More Narrative Fail: The OCL Weighs In

As many of you know, I’ve been a member of the OCL for several years. In taking up this blog however, I’ve let my responsibilities to this fine organization slide. Some of you have asked me my opinion about the OCL but because of work concerns (as well as this blog), I haven’t been able to give them the consideration that they deserve. There’s only so many hours in the day.

As for the OCL itself, it has revamped its website and I must say that it looks fantastic. One of their members (Joel Kalevsmaki) published a powerful editorial yesterday. Because of it packs a punch, I sense that the OCL is starting to gear up for battle. Please take the time to read it.

Did the OCA Bishops Lie about Metropolitan Jonah?

Source: Orthodox Christian Laity

By Joel Kalvesmaki

For the last two years, bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and key members of the OCA administration have waged a not-so-subtle war against Metropolitan Jonah, doing their utmost to oust him. That effort reached a milestone this summer, when the Metropolitan tendered his resignation.

Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) has reason to be concerned: a strong advocate of its ideals—jurisdictional unity, spiritual renewal, lay participation in church governance, and transparency and accountability in church governance—has fallen.

+Jonah has been an active proponent of jurisdictional unity, not just by being part of the Episcopal Assembly but by achieving real results: he was instrumental in effecting reconciliation and unity in the United States among the OCA, the Moscow Patriarchate (MP), and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). The strenuous difficulties between the OCA and ROCOR go back decades (see an account at Orthodox Wiki), but under +Jonah rapprochement happened in only a few years. In lectures, sermons, and pastoral letters his call for spiritual renewal in the Church and in our country has been consistent and clarion. He encouraged reforms for greater accountability and transparency in the OCA. I have witnessed firsthand his refreshing candor in matters of church governance. As Vice-President of the primatial cathedral, I was at ease expressing disagreement with his decisions (it happened more than once, and on important matters) because he welcomed a free exchange of ideas, trusting that all of us in the church aspire to preserve Holy Tradition. Although he was not a skilled administrator, he knew how to delegate administrative responsibilities to competent people, laity as well as clergy, and he trusted them to do their work well. +Jonah has been one of the few bishops to attend OCL meetings, encouraging us to fulfill our mandate. A finer friend to OCL is hard to find among the bishops.

In their recent actions, however, the OCA bishops and administration have brought harm, both to the faithful of the OCA and to their fellow Orthodox, here and abroad.

The bishops are to be commended for breaking with their customary silence by releasing an official three-page statement on July 16, the day OCL issued its own call for an explanation. At the time, the official statement was refreshing. It did not merely accuse but supplied events, sprinkled with dates, places, and persons. The example that best illustrated the need for +Jonah’s removal involved the accusation of sexual misconduct by a priest. Such frankness was surprising. Allegations like these are usually suppressed or skirted in official explanations.

But a number of persons have taken a closer look at the statement, found serious problems, and argued that it is riddled with fundamental errors of fact and logic. Over the last two months the responses have accumulated. Many of these have been posted as main articles or substantive comments on the blog run by George Michalopulos. (Caveat lector—the best critiques are mixed with the worst.) Now the lengthiest, if not most substantive, critique of the OCA statement has been compiled by Christine Fevronia.

Collectively, these counterarguments portray the bishops as having misled or misinformed the public. At best they have made mistakes, at worst lies, about the few specifics discussed. The account given by the bishops to exemplify Jonah’s wrongdoing is riddled with factual errors. Once those and all other alleged errors are secluded, the statement is heavy on insinuation and light on facts. One cannot help but ask, was the statement merely a pretext to damage +Jonah’s reputation?

The OCA’s response to criticism has been silence, a call for the church to move on and heal. The bishops have not answered any of the objections. Meanwhile their statement has become the basis for stories in the mainstream media that have cast +Jonah and the OCA in negative light (Philadelphia Inquirer [July 17]; Washington Post [July 20]; Newsday [July 22]; Chicago Tribune [August 31]).

The longer OCA leadership ignores charges that they have lied, the greater the faithful will distrust them. I myself want to believe the best of my bishops, but they have not given me any reason to do so. In fact, the July 16 statement indirectly corroborates reports (hitherto rumors) that elements of OCA administration were for a long time secretly working to remove +Jonah. So this is the custom of the bishops? To devour their own? Who is next? Where does it stop? I have done my best to keep my two children from knowing what the bishops have done. I do not wish them to learn from the synod how to treat others.

Members of OCL, no matter the jurisdiction, should be particularly wary of the attack on +Jonah and the way the OCA has presented it to the public. The ideals held by OCL have been offended. Where is the transparency and accountability? Where is the spiritual renewal? Where is the OCA’s regard for its sister churches, all of whom are affected?

A prime concern of the OCL—jurisdictional unity—is at stake. The OCA is one of the few jurisdictions in America to allow the laity to participate in the election of a Metropolitan, and not a few OCL members have looked to the OCA as a model for a united Orthodox Church. But if the voice of the people, the “axios” proclaimed by all the faithful of the OCA in 2008, can be taken away by a select few, absent the laity and without cause or justification, then the OCL should fear the example the OCA brings to a united Church.

Despair is not in order. I can think of two ways the leadership of the OCA could halt their downward spiral:

  • Release a complete account, along with timeline and documentation, to supersede the July 16 statement. Come clean, admit mistakes, and address head-on all the events that have become the OCA’s worst-kept secrets. Do not hide behind the excuse of confidentiality. If it was fine to release anonymized but concrete details of a sexual-abuse charge, surely one can be forthcoming about other matters discussed in the statement that do not have the legal implications (e.g., ecclesiastical relations).
  • Release a letter of repentance written and signed by the bishops and the OCA administration, explaining specifically how and where they themselves have erred. According to Chancellor Fr. John Jillions, the bishops, when they met in August, were of one mind that “we all therefore bear some responsibility for the events that have led to the election of a new metropolitan.” Let us hear about that responsibility. Be as detailed and forceful as you were in the July 16 statement. Expose and confess your errors and sins more eagerly than you have those of +Jonah. Show us how to repent.

If the bishops and leaders of the OCA would exercise this kind of response, would they show a devotion for Holy Tradition, would they show in words and deeds contrition and humility, I would gladly make them role models for my family. Until then, whenever the bishops are brought up in conversation around my children, I must maintain an embarrassed, awkward silence.

Joel Kalvesmaki is a member of St. Nicholas Cathedral (OCA), Washington, DC, where he served as Vice-President in 2011.

The views expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of OCL.


  1. Thank you, George, for posting this.
    But the question remains:
    For those going to the All-American Council, shall we unite our voices by voting
    “Metropolitan JONAH”
    “No Confidence”

    • Mark from the DOS says

      I think this question has been answered over and over. Since No Confidence votes will not be counted, vote for Met. Jonah if you believe he should be the primate.

      What has not been discussed is how to vote if someone disagrees with the Synod’s actions but does not believe Met. Jonah should be the primate. I would still argue a first ballot vote for +Jonah is the appropriate way to express disapproval to the Synod. On second ballots, I would urge the nomination of non-OCA bishops only.

    • Interested Bystander says

      “No Confidence” is a vote thrown away. Vote +Jonah, …second ballot? Vote +Jonah and +Jonah.
      As Sir Winston Churchill said, “Never give up!”

      • How about +Jonah and +Tikhon (retired)? Or +Jonah and +Nikolai? (That would be interesting.) They’ll throw out a ballot with the same name twice.

    • Vote for Metropolitan Jonah. The latter would not be counted, and voting for Metropolitan Jonah is essentially a vote of no confidence anyway.

  2. Defend the Faith. says

    This is an excellent essay written by a solid Orthodox Christian. Are the Synod and Syosset listening or are they simply spending their time trying to control the outcome? Today’s Jillions blog seems confirm outcome control. That is a recipe for demise.

    Bravo, Joel.

    • Priest Justin Frederick says

      Well done, Mr. Kalvesmaki. Thank you for your clear testimony. You also show a positive, Christian way forward.

      The preponderance of evidence making doubt of the accuracy of the letter of July 16 reasonable is growing and remains unanswered. The chancellor told me weeks ago that neither he nor the Synod can enter into point by point refutation of credible testimony calling into question the reliability of what was said in that letter, but I hope they will reconsider–for if those points can be answered, it would help put doubt and distrust to rest. But perhaps that is the point–that they cannot?

      For the good of the Church and the restoration of trust and hope, something other than silence is needed. And Mr. Kalvesmaki has shown a promising way to that goal, which I think we all desire.

      • STL Intercept 2.02

        “My Dear Synod of the OCA,

        One word: debt. Americans love debt. Just look at their national debt. What is it now? $16 trillion and counting, yet their congress just passed another Continuing Resolution to borrow more money, then recessed. Since I convinced them that anything worth having was worth going into debt for, (one of my better accomplishments, if I do say so), debt has become their drug of choice. And so I give you…

        Two words: building program. Few things are more expensive than buildings, and this is especially true of church buildings. Just a couple of years ago I took a Protestant church of Christ that was thriving and convinced them that their growth would be unending, and they borrowed $1 million for a building program. When the seeds of discord that I had already sown sprouted and the church attendance dwindled, they could not service the debt and (here’s the real cuteness) they sold the property to Muslims! And so I give you…

        Three words: control the debt. Oh, you can let the Orthodox faithful dwell on liens and such, but make sure that you control the debt. That way when this house of gilt-plated pasteboard caryatids collapses under the weight that I will apply, the pathetic parishioners will be between Scylla and Charybdis – You will own the buildings that they want to worship in, that they paid for and adorned. They can either stay with you, or leave what they have built. Many of them will not leave their buildings. And here’s the really funny part: the Enemy is only going to burn it all up one day anyway! Is that funny or what?

        So, do what I tell you and quietly indebt the Orthodox Churches, but YOU control the debt however you must. Take a lesson out of the Episcopalians’ playbook. Do I have to spell it out for you? This works. Trust me. Would I lie to you?

        Your Father Below,

        Week Eleven?
        No apologies from the Synod for their uncanonical and illegal treatment of Metropolitan Jonah.
        No requests for forgiveness from the Synod.
        No acts of repentance from the Synod.
        No resignations from the Synod.

        Same Silence, Different Day,
        No Tithes To The OCA

        • Daniel E. Fall says

          If you speak for the entire group here, well, you’ve said it all. Good luck with Peter my friend – I thought I was going to have a rough go…

  3. When will you people give this a rest? The OCA Synod didn’t gang up on + Jonah. There were a series of incidents beginning soon after his election. Finally, his brother hierarchs had to relieve him. No conspiracy; no ganging up; nothing nefarious; just + Jonah acting unilaterally on an entire series of issues for years. His actions endangered the existence of the OCA and he had to be relieved. End of story; next case.

    • George Michalopulos says

      What “series of events” are you talking about Phil? Assertions are not enough. The fact that they lied to us in their synodal letter makes me think anything they say is suspect.

    • Does anyone else see the similarities in the use of linguistic markers between the troll known as Phil r. Upp and Nick Cobbs, whose letter is posted immediately below by Nikos?

      Nick Cobbs states:

      As he began to push his “OWN” agenda without the OCA synod’s approval, he ran into problems. He was warned more than once. Finally, he went a little bit beyond what his brother hierarchs could stand. His actions endangered the entire OCA. End of story.

      Phil r. Upp also uses the same rhetoric:

      There were a series of incidents beginning soon after his election. Finally, his brother hierarchs had to relieve him. No conspiracy; no ganging up; nothing nefarious; just + Jonah acting unilaterally on an entire series of issues for years. His actions endangered the existence of the OCA and he had to be relieved. End of story.

      Just a few of the more glaring similarities:

      1. Brother hierarchs
      2. His actions endangered the entire OCA./ His actions endangered the existence of the OCA.
      3. End of story.

      • Mark from the DOS says

        So Phill is exposed as a shill for his amigos Jillions and Wheeler. I wonder what information is being fed to him for distribution. More openness and transparency! Fight your battles through surrogates – the Syosset way! Clean house. These bureaucrats and the Synod must go!

      • Sorry, don’t know the man.

        Columbus Greek Orthodox Priest Accused Of Attempting To Meet Underage Boys For Sex Acts
        Thursday September 20, 2012 12:46 PM

        COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Unit is investigating a central Ohio priest accused of soliciting sex.

        According to the ICAC Unit, Father Patrick Nicholas Hughes is accused of trying to meet two underage boys to engage in a sex act.

        Hughes, a priest at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on North High Street, was arrested on Wednesday and is currently jailed on $100,000 bond.

        Hughes is charged with one count of attempted rape and one count of unlawful conduct with a minor.

        • macedonianreader says

          Wow. Being from Columbus I know this Church too well. So it hits home. Ironically, when the Macedonian Orthodox Church burnt down in Columbus Annunciation showed a lot of compassion and donated time, funds, and even suggested their own architect to rebuild the Macedonian “Dormition of the Holy Theotokos.

          It was a period where I actually saw Macedonian-Greek relations focus on Christ and not politics. This is truly unfortunate.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          Another scandal involving a monk. We must liberate ourselves from an overly romantic veneration of monasticism in this country until we get some examples of healthy monasticism. In this country monasticism has produced one scandal after another. Too many monks are either immoral or are fanatics with a superior attitude towards the real workers of the Church, the married priests who sacrifice their own welfare and the welfare of their wives and children to serve the Church. The money that has been spent building palatial monasteries could have been better spend supporting missions or building youth camps than in trying to recreate Mt Athos in America.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            I do not mean to cast aspersions on all monastics. There are good monastics like the ones at Holy Cross Hermitage in West Virginia. I am particularly upset about Fr. Hughes, because I have known him for many years and thought of him as a good example of monasticism. But, something has to be done to bring some order and accountability to Orthodox monasticism in this country. There have been far too many scandals and far too many monastics pushing a fundamentalist agenda by giving people spiritual advice when they are not qualified to do so. Monastics need to recognize the legitimate role of the local clergy and be very careful not to undermine their work.

            • The proper place of a monastic is in a monastery and not in a parish setting. As a rule, monastic clergy should not be parish rectors.

              • Alex says (September 22, 2012 at 10:44 pm):

                ‘The proper place of a monastic is in a monastery and not in a parish setting. As a rule, monastic clergy should not be parish rectors.’


                Yes, of course. The Gospel according to ‘Alex’.

                We monastics go where we are sent and blessed to go, and that often results in things being rather different from what we first expected.

                If anyone has opinions about that, please complain to the bishops with chapter and verse, names and dates, or even to our Lord Jesus Christ Whose Church, after all, this is.

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says (September 22, 2012 at 8:38 pm):

              ‘I do not mean to cast aspersions on all monastics. There are good monastics like the ones at Holy Cross Hermitage in West Virginia. I am particularly upset about Fr. Hughes, because I have known him for many years and thought of him as a good example of monasticism. But, something has to be done to bring some order and accountability to Orthodox monasticism in this country. There have been far too many scandals and far too many monastics pushing a fundamentalist agenda by giving people spiritual advice when they are not qualified to do so. Monastics need to recognize the legitimate role of the local clergy and be very careful not to undermine their work.’


              Oh. THAT’s a great relief.

              What does Fr John Morris think would ‘qualify anyone to give people spiritual advice’?

              I’m here to tell you that some parish priests — relying on their seminary training and personal ideas — have given disastrous advice to the laity.

              This isn’t so much a problem whose parameters distinguish monastics from parish priests, but one which (usually evidenced by the human wreckage left in its wake) distinguishes humble servants of God and His people from egomaniacs.

              Once in a while, the parish clergy need to be challenged in their ministry, and often only monks and nuns are up to the task, the laity’s being too intimidated by what they perceive as power and authority, concepts which monastics are almost encouraged by tradition to resist on the grounds of christian equality, our commitment to obedience notwithstanding.

              Maybe think of us as monks the canaries in the christian mines.

              • I would like to suggest the following works:

                The Bible (well duh)
                The Fathers (double duh)

                contains links to many of Elder Aemilianos’ works which have been translated into various languages (finally.!! Tragically, not everything has been translated into English). If you enjoy reading Paul Evdokimov, you will enjoy Elder Aemilianos. Especially vol. 2 and vol. 3 (vol. 2 is my personal fav)

              • Archpriest John Morris says

                To Monk James

                If monks are there to correct parish clergy, who is there to correct monks who teach false doctrine, confuse their own opinions with the teaching of the Church, or are guilty of immorality? I do not question the value of monasticism, I just question those monastics who are not following the best traditions of Orthodox monasticism. You might reply who am I to judge monastics. Normally, I would not judge them or anyone, but if monastics are causing problems in the Church, I have a duty to object and call the monastics to repent and correct whatever it is they are doing that is disturbing the life of the Church. When monastic influence confuses my spiritual children, I am not a disinterested party. As a pastor, I certainly have an obligation to look after the spiritual welfare of my flock, by warning them against the danger of falling under the influence of a monastic who lacks the spiritual maturity to guide them, who tries to get them to live a monastic style of life in the world, or who teaches false doctrine or moral principles.

                • Archpriest John Morris says (September 26, 2012 at 12:15 pm):

                  ‘To Monk James

                  ‘If monks are there to correct parish clergy, who is there to correct monks who teach false doctrine, confuse their own opinions with the teaching of the Church, or are guilty of immorality? I do not question the value of monasticism, I just question those monastics who are not following the best traditions of Orthodox monasticism. You might reply who am I to judge monastics. Normally, I would not judge them or anyone, but if monastics are causing problems in the Church, I have a duty to object and call the monastics to repent and correct whatever it is they are doing that is disturbing the life of the Church. When monastic influence confuses my spiritual children, I am not a disinterested party. As a pastor, I certainly have an obligation to look after the spiritual welfare of my flock, by warning them against the danger of falling under the influence of a monastic who lacks the spiritual maturity to guide them, who tries to get them to live a monastic style of life in the world, or who teaches false doctrine or moral principles.’


                  While I don’t at all discount Fr John Morris’s experiences with monastics under the influence of Fr Ephraim, I continue to resist his negative attitude toward monastic practice in general.

                  Surely, there are extreme, way-out-there opinons expressed by some monastics, especially (as FrJM cites) among the ‘Ephraimites’.

                  But this is hardly normative, and FrJM ought to back off from his attacks on monastic life in general.

                  There are some parish priests who teach their people just as much if not more absurd ‘spiritual’ things as do the monks and nuns he castigates.

                  Please, FrJM and everyone, let’s realize that we’re all in this together, and that false teaching must be resisted by us all, to us all.

                  Most of the historical heresies which afflicted The Church arose from positions which at least appeared to be thoroughly and rationally orthodox.

                  The clergy and the monastics are NOT at war with each other.

                  FrJM ought to give it up, already.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    I have never written that clergy and monastics are at war with each other. I have made it perfectly clear that I am only concerned about the activities of some monks and nuns. You are taking my writing completely out of context. Like you I am only critical of “extreme, way-out-there opinons expressed by some monastics…” You are completely misinterpreting what I have written if you think that I have any desire to attack “monastic life in general.” I have no such intention. I have made it perfectly clear that monasticism is an essential part of Orthodoxy. Please do not misrepresent what I have written as an attack on monasticism, because it is not. It is only an expression of concern about problems caused by some monastics, not a condemnation of an institution as important for the life of the Church as monasticism.

                • I want to correct something I posted a few days ago regarding Nicholas Hughes. I said that he had not been at St. Gregory Palamas Monastery since 1999. I was incorrect. He was actually expelled from St. Gregory’s in 1998 by Metropolitan Maximos, who gave him and one other monk 12 hours to pack and get out. In ’99 Hughes started a new “brotherhood”–St. Theodore House in Galion, Ohio. His “cover story” for leaving St. Gregory’s was that he and the other monk were called to more “apostolic missionary labors”… –Fr. Ambrose

                  • Bruce Wm. Trakas says

                    I never heard that he was expelled from St. Gregory Palamas Monastery. He and Fr. Nathaniel were not getting along with the new leader of the monastic community (I can’t recall his title–he wasn’t named Abbot, +Maximos retained that title, even though he didn’t reside there regularly), claimed to suffer from a sleeping disorder. Anyway…

                    Metropolitan Savas celebrated a Sacrament of Holy Unction Service, the service of healing, for the Columbus parish community earlier this week.

                    “” WBNS TV 10 Columbus, Ohio, has a video report that shows Fr. Nicholas’ sentencing, he pleaded guilty in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, yesterday. Fr. Nicholas quoted scripture, “Scandal will come, but woe be on the people that they come by.” The judge ordered him to a 6 year prison sentence, with almost as many additional years probation; he must register as a sex offender the rest of his life on Earth. The reporter indicated that the Holy Archdiocese explained that a Spiritual Court of the Metropolis of Pittsburgh would be convened to address the deviant behavior exhibited by this priest.

                    • Thank you for posting this information. I hope and pray that in the end there were no victims prior to the ad & sting. Given that he pleaded guilty to attempted rape when there weren’t actually children involved is a curious thing to me. Shouldn’t the charge have been “conspiracy to commit” or should we assume that something worse took place earlier?

            • OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says

              Venerable Archpriest Father John:

              I ask your blessing and prayers.

              I will partially agree with you concerning the need for reform among many monastic communities here in the USA.

              I also agree that all too often there is a mindset that the white clergy are second class priests which leads to them being under appreciated. This is more frequent in the OCA (in my opinion) than elsewhere. While the OCA has many good and holy monastics, the married clergy are the glue that keep things together in spite of the fact that they are frequently intimidated to keep silent if they dare raise objections to the Syosett Machine.

              While I have only visited one Greek monastery (in Arizona) which seemed quasi-palatial and very nice, most of the OCA monasteries I have visited have been simple and in keeping with monastic poverty. (Black mold at St Tikhons for decades).

              That said, too many monastics (including non-married non-tonsured priests) are not held responsible if not living in an actual monastery that has appropriate checks and balances keeping all brethren from the abbot to the aspirant accountable.

              Perhaps this is something the Assembly of Bishops can take up by establishing guidelines and a council of true monastic elders to insure that if indeed the spiritual life of a monastery begins to rot, the root of the problem is identified and excised expeditiously.

              Too many become monks in order to be considered for the episcopacy especially in the jurisdictions that to no actively encourage monasticism. I believe one notable American bishop freely admitted that he became a monk so that he might one day be considered for the episcopacy. Thus one jurisdiction has an entire synod of bishops made up of monastics in name only, some of whom have not spend more than a month in a real monastery.
              Stating that bishops can only be elected from the monastic clergy thus becomes a hypocritical farce.


              • But the problem is NOT the Church’s rule.

                It is that probably that jurisdiction is moldering at the core !
                It should revamp itself entirely.

                That jurisdiction should acknowledge that there is
                a phony layer at the top. Then solicit help from
                very traditional, conservative jurisdictions and
                attract or form TRUE monastics.

                A real monastic would be guided by God’s Will,
                not human ambition. Hence he would submit
                all decisions for the good of the Church to
                God and Our Lady. Rather than using
                flawed human reasoning. Especially when
                souls can be at stake.

                So time for almost ALL the jurisdictions to
                examine WHY their monastics are not
                as stellar as they should be at this time.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says (September 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm:

            ‘Another scandal involving a monk. We must liberate ourselves from an overly romantic veneration of monasticism in this country until we get some examples of healthy monasticism. In this country monasticism has produced one scandal after another. Too many monks are either immoral or are fanatics with a superior attitude towards the real workers of the Church, the married priests who sacrifice their own welfare and the welfare of their wives and children to serve the Church. The money that has been spent building palatial monasteries could have been better spend supporting missions or building youth camps than in trying to recreate Mt Athos in America.’


            Romantic? Immoral? Fanatic? A christian priest wrote this?! What kind of sour grapes has he been eating?

            Myself, I’ve never lived in or even seen any ‘palatial monasteries’. I’ve lived in simple and poor circumstances for all the last thirty-five years I’ve been a monk. Whence comes such a notion?!

            And BTW, there are more married priests who are in trouble for moral failure than there are monastics. Nobody has suggested that we put the brakes on parish priests, though.

            We monks, especially myself, have traditionally and consistently worked to support the work of parish priests, although we are sometimes misunderstood and perceived as threatening because we often (not always) have better educations than what is offered in our seminaries, which produce oddities of their own kind.

            Please, let’s all of us, priests and monastics, work together, synergize, for our own salvation and for the laity who have recourse to us in our different yet complementary ways.

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says

              Unfortunately some monastics do not work together with the parish priests. Some tell people not to listen to their priest because he is a “modernists.” We do have a real problem with some, not all, monastics, who are causing a great deal of trouble in our Churches. Monks and nuns who tell people who were received by Christmation that they are not fully Orthodox. Monks and nuns who try to control the intimate relations between a husband and wife. These are real problems caused by some, not all, monks and nuns. I know that not all monasteries are palatial, but there are some that are overly lavish and were built with money that could better be used supporting missions, or youth camps.
              We need to learn to distinguish between healthy monasticism and dysfunctional monasticism. We do have dysfunctional monasticism as all the problems caused by some monks and nuns, as well as the scandals caused by immoral monks have caused.
              My criticism is not of healthy monasticism that cooperates with the local clergy. My criticism is only of dysfunctional monasticism.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Fr, you’re right, but let’s be honest, some parish priests are modernists. Several years ago, our GOA parish invited Frank Schaeffer to come speak. I was in charge of the details. I went to a priest in another jurisdiction asking him to help out (money wasn’t an issue, it had been taken care of). More moral support, people showing up, that sort of thing. He hem-hawed, said things like “well, Frankie’s too right-wing,” or something like that.

                Well, lo and behold, two years ago, when Frankie had a lobotomy and did a 180 on everything he previously believed in (and even fantasized about sodomizing St Paul), he was invited by the local Unitarian congregation to come and tell their people about how evil the “fundamentalists” were (and by “fundamentalist” I mean everybody who wasn’t a Unitarian). Since Frankie was going to be in town for three days, that same priest asked him to come spew his bile at his parish. If that’s not modernism, I don’t know what is.

                • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                  I heard Schaeffer speak once. That was enough. He has a lot of unresolved anger against his father. I would not have let him speak in my parish during his right wing phase. It is one thing to point out the differences I certainly would not invite him to speak now that he has found that he can get a larger audience and earn more money as a left winger. I really feel sorry for him. It must be horrible to define yourself by constantly reminding everyone who will listen how much you disagree with your father.

              • Thank you to Fr. John for not junking monasticism completely.

                Sadly, some priests instruct their parishioners to disdain even the sound, healthy teachings of what they derisively call “zealot” priests (in essence, any priest or monk who disagrees with them on whatever topic). I do not ignore the dangers of incorrect and wrong “zealot” content; I have been exposed to that sufficiently to avoid it and its adherents. Mercifully, the five priests who have had the greatest impact on my life avoid(ed) both extremes.

                A two-way street, however, is in order. Monastics are not subservient to local clergy (who generally are married), a perspective I cannot help believing is implied by the phrase “monasticism that cooperates with the local clergy”. The fact remains that both monks and parish priests are equally essential components of our Holy Church. Laypeople benefit spiritually and practically from the entire range of good available from our Orthodox faith. Competition between and among monasteries and parishes, under any guise, is destructive.

                I believe there is way too much emphasis on the small number (one hopes it is small) of monks who might be advising other people to think and act improperly. With regard to scandals, minimal research effort will pull up fully as much of that among non-monastic parish priests, so that playing card flops. By overemphasis, I mean specifically that the sinful actions of some monks become fodder prompting others to jettison monasticism as inherently evil. At the same time, I meet lay people who abandon the Church entirely because of sinful parish priests.

                • Regarding the shocking and tragic (Fr.) Nicholas Hughes affair here in Ohio during the last several days, his bishop, Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh (GOA) has reacted vigorously and appropriately. Hughes was immediately suspended and then, when it was learned that he also admitted his criminal activity, he was declared self-defrocked. In addition, the chancellor of the diocese was in Columbus over the weekend to meet with the shattered parishioners of Assumption Cathedral, where Hughes had been serving as interim dean since last year. Meanwhile, at the same time Metropolitan Savas was in Mansfield, Ohio, to meet with the parishioners at Sts. Constantine and Helena Parish, where Hughes had served for 18 years prior to last year. Furthermore, counselors have been made available, as well as private phone lines where individuals and/or victims of this man can call anonymously for help.

                  What is of most concern to me is that these kinds of things are happening—and they are often more widespread than is commonly known—for a particular reason. And that reason, I believe, is that too many monastic establishments have been set up (with episcopal blessing but usually without sufficient supervision) by men or women who have themselves not received actual monastic formation or have received “deformation” in other, equally disturbed monastic enclaves. This has led to a number of instances not only of immorality but also less well known but equally serious occurrences of ethical and/or financial misdeeds, mental illness, emotional abuse, addictions, etc., which are often disguised by a very “proper looking” if not splendid exterior. And what can be said of the spiritual formation of such “monastics”? We even know of a women’s community, of otherwise upright probity, launched some years ago by a laywoman under the spiritual direction of a married priest (who of course had no monastic formation at all) who recommended that she and her nuns study the writings of the Roman Catholic saint, Teresa of Avila! What kind of genuine spiritual fruit can be expected from these sorts of establishments?

                  You can’t give what you don’t have. When monastic founders are only working on the basis of what they read in books or have seen when visiting other monasteries, instead of actually living in and being fully trained in competent and healthy old world monasteries, which have long centuries of experience and wisdom, what you get is what we are in fact seeing in Orthodoxy in America today. Much of it is sincere, but fake. It is now approaching critical mass, and this is tragic for Orthodox in our country because historically, theologically, and traditionally monasticism has always been the beating heart of Orthodoxy. Anyone who reads Church history and the lives of the saints can see this. Now that kind of witness is becoming still born. It hasn’t been helped at all by the fact that very few of our bishops ever received monastic formation themselves, know virtually nothing about it, and some are not even tonsured, although for reasons I’ve never understood, the wear the monastic veil!

                  I think that until this problem is addressed in a healthy way it is going to continue, or monasticism will simply die out all together as, indeed, it really should if it can’t be the real thing. It is not enough to hang a sign on the building and a prayer rope by the entrance and wear black to qualify as an true Orthodox monastic.

                  Here in Ohio, in the GOA, we have St. Gregory Palamas Monastery. In 1999 Metropolitan Maximos (now retired) brought to St. Gregory’s a hiero-schema-monk, Fr. Seraphim, who had been for 18 years in the Holy Monastery of St. Paul (where the gifts of the Magi are venerated, by the way) on the Holy Mountain. During his years at St. Gregory’s the monastery was set up along traditional Athonite lines and given a traditional typikon, monastic customs, with classic formation for monastic candidates, etc. (I am privileged to be a member of this brotherhood.) Fr. Seraphim was succeeded by Abbot Joseph, under whose wise pastoral care the monastery continues to thrive, is growing, and remains classic in its monastic spirituality and practice.

                  Just a mile down the road from St. Gregory’s is the women’s Skete of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, established in 2001 by Metropolitan Maximos, where I have been blessed to serve as chaplain since 2004. (The Skete is canonically independent of the men’s monastery). The abbess here, Schema-nun Theadelphi, an American convert of some 35 years standing, had experienced the dysfunctionality of monasticism first hand here in America, but was then able to receive several years of classic monastic formation and tonsure at the Holy Monastery of St. Paul in Greece.

                  The lack of proper training, formation and oversight for monastics in America is, I believe, the most serious reason for the kinds of problems in monasteries today. Bishops, priests, and even laity must step up to the plate and begin to address this in functional and traditional ways, so that this quite essential dimension of Orthodox Christianity can be established, set down roots, and provide a healthy and vigorous witness. –Fr. Ambrose

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Fr Ambrose, even though I have been a critic of Met Savvas Zembillas on other topics, I have heard from other sources that he handled this crisis admirably and expeditiously. My hat’s off to him in this instance.

                    • I should have explained, for those who may not know, that the former Fr. Nicholas Hughes is a tonsured monk and archimandrite whose only monastic formation was in the Roman Catholic Church. He rain a dubious but lovely-to-look at establishment in Galion, Ohio–which some experienced monastics called “boutique monasticism”–, a place where visitors were always welcome and were impressed, but there were rarely any services, seldom meals in common or even readings at meals, monastic style, and the men there received little or no formation, partly because Hughes was almost never there, and partly because himself knew nothing.

                      Also, in response to another poster today, it is quite true that in classic monasticism the monks and nuns rarely interact with visitors and pilgrims. If the community is large enough there may be a guest master who does that, or the abbot or abbess may be available if spiritual counsel is needed. In a women’s monastery sometimes it is the chaplain who meets with visitors. Otherwise, monastics are indeed supposed to keep their noses to the grind, not socializing with visitors or running around town or around the countryside, the way some do these days. At St. Gregory’s here in Ohio there are signs posted to remind both monks and visitors: “Silence, work, prayer.” Period. Again, this is classic old world monasticism, such as enlightened our church in past centuries. –Fr. Ambrose

                    • Chris Banescu says

                      Kudos to Met. Savas Zembillas for acting quickly and decisively in this instance. He has shown righteous Christian leadership in protecting the sheep and going to be with them to offer comfort and help.

                  • [ex-]Fr. Nicholas used to be at the St. Gregory Palamas monastery in Ohio; I did not know that he had left. We met him briefly a couple of times in the 1980s, when he would visit his family in Alabama, but we did not know him beyond “hello”. Nonetheless, it is disturbing to learn this current information about him.

                    • Nicholas Hughes was at St. Gregory’s monastery in Ohio only until 1999 (at the same time he was also serving the parish in Mansfield), when Metropolitan Maximos brought in the priestmonk I mentioned in another message from Mt. Athos. Hughes had pretty much run St. Gregory’s into the ground. He left and started a two-man community, St. Theodore House, in Galion, Ohio.

                    • Father Ambrose, Mansfield is my home town, although I haven’t lived there since 1977, aside for a few months’ visit in the mid-80s. I did not know that this man had served at Sts. Helen and Constantine, a church I visited only once. I remember Fr. Michael was rector then. This is very disheartening news.

                      I only learned that St. Gregory Palamas Monastery existed a couple years ago. I visited it soon after and spent many hours in conversation with Abbot Joseph. He is a deeply impressive and wise man, indeed. Very insightful and perceptive, and profoundly charitable. The brothers there seemed very well led to me. I look forward to visiting again the next time I’m “home.”

                      I know that like Fr. Seraphim, who I have not met, Fr. Joseph was on Mt. Athos, because we talked about that a bit. Do you happen to know how much time he spent on the Holy Mountain? I can’t recall if that came up.

                  • Bruce Wm. Trakas says

                    Thank you or the information in your post, Fr. Ambrose. Just a corrective note, the GOAA parish in Columbus is the Annunciation Cathedral.

                    • Thanks for the correction, Bruce. You’re right. The Columbus cathedral is Annunciation.

                      And Mike: I believe Fr. Joseph at St. Gregory’s has been on the Holy Mountain several times, but I don’t know exactly how many or for what lengths of time. He has also spent time monastically in Greece itself. –Fr. Ambrose

                    • Thanks, Fr. Ambrose.

                    • I am having difficulty understanding the merit of Fr. John’s divisive rhetoric. As our parish has close ties to both Dormition (Rives Jct., MI) & St. Gregory Palamas monasteries, I have a rather positive view of American monasticism. Obviously we are all sickened by the Nicholas news, but I have seen that a hieromonk can be a superb parish priest, serving in this capacity as well or better than a married cleric. A good shepherd is of benefit to us all no matter where his flock may be. Incidentally, in our parish history, the priests who had problems with drink & licentiousness were not the monastics.

                      The first child that Fr. Joseph baptized in our parish desires to pursue the monastic life himself. If you find the time, pray for this boy (and his parents!). Please remember all of the men & women who are on the ascetic road in your prayers and support them as you can. The Body needs all of its parts and needs for them to work together.

                    • In response to Max.
                      I don’t think Fr John is offering up divisive rhetoric here. He is trying to further discussion of an important topic. From what I gather, monasticism in America is far more independent minded, shall we say, than is probably good for the church and far more so than in most Orthodox cultures. It also attracts many borderline people – that’s not a problem necessarily, and I’m certainly not suggesting all monastics are such – but monasticism in America (and the bishops under whose supervision it falls) is probably not strong enough in most cases to properly oversee such people. Add to that the tendency of monasteries to attract laity for visits for financial reasons and the well attested cases of monastics interfering in parish maters and you have a problematic situation. The existence of good monastics and even hieromonks who pastor parishes does not negate the very real problems. I’ll be frank, America could probably do better with fewer but larger monasteries under better supervision.

                  • +Savas is properly recognized for acting swiftly and decisively in Hughes’ case. But keep in mind: Hughes may have been caught trying to take action, but, like +Matthias, Hughes actually did nothing, only wrote and/or spoke. So, why hasn’t appropriate action been finalized in +Matthias’ case? How long does it take to read +Matthias’ texts and talk to his intended? It’s been over a month now, and the diocese is empty, while Syosset remains silent.

                    • Bruce Wm. Trakas says

                      Metropolitan Savas is familiar with these type of matters, matters of clergy abuse of their positions and their dysfunction. When he was Chancellor of the Holy Archdiocese, he headed up a review of all issues related to every priest and deacon in the Archdiocese, and he facilitated the needed corrective action in connection with all questionable circumstances. Frankly, it’s my guess that His Eminence the Archbishop, and the Eparchial Synod, with prompting from the Archdiocesan Council, empowered him to identify all possible liabilities and recommend the action necessary to address the problems, many of which had been swept under the rug. I am personally aware of two problems he addressed, effectively; one of which “had been dealt with” prior to his review. The supervising metropolitans may have debated with him and Archbishop Demetrios, but in the end, I think his recommendations prevailed. He may have been burned out by the exhausting process, he soon thereafter left the Chancellor’s position and become Director of Church and Society, and in my opinion, was passed over twice for election to the Eparchial Synod. In the end, the Archdiocese qualified for insurance protection coverage for clergy abuse; its carrier had dropped them prior to his work.

                      As to the problems at the St. Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery in Astoria, I think the GOAA sat back and told the Patriarchate, “Don’t say we didn’t warn you”–Astoria was handled by The Phanar, as it is a Stravopegial institution,though they tried to involve the GOAA, it balked, and rightly so.

                • I have been reluctant to comment on Fr. John’s complaint re: healthy monasticism, as I am no expert. Not only am I really shocked and dismayed by much of what he has described and I know if that were my experience I would be seriously concerned also.

                  I have visited and stayed at maybe only 7 monasteries over the years. But in all cases, NONE of the monks or nuns were allowed conversation with pilgrims. The ONLY one allowed to give out advice should it be REQUESTED was the Abbot or Abbess.
                  The reason for this is caught up in the term “healthy monasticism.” Monastic life is not about social work or boy or girl scouts in outfits. It’ is a life of repentance and obedience to attain ones salvation.
                  As such monastics do not come to monasteries perfected in advance. Many are deeply troubled and in need of guidance and prayer for a very long time. These monks should not be giving direction to anyone. The rose colored glasses are indeed the visitors who wish to see perfection where there is only a work in progress. As visitors to a monastery we join in that process for a time.
                  As to the living conditions at monasteries, many churches are palatial and no one can say how much is too much. I like simple, but how simple is simple….. one meal a day of rice. a hard wooden board to sleep on? How poor is poor? Do the lay people vote how monastics should live? I don’t think so.
                  The comment by Monk James that plans for monastic life do not always follow expectations is also true.
                  I can say that I have heard +MET Jonah doesn’t recommend monks be without a monasteries for two good reasons.
                  1. One misses a certain formation that comes only when rubbing up against life with your brother or sisters and sharing all their burdens equally and under an obedience that corrects ones deficiencies in ego and spirit , that enable one to do so in love.
                  2. At the end of the day a parish priest monk has only the TV and the bottle. Not a family.
                  This sound blunt but there it is. A great temptation for the devil.

                  However, having said that, all single people in parishes that sustain orthodox life have that problem. It is a great challenge no matter who you are to live alone in our society even with all its lovely distractions.
                  Fr. John I am very sorry for what you have gone through but please do not lay it on most of monastic life which is by no means easy.

                  • Finally for today, I want to add that, in general, lay people are not qualified, however sincere, well-read, pious and well-intentioned they are, to evaluate and judge monasteries and their inhabitants–unless, of course, they see something truly egregious, in which case they must report it to the proper church authorities. No one who has not lived the monastic life can understand it “from the inside” simply because they are looking at it from the “outside.” It has unique struggles and also unique rewards that cannot really be grasped by those who have never lived “the life.” In a healthy monastery the men or women are struggling to die to themselves, to cut off their own will and make more room for Christ. In an unhealthy monastery the monks are merely bachelors in a religious frat house, the women are spinsters in a sorority. But visitors can be fooled into thinking that the monastery is the real thing just because it “presents” well and is “friendly.” In fact, I’ve seen/heard laity rate monasteries on their friendliness–which is not exactly the criteria monastics themselves would use when visiting another monastic establishment! We would be looking for silence and virtue, coupled with humility. –Fr. Ambrose

                • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                  I know that there are good and spiritual monks and nuns, but cannot help but view monasticism with a certain amount of skepticism because of all the problems caused by bad monks and nuns. Just because someone wears a cassock and has long hair and a beard does not mean that they are really all that spiritual. We have had one scandal after another caused by monks who preach a kind of fundamentalist Orthodoxy based on observance of 19th century externals like long beards and hair and wearing a cassock to Wallmart, but are pedophiles or homosexuals. When someone comes to me from another parish and wants their kid baptized or get married. The first think that I do is call their priest and find out what why they do not want the baptism or marriage in their own parish. When I lived near a monastery, the monks would baptize children from my parish without saying anything to me or even informing me. I know for fact that the monks would ask questions about the most intimate relations between a married couple during Confession, something that I believe is entirely inappropriate. I know of monks who tell someone received by Chrismation that they are not fully Orthodox and should come to the monastery for a “conditional” baptism, suggesting that it necessary the person, even if he is a priest, not inform their pastor or bishop about the “conditional” baptism. Monks would constantly visit my members seeking donations for their monastery. There are monks and nuns telling people that they cannot get past the “toll houses” on their way to heaven without the prayers of monks and nuns. I do believe that a married priest who sacrifices his welfare and the welfare of his family to serve the Church makes a much greater sacrifice than a monastic whose chief concern is only their own salvation. I have seen monastic establishments that cost millions for a few monks while married priests have to live from one pay check to another because they receive pay much lower than clergy of most other American denominations. The money spent to build these lavish monasteries could be used much more effectively subsidizing the meager salaries and benefits of mission clergy than building opulent monasteries to house people who are supposed to be ascetics.

                • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                  I know that there are good and spiritual monks and nuns, but cannot help but view monasticism with a certain amount of skepticism because of all the problems caused by bad monks and nuns. Just because someone wears a cassock and has long hair and a beard does not mean that they are really all that spiritual. We have had one scandal after another caused by monks who preach a kind of fundamentalist Orthodoxy based on observance of 19th century externals like long beards and hair and wearing a cassock to Wallmart, but are pedophiles or homosexuals. When someone comes to me from another parish and wants their kid baptized or get married. The first think that I do is call their priest and find out what why they do not want the baptism or marriage in their own parish. When I lived near a monastery, the monks would baptize children from my parish without saying anything to me or even informing me. I know for fact that the monks would ask questions about the most intimate relations between a married couple during Confession, something that I believe is entirely inappropriate. I know of monks who tell someone received by Chrismation that they are not fully Orthodox and should come to the monastery for a “conditional” baptism, suggesting that it necessary the person, even if he is a priest, not inform their pastor or bishop about the “conditional” baptism. Monks would constantly visit my members seeking donations for their monastery. There are monks and nuns telling people that they cannot get past the “toll houses” on their way to heaven without the prayers of monks and nuns. I do believe that a married priest who sacrifices his welfare and the welfare of his family to serve the Church makes a much greater sacrifice than a monastic whose chief concern is only their own salvation. I have seen monastic establishments that cost millions for a few monks while married priests have to live from one pay check to another because they receive pay much lower than clergy of most other American denominations. The money spent to build these lavish monasteries could be used much more effectively subsidizing the meager salaries and benefits of mission clergy than building opulent monasteries to house people who are supposed to be ascetics.

                  • Clare Voyant says

                    Gosh, how ignorant of monasticism can a priest be? Do all Antiochian clergy think this way?

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      Everything that I have written in true. The latest scandal is only one of many. It is particularly disillusioning to me since I have known Hughes for many years and thought that he was an example of a good monk. All too often people who cannot make it in the real world seek refuge in a monastery. I could give you a list of monastic establishments who have caused great scandal for the American Church. One monastery prided itself for its strict Orthodoxy and condemned anyone who did not agree with their anti-ecumenical, anti-new calendar and extreme views that even went to far as to teach that there is a demon in the Chalice in Churches that follow the New Calendar. The particular jurisdiction to which they belonged got a new Primate. He began to hear stories of homosexual activities involving the Abbot. He and his synod of Bishops began an investigation. Suddenly the Abbot realized that he personally held title to he property. He declared his old Bishops modernists ecumenicistic heretics and set up his own Church. In another case, a monastery had a fake weeping icon to draw pilgrims and their money, and was filled with pedophiles. At least one monk was sent to prison. The Abbot killed himself before he was arrested. Then there are the problems caused by fundamentalist who have caused all sorts of problems over the reception of converts. I am not anti-monastic. I am only against perverts and other misfits who hide in monastic robes. In fact, I strongly believe that we need good healthy monasticism to overcome the harm done by dysfunctional monastics to American Orthodoxy. However, I do believe that it is wrong to belittle the sacrifices that married clergy and their families make as inferior to monasticism.

                    • Clare Voyant says (September 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm):

                      Gosh, how ignorant of monasticism can a priest be? Do all Antiochian clergy think this way?’


                      Well, we’re left wondering, aren’t we, since there are no monastic foundations in the AOCA. Even their primate, Metropolitan Philip, isn’t a monk — in spite of the fact that he grows a few whiskers on his chin and wears the monastic hood when he goes to Russia.

                      A few years ago (regretfully, I can’t cite the source), Metropolitan Philip said that there was only one monk in the AOCA, and that was Bp Basil Essey. And God bless Bp Basil!

                      Earlier remarks by Fr John Morris SEEM (to me, at least) to be directed toward american monks and nuns under the direction of Fr Ephraim. Those monastics are entirely within the GOA and should be identified as such. The opinions put forth by them and their teacher are just that — opinions — and should be taken into consideration by the shepherds and teachers of the orthodox as we strive to help each other ‘work out our salvation in fear and trembling’. Fr Ephraim’s words are often good, but not of the same value as the Gospel.

                      The difference between them can be discerned in consultation with our local priests and bishops whenever it seems that there is a conflict.

                      OCA and ROCOR and MP monastics in America are — as far as I can tell — innocent of such things as annoy Fr John Morris.

                      He ought to make it clear that he’s objecting to a certain group rather than castigate and challenge all monastics.

                      Or he can say that all monks and nuns are somehow inimical to the work of the clergy — since that’s the impression he seems to want to create.

                  • “bad monks and nuns”?

                    • Forgive me, Fr. John, I mean you no disrespect whatever, and I agree that there have been and are troubled monasteries. However, it seems that you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And your previous judgment that Nicholas Hughes was a good monks illustrates my statement yesterday that non-monastics are really not in a position to judge monks and nuns. I can assure you that authentic traditional monastics were never fooled by Hughes.

                      And in response to other messages alleging that the sacrifices of parish priests are greater than those of monastics, may I say that as a former parish priest for decades, a husband, father, grandfather and now, as a widower, a monk, the calling of monastics and parish priests are quite different in the Church and the sacrifices are very different. It is quite unfair to compare them–it’s apples and oranges. –Fr. Ambrose

                    • Clare Voyant says

                      Seeing as there doesn’t seem to be a line of AOA priests lining up to contradict Fr. Morris (and I know they read this), he must speak for them.

                  • Father John wrote: I do believe that a married priest who sacrifices his welfare and the welfare of his family to serve the Church makes a much greater sacrifice than a monastic whose chief concern is only their own salvation. I have seen monastic establishments that cost millions for a few monks while married priests have to live from one pay check to another because they receive pay much lower than clergy of most other American denominations. The money spent to build these lavish monasteries could be used much more effectively subsidizing the meager salaries and benefits of mission clergy than building opulent monasteries to house people who are supposed to be ascetics.

                    C’mon there must be a more productive way (e.g. Just ask directly!) to ask for a pay raise than to try to bring down our Orthodox monks and nuns!

                    After all, at least 3/4 of the Saints in the Orthodox Church are ascetics.

                    St. Theodore the Studite said , “Monks are the sinews and foundation of the Church.” Is this not so for the Antiochian Orthodox?

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      I find your accusation that I am asking for a raise highly offensive. I have nothing against monasticism, but do not believe that we should elevate monasticism above any other vocation. Anyone who is serving Christ to the best of their ability in the station of life they are called to live is just as worthy as a monk or nun. There are no first class and second class Christians. We should not belittle those called to participate in the Sacrament of Marriage as inferior to any other calling in the Church. Let us remember that every monk or nun had a mother and a father. However, when I look at the problems faced by married priests and their families, I believe that they make a far greater sacrifice than a monastic who only worry about their own salvation. How many children of priests grow up with a negative attitude towards the Church because they have seen their father attacked by someone because he will not violate the rules of the Church? How many children of priests have been denied their father because he had to attend a ladies meeting on their birthday or could not watch them play basketball because he had to visit someone in the hospital? How many priests have had to struggle to find the money to provide buy new shoes or to a proper education for their children? How many children of priests have cried because they had to leave their friends because their father was moved because he offended some rich member of the parish?
                      We make a major mistake when we elevate monasticism above the married priesthood. Married priests make many sacrifices that are far greater than the sacrifices made by monastics, because the sacrifices of monks and nuns involve not just one person, but the sacrifices of a married priest hurts their wives and children.

                    • “Monks are the sinews and foundation of the Church.” Is this not so for the Antiochian Orthodox?

                      Oddly enough, yes. Met. Philip is notoriously ‘non-supportive’ of monasticism and his bias is mimed by many in the AOA, particularly the EOC convert clerics. Why? Good question. I’ve always speculated the reason is that the Metropolitan’s own monastic ‘calling’ is simply pro-forma. Difficult to embrace something you ultimately disdain.

                    • Father John, you get a thumbs up from me about nearly everything you wrote here except this:

                      “than a monastic who only worry about their own salvation.”

                      Maybe you didn’t intend to communicate this quite the way you did, but if you actually meant this as written, I must respectfully say that it is a distortion of the vocation of monasticism in the Church. I hasten to add that a monk who who lives only unto himself (and “his own salvation”) and not for the Church – and indeed the whole world – also distorts his vocation and is not worthy of the calling. Indeed, it is a distortion of the very meaning of what working out our salvation means.

                    • Fr. John, I don’t want to offend you, but your comments about monasticism are very off-base and could be construed as demeaning to monastics. Monks and nuns leave everything about the world behind, even their names, in order to follow God. How could you say others are just as worthy and then disdain the sacrifices of monastics? I think you would do well to meet some authentic monastics, ones who wouldn’t dream of coming between you and your parishioners, but who you might have something to learn from nonetheless.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Father Morris is right. The sacrifices the Married Priest makes is much more than a monastic, and I love and support monasteries, but I am not blind to reality. Also, I would never substitute my local parish for a monastery, which unfortunately many have done to get away from the political BS that Father Morris makes reference to at the local parish level.


                    • Archpriest John Morris says

                      To Fr. Ambrose:

                      No I do not believe that monasticism is superior to the married life. Like a monk I left everything behind including the name my parents gave me, which is not John. The difference is that personal sacrifices required of me as a priest have effected not only myself, but my wife and my children. So do not belittle the married priest and his family or treat us as second class Christians. There are no callings that are superior to any other callings. We are all called to live our lives according to the teachings of Christ regardless of our station in life. There are no first class or second class Christians. A good pious layman who pulls weeds in the parish garden or cleans the altar is serving Christ just as much as any monk or nun. There is no place in the Church for spiritual elitism. I have always taken it as a good rule of thumb that if someone tells me that they are spiritual, they are not truly spiritual. A spiritual person should be so concerned with their own sins that they would not presume to judge the spirituality of another person.
                      As I have written many times, just because I mention some problems that I have seen involving monasticism, does not mean that I mean to belittle all monastics. We must not treat monastics as a special class above the standards that we apply to other Orthodox Christians.
                      There are, however, legitimate problems that need to be resolved. Many of them can be resolved by better communication between the parish clergy and monastics. This is often difficult because the local monastery may be under a different Bishop than my parish. If we were both under the same Bishop, he could resolve any problems, but we are not. Therefore monastics and parish clergy need to develop relationships based on mutual respect. There needs to be more communication between monastics and parish clergy. One problem is that some monasteries operate as if they were in Greece where most parish priests do not hear confessions. We are not in Greece. We are in America. Here in America most parish priests hear the confessions of the members of their flock and are responsible for their salvation. I have no problem if someone in my parish decides to have a monk as their spiritual father, but since I am the person who gives them communion on a regular basis, I should be informed of the situation and of any penance they are under that would prevent them from receiving the Sacrament. .
                      Both priests and monastics need avoid confusing their personal opinions or theologoumena with the official teaching of the Church. Where there is no official declaration or consensus, those giving spiritual guidance should not impose their personal opinions on the faithful. For example, there is no consensus that when used properly within marriage non abortive methods of birth control are sinful. Indeed, many contemporary Orthodox authorities do not consider it a sin for a married couple to prayerfully and with the guidance of their spiritual father to use conception control as long as they do not decide never to have children. But to space the birth of children or if after they have had children a further pregnancy would seriously threaten the woman’s health, most Orthodox authorities that I have read would not consider using non-abortive methods of birth control a sin. Nor should a monastic require that a person going to them for confession receive his permission to have intimate relations with their wife. Indeed, it should be considered off limits for a confessor to become involved in the intimate relations between a husband and his wife.
                      There is a great deal of trouble caused by some monastics on the question of the reception of converts by Chrismation. As long as a priest follows the instructions from his bishop, it is not the place of a monk or nun to judge the validity of how one was received into the Church. There is a long history and decisions of pan-Orthodox councils that allow the reception of a convert who was baptized with water “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” through Chrismation.
                      I hope that this clarifies a few issues and is sufficient to prove that I do not hate monasticism. I probably over reacted because I am so upset about the Hughes matter because I have known him for a very long time and did not suspect that there was anything going on in his life that is as sinful and abnormal as pedophilia.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Hi Brian

                      First, thank you for your response, and I hope you will allow me an opportunity to respond to my assertion that “Monastics are there working out their salvation” as if to imply that they provide no service to the church.

                      In response I reject this notion that monastic are self-centered in their calling. Now in the old countries of Greece, Serbia, Albania, Russia, etc., a very different dynamic is in place that is not necessarily in place here in America, but I will admit it is in play in some areas such as Alaska and a few other remote and rural areas and its this: Monasteries are an intergra part of a community. In my experience with monasteries in Greece, the monks are a visible part of the comminity baking and selling food, providing baptisms to people that cannot get baptisms at the local parish during certain times of year, the taking care of animals, in some instances they even provide for the education of certain children in rural areas that would otherwise have no schooling (this has been primarily among Gypsy, Albanian and Vlach populations in Greece, Albania and Serbia.

                      So the services that monasteries provide, just in regards to the physical needs of a community are immense. This is not even mentioning the incredible service they provide to the spiritual needs of people. Mt. Athos has a wonderful tradition in this regard where the mons take the time to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of the people and do give back to the community and nation (Although the recent real estate scandal has somewhat tranished this image of Mt. Athos).

                      Here in the States Monasteries, especially the Fr. Ephraim Monasteries have their bake sales, and provide sacramental services, and even open up their main halls for various different functions. Again, this is not even mentioning the immence spiritual help and direction they also provide, BUT a monastics main objective is to provide a earthly representation of the Angelic host which is an environment of constant and continual prayer before the throne of God, AND for the working out of their own salvation. The Main focus is on Worshiping God and approaching God in fear and trembling. Further, American Orthodox Monasteries are NOT necessarily a connected part of the overall local community or even the local parish as they are in Greece, Russia, etc. Thus, here in America this tends to breed an isolationists mentality that is not heathy and that these are issues that we are now coming to terms with here in America.

                      In regards to a Monastics true Obediance, when heretical or even just wrong-headed teaching would come out of a monastery the response from, for example, the Church of Greece and even the Ecumenical Patriarch has been swift and decisive. Now this does not mean that they did not attempt at a resolution or correction, but when this failed action was taken and correction was had.

                      As you are well aware the Holy Moutain has been very critical of the EP because of his ecumenical dealings. Letters were written, dialogue was had, but in the end some monastics and their monasteries decided to rebel against the EP on the issue of ecumenical relations with the Catholics. Now, without debating these issues, the monastery rebelled against its Bishop. A clear violation of Church order. Now you can say, and I have said, critical things about our church’s involvement in the ecumenical movement, but none of it was UN-Orthodox or a violation of the canons, and yet, some monasteries decided that THEY and not the CHURCH knew better. This is the spiritual elitism that is in some monasteries and can even grow in healthy monasteries without proper oversight by the Bishop.

                      So the monastic and his or her monastery does provide a service, and does contribute to the Church, but they are subserviant to the Bishop and the Local Parish and Priest, and Can never interfere with the Local Parish and Priest in the spiritual lives of his parishioners. Work with and support the local parish and priest? Yes, absolutely. Contradict and undermine? Never!

                      I hope I have clarified a few things, if not its due to my own failings, and I take full responsibility.


                    • Peter, Very well stated (as is the norm for you). Agreed and thank you!

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Fr. Ambrose says:

                      P.S. I didn’t say that all heresies have come from bishops and priests, but most. And the fact remains that it has been monastics who led the fight against heresies–including, in case you have forgotten, the monophysites! –Fr. Ambrose

                      Well, this whole question about Monastics “Fighting” against heresy is NOT as clear cut as you make it out to be and the blame for the spread of heresy can evenly be divided between Politicians, Bishops and Monastics and must be further nuanced with the given heresy within a given historical context.

                      For example the Monasteries were correct in regards to the Iconoclasim controversy, BUT may NOT have been correct in the monophysite controversy IMHO. Now I stand by the definition of the Council of Calcedon, but was this council truly necessary? This council divided the Orthodox and still does to this day and the harshness of rhetoric that was pronounced on both sides, BY MONASTICS, led to a schism that I believe could have been prevented and that threw an entire region into a tail spin without any Emperial support, marked them as unwashed heretics and allowed the coming Isalmic tide, a little over 200 years latter, to subjegate and convert all these so-called heretics. Look at the lives of Coptic, Armenian and Ethiopian Christians in the face of Islam and the total neglect we gave them over the centuries.

                      So the picture is not a clear as you would make it out to be and the dogmatism that Monastics have on sound Orthodox Doctrine that has been decided by THE CHURCH and NOT Monks is to be comended, BUT when they pontificate on matters that have NOT been settled and pass it off as Established Orthodox Doctrine then we have a problem.

                      Bishop Kallistos Ware in his famous book The Orthodox Church talked bout these unresolved issues, such as birth control among married Orthodox Couples, and how monastics have a view that is identical with that of Rome, whereas the Bishops and Priests of the church take a more pastoral and relaxed view on the matter, but always insisting that this must remain within the bounds of marriage.

                      So who is the biggest heretic and who is not is neither here nor there, but monastics saying that Bishops spread heresy more than Monks and the monks were the ones that saved the day again feeds into this spiritual elitism that is not good for healthy monasteries. Monasteries are a part of the Church they are NOT above the CHURCH and can never be above the CHURCH.


                  • Bless, Father!

                    Dear Fr. John,

                    I am worried lest other readers be misled because you have cited examples from non-canonical, way-out-fringe monasticism. Most of your personal unhappiness blasts Fr. Ephraim and his group of legitimate monasteries. The other comments, however, pertain to Blanco’s former monastery (which was thrown out of ROCOR) and to other unsavory groups. Please be careful not to toss everybody onto the same dung heap. There easily may be readers who do not catch your references, and who think these remarks apply to mainstream monasteries.



                    • Forgive me, Fr. John for offending you. I let words like “cost” and “pay” and “pay check” and “meager salaries” distract me from what you were saying against our Orthodox monks and nuns.

                    • Heracleides wrote: “Met. Philip is notoriously ‘non-supportive’ of monasticism and his bias is mimed by many in the AOA, particularly the EOC convert clerics. Why? ”

                      I can’t speak for Metropolitan Philip, but speaking as a former evangelical Protestant, I recognize the old anti-monastic ethos from my former confession that some of former- EOC clergy (“E” is for Evangelical) have chosen to unpack like old baggage in their new “Home.”

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Allow me to defend Met Philip. I applaud the fact that he doesn’t go around pretending to be a monk. He lives in the secular world and is honest about it. This may have an effect on his view of monasticism. I dunno.

                    • So Fr. John, You are saying that priests are making the same sacrifices as their parishioners?

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      First of all I was never in the EOC. I converted to Orthodoxy long before they did and graduated from Holy Cross. I have clearly stated that I am not blasting mainstream and healthy Orthodox monasticism. We need healthy monasticism that builds up the Church. But we must honestly recognize that there are problems caused by some monastics that need to be resolved for the welfare of the Church. Unhealthy monasticism, even if it is technically legitimate can cause problems by dividing the faithful and clergy between those who feel that they are a spiritual elite because or their allegiance to a particular monastic or monastery and are more spiritual than those who so not share their allegiance to that particular monastic or monastery. It can be very spiritually dangerous to have a cult like reverence for a particular monastic or monastery. If a monastery is teaching false doctrine by telling those received by Chrismation that they are nor fully Orthodox and telling them to defy their priest and bishop by coming to the monastery to receive a secret conditional Baptism they are heretical because they are denying the grace received by Chrismation and centuries of Orthodox practice that has allowed the reception of converts through Chrismation. They are also disobedient to the hierarchical authority of the Church, because the canons give the Bishops the authority to interpret canon law and to decide how to receive a convert. If a monastic is teaching people that marriage is inferior to monasticism, he or she is belittling the Sacrament of Marriage. If a monk hears a woman’s confession and asks questions about the most intimate details of her relationships with her husband he is abusing his authority as a confessor. If a nun tells a woman to put a sheet between herself and her husband during sex, she is teaching an Augustinian and non -Orthodox view of sexuality. If a monastery gives communion to someone excommunicated by their pastor or bishop they are wrong. If a monastic believes that he or she has some sort of superior knowledge that allows them to tell people not to listen to their pastor or to disobey their bishop because they consider them modernists or too lax they are definitely wrong.
                      A legitimate monastery should work with the local clergy and follow normal Orthodox practices by informing the pastor of a Church before baptizing children from his parish, or they should ask for a letter from a person’s pastor authorizing them to baptize a child from his parish. Monastics should respect the position of the local clergy and work with them, not against them. We are all supposed to be on the same team, not in competition. Monastics should recognize that the local clergy know their flocks and have ultimate responsibility for the salvation of their people.

                    • Fr. John: the patristic literature of the Church has always seen the monastic calling as higher than any other because it is in imitation of the angelic life, in keeping with the teachings of Scripture, both by the Lord and St. Paul, about the superiority of chastity/celibacy. Your views on this subject are simply uninformed and if you are teaching these things to lay people you are not transmitting the historic fullness of the faith.

                      This is not to say that there are no bad monks or nuns, just as there are also bad priests and bishops. But to proclaim that the angelic life of traditional monasticism is not the highest calling in traditional Orthodoxy does no service to the Church. The solution is to make sure that monasticism in this country is healthy, and that has not been done. I think we must have a more informed and nuanced view of these questions. –Fr. Ambrose

                    • Why is this battle raging?

                      Wrong teaching on the part of a small percentage of monks — sometimes only alleged, sometimes documented, viewpoints from an infintesimal number of monasteries — is every bit as injurious to the faithful as are wrong teaching and practice from run-of-the-mill parishes. Distortions and revisions of the Orthodox faith abound EVERYWHERE. I have lost my patience with this dumping on monasticism. There is, after all, a level of responsibility belonging to laypeople according to which they should investigate the sources and veracity of what they are told and read, whether it originate from a monastery or from a parish priest.

                      I have seen (and met) what may be considered “monastery groupies”, families who turn up their noses at parochial involvement, and who gleefully brag on who their “spiritual father” is. I also have known people from the other extreme, who automatically “scent” mental illness or sexual perversion from the mere thought of a prayerful, retiring life, or of celibacy.

                      There are those who trash Old Calendarists without bothering to acknowledge the good and true among their viewpoints, who refuse to distinguish between pernicious extremists and soberminded Orthodox who stand up for the traditional, historical teachings of our faith. The self-destructive, self-righteousness of these, generally New Calendarists, fully equals the self-destructive, self-righteousness on the other extreme side of this neverending acrimony.

                      Parish priests and their families sacrifice more than we can know or experience. The finest among them do not broadcast or dwell on their sufferings. A stellar example of this has been witnessed during my own life.

                      Monks and nuns sacrifice more than we can know or experience. To posit otherwise demonstrates superficial assumptions and hints at disdain for a path in life that, uncomfortable though it always makes me feel, historically was proclaimed by the Church to be a “higher” path for those God calls to serve Him in that manner. I suspect that our — (mankind’s, in general) — uneasiness with this very early viewpoint of the Church has led to the modern desire to level everything into some comfortable “equality” — even to the result of our contemporary “cafeteria Orthodoxy”, by which one decides for oneself what to believe, muses over whether or not to fast (and when, and from what), laughs at those who honor the marital fast, and so forth down the long, long list of beliefs and practices that carve up the Church into like-minded mini-groups. Where, o where is the united Family of the Faithful, the seamless robe which we are supposed to love and desire?

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Fr. Ambrose the calling of monastics is a higher calling for individual salvation that few are called too, but the sacrifices that a married priest makes on a parish level are far more extreme than what a monsatic has to sacrifice. Further, monastism, even though a higher calling for s select few is NOT and HAS NEVER BEEN the norm for the faithful. Christ establish a community of believers (i.e The Church) NOT a community of monastics. The Monastic is there for him or herself. The local Parish and Parish Priest is there for US THE LAITY. The Parish is the ideal and the Highest calling for a community of lay believers and NOT the monastery. Otherwise, close the parishes and go to a monastery. That has NEVER been the case. So two different perspectives are being mixed that should not be mixed and certain teachings of the fathers are being, IMHO, apliphied to the benefit of monastics, which is not right. Is Father John Morris correct that these teachings by some monastics have occurred? Absolutely. Monastics are not perfect. This is why, even in the so-called “Old World” the local Bishop oversaw and supervised the monastery(ies) under his jurisdiction and the monastics HAVE TO BE obediant under the Bishop.

                      To think or to suggest that monstics have never disobeyed or rebelled against their bishop and never needed correction is simply wrong. I am a strong supporter of Father Ephraim’s monsteries here in Illinois (men’s Monastery) and in Plesant Prairie, Wisconsin (women’s Monastery), but even in these monsteries the things that have come out of these monsteries is troubling and the Bishop AND Metropolitan need to have direct surpervision over these monasteries, which Metropolitan Iakovos here in Chicago, to his credit, has such supervision and I believe that some very discreet but strong conversations have been had to “Correct” the situation here in my immediate area of the Midwest.

                      Also, not everything the monasteries say and do is wrong. Their call to a return to a genuine form of Orthodoxy is a breath of fresh air especially in the GOAA that is plauged by Modernism. This is why the monastery is so desperately needed. But this is also why correction and supervision from the local Bishop is needed, and has occurred and continues to occur in the Ephraimite Monasteries. in the end the much needed Good the monasteries provide outweights the bad, but its the Bishop that deals with the bad and gets things back on track.

                      So even the monastic that is called to his “Higher” calling still needs to be obediant under his Bishop. Remember, it is the local churches that are the first responders and deal with the everyday battles of people’s lives NOT a monastery. Monasteries are needed, and very much so, but NEVER at the expense of the local parish.


                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Monks and nuns sacrifice more than we can know or experience for their own salvation! A Married Priest and his family not only sacrifice but are bombarded on the parish level with some of the most vile BS I have seen in my life that makes seculsion in a monastery, even with a regimented Athonite program, seem like paradise. Unfortunately, I have seen people go to monasteries just to “Get away from it all.”

                      I do not want to belittle a monastics sacrifies, but from what I have seen of the two I’d become a monastic way before I’d become a parish priest any given time of the day given the crap and BS most of our parish priest have to go through. Anyway, I still view this as a whole Orthodox experience and NOT an US versus THEM mindset, but perspective is definitely needed for both the Good the Monastery provides and gives and the incredible service our local priests provide and are very, VERY, rarely appriciated for the good and noble work that they do. We tend to see and revere the “Angelic” monastic” and ignore the local priests that deals with our problems on a day to day basis and is the individual that gives us Christ and his sacraments on an everyday and local level. Let’s not forget them.


                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      Let me point our theologically that when a parish priest and his people gather to celebrate the Divine Liturgy they are the fullness of what it means to be an Orthodox Church. There is no higher expression of Orthodoxy than the Divine Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is an ascent to Heaven to join the heavenly hosts before the throne of God in a parish Church or in a monastery. The Divine Liturgy is not more valid in a monastery filled with monks or nuns than it is in a parish Church filled with married people and their children.
                      As a priest authorized to hear confessions, confession to God in my presence and the absolution that I pronounce is just as valid as the confession and absolution pronounced by a monk.
                      God did not call me to be a monk. Does that make me any less an Orthodox Christian than a monk? I do not think so. There is no place for spiritual elitism in the Church. We all must serve God to the best of our ability in the station in life we believe he has called us to live.
                      All callings are holy if they are used to serve Christ and His Church. The pious old woman who bakes the prosphora is making just as important a contribution to the Divine Liturgy, which is the highest expression of what it is to be an Orthodox Church, as the priest who serves the Divine Liturgy.

                    • Peter, I have always thought your voice here to be among the most level-headed. However, I must again point out that this particular statement…

                      “The Monastic is there for him or herself.”

                      …is a distorted understanding of monasticism shared by far too many, including (sadly) some who call themselves monastics. It is simply not true – at least it is not true of genuine monasticism. Everyone, including monks and nuns, lives for the Church, which is to say for Christ; for she is his Body. The process of salvation can never be self-centered. All must serve the Church, building up the Body in their respective vocations whether they are monk, priest, or layman. There is no salvation apart from this.

                      Admittedly, there are those self-appointed “monastics” who feel that their vocation is superior and claim it as their “duty” to correct all the supposed errors of others. Personally, I would flee from them as I would flee from any heresy. But there are true monks and nuns in monasteries all over the world whose prayers serve me, you, the Church, and the whole world. When we are working in our vocations, choked by the thorns of the cares of this life, it is their prayers that sustain us; and it is their selfless hospitality that offers us refuge, relief, and wordless a reminder of the one thing needful.

                    • Fr. John, please. Instead of your own opinions it would be more constructive if you read the Holy Fathers regarding monastic life and married life, and also the history of the Church. And instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, wouldn’t it be better to start addressing the issues I raised in an earlier post concerning how to establish healthy monasticism? I don’t hear you doing that. And what I and others are “detecting” from your posts is that you would perhaps prefer to exclude monasticism altogether from American Orthodox life. That would be a disaster. And the last thing we need here is another disaster!

                      P.S. I didn’t say that all heresies have come from bishops and priests, but most. And the fact remains that it has been monastics who led the fight against heresies–including, in case you have forgotten, the monophysites! –Fr. Ambrose

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      To Peter A. Papoutsis

                      The Council of Chalcedon was important because it condemned a very serious heresy, momophysitism. The non-Chalcedonians have a valid point, read by itself the decree of Chalcedonian can be interpreted in a Nestorian manner. For an example of this read Calvin’s Institutes. He professes adherence to Chalcedon, but then outlines, what is essentially a Nestorian Christology. Through his influence, most American Protestants are basically Nestorian in their Christology. But we do not read Chalcedon in isolation, we read Chalcedon in the context of the Fathers, especially St Cyril of Alexandria. The Church bent over backwards in its effort to reconcile with the non-Chalcedonians. The 5th and 6th Ecumenical Councils were part of this effort. They tried to bring the non-Chalcedonians back into the Church by making it clear that Chalcedon must be interpreted in conformity with the Christology of St. Cyril of Alexandria. The schism began and has persisted through a combination of misunderstanding a text written in Greek by non-Greeks and local nationalism. I am not enough of a theologian to know, but competent Orthodox theologians have met with non -Chalcedonian theologians and have declared that there is really no difference in Faith, but that the difference is due to using different language to express the same belief about Christ. At this point the problem seems to be that non-Chalcedonians consider Dioscorus and Severus saints, while we consider them heretics.

                  • Perplexed Stepan says

                    Archpriest John W. Morris, I could not agree with you more. You have hit the nail on the head with regard to monasticism in this country. Before I went to Manton, my parish priest also thought that the abbot was a veteran monk of sound mind. Otherwise, he said, he would never have recommended me going there. And while he regrets sending me there, I am thankful. I established some good friendships and the inner workings of the Orthodox Church were laid before me naked. And while I am still in limbo as to whether I will continue in the Orthodox Church with any seriousness, I am thankful that I have been given the opportunity to make a more educated decision as opposed to having been baptized with stars in my eyes.

                    I would take what you said one step further though. I don’t think anyone is trustworthy of God’s authority; nor is any man a possessor of God’s authority. Not me, you, monks, nuns, bishops, or metropolitans. Yes,, there are exceptionally holy men in positions of authority, but I would prefer not to venerate anyone until they’ve died as martyrs or they’re holiness is manifested in their relics.

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      Remember the Church is filled with sinners. If you are looking for perfection in this life, you will not find it. Read II Corinthians. If St. Paul, who was an Apostle specially chosen by God, had trouble with some people in the Churches under his supervision, how can we who are not Apostles expect anything less in this life. In Orthodox theology even the most sinful person is still made in the Image of God. When someone in authority in the Church disappoints you, remember that Christ died for him or her. Let God judge them. Remember the Sacraments administered by the most sinful priest is just as valid as a Sacrament administered by someoen who will someday be declared a Saint by the Church. When I was in seminary, there was an old Bishop who live there. It is not my place to pronounce it, but I think that in him I saw a real living Saint of the Church. If you had a bad experience at a monastery, you should remember that there are also monasteries filled with holy men and women. Do not leave the Church because you had unrealistic expectations and were disappointed when you learned that everyone in the Church is still a sinner.

                    • I think Perplexed Stepan is being honest. This was MY experience, somewhat.
                      I was dismayed to find not one figure in my travels through Orthodox countries
                      who was particularly inspiring.
                      Instead, I encountered so much USELESS HATRED against Catholics.
                      Too much venom was spent denigrating anything from Rome.
                      These people seemed too narrow minded and rather frankly,
                      caught up in a lot of negativity.

                      I didn’t notice that they were so special as Orthodox laity as they proclaimed

                      In fact, I never met one person even who was secure and friendly enough to
                      ask any interested questions about me.
                      It was only droning away about this supposed ELITE< the Orthodox.

                      I didn't see that much measured up.

                      Online, in forums, Orthodox have been the nastiest I have even seen.
                      Back-stabbers, rude, arrogant and aggressive to unbelievable extents
                      trying to embarrass those who do not perfectly agree with them.

                      I won't mention any online names, but the behavior of Americans who have
                      converted to Orthodoxy both in person and in internet discussion groups has made me recoil.

                      I would recommend a frank discussion of such problems, because I am sure
                      that Perplexed S. and I are not the only ones who have felt distaste.
                      There is almost a dictatorial mentality, however, that disallows any open and free talk.
                      One has to praise Orthodox everything day and night.

                      This forum seems more open than most, which is why I chose to post here.

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      To Fr. Ambrose

                      If you got the impression that I want to rid the Church of monasticism, I obviously did not express myself clearly. I was only writing about unhealthy monasticism and the problems caused by some monastics. Monasticism is an essential part of any healthy Orthodox Church. I cannot emphasize enough that I am not anti-monastic. However, if one really cares about monasticism, I would think that they would want healthy traditional monasticism and that problems be caused by some monastics be resolved. We must face reality, there have been problems. To have healthy traditional monasticism these problems must be resolved.

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      Fr. Ambrose
                      You have not been reading what I have written. Never have I denied the legitimate role of monasticism in Orthodoxy, nor have I advocated that monasticism be abolished in America. I have simply pointed out the problems caused by some monastics. The Hughes affair really upset me because I have known him for a very long time. It does disturb me that some people are so devoted to monasticism that they cannot recognize that a person can find fault with the actions of some monastics without committing some sort of terrible sin. Monastics are human and can be wrong.
                      By the way I have read a lot of the writings of the Fathers and the canons. I am reminded of Canon LL of the Apostles: If any bishop, presbyter, or deacon, or any one of the sacerdotal list, abstains from marriage, or flesh, or wine, not by way of religious restraint, but as abhorring them, forgetting that God made all things very good, and that he made man male and female, and blaspheming the work of creation, let him be corrected, or else be deposed, and cast out of the Church. In like manner a layman.” Monastics should not abhor or belittle marriage, which is a Sacrament of the Church.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says


                      Fr. John is giving you good advice here.

                      Some of us have been banged up too. In the end it drives you closer to Christ. I love my Church but some parts of it need to be cleaned up. But Jesus Christ is Truth, and if you seek Him you will find Him in a measure that I believe can’t be found elsewhere.

                      Sometimes you have to dig a bit deeper though. Sometimes that is good because it makes you stronger.

                    • There should be a national committee with subgroups in each diocese composed of those with psychological, law enforcement and legal backgrounds, and this committee should be given sole power to list any church recognized monastery that applies officially as a ‘retreat center’ where laity in general may be blessed to spend overnights. To qualify the residents must pass background checks and be free of any material concern.

                      History proves to trust here or there ‘good reports’ about any monastery is folly. The situation calls for in-depth inside knowledge care and examination. Likewise it is folly to expect monastery residents to self-report, as the ones not to be worried about would pass as would the ones to be worried about. Nor is it any use to go on about ‘obediences’ or ‘rules’ that might keep ‘worrisome’ residents ‘clear of’ guests. Plainly if someone is overwhelmed enough to be a threat rules about where not to go are of no use. Yet it is not anyone’s business (other than clergy and the residents) who some monks decide may live with them and who may not, or what title they might put on their door.

                      One might imagine a group of monks buying a small mental hospital, getting degrees and professional licenses some of them and making their way by operating it seeking suitable long term residents. That would be a very good place, but not a retreat center. My own kids went to a pre-school and elementary school where female monastics all got master’s degrees in early childhood education and lived in an attached chapel and monastery (RC).

                      But it is the church’s business how and whether to list these places. I’m not speaking about a reactive sexual misconduct committee, but a pro-active ‘retreat center certification committee’. If a priest wants to send someone to a place not listed as a retreat center, he needs to explain why and get permission. Likewise it should be widely published that monasteries not listed as official retreat centers are not places laity should go without asking first to understand some places would welcome guests out of a duty to hospitality but are not retreat centers and for whom guests might create serious temptations and problems.

                      Certainly to retain a listing as a retreat center a monastery would have to ask the committee to do background checks on anyone living there for more than a week total per year, and to recertify every couple of years.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      To Father John Morris:

                      Thank you. You are correct again. Any mistakes or oversimplifications I as for your forgiveness.


                • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                  In order to resolve problems, we have to bring them out in the open and try to resolve them. I think that we can all agree that some monks and nuns have caused some problems in the American Orthodox Church. I never meant to offend anyone or to blame all monastics for the problems caused by some monastics. I cannot emphasize enough that I respect and revere monasticism as an important part of the life of the Church. I did not mean to unleash a firestorm. Some of my posts on this subject may have been overstated. Please understand how upsetting the Hughes affair has been to me.’ I have known him for a long time. I visited and served at the St. Gregory’s monastery when he was there. He has been in my home. Perhaps I overreacted, but I only meant to discuss problems caused by some monks and nuns, not to condemn or belittle all monks and nuns. At the same time, however, I do not believe that we should not belittle the sacrifices of married priests and their families. Nor should we belittle the contributions made by dedicated laypersons to the life of the Church.
                  God does not call all Christians to the same vocation. To function the Church needs people who contribute different abilities. God calls some of us to be pious laypersons. God calls some of us to be parish priests. God also calls some of us to be monks and nuns. As long as a person seeks to live their life according to the teachings of Christ and His Holy Church in whatever station God places them, that calling is the highest for them.
                  I also believe that the most sacred manifestation of the Church is the Divine Liturgy whether it is served in a parish Church or in a monastery. The Church is a Eucharistic Assembly during which we all ascend to heaven to join the heavenly hosts before the throne of God.
                  In conclusion, I did not mean to offend anyone. I only meant to bring out in the open issues that I believe need to be discussed among Orthodox Christians so that we can reach a solution to some problems. Please forgive me if I have offended you by my expression of my honest feelings.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    I find myself agreeing with Fr John here. There is a place for monasticism in America but like the secular religious, who are increasingly under scrutiny, the regular religious must also be open to constructive criticism.

                  • Thank you Fr. John, for your sincere concern. What seems to come across from your posts, at least in my mind, is that no one is holding parish priests in less a place of honor than monastics except perhaps yourself. You seem to have quite a chip on your shoulder. Probably, because of all you have been through. If you are having a problem with heretical or just plain bizarre teachings coming out of a monastery, not of your own jurisdiction you should contact your Bishop who would then act on your behalf with his counterpart. This is not something “the whole church” needs to get out in the open, and resolve.

                    • Archpriest John Morris says

                      I had a lot of trouble in my last parish with people who frequently visited a monastery and came back filled with criticism that I am not doing things right because I do not do them the way that they do them in the monastery. They caused me a great deal of trouble with nit picky criticisms about such issues as the way that I wave the aer over the gifts during the Creed, and other minor liturgical issues. They also constantly complained that I am not spiritual enough because I do not try to enforce a monastic life style on my people. Once a teenager came to an evening service in what they considered inappropriate attire. I was not going to embarrass him and his family in front of everyone. They got mad because I did not stop the service and thrown him out. I told people that they should do the best they can to fast during the Nativity Fast and they complained that I am too lax. It was constant stream of criticism all accusing me of not being spiritual enough because I was not like the monks. Their criticism was not that I do not visit the sick, or did not do my work, it was all aimed at my spirituality and commitment to Christ. I also learned that one of the monks asked extremely personal questions about her most intimate relations with her husband during confession. The monks would baptize children from my parish without informing me. They did not like the next priest or the one who followed him. Eventually, some of them were put under penance by the Bishop and left the parish. That left a very bad taste in my mouth concerning some monastics.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Actually it is. Simply due to the sexual improprieties and at least one death that has occurred, not to mention some teachings that are incorrect the Church needs to deal with these issues, and maybe the GOAA more than others because alot of these monasteries are under our jurisdiction.

                      However, let me be clear that the Bishops have and will continue to oversee these monasteries and correct where correction is needed. Further, the Idea of “Certification” or “Registration” floated by Mr. Coin may be very reasonable and something we should look into as there are a number of “Questionable” Orthodox Monasteries that may, and I emphasize MAY, require a committee on certification under the supervision of a Bishop to be formed to correct or at least warn the public in regards to certain Monasteies. I can see abuses occurring, but the good outweighs the bad at this point.

                      Its one Idea, one that I personally like (Thank You Harry) let’s hear others.


                    • Peter, do you think there’s a relationship between what has been characterized by George M. in other places on this blog as a GOAA with many compromised Bishops (essentially that has a “Lavender Mafia” and is predominantly modernist in practice) and the dysfunction/peculiarities of the “Ephraimite” monasteries? It seems to me that the latter may be a bad reaction to the former, and you can’t fix one without fixing the other. I’d be curious if others have pondered this relationship?

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Karen said:

                      Peter, do you think there’s a relationship between what has been characterized by George M. in other places on this blog as a GOAA with many compromised Bishops (essentially that has a “Lavender Mafia” and is predominantly modernist in practice) and the dysfunction/peculiarities of the “Ephraimite” monasteries? It seems to me that the latter may be a bad reaction to the former, and you can’t fix one without fixing the other. I’d be curious if others have pondered this relationship?

                      Yes, I do believe its a reaction that is comparable to what you see in Protestants. However, there is a key difference. The Orthodox Church will not allow any of its members to go too far left or too far right without criticism and correction. The Orthodox Church just doesn’t have the make up of say the ECUSA (modernist) or that of the Assembly of God Churches (fundamentalist) to go to far left or right. The only direction the Orthodox Church can ever go is towards God.

                      There is a true and palpable checks and balances in Orthodoxy that has preserved us all these centuries. I like to call it the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity – The Holy Spirit.

                      For many years we ignored problems in the GOAA and now we are paying for that lack of attention. Yet, I am heartened by a the new generation of Orthodox, especially among our coverts that are revitalizing our Church and bring in a fresh air of adherence to traditionally Orthodox piety that is neither right or left but simply Orthodox. Hope still lives. And our new wave of Priests AND monastics are making this all possible.

                      I believe that Orthodoxy is on the verge of exploding onto the American scene in the next few years. Once this phase of adolescent atheism has burned itself out, which it will do in the next few years, people will be hungry for true and authentic Christianity and that’s where the Orthodox Church will come into play.

                      This is why I want all of us to stop our in fighting and start getting ready because our time as Orthodox here in America is quickly approaching and we need to get ready. Not just OCA, GOAA, etc., but ALL of us. It will soon be time.


                  • Antiochian Friend says

                    With Fr. John having struck a more conciliatory tone in his most recent post, perhaps all readers now could benefit from Fr. Ambrose’s and Monk James’ views on two questions that Fr. John has raised:

                    1) Assuming that there is a nearby parish with an assigned priest, under what circumstances, if any, should a monastery baptize or chrismate anyone?

                    2) Assuming that there is a nearby parish with an assigned priest, under what circumstances, with what prerequisites, and with what communication protocols after the fact, should a hieromonk hear a layman’s confession?

                    • 1) If the parish is OCA.

                      2) See above.

                      (Yes, yes – tongue-in-cheek, so don’t blow a fuse.)

                      As an aside, I find it more than curious how (for lack of a better term) the Byzantine model of parish organization is emphasized in this conversation while totally ignoring that of the pre-schism Celtic church where monasteries played THE pivotal role in local parish life. Both setups were under the aegis of a local bishop and therefore I find it hard to believe one means of organization as being superior or subservient to the other.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Herc, one reason Orthodox in America is so caterwampus (sp?) is because there was no vibrant, widespread monastic tradition. So essentially I’m agreeing with you. And yes, the Celts were right in how they evangelized Western Europe.

                    • Archpriest John Morris says

                      If the person is a member of my parish, I would think that a monastery should follow the same procedures as another nearby parish would. People sometimes play off one priest against another. Not too long ago a woman wanted me to hear her Confession, because she had had an argument with her priest. I told her to make peace with her priest and if he approved, I would be glad to hear her Confession. I would expect the same courtesy from a nearby monastery. I do not know how it is in other jurisdictions, but in the Antiochian Archdiocese it is expected that a member of a parish go to their pastor for confession. Under normal circumstance, I have no problem with a member of my parish going to a monastery for Confession. However, they should at least let me know. Since I am their pastor am responsible for their spiritual care and am the person giving them Communion, I should have some verification from the priest at the monastery hearing the Confession of one of my flock that the person is not under any kind of penance and is properly prepared for Communion. If, however, they put a person under penance, I should be informed and the person under penance should know that I will honor the penance imposed by the monk hearing their Confession. At the same time, if I find it necessary to put a person under penance, the monastery should honor the penance and not allow someone to use the monastery as a way to escape the discipline of the Church. .
                      I have no problem with someone in my parish going to a monastery to have their child Baptized, but they should at least have the courtesy to inform me. The monastery should require them to provide something from me stating that the family is Orthodox in good standing and will raise the child in the Orthodox Church. They should also have something verifying that the God parents are Orthodox Christians in good standing. People play all sorts of games. Once a lady wanted me to Baptize her grandchild. I asked about the church membership of the parents and was told that the child would be raised in the Episcopal Church. Once someone wanted a relative who was a member of the Baptist Church to act as God Father. If there were a monastery nearby, they could have taken the child to the monastery to have it baptized without informing the monks the true facts about the situation. In the case of Chrismating a convert who is receiving instruction from me, the monastics should have my approval and some verification that the candidate has been properly instructed and is ready for Chrismation. Otherwise a person could go to a monastery and be Chrismated before they have been properly prepared.
                      If I have received a convert through Chrismation, the monks should honor that reception and should not under any circumstances imply that the person is not fully Orthodox or suggest that they need a “corrective” Baptism. I am particularly concerned about so called corrective Baptism, because I know that it happens. It is heresy to refuse to recognize the grace received through Christmation. Every recognized authority on Orthodoxy recognizes that a convert can be received through Christmation. Even the decree of the ROCOR Bishops making Baptism the normal means of entering the Church, contained a phrase giving the local Bishop the authority to use economy to receive a convert through Chrismation.
                      In other words, what is needed is communication and mutual respect.

                    • You should check with your Met. to be advised of the canonical freedoms vs. traditions of Priests in the Orthodox church whether they be in monasteries or parishes.
                      I am sure Antiochians learn this stuff in Seminary don’t they?

                    • Responding to the request by “Antiochian Friend”, your first question is:

                      “1) Assuming that there is a nearby parish with an assigned priest, under what circumstances, if any, should a monastery baptize or chrismate anyone?”

                      Bottom line, this is really a matter for the local bishop to decide and some bishops routinely forbid baptisms, marriages, etc. to be be performed in monasteries. But historically, in the old world Orthodox countries and cultures, baptisms and chrismations were indeed performed in monasteries (as well as in parishes), and I think the example of the old world Orthodox should be good enough for us because there is really no “one size fits all” approach to this issue. There are people who come to Orthodoxy through monasteries, and others who come via a local parish. So there are sometimes legitimate pastoral reasons for someone to receive these Holy Mysteries in a monastery. The reason this has become an issue here in America however is because of the apparently questionable teachings and ideas that are given in a few monasteries. Rather than restrict baptisms and chrismations only to parishes, why not simply address forthrightly those things that are being done and said by some monastics in some monasteries and correct them? And if some priestmonks are saying inappropriate things in parishes, why are the bishops not correcting and, if necessary, limiting them? Why is this even an issue at all?

                      Second question:

                      “2) Assuming that there is a nearby parish with an assigned priest, under what circumstances, with what prerequisites, and with what communication protocols after the fact, should a hieromonk hear a layman’s confession?”

                      In the old countries it is quite routine for lay people to go to monasteries for confession. In fact, many parish priests in Greece don’t even have a blessing from their bishop to hear confessions, this being seen as something that not all priests are really automatically suited to do well. But in America it is generally a given that the local parish priest is the confessor and spiritual father or mentor for everyone in his parish. If, for some reason, a penitent wishes to confess elsewhere (and there can sometimes be valid reasons for this), he should ask a blessing from his parish priest to do so. We have heard from lay people who’ve said that their pastor has little or no time for spiritual direction and, in some cases, rarely even makes himself available to hear confessions.

                      Here at St. Gregory’s and the Skete of the Entrance in Ohio we routinely hear confessions of those who have the okay of their pastor to come to us. But then, I don’t think we are telling or teaching penitents anything that is not part of the traditional spirituality and discipline of the Church. If that’s not the case with some monastic priests elsewhere, why not address this frankly and up front, rather than forbidding laity to see out monasteries for confession and spiritual direction. Again, why is this a problem when there are real solutions at hand? –Fr. Ambrose

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      I thought that I posted something answering your question this morning, but I must have not have saved it correctly.
                      The answer to your question is simple. I would expect the same that I would expect from the pastor or a nearby parish. That means that he should communicate with me about anything involving my spiritual children.
                      If someone in my parish went to another parish or monastery to have their child baptized, the pastor of that parish or some appropriate official of the monastery should contract me to insure that the parents and godparents are Orthodox in good standing and intend to raise the child in the Orthodox Church. He could simply ask the parents to ask me to write him a letter covering the matter. I also should be informed that the baptism had taken place. I do no think that is unreasonable. What if the parents or the godparents were not really Orthodox or were not in good standing? What if the parents did not intend to raise the child as Orthodox or planned to raise it in another religion? These things do happen and some people will shop around among priests to find the priest who will do what they want. It is very common in areas with more than one Orthodox Church for the clergy to inform each other about such people.
                      I have no problem with one of my spiritual children going to confession to any canonical Priest including a monk as long as he is authorized by his Bishop to hear Confessions. If a person is visiting a monastery and feels called to make a Confession, I have no problems. However, since I am the person who is going to be giving them Communion on a regular basis, I should be informed if the person should decide to make the other Priest his Spiritual Father and that they are going to Confession to him on a regular basis. I should also be given an opportunity to inform the person that if the Priest puts them under penance that they must fulfill that penance. They cannot come to me to complain if they think the penance is too severe because I have no authority to lift a penance imposed by another Priest. I should also be informed if the other Priest has placed a person in my parish under a penance forbidding them to receive Communion. I should also be informed when the penance is fulfilled and when they may receive Communion again. If I or my Bishop puts someone under penance that would prevent them from receiving Communion, other Priests including monastics should honor that penance.
                      If someone under my instruction is Chrismated by another Priest, that Priest should require that I certify that the person has received instruction and is ready to be Chrismated before they receive them into the Church. The convert must understand that although my Bishop may allow me to receive a convert through economy, they must obey the Bishop with authority over the monastery who may require Baptism of all converts.
                      If someone has been received by Chrismation other clergy including monastics should honor that Chrismation and should not tell the person that they are not fully Orthodox because they believe that all converts must enter the Church through Baptism. Under no circumstances should another Priest perform a so called corrective Baptism on someone who was received into the Orthodox Church through Chrismation. This is very important because this issue has caused a lot of problems. I have done a great deal of study on this issue, and know that every reputable Orthodox authority recognizes that through economy a Bishop may allow a Priest to receive a person Baptized with water, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” through Chrismation. Even the declaration of the Bishops of ROCOR establishing reception through Baptism as the normal practice in ROCOR has a clause recognizing the authority of the local Bishop to allow the reception of a convert through Chrismation as an act of economy. The rules of the OCA, Antiochians and Greeks mandate Chrismation as the proper way to receive a convert who was Baptized with water using the correct Trinitarian formula. However, some monastics have caused a great deal of trouble in the Church over this issue by telling people that they are not Orthodox. So-called corrective Baptism is heretical because it denies the grace received through Chrismation and Communion. It also uncanonical because it denies the canonical authority of a Bishop to decide how to receive converts into the Church.
                      Thus, I do not really expect anything different from a monastery that I would not expect of a neighboring Priest when dealing with a member of my Parish.

                    • Antiochian Friend says

                      I thank both Fr. Ambrose and Fr. John for taking the time to offer such thoughtful and substantive replies to my questions.

                  • Thank you, Fr. John. You are right to call attention to the fact that there are some real issues and problems concerning monasticism in this country. I have made reference to that, too, and expressed my concern that some Orthodox in this country were turning their backs on monasticism altogether because of those problems when together the problems can be addressed and, presumably, solved.

                    And, believe me, I understand your distress over Nicholas Hughes. I, too, knew him very well and although there had been some signs that he had become troubled in recent years, no one suspected the kind of secret life he had evidently been living. –Fr. Ambrose

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      To Fr. Ambrose
                      Now that I know where you are a monk, I assure you that nothing that I have written was aimed at any monastery founded by my former professor Metropolitan Maximos. In fact, much of the criticisms that I have written about unhealthy momasticism were taught to me by him. I also served with His Eminence on the Orthodox Lutheran Dialogue and discussed these issues with him several times . My writings on this blog reflect these discussions. There is a problem that needs to be resolved so that healthy monasticism like that at St. Gregory’s can flourish and provide the spiritual guidance that our Church needs to be faithful to our Orthodox heritage. If the Church does not deal with these problems the unhealthy monasticism will overwhelm the healthy monasticism represented at St. Gregory’s and other healthy monasteries. I am sure that most Orthodox monasteries in this country are healthy, but the few problematic monasteries get all the attention and overshadow the example set by the healthy monasteries like your monastery

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      I am sorry that I posted essentially the same message twice. To Face It: My answer is essentially the same as the answer given by Fr. Ambrose, so I guess that I gave the right answer. The problem is that people sometimes shop among priests around to find ways to avoid following the rules of the Church. Sometimes, the parish priest following the canon law of the Church cannot let someone be a Godparent or even Baptize their child. If they go to a monastery and the monk has not communicated with the person’s pastor, the people might not tell the monk the whole story and use his ignorance of the situation to get around the rules of the Church. A year of so ago a woman from a different jurisdiction came to me for Confession because she had an argument with her priest. I told her that I could not hear her Confession without the blessing of her priest. I found out later that she had also approached another Antiochian priest who also told her the same thing that I told her. Once a woman came to me for Communion. I refused her because her priest, again in another jurisdiction, had told me not to give her Communion because she was under penance. She complained and I told her to resolve it with her priest or his Bishop. That is why pastors of Orthodox parishes in the same area frequent warm each other about someone who is trying to get around the rules of the Church by going from priest to priest. That is also why parish clergy and monasteries should work together.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        I’m curious as to what their IP addresses might be …

        • Another possibility is that they are not the same, but that they communicate with each other, or each communicate with the same people, about these issues, and picked up the same turns of phrase.

        • George, regarding Metropolitan Philip, yes you are right: he doesn’t pretend to be other than what he is. But I know from personal experience that he has no interest in or sympathy for monasticism unless monks and nuns are busily working for the church in a kind of social worker style. I know of only one very small exception. This view of monasticism, of course, is not traditional and authentic. I was told a number of years ago by an Antiochian bishop (who shall be nameless) that Met. Philip’s antipathy to monastics is based upon some difficult or bad experiences he had back in the old country.

          But all of this is actually rather sad. Anyone who reads church history, the Councils, the lives of saints, can see how very important monastics have always been in the Church, in all countries. In fact, most heresies arose from bishops and priests, and it was monastics and laity who fought the heresies and, ultimately, triumphed.

          I also want to add that there is absolutely nothing wrong with monks or nuns asking for charity from Orthodox laity. This is quite usual, even in the old countries. In return, monastics pray for those who have given alms, so this is by no means one sided…unless these prayers are not seen as needful any more! –Fr. A

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            With all due respect some of the greatest heretics in the history of the Church have been monastics. Monasticism is without a doubt part of Orthodoxy. No one questions the value of healthy monasticism or the beneficial influence of truly spiritual monks and nuns. However, as St. John wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” I John 4;1 Just as an Orthodox Christian should not believe everything said by a married priest, they should not believe everything said by a monk or nun. Instead, they should examine everything they are told to see if it is merely someone’s personal opinion or if it is truly Orthodox. The married priest who has embraced modernism and belittles the traditional teachings of the Church is just as harmful as a monk who tries to make everyone conform to his fundamentalist views. .All are called to live according to the same standard of sound Orthodox teaching to the best their ability.

            • With all due respect some of the greatest heretics in the history of the Church have been monastics.

              For example? Names please.

            • Re: “The married priest who has embraced modernism and belittles the traditional teachings of the Church is just as harmful…”

              Wholehearted agreement here! Many years ago I tried but could not get through a book written by just such a priest.

              Back in the old days, I encountered people within a certain type of circle within the Church who rather gleefully used the teachings of this book in their attempts to bash my spiritual home, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

              Their glee however turned into stunned and sullen silence when the ROCOR entered again into communion with Moscow Patriarchate in 2007.

              And then it followed that said book went out of print.

              But then the old heresies never die, they fade out of sight, go under the woodwork so to speak like some kind of black mold to emerge out of the cracks exuding toxicity.

              One recent online-critic of traditional Orthodox monasticism in this country has cited the rediscovery of this very discarded work as his inspiration for becoming a “watchdog” against what he calls “fundamentalism” (which like the quality of beauty, seems to lie within the eye of the beholder) in the Orthodox Church. The “fundamentalism” in his eye is what many, including myself, see as the miraculous bloom of Orthodox Christian monasticism in this country.

              And so we find that old teachings of the married priest who had embraced modernism and belittled the traditional teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church now being used to belittle the traditional, or rather “big-T” Traditional, teachings of Orthodox Christian monasticism.

              We should these words of the Archpriest John Morris: “… test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

              Or perhaps heed the words of the Righteous Gamaliel:

              ” And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.” (Acts 5:38-39).

              In other words, the history of the Orthodox Church shows us that the truth will out.

              Heretics, whether monastic or priestly, will be revealed for what they are and the righteous will be recognized – as Saints.

              If the Church is still in the saint-making business, then we should be seeing more of our dear monastic fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers being added to the ranks of the Saints.

              BTW, did you guys know that 3/4 of the Saints in the Orthodox Church are monastics? Doxa to Theo!

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                St. Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?
                But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. I Cor. 12:13-20
                We are all part of the Body of Christ no matter what vocation in the Church Christ has called us to fulfill. There are no second class Christians.
                If you reread my original post on this subject, you will notice that I mentioned Holy Cross Hermitage which is part of ROCOR as an example of healthy monasticism. As far as I know Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, St. Tikhons and most other canonical monasteries are healthy monasteries. Just a few monasteries are causing problems.
                There have also been many married Saints in the history of the Church. Not everyone is called to monasticism. Do not belittle the calling or dedication to married priests. Not everyone can be a monk or nun. Some of us are called to live as married priests in the world. We dedicate our lives to Christ and the service of Christ’s people. We sacrifice not only ourselves, but our wives and children in the service of Christ. What could be a higher calling than a life dedicated to Christ and to serving His people? What greater sacrifice could a man make than sacrificing his family in the service of the Church? Do not violate the Tradition of the Church which teaches that a priest, married or monastic, deserves a measure of respect. Honor the Holy Tradition of the Church that teaches that Marriage is a Holy Sacrament of the Church, do not make light of it or treat it as an inferior to any other calling.
                The response of some people to my postings on this subject shows the problem, an excessive reverence for monasticism. Just because someone is a monastic does not mean that they are above criticism. Monks and nuns are sinful people just like everyone else. They can be wrong just like everyone else.
                My original point is that we have had far too many scandals caused by pedophile or homosexual monks. I do not see how anyone can argue with that. I am not belittling traditional monasticism. If anything I am calling for traditional monasticism, a person dressed as a monk who is immoral is not a traditional monk. I am also calling for dialogue and for cooperation between monastics and the parish clergy.

              • Archpriest John Morris says

                Nothing that I have written on this blog was intended to be a criticism of traditional Orthodox monasticism. I am really shocked that it was taken as such and that people confuse legitimate concern about the harm done by fringe groups who call themselves Orthodox monastics with criticism of traditional healthy Orthodox monasticism. Legitimate objection to problems caused by some monastics is not an attack on monasticism, but only on those monastics who have caused problems for the Church. . I am overjoyed that that ROCOR has returned to communion with the rest of the Orthodox Church. However, there was a time when a group of non-Russian “Genuine” or “True” Orthodox led by a certain monastery used ROCOR as a platform to spread all sorts of division and false information about the rest of Orthodoxy. However, as you commented the truth finally came out, when it was found that there were problems at that monastery. Instead of obeying their spiritual superiors in ROCOR they went into schism and took the more radical non-Russian elements of ROCOR with them. I have always found that the Russian clergy of ROCOR were very fine men and not infected with the kind of fundamentalism found in those who left ROCOR and in other non-canonical groups who claim to represent “True” Orthodoxy.. Now we have good relations with ROCOR, especially with Holy Cross Hermitage since there are two Antiochian Orthodox Churches and an Antiochian Bishop near Wayne. Remember, the first Antiochian Metropolitan, Anthony Bashir, was consecrated by a Bishop from Antioch assisted by Bishops from what eventually became ROCOR.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                There is a difference between traditional Orthodoxy and what I called Fundamentalism in my book on the subject. A traditional Orthodox recognizes that within Orthodoxy there is room for different expressions of the unchanging Holy Tradition of the Church. A Fundamentalist considers everyone who does not follow their particular interpretation of Orthodox tradition non-Orthodox. For example, a priest who wears a cassock outside of the Church is not a Fundamentalist. A priest who criticizes as un Orthodox another priest who does not wear a cassock outside of the Church is a Fundamentalist. A priest who believes that all converts should be received through Baptism is not a Fundamentalist. A priest who does not recognize that the Tradition allows a Bishop to use economy and to receive a convert through Chrismation and tells a convert received by Chrismation that they are not fully Orthodox and demands that they undergo a so-called corrective Baptism is a Fundamentalist. A priest who prefers the Old Calendar is not a Fundamentalist. A priest who considers those Orthodox who use the New Calendar graceless non-Orthodox heretics is a Fundamentalist. A priest who believes that mistakes have been made by Orthodox involved in ecumenism that have created a false impression that a unity exists with non-Orthodox that does not exist and who considers ecumenism a waste of time is not a Fundamentalist. A priest who refuses to recognize the difference between the Orthodox view of ecumenism and the Protestant view of ecumenism and accuses those Orthodox who try to use ecumenism as a way to witness the truth of Orthodoxy to non-Orthodox heretics is a Fundamentalist.
                I should also reverse the terms and condemn as a an intolerant modernist a priest who criticizes priests who wear a cassock outside of the Church, uses the Old Calendar, who believes that all converts should received through Baptism or who has real doubts about involvement in ecumenism is just as bad as a Fundamentalist.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  100 % Correct. Good Night Fr. John and God Bless.

                • Re: “A traditional Orthodox recognizes that within Orthodoxy there is room for different expressions of the unchanging Holy Tradition of the Church.”

                  Is this really a definition of what “a traditional Orthodox recognizes” or just an appeal for more broad mindedness towards the “narrow way” (Gospel of St. Matthew 7:13-14) or just a plug for a book about what one Orthodox Priest thinks is “fundamentalism?”

                  A traditional Orthodox Christian trying to live his/her life in the world in these perilous times recognizes that:

                  “If one radically edits the past before appropriating it, then it is no longer the past that one is appropriating, but a version of the present.”(Wilfred M. McClay)

                  A traditional Orthodox Christian is one who has been labeled (libeled?) over the years as “fundamentalist” by fans of Fr. John Morris’ tome.

                  Perhaps the second most popular epithet is “19th Century.”

                  If only we had more 19th Century Orthodox like St. Seraphim of Sarov or St. John of Kronstadt in this 21st Century Church!

                  This lament leads me to conclude that these labelers (libelers?) miss the ethos of the traditional Orthodox. The fundamentalist-labelers are, in the words of G.K. Chesterton, shallow critics “who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative.”

                  Yes, some of the Orthodox monasteries in this country are traditional and conservative in this most fiery way, but what does one expect when one goes to an Athonite monastery? Yes, there is at least one jurisdiction in this country that does its best to hew to the Orthodox spirituality of the “19th Century,” but what does one expect from the jurisdiction that glorified/canonized St. John of Kronstadt?

                  There are different expressions of Orthodoxy in this country, but not all expressions are equal.

                • Re: “A traditional Orthodox recognizes that within Orthodoxy there is room for different expressions of the unchanging Holy Tradition of the Church.”

                  Is this really a definition of what “a traditional Orthodox recognizes” or just an appeal for more broad mindedness towards the “narrow way” (Gospel of St. Matthew 7:13-14) or just a plug for a book about what one Orthodox Priest thinks is “fundamentalism?”

                  A traditional Orthodox Christian trying to live his/her life in the world in these perilous times recognizes that:

                  “If one radically edits the past before appropriating it, then it is no longer the past that one is appropriating, but a version of the present.”(Wilfred M. McClay)

                  A traditional Orthodox Christian is one who has been labeled (libeled?) over the years as “fundamentalist” by the many fans of Fr. John Morris’ tome.

                  Perhaps the second most popular epithet is “19th Century.” If only we had more 19th Century Orthodox like St. Seraphim of Sarov or St. John of Kronstadt in this 21st Century Church!

                  This lament leads me to conclude that these labelers (libelers?) miss the ethos of the traditional Orthodox. The fundamentalist-labelers are, in the words of G.K. Chesterton, shallow critics “who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative.”

                  There are some monasteries and jurisdictions in this country that are conservative by Chesterton’s definition in a most fiery way.

                  What should one expect when one goes to an Athonite monastery if not Athonite spirituality?

                  There is at least one jurisdiction in this country that does its best to hew to the Orthodox spirituality of the “19th Century,” but what should one expect from the jurisdiction that glorified/canonized St. John of Kronstadt?

                  There may be as Fr. John Morris puts it, “different expressions of the unchanging Holy Tradition of the Church” but not all expressions are equal.

                  The expressions of Holy Tradition that have produced Saints in the past and are producing them in the present are the only true expressions of the unchanging Holy Tradition of the Church.

                  The lives of the Saint are like letters from God, “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

                  Let’s just see (if we haven’t already seen) which jurisdictions or churches or monasteries have produced Saints or are producing Saints and go there.

                  The categories of “fundamentalist” or “just as bad as a fundamentalist” are wholly un-Orthodox and really belong in a discussion about late 19th Century…wait for it…Protestantism, NOT Orthodoxy.

                  As for those who have been a bother to Fr. John Morris, he should call the excommunicants what they are: schismatics and heretics.

                  For his brethren within the communion that he doesn’t like too much, he can call them variously: Athonites, zealots, laxity (as opposed to laity…OK I thought it was funny), babuskhas or even meanies, all are more descriptive if not more accurate than the borrowed protestant term “fundamentalist.”

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Ioann, that’s a gross oversimplification of what Fr John Morris has written. There’s been no one more of a cheerleader for traditionalism than myself. But I’ve seen such types of uber-rigidivists (for want of a better word) who are dangerously close to pharisaism. Sometimes they’ve got something to hide. Usually the problem with all Orthodox (myself included) when we fall into these pissing matches is the lack of love. And yes, this even includes those who prize “toleration” at the expense of little-O orthodoxy.

                    • George, I like the specificity of your word “uber-rigidivists.”

                      I get it. Some are rigid in their stance, holding fast to the traditions which they had been taught. Some are more rigid and some are even more rigid.

                      There is nuance to your word-description, something that is missing from the word-description “fundamentalist”.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    I dispute the accusation that I have called traditional Orthodox Fundamentalists or that I have attacked traditional Orthodoxy in any way. I am a traditional Orthodox Priest. I believe all the doctrines of the Holy Tradition of the Church and teach them to my flock. I wear all the proper vestments for the service that I am conducting and do not deviate from the official texts or rubrics of the services of the Church. There is a distinction between the Holy Tradition of the Church which expresses the unchanging teaching of the Church and non-essential customs inherited from the past that do not have any real doctrinal significance. I have made a very clear distinction between someone who follows some non-essential customs from the past such as wearing a cassock outside of the Church and someone who questions the commitment to Orthodoxy of someone who does not follow all the non-essential customs that they follow and, for example, does not wear a cassock outside of the Church. I do not presume to judge someone who follows some non -essential external customs that I do not follow. I do not think that they should judge me.

                    • Re: “There is a distinction between the Holy Tradition of the Church which expresses the unchanging teaching of the Church and non-essential customs inherited from the past that do not have any real doctrinal significance. ”

                      After reading a homily (part of which is excerpted following) from a Priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, I’m not sure how to make a distinction between what is essential and what are non-essential externals.

                      “Dostoevsky wrote a remarkable parable about the growth of sectarian antiritualism in Russia during the last century:

                      ‘They carry a vessel of very precious liquid; all fall down, all kiss and adore the vessel containing this precious life-giving fluid. And then, suddenly, people stand up and begin to cry: You blind! Why do you kiss the vessel? It is only the live-giving fluid contained in it that is precious; only the contents is precious and not the container; but you are kissing glass, simple glass; you adore the vessel and the glass, ascribing all the holiness to it, and you are forgetting about the precious fluid that it contains. You idol-worshipers! Throw away the vessel and break it. Adore only the life-giving fluid, and not the glass!’

                      “And the glass was broken, as we read further in Dostoevsky’s parable, and the life-giving fluid, the precious contents, is poured out on the earth and disappears into the earth. They have broken the vessel and lost the liquid. What miserable, unhappy, benighted people! exclaims Dostoevsky as he ends his parable…If we believe abstractly in God, then ritual is unnecessary. If our God is the living, personal God, then we need rituals of faith. They express our love and desire to draw near to God.”

                      What should be needless to say is that there are others who may hold something to be essential that Fr. John Morris deems to be non-essential.

                      Using Dostoevsky’s imagery more specifically, others may deem some “externals” to be themselves essential, like the glass that holds the precious liquid whereas others may not, possibly (May God save us!) at their own peril.

                    • Archpriest John Morris says

                      I chose the term Fundamentalists because among social scientists it has come to describe a certain frame of mind that judges others by one’s personal standards. The term originally referred to Protestants who objected to modern Biblical criticism. So do I, but that is a different topic. Social scientists have taken the term to describe types of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and other religions. I simply borrowed it to describe a kind of person that Fr. Seraphim Rose used to describe as “super Orthodox.” It can be defined as narrow mindedness, self-righteous, or simply pharisee like. The Church has always recognized that differences of opinion can exist over matters not officially defined by the Church as dogma or doctrine. This is what we mean by the term theologoumena. Ultimately for a priest it is up to his Bishop to decide what is essential and what is non-essential. However, someone who considers something essential that has not been officially declared the doctrine of the Church by competent authority should be very reluctant to judge someone else who disagrees with them. For example, in my personal piety I consider it absolutely essential that the Church be darkened after the Midnight Office of Pascha and that the Priest come out of the Altar carrying a lighted candle while chanting, “Come ye receive the light…” and then for the people to come forward and light their candles. However, I have been told by my OCA friends that they do not follow that particular custom. As important as it it to my personal piety, I would never criticize the OCA as not being Orthodox because they do not do things the way that I do according to my Antiochian tradition.
                      From what I can read on this blog there are enough real heresies around Orthodox circles such as certain laxness when it comes to homosexuality and some who think that we should ordain women that we need to deal with. For this reason we do not need to waste our time arguing about the Orthodoxy of wearing a cassock outside of the Church or which calendar we should use.

                • “Fundamentalist” is a term first used in Orthodoxy, as I recall, by Metropolitan Philip some years ago, who was angered at the criticisms he received from some traditional Orthodox regarding the way in which he received the Evangelical Orthodox. His was not just a “different expression” of tradition, but a violation of ancient traditional and canonical norms in this regard, and this created both scandal and grave concern in this country and abroad.

                  I have seen the term “fundamentalist” now applied to those who question inappropriate ecumenical activities, exercise their right to free speech regarding the imperative need for monasticism in this country, teach traditional and strict biblical Orthodox Christian morality, prefer to preserve the ancient integrity of the divine services instead of “updating” and shortening them, etc., etc. There’s something wrong with all this.

                  I don’t think, first, that it’s a good idea for us to use a term normally applied to a certain kind of Protestantism. Better, I suggest, is for us to speak of modernists and traditionalists; these are better and more accurate terms within the life of contemporary Orthodox Christianity.

                  For myself, having traveled extensively in old world Orthodox countries and cultures, I think that the best way to understand “traditional” Orthodoxy is to experience what in fact Orthodox life is like in the old countries, both externally and internally. In my opinion it is very dangerous for a still relatively new and immature Church in America to consider itself separate and somehow wiser than the mother Churches, an attitude that has been seen and heard unfortunately often in recent years. This condescending and sometimes arrogant attitude has gotten us into a lot of trouble in terms of healthy and normal Orthodox life and is often seen in two particular jurisdictions in this country–jurisdictions that have had more than a fair amount of political and moral kerfufflements in recent years. I often encounter Orthodox, both clergy and laity, who seem to believe that Orthodoxy in America somehow exists as a separate culture and theology from the rest of the Orthodox world–a case of the tail wagging the dog. Be sure that the Orthodox in the old countries are quite aware of this arrogance, which goes along with American imperialism, by the way. They are aware and while still tolerant, they are bemused.

                  Of course “modernism” would also, I think, embrace attempts to depart from or soften the moral and doctrinal teachings of the Church, and there are signs of that in this country too, alas, even in some seminaries as well as pulpits. The whole issue of beards and cassocks I see as superficial red herrings. The Church is in grave danger of rotting from the head down and from the inside out, and we are preoccupied with externals? –Fr. Ambrose

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    I agree with most of what you have written, although I take issue with your criticisms of the reception of the Evangelical Orthodox. No canon was violated. It was a great day for American Orthodoxy.
                    However, I agree with the rest of what you have said, except for a few points.
                    It is one thing to question inappropriate ecumenical activities. It is something else altogether to misrepresent the true nature of Orthodox ecumenism. I have seen all sorts of distortions of what actually happens at ecumenical meetings spread by some people. As one who has actually participated in ecumenism, I know for certain that although some mistakes have been made that most of the propaganda about Orthodox ecumenists betraying the Faith of the Church false or greatly exaggerated. The position of the Orthodox Church is clear. The Orthodox Church is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Communion can only be on the basis of complete acceptance of the Faith of the ancient undivided Church of the Fathers and the Ecumenical Council. Membership in an ecumenical organization or dialogue with another Christian group does not imply that the Orthodox Church recognizes the other group as a Church in the fullest sense of the term.
                    If a Priest is teaching of doing anything that is contrary to the doctrine or moral principles of the Orthodox Church, his Bishop must tell him to repent and follow the teachings of the Church. If he does not, he should be suspended.
                    I do not believe that anyone should have the arrogance to change the services of the Church. Everything should be done properly and according to the official service books of the Church.
                    Finally I am distressed by the degree of American triumphalism that I have seen in some of the writings on this blog, especially who condemn what they call foreign Bishops and those of us who are loyal to our mother Churches.

                    • Father John,
                      I find your posts positive, thoughtful, and full of hope. I look forward to reading them and have gone back to read all your previous posts. The members of your chuch are most fortunate. Thank you. Anna

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    Well, you may not like the word, but Fundamentalist is accurate and correctly used to describe those Orthodox that adhere to to superficial things as opposed to the One True faith.

                    I find it very interesting that you do not like the term “Funadamentalist” as being wrong for Orthodoxy, but cannot the same argument be made for the term “Modernist.” I would suspect that many of the same arguments can be made by them that you are making for “Fundamentalist.

                    You may not like the term Fr. Ambrose or Ioann, but it is correct, and just in case I am not clear both “Modernism” and “Fundamentalism” have NOTHING to do with traditional Orthodoxy and both are heresies and have not place in our Church. If you thing otherwise, that’s fine, but grew up in and around the Old Calendarist movement and I have also been around and talk to to very worldly priests and Orthodox laiy people and from personal experience both terms fit and both beliefs are wrong.

                    On this I am firm, and I agree with what Fr. John Morris stated before. Again, if you believe otherwise that’s fine, but I know what I have experienced in my life and know very well the terms “World Orthodox” and “True” or “Genuine” Orthodox. I am very well aware that the Genuine Greek Orthodox Church states because they put it in an official statement back in 2002 that all “World” Orthodox are heretics and that our sacraments are without grace. You can read it for yourself. Here is the link:

                    So what say you are they “Traditional” Orthodox or Fundamentalists? To me they are Fundamentalists and schismatics and NOT traditional so let’s be very clear about what and who we are talking about ok.


                    • So what say you are they “Traditional” Orthodox or Fundamentalists? To me they are Fundamentalists and schismatics and NOT traditional so let’s be very clear about what and who we are talking about ok.

                      Peter, let’s just call a spade a spade or alternately, a schismatic a schismatic.

                    • Based upon my own experience I would make a distinction between what I call the Greek Old Calendarist mentality, which is schismatic, and those who are called “fundamentalists” in American Orthodoxy. If we define “fundamentalist” as those who are obsessed with externals, then it is right to dismiss this as un- and non-Orthodox; it is by no means traditional Orthodoxy. But as I said in my previous message, the name “fundamentalist” has unfortunately been much more widely applied than that, and it is a red herring.

                      It is curious that it was an American hierarch who first started throwing the term fundamentalist around when many, including some of his own clergy, criticized his departures from Orthodox norms in history and in the rest of the Orthodox world. You do not find, say, Russian or Greek hierarchs accusing critics of “fundamentalism”. This defensive way of not addressing real issues is quite unique in this country, from what I see and read.

                      I think I defined my own understanding of “modernism” clearly enough in my previous post–it’s not about beards and cassocks, but something much more serious and much more dangerous to Faith. We all know what these terms mean. No need to nitpick about them. More important is to address the issues behind them. –Fr. Ambrose

                    • You know you might be among fundamentalists if you belong to a parish and someone in a monastery suggests it would be a good idea for them to do some sort of baptism– without discussing it with the parish priest first.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Or a funadamentalist a fundamentalist whether they are schismatics or not.

                    • Due to overuse, the epithet “fundamentalist” is losing its potency as a stimulus meant to provoke outrage against those to whom the epithet is applied as evidenced by the belabored apologies for its use on this blog.

                      Even more inflammatory words will soon be needed to provoke the same outrage-effect on those who had been conditioned with “fundamentalist” over the years.

                      I predict that the next code words borrowed from the mass media and cultural slang to be used to divide the Church will be: talibanist and talibanic.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    to Fr. Ambrose:

                    Unfortunately, there are those who are obsessed with externals and make them the measure of Orthodoxy. What term shall we use to describe the un-Orthodox attitude of those who would tell me that I am not really Orthodox because I get a hair cut and trim my beard occasionally and did not wear a cassock when I took my kids to a ball game. People who make a dogma out of using the Julian Calendar. People who have created a straw man by confusing the Protestant definition of ecumenism with the correct Orthodox definition of ecumenism. You are right, most of these people are schismatics, but their influence is being felt in the canonical Church. How shall we describe them and the dangers they present to the Church. I used the term Fundamentalists not as used by the public at large, but as used by scholars. I know Russian and Greek Bishops who have read my book and agree with me.
                    I certainly agree that we have a problem with what I would call laxity in the Church. Priests who give Communion to non-Orthodox or do Greatest Hits from Orthros instead of the complete service on Sunday morning. Priests who do not fast or teach their people to fast. Priests who do not celebrate feast day Liturgies, but move the observance to Sunday, Priests who do not do the Lenten services, or who begin Holy Week with the Unction Church on Wednesday evening. Priests who participate in so called ecumenical services without following the rules that distinguish between what can be done and what can be done under such circumstances.
                    I have gone into two parishes where I was the first Priest to serve feast day Liturgies, or Presanctified Liturgies during Lent. In one parish instead of the Holy Saturday Liturgy, they had a tradition of an Eastern egg hunt for the children on Holy Saturday morning. In that same parish they had never had the Bridegroom Services of the first days of Holy Week. One parish council actually complained to the Bishop that I was doing too many services and that they only wanted services on Sunday morning. The Bishop was not amused but was very unhappy with that parish council and told them so. That kind of laxity is much more serious than wearing a pair of jeans and a t shirt at home or when taking one’s kids to ball game. It is even a more serious offense than using the New Calendar. Dealing with these problems, and with the immorality of some clergy is important for the future of the Orthodox Church in America, not long hair and beards or wearing a cassock to the Mall or which calendar we use.

            • “With all due respect some of the greatest heretics in the history of the Church have been monastics. “

              But then Arius, perhaps the worst of all heretics (certainly the most notorious I think most would agree), was a parish priest – not a monastic. Sorta’ blows your argument outta the water, Father.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                Eutyches the father of monophysitism was a monastic. Monophysite monks were responsible for the death of Flavius Patriarch of Constantinople. The monophysite monks of Alexandria caused a major schism that has yet to be healed. There was a great deal of controversy caused by monks who followed Origen in Palestine.
                I cannot believe that simply point out that some monks and nuns cause problems in the Church should cause such a reaction. It is not heresy to recognize a problem in the Church.

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says (September 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm):

              ‘With all due respect some of the greatest heretics in the history of the Church have been monastics. Monasticism is without a doubt part of Orthodoxy. No one questions the value of healthy monasticism or the beneficial influence of truly spiritual monks and nuns. However, as St. John wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” I John 4;1 Just as an Orthodox Christian should not believe everything said by a married priest, they should not believe everything said by a monk or nun. Instead, they should examine everything they are told to see if it is merely someone’s personal opinion or if it is truly Orthodox. The married priest who has embraced modernism and belittles the traditional teachings of the Church is just as harmful as a monk who tries to make everyone conform to his fundamentalist views. .All are called to live according to the same standard of sound Orthodox teaching to the best their ability.’


              I hoped that Father John Morris would have given this up already.

              Was Areios a monk or a nonmonastic priest of Alexandria? I don’t remember.

              Historically, all the christian heresies were first expressed in Greek. Given FrJM’s take on things, we should be very wary of people who speak Greek, since they are just as likely as monks — in his view — to lead Christians astray in their faith.

              But this is all nonsense, and I hope and pray that FrJM shuts up, sits down, and works out his own salvation instead of berating his fellow Christians..

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                I do not deny the important role that monastics have played in the history of Orthodoxy. Nor do I deny the value of monasticism. However, it is also evident that not all monks represent healthy Orthodox monasticism. It is a fact that there have been heretical monks throughout the history of the Church. Therefore, just because someone is a monk that does not give them any special authority on Orthodox belief and practice. As far as your last comments, they are rather uncharitable for a person who claims to follow Christ. I have just as much a right to write on a subject as you do. There have been holy monks and nuns, but there have also been holy married people. No calling is superior to any other as long as we do our best to serve Christ in whatever station of life we are.
                I am not berating fellow Orthodox Christians. I am merely pointing out some problems that we need to resolve.

                • Catherine: I don’t know where you experienced this “hatred” against Catholics. I have not been to Greece but have been to Russia and the Holy Land, and in neither place did I experience/see/hear any such “hatred.” Greek Orthodox, however, suffered savagely at the hands of the Latins, as even a superficial reading of history will show and it was because of the Crusaders that Byzantium was so weakened that, ultimately, it could not withstand the Muslim conquerors. The Pope had promised to help the Greek Orthodox of Byzantium, but only if they submitted to his authority as head of the Church. So you see, some Orthodox have reason to be suspicious of the Catholic Church.

                  In addition, there are many Orthodox today–and not just in Greece–who are watching with some care the “dialogue” going on between the Orthodox and Rome. We have a few Orthodox bishops and theologians who seem to think that we are actually “sister churches” and constitute the “two lungs” of Christ’s Church, in spite of the heresies of the Roman Catholic Church. So there is attentive and appropriate concern. –Fr. Ambrose

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    I do not really think that we should be all that worried about the dialogue with Rome. I cannot see Orthodox submitting to the First Vatican Council or the Roman Catholics abandoning it. The Pope is not going to give up his power and the Orthodox are not going to accept the papal claims.
                    There is also absolutely no possibility that we will reach agreement with any Protestant group.
                    That is why I am not that worried about ecumenism.

                • I think we might have a beginning of a solution to the problem of the tone of this discussion if the Archpriest John W. Morris can answer for us the question posed by the movie-monk Anatoly to the movie-priest-monk Job (both from the film Ostrov): “Why did Cain kill Abel?”

                  • That film is probably the most marvelous to be released in the last — 50 years !

                    Notice that the model was HIeroschemamonk Feofil of Kiev Caves Lavra.

                    If one compares his LIfe with the Priestmonk in the film, there are so many
                    common behaviors very specific to Starets Feofil.

                    In short not every Fool-For-Christ exhibits those characteristics.

                    Worth while for anyone intrested to read back over the book “Hieroschemamonk
                    Feofil : Ascetic and Visionary of the Kiev-Caves Lavra”, compiled by a
                    Vladimir Znosko. 1987 publication by Jordanville.

                    It’s SO refreshing, especially in these tremulous times !

              • The fact of the matter is that, in balance, monastics rescued actually the Church far more often than bishops and priests did. Does this mean that there were never any monks who fell away from the fullness of the truth? No. But look at the actual history of the Church as it is, rather than through the lens of present day disappointments, scandals, and dysfunctionalities in American Orthodoxy.

                I agree that there are problems in monastic life here. But the solution is to make it healthy, not continue to dismiss it. This should be our focus, not the ongoing criticisms. –Fr. Ambrose

                • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                  I agree with you Fr. Ambrose. I have never dismissed monasticism. I have simply pointed out some of the problems involving some American monastic establishments. In order to make American monasticism healthy you have to first identify why it is not healthy. I do think that some of the responses to my concerns have been very unfair to me personally. If you condemn anyone who points out some of the problems with monasticism as it has evolved in America as anti-monastic and therefore not really Orthodox, you will never begin to resolve the alienation that some of us feel towards some American Orthodox monastic institutions. I would think that a truly humble monastic would welcome constructive criticism and would be very concerned by the perception that at least some priests have that some American Orthodox monastics have a negative attitude towards the parish clergy. I know that my views are shared by many of my brother priests. There needs to be an honest dialogue between parish priests and monastics. After all, we are supposed to be on the same team. We need to work together to help the faithful grow in their salvation. You can dismiss me as a kook or as a monk hater, but the issues that I have raised in my posts are real and need to be resolved.

                  • Very Rev Father John, bless!

                    I have been following this discussion with a fair amount of interest. Truth in advertising: I am a married laymen who attends an Antiochian parish. I, too, have visited and benefited greatly from my visits to various monasteries, including Greek/Ephraimite, OCA and ROCOR (WV).

                    Much of what you have emphasized is very apropos with regard to Eucharistic discipline, priests honoring the penances of neighboring priests, etc.

                    There is something that you keep repeating that I would like to ask you to address, if I may ask: in your concern over dysfunctional/evil/heretical monasticism, such as is found in some places here in America, and sadly enough, throughout Orthodox Church history; and in your reaction, as you say, to Fr Nicholas Hughes and to many bad experiences that you have had with discourteous monks, etc; you have repeated the comment: “No calling is above another” … “Monasticism is not better than marriage” … “Marriage is not inferior to monasticism.” (I am paraphrasing here.)

                    Father, how do you say such a thing, when Orthodox Tradition, the Holy Fathers, and the like, are clear that virginity (holy monasticism) is a higher calling than holy matrimony?

                    Even St Paul teaches this, cf 1 Cor 7:38, 40 et passim. Our Lord himself exalts virginity for those who can accept it, cf Luke 20:34-36 et passim. Virginity is exalted throughout the Fathers as the evangelical ideal (tho only a few can accept it):

                    St. Gregory the Theologian: “We do not dishonor marriage because we give higher honor to virginity.” [“Oration on Holy Baptism”]

                    Could you address this?

                    (It goes without saying that I honor marriage as holy and good according to the blessing of God. I am grateful for my lovely and loving wife. Yet, I honor virginity as a higher calling that I have not been blessed to follow. I – a married man – can be saved as a monk can.)

                    And, a good quote I stumbled on: “… Holy Orthodoxy is the Body of Christ. The heart of the Church is Christ. Moreover, the souls of the Church are not divided between monastics and lay people. Both ways of life, even if one is of a more intense and higher kind, lead to salvation and sanctity. It is a heresy to teach otherwise. In fact, to be precise, several Fathers have called monasticism the “barometer” of the Church, not its heart. It is not part of the essence of the Church, but a measure of the Church’s health. This is logical. If a Church has healthy Christians, it will cultivate those virtues which lead to Christianity in its strictest form: monasticism. This means that monastics draw from the virtues of the non-monastics who give them their being and who are the substructure of the Church. The lay people are the chickens. The monastics are the eggs. The number of eggs that a chicken produces tells us how healthy it is. And so with the Church. But without the lay people, monasticism would not exist. No chicken, no egg.”

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      Not everything written by the Fathers is the official doctrine of the Church. The consensus of the Fathers as enacted by the Ecumenical Councils is the official teaching of the Church which also expresses its doctrine through its worship.
                      According to Orthodox teaching the highest expression of the Church is the Divine Liturgy whether it is served in a parish Church or in a monastery. When the faithful gather for the Divine Liturgy nothing is lacking in what it means to be the Church, the Bride of Christ. Christ is just as present in a Divine Liturgy served by a parish priest with a Temple filled with laity as He is in a Divine Liturgy served in a monastery filled with monks or nuns.
                      We are all called to a life or prayer and repentance. It is a serious mistake to assume that just because someone is a monk that they are above criticism especially if they lack humility and are so filled with pride that they presume to judge the spirituality of others. If someone tells me that their calling is superior to the my calling as a married parish priest, they are guilty of the sin of pride. We must not make an idol of monasticism and monastics. Not everything said by a monastic represents the official teaching of the Church. There are good and faithful monks and nuns, but there are also bad monks and nuns as the case of Hughes and other scandals such as Blanco shows. Nor should we make an idol of the priesthood. There are good and dedicated parish priests who sacrifice themselves and their family to serve Christ and his people. There are also bad priests as the recent case in California in our Archdiocese shows. You have to use discernment to distinguish between sound and unsound teachings even if they come form a monastic or a parish priests.
                      Each of us has a calling from God. If that person lives a faithful Orthodox Christian life in whatever calling Christ calls them, that is their highest calling and is not inferior to any other calling. There are holy and saintly married couples who strive to follow Christ by the way that they live their lives and raise their children. For them that is their highest calling from God.
                      The Church needs monasticism just as the body need a brain. However, a body will not function if it only has a brain. All part of the body function together. The same is true of the Church. Not all of us are called to be monastics. Those of us who are not called to be monastics should not be belittled or looked down upon as second class Christians. If everyone in the Church became a monk or nun, we would have no monks or nuns in the future. God created and blessed marriage. Christ blessed marriage at Cana. St. Paul compared the union of a man and a woman in marriage to the union between Christ and His Holy Church. Marriage is a Sacrament of the Church. Therefore marriage is a holy and blessed calling, just as monasticism is a holy and blessed calling.

                    • Archpriest John Morris says

                      After I wrote my reply I went to my office to prepare for Vespers. I found this quote from the writings of Metropolitan Hilarian Alfeyef that speaks to this issue.. He wrote, “Monasticism, then, is not the opposite of marriage. Rather , it is a different kind of marital union, not between two human beings, but between the human person and God.”

              • Archpriest John Morris says

                I find it rather disturbing that there was very little response the problems that I have brought up concerning some monastics in this country. Instead, I was attacked and accused of being unfaithful to the teachings of the Church because I mentioned some problems caused by monastics, as if monastics belong to a special class of Christian that no one may dare criticize. That some monastics have caused scandals cannot be denied. Hughes was not the first, although I pray that he will be the last. That some monastics teach unsound doctrine and impose their theories on lay people pertaining to matters about which the Church has not definitely spoken, such as non abortive methods of birth control is also a fact. That some monastics ask questions about intimate relations between a husband and wife is also undeniable. There is something perverse about a monastic who is obsessed with sex. Yet from everything that I have heard some of them are. Some monasteries have changed bishops whenever their bishop tries to exercise his authority over the monastery. That some monastics undermine the position of the local parish priest is also undeniable. That some monastics have cause great controversy by challenging the validity of the reception of converts by Chrismation is well documented. It is also a fact that some monastics will baptize a child of a member of a parish and never have the courtesy to inform their pastor. Some monastics hear the confessions of laity, but do not communicate with the priest who actually gives them communion to tell him that the person has been to confession and may receive the Mystery. There is no excuse for not communicating with the pastor of a parish when ministering to his people. We have telephones, e mail and if all else fails snail mail. Monastics are not above criticism. We do not have an infallible pope, we certainly do not have infallible monastics. I make no claims to be a particularly spiritual man, but I do not believe that I am a second class because I am a married priest or that just because someone is a monastic that they are better than I am. The Fathers praise chastity. One can be chaste within marriage.
                So, instead of condemning me because I have brought up some areas of concern involving monasticism, look at the issues themselves.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            Please give Metropolitan Philip some slack. He has had bad experiences with American Orthodox monasticism. For many years Holy Transfiguration in Brookline proclaimed itself the primary Orthodox monastery in this country. They have given all Orthodox monasticism a bad name not only by their moral problems, but by the extreme Old Calendarists teachings that they spread. Then there is the other extreme. I once visited a canonical Orthodox monastery during the Christmas Fast. The monks were eating prime rib, did not wear cassocks outside of the chapel, had icons of non-Orthodox saints and did services that were unrecognizable as Orthodox because they made up their own services according to their own idea of how services were done in the 8th century because they claimed that we need an American expression of Orthodox monasticism. I would not want any member of my parish to fall under their modernist influence. Blanco was a terrible scandal covered by the secular press that made all Orthodox in Texas look bad. Webber and Hughes did the same thing for Orthodox monasticism. One of our Bishops, not Met. Philip, told me that one monastery told one of his Priests not to obey their Bishop because he is a modernist. Another Bishop, also not Met. Philip, told me to tell my people not to go to Confession at certain monasteries because of their extreme teachings.
            I totally agree that we need healthy Orthodox monasticism in this country to overcome the harm that has been done by the unhealthy monasteries. One of the problems is that so many of us, myself included, want monasticism so much that we have been fooled by men dressed up as monks and have been disillusioned because we eventually learned that they did not live a healthy monastic life style. Another problem is that anyone can gather a few followers and declare themselves an Orthodox monastery even if they have had no training or experience with real Orthodox monasticism. Some monasteries have been under several Bishops. When one Bishop tells them something that they do not like, they go to another Bishop. What we really need is not self-educated monks who basically make it up as they go along, but real monks taught by someone who knows what he is doing. That wold mean bringing someone over from Mt. Athos or some other center of Orthodox monasticism to teach the monks how to be real monks. I understand that there are plans to bring over an experienced monastic to lead an Antiochian monastery for men. We already are raising funds to build a monastery for women.

            • George Michalopulos says

              I agree with you about giving Met Philip some slack. We’ve got to all understand that the entire Orthodox experience in America is uncanonical. Mistakes are going to be made, some in the name of economia, others in the name of akrivia. It may very well be that the Lord will be pleased to erase us completely from North America because of our bishops and the foreign patriarchates and their incessant games. It may please the Lord to allow deserved judgment upon us.

              • DC Indexman says

                George M. — I was just looking on the OCL web page for this article “Did the OCA Bishops Lie about Metropolitan Jonah?” which you have also posted above. The article is no longer there — it is gone! What has happened? I thought legitimate web news sites do not subtract content — especially a piece that has been made public for several weeks. Can you explain?

                Perhaps Father Hans would care to explain as he is a knowledgeable source in these matters.

            • Fr John,

              Your words here really encourage me. Thank God!

            • The irony, of course, is that some of the best examples of healthy, non-fundamentalist monasticism can be found among the monasteries founded in Lebanon since the early 1950’s…. Deir el-Harf, for example. Orthodoxy in the US could learn quite a lot from the revival of Orthodox monasticism in Lebanon during the 20th century, but the Antiochian Archdiocese does surprisingly little to promote this….

    • There will be no “next case”. “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” Everybody who digs deep enough into the story feels that we defend the church.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Phil, “you people”? A finer description of the problem cannot be given than those two words. No longer are we brother’s and sisters in Christ, no longer are we co-laborers, no longer are we bearers of one another’s burdens, just “you people”.

      Peace will prevail if and only if the truth is made known and seen by all.

      BTW Phil, I never saw a response to my question a few days ago: When, in your opionion, to coverts become a part of the Church and a brother/sister in Christ, or are converts always second class?

      • Michael,

        Many converts bring their baggage and their own understanding of what Orthodoxy is with them. Instead of learning what Orthodoxy is, they try and fit their past aberrations of Christianity into the Orthodox Church; and insist they are right. The other issue is that like ex-smokers, they become radical Orthodox; the Super-Orthodox. Unfortunately, this all comes from a lack of humility and the Church suffers.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Phil, we all bring our baggage into the Church. That’s because we’re all sinners. Speaking for myself, I deeply resent the liberal/modernist/ecumenist triumphalism of the people who inflicted this injustice on the OCA and the horrid idiom of the so-called petitions that we are supposed to recite. (As well as the anti-Orthodox spirit behind them.) Shame on the Synod for allowing these atrocious words to even see the light of day.

        • Hey phil r. upp, what about the “Orthodox baggage” you are carrying and revealing here?
          Your don’t think you have any?

        • Michael Bauman says

          Phil, by the same token many so-called ‘cradle’ Orthodox inflict their ethnic and wordly baggage upon those who wish to seek for the Truth beyond this world and those things that divide us.

          Yet you have not answered my main question, “When does a covert become a brother/sister in Christ?”

          Each of us can point to baggage that other people carry. Someone can carry a lot of baggage and stil have a life directed toward the truth while others seemingly without much baggage can have a rock hard heart that is all but impervious to the truth. In either case, we are called to bear one another’s burdens and we cannot choose who Christ puts into our lives.

    • Assuming–arguendo–++JONAH acted “unilaterally” on a number of occasions, there was electricity in the air and much was accomplished in the way of restablishent of communion with ROCOR and the MP, outreach to the Anglicans and others, an awareness of Orthodoxy among the general public where none had been before and people joining the OCA b/c of the enthusiasm and hope his face , manner and words engenered.

      And now that the Synod is presumably “acting” by consensus we see little but damage control and inertia.

      I’m with the fomer VP of the primatial Cathedral–ashamed to mention our bishops and our jurisdiction to my non-Orthodox children and family members. Fortunately they do not know, but if they did they would doubtelss be scandalized and never give Orthodoxy a second look.

      Where are the good shepherds who will lay down their lives for their sheep?


      • How many Anglicans responded to ++Jonah’s call? Not many from what I’ve seen. Well, a voice crying in the wilderness…

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          At least Metropolitan Jonah tried to reach out to the continuing Anglicans. I agree that it may be a wasted effort because I have very strong impression that the continuing Anglican movement is dominated by those who do not wish to return to the Faith of the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils, but rather to the teachings of the leaders of the English Reformation. I also suspect that since Anglicanism has not really produced any theologians who produced systematic theologies that many of them have turned to Calvinism. Of all forms of Christianity, I believe that Calvinism, especially 5 point TULIP Synod of Dort Calvinsim, is the most incompatible with Orthodoxy. I also believe that continuing Anglicans are more devoted to preserving their Anglicanism and English ethnicity than seeking to return to the Faith of the ancient Church. Because their emphasis is on being English and Anglican, they see Orthodoxy as a foreign Faith that has nothing to offer a true American.

    • Phil, Your attitude stinks!

  4. Here is the kind of misinformation that is fueling the folks on the synod and syosset.

    Yes, I know + Jonah since he was at SVS. I do not have a dog in this fight. Many converts & Russophiles in DC & Dallas wish to make more out of this than what it is. + Jonah’s supporters wish to make his resignation seem as some sort of conspiracy or vendetta by “old line” OCAers. The simple truth is that he never had any parish or hierarchical experience. He should have served in Dallas for at least one year. He was chosen in Pitt. because he gave a good speech and was viewed as a “tabula rasa.” As he began to push his “OWN” agenda without the OCA synod’s approval, he ran into problems. He was warned more than once. Finally, he went a little bit beyond what his brother hierarchs could stand. His actions endangered the entire OCA. End of story. Again, I have no dog in this fight, but truth in what took place is important. The OCA now moves forward. Again, I’m all for a leader of the OCA serving only for a four year term unless re-elected by his peers.

    This is written by Nick Cobbs who is a longtime friend of Eric Wheeler and John Jillions. This is the bubble that the OCA is living in.

    • Again with the four-year terms for Metropolitan. Why do they keep saying that, when they wouldn’t even let Met. Jonah have his “term” measured full? Also, what exactly were they teaching at SVS thirty years ago?

    • Again, some lies from someone who pretends to be in the know,
      1, He had no parish experience. ANSWER: He was my parish priest and brought my wife and I into the church via baptism.
      2, He had no hierarchical experience. ANSWER. So what if he had never been a bishop for long; he ran a monastery for over ten years, that gives him more ‘church’ experience than most of those existing OCA bishops on the Holy? synod. He was the abbot and then an Archimandrite and ran a smooth operation.
      3. He pushed his “OWN” agenda. ANSWER. The poster is right, he pushed his OWN agenda by speaking out against homosexuality and abortion. Seems to me that the rest of the bishops should have been in lock step with him; the statements are the position of the church.
      4. His actions endangered the entire OCA. ANSWER. What a fabrication that is. “ENDANGERED” the entire OCA. Drinking a little coffee reading that one and got coffee all over the keyboard. What a joke. If anything, Metropolitan Jonah was the best thing that happened to the OCA in years. At least he didn’t attend gay parties in pink cowboy suits.

      Thank you Nikos for posting this one, humor is good except in this case.

      • jacksson,

        “His actions endangered the entire OCA” is best translated as “He didn’t follow the oligarchy’s vision for the OCA.”

        I’m often reminded that some people think this is “their” OCA, and not mine and yours. Apparently I’m just an inconsequential Russophile from Dallas.

        Again, what is lost in this is the Gospel. Isn’t that why people love and support +Jonah, because of his ability to remind us of the Gospel?

    • There is, I’m sure, some truth to what Mr. Cobbs says here, but here are the kind of assertions that are so enervating: “[JONAH] began to push his ‘OWN’ agenda . . .” Well, just how did he “push” it that was illegitimate?

      He did this pushing “without the OCA synod’s approval.’ Well, why–in each specific case–was such approval required? And why was it reasonably withheld? And was it only the Synod’s approval that he failed to get–or was it the Chancery and its staff? Was it his temerity in suggesting that a move from NY to DC should be considered? Where was the crime in the mere suggestion?

      “He was WARNED more than once (emphasis added).” Warned? Sounds like a threat, doesn’t it? Is this true synodality? Is this brotherly loved?

      “Finally, he went A LITTLE BIT BEYOND what his brother hierarchs could stand (empahsis added). What did he do, that was beyond what they could stand? The letter of July 16 never said. And why couldn’t they “stand” it?

      “His actions ENDANGERED the entire OCA.” ???? Just how, pray tell, for I don’t see it? From this vantage point out in fly-over country the plusses of what he did in four years out-weigh his misteps.

      “The OCA now moves forward.” Here’s common-place platitude for us. “Forward”? exactly to where? My impression is that it was ++JONAH who had a vision for moving forward; his opponents tend to like the status quo and in fact want to return exactly there to the status quo ante.



      • “The OCA now moves forward.” Here’s common-place platitude for us. “Forward”? exactly to where? My impression is that it was ++JONAH who had a vision for moving forward; his opponents tend to like the status quo and in fact want to return exactly there to the status quo ante.

        Bingo! I see nor hear of any vision from anyone else. +Jonah has a clear direction with energy that attracts young and old alike. You are right Lex, it’s back to status quo . .

    • Are you SURE, Nikos? I mean, I’ve never been particularly close to DEW or Fr. Jillions, but what you say, that NICK COBBS is a long-time friend of theirs….some might opine that is pretty close to libel!

  5. I’m grateful for those who still feel motivated to keep up the fight. Me, I feel so demoralized by yet another battle for the soul of the OCA I’m wondering if that soul may have been misbegotten in the first place after all. Perhaps its autocephaly was obtained under flawed pretenses, and that is why we are suffering such spiritual misdirection and malaise.

    Ironically, by dumping Jonah, the bishops only seem to have bolstered this argument for me. Anyone who has met the man and seen him in action can testify that he seems to be a deeply spiritual man who cares deeply about matters of the Holy Spirit and speaks in a straightforward, compassionate manner. The self-styled spokesmen for Syosset, however, by their actions, statements, and internet posts have come across as misleading, confusing, subtle and even (sadly, shockingly) at times conniving.

    In no other area does this impression strike me as hurtful as their use of innuendo regarding Jonah’s mental health. Why do our leaders suppose the simple fact of needing help should disqualify a leader? Why go to such efforts to demand he seek help and then leak his submission to that demand as some sort of tantamount disclosure of…who knows what? Are we to understand that once a member of the Church receives help from a counselor they become a second class citizen of the church just because…”you know, they have problems (wink, wink) and we all know what that means?” How pastoral is that?

    Is this really who we are? A bunch of uneducated, superstitious, easily manipulated sheep who stigmatize the use of mental health care as an admission of moral weakness, or worse? Perhaps that’s what the bishops wish! But if so, they are even less fit to serve the Church in modern North America than I feared. (Next, they’ll try dumping Jonah into a body of water to see if he swims.) They should cede their hopes for autocephaly to more progressive, pastorally-oriented bodies, including some of the “immigrant” jurisdictions that they scorn.

    Either our continued standing as “the” vehicle for autocephaly in North America ultimately comes from God or it does not. God is the potter, we are the clay. If He chooses to cast the clay of the OCA and its historic experiment back onto His potter’s wheel to mold a new and more worthy vehicle for the autocephaly of the church, who are we to argue with Him regarding how our autocephaly should be achieved? What can possibly be lost if the Holy Spirit wins, regardless of the outcome for our personal ambitions?

    “By their fruits you will know them…Can a bad tree bear bad fruit?” If the OCA cannot and will not bear the fruit of transparency and repentance, perhaps it’s time has come. If so, I fear it is more likely to go out “not with a bang, but a whimper,” in the words of T.S. Eliot as more people simply vote with their feet. The powers-that-be should not mistake silence for support. It may simply signify weariness, and an impending sense of the inevitable, instead.

    • Dear Katerina,

      Thank you for bringing up the most insane part of what the Metropolitan has endured, the stigma of mental illness. Since i know the Metropolitan and he has always acted as the sanest of men, I could only surmise that those portraying him as insane in 2011 were all themselves under heavy duty therapy of some kind and had some kind of kinship through their collective DMS4 criteria. I thought that they had become like some police departments, assuming that all officers were to use mental health services of some kind on a regular basis as a condition of employment. And then they suggested he undergo this unnecessary therapy again. There are limits to any sane conciliarity.

      Nobody’s perfect. We can forgive just as we expect to be forgiven. Sometimes it is impossible to forgive because the individuals needing forgiveness don’t want it or perceive they don’t need it. How much do they, or an individual one of them, interfere in your prayer? Your children’s sense of the Church? Normal life?

      What to do when your jurisdiction disappoints you but you are still an Orthodox Christian who needs a full liturgical life? I think the answer lies in some of Metropolitan Jonah’s accomplishments. Until he is reinstated, apologizes to, able to make his own decisions including being released to another jurisdiction, I would:

      1. Pick the closest parish to me and involve myself heavily in its success, jurisdiction unimportant. We aren’t being confined; he is.

      2. Help a mission parish or a monastery.

      3. Be kind loving and supportive to other Orthodox Christians.

      4. Get involved in some pan Orthodox ministry – ex. The Metropolitan was looking forward to an expansion of involvement in Orthodox Prison Ministries, very effective in Europe, not so present here in the states where we even have a higher per capita imprisonment. Some parishes cook for homeless shelters on a regular basis, buy new baby stuff for pregnant single mothers brave enough to bear life. Homeless families need disposable diapers.

      5. Feel free to attend functions in other Orthodox churches besides the OCA. He does.

      6. Let other priests in other jurisdictions know we had a really good Metropolitan and just don’t feel comfortable communing where previously attending until the people who defamed him recant and ask his forgiveness.

      7. Start a new ministry – ex. job creation for the unemployed. ex. One of the Entrance of the Theotokos Monastery sisters felt that one forgotten sector of our society to be the aspects of aging women’s marginalization, survival and ability to spiritually thrive. ex Give a ride to church if you have a car. Arrange to meet someone on the way o public transportation. Help another Christian get access.

      Let every breath praise the Lord!

      P.S. I am still waiting for any clergyman in the entire Washington, D.C. area to do the right thing and speak out against even having the AAC in Parma before the Holy Synod apologizes for railroading our Metropolitan into resigning and asks for his reinstatement. The silence is still deafening.

      • LOH,

        So true what you write. As to;

        ” Let other priests in other jurisdictions know we had a really good Metropolitan and just don’t feel comfortable communing where previously attending until the people who defamed him recant and ask his forgiveness.”

        I had to respond to this because there is a group of us- 4 families- that have all summer gone from one Jurisdiction to the next every Sunday visiting the different churches in the general area. Everywhere we go the priests and the parishioners tell us how they support +Jonah and can’t believe what the OCA Synod has done. Many are angered and scandalised. People seem more awake elsewhere than in the OCA! I think we’ve picked up the name “The OCA refugees”.

    • Our sistr Katherina writes: “Why go to such efforts to demand [that JONAH] seek help and then leak his [refusal to submit] to that demand as some sort of tantamount disclosure of…who knows what?”

      One possibility: Projection.


  6. I have been kind of lurking here for some time now, reading posts and comments, and I must say that it is my sincere hope and desire that God’s will be done at Parma. That being said, I cannot see how that could be done without the Synod, as Mr. Kalvesmaki so eloquently put it, releasing “a letter of repentance written and signed by the bishops and the OCA administration, explaining specifically how and where they themselves have erred.” Anything less would, IMVHO, be a whitewash and reason for the laos and presbytery to call out “ANAXIOS!”

    • I can see that letter of repentance now:

      “We the Holy Synod of the OCA regret any confusion we might have caused by the fashion in which we discharged our sacred duties, if in fact we caused any. If anyone misunderstood, we ask forgiveness and look forward to a bright future of tremendous and continuing growth. We also wish our dear, dear brother Jonah well as he pursues new career opportunities elsewhere.

      Receiving your humble fawning and generous support,

      The names of the entire crew written in ALL CAPS, and a couple of them possibly in an even larger font size.”

      • James, delete the line about Jonah and you’ve got it precisely. They wouldn’t even give him a sarcastic or perfunctory compliment.

        In fact, replace it with a Jillions-esque line about how one day, we will all understand that screwing Jonah was God’s will for the Church. Yippie!

      • You’re getting into my area of satire, James. Welcome to the pool. I’m up to my AAC in alligators.

    • Demetrios says:
      September 19, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      “a letter of repentance written and signed by the bishops and the OCA administration, explaining specifically how and where they themselves have erred.”

      It would be much more believed and accepted if all the HS together, read such a letter publicly before the assembled AAC at its beginning, maybe even before the Great Entrance in the Divine Liturgy. Even so, the letter would have to be a true description and timeline of the events, and not what they have published so far. Also, It must be truly sincere, not a mere “public performance” to “placate the crowd,” and +Jonah must be given and shown the honor and respect that is his due, and they must state their agreement to his request for another Hierarchical assignment. (I’m not sure if they are capable or willing to do that.) But even then, of course, there would have to be an acceptance of the Metropolitan elected or chosen to take +Jonah’s place.

      • Pdn,

        You hit the nail on the head when you said “there would have to be an acceptance of the Metropolitan elected or chosen to take +Jonah’s place.” That’s is precisely where we, as the laos, presbytery and diaconate have the right and duty to cry out “ANAXIOS” if they, as the Synod and administration, do not show us that they are TRULY repentant of their iniquities in this matter. We do NOT have to blindly accept the leader they give us (or force on us, if they ignore our vote, as I heard happened when +Herman was chosen.) Also, we can vote with our feet, by choosing (as I am currently praying about) to go to a parish in another jurisdiction. I wonder what would happen if the Synod woke up one morning and found a sizable chunk of their parishes were applying for reception into the AOCA or ROCOR (or even [gasp] the MP?) Might that wake them up? Sadly, I think (if it gets to that point) that even that would not bring them out of their stupor.

        • Demetrios, the parish delegates elect a man for the Holy Synod’s consideration. The actual election of the Primate is, according to the Holy Canons, to be done by the members of the Synod. In the past, in my lifetime, Metropolitan Ireney was elected by the Holy Synod, though the great majority of popular votes was for Bishop Vladimir (Nagossky); Metropolitan Theodosius was elected by the Holy Synod, though the GREAT majority of the votes was for Bishop Dmitri (of blessed memory); Metropolitan Herman was elected, as you rightly point out, by the Holy Synod, though the great majority of votes was for Bishop Seraphim (Storheim), now awaiting trial in Canada for sexual offenses.
          If you, Demetrios, believe that ANY candidate now being considered is unworthy, it is your responsibility to try and prevent his candidacy, right now. If he is unworthy, that means he is unworthy of the episcopate, period, and you should perhaps write a letter stating the charge and specifications for whatever you deem will make that candidate unworthy. To cry “unworthy” when you just mean ‘Oh, I don’t think he’s good enough for the job,’ would be silly.
          It seems to me that Metropolitan Jonah, unless he withdraws his resignation BEFORE waiting to seeg how things are going at the Council, cannot be nominated, and should not be. However if NOW or at some time BEFORE the Council he would recant his resignation, then a motion could be made at the Council to adjourn the Council, there being no vacancy to fill. And he, if he wishes to recant, should do so right now, and spare the Church a possible melee, as would certainly be the case if he would wait to, say, the eve of the Council, when delegates have already travelled at parish expense, and announce,” I change my mind! I take it back! That would be childish and destructive.

          • Dear Vladika,

            I think you have hit upon a solution! Indeed, no name can be put up until AFTER Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation, and that resignation is in question in whole and in part, is ACCEPTED by the Holy Synod.

            Jonah could recant for a number of reasons, the first and most obvious being that the premises upon which his brothers” showed no confidence in him were false. He would not, as a Christian, wish to perpetuate a falsehood. He could also state, at this time, that he had no intention of resigning as Archbishop of Washington.

            I think the letter would have to come from Metropoiitan Jonah himself. The hubris of an Episcopal Canon presuming to present himself as the Metropolitan’s guide in Canon Law as part of his lawyer signature and letterhead is inappropriate.

            The Official Shaming and Demotion in Parma is scheduled for November 13th. The hotels are easy to unreserve by 5 or 6 PM day of arrival, but the airfares are often difficult to refund without a penalty as of a month prior, sometimes not even then for the cheaper fares..

            Parishes will be relieved not to have to send their clergy and lay people to an extra AAC. Looking at the OCt. 15th deadline of the registration and vetting form for participation, the letter from the Metropolitan would have to be return receipted by the 12th of October, a Friday.

            How many parishes can even afford this kind of expense right now?

            • George Michalopulos says

              LOH, I agree with everything you said except for your third paragraph. The canon lawyer in question is well-versed in canon law (unlike the Syosset stooges) and HB has every right to engage his services. It would be nice if there was an Orthodox canonist available to assist HB but no such person exists to my knowledge.

              Moreover, there is no “hubris” involved. When an Orthodox Christian is the victim of a felonious assault he contacts the police and if the case is taken to trial, he places his fate (and that of the alleged perpetrator) in the hands of men who might not be Orthodox. Whether they are heterodox Christians, Muslims, Jews, or unbelievers is immaterial, as long as they are duly authorized to act as ministers of the State then the Orthodox victim has to accede to their supremacy in the matter involved and accept their ruling.

              • George,

                Is the lawyer hired as a lawyer or as a canon lawyer. It is one thing to state his expertise as a canon lawyer and as an Episcopal Canon in addition to his legal expertise, but he literally states that he is the Metropolitan’s consultant on canon law.

                We have Orthodox canon law / tserkovni zakon experts in several jurisdictions, and their advice would normally be gratis. It is not a huge corpus, even inclusive of the commentaries. I have Hefele in English, per example, Nicene and Anti-Nicene are online, Russian corpus in oline. Perhaps someone good in Greek could assist, but much is available in English.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  LOH, as I understand it, Rev Canon Charles Nalls is a canon lawyer with wide-ranging expertise. I don’t mean to question you regarding the existence of Orthodox canon lawyers but if any do exist, they certainly made themselves scarce during this whole imbroglio. At the very least, Syosset should have employed one before the put out that stinkbomb of a letter. I shudder to think that the OCA’s counsel had anything to do with it it was so poorly written.

                  Come to think of it, a bona fide canon lawyer would have told them that they were off track back in Nov of 2010, when they started hatching their conspiracy against HB.

              • “It would be nice if there was an Orthodox canonist available to assist HB but no such person exists to my knowledge.”

                Oh there is. . . working on it . . .

            • LOH
              I disagree with you here, a scholar is a scholar and if he knows his subject well it wouldn’t matter whether he is Orthodox or not. +Jonah might have even wanted someone outside the Church. Just guessing.

              • Dear Colette,

                My opinion, It would be perfectly fine if Mr. Canon signed his letters as Metropolitan Jonah’s legal counsel and also managed to advertise himself as an Episcopal Canon in his title, speaks for itself.

                However, Metropolitan Jonah knows twice more the Orthodox canon law that the Canon does since his Orthodox pronoma in addition to his large patristic knowledge informs his ability to interpret church law. One reason we all love his sermons and his clarity.

                I still think what presumption on the part of the Canon listing himself as the Metropolitan’s canonical resource!

                OK, in addition to being old, I am also old fashioned.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  LOH, I don’t know if Met Jonah is more knowledgable about canon law than Fr Charles. He may be. But it is a wise axiom that states that “no man can rightly be his own judge in a case in which he himself is a party.” There is another one which states that “no man should be his own advocate.” His Beatitude is wise to emply such an esteemed canonist as Fr Charles.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Seriously kids, this discussion of Orthodox Canon Law is so rankly amateurish and profoundly misguided as to be downright laughable! PLEASE, may I refer to Archpriest John Meyendorff, of most blessed memory, Professor of Canon Law, Former Dean of SVS, Former Director of Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies of Harvard University, Professor of History at Fordham University, Author of Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, Fordham University Press: New York, NY. 1999.:

                    Many Western polemicists have pointed to this state of affairs as an essential weakness of Eastern Christianity, which has failed to provide itself with an independent and consistent canon law and thus has surrendered to the power of the state. These judgments however have generally taken for granted that the Church is a divine “institution” whose internal existence could be adequately defined in juridical terms, a presupposition, which Byzantine Christians did not consider. For them the Church was first of all a sacramental communion with God in Christ and the Spirit, whose membership — the entire Body of Christ — is not limited to the earthly oikoumene (“inhabited earth”) where law governs society but includes the host of angels and saints as well as the divine head. The management of the earthly Church was certainly recognized as a necessary task; and there, the use of juridical terms and concepts was unavoidable. But these concepts never exhausted the ultimate reality of the Church of God and could be determined occasionally by the councils or even left to the benevolent and, in principle, Christian care of the emperors.

                    ​This attitude did not mean however that the Byzantines were either indifferent toward the canons or juridically incompetent quite the contrary. They were generally aware that at least certain canons reflected the eternal and divine nature of the Church, and it was a Christian and absolute duty to obey them. Yet Roman traditions were always strong enough in Byzantium to maintain almost permanently a series of highly competent ecclesiastical lawyers who advised the emperors on decrees concerning the Church and also introduced principles of Roman Law into ecclesiastical legislation and jurisprudence. But again, they always understood their role as subordinate to the more fundamental and divine nature of the Church expressed in a sacramental and doctrinal communion uniting heaven and earth. And they recognized that there was no canonical legislation in heaven (for if “justification comes by law, then Christ died in vain,” Ga 2:21), and that their task was a limited one.

                    For you to suggest that a litigious exchange of “allegations,” “proofs,” “witnesses,” and “canon lawyers” – your ludicrous understanding of “law” – is to be found anywhere within our Orthodox history, theology, Patristical writings of the Fathers, or Tradition is FANTASY! As Fr. Meyendorff describes, it is so far removed from the mind of the Fathers that it is unimaginable to the West! Are you actually affirming and advocating the “assistance” of a schismatic, heretical, dubious, self-named canon lawyer in our Church of the Holy Fathers? You seriously crack me up! A benzodiazepine for all my friends!

                    If I am not mistaken, dears, Fr. John is trying to point out that the Savior did not sacrifice Himself as a ransom for our freedom in order to enslave us to canon law! You are so far off base I’m just gonna’ stand here with the ball in my glove until you try to sneak back to safety. And when you, I’ll purposely drop it so you can be safe, but sit in the baseline chalk of just how absurdly ridiculous you have extended this silliness. You’re going to court! You crack me up! Epic FAIL.

                    • Yep. No Grace outside the Orthodox Church. That’s what M S believes. Not sure your grand teacher Herr Meyendorff would go for that, but you apparently find it easy to put words in his mouth. Nice try but you again show us your pompous backside, and in return, we laugh at your pseudo-intellectualism.

                    • Dear M,S.

                      Thank you for the nice quote from Father John Meyendorff!

                      On a different topic: In treading the treacherous waters of worldly folks using secular tactics and rules against him, the use of a lawyer as an advisor, a set of second eyes and ears, is not a bad idea for the Metropolitan.

                      We have canon law specialists in the OCA. Isn’t it a seminary requirement to take a course in the stuff? And aren’t there volumes of commentaries on the stuff on hand to assist? Who is teaching canon law at our seminaries these days? I looked em up

                      At Tikhon’s, LAW5322, Issues in Canon Law 3 credits: see bulletin, p 70


                      At St. Vlad’s, according to the requirements, you could essentially skip Canon Law if you weren’t terribly good in it, but it is still in the catalog, only not in as big a way as it was before Dr. Behr. For requirements, see p. 50, for the course,

                      CANON LAW 203
                      Credits: 3 credits
                      THE REV. DR ALEXANDER RENTEL
                      The Orthodox Canonical Tradition. This course covers the methodology and interpretation of the formation of the Orthodox canonical tradition. It will examine issues of Church structure—the bishop, the diocese, metropolitans, and patriarchs, structures for communion between the Churches and primacy—and contemporary issues in the sacramental life of the Church, such as baptism and chrismation, the reception of converts, marriage and divorce, and the ordained ministry. Prerequisites: Second year standing in the Master of Divinity or Master of Arts program.

                      CANON LAW 332 (432)
                      Credits: 3 (3) credits
                      THE REV. DR ALEXANDER RENTEL
                      The Formation of the Canonical Tradition. The development of the canonical tradition of the
                      Orthodox Church from the early counciliar legislation of the third century through the Corpus
                      Antiochenum, to the early Greek compilations of the time of Justinian, to the medieval Greek
                      and Slavonic compilations, to the late-Byzantine compilations and the early Slavonic versions, to the modern printed editions. Emphasis will be paid to the ways that compilations have influenced interpretation of the canons. Prerequisites: Second year standing in the Master of Divinity or Master of Arts program.

                      catalog at

                      At St. Herman’s, Canon Tradition I and II seems to be the courses:

                      CANON 301 Canonical Tradition I This course serves as an introduction to the Orthodox Christian canonical tradition, focusing on the decisions of the Ecumenical and Local Councils that most affect the practical ministry of the Orthodox pastor. Subjects will include: the nature of the canonical tradition, sources of the Orthodox Christian canonical tradition, the episcopacy in the tradition, primacy and autocephalous churches, and other selected canonical issues. (2 credits)

                      CANON 302 Canonical Tradition II This course continues the introduction to the Orthodox Christian canonical tradition, focusing on the canons of the Church Councils and Fathers, which concern the professional ministry of the Orthodox pastor. marriage, divorce, remarriage, the reception of converts, communion, and penance are discussed. (2 credits)

                      Archimandrite Juvenaly teaches the courses at St. Herman’s.


                      So, despite not having specific scholars in Canon Law these days, the study still exists in the curricula of all our seminaries. Perhaps I need to check the curricula of the ROCOR and GOA and ACROD and Antiochian seminaries?

                      Btw, the Metropolitan made it one of his first efforts to improve the accreditation of all the seminaries and to concern himself with the curricula. In this effort, he developed links with academe in general and with theological schools in specific. He succeeded in his efforts. He also did a lot of research into Orthodox typika to make sure that our monasteries met Orthodox criteria.

                      The interface of Church Law with civil law both historically and in modern life is a fascinating field of study. I Hope our seminaries keep up their good work in exposing students to the basics. Who taught canon law when you were at the seminary?

                    • Nikos, MS believes only what he believes.
                      And he believes that those not believing what he believes
                      are just “kids” needing to be taught, and of course, by him.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      True to form, what I wrote – which is not what I have the ability to personally conceive – is not the issue. Not one commentator, who otherwise feels “competent” to express grandiose opinions as to matters for which they are wildly misguided and otherwise foolish, speaks anything of substance, point to me. Bravo!

                      Nikos, my friend: Search my post for the “phrase, “God is our Father, and the Holy Spirit goes where He wishes.” St. Andrew of Crete & a favorite of Prof. SS Verhovskoy. The point: Never have you seen me comment as to where the Holy Spirit is not. Can’t find an “Orthodox Canon Lawyer” in the Yellow Pages? Try St. Basil the Great: “He sent us the Law as a guide,” not as the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Holy Cow, Nikos! Don’t sound so desperate.

                      Interested Observer, I hope that your shower included a good scrubbing between the ears. If you were able to demonstrate that the “web I weave” is other than fully consistent with the Tradition of the Fathers, I believe you would have done so by now. And trust, in dust and ashes would I have repented, oooing and ahhing you from my knees. You will not because you cannot.

                      PdnNj, second verse, same as the first. Ecouté et répeté. Wash, rinse, repeat.

                      As to matters of the Canon Nails “possessing the Holy Spirit,” being “very knowledgeable and competent in Orthodox tradition,” or as to “what would be the point of His Beatitude obtaining his services,” I see the raised hand of Fr. Alexander Schmemann -allow me to move with the microphone – “Yes, Father Alexander:” “Pardon me, but who cares?” Well, there you have it.

                      The tragedy is the Synod didn’t call ME to prosecute RS Kondratick: 15 minutes beginning-to-end (Hercules, shoop Richard Simmons face on Samuel L. Jackson’s body from Pulp Fiction quoting Ezekiel); no “confidential reports” for Mr. Dreher to steal, no “commandeered email,” and no “ocanews & ocatruth.” Just mano y mano from six inches out: “Bob, I’m gonna’ bite your nose off.” DONE! Then you clean house…

                      Canon Law? Canon Nails your shoes to the floor.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Well, then how come the State of New York didn’t prosecute him?

                  • Colette, LOH, George M.

                    I am sure Fr. Charles is very knowledgeable and competent in Orthodox tradition, otherwise what would be the point of His Beatitude obtaining his services? I have had many interactions with individuals outside of Orthodoxy who are studying their own faith and am AMAZED at how knowledgeable they are about resources and scholarship concerning Orthodoxy theology and tradition.

                    His Beatitude is most certainly a most inspired preacher, full of the Grace of the Holy Spirit, a reflection of His love for Christ Jesus but in this case, we need to take into consideration that this is not about preaching the Gospel, it is about protecting the Church.

                    This isn’t just about His Beatitude anymore. It’s not about righting the injustice that has been done against Him personally. It’s become clear to many that there is a severe spiritual illness that needs to be exorcised. The legal issue of Metropolitan Jonah is just the tip of the iceberg…what lies beneath is viciously more sinister and evil than anyone ever imagined possible I am afraid. If we do not stand together and fight it, then we give our mutual consent for evil.

                    I for one reject the evil one, all his works and all his pomp. You listenin’ Syosset?

                    • Interested Observer says

                      Please don’t get caught in any web that M. Stankovich weaves. It is a ploy to capture and move you from the issues at hand – in all cases. Just don’t respond to anything he says. He’ll eventually get tired of being the only one ooo-ing and ahh-ing over every word that drips from his pen, and (hopefully) get over himself.

                      Don’t ever try to teach a pig to sing, you will only waste your time, get dirty from the experience, and annoy the pig.

                      Now I’m heading for the shower.

                    • Archpriest John Morris says

                      To Nikos above:
                      No grace outside of the Orthodox Church rather limits God. God’s grace sustains the universe.
                      One of the most commonly used Orthodox Prayers reads:
                      “O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who art in all places and fillest all things…”
                      If the Holy Spirit fills all things and is in all places, we cannot geographically limit the grace of God to the visible Orthodox Church. We need to let God be God and not try with our faulty human reason to define how and where He works. We know that He works in the Orthodox Church and that the Orthodox Church is the true Church and the living manifestation of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, but I do not think that we should confine God’s love to the membership of the Orthodox Church alone.

                    • Fr. John,

                      Just to clarify, it looks to me as though Nikos was not expressing his own view here, but rather expressing and then critiquing that of “M S” (Dr. Stankovich?) in this thread.

                  • Yes, there is a saying that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client.

                    As long as Fr. Nalls has the chops to take care of his client, I don’t see why it should be a problem that he isn’t Orthodox.

                    I’m thankful that Fr. Nalls was willing and able to take the case. I hope we’ll all add Fr. Nalls to our prayer lists. Pray he won’t be too scandalized by this exposure to the ugly side of the Orthodox Church, and will be able to help our Metropolitan.

                    • fr. ambrose young says

                      Fr. John M.: Yes, God’s grace sustains the universe. But sacramental grace, sanctifying grace, is only to be found in the Holy Mysteries of the Orthodox Church. To think otherwise is to call into question why any of us should bother to be Orthodox. This sacramental grace is the treasure of the Church and is only for the her children (the “servants of God”). This is why we cannot commemorate the non-Orthodox in the proskomedia or at the Great Entrance, and cannot serve pannikhidi for the non-Orthodox. This is an important distinction to keep in mind. –Fr. Ambrose

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      Reply to Fr. Ambrose Young

                      I am Orthodox because I believe that the Orthodox Church is the fullness of the truth, not so that I can get a special deal from God. Sacraments administered outside of the Church are lacking in fullness, but God hears all prayers, not just the prayers of the Orthodox. Chris died for all, not just for the Orthdoox. The Fathers teach that no one can have God as his Father who does not have the Church as his mother. However, as the great Russian theologian Alexi Khomiakov wrote there are those whose relationship with the Church is known only to God.
                      We commemorate the President of the United states and “all in civil authority” during the Great Entrance. Obama certainly is not Orthodox. During the Great Litany, we pray for “this city, and for every city and land..” and for “travelers by sea, by land, and by air; for the sick and the suffering; for captives and their salvation…” Therefore we pray for all humanity, not just for Orthodox during the Divine Liturgy.

          • I could be wrong, but I have an impression, that +Jonah can’t just withdraw his resignation. If he does, he will be back to the same people and the same situation with the Synod, Chancellor and the Metropolitan Council. If we want him back, some significant changes should be done.

            I have a suggestion. I think Metropolitan Jonah needs to withdraw his resignation, because his resignation was done under duress, it’s illegal and so on and so forth. Hopefully, the Synod would not be able to ignore it, and, therefore, might decide to cancel or to postpone the AAC. After that Metropolitan Jonah should not go back to his duties, as if nothing has happened, but demand an investigation. Until some legal action has been taken, he should remain his present state of inactivity.

            • fr. ambrose says

              Fr. John: the commemoration of civil authorities at the Great Entrance, whether Orthodox or not, is not performed in all Orthodox jurisdictions. For the most part it is an American innovation and not even in all jurisdictions. There is dangerously “loose” ecclesiology and theology about these things in the American Church today. We certainly pray for all civil authorities in the litanies, but the Great Entrance, traditionally, has been reserved for the Orthodox. Or used to be. My son, who is in an OCA parish, was astonished to hear the priest commemorate “the newly-reposed Pope John Paul II” at the Great Entrance back in 2005! When priests or bishops do things like this, what message do you suppose they are sending to their (usually) uneducated (theologically) flock, I wonder? Clearly the message is: Roman Catholic bishops are equal to Orthodox hierarchs. That’s what these kinds of actions mean.

              Unlike you, Father, and speaking for myself, I certainly converted to Orthodoxy 42 years ago in order to get “a special deal”! That “deal,” dear Father, is called salvation. Orthodoxy is certainly the shortest and the quickest way to the Kingdom of Heaven. (If that were not the case I could have remained in the apostate Roman Catholic Church–and lived a much easier life.) What God has provided for those outside His Church is known only to Him, not to you and me, and we do not judge others. BUT we must clearly hold to the Church’s teaching that sacramental grace in Orthodoxy is sanctifying and is NOT the same as the sustaining grace given by the Holy Spirit to all of creation. Let’s be very careful here. If we believe Orthodox to be the true and historic Church of Christ, does that not mean that other “churches” are by definition false and have no historic origin in Christ and the apostles? –Fr. Ambrose

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                I agree that other churches are man made organizations and that the Orthodox Church is the true Church founded by Christ and His Apostles. I also believe that Rome has deviated from the Apostolic Faith because of the lust for power of the Bishops of Rome. Rome has also perverted the True Faith by teaching such heresies as the filioque, purgatory, indulgences, and the Augustinian view of original sin. By definition all Protestants are heretics because they are all iconoclasts. Calvinism is especially heretical because it teaches a Nestorian Christology as well as a false view of salvation that rejects the correct Orthodox doctrine of free will and synergy as well as the Sacraments of the Church. Most American Protestants, including an increasing number of continuing Anglicans are heavily influenced by Calvinism, although some reject Calvin’s doctrine of double Predestination. Both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism also teach the doctrine of created grace. According to Orthodox theology grace is an uncreated energy flowing from the hidden essence of God.

              • Archpriest John Morris says

                The Holy Fathers tell us that there are three reasons to obey God. The first is because we are afraid of going to Hell. In that case, we relate to God as a slave. The second is because we want to go to Heaven. In that case we relate to God as a hireling. The third is because we love God. In that case relate to God as a child of God. Of these three ways to relate to God, the third is the best and most Orthodox.
                The Church does not and has never taught that everyone who is not a member of the visible Orthodox Church is sent to Hell. Read Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev’s “Christ the Conqueror of Hell.”
                As far as prayers for the President, the service book published by Archbishop Demetri and the Antiochian Service Book and Liturgikon contain instructions to commemorate the President during the Great Entrance.

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  Thank you, Father, for your first paragraph. I have never heard it put quite so well.

                • Priest Justin Frederick says

                  Actually, Father John, this is what Archbishop Dmitri’s service book says: “The deacon says (usually when the civil authorities are Orthodox Christians)”. As our civil authorities are not Orthodox, this commemoration was not made at St. Seraphim’s cathedral in Dallas when I served there for a year under His Eminence. I don’t make the commemoration myself. It is particularly discordant when a non-Orthodox president is commemorated by name, which I have heard done in the Litanies and at the Entrance. My understanding is that we pray by name in our services only for those who are Orthodox. The others are prayed for in the general categories found in the Great Litany, etc.

                  In the Slavonic Service books, the only commemorations prescribed at the Great Entrance are for the hierarchs and for “you and all Orthodox Christians”. A slightly longer variant adds “The founders and brethren of this holy temple, those who labor and those who sing here, you and all Orthodox Christians…”

                  It is funny: clergy who worry so much about the length of the services that they cut many things that are appointed to be done (Psalm 33 at the end, verses on the Beatitudes, antiphons) add a bunch of stuff at the Great Entrance that is not appointed. I remember Met. Theodosius commemorating those suffering from AIDS along with a whole long list of other things. We’ve already prayed for the sick and the suffering, why choose out sufferers of a particular disease or two for inclusion here?

                  One of the Holy Fathers to whom you refer, St. Maximus, puts the motivation for serving God slightly differently: Our service of God begins with fear of punishment, grows with a desire for promised rewards, and culminates with deep love. “Perfect love casts out fear”, but the “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Fear and desire for reward have their place in Orthodox teaching, but perfection is found only in love.

                • lexcaritas says

                  Thank you, Fr. John; I agree with Fr. Dcn. Patrick.

                  Regarding prayers for the President, I personally wish the drafters of our Litanies had considered the constitutional separation of powers and federal structure of the United States government. Since this is not a monarchy but one in which the authority devolves from God the Holy Trinity to the Peopel (i.e. the body politic comprised of households), it is not entirely appropriate to pray for the President as if he were the head of state while ignoring the other co-equal branches of government, nor is it entirely appropriate to focus prayer at the national level first and foremost rather than, recognizaign the principal of subsidiarity, starting with the local level of government. Thus, in this repbulic it would make more sense–and this is how I proceed in my own prayers–to pray for “This God-protected land and the people of this State, their legislature, Governor and courts and for the People of the United States in general, for their Senate and Representatives in Congress assebmled, for the President and Vice-President, for the Justices and judges of the Supreme Court and all lower courts, and for all civil authoriites and those who serve in the armed forces. Lord, have mercy. That Thou wouldst help them, humble them and hallow them–reminding them whose servants they are–deliverin them form th power of every enemy and the Adversary. Lord, have mercy.”


                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    Not bad, but to save time, how about:

                    “This God-protected land and its sovereign People; and for all those who serve the People as civil authorities, that Thou wouldst help them, humble them, and hallow them, reminding them whose servants they are and delivering them from the will to power and from every evil enemy; and for those who serve in the armed forces.”

                    Just dreaming.

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    During the Great Entrance, we pray “For the President of the United States and all in civil authority and for our armed forces and for those in defense and freedom everywhere may the Lord remember in His Heavenly Kingdom, always now and ever and unto ages of ages.” When we have an Archdiocesan Convention in Canada, we pray “For her majesty the Queen…”
                    That is how we did the commemorations in the presence of His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV. If they were not proper we would not have done them with the Patriarch of Antioch on the throne.
                    The President is the head of state according to our American constitutional system.
                    The Anaphora of St. John Chrysostom, the heart of the Divine Liturgy states, “And again we offer thee this reasonable service for the whole world…for all civil authorities, and our Armed Forces…Be mindful, O Lord, of this city in which we dwell, and of every city and countryside, and of all those who dwell therein. Be mindful, O Lord, of those who travel by sea, by land, and by air; of the sick, the suffering, captives and their salvation…” Thus, we pray for non-Orthodox during the most important prayer of the Divine Liturgy.

                • fr. ambrose says

                  Fr. John: neither I nor anyone else here has said that non-Orthodox go to hell. That is your mistaken interpretation. Only God knows these things.

                  The fact that Bishop Dimitri’s service book directs the commemoration at the Great Entrance of the president is without precedent in the rest of American Orthodoxy, so far as I know, and can not not be cited as an authority, if that’s what you were intending. The commemorations at the Great Entrance bear a relationship to the reading of the dyptichs in the old world patriarchates. (I was present when the dyptichs were read at Liturgy on the Feast of the Dormition [1999] at the Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin, with Patriarch Alexy II as the main celebrant.) As you surely must know the purpose of the dyptichs is to show the faithful who we are “in communion with”; it’s purpose is to inform and demonstrate the faith. It has little or nothing to do with national politics. Quite correctly, in the old Soviet days there were many priests who quietly refused to commemorate the Soviet leaders at the Great Entrance, even though they had been told to do so. But of course an Orthodox leader–such as the Tsar or, apparently, even Putin–would be correctly mentioned.

                  I understand, however, that some Orthodox in this country, in their passion to separate themselves from traditional old world Orthodoxy and modernize (i.e., assimilate into American culture) and the wise and sober customs of our much more learned and experienced Orthodox leaders in the old countries, now commemorate all kinds of non-Orthodox folk at divine services and even in the proskomedia. This is a sad departure from what has been preserved so faithfully for us and handed down. And a good example of the tail trying to wag the dog. It is not the only thing that the other local Orthodox Churches look askance at; it is not the only reason why they see Orthodox in America as generally very immature and non-traditional…as we are increasingly seeing… –Fr. Ambrose

                  • Kosovo je Srbija says

                    Too true Father, too true. I find your writings to be very true, very clever. Old world orthodoxy is very important. Perhaps church here should be name, Orthodox Church in Babylon, to end confusion about where we really are.

  7. So what would happen if by some fluke +Jonah were re-elected by the council, and he refused to take that office back? He has not communicated anything except to hire an attorney but I get the feeling that he might be sick of the whole thing.

    • Rdr. James,

      Can you blame +Jonah? Heck, who in their right mind would wish to freely associate with such compromised individuals? And I use the word individuals rather that persons.

      • Nikos says:
        September 19, 2012 at 9:54 pm

        And I use the word individuals rather that persons.

        Significance of that understood!

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        I agree. Why should Metropolitan Jonah want to put himself in a position where he has a title with no real authority? The OCA needs to change its whole system of administration so that its primate is a real primate with real authority instead of a figurehead who cannot do anything without the approval of a Holy Synod that by all outward appearance is dominated by Bishops who are out to get him because he has had the poor taste to publically defend Orthodox moral teachings against the pro abortion and gay lobbies that control our secular society, and who has to work with an entrenched bureaucracy that thinks the Metropolitan works for them instead of realizing that they work for him. I was recently in a meeting with one of the members of the staff at your national headquarters. He made no effort to hide his contempt for his Metropolitan. Even if I felt that way about my Metropolitan, which I do not, I would never criticize him in public like that.

        • George Michalopulos says

          It’s worse than just a dysfunctional synod. The whole MC apparat is caterwampus. I wouldn’t be so anti-MC if their proceedings were livestreamed. This body has a WHOLE lotta power (more than the bishops) and yet nothing that they do is released to the public without being sanitized.

          • George, caterwampus does not appear in The Online Slang or Online Etymology dictionaries. But catawampous, cattywampus, catiwampus, as well as cattiwampus, cattiewampus, and caddywampus do. Just thought you may like to know. (I’ve always heard and used it as cattywamus. That’s why I looked it up.)

    • Dear James,

      Why are you assuming that our Metrorpolitan does not love us and is unwilling to accept burdens? Doesn’t his last four years speak for itself?

      • Yet why would he be willing to submit to having to work with this same group of people again? It is one thing to accept persecution when it comes; it is something else altogether when we knowingly place ourselves in an abusive situation. I do hope and pray that His Beatitude is reinstated, yet I would not be shocked if he were to turn it down. Or, if he accepted the position, made moves to consolidate his security (such as Met. Phillip did some time back.) I, for one, think that we need an entirely new Synod (and, until further notice, I’ll not use the adjective “Holy” when referring to the OCA synod.)

        • It’s easy to blame “the bishops.” However, they were all elected by their dioceses at a diocesan assembly.
          I think that a future historian of the Church might find that in 2012, the power in the OCA was concentrated in an association of laymen, deacons and priests who were protected and enabled by only one or two thuggish or bullying bishops. Many, but not all, of you, know very well how a small gang began ganging up on Metropolitan Jonah successfully at the Holy Synod’s “retreat” (how fitting!) in Santa Fe, where the other bishops retreated before the might of the clique and one bullying bishop. At that time, the motor of the clique was a man of many talents who had a web site, was on the MC, and was cohabiting with a man who was not his wife. The clique had been expanded since it had got rid of the former Chancellor, in an action dramatically illustrating the Lutheran doctrine: “Justification by Faith (Sk.)” Even now, the laymen, deacons and priests in the clique are swarming like bees getting ready for Parma. They are ideologically motivated by a perverted idea of “conciliarity” which has become a (not yet defined) Golden Calf of the OCA.
          Please, do not blame the Bishops whose motives, for most of them, are pure.
          I’ll speak even more plainly: only Archbishops Nathaniel, Benjamin, and Nikon are effective members of the Holy Synod. The others are impotent, although Bishop Alexander will, I’m sure, NOT be a passive participant in anything: whether or not he will align himself with the clique and its patrons, is another question.
          Just sayin’ .

          • Bp Tikhon said:

            ‘It’s easy to blame “the bishops.” However, they were all elected by their dioceses at a diocesan assembly.’

            I thought from previous discussion on this thread that all bishops were actually ‘elected’ by the Holy synod. Or at least ‘vetted’ and approved by such. So where does the buck stop?

            • Yes James. I should have respected your careful vigilance and stated that the Bishops were all elected at their diocesan assemblies to be the only candidates considered for election by the Holy Synod. Without the popular vote in the diocesan assemblies, NONE of them would be Bishops today.

              • Disgusted With It says

                I believe the specific language the synod uses in reference to the diocesan involvement in the process is that the diocese “nominates” a candidate.

        • ChristineFevronia says

          I would like to propose a “cabinet” of sorts for Met. Jonah if he is re-elected, taken right from our own Monomakhos Tribe…

          “George Michalopulos” for Chancellor
          “Little Ole’ Housewife” for Syosset Mother and Den Mom
          “Face-It” and “Defend the Faith” for Press Secretaries and Spokesmen
          “Lexcaritas” and “Nikos” for spiritual advisors and pep-talkers
          “Helga” and “Veronica” for Champions of the True Faith
          “Bishop Tikhon” and “Jane Rachel” for Historians and Archivists
          “Colette” and “PdnJN” for Prayer Warriors
          “Archpriest John Morris” and “Patrick Henry Reardon” for Interjurisdictional Relations Coordinators
          “M. Stankovich” and “phil r upp” for Devil’s Advocates.

          Thank you, George, for hosting your blog. Without it, our identities would be invisible. We all owe you a debt of gratitude for letting us have a voice on your blog. I am so thankful that you have created a forum that allows all of us to come here, browse the news, and express our opinions. Without “Monomakhos”, the faithful of the OCA would not have a home for our questions and our concerns. Hats off to you, George! (And for all those who read this posting, let’s light a candle at our altars in gratitude for George and his commitment to “speaking the truth in love”.)

          • George Michalopulos says

            You flatter me, but I don’t want to be Chancellor. I’d much rather be Sex Czar.

            • George M.

              I think you should do both positions (chancellor/sex czar) and then slip anti-psychotic meds into the beverages of all the individuals on the synod and MP that don’t play nice with Metropolitan Jonah. If that doesn’t work, you can always do the old “ex-lax” routine on them. It might not fix anything, but it is fun idea to watch a bunch of guys in long robes doing the Montezuma’s revenge mambo waiting in-line to use the facilities…doncha ya think?

          • And Christine for Journalist! 🙂

          • Dear Christine,

            I guess you didn’t read my many missives on selling Syosset? 🙂

            Let’s stop hiding the OCA headquarters in the inaccessible burbs and bring it into the 19th century.

            • LOH,

              i fell off my chair…only the 19th century…you are gentle aren’t you?

            • ChristineFevronia says

              Hi, Little Ole Housewife! I am sorry, but I have missed those! It’s hard for me to keep up with all the comments on this site! But I hear you on that one, that’s for sure.

              Out here in the Diocese of the West, church properties have been sold off like hot cakes…

          • Dear beloved Christine, with love and gratitude I still want to remind you: (Matthew 20, 20-28) ” The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you…”

            • ChristineFevronia says

              Hi, Veronica! You are so right! I love that quote, and thank you so much for reminding me of its message. Sending you love on this hopeful day… Your sister Christine.

    • He will do God’s will. If he is elected I think he will be Metropolitan again. Can’t see that. But he wouldn’t have to be, he can say “no”. Getting the majority of votes whether or not the Synod chooses him might give him the backing that will free him from his current prison. The Synod might realize he has more backing than they thought-remember they feared the crowds at +Jonah’s election and release him from the OCA as a result.

      • colette says (September 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm):

        ‘He will do God’s will. If he is elected I think he will be Metropolitan again. Can’t see that. But he wouldn’t have to be, he can say “no”. Getting the majority of votes whether or not the Synod chooses him might give him the backing that will free him from his current prison. The Synod might realize he has more backing than they thought-remember they feared the crowds at +Jonah’s election and release him from the OCA as a result.’


        The most natural thing in the world, given Met. Jonah’s canonically illegal forced resignation, and given what we know about the shameful behavior of our bishops tpward him and all the rest of us, would be for the delegates to the 13 November 2012 council to nominate him again as our primate.

        When such a groundswell of support for MetJ embarrasses the Holy Synod, they should not reject the nomination, but instead offer their resignations as an admission of their evil deeds, well known to us all.

        If our corrupt bishops feared the people in 2008, that was a good thing. They ought to be even more fearful of the people in 2012, since they are very likely to confront our bishops with chapter and verse of their failings. Any artificial, prejudicial screening of delegates will be obvious and subject to the deepest scrutiny and reportage.

        MetJ’s limitations are well known, but he is God’s gift to us.

        I am confident that his reinstatement will include the personal and off-the-record assemblage of a council of advisers much better than he had in the past, and that he will actually take their advice — he’s not too old to learn.

        Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance.

        • M. Stankovich says

          The return of your grandiosity and snide comments lead me to conclude that you did not take me seriously: you chose to openly disclose information that suggests that you and others knowingly concealed that an individual possessed child pornography. While, on the one hand, I am repulsed and sickened at the moral implications of your disclosure; on the other hand, it is criminal behaviour. I gathered your comments, the Soraich letter, and any and all available pertinent reports, and forwarded them to legal counsel that would defend me professionally, should such a matter ever arise. I intend to honor any instruction I am provided as a mandated reporter and a ethical, uncompromising professional.

          Should someone wish to accuse me of “nefarious actions,” “grandstanding, ” or “making a name for myself,” I say: sleep now in the fire. This is what you are defending. Every single party associated with this crime belongs in jail. No exceptions.

          • Dear MS and Monk James,

            I have a kind of rule that when in doubt that a child or individual is being harmed to let someone in authority know.. I also let them know the limitations of my suspicions. In the Bishop Nikolaj case was he talking about unfounded hearsay? Could someone else have had access to the computer in question? Did the nature of the material indicate possible interaction with innocents? Monk James already said he was considering sending the offensive suspicious material to the authorities.

            I was dismayed to read of the arrest of an hegumen of an Ohio monastery being detained for internet pedophilia. This particular abbot has links to St. Vladimir’s, Holy Cross and other seminaries and children are occasionally at his monastery.


          • Still TROLLing the waters, Mr. Stankovich?

          • M S

            Pay attention, there is no child porn on Bp. Benjamin’s hard drive in the possession of Bp. Nikolai. However there is enough other stuff to clearly show that Benjamin has a problem with ugly degrading porn. Hundreds of hours of it. Is that a crime? Not in civil society, but he does tend to demonstrate to people who care to listen and do something about it (the OCA synod) that Benjamin is in serious need of mental and spiritual evaluation.

            But that is hard to do when the man is doing his best to clear the field of anyone who might have a conscience enough to speak out against his outrageous behavior.

            • Stephen King wouldn’t make something like this up. I think Archbishop Job was living in a la la land if he thought “The Shining” could hold a candle to this reality… including his very own, personal reality. Get Archbishop Benjamin help before he dies alone in a parking lot. Make that, “Archbishop Benjamin, get help before you die alone in a parking lot.”

        • Well, yes. I’m sure he is man enough to withdraw his resignation and also announce that he was forced to write it, is he not? That would make the Council moot and improper, and no one would be out courncil expenditures, all unbudgeted. After he announces that he was unfairly coerced into writing out and signing a resignation, then he should announce the proper measures to prevent similar occurences in the future as well as identifying those who coerced him by name. After all we are all making deductions from evidence, but we don’t have one word from Metropolitan Jonah confirming what we believe follows from that evidence, unless someone like Helga is holding something back.

          • “My people, what have I done to you, and how have you repaid me? Instead of manna, gall; instead of water, vinegar; instead of loving me, you nail me to the cross. I can bear no more!”

    • How’s about we cross that bridge if and when we get to it – hmm?

  8. I now believe that the “original sin” leading to the present troubles of the OCA happened when, at the 2008 AAC, those comprising the HS then, did not, all together, come out before that assembly themselves, and publicly and sincerely acknowledge and repent for their lack of moral and administrative leadership which lead to the OCA’s problems of that time. Maybe if they had done that, instead of pushing “the new kid on the block,” (Bishop +Jonah) “out from behind the curtains” to “face the anger of the crowd,” the Holy Spirit would not have been absent from that AAC as Fr. Hopko proclaimed, and things may have turned out to be much different and more positive in the OCA today.
    (But then I cannot forget the Lord when he says: “Your ways are not My ways, and your thoughts are not My thoughts,” meaning in this case, everything that has happened is just our Lord’s way of revealing our true selves to ourselves and each other, as we really are and not as we think ourselves to be.)
    [That may be filed under “Another One of the Decrepit Ole Protodeacon’s Personal Opinion.”]

    • I’d never call PdnNJ’s message “One of the Decrepit Ole Protodeacon’s Personal” opinions!
      Why, just the spelling of “old” as “ole” shows a degree of affection for the PdnNJ that he may very well harbor, but that i do not!

      Further, referring to the one-time sophomoric counsel of the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters who then, as always, proffered an “ONLY POSSIBLE SOLUTION,” as today’s only possible solution, requires no thought that anyone with hardening of the arteries of the brain could not produce.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says:
        September 21, 2012 at 11:12 am

        I’d never call PdnNJ’s message “One of the Decrepit Ole Protodeacon’s Personal” opinions! Why, just the spelling of “old” as “ole” shows a degree of affection for the PdnNJ that he may very well harbor, but that i do not!

        Well George, I’m at a loss to understand why you monitored out my reply to BT on that. I didn’t say anything that he himself didn’t say there.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I missed it. Please, Your Grace, PdnNJ, let’s strive for some civility. There are great topics that you both comment on –and eloquently so. Let’s keep it on-topic.

    • Dear Otec Diakon,

      Quite a few people were completely perplexed by the Guru’s (as you call him) pronouncements during that period of time and later on the ocanews list with reference to the Metropolitan. When someone you have respect for issues such opinions at variance to reality, it is strange and hard to understand..

  9. “My friends, I could easily title this letter “A Sorrowful Epistle”, as even my recent Nativity message to you, despite the brightness of the Winter Pascha. But it is not my intention for this communication to be a sermon, but rather a clarification regarding the reporting of the recent session of the Holy Synod. As usual, some of the comments and conclusions on the internet have been thoughtful and considerate, others inaccurate and speculative, others amusing and naïve, others downright nasty and condemnatory.

    “I have stated several times that it is unlikely that an author of fiction, even the likes of Stephen King on his best day, could pen a story – with plots, sub-plots, colorful and shady characters, schemes, scenarios and plot twists, all characteristic of our on-going crisis in the Orthodox Church in America – that could be deemed credible enough for publication. Our on-going saga is too incredible, yet it goes on and on without any indication of an end…….”

    “Unless there are additional changes, or, should I say, corrections in accordance with the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, and something more than lip-service to seeking the truth, and finally, genuine re-evaluation of who we are as an autocephalous church and that we are not two million members strong, or one million, or 400,000, I do not place much hope in the effectiveness of the scheduled All American Council this year.”

    Archbishop Job
    January 11, 2008

    • That’s a good one by the EVer Memorable Archbishop Job!
      If he were still around here, I’d suggest he make one correction: He wrote “even the likes of Stephen King on his best day, could pen a story–with plots, sub-plots, colorful and shady characters, schemes, scenarios and plot twists….that could be deemed credible for publication.
      NO, Your Eminence! Stephen King, on the contrary, COULD, but he WOULDN’T!

  10. Having taken a strong stance for accountability in governance once (i.e., with regards to the 2002 GOA Charter) I am afraid the OCL is going to play possum on this one. I would dearly love to be proven wrong, but if they don’t take a stand soon on this issue, they might as well hang it up, and keep reminiscing about that one time in the past where they actually took a principled stand.

    • Disgusted With It says

      Why would the OCL “play possum on this one”? Could it be because their episcopal Guru and protopresbyter Guru are at the head of this scandal?

  11. Gavrilo Sormaz says

    You folks amaze me by your rhetoric. Especially when it comes to the AAC and what needs to be done. Let me ask. How many of you are delegates to the AAC? I would like each one of the posters to this thread to respond.

    • Gavrilo,

      (Per your request: here’s my response, since I’m a poster to this thread.)

      The majority of delegates are not even nominated yet–let alone elected. It was announced just a couple of weeks ago by Secretary Tosi that parishes had to elect NEW delegates, per OCA Statutes. Reg. forms have to be completed by October 15 and sent in to headquarters at that time. So the elections are happening right now.

      Just out of curiosity, though, has your parish had elections? Have you been elected? And if so, who are you going to vote for, and why? I’d really like to know.

  12. Just Guessing says

    If anyone’s looking for a fun game this weekend, I’m proposing an OCA version of the ever-popular “Hi Bob!” drinking game.

    Here’s how it’s played: Have your favorite adult beverage ready for all the participants. Then, take turns reading aloud from the OCA Chancellor’s Diary. Every time the word misconduct is said, drink up! After only a few day’s entries, hilarity will ensue!


  13. George, your title to this thread which includes “The OCL Weighs In” I think is somewhat misleading. Although its source is the OCL, the author of the article you post says at its end that he is a member of St. Nicholas Cathedral (OCA), Washington, DC, and that “The views expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of OCL.”

    • George Michalopulos says

      You’re right, I may have been premature. Hopefully the OCL will weigh in due time.

      • George, I think that I may have overemphasized my point, because OCL did post it on their website under their Governance and Unity section and allowed comments on it. That does say something about its relevance for them.
        P.S. I’ve been wondering about what may have happened to Carl Kraeff since he hasn’t posted any comments here for a long while. Well, he did post some comments on subject article on the OCL website and because of that I presume he is “alive and well.” Glory to God!

  14. PdnNJ is correct. As an organization, the Orthodox Christian Laity has issued only one non-committal statement on the subject, just a few days after the OCA Synod’s brief foray into accountability in early July. Since then, as the Synod’s explanation has unraveled,…..crickets. Archbishop Nathaniel has always been a friend to the OCL, and there is probably a strong desire on the part of the OCL’s Board to avoid offending him. If they are true to their 25-year history as strong advocates for transparency in ecclesiastical governance, they will take a stronger stand, but personally I doubt that will happen. It is certainly possible that they might notice if others would comment on their website.

  15. Thanks be to God, I did it. I send a letter to each OCA priest PERSONALLY, with his email address, with his name at the beginning. I haven’t sent a letter to the retired priests, to deacons and to those priests who didn’t have their emails listed. Otherwise, all dioceses are covered. I want to share my letter and a couple of opposite responses.

    Dear Father (name),
    Father bless,
    I am Veronica (full name and parish). I disagree with the removal/forced resignation of Metropolitan Jonah. I request that he be reinstated to his former position without further delay. Metropolitan Jonah had no intention to resign as Archbishop of Washington. This is why he signed his letter of resignation as Archbishop of Washington.
    Since he had not received another Episcopal assignment, he is still an Archbishop of Washington.
    Therefore, he is eligible to be reinstated as the Metropolitan of All America and Canada.
    You can find a letter by the Reverend Canon Charles H. Nalls, the Metropolitan’s Canon Lawyer on:
    Since the level of support by the laity is high enough (it’s about 75 percent),
    it might be safe for the OCA priests to speak more openly in defense of Metropolitan Jonah.
    The parish priest is the one who preach, teach, baptize, wed, hear confessions, and give communion.
    Therefore, your opinion is valued the most by your parishioners.
    If you keep silence on such an important matter, some of them can lose their faith.
    If you need any background information, you may also like to read this:
    I kiss your right hand,
    In Christ, Veronica.

    Sometimes I get a feed back. The most FAQ from the priests is:
    “Are we even sure that he wants to be reinstated?
    I have heard that he is relieved to be free from being Metropolitan.
    I would hate to go this course if that were the case.”
    Metropolitan Jonah is a monk, and his life-style is obedience. In order to fulfill his calling, Metropolitan Jonah needs to have this God-given authority. His true vocation is to be a missionary not only in the OCA, but to all Christians of North America, who are lost in the world of secularism. I met his canon lawyer, Father Charles Nalls, who works for free to save our church and the Metropolitan. He said: “When people want to escape from the Anglican church (he is an Anglican priest), I send them to the OCA. I can’t send them to ROCOR or MP, because they are too ethnic. If something were to happen to the OCA, I won’t have a place for them.” It’s a hard task, and nobody really would like to be in his place, but… the alternative is very bitter.
    This December +Jonah will get his last paycheck. Next year he won’t have money, a job, housing, and medical insurance. At the present moment he has three dependents, his parents and a sister. He is still an OCA captive, because the Holy Synod doesn’t give him a canonical release. He will be able to pray only at St. Mark in Bethesda, MD, because they don’t allow him to be in any OCA parish, besides St. Mark’s. He will be cut off from any work in public. This is not a desirable future, I must say.
    If we win this battle, Metropolitan Jonah will know how to use the victory. He will be in a position, when it’s up to him to decide. He can be just a spiritual leader and a missionary, and share his administrative duty with someone else. This is only my guess. But what I know for sure, he needs our help to get him out of his present captivity. VOTE Metropolitan JONAH!
    Here is an opposite reply from a priest.
    “I commend your support for Metropolitan Jonah because on face value it seems “the Christian thing to do…” However I cannot support the concept “that he be reinstated to his former position without further delay…” I have no animosity or axe to grind and in fact I voted for him as Metropolitan at the Pittsburgh All-American Council. Like so many others I was caught up in the emotion of the moment or as some have called it, “based on one speech…” That was then and this is now.
    He who is such a great proponent of monasticism in the U.S. should observe the monastic hallmark of “obedience” to his superiors, i.e. The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America and abide by their decision. To involve lawyers and or threats of “legal action” is not acceptable among clerics/monastics in The Orthodox Church. It also will demean him personally and those who may “support” him. May I direct your attention to the OCA SMPAC Memorandum of Feb 10, 2011 which clearly outlines the reasons why the Holy Synod proceeded as it did.”
    Re: I guess, you have never lived in the Soviet Union during the Communist regime. Now you feel, what we felt in 70s and 80s. At that time, when we spoke, we said what the Communist Party wanted us to say, we betrayed the best people and they died in concentration camps. All because we wanted to keep our jobs, to be accepted in colleges and universities, and to be successful in each own business.
    This is exactly what it means “You can’t serve God and mammon”. If one is more concerned about his career, he won’t choose the truth. He will choose, what is necessary for his career. I have never expected anything good from my Soviet government, and I never believed in the Communist Party. However, the Orthodox church was my absolute heaven on earth and the synonym of conscience. I am absolutely shocked, that the Synod uncanonically ousted +Jonah, and most priests forgot about their teaching and preaching, and behave like average people in former Soviet Union. However, people in SU didn’t know Gospel teaching. It was an atheist country, where the religion was prohibited. I feel like, not +Jonah, but my own soul was railroaded, and my own personhood was persecuted by my own church.”

  16. says

    For those of you who support Metropolitan Jonah, you need to get the message across strongly. (1) Get yourself elected to the AAC. Much easier to do if you have been a “silent” supporter of +Jonah. (2) Take a video camera along and film everything. The smaller the camera the better. Conceal it on your person if you have to. (3) Take a Bible with you. Every time someone tries to keep you from speaking by referring to rules of procedure, just hold it up, state that it is the rules that prevail in a church and keep talking. (4) Of course, vote for or write in +Jonah on every ballot and demand it be counted. (5) If not elected a delegate or observer, go anyway. Take a camera. Stand in the church and make them throw you out. Especially useful would be people who are actual members of the parish. How can you be asked to leave your own church? Here you have to make a choice. Either leave willingly or engage in civil disobedience. Stay, lie down, make them call the cops. So what. You won’t be arrested unless you disobey the cops. Again, how can a member be expelled from his/her own church? (6) Here’s one that made me giggle. Maybe a little nasty but definitely to the point. Make up a huge bunch of checks made out to the OCA. Don’t sign them for pete’s sake. Then tear them up-not too much-they have to be a little bit legible. Then, just before the AAC attendees (the high mucky mucks) show up, scatter them outside of all the doors. Just a little hint of what may lurking in their future. (7) For those who don’t like the check bit, and don’t want to cause a ruckus (why not-ruckus can be good) just stand outside holding a picture of +Jonah. Watch the attendees avert their eyes. And of course, have video cameras taking pictures of everyone entering the church. From beginning to end. What kind of cars did they drive up in? (Patriarch Pavle of Serbia rode the city bus. Just saying.) How big an entourage? Ask questions respectfully. See if you get an answer. On camera. (8) OK-this is really nasty, and no one will do it because it is nasty and disruptive and disrespectful and so on, but I have to say it because it would be both useful and fun – – – change the locks on the church the night before the AAC. Who knows, maybe they will have to hold the meeting in public. Do something. Pretend that your church is at stake. Whoops, sorry. It is. Just sayin”.

    • For the people trumpeting this as proof that Monomakhos and its commenters are nuts, I think I should point out that most of this was probably not intended as seriously as it is being taken.

  17. There has been a change in the Washington, D. C. Archdiocesan website at

    Among the legacy documents on the website containing the spirit of Metropolitan Jonah is the following. Copy it while you can. It shows his wonderful style, caring, use of his sparse administrative resources, his rational and hopes:

    • George Michalopulos says

      LOH, thank you for putting these up. For the record, I read the “Minutes of 2010.” They were dated for December.

      To all: I would suggest you read them yourself. See if you find something missing, something significant from them. Hint: think of Conan Doyle’s “the dog that didn’t bark.”

  18. Jonah In His Own Words – The Opening Talk to the Synod Meeting in Santa Fe

    “This is a critical time of judgement for us as the OCA. Do we want a church that is led by the bishops, with advice from the clergy and lay [sic]. Or do we want a church controlled by the Metropolitan Council, its committees and officers, criticizing and marginalizing the bishops?

    Do we want an all powerful chancellor who controls the Metropolitan, Synod, MC? Or do we want the Metropolitan to determine the policy with the Synod, advised by the Synod and his staff? Do we want a church controlled by a consistory, or by a Synod?

    Even more so, are we going to permit the Church to continue to be torn apart by endless controversies, endless investigations and reports which destroy mutual trust? Are going to cede episcopal responsibility to self-appointed watchdogs, wolves without even a shred of sheep’s clothing, that have their own personal power as their sole agenda? Stirring up endless controversies where they can become the great saviours of the Church? Only Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the Church, and He did not operate this way. The entire Orthodox world is watching. The rest of the Church in North America is watching.

    Our task is to take back the leadership of this Church. We are ordained for that. It is the task given to us by God. It is our responsibility before Him, and how we handle it will be the criterion of our judgement. For that to happen, we need a united Synod. We need to come together in real love, as true disciples of Jesus Christ, and freely debate one another, freely disagree and argue, until we come to a consensus we can all live with.

    We must unite together under my leadership as the Metropolitan. Whether I like it or not, I am not going anywhere. You put me in this position, and it is your responsibility to support me in it. You are free to disagree, free to oppose me to my face. But it is unconscionable, for the sake of the Church for us to undermine our episcopal leadership by gossip or tearing one another down to anyone. It is self-destructive, and leads to the paralysis we now see. Our disagreements must stay among ourselves, and we must present to the entire Church, and everyone in it, a basic image of unity. Because it is the unity of the Church that is at stake.

    I am not in any way saying that I am without fault, or in anyway have not made numerous mistakes. I see my mistakes and misjudgments, my inaction regarding certain things, and my unadvised deliberate actions, and I try to learn from them.

    It is not me, as an individual that is demanding this respect, but the office of the Metropolitan. And it is not only me, and my office that are being definitively challenged; it is the episcopacy itself. And with it, the Orthodoxy, never mind the autocephaly, of the OCA. We must stand together, and we must understand the calling God has given us as a Church and as bishops. We each have a unique responsibility within the life of the Church, mainly our dioceses. Only I as Metropolitan have the responsibility for this Church as a whole, in the face of God. And is my responsibility to bring about and foster the unity between us, as my office is the icon of that unity. “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. I alone here have the responsibility to intervene in other dioceses where there is disorder. Yet, we all bear together the responsibility to work with one another, to listen to one another, and to be respectful of one another. We need to protect each other’s backs, as well as their faces. Otherwise, what are we doing? What kind of bishops are we? What kind of Christians are we?

    When I took office just over two years ago, three months out of the monastery, this Church was in shambles. Angry, hurt, disunited, distrustful. Over the past two years there has been a tremendous amount of healing. Now we are at a critical crossroads: the last major piece of business from the past two decades. We’ve gotten through the Kondratick lawsuits, the +Nikolai lawsuit, and the SIC, the STIC and other crises.

    There is one thing left: a small group of people in and around the MC are determined to undermine the Metropolitan; and the very nature of the episcopal authority. There is a conspiracy of several people who believes the MC should control the Church, and the bishops: that brags that they unseated two metropolitans, and they plan to get a third. They believe the officers of the Church work for them, and in this case, it is true. In the canon law of the Church, conspiracy against a bishop is a deposable offence (4th ecumenical council, canon 18). Some of these people were involved in the SIC report, others in various committees of the MC. They are bullies, asserting their own will , motivated by their passions, and tearing down and destroying everyone who opposes them. They have to be stopped dead in their tracks, and removed from any position of influence in the OCA.

    Chancellor Alexander Garklavs

    First among them is the Chancellor, Alexander Garklavs. For a year and a half he has been working to undermine my episcopacy, through deceit, slander, bullying employees, lies and misrepresentations. He has used the committees of the MC as his sounding board to undermine me with the members of the MC, telling the Strategic Planning Committee that I am “destroying the OCA”, slandering me at the Board of Trustees Meeting of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, among a very few cases; and to top it all off, is this SMPAC Memorandum. This document is not about how I handled cases of sexual misconduct, but rather, about him, and his power. It is about how I did or did not consult him,. And where I did, he takes it and twists it, making me sound incompetent. I am not in any way incompetent. I resent the allegation.

    You could say it is about how we disagree about management style. He does not like my management style. But I am the bishop and he is not. If he does not want to conform to my style, and accept the level of responsibility that was delegated to him, he should resign as the only honorable thing to do. There have been multiple instances in which I should have simply fired him. That is my great regret. I hope reconciliation would change things. Instead, he used it to buy time against me to complete this slanderous document against me.

    The Sexual Misconduct Committee [sic] was under my episcopal authority. I blessed their work, and in fact, encouraged it. It was the duty of the chancellor, as the chair of the committee, to keep me informed of every action of the committee. Instead, this was done entirely behind my back, as a way of discrediting me; not once did he let me know something like this was brewing. Loyalty? Trust? No: betrayal and absolute insubordination. He has destroyed every last shred of trust. Would you demand anything but loyalty in a relationship of mutual trust from your chancellors? Would you even imagine they would do anything like this to you? Ian McKinnon, or John Kowalczyk, or John Kreta, or Alexander Pichach? No, it is unthinkable.

    This constant undermining, slander and deceit is what created a tremendously toxic atmosphere at the chancery. It is a scandal known world wide, and the great question is: Why have I not simply fired these people? How can I continue to tolerate their presence, working against me in my own chancery? What is wrong with the OCA that you tolerate such insubordination? Because the reality is, that he and some other members of the staff have gossiped and complained to anyone they spoke with, including bishops and staff of other churches and jurisdictions, not to mention members of the MC. Whether it is deserved or not, personally, it is entirely unprofessional and supremely destructive. But there is an underlying temptation that is the core of this whole demonic prelest: lust for power and beneath that, rejection of authority.

    What is the authority of the Metropolitan in regards to his Chancery Staff? The OCA Statute is very unclear. But, the Human Resources guide to Policies and Procedures is very clear: The Metropolitan has complete authority over his staff, and can fire them “at will” and without any stated cause. This document is signed by every hire in the OCA Chancery, was submitted by the MC, and approved by the Holy Synod. There is not a single word, in the Statute or the Policy Manual, about appeal to the Synod. I only granted it {Garklav’s scheduled appearance before the Synod the following day} for the sake of the unity of the Synod, no other reason. The officers are my stavropegial priests under the episcopal authority of the Metropolitan. They are my priests in my diocese, who owe me respect and obedience of any priest to his bishop. It is true their ministries have a broader scope, affecting the whole; thus they bear far greater responsibility than most to maintain a professional and Christian attitude. In this we have massive failure, insubordination and betrayal that has been going on for a year and half and now is bringing the Church to the brink of another scandal, based on lies and innuendo – for the sake of Garklavs remaining in power. This must end by tomorrow.
    You must support me in demanding Garklav’s resignation, for the sake of the good of the Church, and for the sake of maintaining some shred of the authority of the episcopacy in this church. It is the authority of the Metropolitan that he is challenging, by his appeal. But it also the authority of a bishop over a priest for whom he is responsible that is challenged. I should call him in and accept his resignation, without explanations, as a matter of supporting hierarchical authority. I do not want vengeance: I will give him a severance package and assign him to a nice parish, with a somewhat comparable salary ( though that will be difficult), if he resigns. If we do not demand his resignation, we are committing ecclesiastical suicide.

    There is the further question of the authority of the Metropolitan vis-a-vis the Synod, in relation to the officers of the Church. While the Statute is vague, it only says that the Synod appoints the officers, after recommendation by the MC. The whole question of the officers is vague in the Statute. Whom do they work for? At least in the Policies guide, it is absolutely clear: they work for the Metropolitan, as his staff. Not for the Synod; and not for the MC; though they interface with both. By Synodal approval, those policies have the same effect as the Statute. This issue is not just about me. This is about you, because you are next if we do not stop this whole process in its tracks.

    SMPAC Memorandum

    The SMPAC Memorandum is a monument to the dysfunctional relationship between the Metropolitan and the Chancellor, and little else. It is a purely political document, aimed at discrediting me. It is all about the power and authority of the chancellor, and how the Metropolitan has not submitted to the chancellor. And most of it is a twisted subversion of the truth. It begins by flattery of the Synod, and then becomes an essay of disrespect of the authority of the Metropolitan. In tearing down the Metropolitan, it also undermines the authority of the Episcopacy. Using false information and twisted facts, it disseminates mistrust in the Metropolitan, his office and the bishops. There is not one instance of actual violation of policies or the Sexual Misconduct guidelines cited. Nor is there even one violation of the canons cited. Rather, it is impressions and opinions, but no actual facts. There is no evidence brought forth. I supply the evidence and most of the letters quoted in my response, and they do not support the Memo’s allegations. There are disagreements evidence, but they are about management style. Is the Metropolitan supposed to conform to the chancellor and submit to him, or is it the other way around. The canons specify the latter.

    As to the impressions and opinions, I have had little personal contact with most the Sexual Misconduct Committee members that signed this letter. Where would they get such information about personal reactions that they could form such opinions? It was almost entirely through Garklavs. Every piece of information came through him, and my reaction or response was conveyed through him, and interpreted to them.

    I did not want to interfere in their work: I thought they were competent professionals, and I did not interfere when their mission morphed from revising guidelines to an investigative oversight committee. I was also advised to keep investigations at arms length. My administrative style is to leave what requires professional knowledge and experience to the professionally competent. I certainly misjudged this one.

    This Committee was under my authority, and this report was compiled secretly, behind my back. That is insubordination. Transparency? Accountability? Absolutely none. It was the responsibility of the Chancellor to not only let me know how my actions were being interpreted, but to inform me of the necessary steps to explain my actions. Would you demand anything less of your chancellors? He failed in that, and in fact, nurtured these misperceptions for his own reasons, and to his own perceived benefit. This is complete betrayal of trust, and of his basic responsibility to support the Metropolitan, rather than tear him down.

    As Metropolitan, I definitively reject this report, and seeking the support of the Holy Synod, demand its retraction and consign it to permanent confidentiality.

    The Metropolitan Council and the Cabal

    The Metropolitan Council is a body that has as its primary statutory responsibility to care and provide for the financial support of the central church administration, but also to create and support charitable institutions. It needs to be confined to these essential tasks, and stop trying to run the Church. I have had several members tell me that the Synod needs to take back the leadership of the Church. The MC is to carry out the decisions of the AAC, and assist the Synod and Metropolitan in doing so; but it is not and does not have the authority of the AAC.

    There is a small group that has been around a long time, which has a congregationalist idea of the Church; that it should be controlled by the MC and its committees, and all other functionaries including bishops are subordinate to it. It is a false idea of conciliarity. This came as a result of the abrogation of the responsibility by the previous Metropolitan and the Synod, where the MC stepped in to fill the power vacuum. My assertion of episcopal and canonical authority within the church is creating great opposition within this group. It is for this reason, I think, that they are mustering their forces against me, to try to force me to resign and take a leave. I will not. They want someone they can manipulate, who will submit to them, and like Theodosius, be so weak every word is scripted and every appearance stage managed, with the chancellor running the real show. At least they made Theodosius look good; me, they have trashed. But in the end, especially if he has some kind of will, they would throw him out as well.

    There is the idea being put forth that the officers and the MC members are equal with the bishops and should have equal authority. After all, the officers make more money than the Metropolitan ( and can cut his salary without even the courtesy of informing him, much less his consultation), so they are his superiors, to whom he must submit.

    The MC works so hard, and the bishops must be compelled to obey these committees and their reports. The Metropolitan must be accountable to the Chancellor and the MC, not they to him. The bishops must submit. This is an old demon, the spirit of congregationalism, which has afflicted this church for a century. We have to exorcise this demon. Otherwise, it will destroy the OCA.

    In short, we have a conspiracy with an agenda that will destroy the Church. We cannot live through another scandal. If their agenda goes forward, the OCA will become more a isolated and marginalized in the Orthodox world until everyone leaves. We cannot live outside the Orthodox Church. Underlying this is a very bitter subtext, the gay agenda, which demands one type of moral code for clergy, another for the laity accepting that agenda. I will not stand for this.

    This group is a bunch of bullies, who are willing to use any means to advance their agenda and rip apart their enemies. First among these means is the internet, and Mr. Stokoe’s Through intimidation and the threat of exposure, of, for example, this supposedly confidential document — they try to manipulate the bishops and Metropolitan. How often do we hold back on a decision wondering how it will be spun on And what would be the reaction of the general parishioners, as they find another metropolitan being dragged through the mud?

    How many of us have been bullied by this threat of exposure? How many of us have been manipulated by fear of the media? Several of us have been bullied and abused by bishops.We need to put this kind of abuse of the Church behind us. It destroys our self-confidence. But it also puts us in a state of fear, and being subject to intimidation. Somehow, this must be exposed, and the people dismissed from service.

    All this is really a distraction from the real work to which we are called. We are not dealing with evil people, but people in prelest from the demons.

    We must give the MC a charter as to what to do, and reign them in on the things which they are off base on. God knows we need development work.

    We must redefine the office of chancellor, as the old models do not work. We need an auxiliary bishop to have that position of support to the Meropolitant.

    Much more than all this, we need to focus on the future, on the AAC, and what message we want to put out, how to rally the faithful, and convey the fact that the real life of the Church, the parishes and dioceses, are doing very well, and that there is great hope for the future.”

    original source

  19. Just received an advance copy of some motivational voting material being prepared by the Diocese of the West Chancery for dissemination to all DOW delegates attending the upcoming Parma Council. Titled “Master Bless” it may be viewed here.

  20. George Osborne says

    Whoever can read the comment above and not feel its sense of accurateness, conciseness, factuality and, more importantly that it was written by the hand of someone exercising great restraint has, I fear, some perceived notions in place that common sense will not repair. This is an excellent statement of the situation as it appeared prior to the Santa Fe debacle and most certainly focuses ones attention on the question “Why did the Synod react in the manner reported?” Was it spite? Resentment that the cards were called by name and placed on the table? Who knows? But for sure, it makes one think there is even more to this debacle than anyone has yet disclosed, perhaps fear of disclosure? Again who know?
    But one thing I was most happy to see was +Jonah critique of the sin of congregationalism. I grew up in a Baptist church. Baptists, for those of you who are unawares, are the poster children for congregationism. I cannot begin to tell you the trauma that every Baptist congregation has suffered through due to this cancer. I won’t regale you with stories or examples, but suffice it to say I have seen congregations, families, friends and pastors crucified, disgraced, slandered and even become apostate due to the treatment of their “brothers and sisters in Christ.” This cancer must be cut out of the OCA. It has already metastasized and the treatment will be more painful and, even, brutal, but it must be done.
    +Jonah was dead, spot on when he said this problem had been around for over a hundred years. Congregationalism in the OCA began just after the Babylonian Captivity of the Russian Church beginning c. 1920 when the Bolsheviks cut off funding from the Mother Church to the NA diocese. Stipends were cutoff. Priest salaries were stopped. Funds from the Russian imperial government ceased to exist and local parishes were forced to survive on their own. In the true American spirit, the émigrés quickly learned that, truly, the power to tax is the power to destroy. In this case, of course, it was not taxes per se but financial support of the parish. Power was gained by funding and control soon followed. The purse strings controlled the parish like a bit and bridle and, thus, slowly and surely, democracy and plurality soon followed. Once Pandora’s box is opened, it’s hard to shut the lid. The exercise of congregationalism was identified with American democracy and any thought of genuine Orthodox church praxis was denigrated and despised as “conservative and reactionary.” I have even noted here some antipathy towards ROCOR and the MP for this very reason. Many factions in the OCA realize that if the spirit of congregationalism was quashed, their personal agendas and causes would soon follow and those that have used the MC as a platform for moving forward their own agendas know this to be true.
    Parma will either be the point of no return for the OCA, the event horizon as it were. The sheer force of gravity will propel the OCA into oblivion unless the helm is turned. There are no other choices. While many say the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, they forget what blessed St. Paul said about the Lord “giving them up” to their sins. The Good Lord sometimes prunes pretty decisively to prevent the rot from spreading.
    Delegates to Parma! Your Church is on the brink! You must insure that the spirit of congregationalism is cut-out of the OCA by restoring Metropolitan Jonah. There is no other choice. This vote is the only one possible that clearly repudiates the influence of the Chancellery, the MC and factionalism and sends a clear message to the Synod that if they have any baggage that someone can use to manipulate them, they had better repent and resign now for the good of their souls.
    As I said in another place, the Finger present at Belshazzar’s feast is hovering over Parma. Do not wait for Mene, Mene Tehkil, Upharsin to appear on the wall. Save your Church and save your own souls.

    • Daniel E. Fall says

      Too funny to suggest you all group up to stop congregationalism when the Synod asked Jonah to resign and he did….I have never heard such a contradiction.

      The Chancellery? Jonah had 2 in his tenure…. Which one was the bad one?

      What oblivion are you forecasting? Spoiled halupke? Bad tasting perohi?

      I’ve gotta move on, this is a whacked place right now..he got a plus 2 thus far…

      Heracleides – this is the stuff cartoons are made from… I know, I know, how about 3 Stokovites sitting around a stove asking each other for the recipe to destroy the OCA. yeah, yeah, yeah

      Or maybe me in a straight jacket in a cell with Monomakhos balloon over my head….

      No, how about Bishop Benjamin fishing for a new Metropolitan in a pond with a bunch of faces in the water…

      Outta here..

      • Ah, another drive-by posting by Daniel Fall. He now goes back to his perfect Orthodox life in Dayton, where gays are open, a divorced priest pontificates and all is right with the world.

        Oh and by the way, +Jonah never appointed his own Chancellor, he inherited one and had to accept the MC as the human resource department which hired the second. If and until the next Metropolitan can bring in his own team, the OCA as system will continue to be broken.

        So, Daniel, nice try but again you see things through the Dayton lens as the kool-aid dribbles out of your mouth.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          i could not agree more with Nikos. For what it is worth as a non-OCA Priest, it seems that your bureaucracy has too much independent power as does your Metropolitan Council. It is only a matter of common sense that a new leader of a Church, a nation, or a corporation names his own people who know that they work for him. Lots of people on this blog criticize Metropolitan Philip, but he is a leader who would not tolerate a staff at our headquarters that was working to undermine him. However, despite what you may hear, my experience with him is that he does not like yes men. He has always encouraged me to speak my mind with him. He has an ability to listen to someone giving them the impression that they are the most important person in the world to him. Because I have been his Priest for over 32 years, I am old enough to actually know Metropolitan Philip. We now have so many Priests that most of the new Priests have not experienced the personal relationship with him that we older Priests have experienced. I deeply respect His Eminence.

    • Clare Voyant says

      While we are at it, lets fight for paragraph breaks! Sheesh!

  21. It appears strange to me, and probably ‘monastic’, that the former Metr. Jonah has not said anything on this or as far as I know other blogs, anything to defend his abandonment of the Headship of the OCA. But considering that he is a monastic, perhaps that is not strange at all.

  22. Peter A. Papoutsis, I appreciate your hopeful and balanced perspective shared here in several of your posts.

  23. The article “Did the OCA Bishops Lie about Metropolitan Jonah?” has disappeared from the OCL web site.

  24. D.C. Attorney says