ names should get a life. Greek bishops, as George, I believe, pointed out, are not so involved in any monastic aspect of their episcopates save the monastic headgear of kamilavka with veil, so they commonly sign documents in a completely secular way with family name and all, not even disdaining to point out their academic attainments/credentials. The traditional hierarch would just sign his Christian name, placing a cross before it (which is NOT a substitute for any title whatsoever: not “Bishop”, not “Metropolitan” etc.). “+Tikhon” is NOT a substitute for “Bishop Tikhon.”
                      But most everyone now does it, following the pattern well-established by Mrs. Stevens on her defunct ocanews site.

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    I have to admit that I wanted to capitalize Bishop NIKOLAI’s name for some reason not related to formality but to show that I respect and support him.

                  • Look, RSK was stealing millions. He should have been hanged in public. Your hand-picked “close” buddy, + Nicolai was just completely nuts. The things he was doing in Alaska caused ALL the priests to rebel and have him removed. His episodes of long discourses between himself and his other personalities (Sybil) are well known. Is it any wonder you and he got along so well. When you two got together to talk, it must have seemed like a room full of people talking.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Eric Wheeler, winner of the People’s Choice Award for Best Actorl in a Live Drama (google “thank you, Eric”, “Wheeler” and “ocanews“) says, “Look, RSK was stealing millions. He should have been hanged in public.”


                    • Diogenes, if you’re so absolutely sure that the former Protopresbyter Rodion Kondratick was “stealing millions,” can you please inform everyone why, when Wheeler, Stokoe, and the entire MC went to the County DA, nothing came of it? I’m fascinated by that whole point. Yes, yes, of course, we have the internet lynch mob crying out that “many guilty parties walk free.” But this was much different. You had the following in your corner:
                      *A fully funded, professionally staffed investigation
                      *Thousands of pages of documentation and ‘evidence’
                      *An internal trial which found him guilty
                      *A coordinated public campaign via press release which appeared in newspapers all over the world
                      *A high-powered Federal prosecutor sitting on the MC and advising
                      *Years before any type of statute of limitations would ensue (clock begins when discovery is made)
                      *Vast amount of precedent for prosecuting much smaller cases with plenty of jail time
                      Can you please, in all of your smug certitude, tell us WHY there was never any criminal charges? None from the County, none from the State, no Federal charges, and none from the IRS.
                      Why? With that mountain of evidence, an open and shut case in the eyes of the SIC, the MC, the Holy Synod, the Spiritual Court, why did the civil authorities, who would love to prosecute a former priest for “stealing millions” – because this is the kind of case that promotes careers – why was there nothing but silence from them?
                      Please, inform us.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  I don’t doubt Monk James’ testimony about the innocence of Father Robert Kondratcik for one minute. But are there publicly available court records on the civil case that cleared him?

                  • Monk James says

                    Jane Rachel says:
                    March 20, 2012 at 9:08 pm

                    `I don’t doubt Monk James’ testimony about the innocence of Father Robert Kondratcik for one minute. But are there publicly available court records on the civil case that cleared him?’

                    I’m sure those records are available, but I don’t know how to retrieve them.

                • Monk James says

                  Jane Rachel says:
                  March 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm
                  `Monk James, do you have the link to the case file? (Thanks for asking, Carl, I’ve been meaning to ask him as well.)”


                  This material is unavailable on the Internet, but that technical fact says nothing about the truth of it.

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    Well, that settles it for me. We are back to square one. In the eyes of the Church, and thus me, Kondratick is guilty as convicted by the Spiritual Court. It is up to him to prove his innocence in the public square. Any person who gainsays the Spiritual Court and the Holy Synod that confirmed the court’s decision is sinning against the Lord’s Holy Body.

  15. It tells me that you seen to build your “logic diagrams” from the end to the beginning hoping to substantiate your preconceived reasoning.

  16. Getting back to the “GREAT COUNCIL of 2013,” what is this really? There are no major heresies the Church needs to address that haven’t already been addressed – unless we condemn Islam again. The reason for this council is, as they say, to correct “abnormalities” within the Orthodox Church worldwide. What exactly are these “abnormalities?” 1st on the list, according to Istanbul, is giving the Bishop of Istanbul the sole power to grant autocephaly or not. Kind of ridiculous. All we need to do is follow the current Canons of the Orthodox Church in this matter. Since Istanbul can’t REALLY find good canonical reasoning NOT to accept the OCA’s autocephaly, they wish to re-write the canons in their favor. Furthermore, regarding Church Organization in N. America and around the world, Istanbul again wants to be the “final” say in who leads any Orthodox Church anywhere in the world. You know, this all sound like the setting up of an Eastern Pope to me. So, what should happen? The Episcopal Assembly in the U.S., all the bishops, should sign a proclamation that they all NOW pronounce themselves as autocephalous and no longer answer to any foreign bishop. They then form as a Synod of Bishops of N. America and choose their own Head Hierarch. The name of this new church can be decided. DONE! And exactly what could the old country, foreign bishops do who don’t have any real authority outside their own dioceses anyway? Remove all the bishops? Throw tantrums? Try and find canons to make this non-canonical? Sorry, DONE! So, what’s wrong with this? Most all the bishops in the Episcopal Assembly who report to foreign bishops (non-canonical) have no, shall we say, gumption. And therefore, we don’t have unity in N. America because of our own weak, scared bishops. Even + Iakavos when he was forcefully retired, should have refused, proclaimed himself autocephalous and taken all the GOA churches he could have into the OCA. Instead, he took the big money and the false trumped up legacy while unity of Orthodoxy in N. America died! All of you hierarchs; what kind of legacy will you leave? Will you REALLY do something for unity in N. America or will they say, “He was a good, humble bishop, but did very little!”

    • Bravo, Diogenes. Let an uncanonical situation in North America continue by enacting another uncanonical action. Such logic. Such an American response. Such maturity. No wonder the OCA is in such a mess with such petulant thinking.

      If you are interested, and I am sure you are, you may wish to look at all the work of the Preconciliar commission for the Great and Holy Council which has been meeting for many years in preparation for the Great Council. I think you will find there are many reasons to have another Council. But if you need just one reason, the abnormal status of overlapping jurisdictions in several parts of the world and a decision to end this would bring a much greater solidarity of purpose to Orthodoxy in those regions for the benefit of spreading the Gospel. Tis that not a good enough reason, dear Diogenes?

      • Jacob:
        Just as the Kingdom of Heaven will only come to those who take it by force, real unity in N. America will only happen by those who take it. Foreign bishops have no authority outside their own territory. Any inroads in N. Am. or elsewhere around the world by foreign bishops can only be considered temporary (Canon Law). The canons clearly state that established churches in a territory can announce that they are autocephalous and operate unto themselves. No OK from overseas, foreign bishops. Any Great Council proposed and engineered by Greek/Istanbul bishops will be to usurp authority not theirs. Even Moscow wants to reclaim territory from Czarist days all over the world by using the Church. Overlapping jurisdictions is baloney! Every country in the world should be recognized as an “autocephalous territory.” All bishops in these territories recognized as members of that particular autocephalous church with it’s own council and elected head – period. They then can sort out what bishop controls what. A “Great Council” is unnecessary and will be engineered to create an Eastern Pope. This will give rise to a new Church, “The REAL Orthodox Church.’

        • Yep. Standard OCA justification. We are right you all are wrong. And when a Great Council decides, the OCA will be on the outside looking in, just like it is now. Got it. Thanks for making it so clear.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Jacob, I’m with Diogenes on this one. There’s no real need for a “great and holy Council” as there are no heresies (save ecumenism) tearing at the fabric of the Church. Personally, I would heed the counsel of St Justin Popovich who predicted apostasy being the result of such a council. That’s good enough for me. The Calendar issue can be fixed on a local church by local church basis. But the issue of the Dyptichs being crucial? Come on. That’s so low-priority it’s a non-issue if there ever was one.

            He’s also right that we don’t need the approval of overseas patriarchates to get our house in order either. And please don’t misunderstand me: I have no problem with overseas patriarchates wanting us to get our house in order and from a pragmatic standpoint, I realize that the majority of American Orthodox are going to need to have their little heads patted by Mommy and told it’s alright to go outside and play, but that’s different than needing their blessing.

            Jonah’s right: if we Orthodox in America loved each other then the issues could be resolved in 2 days.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          Before there can be a real autocephalous Orthodox Church in the United States, there must first be Orthodox unity. One must face reality, most Orthodox in the United States have no desire to join the OCA, especially since the image that outsiders get of the OCA on the internet is less than appealing. Although there may have been a time when the Russian Bishops had a legitimate claim to the leadership of American Orthodoxy, those days are long gone. The reality is that after the turmoil following the Russian Revolution, the Russian Bishops gave up whatever leadership they had over American Orthodoxy. Partially as a result of the chaos that followed the end of Russian financial support and partially to prevent the pro-Bolshevik Living Church from using the courts to gain control over the properties of Ameri can Orthodoxy, the Russian Bishops encouraged the organization of the other jurisdictions. In the case of Antioch, our Patriarch did not assume jurisdiction here until receiving the blessing not only of Moscow, but of the Bishops who eventually formed the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and the Bishops who formed the Metroplia which became the OCA. Russian Bishops participated in the consecration of our first Bishops in America. Ironically there were times when the Antiochian Archdiocese was in communion with Moscow when most Russian Orthodox in America were not. Only through mutual respect and a real come together can we achieve the unity that we all desire. That means that we cannot ignore Constantinople if for no other reason that the Greeks have more members than all the other Orthodox combined. Any Orthodox unity without the Greeks will not be true unity. However, Constantinople cannot ignore the feelings of non-Greek Orthodox by forcing us to submit to its authority. Those who desire Orthodox unity have to find a way to respect the feelings of all Orthodox including those like me who have great loyalty to Antioch and Metropolitan Philip and our Antiochian Bishops. It offends me when someone who really knows nothing about our Archdiocese criticizes our Metropolitan and Antiochian Bishops, or our liturgical usage.

          Archpriest John Morris

          • Fr. John:

            Allow me to give you some REAL history. You can ask the retired Fr. Schnierla about this since he was the original Secretary of SCOBA and still has original records. SCOBA was formulated in 1961-62 with Fr. Alexander Schmemann as being a key adviser in guiding the process. + Ireney, + Antony Bashir and + Iakavos were good friends and vowed to work together for Orthodox Unity. In the early minutes, they said they would work toward an “autocephalous” Orthodox Church which they would all become members and call the new church, “The Orthodox Church in America.” Their issue was “HOW” to make this happen. These early leaders of SCOBA already had an “agenda” for REAL Orthodox unity. It was normal for these bishops, Frs. Schmeman & Meyendorff to have dinner parties and discuss unity. It was normal for Fr. Schmemann to appear at the Antiochian Annual Convention to speak of unity. He also was a frequent invitee to GOA gatherings to discuss unity. Fr. Schmemann saw great opportunity for ALL Orthodox in N. America in making this a reality. In the 1960’s, envoys from the “Metropolia” went to the Pat. of Constantinople (Istanbul) and asked if he would formally grant the Metropolia autocephaly. After much discussion, he told them, “Go to your Mother church (Moscow) and obtain autocephaly. I will not impede you.” Knowing that Russia was still under the Communist thumb and the Moscow Patriarch would be most reluctant, Constantinople thought this would never happen. Sending the OCA envoys on the “Impossible Mission.” Well, to the surprise of all, in 1970, Moscow granted the Metropolia “autocephaly.” THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT SCOBA WANTED AND ASKED FOR! Canon Law states that when a canonical, autocephalous Orthodox Church is established in a territory, all Orthodox Churches are to come under it’s umbrella. The structure of the OCA was for any and all ethnic bishops to remain in control of their own churches and flocks and become members of a Synod of Bishops. They in turn would elect their own head. + Iakavos was offered to be the head of this new autocephalous church which he himself agreed to join, but reneged. + Philip was now the head of the Antiochians and although he studied under Fr. Schmemann, he ALSO dragged his feet to join the OCA. He ALSO reneged. + Philip was key in using the excuse, “Let all the ethnic parishes solve their own internal disorder first.” Well, this was just a poor excuse and side-step – Byzantine political avoidance. The Romanians joined the OCA. Bulgarians joined the OCA. Others joined the OCA, but + Iakavos and + Philip made excuses to remain the “Big Fish” in their own ethnic ponds. Meanwhile, the Bishop of Istanbul came up with every reason in the book (fabrications) why the OCA was non-canonical. Again, Greek intrigue stabbing the OCA’s autocephaly in the back. Citing Canon 28 (ridiculous); citing that only the Pat. of Istanbul could grant autocephaly when no such canon exists; stating that the OCA’s process was not canonical (ridiculous); etc. Fast forward to 1994, Ligonier was + Philip’s attempt to re-start unity talks with both he and +Iakavos getting older and Frs. Schmemann & Meyendorff dead, they could have a real American Orthodox legacy. Following Ligonier, the Ukrainian bishop squealed to Istanbul and + Iakavos was retired and all the GOA bishops were emasculated. Fast forward to 2012; Istanbul has managed to destroy SCOBA taking full control of all meetings in N. America concerning ALL bishops. Pushing for a 2013 “Great Council” where the Greeks will push to have full and final control over every Orthodox bishop in N. America and all over the world. In reality, trying to create an Eastern Pope contrary to Orthodox Canon Law. No problem though, the Great Council plans on re-writing Canon Law to give + Bart total & absolute authority – again, contrary to the teachings of the Holy Apostles and how Church order was established by them! Having an “autocephalous” Orthodox Church in each territory or country around the world operating unto itself without the intervention of foreign bishops, is Apostolic and proper according to Orthodox Ecclesiology! Anything else is non-canonical and not Orthodox!

            • Diogenes,

              With such belief it is no wonder that we are still so far away from administrative unity in the USA. Your not so latent racist attitudes toward the Greeks, Ukrainian, and Arab Orthodox is truly sad.

              No doubt you gained a good deal of your apparent knowledge of events from that lightweight “history” of “Orthodox Christians in North America 1794-1994” penned by Mark Stokoe and Leonid Kishkovsky.

              You will note that in July 1995 when the OCA celebrated 25 years of the autocephaly from Russia that AAC noted the following:

              – autocephaly in 1970 was indeed the right and necessary step, and we should be grateful for it in 1995;
              – the OCA is not self-sufficient, but is dedicated to Orthodox mission and unity in America (sorry Canada, you got left out again);
              – the OCA is committed to seeking the unity of all Orthodox “jurisdictions” in an Orthodox Church in North America that is canonically and administratively one Church;
              – the achievement of this goal requires the understanding, affirmation, and guidance of Constantinople and the other “mother churches” ; and
              – such understanding affirmation, and guidance must be sought patiently and persistently.

              Now, Diogenes, that was a balanced and realistic statement of the facts. The OCA recognized in 1995 and back in 1970, that Constantinople was key to this process of a “canonically and administratively one Church” here in the USA.

              What has changed, and for the better, is that the entire Orthodox world, all “mother churches” are focused on the abnormalities of multiple bishops in one city and all that comes from that abnormality. They have directed that areas of the world which fall into this status need to gather and present a plan for administrative unity to the entire Church meeting in a Great and Holy Council.

              Instead of trying to find scapegoats, (yes, I know, that is a favorite pastime for the OCA) see the potential of ACOB not as a negative, but as a necessary step in the still needed approval of the entire Orthodox Church world so that they can understand and affirm a local Church in the USA. We still need their guidance which must still be sought patiently and persistently.

              All the efforts that have been made over these many years will not be in vain; but, we too have to act with more trust than you display in your angry assault on our brother and sister Orthodox here in the USA who have just as much right to be here as we do. We are all in this together.

              • Jacob:

                You have drunk the koolaid from “+ Bart’s private fountain.” After the Kiev/Rus PROCLAIMED THEMSELVES an autocephalous church when all the other Orthodox fell into heresy signing at the Council of Florence, Constantinople rejected their claim of autocephaly. Although Constantinople and all the ancient patriarchates became NON-ORTHODOX with their signing, they had the audacity to reject the claim of the Russ. In fact, they rejected the autocephaly of the Kievan/Russ, later Russia (Moscow) for over 100+ years. The OCA will not wait 100 years and Constantinople only recognized Moscow as autocephalous after they paid Constantinople a very large sum in gold & jewels. The OCA will not be held hostage. The truth is that the ancient patriarchates are dying or dead and don’t know it. Syria will fall to radical Islam. Istanbul will throw + Bart out anytime now. Jerusalem is in shambles and Alexandria is the same. Hope for the Orthodox Church is in Russia where they still have a 16th century mentality of Orthodoxy and here in the United States. The enemy of Orthodox unity in the U.S. has been Istanbul. Now, all of a sudden, Istanbul will be the savior of Orthodox unity in the U.S. Unity with a foreign bishop (+ Bart) as it’s leader? Sorry, that’s not according to Canon Law to have an Eastern Pope.

                Simple solution and no need for ANY rigged “Great Council.” Every country declared a territory with one autocephalous church in every country – they decide on their name. All bishops in that country must come under that churches authority. All bishops form a council and chose their own head. Simple & done! Where’s the issue?

                • Hey Diogenes, that doesn’t sound “conciliar” to me.

                • Diogenes,

                  The history of the Russian Church an its autocephaly does not in anyway match what it going on here in the USA. Two very different histories and countries. It makes for a nice try, but your attempt to fit a square peg into a round hole just don’t fit.

                  You have cast your lot with the OCA going it alone. However that is not what the OCA is about, if you really knew its history. You may recall Met. Theodosius in 1989 at the AAC in Pittsburgh when he stated “If Orthodox unity means that we (the OCA) lay aside our autocephaly for the greater goal of one Church here, then we will do so.” He received a standing ovation for his remarks. Jonah in so many words has said the same thing.

                  If the OCA has morphed into a lone ranger church, full of “piss and ginger”, “damn the torpedos, full steam ahead”, and you want to sail on that ship, I think you will find others either too lazy or too prideful to go along with you.

                  I still believe that the Holy Sprit is at work in the Church here in the USA. Sin, envy, pride and jealousy are also here working against the Holy Spirit. If one Church is work fighting for it is also work sacrificing for.

                  I would hope that the appalling lack of consensus building a bipartisan cooperation that our own government is displaying these days is not spilling over into our life of the Spirit in the Church.

                  Less bravado, more prayer and fasting might do us all well.

                  • Jacob:

                    The issue is that Istanbul only recognizes who it wants when it wants. Well, if such a bishop wishes to take this stance, then they must state WHY. So far, Istanbul has no good reasoning not to accept the OCA’s “canonical” autocephaly other than it’s ridiculous claim of Canon 28. The OCA would surely fold itself into another created Orthodox Church in America which includes all the Orthodox bishops AND IS AUTOCEPHALOUS! A newly created church which is under the thumb of foreign bishops is unacceptable. + Jonah can say what he will, but unless the entire OCA agrees, it’s moot. The only sin & pride seems to be generated by foreign bishops who want to keep their grip on the Orthodox of N. America.

                    • Diogenes,

                      Your use of Istanbul and not Constantinople is, I presume intentional. The fact that Moscow now agrees with all Churches working in a conciliar fashion must agree to the recognition of an autocephalous, means that even the OCA’s Mother Church now recognizes that its unilateral action of granting the OCA its self-governing status is now not the answer.

                      The OCA is neither “fish nor fowl” at this time. It is given verbal assurances of Moscow standing by her autocephaly, but in fact Moscow has taken a huge step backwards in that she see her role, now as a free Church again, to work in concert with all other Orthodox Churches on this matter (which also includes Western Europe, Australia, South America, Canada and I might have forgotten one, but you see where I am going.)

                      A local Church in the USA is not going to forget its respective Mother Church. Rather, one Church will be a powerful force to advocate for the rights of Orthodox in countries under the yoke of Islam, for example.

                      However, the OCA is really in no position to bargin since it holds no leverage whatsoever any longer with Moscow’s realistic stance. The worst thing that could happen is for the OCA to “go it alone” as you seem to think it should, just because we think we are “autochephlous.” At that point we will no longer be part of the solution but part of the problem.

                      What are you actually afraid of? What do you think is going to happen? What is your biggest fear?

                    • A “newly created church which is under the thumb” of a Metropolitan Council and with a Primate who is nothing more than a figurehead will be equally unacceptable.
                      Without the support of the MP the OCA will become schismatic, not in communion with the rest of world Orthodoxy. I will not accept that.

                    • PdnNJ’s comment is extremely important. Whatever delusions the OCAers have about a kind of distorted ‘conciliarity’ simply won’t fly with the rest of the church in America when the new reality comes down the pike. That means that the Metropolitan Council is a “dead man walking.”

                      Quite comforting when you think about it.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      I liked the part where he said, “I will not accept that.”

                • Diogenes, is it worth mentioning that Metropolitan Jonah led the Russian Church into autocephaly?

                  (That’s the St. Jonah our Metropolitan is named after.)

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Jacob, both you and Diogenes are correct about certain aspects of this whole autocephaly imbroglio, but your insistence that now that the Old World patriarchates have somehow gotten their act together and we should work with them is stretching the point. Yes, they have gotten their act together (so to speak) but only after doing what they could to destroy American unity and autocephaly and gravely mishandling the aftermath. (Notice that I do not lay all blame at the feet of Bartholomew.)

                Let’s be honest, the entire EA process is an afterthought, one forced upon the EP by events that Istanbul could no longer control. It’s not an intrinsicly bad process btw, just a clunky one which shows that the Old World lost control of the situation, which –yes–was very chaotic. But then again the chaos originated overseas, didn’t it? And let’s be honest, the situation in the GOA has gotten immensely chaotic since the exile of Iakovos. We could write a book on all the misadventures that happened when Bartholomew unilaterally threw out the Charter, elevated the bishops to metropolitan status, got sued by the OCL, etc.

                Anyway, where was I? I see your nuances regarding the OCA’s autocephaly and that somehow Russia has reassessed how autocphaly is to be granted in the future, that all patriarchates are to be involved, etc. but the fact remains that that autocephaly is still formally recognized by Moscow. Isn’t it?

                And let’s not forget, that Moscow still hasn’t signed on the dotted line about the protocols that the Phanariots think are now magically in place. (If I am mistaken, I ask anybody to correct me.) In fact, I believe that there is immense wrangling between Istanbul and Moscow over how autocephaly is to be granted. If memory serves, according to Istanbul, a local church has to petition it for autocephaly and then the EP convenes a council of the other patriarchates. Moscow believes that a patriarchate can grant provisional autocephaly which is then taken up by the patriarchates. (Again, if I’m wrong about any of this please correct me.)

                • George,

                  I won’t speak to the inner workings of the GOA as OCL understands it.

                  The central, and I believe the most important point is the “cloudy” status of the OCA. Moscow agreed to the EA process. If Russia was 100%, no question about it, there is already an Autocephalous Church in North America and it is called Orthodox Church in America, therefore, the EA process does not apply to America and those other jurisdictions must join the OCA. That would have been the logical progression of the MP support for the OCA and its “right” to establish a local church.

                  We know they did not do that. Why? Because Russia now has ROCOR under its wing and ROCOR is not just here but in those other affected areas that the EA process is underway. Thus, ROCOR is more important to the MP and ironically now more “canonical” than the OCA. The only way the OCA becomes more important (influential) here in the USA is if goes back under Moscow. Thus the MP with ROCOR and the OCA becomes a much bigger player in the ACOB process in the USA. However, that is not likely to happen, although +Jonah understands this.

                  Another piece of this international puzzle, which will make folks like Diogenes really angry is that Moscow values the Ukraine much more highly than it does North America. If there is a potential “war” between Moscow and Constantinople, it won’t be over the USA but the Ukraine. Moscow will not let the EP infringe on the Ukraine. If Moscow had to choose she would have no problem letting the OCA fend for itself if it meant a choice between the OCA and the Ukraine.

                  All of this is to say that the OCA has no real support any longer and certainly by “going it alone” as the brave like Stokoe (who by the way has apparently disappeared from his OCA parish in Dayton) and the dreamweaver Hopko. It’s best bet is to fully embrace the ACOB because it has two choices, become a sect or advocate the importance of Orthodox Churches in the USA becoming a Sister Church in a definable realistic timetable.

                  I believe that the ACOB can get an Autonomous Church status under the EP. Cynics will say “NO GOOD.” But consider, as the Orthodox world’s most powerful Autonomous Church, it would effectively run its own affairs only needing the EP for a specific time to obtain Holy Chrism and gain approval for its bishops which it would nominate and only need a perfunctory “blessing” from the EP. (As an aside, a strong argument could be made for the USA to go under Moscow since it was the first to plant Orthodoxy in North America.) This is unlikely so for those who think under the EP that the EP would only “bless” Greek bishops, do you really think they are going to say NO to non Greek candidates? Really? On the contrary, the EP would be “forced” to bend over backwards to be seen as not favoring Greeks over non Greeks. Besides it is about a 50/50 split Greek/Non Greek in the USA when you add it all up.

                  The key is a specific date certain for this new Autonomous Church becoming a Sister Autocephalous Church. I would suggest within that timeline broad authority is given to establish new dioceses, draft its Charter, organize its internal life with us Americans keeping a careful eye on any shenanigans to undermine that path. And as the Prophet Isaiah once said, “Lord, how long” before full independence? I would think a realistic period is no longer than 20 years.

                  As I have said before, the OCA has no hold card to trump the inevitable path to unity except to become a sect, which for all practical purposes it is already. The OCA was a noble experiment, a possible path to unity. It did not work and it will not work. It was a passing dream but like all dreams, we wake up and have to face the light of day. It is time for the clergy and faithful of the OCA to wake up and promote unity in the ACOB process. I think we are willing however is our OCA Synod? It appears +Jonah understands the stakes, but do the others? Time will tell.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    interesting scenario, Jacob. The problem is that the GOA can’t help but step on its own feet. It has come to several peoples’ attention that the recent ACOB “encyclical” on the HHS mandate (which I approved of btw) was done unilateraly by the GOA. We’ll go into the reasons later (hint: because they were caught flat-footed). Suffice it to say that they didn’t run it by the OCA or the Antiochians. Because of this uniltateral , inept igh-handedness, the GOA has yet again proven itself to be supremacist.

                    Right now, things are so bad on the ACOB that bishops aren’t even talking to each other. As of where things now stand, it’s an open question on how many bishops are going to show up at the next ACOB in May.

                    What’s the upshot? In order to salvage this debacle, the GOA is going to have to bend over backwards now to make nice. Inept yes, but avoidable as well. Unfortunately, the GOA has done triupmphalist things like this so often that it remains to be seen whether they can ever really function outside the Ghetto.

                    As for your scenario regarding the Ukraine, EP, and Moscow, it makes sense. However the reality is that Moscow holds all the cards? I’m not so sure they’re going to keep on playing this cat-and-mouse game much longer. If the EP was smart, he’d cut a deal right now and be done with it. The longer this drags on the more obvious it becomes that the Phanar is a wasting asset.

                    • George,

                      Indeed there is a learning curve for everyone, and maybe most for the GOA. After decades of everybody doing their own thing, cooperation is a much harder process. Maybe the HHS situation uncovers a need for a ACOB response team to deal with such events.

                      I can’t speak to your apparent sources saying that bishops are not talking to each other. Heck, the OCA Synod doesn’t speak with its Metropolitan, so again, the little boys who wear the mitres are going to wake up and grow up and continue to act locally, but think globally (ACOB).

                      These same bishops have the opportunity to be historic figures in the life of the Orthodox Church. It is up to them, they have been dealt the cards. If they want to act like jokers, let us hope that won’t last too long.

                      I think this is where Orthodox clergy and laity, maybe the laity the most, need to add their voice, sorry George OCL won’t do. Too tainted. Rather laity working as it were on a parallel track with the bishops in holding the bishops to account. I don’t say this in an negative confrontational way, but as a reminder that laity really want this worked out.

                      As for clergy, ACOB needs to create one very important commission, Clergy Pension. If ACOB can come up with a unified clergy pension plan, one HUGE hurdle will be jumped. All clergy paying into one unified Pension Plan move all clergy on the same side.

                      Finally, laity letting their respective bishops know that we don’t want excuses for why you can’t cooperate, we want to see you cooperate, Everyone has to give to gain the greater good.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Jacob, your point about the OCA bishops not speaking to one another is well taken. It’s just now this dysfunction has spread because of the GOA’s normative high-handedness. Your point about the OCL is unfortunately spot on as well.


                      As much as I want unity, it may be better to pull the plug on the ACOB after all and just start over.

                  • Well Jacob, you’re wrong! 1/2 of all the Orthodox worldwide recognize the OCA “FORMALLY.” ALL OF THE ORTHODOX recognize the OCA “INFORMALLY” and are in Communion with the OCA. The OCA is FULLY canonical in every way. Now, your ridiculous assertions that Moscow doesn’t support the OCA – WRONG. ROCOR is a dying sect and has no reason to exist since Communism no longer rules. The Orthodox Church in Russia is now flourishing. ROCOR had no choice except to bury the hatchet, become fully recognized and move on. In 10 years, any remnant of ROCOR will be gone absorbed by Moscow. Because Istanbul won’t recognize “FORMALLY” the OCA’s autocephaly means very little. As said before, the Kievan/Rus waited 100+ years for Istanbul to “FORMALLY” recognize their independence. There maybe 1,000 Orthodox left in Istanbul and THIS is supposed to be the CENTER of Orthodoxy? Maybe in 900 A.D. It’s only a matter of time until + Bart will be thrown out of Istanbul by the radical Islamists and Damascus also falls to the radical Islamists. Again, the hope of the Orthodox Church is in Russia & the U.S. So, in the U.S., we’re ALL going to be under the thumb of foreign bishops contrary to Orthodox Canon Law? Ain’t gonna happen and the OCA will have leaders who believe in an autocephalous Orthodox Church in America. Foreign bishops, canonically, have no authority here. You want to be under foreign bishops and give them all your money, go ahead.

                    • yada, yada, yada. Thanks for offering the OCA party line again.

                      Of course I did not say the OCA was not canonical, rather that ROCOR is more canonical. Calm down Diogenes, you just proved what I said.

                      You may be correct that ROCOR as we know it will be fully reunited with the MP. That does not mean it is a dying sect.

                      You may actually want to check how many Orthodox Churches actually commemorate Met. Jonah when he is not present.

                      But of course, all of this means precious little when it comes to how the OCA and Orthodoxy unity in the USA.

                      You say my conclusions about Moscow and the OCA is “ridiculous.” Really. Prove it. What sources do you have in the MP that are telling you that the MP will stake everything on the OCA?

                      Come on Diogenes. You are just, as the old song goes, “Wishn and Hopn” that somehow the OCA will be that shining light of Orthodoxy on the hill. You want to hold on to the dream. I think that is noble and the OCA has a role to play in shaping the future structure of Orthodoxy in the USA and how it will be united as one Church that fully reflects Eucharistic unity and Administrative unity.

                      But really, you keep repeating the same mantra, “Foreign bishops, canonically, have no authority here.” That is not reality here in the USA. We need to be a local Church but the OCA is not that path. That door closed a long time ago. If you want to still drag out the “You want to be under foreign bishops……” when did I say that?

                      Please before you push the send button, calm down. Carefully read what I write and then respond because this latest outburst of yours only reveals why Orthodoxy unity in this country will take patience and sacrifice on everyone’s part. Are you willing to work for it or just take your toys and play by yourself?

                    • “Pie in the sky” thinking resulting from extreme hubris and stupidity, and no longer even relevant or viable in today’s situation. After the shenanigans of the OCA leadership of the last 6 years, what Mother Church Patriarchate is going to release their bishops and laity to an “Americanized/democratic” OCA under the thumb of a Metropolitan Council with a Primate who is a figurehead only. What non-OCA bishop or laity would even consent to that? The Romanians and Bulgarians could simply drop out and attach themselves to their Mother Patriarchates. And I wonder how many OCA bishops, priests and laity would want to remain in a schismatic “autocephalous” church?

                    • Diogenes just likes to go back and read what he writes. It’s like self-affirmation.

                      There’s a complete disconnect between what he think’s is happening or will happen, and what actually is happening and what will happen.Yes, the OCA will play a role in forming a united Orthodox Church in the United States. But it will neither play a leading role, or the sole role. If for no other reason than the statutes of the OCA, the OCA will not be the model of the future of Orthodoxy in America. There will be no Metropolitan Council, or anything remotely like it. There may be some kind of an advisory body, which is common in most of the jurisdictions, but I assure you there will be no lay governance.

                      The MC is a dead man walking…

                    • Diogenes, think about what you’re saying. Do you think Moscow is so stupid as to disintegrate ROCOR completely into the MP structure? You’re clearly not pay attention to the politics of this. And believe me, it’s all politics.

                      So, in the tradition of how I’ve had to speak to Carl Kraeff when he is showing a complete blind spot, I’ll address you in like manner. I’ll speak s l o w l y so that you can understand.


                      Moscow will never dissolve ROCOR in the United States because ROCOR can open new parishes here. Therefore in reality ROCOR is Moscow’s escape clause out of the new parish restrictions of the Tomos.

                      Got it?

                      At this point, you should be saying, “Ooooooohhhhhhhhhh……..”

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Spasi wrote: ‘Therefore in reality ROCOR is Moscow’s escape clause out of the new parish restrictions of the Tomos.”

                      What are the new parish restrictions of the Tomos? Explain a bit more? Tx.

                    • 7.The Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America shall have exclusive spiritual and canonical jurisdiction over all bishops, clerics and laymen of the Eastern Orthodox confession in continental North America, excluding Mexico, and including the State of Hawaii who are presently part of the Metropolitanate, or who shall later enter the Metropolitanate; and over all parishes which now belong or later shall be accepted into the Metropolitanate, excepting the entire clergy, possessions and parishes enumerated in Paragraph 3, points a,b,c.

                      It’s commonly understood that in this paragraph, the MP releases any claim to the territory, except for the parishes in Paragraph 3. The MP has never established a new parish in the United States since the Tomos was signed, even though it had desired to and could have easily established dozens, if not hundreds, of parishes. About 10 years ago, at the height of the Russian emigration to the US, a commission was established between the OCA and MP to discuss caring for the growing Russian population in the US. It is rumored that a “Russian diocese” was proposed but never materialized (maybe Bp Tikhon can clarify this).

                      By connecting a few dots, one can see that the MP/ROCOR reconciliation was not only the right and Christian thing to do, but was advantageous for MP, since ROCOR is, by agreement, mostly autonomous within the MP.

                  • Jacob says:
                    “Moscow values the Ukraine much more highly than it does North America.”
                    And conversely, the EP values North America much more than it does the Ukraine because of the financial support it gets from the GOA and Archons here which it will not get from the Ukraine.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Spasi, the reconciliation between ROCOR and MP was meet and just on its own merits, of that we should all be thankful. Having said that, the scenrio of ROCOR being an “escape hatch” gives me hope as well. It might very well be the escape hatch out of the ACOB for all we know. Although HB gave an eloquent speech and is certainly in the know regarding the inner workings of ACOB and its plans, I can’t help but think that Istanbul or its surrogate here in the US is going to botch things. If things indeed unfold in a negative fashion, the formal merger of ROCOR/MP with the OCA would be a way for Moscow to enhance its position in North America.

                      As for the MC being a “dead man walking,” I believe (and hope) that you are right. It will have to be drastically reconfigured anyway if it is to have any chance of survival. It’s not just a matter of canonical good order but economics as well.

                  • Jacob says:
                    “Moscow values the Ukraine much more highly than it does North America.”
                    And conversely, the EP values North America much more highly than it does the Ukraine because of the financial support it gets from the GOA and Archons here which it will not get from the Ukraine.

                    • PdnNJ,

                      I really doubt that the Archons will stop support the EP or the St. Ignatius Society, Damascus or other groups in the pathwork that is Orthodoxy in the USA. Why should they? Foreign Aid in the USA has a long history!

                      I say again, that a unified Orthodox Church in the USA becomes a power voice for oppressed Orthodox around the world. Thus it is not just the Greeks who support the EP or the AOCA supporting Christians in Lebanon or Jordan or Syria, but all Orthodox, etc. A united Orthodox voice advocating with Congress to stop the suffering of Christians in Homs.

                      Today, we are not a united voice and thus we weaken our witness here and where our united witness can be important. Of course it will take time for this voice to be fully in tune and become a strong voice, but we already know the alternative. We are living it.

                      Like the USA, a nation of many ethnic voices and concerns, a united Orthodox Church will also reflect this national reality. Love for homeland should be seen as a burden nor should it be seen as counter to the future of a Local Church here in the USA. In time, by God’s Grace all the genuine expressions of Orthodoxy here can have the chance to cross pollinate and a truly unique expression of Orthodoxy can be added to those of other Local Churches around the world.

                      So we will see how our leaders act. Like feudal lords of their own manors when they next meet as the ACOB or as historic figures in the birth of a Local Church.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Jacob, I for one would hope that a truly unified, autocephalous American Orthodox Church would help the overseas patriarchates. However, that’s an ideal. The older I get the more realisitic I get, and given the intense tribalism of American patchwork Orthodoxy, I seriously doubt that such aid would be universal or equitable.

                      You and I agree about the moral bankruptcy of the MC, but the Archons and Ignatius axes are just as short-sighted and ethnocentric. That won’t change anytime soon. That’s why I’m all for pulling the plug on the ACOB and taking a “time out.” Severe repentance among the episcopate and lay elites has to take place before we can be a true united and local Church. Frankly I just don’t see that anywhere.

                      As always, I hope I’m wrong.

                    • George – I suppose it’s anyone’s guess, but I’m not sure I see ACOB going away soon. Of course, it’s only concrete as those who participate in it wish to be, right? On the other hand, I think the EP (and the rest of the autocephalous churches, sans OCA) was very shrewed to create not only the mandate for these Episcopal Assemblies, to but create the Rules of Operation right out of the gate.

                      And notice that ACOB moved very quickly to adopt by-laws, incorporate, and set up working committees. They’re taking many of the existing organizations (IOCC, etc) and will likely pronounce some kind of official imprimature regaridng them. This is not what a fly-by-night organization does. I think there’s substance here, and political realities aside, I think there’s a committment to get this one right, learning from past mistakes.

                      I get the sense that this is a much more serious organization, because it has broad support from overseas, whereas SCOBA was seen as a threat. Regardless of where we fall on that issue, SCOBA is no more, and the assertive (albeit enthralling) Ligonier statements died with it. (Though I truly think the imperatives of evangelism and church growth that were articulated did not!) ACOB is a reset. I know that drives people like Diogenes crazy, but it’s reality, and the bizarro-Twilight-Zone crew (“The OCA will go it alone”) just can’t accept reality.

            • “But mommy, it’s all their fault!”

          • Father John,

            I’m not sure I agree with you when you write “That means that we cannot ignore Constantinople if for no other reason that the Greeks have more members than all the other Orthodox combined.”

            Going by Alexei Krindatch’s recent data, which I’m sure we’ve all seen here and there over the past year or so, the GOAA is reported to have 476,000 “adherents,” whatever that means. The GOA has, by report, 546 parishes across America, give or take a few. Estimating this to be 550 parishes, this means that each GOAA parish has a membership of (on average) 865 members???

            I just can’t buy this. Sure, perhaps a few of the bigger parishes may have this number, but I can’t believe that the average GOAA parish size is 865 members. How on earth can a priest minister to that many people? Even 2 or 3 priests assigned to a parish?

            My hunch is that the reported number of GOAA “adherents” is an incredibly inflated number. Having grown up in the GOAA, I don’t buy it.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              GG, your hunch is completely correct. I don’t want to take away from Mr Krindatch’s work because his efforts were herculean but it’s still based on the rosy scenarios that the GOA priests gave to him. Having said that, the average GOA parish is bigger than the average everything else parish, but you’re right, the vast majority of GOA parished don’t have more than 250 people. (A more realistic number is 140,000, 200,000 tops. So yeah, they are the largest but at this point we might as well be bragging about who’s the tallest midget in the room.)

              So what does this portend for the future? It’s a bad news/good news scenario: The bad news is that the GOA continues to counts every Easter attendee as an adherent (and even then it doesn’t like to dwell on the definition of “adherent.” Let’s just say that this term could never be applied in the same way in a ROCOR parish). The good news is that it has come down from the blatantly ridiculous figure of “1.5 million members” that it has put out constantly in The Orthodox Disturber going on the last 15 or so years.

              So there’s hope that some sobriety is taking hold on 79th St. It’s a baby step but at least it’s in the right direction.

              • Oh, George,

                I didn’t realize how much I needed a good laugh until I saw this and it just burst out of me. Regardless of the subject it is a fantastically funny one-liner:

                “… we might as well be bragging about who’s the tallest midget in the room.”


            • GC – The report clearly states that ‘adherents’ are not members, but are in any way loosely associated with, in this case, the GOA.

              Parishes count people in many different ways, and each way will give a different number. Communicants is the number of people that take communion (adults and children). Members usually is only adult financially contributing members (no children). Mailing list additionally includes people that would come on a very occassional basis by household. Adherants is actually NOT be a number reported by a parish. It is the number of people that claim to be Orthodox and somehow might be ministered to by the parish, (probably at least when they die). This number can be compiled in many ways, using census data, some type of guestimate, or something else. I suppose priests can tell you, “May parish has xxx ‘members,’ but potentially I can in some way possibly minister to xxx.” That’s ‘adherents.’

              With that clarification, the 476,000 number for the GOA is completely logical. And that number is probably double the amount that come on Pascha or Christmas, and that Pascha or Christmas number itself is far beyond a ‘membership’ number of any jurisdiction.

              Other justifications of the number: In the year 2,000, there were 365,436 people (over five years old) that spoke Greek at home as their first language in the US. The vast majority of those people alone would be claimed by the GOA, let alone second, third, fourth generation Greeks. While I recognize not all Greeks are Orthodox, I think it’s a safe be that a large percentage of them at least claim to be (that is, ‘adherents’). And while official government numbers conflict, just those of Greek heritage in the US are said to number between 1,500,000 and 3,000,000 in the US in 2007.

              There are many more than “just a few” GOA parishes in this country that can easily claim to have somehow loosely associated with their parish as claiming to be Greek Orthodox, 1,000 or more people.

      • I think it is called Great and Holy Synod rather than Council. Am I wrong on that? If not, what do you think the difference in terminology signifies, if anything.

    • Sorry, but that ship has sailed.

      You have two chioces: 1) Get on board with the Episcopal Assembly plan, which is led by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, or 2) go rogue with an OCA in Exile which will “keep the dream alive.”

      My gut tells me that there will indeed be some type of a split in the OCA. The opening salvo was when Met Jonah suggested that the OCA consider giving up its autocephaly, which is tantamount to blasphemy with the “Keep the Dream Alive” folks, because they worship at the altar of conciliarity and transparency, and how dare the First Hierarch give his opinion or vision for the church.

      Immediately the plans for Met Jonah’s demise were formulated. They see him as the Rasputin of the OCA, and they’ve tried metaphorically stabbing him (assassinating his character), metaphorically poisoning him (encouraging others to disrespect him), metaphorically shooting him (make a public spectacle by sending him to St Luke’s for a psychological evaluation), metaphorically strangling him (disallowing him from traveling abroad and keeping him from speaking publicly), and metaphorically throwing him in the river (put him into retirement in a monastery). In the end, they will get rid of him, for sure.

      Whatever plan the EA comes up with, there will be the diehard OCA Autocephalists who will not accept any plan that is not completely bereft of any type of foreign influence. If the EA plan does not pass muster with these folks, they will rally the troops, and there will be a split in the OCA. The “We are Their Legacy” gang will happily be the odd men out, full of pride, hanging on to the dream that died long ago, and will put themselves “in schism” to keep the dream alive. Sadly, they will be reminiscent of a pathetic old balarina who pretends she’s still a young and healthy diva, demaning the respect that she ‘deserves,’ but who dies pennyless and friendless, surrounded by pictures of her performances of yesteryear.

      • Spasi:

        First, the OCA is going nowhere. The only acceptable unity of the Orthodox in N. America is ONLY “autocephalic.” Not a church under Moscow; not under Istanbul; not Damascus or anyone else. + Bart and the others either recognize this or go pound sand. There will be no split in the OCA, but certain OCA bishops who don’t believe in the mission of the OCA will be ejected! + Jonah’s issues were self-inflicted and basically, he was the best choice at the time for Met. Now, he can step down if he wants! The OCA has learned many things these past 10 years and probably the best is: a 5 year term limit for a Met. He could serve again, but only after sitting out for at least one term.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      There are no canons that deal with the contemporary situation of Orthodoxy. We have the example of Cyprus which was declared autocephalous by the Council of Chalcedon. In every other case a unified national Orthodox Church declared itself autocephalous and was later recognized as such by the other autocephalous Churches. Our problem is that we have no unified national American Church. Until we do, talk of autocephaly is premature. Frankly, if half the stuff that I read on this site is true, the OCA has too many problems to persuade any thinking Orthodox to want to join with them or recognize them as the American Church. The OCA should take care of its own problems privately and not in a way that makes all Orthodox look bad. I am not taking sides because I do not know enough about the OCA to know who is right, but whoever is at fault, you should deal with your disputes in a much less public manner. Posts on the internet about pro-homosexual bishops and clergy, financial irregularities as well as turf wars among bishops make all of us look bad to the non-Orthodox.Attacks on other Orthodox jurisdictions from people in the OCA only make Orthodoxy look bad as well as making unity that much harder. If I had read this rot when I was considering converting to Orthodoxy, I doubt that I would have become Orthodox.

      Archpriest John Morris

      • Jane Rachel says

        Father John,

        It has boiled over like a pressure cooker. The pot simmered with the lid on for so long that it exploded. You can’t put it back in the kettle. It has to come out. Don’t forget how the Old and New Testament Prophets and the Lord Himself ranted against the leadership, in public places, and saying things you would not approve of, exposing them for their hypocrisy, and yet, they usually refused to listen. The prophets were told by God to do really crazy things to get the attention of the people, and their corrupt religious leaders. The prophets were labeled insane, too. They were thrown in cisterns, crucified, sawn in half, and stoned to death by the religious leaders with the people looking on in approval, why? To shut them up. The leaders didn’t want to be exposed and the people didn’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable. The Old Testament language and exposure of sin is even worse than what you read here. It should not have to be so. The leaders should not have let it come to this. I do believe the battle will be over within time. Jacob and Spasi are making sense, and may it be soon, Lord!

        When I joined the OCA, I wasn’t looking at the people. All I could see was the truth and beauty of Orthodoxy. Nothing would have stopped me from becoming Orthodox but at least I would have known things were not as they appeared. I’ve been in other religious organizations where there were problems with the leaders, but nothing like this. It has to come out, Father John. If you don’t want to read it, don’t.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Very eloquent, Jane. The Prophets were viewed as insane in their time. That always bothered me. But I think you explained why: unless they did something outlandish, they would not be listened to.

  17. squirrelmaster says

    Blessed are those who give their fears and concerns to God in prayer! Let us take our concerns and give them to God in prayer! If you were to die before the week is done, what would you want for the Church?

    What would happen to all your concerns and fears for the future of the Church?

    How would you respond to a person’s post that you found disturbing?

    Blessed is she who constantly remembers death!

  18. Carl Kraeff says

    Very poetic. I am impressed although the repeated use of “metaphorically”as a bit too much.

    In any case, I am very intrigued by the following: “Whatever plan the EA comes up with, there will be the diehard OCA Autocephalists who will not accept any plan that is not completely bereft of any type of foreign influence.” I have bolded the part that attracted my attention. What sort of foreign influence will there be? Or, are you merely illustrating the “fanaticism” of us ultra-autocephalists?

    May I remind you that this ultra-autocephalist takes his marching orders fro various official statements put out in the name of or by the Holy Synod. I am not going to bother and dig them up once again. Suffice it to say, it does not mean any kind of maximal autonomy, or any other such non-canonical arrangement, under a foreign patriarchate.

    Finally, if a split comes, why are you assuming that it will be the fault of the so-called “diehard OCA Autocephalists”? If something other than a fully autocephalous church is forced upon us, we will not be like old ballerinas but like St Mark of Ephesus. Like him, we will also be zealots for truth, fight for the teaching of the Fathers and cast down the darkness of boastful pride.” (copied/paraphrased from the troparion for St Mark).

    • You heard it here first.

      I feel like Ashley. I really want to say, “All my promises to the OCA come true.” LOL

    • Archpriest John Morris says

      It is not possible to completely prevent foreign influence on American Orthodox, nor should anyone try. We are not alone here, but are part of a world wide Church in which every local Orthodox Church is accountable to the other local Orthodox Churches. That is one way that we prevent the kind of chaos that exists within Anglicanism. No one branch of Orthodoxy can act on in a way that ignores the rest of the Church. We cannot isolate ourselves from world Orthodoxy or ignore their concerns. Because we all have people whose ancestors came from another country, it is only natural that we should be concerned with the welfare of Orthodox outside of the U.S. I am concerned about the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Right now, I am very concerned about my fellow Antiochian Orthodox in Syria..

      Archpriest John Morris

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Dear Father John,

        Father bless!

        Of course, “We cannot isolate ourselves from world Orthodoxy or ignore their concerns” I also cannot foresee a future when truly autocephalous Orthodox Church of United States is not “concerned with the welfare of Orthodox outside of the U.S.” As the United States is a country of immigrants, I also do not see such an autocephalous church refusing to allow the celebration of the heritage of its constituent nationalities. I would imagine, God willing, we would have Irish, Italian, German, African-American and Latino festivals, alongside the Greek, Russian and Mediterranean festivals.

  19. Many of you just don’t get it. According to Orthodox Canon Law, an autocephalous church in a territory is what the canons prescribe. Not a church or churches under foreign bishops who have no authority here. This current ecclesiastical formation is NON-CANONICAL. Having ANY foreign bishop in charge or having authority is NON-CANONICAL. So you see, according to Orthodox Canon Law, the OCA is the ONLY Orthodox Church in N. America following Orthodox Canons. + Bart, Moscow, Damascus, etc. can say or dictate what they wish, but they really have no authority in N. America.

    • I think you underestimate us. We most certainly do get it. But, who will you make this grand argument to, exactly? When absolutely NO ONE recognizes the OCA as the sole Autocephalous church and the only church with canonical authority, what choice, exactly, do you have? How many examples do you need of the non-recognition of the OCA, even among her so-called supporters? Is Moscow going to fight for the status of the sole canonical authority of the OCA, when she has already taken ROCOR under her protection, and actively seeks to stregthen her presence here in the US? What about the Antiochian, with whom the OCA has a close relationship? Will she ‘fight’ for the status of the OCA as the only canonical authority in the US, as they continue to establish more and more missions, and add more and more bishops, in response to their explosive growth?

      And where will you make this argument, exactly? To the gathering of all the canonical churches in the world, to which the OCA has never been invited, and never will be invited?

      What you fail to realize is that while the legitimacy of the OCA is recognized by all the other churches, the canonical claims of the OCA are not. I’m sure the bravado of screaming in the face of all the ancient patriarchs and waiving the Tomos in the air is very enthralling and stirring to you, but in the end, it means nothing. The OCA’s canonical status has always been questioned by virtually everyone, and now even her closest allies have all but abandoned her, at least in private. The movement of joining with the EA to find a truly ‘conciliar’ solution to the entire problem of one united church in the US is where the Holy Spirit is leading us. It’s time to get with the program and see what God has in store for the future.

      • Diogenes and his ilk don’t want to get it. It would destroy their particular vision and plans for a united OC in america in tune with modernity.

      • Spasi:

        You don’t get it. Moscow gave up it’s authority in N. America when it granted autocephaly to the OCA. Moscow churches exist here as “guests.” ROCOR was a sectarian church which is legitimized by it’s recent union under Moscow. Moscow has NO real authority in N. America – neither does ROCOR. Canon Law is also quite clear, foreign bishops have NO authority outside their own territory. This includes Moscow, Istanbul, Damascus and all others. Now, none of these churches in America can be ignored, so to unify everyone and make everyone “CANONICAL,” the very first thing that has to take place is the throwing off of any FOREIGN BISHOPS. Then, ALL the bishops must declare themselves “autocephalous.” Then, formulate a new autocephalous church with their own head. This is EXACTLY what the OCA did CANONICALLY and the Pat. of Istanbul fought to stop any unity in N. America. + Bart is the problem, not the solution! Moscow has no authority here!

        • Jane Rachel says

          Diogenes: It’s “its”, not “it’s”. “It’s” is a possessive…Oh, I get it! The OCA Holy Synod of Bishops and the Holy Metropolitan Council plan to lead ALL American Orthodox into a New World Order! Because it’s CANONICAL! And CONCILIAR! WOW!

          • Jane Rachel says

            *Facepalm!* Stupid me. I shouldn’t proofread before coffee. “It’s” is a contraction: It is. “Its” is a possessive: It holds its own without the apostrophe. Your sentence should be: “Moscow gave up its authority in N. America…”

    • Archpriest John Morris says

      I dispute your accusation that so called foreign bishops have no canonical jurisdiction in North America. The Patriarchate of Antioch assumed jurisdiction over parishes in North America to meet legitimate pastoral needs of Arab speaking Orthodox that could not be met by the Russian bishops who were consumed by the problems that followed the Russian Revolution. Antioch did not take this step on its own authority, but only after receiving the blessing of Moscow, the Metropolia (OCA) and the Karlovici Synod (ROCOR).
      Regardless of how we got here, we are divided in America. Demanding that those outside of the OCA recognize the claims of some in the OCA that the OCA is the only canonical Orthodox Church will not lead to unity. Indeed, the OCA triumphalism displayed by some writers on this site only leads to further division by alienating those who are not OCA. Attacking the primates and bishops of non-OCA jurisdictions only leads to further division by questioning the Orthodoxy of who have served for decades under the omophorion of a non OCA bishop.
      Finally, before there can be a real autocephalous American Orthodox Church, there first must be unity among the American Orthodox. The canons assume a unified regional Church as a precondition to autocephaly. We do not have a unified regional Church in this country. One jurisdiction, regardless of its historical pedigree cannot force the rest of American Orthodoxy to accept their authority over the American Church nor can we set up an American Orthodox Church on our own in a way that ignores the legitimate concerns of the rest of world Orthodoxy. We should remember that the Russian Church was under Constantinople for 460 years before it declared itself autocephalous. It took another 141 years before Constantinople and the rest of Orthodoxy agreed that the primate of Russia should assume the dignity of a patriarchate. Thus, these things take time. We American are much too impatient, but must learn to calm down and realize that God is in control of His Church. The American Orthodox Church will achieve authentic autocephaly in God’s time not our’s.
      Actually despite or administrative divisions we are much more united than any of the mainline Protestant churches who have a united administration. The members of every major American Protestant church are divided over all sorts of issues. Most of them do not share a common understanding of what it means to be a Christian. At least, we Orthodox are not divided on these issues, but share a common understanding of basic Christian doctrine.

      Archpriest John Morris

      • George Michalopulos says

        In the main, I agree with you Fr. If I may go off on a tangent which you brought up regarding “foreign” bishops.

        Two years ago, when I attended the OCL conference in Houston, our speaker was Fr Mark Arey. He gave a brilliant talk and his enthusiasm for the Episcopal Assembly process was palpable. But it became obvious that the GOA was not really interested in unity except on its terms.

        One of the things that he said that let the cat out of the bag (so to speak) was in response to a question as to why there were no American bishops at Chambesy. (It was the pre-conciliar commission at Chambessy that came up with the EA process.) He said “that there were no foreigners in Orthodoxy.” Rather than being obdurate and saying something, I thought to myself: “then why aren’t there any American bishops there?”)

        Anyway, I knew at at that point that we’d been had.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Fr. John, seems like a Catch-22 to me. We can’t have unity until we have unity but as long as we have different jurisdictions, we can’t have unity. The ‘go-it-alone’ method won’t work because of the various jurisdictions, you are right. So, unless and until the old-world partriarchates declare they are taking their hands off the various rudders so that we can begin to steer our own ship together, nothing will happen. In the EA context that would mean simply that the bishops in this land would be given free reign to come together with all the help and assistance of the old-world parents. That does not seem to be happening. In fact, retrenchment seems to be going on.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Michael, thanks for pointing out the tautologies that makes it impossible for unity to happen. As much as our bishops are to blame (and they do bear the ultimate responsibility), we can’t let the laity off the hook. Thanks to the fact that Ligonier was not allowed to proceed under its own steam, we’re now stuck in an agressive tribalist and xenophobic atmosphere. The mistrust that the bishops on ACOB feel is perhaps more intense among the laity.

  20. As today is the Sunday of the Cross, I thought today would be a good day to post Metropolitan Jonah’s homily from last year, especially for anybody who was not able to attend the Divine Liturgy for today. He makes several points that I believe many can benefit from hearing.

  21. Diogenes

    You may to check out the “dying ROCOR” as you put it.

    Like Mark Twain reports of its demise are greatly exaggerated!

    Oh, btw, this is just one ROCOR diocese.


  22. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    It’s my conviction that if Patriarch Aleksi I, Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov) and the Archpriests Alexander Schmeman and John Meyendorff had had the slightest inkling or suspicion that the future of the Soviet state was that it would collapse before the end of the century, they would never ever have proceeded with the negotiations that resulted in the grant of the Tomos of Autocephaly. Other bedrock premises of that grant were the continued decline of the role the Church could play in Russian society, and that the leadership of the new autocephalous church would consist of individuals as intelligent, PIOUS, and competent as the Metropolia leadership in the 60s. Only in such a context did the Tomos make any sense. The context is entirely gone and an entirely different Sitz in Leben now obtains. A few clergy from the same Parisian and/or RSKhD milieu disagreed with the autocephaly at the time, but their opinions were steamrollered and blackened as “blind Russian nationalism” and they decided they had to leave and go to ROCOR then: for example, Father Alexander Kiselev (sp/) and Father Alexei Yonov.

    Those were the days when, SVS was rich in its gifted faculty, but struggling to make financial ends meet. The next generation was focussed on foundations and the same priorities as now animate the “Metropolitan Council, and SVS is now very sure where the next meal is coming from and that the salaries of its not-so-gifted faculty will never again be imperilled. True, for a term or so, the learned Archimandrite, Alexander (Golitzin) joined the faculty part-time, but the faculty context was so mediocre and even ingrown that he chose to leave and go teach at Marquette, an institution of rather Higher learning. Father Alexander earned his doctorate in England, at Oxford. Any clergy who would like to have “PhD” in their credentials need not go to such lengths. There’s always Fordham University, long a home and center of “bridge-building” between the Orthodox, especially Russian, and the Jesuits, which is always happy to go the extra mile (and beyond?) in the “PhD for the OCA’ format. It’s true that even a Fordham PhD can result in a stroke or paralysis from the unnatural struggle with schoolwork, butt that has not deterred anyone from going that route.

    • What you state just isn’t true. Golitzin was invited to teach on a temporary basis as were others. He was on sabbatical from Marquette. He was very good and well-liked. He returned to teach at Marquette because he had tenure and an assured pension. As far as what you state, a mediocre faculty, that also is not true. Fr. John Behr is world-renown in his Patristics; Fr. Rentel is no slouch; Paul Meyendorff is brilliant; etc. In fact, upon examining the faculties of St. Tikhon’s, SVS and Holy Cross, St. Vladimir’s has the strongest faculty. It’s really too bad you weren’t asked to teach at SVS…oh wait, you have no Orthodox theological degree.

      • There you go again Diogenes, acting like a OCA Free Man. Ever graduate from SVS?

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          Jacob, Eric did join the mixed-bag ranks of SVS finishers. But, you know, at SVS they don’t stress the sociological makeup of the bishops at the First Ecumenical Council Some of them were pretty rough characters and could barely read and write, if at all. This is not stressed at SVS. After all, if one covets the position in Christianity once held by the University of Paris—-independent of all, but judging all—-one has to “keep the (academic) faith,” no?

          • Your Grace, are you saying that SVS needs to court more illiterate students?

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              Why, Helga… No, I’m not saying that at all, nor do I accept such an idea. Pointing out the defects in the megalomaniac idea that SVS is the answer to all that ails the Church is all I’m doing. Why, such an over-simplification would be like harping on the man who said he couldn’t understand the Scriptures unless someone helped him. SVS has more than enough advocates, Helga, although I’m sure your advocacy is more than welcome, but awfully defensive.

              • Bishop Tikhon, I’m not an “advocate” for SVS. I was just having a hard time figuring out what you were trying to say about them. I don’t understand why you had to drag them into this.

            • Helga:

              He didn’t graduate from any Orthodox theological institution. While given authority as a bishop, he was known for ordaining people of questionable, limited credentials. Probably so they could never question him in his authority. CA became a mess under him.

      • I’m wondering why Our Lord chose His Apostles from the fishermen, and not the highly educated religIous intellengensia of his time.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        Now, Eric. Are you saying that Father Alexander was NOT asked to stay at SVS and did NOT turn down the invitation? Be very careful before intimating someone has uttered a falsehood.
        You know, too, or must know, that one doesn’t have to be an ant to study and even become an expert on ants, does he? Does “world-renown” mean the same thing as world renowned? Or, OF world renown?
        Fr. Rentel is not a slouch. I should hope not! A slouch? He’s a first-class student of the liturgical tradition, but hardly of Father Alexander Schmeman’s stature. Former Deacon Paul Meyendorff is, indeed, bright. As for “brilliant”, well….I don’t think so.
        I’m shocked you’d say it was “too bad” I wasn’t asked to teach at SVS! What an idea! As I say, one need not be an ant to be an expert on ants, and being an expert on ants wouldn’t mean one wanted to BE ONE!!!! What cloudy thinking, Eric. The synapses not firing as they used to?
        As they used to sing about the old grey mare: “she ain’t what she used to be.” It’s true, not false.
        What awful, awful attempts at fencing!

  23. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    Here’s something to fit into the “Strategic Plan” and “Vision”:

  24. More Good News? Metropolitan Jonah on Orthodox Unity — Monomakhos pxkhus eajllcr cwwaud north face pas cher nzcldfw yqfaqnli doudoune moncler pas cher tubpgat ifvnp